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Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals is a highly engaging children’s book that educates as well as it entertains. I’ve come across many alphabet books that use generic words, but Anna Finch adds yet another layer of education to her book with the focus on animals specifically from Australia. Some of the names of the animals were hard to pronounce but children will love seeing the exotic animals, especially in the beautiful artwork that illustrator A.P. Gil has created.

There are multiple levels of engagement to this wonderful children’s book. The book goes through the alphabet one letter at a time. With each letter we learn about an animal whose name starts with the letter, we learn a fact about that animal, and we learn sounds that it makes. Children will mostly love how the book invites them to find the animal on the page, and they’ll also enjoy making the different noises that accompany each animal. All of this together makes for an engaging lesson that any parent or teacher can use to ensure their kids are focused on the subject.

Hide and Seek Alphabet: With Australian Animals is an entertaining and educational children’s book. This is a perfect fit for any kindergarten or preparatory class. I highly recommend this book to any parent who is struggling to keep their child focused as there is plenty of fun activities built into this book.

Pages: 58 | ASIN: B0BHLH35BM

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I Loved Them For That

Author Interview
Darlene Pscheidell Kwarta Author Interview

Once There Was a Child is a fun and touching account of your time as a special education teacher. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I wanted readers to realize how difficult my kids’ lives were and that they worked hard to do things that most people take for granted. They blossomed in the school environment because the staff, and especially the principal, stressed a “go for it” attitude. Sometimes my kids succeeded, and sometimes they didn’t, but they never stopped trying. They attempted things that no one had ever given them the opportunity to try—joining clubs, going on Outdoor Education, climbing a tree, rolling down a steep grassy hill, joining a lunch table with “regular kids” or going to a school dance when they couldn’t hear the music. I want my readers to give people who are “different”, disabled, handicapped, or whatever you want to call them, a chance, to accept them and respect them. They will be thankful for what THEY have learned.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who wants to work with special needs children?

Have a great sense of humor. It will get you through the times when you wonder if McDonald’s hires burned out teachers. (They do). But then one of my kids would look at me and ask, “Teacher OK? Teacher sad?” and would give me a hug. I realized that they had shown concern, and an awareness of someone’s feelings. Maybe they couldn’t multiply or divide or understand a story they were reading, but they had shown that they understood and demonstrated kindness and compassion, and I loved them for that.

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

It is important to first think of handicapped and disabled people as PEOPLE who need to feel friendship, acceptance, and tolerance. Regular education teachers, family members, community organizations, etc. are grateful to learn how to interact with special needs people. My kids wanted to feel that it was THEIR school too, and were grateful and happy when they were given that chance.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

What special kids and adults have to offer a “regular” person. Give them a chance to do so. You might just make yourself a good friend.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads

“Hey, it’s Darlene. I got the job!”
“Great! How many other teachers applied for that position?”
“Just me! I guess no one else was up for the challenge of a multi-handicapped class of junior high kids, but I am.”
“Uh, Congratulations, I think.”
“Thanks, I’m going to love it!”
And she did.


As a child, Darlene always felt like an outsider and was drawn to others like herself. She learned sign language from her deaf neighbor, Joe, and was the only person in the neighborhood who could communicate with him. The Helen Keller story inspired Darlene. So did the movie Teacher Teacher, which is about a teacher with many demons who works with a severely autistic, lonely young boy. Those teachers brought both of these children into a world they might never have known or become a part of. That’s what Darlene wanted to do. In her first book, ONCE THERE WAS A CHILD, Darlene Kwarta chronicles her journey with children who were often forgotten.

The New Addition To Our Family

Tricia DellAnno Author Interview

No Dog in my Yard follows a young boy who wants a dog more than anything and does what he has to in order to prove to his parents he is ready for a pet. What was the inspiration for your story?

The inspiration for No Dog in my Yard was my son, Jonathan. He begged and begged for a dog for ten years. He reminded us daily of dogs in every yard but his own. Though my husband and I love animals, with both of us working, our son in school, we enjoy traveling, etc., there never seemed to be an ideal time to get a pet and give it the time and attention it deserves. We hoped Jonathan would get his “dog fix” by playing with all the neighborhood dogs. It only made his desire to have one of his own even greater. We also repeatedly said no to a dog because Jonathan needed to take his responsibilities at home and school more seriously and prove he was ready to care for a pet. When the pandemic hit, I started to work from home, Jonathan was learning from home and doing well with his chores. Every excuse I had for not getting a dog went out the window. So, Millie is the new addition to our family. The transition from no dog to dog led me to write a second book – A Dog in my Yard.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Jim Pearson?

I couldn’t agree more that the art is fantastic! Jim is an absolute pro with an impressive background. He worked at Pixar Studios on the movies Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and The Ant Bully and went on to work at the Cartoon Network. Though No Dog in my Yard is Jim’s first children’s book, his experiences and talent truly brought the story to life. I gave Jim the story, pictures of all ten dogs, Jonathan, and a handful of adults, and the sketching began. His creativity, level of detail, and humor are apparent on every page of the book. Throughout the project, we found a really nice balance. Jim did what he does best, but he always asked my opinion and was open to suggestions. I knew it was important to him that I be completely happy with every illustration. With No Dog in my Yard my first book too, we learned a tremendous amount from each other and ultimately formed a great partnership and friendship.

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

What’s most important for me to share in No Dog in my Yard are important life lessons told in a comical way that any child, parent, or educator can relate to and enjoy.  I want readers to substitute a dog for anything children are asking for like video games, phones, toys, etc. The lessons for children include working hard for what they want, persevering, being responsible, making good decisions, and saving money they’ve earned. I want to share adorable characters and playful illustrations, so children laugh, learn, and want to read more.

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

My next book is A Dog in my Yard and will be available on November 6, 2022. The adventures of Jonathan, Millie, and more neighborhood dogs continue. Who knew having a puppy would turn our house upside down? So, the many discussions to re-home Millie and Jonathan’s plea to save her were real. I applied the same principles of laughter and learning and hope all readers will enjoy the next book in the series. And I’m happy to say that Jim was back for book #2 with more stunning illustrations!

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Join Jonathan on a heartwarming and hilarious journey as he learns the importance of decision-making and working hard for what you want.

This playfully illustrated and comical story follows Jonathan and his nine furry friends around the neighborhood as they plan and scheme to get Jonathan a dog of his own. But it is more than a story about a boy wanting a dog. Told from Jonathan’s perspective, children, parents, and teachers alike will laugh aloud as Jonathan’s plans shift from relentless begging to taking initiative, setting goals, persevering through challenges, and proving he is responsible.

Empower Future Generations

Valerie Johnson Author Interview

1 2 3 Count with Me on Granddad’s Farm follows a family who visit the family farm for the day and learn about different activities that go on there. What was the inspiration for your story?

My passion and purpose is to inspire, teach, and empower future generations. This story was inspired by summers on my grandfather’s farm and pays tribute to the special bond between children and their grandfathers. The concept of the book is based on my work with young mathematicians in grades K-6 as an Elementary Mathematics Specialist (and former classroom teacher). And, I dedicated this book to my Aunt Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician and Hidden Figure, because she loved to count.

What were some educational aspects that were important for you to include in this children’s book?

I want everyone to love math, so I’m writing math-themed children’s books to help ignite a love for math in all children.

The two important educational aspects included in this book—teach math and empower parents to support learning at home with tips, tools, and hands-on tasks. Parental involvement helps to increase student engagement and academic achievement. Parents can also help make learning less scary by practicing math at home. Learning to count is more than just memorizing and calling out numbers. The book’s back matter helps little ones develop (and reinforce) a strong foundation in counting and quantity by engaging in meaningful learning experiences (i.e. practicing the counting sequence, counting a collection, matching the number words with the objects being counted, exploring the idea of more or less, etc.) with visual supports.

The Discussion Starters, questions in the back of the book, help young readers comprehend and analyze the story for deeper meaning. The visual models (counting dots, fingers, animals, etc.) on the following pages help little ones to dive deeper into counting and reasoning mathematically.

The art in this book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration process like with illustrator Cee Biscoe?

Illustrating my picture book went through a lot of stages and took many months to complete.

First, I sent my manuscript to Cee Biscoe along with other background information so that she could start imagining how everything would look. Over the next several weeks, we collaborated on character development. Then, she drew pencil sketches of the characters and animals. Next, she planned what to show on each page of the story (to determine if there would be single or double-page spreads). Then, she created the thumbnail sketches, rough sketches, and full-size sketches. Revisions also occurred during that time. Once the page layouts (text placement and illustrations) were finalized, she painted the final artwork on large sheets of watercolor paper using gouache paint.

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

I love fractions and sweet potato pie. And, I’m using both to ignite a love of fractions with a heartwarming story about friendship, sharing, and grandparents — which was inspired by the classic book The Doorbell Rang. This picture book will introduce young readers to basic fraction concepts. I hope to have my next picture book available next year.

Author Links: Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Website

A fun, visually-engaging counting journey from 1 to 10 and more!

Welcome to our farm! It is a place to learn about farm life and animals on a farm, and to celebrate family, especially grandparents.

Children will love counting their way through Granddad’s farm. Pigs and chickens, cows and horses, apples, tomatoes, and plums-so many things to see and count on the farm. Follow an adventurous young girl as she spends the day with her grandfather helping with chores, riding the tractor, and enjoying a big family dinner to celebrate the farm’s bounty and the love of her family.

Learn to Count Build your little ones’ counting knowledge while reading together. Count up to 10. Count the farm animals, tractors, apples, flowers, and anything that can be counted. Read it again! Count down to 1.

Count to Learn Engage in meaningful math moments. Find and count the number of animals on each page, count how many animals there are all together, ask how many would be left if some were taken away, and talk about more and less.

Count in the Real World Help your little ones develop a love of numbers and math. Explore your home, neighborhood, and school. Count everyday objects forward up to any number and backward from any number.

A perfect book for little readers. Have fun counting from 1 to 10 and back again as you learn about farm life, farm animals, and family! Grab your copy of 1 2 3 Count with Me on Granddad’s Farm.

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The Magical Bag for a Plastic-Free Earth

Have you ever noticed how much waste we create? How much just one person can create in a single day? The Magical Bag for a Plastic Free Earth, written and illustrated by Pranamee Nath, follows a young girl named Ollie who loves animals and comes to realize the answers to those questions. Ollie goes for a visit at her Uncle John’s house where the main attraction is the beach. When the beach is closed her cousin Tanya takes her to enjoy the day at a fair where there is a variety of delicious foods and treats to indulge in. Tanya has a magic bag that lets her carry alternative containers that allow her to live waste and single-use plastic free. Ollie doesn’t see the importance of these items until she is confronted with why the beach was closed in the first place.

The message of doing our part in keeping our planet free of single-use plastic was done in such an impactful way by the author’s emotionally evocative writing skills. I enjoyed that the author also gives readers examples along the way that show how to make small changes when we are going about our everyday lives. These changes can make a huge difference and are easy to implement. I felt like I was being educated on every page rather than preached to or being shamed for my lack of action. This enlightening children’s book is a gentle guide that illuminates the steps that are necessary and easy to take. Ollie realizes how her actions throughout the day have contributed to a destructive situation for us, the world we live in, and the animals she loves. I felt her shame and sadness all at once and again that speaks to the author’s fantastic writing.

The Magical Bag for a Plastic-free Earth is an educational picture book that is a wonderful resource parents can use to introduce environmental issues and sustainability to young readers. This informative book will help parents and teachers start a conversation about the environment in a way that young kids will easily understand.

Pages: 40 | ASIN: B0BCSMD4ZF

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Ellie Visits the Dentist

Ellie loves everything sweet, from ice cream to cookies. Her mother tries her best to have her eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables and go easy on the sweets. Ellie goes to the dentist for a routine cleaning and discovers that she has two cavities. Scared that she has to come back to the dentist to fix the sugar bugs, Ellie starts to get nervous. After an amazing visit with the dentist to fix her cavities Ellie realizes that even though her experience wasn’t scary, she must eat a balanced diet and go easy on the sweets to avoid getting cavities.

Ellie Visits the Dentist is a captivating children’s book that will help young readers feel better about going to the dentist. Author Katie Specht teaches children that it is okay to eat sweets, but in moderation. I appreciated that she is honest with her audience but approaches this experience in a sensitive and inviting manner. Going to the dentist can be a daunting experience even for adults, but after reading about Ellie’s experience even I wanted to go to the dentist!

The illustrations throughout this educational kids book are colorful and vivid and offers readers plenty of eye-candy to look at while their parents read the story to them. Each character is expressive and their emotions are easy to identify, making this a perfect book to read to young children who are still learning to identify emotions. This is also a great book for elementary students who are starting to read on their own as the language used throughout the book is easy to understand.

With the support of Ellie’s mother and the dentist, Ellie had a wonderful experience. Ellie Visits the Dentist will inspire children to eat their fruits and vegetables to avoid getting cavities.

Pages: 24 | ASIN: B0B5M8FDVQ

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Just Janey’s Way

Janey has been a little stubborn lately, always wanting things done her way. After spending some time out in the garden with the class, and bossing her friends around, she finds herself all alone because no one wants to work with her. Will Janey find a way to work with others?

Just Janey’s Way shows how children that are stubborn may seem like bullies, but they are really just afraid and having control makes them feel safe. Once this issue is out in the open this book does a fantastic job of showing kids how to handle the situation. Opening up and talking about things is a critical step for Janey, and helps her reconnect with her friends. I thought this was a great lesson to teach to young children, because a lot of times children bottle up their emotions, and this book shows them that it’s okay to let others know your worries.

There is a wonderfully diverse cast of characters in this book that carry over from book one. I was also happy to see that Ben’s Fidget ball makes another appearance as this establishes a character trait throughout the series and also shows readers that people deal with their emotions in different ways. I think that this is really what this book, and book one in the Janey Series, was about; handling emotions.

Yet another fantastic and educational entry in The Janey Series. This is a vibrant picture book that is sure to keep kids engaged while teaching them a valuable life lesson. I highly recommend this children’s book. It would be great for gifting and is an exceptional kids book to add to any young child’s library.

Pages: 30 | ISBN: 1922670553

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The Swishing Shower

Young Sam has a difficult time transitioning from taking a bath to taking a shower. He does not like when the water gets into his eyes while he bathes. Good thing Sam has his big brother Niles to help lead the way and show him how to enjoy taking a shower. Niles knows just what to do and all he needs is his old umbrella and a little help from his mom.

In this sweet story poor Sam is having a hard time getting used to taking showers and wonders why he can’t take a bath in the tub like he used to. Thankfully he has Niles, his older brother, who experienced the same issue when he was getting older. Taking on his big brother role he shows Sam a different way of going about taking a shower and more importantly shows that he is there to care for and protect Sam.

This cute picture book shows the importance of family, teamwork, and ingenuity in writing this story. It shows young readers that having strong family values is important and to have trust and rely on the people we love. Niles found common ground with Sam and made sure to keep him safe, supported and understood to aid in his growth along with their mother. Young readers will enjoy this story and the whimsical illustrations by Catty Flores.

I enjoyed the life lesson shared in this story because I found it unique. I have never come across a children’s book that tackles this topic. It’s a challenge many parents face and this book provides a great story that will help children make the transition. The Swishing Shower tells an adorable tale that’s the perfect vehicle for an important life lesson.

Pages: 34 | ISBN: 952325457X

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