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When a young lion cub is often sick, it is hard to stay in on the days when he feels better. One day, the young cub was feeling ok and decided to run out and play. The next day he was sick. It took a long time for him to get better again, but he ran back out to play as soon as he was able to. The cub’s parents have warned him to stay inside when the weather is terrible, but he would not listen. He just knew he had to run and play as hard as he could while he felt good. The next day the cub was sick again. This time it took longer for the cub to get better. Will the little cub, learn how to play safely so he does not keep getting sick?

The Heart of a Lion: and the Body of a Cat is written by Shani Night and illustrated by Reggie Howard. Together they tell the story of a cub that is battling an illness. While the cub’s illness is never stated, the story is inspired by the author and illustrator’s own little girl that has Sickle Cell Anemia Disease. This book is written for all the children that must fight a debilitating disease each day. Knowing the background for this amazing story made it even more emotional to read.

This picture book is filled with images that range from cartoonish to fine line drawings that look like the lions could jump off the page. However, the contrast of illustrations is appealing, and children will find the bold color of the characters accompanying the story to really draw them into the narrative.

The Heart of a Lion: and the Body of a Cat is a heartwarming picture book for children in preschool through elementary school age. It is a fantastic way to open up discussions on disabilities that are not something you can see on the outside. It is an inspirational children’s book that will help kids fighting diseases like Sickle Cell Anemia to know they are not alone and are seen.

Pages: 79 | ASIN : B09R6T6K13

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Kraken Crew

The Kraken motley crew of pirates have big plans to sail to Mount Doom and steal the gold treasure from the fierce dragons. This dangerous mission has never been accomplished before but Captain Kraken knows his crew is up to the job and with teamwork they can reach the island and get the gold. Banshee, Storm Boy, Elf Witch, and parrot sail the ship with Captain Kraken. Together they encounter several dangerous obstacles and each time, a member of the ship uses their special skill to help the crew escape. When they reach Mount Doom, it looks hopeless as the swarm of dragons comes out and attacks. Can the crew use teamwork and defeat the dragons or will they too end up at the bottom of the sea?

Kraken Crew is written and illustrated by Dan Malster. This picture book is written in a fun rhyme scheme that will draw in children and keep their attention. There is a good balance of scary situations with fun and laughter with the crew. The illustrations that go with the text are fantastic. The artwork is bright and colorful, the images have a lot of details that you can pick out from each scene. Each page has something hidden, a mouse, a worm, or a fun detail to highlight the power each crewmate has. My favorite little detail was the list of ship rules when the crew is eating, number six is “Captain’s hat is not a toilet!”

The moral messages presented in this creative story make this fun book spectacular. Malster shows that everyone has special talents that can be helpful and every person is valuable. He also shows that teamwork is needed to accomplish big goals, that no one person can do everything themselves.

Kraken Crew is a magical children’s fantasy picture book for kindergarteners and young elementary students. This enchanting story will enthrall children with musical rhymes and dramatic artwork.

Pages: 36 | ISBN : 1739824601

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MANSA’S Little REMINDERS The Money Workbook for Kids Part 1

MANSA’S Little REMINDERS The Money Workbook for Kids is part of the Mansa’s Little Reminders series. This is a workbook designed for teachers, educators, parents, and caregivers to be able to teach six to twelve-year-olds about budgeting, saving money, and age-appropriate entrepreneur skills. This workbook outlines activities for adults and gives them worksheets, example pages, quiz questions, and links to print off additional resources.

When looking through this fantastic workbook I was impressed with the amount of information that is presented. Authors A.D. Williams and Kendal Fordham have laid out the materials in a clear step-by-step manner with vocabulary sheets, activities, questions, and everything someone could need to create a lesson plan either for a classroom or homeschooling.

The exceptional workbook is filled with bold and colorful illustrations done by Taylor Bou. The images jump off the page and present the concepts clearly. With clean lines and entertaining expressions, children will be drawn into the pages and better able to understand the information being presented.

What educators will like is that the information is realistic, the authors bring up failure and how it is a natural part of the process. Discussing how to manage failure and how to learn from it is often overlooked especially for children. This process sets aside time each week just for evaluating what works and doesn’t work. This is an important step towards learning and I am happy to see it highlighted.

MANSA’S Little REMINDERS The Money Workbook for Kids is a great workbook to continue the lessons that are started in MANSA’s Little REMINDERS: Scratching the surface of financial literacy. This workbook will help put into practice the information from the first book and give children a hands-on application for the lessons covered. This is a great resource for any adult that is trying to give kids an early start on understanding budgeting and saving money.

Pages: 49 | ASIN : B09QMGY4LM

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Lifelong Friends, No Matter Where You Go

Lori Croy Author Interview

The Whole Dollar follows two brothers that love each other and share everything as they grow up. What was the inspiration for your story?

This is a true story about my two oldest sons. When something is an event from a real-life situation, the story literally writes itself. As a parent, I tried to capture and take note of those precious everyday moments that are fleeting. When you’re raising children, you feel you’ll never forget something and yet, you do. This is one of those events that was burned into my memory and was the hallmark of what a sibling relationship could and should be.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

The obvious idea is the lifelong joy of a loving sibling relationship. The other major idea focuses on the act of sharing. I wanted to emphasize that sharing isn’t only about “giving something away.” It’s the act itself that brings the giver something precious in return. I also wanted to give the children reading this a hint of how sibling relationships change, and in some ways never change, as they get older. It was important to me that this book be a reminder that your brothers or sisters aren’t just a childhood relationship. They can be your closest and best friends for life, no matter where you go.

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given about writing?

I think it was to write about what you know and to write the stories the way I tell the stories. Humor, excitement, nostalgia, and sweetness among other things – especially when writing for children.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The Whole Dollar is releasing on March 4th. I am currently working on 2 additional books and one of those will likely be available early in 2023. The next book will focus on how children experience feelings of anger, anxiety, fear, being tired, being hungry, and how those feelings can make them act in ways that get them in trouble. This book will be a means of helping parents, teachers, and caregivers start meaningful conversations and teach children how to talk about and manage their feelings.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Two brothers, who are very close, share absolutely everything. They share a room, a bunkbed, toys, cookies – everything! One day, they discover how a dollar becomes something that will forever remind them of what it means to have a brother, no matter where in the world they may go. The Whole Dollar is a story about sharing, sibling relationships and the concepts of whole and half. A heartwarming message that is perfect for early readers and an asset for teachers.

Ghost Flower

Ghost Flower by Kathryn A. Broderick is a fantasy tale of romance and the fight for justice. It follows plucky young Sophia on her journey of self-actualization. At the outset, Sophia discovers her small but immensely effective power to intercept magical spells cast by the more powerful mages. One of these mages, her fiancé Aiden, is the catalyst for Sophia’s rampage of revenge against the magical elite when he mercilessly rejects her. Sophia inadvertently sparks a battle between the Tower, representing the mages and good, kind King Solen. With Sophia’s help as the anonymous Ghost Flower, the Crown fights it out for power and fairness. Throughout it all, Sophia must battle with her conflicted emotions for Casimir. He is the king’s right-hand man and pursues her relentlessly. Her past relationship and a deeper part of her that has been hidden since childhood weigh heavily on her mind.

Broderick’s richly descriptive language paints a vivid picture of the kingdom of Arcadia and all its fascinating characters. This enchanting story explores themes like the power of the people against oppression, manipulative relationships and their tragic consequences, and the importance of being your own hero.

This beautifully written book will inspire readers to find greatness within themselves rather than gravitating towards others’ greatness. With a slow burn style to draw the readers in, Broderick reveals vital story elements gradually so as not to overwhelm young adult readers with too much information all at once. Sophia is like most teenagers; she seems to do things haphazardly, giving readers a chance to speculate on her motivation at times. Ultimately Sophia is a complex character who will gain readers’ sympathy and support.

Readers will be surprised and delighted with this imaginative novel’s rich and magical world. The way the author describes being under someone’s spell, and the difficulty of breaking this, is something that many readers will relate to. Sophia’s discovery and mastery of her own shortcomings are superbly developed.

Ghost Flower is a spellbinding young adult novel that will capture the attention of teens and middle-grade students that have a love of fantasy and magic.

Pages: 302 | ASIN : B09PJX5H6Z

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The Whole Dollar

When two brothers are also best friends, they share everything. From sharing a room to toys, and even food, Big Brother and Little Brother shared all they had with each other. One day Big Brother wants to do a chore to earn a dollar, his mom asked him to rake the leaves, and he did. When he was done, she gave him a dollar bill. Wanting to share like always, Big Brother ripped the bill in two and gave half to Little Brother. Mom said she would put the two halves somewhere safe for the boys. Years later, as the boys grew older, they stayed just as close and shared everything still. Till one day, Little Brother must head off alone to join the Army. Mom has a surprise for the boys before they say their goodbyes.

The Whole Dollar is a beautiful children’s story about brotherly love, compassion, friendship, and mostly about sharing. Lori Croy has written this picture book using her own sons as the inspiration for the story. You can’t help but smile as you read through this heartwarming story because the love these two brothers share is immeasurable.

The language is geared to lower elementary level children and the illustrations are animated and colorful. Illustrator Katelynn Hoefelman has deftly captured the emotions of the brothers. Their personalities shine through in the images as they grow in the story. This creative story shows that even as they grow older, the things they share change, but the love they have for each other does not. Children will be able to understand the message that Croy is presenting while being entertained as well.

The Whole Dollar is a memorable picture book for younger children. The playful storyline and the message of sharing make this phenomenal children’s book ideal for use in the classroom. Showing the bond between brothers and the importance of family values will delight parents and caregivers of all children.

Pages: 28 | ISBN : 1667826190

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Bellerophon and Pegasus

Bellerophon and Pegasus follow the Greek mythological story of Bellerophon, who had the rare gift of connecting with and healing horses, seeks help from Pegasus in a time of need. As the word of her talents spread across the land, she is asked to join the battle against the mythical beast plaguing the people, bringing destruction and death in his path. As a talented healer, she finds herself conflicted about how to help defeat it, and meeting what she perceives as a homeless man, she confides in him her struggles. The man, a light sorcerer, instructs her to sleep outside of Athenas to ask for help to bridle Pegasus to help defeat the beast “Chimera.”

Author Kim Slamka’s writing stands out amongst many other Greek Mythology stories I have read. The author has clearly done her research, and it shines through her flawless storytelling. The character development is one to commend as Bellerophon is a person that many can look up to as she is strong but also noble. I also enjoyed reading a story that contains a strong yet kind female protagonist. This is the significant difference in the retelling from the Greek tale of Bellerophon.

The book contains beautiful illustrations of the scenes taking place, and I was immediately captivated as they tell a story all on their own. The artwork looks like a painting and really gives readers an immersive experience when reading this awe-inspiring work. Even though this is a short read, this is one book you can read over and over while enjoying the marvelous art.

Bellerophon and Pegasus is a captivating read with a twist on Greek mythology. I highly recommend this beautifully written story to those who are looking to escape a few hours of their day to a mythical world. This would make a great introduction to Greek mythology for teachers as well.

Pages: 60 | ASIN : B09KYDQDQV

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Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of The Sealed Forest 

Joseph and Eric can’t wait to start their summer vacation filled with video games and pizza ’til sunrise. But when the two best friends receive an unexpected invitation to try out the most anticipated game of the year at an exclusive tropical island resort, they jump at the opportunity. However, once they arrive, they are thrown into a fantastical adventure where nothing is what it seems. Friends and foes must be sorted, puzzles deciphered, and their own hidden abilities discovered. They will have to fight with all they have because life is not a video game, and there’s no respawning.

In Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of the Sealed Forest, author J.T. Tenera gives us a “finding one’s true self” adventure filled with action and video game references. The main characters go through various settings trying to stop an evil force from being released into the world. There are moments of calm in the book while the main characters enjoy a tropical vacation and meet new friends, followed by fast-paced danger when they encounter enemies much stronger than they are. The heroes are never guaranteed a win in their fights and end up seriously hurt at times. Characters “level up” throughout the book, just as video game characters would. In fact, the book is filled with references to video games – “tutorials” where they learn about hidden abilities and magic spells, new weapons and items found during quests, and a band of characters with specialized skills.

Younger readers may also connect to game streaming references, with one of the main characters trying to build a subscriber base. I felt at times there were many cryptic messages and long-winded explanations that didn’t add much to the storyline. Young readers will find characters they can identify and relate to, such as the arrogant, wealthy classmate with a posse and a slightly crazy scientist/professor with exploding inventions.

Erift’s Journeys: Secrets of The Sealed Forest ends with many questions unanswered. This is the perfect lead-in to the next book in the series. This coming-of-age novel for young adults will entertain them with action and adventure on a topic they love, video games.

Pages: 297 | ASIN : B09DMFR44V

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