Lucy’s First Christmas, written by Rolynda Tassan and illustrated by Ruby Wheeler, is the heartwarming tale of Lucy the rescue cat’s first Christmas with her adoptive family. Like any other cat, her curiosity wins out, and she becomes entangled, literally, in the preparations for the coming holiday. From present-wrapping to light-stringing, Lucy is allowed to be a part of it all. Lucy is even afforded her first trip into the snowy outdoors and is a part of the family’s Christmas read-aloud. This particular book is the third in a series of stories written about Lucy and her adventures.
Tassan has written a much-needed tale with Lucy’s First Christmas. As a mother, teacher, and adoptive parent of three rescue pets, I don’t see enough of these books on the shelves. There is a joy like no other in watching a shelter pet bloom in a loving home. The author captures this feeling quite well with Lucy’s Christmas experiences. She describes each family member’s patience with the curious cat and demonstrates the various ways in which the family involves the pets in their routines. The love between the family and Lucy is mutual and communicated well throughout the book.
Any parent or teacher choosing this book to read with children will find it touching and true-to-life. The author has included a fair amount of “awwww” moments and lots of snuggling and loving. The pets themselves are no strangers to snuggling. This is an all-around sweet story to share with children who have pets, are wanting pets of their own, or who are in a family who has adopted a pet from a shelter.
Generally a realistic fiction piece, Tassan has managed to work in a bit of fantasy with the pets talking to one another. For the most part, these sections serve to explain some of the things that drive Lucy’s curiosity and, in the conclusion, add to the dearness of the overall plot.
Lucy’s First Christmas is a touching story that hits home for readers of all ages and features delicate illustrations of the pets and their family. Tassan and Wheeler’s precious Christmas story is a must-read for any family with rescue pets. Lucy’s first Christmas with her family will bring a smile to the reader’s face and touch the soul of any animal lover.
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Adjusting to change is never easy—even if you’re a cat! In Lucy Meets the Family, Rolynda Tassan’s second book in the Lucy’s Tale series, Ben brings Lucy, a little gray cat, home. Nervous, Lucy meets her new family: a cat, Addy, and two dogs, Sissy and Pippin. When Ben leaves, Lucy tries to make herself at home, but she does everything wrong! She makes a mess of the litter box, gets into food that doesn’t belong to her, and annoys Pippin by sleeping on her bed. Will Lucy ever feel like part of the family?
Dedicated to families who open their homes to animals from the shelter, Lucy Meets the Family is a great way to teach young children how to prepare to bring a new pet home, especially if they have other pets at home already. Like Lucy, a new pet will feel anxiety at her surroundings and make mistakes as she tries to find her way around her home. Readers will learn to anticipate what they can do to prepare their other pets for a new family member. Addy, Sissy, and Pippin already have their own spaces and understand the rules, so they need time to adjust to another animal. On a more practical level, Lucy Meets the Family shows readers what an owner will need to purchase before bringing home a new pet.
For young children just learning to read, Lucy Meets the Family is good practice. The words are simple, and some lines of text are repetitive. The pictures in the book are colorful and have the feel of being hand sketched with watercolor paints. However, the illustrations directly reflect the story and focus on Ben, his pets, and the purchased items for Lucy. Tassan weaves a heartwarming tale about furry friends with tails that animal lovers will enjoy.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: 0998331821
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In order to eliminate discrimination and promote inclusion, we need to start with our children. They are the future of this world and if they can learn to love and accept each other regardless of what they look like or act like, then the world will be richer for it. Deborah Hunt takes this idea and uses it in her children’s book Same Inside Different Outside. It’s a lovely short story accompanied by equally wonderful pictures to help bring the message home. The colors are bright and the lines are soft. The story takes place in a school setting which readers should be able to connect with. This makes the message more relevant and easy to understand. It’s a clever way to deliver a sometimes difficult message to such a young audience.
The representation of a medical professional as a woman and the teacher as a man is a nice and subtle way of breaking down gendered stereotypes when it comes to careers. In traditional books teachers are women and any medical or science-related job is played by a man. In a book about acceptance, this is a key idea to get across. The children in the book are aware of their differences from each other, which is a normal discovery at their age. The doctor who is presenting to the children in the book is kind and patient with them as she goes over the parts of our bodies under our skin. As they move through the lesson the children voice their concerns and are answered honestly. This is key for the story because it also teaches readers that it is okay to ask questions and you will receive an appropriate response.
I felt like the children had a vocabulary and an understanding of body parts that were a little beyond kindergarten. But this is a minor concern that does not impact the integrity of the message.
Deborah Hunt is able to deliver a sometimes difficult message with ease in Same Inside Different Outside. The illustrations are very nice and pleasing to look at. The content isn’t difficult to understand and the message is clear and easy to digest without being muddled. Children and adults alike will find that the message this book sends is one we have been trying to share for a long time.
Pages: 32 | ISBN: 1945175702
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The One Eyed Pug is a cute chapter book that helps kids deal with change and uncertainty. What was your inspiration for this lovely story?
Although this story is a work of fiction it’s actually based on the life and experiences of my lovely little pug and the incorrigible Chewy.
Do you have pets of your own? Were you able to use anything from your own experiences in life?
A good portion of this story is based on actual events that occurred with my pug and Boston terrier and was influenced by my experience as an animal lover and life long pet owner. Although I don’t proclaim to be on the level of the “dog whisperer” I do believe our pets communicate with us and if we are open to this possibility we come to understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and that the relationship is reciprocal so eventually our pets also understand our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
I think this book did a great job of keeping kids interested and engaged. What do you find is the most challenging part about kids books?
I believe the most challenging part about writing kids books is learning how to show and not tell and utilize appropriate verbiage and action words. Also, learning how to develop content that is age appropriate knowing that reading level is individualized and that stories should be versatile and lend themselves to different types of readers ranging from reading aloud, early readers, independent readers, and even adult readers. The illustrations also play an important role in helping the reader to develop a greater connection with the characters. Determining the placement and type of illustrations was also a bit challenging and I worked very closely with my illustrator throughout the process. Since this was based on a true story I was also able to share actual photographs that certainly helped my talented illustrator to accurately depict the characters, especially the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston terrier.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
This has certainly been a banner year for me and I am thrilled to share that my picture book entitled “Same Inside Different Outside” is being released by Waldorf Publishers on September 15, 2017.
Currently, I’m working on another chapter book about the lovely little pug and Chewy, the Boston Terrier. The clue to what this next book will be about is at the end of “The One Eyed Pug”.
The One-Eyed Pug is based on a true story. Children and adults will fall in love with the lovely little pug, and eventually come to love the incorrigible Chewy, too! In this story, a little pug keeps hoping she will find her forever home but every time she thinks she has found it she has to move, or is adopted by a new family. Finally, she is adopted by the Barker family and believes she has finally found her forever home. Everything is perfect until the terrible horrible thing happens; a new puppy named Chewy comes to live with the family and makes the little pug’s life miserable. Then one day when the two puppies are playing and finally getting along Chewy accidently scratches the pug’s eye and she has to go to the hospital. What will happen the little pug? What will happen to Chewy? You will find out when you read this truly intriguing tale.
Posted in Interviews
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Mindfulness and mediation are creeping into more parts of society. Things that were once meant for children are evolving for adults to enjoy as well. One of these is colouring books. No longer is this pastime reserved strictly for young children. There is a soothing sense that one can derive from colouring an image. It does not require much artistic talent either. Along with this shift to the adult mindset comes The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book by Rev. Ernesto Lozada-Uzuriada. Coupling the peaceful activity with biblical themes and images this book is a perfect gift for the devout. Each image evokes the idea of a stained-glass window one might see inside a church depicting various scenes from the bible. There is some melding of these scenes with modern technology which just serves to remind us that Christ is still present today.
The book begins with a lovely forward from Ruth Finnegan, operator of Living Tree Publishers that has produced this colouring book. In it, she seeks to remind us why we are drawn to art and why we colour. It is the marriage of that simple meditation with something tangible. A brief biography is also given of the artist who designed the pictures, Lozada-Uzuriada himself. The images are carefully crafted to convey the message of a particular scene or passage from the bible in a format that is easily understood. Titles are given to each piece to help the user remember which part of the bible and which story the scene belongs to. The line work is heavy and dark; much like stained glass itself. This is useful for those who colour because it easily defines which sections are contained.
Given that the images impress upon this writer scenes in stained glass windows, it serves to mention that the content of this colouring book is better suited for adults. The expressions of various people within the scenes could be taken as angry, frightening or scary. Young children need to have faith in the beauty and gentleness of the Bible and exposing them to this colouring book without proper context might serve to scare them, rather than inspire them. That aside, this book is a wonderful compilation of some of the more memorable pieces of scripture that one might want to colour and perhaps display in their home. Christ is a central figure in most of the pieces of this book.
With the world’s attention focusing more on mindfulness and meditation for the adults in the world, colouring has become a de-stressor for many. The Contemporary Christian Colouring Book by Rev. Ernesto Lozada-Usuriada is a must-have piece for those of the Christian faith who would like to colour while they meditate. Being able to add a personal touch to such moving and important points of Christian faith allows those who use this book to come closer to the inner workings of their faith. It is nice to see how something as traditional and sacred as someone’s faith can mix and meld with the current needs.
Pages: 46 | ISBN: 1326968165
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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!
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.
Posted in Interviews
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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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Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone: The Legend in Lake Isa by Lou Jenkins is a fun and engaging children’s book. The reader follows the tale of Howie and his grandmother as they journey to the land that would become Yellowstone National Park. In the park Howie befriends a bear cub named Seymour and adventures ensue.
Jenkins has crafted a creative children’s book. You can make the puppets of Howie and Seymour by downloading them online. This is a creative addition that adds another dimension to an already fun book. Being able to read this story to a child and then create those same characters makes this an activity book as well and extends the time children spend with this book. This along with the message of taking care of Yellowstone is a nice way to subtly provide a conservation starter for children.
There are plenty of artistic and imaginative bits of art in this book that I greatly appreciated even in ebook format. I really enjoyed the pictures, especially those of the various animals that can be found in Yellowstone.
The language that Jenkin’s uses is perfect for a young child’s capabilities. The names are funny and should keep children’s attention. I would be shocked to hear that a child could read through this story without laughing once. With names like “Ma Fanny” for the grandmother or “Seymour Heinie” for the bear cub, I can only smile at the thought of children who would laugh in good natured fun. Jenkin’s is able to capture a child’s innocent humor in this book.
The book’s plot is set up like a tale told by Francis Tootalot about his ancestor Howie. The story itself showcases a lot of animals and different places that are famous in Yellowstone; like the geysers and forests. To children, this kind of meandering plot may not bother them, because Jenkins’ does a great job filling these instances with pretty pictures. In some ways it reminds me of a children’s show on television, which may be where Jenkins’ pulled inspiration from.
The best takeaway from Howie Tootalot in Yellowstone is not only the ecological message that Lou Jenkins’ provides, but the fact that the Tootalot family are part of an ongoing series. There is a lot to enjoy here and I believe any parent can appreciate the message behind the fun.
Pages: 41 | ASIN: B01JZWS63G
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