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The One Eyed Pug

The One Eyed Pug

It’s important to share messages of acceptance with children, but it can be difficult if you don’t take into consideration their level of understanding. What a child can understand is vastly different than an adult. The One Eyed Pug by Deborah Hunt is a cute little story about a pug puppy that has a slightly difficult life waiting for her. She has to go through the anxiety of being separated from her birth parents and then living with a stranger. While she does her best to adapt to her new life, change is right around the corner as her ‘mother’ ends up being unable to care for her and gives her to another family. Our little pug now has to deal with the uncertainty of a new home with new people without understanding why she was given up in the first place. Things seem to start going better for our pug until the introduction of a new friend and the terrible accident that follows close behind.

Using animals as a way to deliver important messages and teach important lessons to children is something that is not easily done, but delivered well in this story. Children seem to be able to listen carefully and understand difficult lessons when taught through an animal that can speak. Hunt uses the story of the pug to show children that change is not always bad. She also teaches them that while bad things may happen, there are good outcomes as well. Our pug has only lived for a short time yet she’s met with various changes and has to face the anxiety of the unknown each time. This story can also teach children compassion. Compassion for those who are different than us and compassion for those who are struggling.

There are several drawings throughout the book which can give the readers a nice interruption to the waves of text. It is important to keep children engaged as well as entertained. The drawings give more information on what the characters look like which helps the readers connect more to the story. The language in the story is very easy for new readers to understand. While this isn’t a first step book, it is definitely suitable for a child who has experience reading books with little pictures. The language might be too young for older readers, even though the message it sends is positive.

Deborah Hunt takes us on a trip to learn compassion and acceptance with The One Eyed Pug. This tale allows children to connect their own feelings of anxiety and uncertainty with things like change to the life of the protagonist, the little pug. It also allows children to see that dogs and other pets have feelings as well, even if we can’t always understand what they’re trying to tell us. Even when our little pug goes through a life changing situation, she comes out strong because she has the support of those who love her around her. This is an important thing for children to understand as well: we are all stronger thanks to the people who support us. This would be a great book for any avid young reader.

Pages: 80 | ISBN: 1945175788

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Henry and the Hidden Treasure

Henry and the Hidden Treasure

B.C.R. Fegan’s Henry and the Hidden Treasure is the story of one little boy’s quest to keep his “treasure” a secret from one person in particular. Henry’s tale of overwhelming desire to keep his treasure box from his sister’s clutches leads the reader on a journey into a child’s imagination and its endless possibilities. The threat posed by his baby sister is the driving force behind a long string of scenarios designed to trick, intimidate, and trap his sister as he shields his beloved treasure from her greedy hands. Henry, for all his planning, learns a valuable lesson about jumping to conclusions in the process.

Henry and the Hidden Treasure is a delight in both text and illustrations. As a third grader teacher and parent and one who has read more than my share of picture books to Kindergarten through 5th grade students, I can say Fegan has written a real gem. Children of all ages love a surprise ending, and the author has more than provided such a conclusion with a fantastic build-up and an added bonus on the last page. Teachers appreciate the opportunity to have students predict endings, and Fegan and Wen’s last page of text allows us to do just that with the simple yet powerful lone illustration of Lucy stealthily peeking at Henry.

The author/illustrator team of Fegan and Wen has created a story for both families and classrooms. The older brother versus baby sister dynamic is addressed via detailed, colorful illustrations which demonstrate the intensity of a child’s imagination. Each subsequent illustration adds a sense of drama children find appealing. My personal favorite of all the illustrations, as a mother, is the one depicting the reality of Henry’s room.

Teachers looking to create text sets for their students will find Henry and the Hidden Treasure a delightful addition to sets alongside books like Charlie McButton Lost Power where sibling rivalry is the theme. With the open-ended conclusion given by Fegan and Wen, I certainly hope there is a sequel to the saga of Henry and Lucy.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B0719JXRRT

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Always Inquisitive

Brent A. Ford Author Interview

Brent A. Ford Author Interview

A World of Wonder is designed to help parents and children build a sense of wonder about the world. I think it does this expertly. What was your inspiration for wanting to create such an engaging kids book?

My co-author and I are long-time educators currently working to bring high-quality, science curricula to primary schools across the country.  In primary grades, science instruction often takes a back seat to other subjects and it is our goal to change that by creating resources that integrate science with reading (in this case poetry), writing and mathematics. Young children are natural-born scientists – always inquisitive of the world around them – so we are working to create materials that parents and teachers can use to foster and promote that innate interest. We also want to help parents and teachers inspire children to appreciate, and care for, our world as well as to provide opportunities to engage children in thinking and talking about science.

The art in this book is spectacular. What decisions went into the art direction for this book?

That is an interesting question because we had to think about so many things at the same time! We wanted to include all different types of science; we wanted to include some of those classic poems that many of us grew up with as well as some new ones; and we wanted to include topics that allowed for interesting extension activities that kids would want to come back to over and over again. So we had to weave all of those elements together at same time. We couldn’t just pick the best pictures or just use classic children’s poetry; everything had to work toward the larger goal of building that sense of wonder about the world and be really engaging to kids.

The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation between parents and children. What poem and photo is your favorite and why?

Thank you – that was certainly our goal! My favorite combination is probably the poem about the eagle – the king of the daytime sky – along with that magnificent image of the eagle fishing – talons extended – above a partially frozen lake. That image is inspiring all by itself, but then the extension activity includes a link to a webcam of an eagle’s nest high in the tree tops above a field, with a stream in the distance. The webcam is always on and you can go back to it often throughout the year to see just about anything – from eggs, to hatchlings, to juvenile eagles just beginning to fly, to Mom and Dad eagle keeping warm through the winter – it’s always fascinating to watch. (It can also a bit graphic at times, so parents need to be careful with very young children.)

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

Our science teaching units all use children’s literature as a foundation for the unit and we are in the process of releasing those books now on Amazon and iBooks – both as eBooks and as paperbacks. Several of the books, like When I Grow Up, include spectacular photography similar to this book, while others are fun storybooks. My favorite storybook is When We Were Young, which is a sweet story about Dr. Dolittle’s Pushme-Pullyou and includes really beautiful watercolor illustrations by an illustrator from London.  That was a really fun project to work on!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A World of Wonder by [Ford, Brent A., Hazlehurst, Lucy McCullough]

A World of Wonder is a book designed to help children develop a wonder for, and an appreciation of, the world in which we all live. The book combines spectacular images with a variety of poetry and verse…from time-honored and classic to new and sometimes humorous.

This is not the type of book typically read in one session. We encourage readers to come and go as children ask questions about the world. Children can certainly experience the book on their own, but we also encourage parents and teachers to engage with children – ask questions to tease out their understanding of the world and provide guidance where and when it seems appropriate. We also encourage you to follow children’s leads to encourage their interests in our magnificent world.

The authors, both educators and researchers with many years of experience, ensure that each facet of the experience is scientifically and pedagogically appropriate for young children.

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A World of Wonder

A World of Wonder by [Ford, Brent A., Hazlehurst, Lucy McCullough]

A World of Wonder by Brent A. Ford and Lucy McCullough Hazlehurst is an educational combination of photographs and poetry, designed to be enjoyed by parents and children together. Giving the latter an interest in the world and to act as a starting point for appreciating its wonders. It consists of 41 high-quality, color images of nature and natural phenomena across the globe, each paired with a relevant, short poem – some newly written for the book, and some classics. The interactive copy has links to further information related to each photo.

The first thing that struck me was the quality of the photos, which are expertly-framed, beautiful shots of a range of animals, scenery, and weather across the globe, as well as views from beyond the upper atmosphere. As an adult, I still wonder at many of them, so it must be magical for a child. They evoke multiple emotions – some are dramatic, some cute, some calm – but all are of a suitable nature for young children, as should be expected.

The accompanying poems are apt for the stated age range of 3-8, and grade level K-2; they’re short, accessible and fun to read aloud. Some are humorous, while many are more instructive about the habits of animals or natural processes. They match well with the photos, and explore different aspects of life on Earth.

The combined variety of photos and poems are ideal for promoting conversation of all kinds between parents and children; it’s easy to tell that the authors have experience in education. Not just parents, but teachers could certainly get a lot of use out of this book, too.

It’s not particularly long, and because it’s designed to be picked up and put down, it seems perfect for different attention spans and available periods of time. It could be used at bedtime, or for car journeys.

The amazing choice of photographs enables you to revisit this book many times, so parents can ask different questions to highlight different points and to introduce more complex ideas as their child grows. This flexibility of use would is a huge draw for parents. It would be ideal for guessing games – trying to remember the photo from the poem, or even the poem from the photo. Budding artists could get some great inspiration from it, and it could be a very useful starting point for crafting projects or for guided research about animal habits and habitat.

I appreciate the authors’ aims and the work that they have put into the book in order to achieve them. A World of Wonder truly delivers on the wonder that it promises.

Pages: 88 | ASIN: B072LJWBSZ

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Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons

Cassie's Marvelous Music Lessons4 Stars

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons is a charming children’s story that is about a lively little puppy dog and her love for music. Cassie, the dog, finds herself in a studio that is filled with upbeat tunes that fill her heart and soul and leave her little tail tapping to the beat. A lady, by the name of Mrs Applebaum, is the cause for such beautiful rhythms and soon Cassie realises that her passion for music and teaching must be heard! However, Mrs Applebaum struggles to understand Cassie’s dreams and desires and together they must come to an understanding through the language of music.

Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons, written by Sheri Poe-Pape is a delightful children’s story about a family’s favourite pet- an excitable pup by the name of Cassie. Cassie is a lover of the beat, and with her musical ear, she is eager to transfer her passion into teaching. Beautifully written, this story will put a smile on your face as you vividly imagine the little pup tapping away to the beat of the music, desperately trying to show that she too could potentially be a teacher one day.

Perfect for the young ones, this short story will fire up their imagination as they begin to wonder what secret talents their beloved family pet could secretly possess. I found myself wondering if my little puppy dog was actually trying to tell me that she too could possibly be a musical genius beneath that big furry coat! I love how Sheri Poe-Pape puts into perspective how your pup may be trying to communicate and leaves you questioning what your pup might be saying between their barks, growls and howls. Cassie’s vibrant personality and determined nature will help show children that your dreams are certainly possible- as long as you are persistent!

You can almost hear the music being played in the studio as you read the songs which have quirky titles such as “A Starry Night Howl”. Between these furry tunes, you will find Cassie desperate to communicate with her owner through the rata-tatt-tatting of her furry tail and the howling of her passionate bark. The themes within this story could also apply to people attempting to speak to each other through different languages and how music could be used as the universal way to converse with each other.

Overall Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons will serve as a heartwarming reminder that it is important to never judge a book by its cover (or by its fur coat!) and the only limits are the limits you put on yourself. As it is family orientated, Cassie’s Marvelous Music Lessons would serve as the perfect bedtime story or for a child learning to read short stories. Sheri Poe-Pape’s uplifting style of writing leaves you feeling joyful and inspired to fulfill your goals and pursue your dreams- no matter how big they may be!

I would recommend this for children who enjoy amusing short stories involving little furry friends!

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B017THEOAI

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A Magical Theme

S. Jackson Author Interview

S. Jackson Author Interview

Uncle Stubby Gets Married takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together into a fantastic story of kindness and cheer. What was the inspiration that made you want to write a kids book about this subject?

First – wild squirrels. We have them in our backyard and the neighbors do as well. They are truly wild but they also come up to eat nuts and seeds my husband puts out for them, as well as the water. We watch their funny antics and many have names such Stubby due to his short tail, Sparkles because she is a juvie squirrel with a radiant white tummy, Foxy – well she is a mama squirrel and has had litters in two years. Cutter has a tear in his ear, Nibbler has a small tear and a hole in his ear, and so on. Shadow is our daughter’s small dog and one day we thought the squirrels and Shadow would make for a good children’s book. Shadow and the squirrels had just spent Christmas in New York City and Central Park when the idea of Uncle Stubby Gets Married hit us. We love to teach kindness with all the animals in our books, and to have them be friends no matter what the animals were like in the real world. We also figured it was high time Uncle Stubby got married.

What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?

Friendship and kindness are very important and those elements are always added in our children’s book. We teach safety and learning about animals in our books, and we like to have everything colorful and eye catching. Having the animals work together in the wedding illustrates how children can work together in the real world, also.

I felt that the art in the book was well conceived. How did you decide on which images and themes to use?

Theme wise we knew if the wedding was held in a magical fairy forest, that no animal could even remotely get hurt, or preyed upon by hawks and other predators. In keeping with a magical theme it was only proper to use magical animal characters and a magical forest as the setting.

Uncle Stubby Gets Married is book 5 in the Shadow and Friends Series. What is the next book in the series and when will it be available?

Book 6 is a work in progress, and the title is Shadow and Friends Circus Adventures. Not only will the squirrels, Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, be a part of the circus; plans include many different animals and the the acts will also be done in a magical theme. We are planning on releasing in early May, 2017. We also have book 7 as a work in progress and Shadow and her friends will help the town of Ellsworth, Kansas, celebrate it’s 150th birthday August 2017. This will be a fun book, too, with all the old west built in, and it should be available early to mid July, 2017.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Uncle Stubby Gets Married (Shadow and Friends Series Book Five 5) by [Jackson, S., Raymond, A., Schmidt, M.]“In this children’s picture book, and sixth book in our ‘Shadow and Friends Series’, Uncle Stubby Gets Married, a fox squirrel named Uncle Stubby has fallen in love with a girl squirrel named Sparkles. Squirrel family and friends, including a small dog named Shadow, and her boyfriend, Max, are invited to attend the wedding in a special Valentine Fairy Forest. Uncle Stubby thinks Sparkles is the most beautiful girl squirrel in the land. Uncle Stubby’s twin, Shorty, flies in from New York City with his family, and Shorty is best man for his brother. Foxy is matron of honor for Sparkles. The Valentine Fairy Forest is truly a magical land, the illustrations show how this dream forest looks, and all the animals are safe in this forest both day and night. Along the way, we meet mouse fairies, and Minister Mouse conducts the wedding. Sparkles’ wears a crown, and Uncle Stubby is dressed in a cummerbund. Various other animals are present, including one unicorn, and the bride and groom spend their wedding night in Walnut Forest, a special part of the Valentine Fairy Forest. Children will love seeing how magical the forest is, with abundant sparkles thrown in for good measure. This delightful and funny book for children, targeted at ages 4-11, is easy to read and perfect for home or classroom. This story illustrates how beautiful the Valentine Fairy Forest looks, produces pure imagination in children, and the illustrations will fascinate children and adults.”

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Nickerbacher: The Funniest Dragon

Nickerbacher by [Barto, Terry John]
4 Stars

The story of Nickerbacher takes you on a journey of mystical beings and starry-eyed dreams. It’s an adventure with a dragon and a prince and princess. Nickerbacher is a dragon destined for a life of working as a protector of princesses- a job that was proudly held by his father and his father before that. However, Nickerbacher dreams of something more and wants to perform on The Late Knight Show where he can show off his comedic value. With the help of a leprechaun, a prince and other magical beings, can Nickerbacher change the hearts and minds of all La La Land?

Nickerbacher, written by Terry John Barto, is a fun-loving children’s novel based on the story of a dragon and his friends. Nickerbacher dreams of being something more than a dragon protector of princesses and sets his sights on becoming a comedian. There is an underlying message that children will love as it promotes following your dreams even if other people may not believe that you can achieve them.

Throughout the story, the fantasy characters participate in modern-day activities, like taking selfies with mystical beings or trying to fit their feet into the prints of famous celebrities. This provides a modern twist to a classically styled fairy tale that combine beautifully in this incredible city. My favorite character is Miss Phoenix, a receptionist who rises from the ashes to greet the unlikely trio. She is dedicated to her work but has a heart of gold which sings true to the end.

Pictures are included throughout the novel which brings to life the extraordinary fun loving characters. My favorite image is one that includes ghosts and goblins at the Fairywood Forever Cemetery, royal chariots at LAX and the Medieval Tar Pits. The images are a mix of castles with high rise style buildings that replicate a similar style of what I would imagine LA would look like if it had been sprinkled with a touch of fairy dust. I love how the imagery complements the text and helps with engaging the reader in expanding their imagination.

This story will help children to learn the importance of friendship and believing in yourself. Nickerbacher also touches on issues such as family, societal expectations and breaking through the barriers of life in a fun and engaging story line. Children will relate to parts of the story and see parts of themselves in each of the magical beings. I love the relationship between Princess Gwendolyn and Nickerbacher and how they break the stereotypes of the typical dragon and Princess friendship.

I would recommend Nickerbacher to any school-aged children who wants to be lost in the magic of La La Land. This book would be perfect as a bedtime story to be read aloud as Terry John’s Barto’s wonderful way with words will delight all children and adults alike.

Pages: 34 | ASIN: B00SKKX2AW

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Uncle Stubby Gets Married

Uncle Stubby Gets Married4 Stars

You need to be able to tap into a certain flavour of whimsy in order to write a good children’s book. Let’s not forget that the illustrations need to be catchy and colourful to hold the attention of the little ones either reading or being read to. A children’s book is most entertaining when it spins a different point of view on something that children have already been exposed to. Uncle Stubby Gets Married by S. Jackson and A. Raymond takes the idea of simple squirrels and marriage and melds them together. This book is part of a series with other animals and their lives. Perfect for children, this book draws out the marriage between Uncle Stubby and his betrothed Sparkles as their friends and family travel to help them celebrate it. The story is full of kindness, cheer and all the good feelings weddings are supposed to elicit.

The language in this book is very simple. It may be difficult for a child who is learning to read but it is perfect to read to a child. The pictures are bright and interesting, which should help keep the attention of the audience. At the beginning of the book there is a comprehensive breakdown of the entire story so parents or teachers can determine if the book will suit their needs or themes. As it takes place in the Valentine Forest, this is a good book to read around Valentine’s Day, if you are looking for theme-specific books.

The images are, for the most part, real photographs of various animals manipulated to be posed or displayed in a certain way. There are little additions like a crown or the plethora of sparkles and these add to the story. It is interesting for children to see ‘realistic’ pictures of animals they are familiar with engaging in very human activities. It allows them to have a sense of imagination and wonder just what exactly squirrels get up to when humans aren’t looking. The one downside to using manipulated photographs is that when a character appears that is either created by hand or through computer graphics they stand out a fair bit. This occurs with the Mouse Fairies in the Valentine Forest. Their appearance is a stark contrast to the other characters in that they are fully clothed with added hair. They are more anthropomorphic than a photo-enhanced squirrel with a sash around its waist.

Nitpicking aside, Jackson and Raymond know how to craft an interesting children’s tale. The story is cute and even though it is part of a series, it can stand alone quite well. Readers do not need previous knowledge of the characters to understand the story in Uncle Stubby Gets Married. For children, and maybe even adults, who have a fantastical view of the world this is a lovely tale of romance, happiness and friendship.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B01MY5NJF0

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Oliver and Jumpy

Oliver and Jumpy, Stories 10-125 Stars

Oliver and Jumpy: Stories 10 – 12 is a collection of children’s stories featuring Oliver the cat and Jumpy and Joey, the kangaroos. Written by Werner Stejskal and illustrated by Maycee Ann Reyes and Marvin Alonso, the stories are geared toward young children and early readers. There are three stories in this collection: “Unhappy Dog,” “Kite High,” and “Butterfly Trouble.”

In “Unhappy Dog,” Oliver meets a dog who barks all the time. Instead of being angry, Oliver strikes up a conversation and learns that Barky is lonely and bored, and he can’t get out of his yard to play. Oliver enlists Jumpy and her son Joey to help Barky get over the fence, and they play games to help Barky feel less lonely.

“Kite High” is another adventure where the three friends get swept up into the sky while riding a cart with a parasail attached. They talk to seagulls, and meet some pelicans, too. There’s danger ahead for Joey, but the friendly pelicans help them land their craft.

“Butterfly Trouble” starts when Oliver meets a butterfly named Bluey. Bluey needs Oliver’s help because a boy with a butterfly net is trying to catch him. Jumpy and Oliver stop the butterfly hunt, save the day, and free Bluey’s friends from captivity.

I shared these stories with a three-year-old girl, and she declared that her favorite story was “Butterfly Trouble.” The illustrations are vibrant and full of expression, inspiring her to take the time to point out the little details as we read. The book looked wonderful on the tablet computer – the colors and images were perfect, and it was easy to read.

All the stories emphasize friendship, helping others, and they include a bit of mischief. There is one potentially scary scene in “Kite High” prompting my young friend to exclaim, “Uh oh!” she also pointed at the pelicans helping our heroes. Every story ends happily, and no one is hurt.

One thing I noticed is that the author is clearly aiming for a global audience. Readers in the U.S. may notice a difference in words or usage, but they aren’t incorrect. It’s just the subtle difference between US and European English.

If you’re a parent, you can’t go wrong with this delightful book. It’s perfect for reading aloud to toddlers or a fun addition to your early reader’s digital library. All the Oliver and Jumpy stories are available on Amazon and several are on YouTube, narrated by the author.

Pages: 25 | ISBN: 9781625174079

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Ridiculously Good

Ann Bevans Author Interview

Ann Bevans Author Interview

Bean Takes a Walk is a short, colorful, and educational adventure book for kids. What was the inspiration for Bean in the Garden?

Matt originated the idea of a children’s series about a bean walking across a garden. As we explored it further, we realized that Bean could be an aspirational character for young children, and we could use him to teach kids about acceptance, kindness and friendship. These are lessons we’re both trying to instill in our own children, so it felt right to do it in the series. Before we knew it, we had a whole town full of veggie people!

The story is about sharing, making friends, and being kind; a great message for preschool kids. In such a short book, how did you balance story telling with the delivery of those messages?

We try to keep it lighthearted and fun. We want kids to engage first and foremost with the characters and the story. The lessons are baked in, but there’s nothing preachy about it. I believe that kids have an intuitive understanding of fairness and kindness, so it’s easy for them to grasp these concepts!

The art in this book is wonderful. What was the collaboration like to make such colorful works of art?

Matt is just ridiculously good. It’s an honor to work with him. We’ve been working together for almost 10 years on website and logo design, so we know each other well. Even so, this was a brand new adventure for us! It’s been really fun figuring out all the characters and how the different scenes might look.

On Bean’s adventure he takes three toys, one of them is The Amazing Pickle #1 comic. So cute! Why did you choose these items?

We wanted things that would be simple and identifiable to kids – the kinds of things they might have in their own backpacks! As for the Amazing Pickle – well there might be some special superhero adventures in Bean’s future!

Bean Takes a Walk is book 1 in the Bean in the Garden series. What’s next for Bean in the Garden?

There are so many characters to explore in our little world! Coming up, you can expect more stories about Bean’s family and his best friend, Bella.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Bean Takes a Walk (Bean in the Garden Book 1)Bean in the Garden is a series of delightful, lighthearted picture books and videos aimed at teaching preschoolers how to be brave and kind in everyday life. In Bean Takes a Walk, Mrs. Berg entrusts Bean with a beautiful stone to trade with Miss Tots for some chamomile tea. Along the way, he makes some new friends and learns that not everything is what it seems!

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