Monday, November 30, 2015

Book Themed Gifts for Kids

Ok, it is time for the Happy Holidays post.  This is when I give you book related gift ideas for the kids in your life who love to read.  Or perhaps they will serve as a source of inspiration for kids who haven't yet fallen in love with books.  Either way, they celebrate reading and that's a good thing.

When I was a kid I would write my name in all my books, but this would have been a much nicer way to identify the books as mine.  This requires a two week lead time, so don't dilly dally if you think it might be the ideal present for a little book hoarder in your life.

This is probably a pillow I need for my own bed, but it would look great in a tween's room.  Now I know you don't want to encourage after hours activities, but reading...

Who can resist a little Wild Thing?  Of course if your child is more of the Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Madeline or Babar variety, they have a shirt for that too.  Lot's of fun classics are represented  so that everyone's favorite book doesn't just have to come out at bedtime!

Personal Library Kit

When my kids were younger they loved to play library or book store.  This would have been a huge hit in our house.  It is also a lovely way for kids to take responsibility for their own book collections and the retro feel makes it especially appealing.

Pop Up Desk Notes

I just thought this gift was fun for the budding fashionista.  While not related to a book, it is for writing so I am calling this close enough!  Great for drafting little notes to friends or doodling your next amazing creation.

S is for Star Wars Kids' Tees

Do you have a little one still trying to learn their letters?  Well, how about some Star Wars inspiration to cement those consonants!  Pair this with a Star Wars alphabet book and they'll know their ABCs in no time.

T-Shirt for Older Kids

For those kids who are a little too mature to wear Star Wars alphabet shirts, there is an alien who isn't so concerned about "leaders" as he is about "readers"  A cute take on who is really in charge.

Children's Authors Card Game

Ok, this one is throwback to when I was a kid.  I loved to play this with my mom and I learned all about the classic children's authors and their books.  These are playing cards so you can use them for any of your usual card games or play the version where you have to collect all the "books" - my personal favorite.

Field Tent

Ok, just like the Neiman Marcus catalog, there has to one extravagant item that celebrates books.  This tent looks like a giant just dropped what he was reading and now you can literally find shelter in a book.  How cool is that?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Book About Friendship and Social Media

Social media has certainly made friendships and teen/tween dynamics different from when I was growing up.  I am frankly happy that I didn't have to navigate a world where my relationships were played out on a much more public forum.  But parents and kids have to be aware that new challenges and consequences exist in this brave new world.

The book I am profiling today looks at how friendships play out in this new reality.  The focus of this book is much more how teens use social media as a weapon against each other.  I have profiled another book in the past, Katie Friedman Give Up Texting, which looks at how our conversations change when we interact through social media vs. face to face.  Both are valuable in helping teens decide how they will use this technology.

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and by email so that you don't miss a book where I get to encourage you to get your kids off their phones.

Title: Unfriended

Author: Rachel Vail

Target: Grade 6-8

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Truly lost her best friend Natasha to the popular crowd when they entered middle school.  Natasha was developing faster and found the cool kids enticing.  Now they are in eight grade and Natasha has invited Truly into the her group.  Truly is excited to be asked, but she does have to abandon her quirky best bud Hazel to join.  Turns out that Natasha’s motives aren’t as kind as they first appear, and Hazel is not too thrilled about being left behind.  But the kids in Truly’s new group are actually nice and they do seem to care.  When the friendships are tested, unfortunately the presence of social media makes everything feel more real and public. The consequences are much farther reaching in this new plugged in world.

Why I love this book: 
First off I loved that all the characters are developed and none represent stereotypical versions of a mean or nice girl.  I got the feeling that these were real teens and their voices felt honest.  They are navigating through friendships, sometimes with more success than others.

The book is told in the voice of six characters, four female and two male.  This allowed us to see the motivations behind each person and how they see a situation from their own bias and vantage points.  I became much more sympathetic to some of the more outwardly unkind kids.

I also like that the book showed how social media can escalate situations that we as parents never had to deal with as teens.  It is a good warning to kids that using social media can create lasting impressions over a far larger scope than simply dealing with things face to face.  It is way too easy to be less than kind when a person is not in front of you.

Who this book is for: 
Great for teens in middle school.  I think this book will really speak to them.

Final thoughts: 
Social media and bullying is something that we as parents can never be too vigilant about.  So much happens unseen to us, and our kids need us to be stronger advocates for unplugging.  I will now get off my soapbox!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Unfriended  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Sequels for Fabulous Kid's Series

While I try to get to first book in a new series, it more rare for me to read the second and even harder for me to get to the third.  If the series goes past three I am usually goner.  I just have too many new books that I want to bring to your attention.  However, I still need to let you know when a new title in the series has been released.  Today's post is your FYI post, with the new installments in series that I have really enjoyed.

If you are new to these series, pick them up, they're good.  If your child has already discovered these then rejoice that a new installment is out, just in time for the holidays.  What festive joy!  Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you won't miss any great books that your kids will devour, and just in time for the gift giving season!

The Accelerati Trilogy, Book Two: Edison's Alley by Eric Elfman Neal Shusterman

For those of your who have kids that loved Tesla's Attic, this is the second book in the series.  With out of this world inventions, a team of evil physicists, and plenty of humor, this action packed sequel continues the adventures of Nick as he and his friends  hunt for the "lost" objects designed by the original inventor, Tesla himself.

The Tournament at Gorlan (Ranger's Apprentice: The Early Years) by John A. Flanagan

I know many of you have kids who have devoured all twelve books in the Ranger's Apprentice series and thought the good times had come to an end.  Well you are now in luck because Flanagan has expanded this series by writing a prequel.  For those who want to know what happened before Will became the apprentice, you wish has been granted!

The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York by Geoff Rodkey 

For fans of the first book, The Tapper Twins Go to War, this book will absolutely delight.  This time instead of fighting each other, the twins are fixing up a mess with a charity scavenger hunt gone bad.  The books are laid out with interview transcripts, photos and text messages, so for kids who enjoy a diary format, these books are right up their ally.  Prepare for more laugh out loud moments.

My Life as a Gamer (The My Life series) by Janet Tashjian

I am a fan of the My Life series for kids who enjoy the Wimpy Kid books, and this new installment with Derek getting to be part of test group for a new video game will certainly reel in some reluctant readers.  This one focuses on the importance of keeping your word and will hopefully have your child reaching for a book instead of the game controller!

Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes by Rick Riordan 

For those of you who have kids that enjoyed Percy Jackson's Greek Gods, this book is a continuation of the stories as told by Percy Jackson.  Of course he considers them family anecdotes and retells the tales with sarcasm and a sly humor that will rope your kids into the book.  The illustrations by John Rocco makes this book even more grand, along with the book's large size and girth.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Ghostly Good Fun for Kids

Leave it to me to share a ghostly picture book after the Halloween.  But thankfully this book is not holiday dependent and the message it sends is relevant no matter what the time of year.  It will also nicely help with any negative ghost associations which may have developed during trick or treating.  Leo is one guy I would love to have haunting my home.

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and by email so that you won't miss any stories that show that not all uninvited guests are unwelcome!

Title: Leo a Ghost Story

Author: Mac Barnett

Target: Preschool - Grade 1

What this book is about: 
Leo is a ghost who is living in an empty house.  When a new family moves in, Leo welcomes then with the some tea and toast, but not everyone responds well to a ghost in the house.  So he decides to leave, but finds that no one sees him at all … until he runs into Jane, a girl with plenty of imaginary friends.  Leo loves playing with Jane but he knows that he is tricking Jane, because he really isn’t imaginary at all.  When Jane finds out what Leo really is, will she be too scared to play with him anymore?

Why I love this book:  
The illustrator of this book, Christian Robinson is so close to winning a Caldecott, he can probably taste it.  While this may or may not be the book to do it, it still reflects his gorgeous and distinctive graphics. I quite enjoyed the limited color palate of the story which kept the narrative in the ghostly range without being scary in the slightest.

This is an engaging book that taps into being honest about who you are.  Friends will like you better if your don’t pretend to be something you’re not. And frankly, you’ll feel better too.

Who this book is for: 
Fun read aloud for most kids.  A ghost book that isn’t scary can perhaps heel some Halloween scars!

Final thoughts:
Leo can come haunt our house any day, but I hope he bring coffee instead of tea! - but not for the kids of course!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Leo: A Ghost Story  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Wonderful Book to Read Aloud to Kids

We know that reading aloud to kids is one of the predictors of their future reading success.  Most parents are terrific at pulling out those picture books.  They don't let the pigeon drive the bus, they say goodnight to that moon over and over again, and don't get me started on how many times they "moo, baa, la la la!" This is all wonderful.

However, and you knew there would be one, parents tend to fall off the reading radar when their kids start reading independently.  But I am here to tell you that it is still a fabulous time to read out loud.  I admit that even I get a little lazy, but as soon as I start a great read aloud book for older kids, I am thrilled that I have entered this new narrative with them.  Reading a book together gives you a common language and it reminds kids that you see reading as important.  But you knew that already!

So today I am sharing a wonderful new book that you can start with your kids.  Of course they can read it independently and they will enjoy it immensely, but it is a delight when you can share in that story with them.  And this book crosses age levels so well that everyone in the family can enjoy it.  Of course the fact that it is set in Norway did not bias me in the least ... no really!

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and by email so that you won't miss another book that will bring your family together.  Your kids will actually put down their electronics to hear this one ... no really!

Title: Adventures with Waffles

Author: Maria Parr

Target: Grades 3-6

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Translated from Norwegian, this book shares the adventures of Triffle and his companion Lena in their small Norwegian village.  Not a day goes by without the two of them getting into some sort of trouble.  They manage to recreate Noah’s arc on a small fishing boat, sled down the steepest hill in the town and get an abnormal amount of concussions in the process.  However, their friendship is steadfast despite Lena’s penchant for choosing the zaniest way to solve any perceived problem.

Why I love this book: 
First off, this book is a wonderful read aloud.  It is full of adventure, humor, family unity and life in another culture.  You and your children will find it touching, poignant and laugh out loud funny.  I cannot recommend it highly enough!

After visiting Norway, I can see these characters in the small villages around the fjords and your kids will absolutely love learning about another way of life that is different but not unrelatable to their own.

The humor is spot on.  It is such innocent fun that I was reminded that things don’t have to be crude to induce giggles (although I am a fan of good fart joke!)  A book that will have all ages giggling is a huge win in my book.  

Who this book is for: 
This one is great for everyone.  I highly recommend reading it aloud because it translates wonderfully across ages.

Final thoughts: 
The translation was very well done.  These things can be tricky and Guy Puzey nailed it!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect with Amazon: Adventures with Waffles  A portion of each purchase will to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Adult Books Adapted for Kids and Teens

So often we hear of adults reading young adult fiction.  But what about the other way around?  How often do we read a great book that we would love to share with our kids?  Or perhaps your child wants to read a story that you have raved about.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to share the insights of a great book across your family.  But often times the books we read may have topics and language that we don't feel comfortable sharing with a younger child.  Or, perhaps the book itself is written in a way that is too complex for their reading level at the time.

Welcome teen and child adaptations!  Writers (and publishers) are realizing this is a growing market and creating versions of popular stories that are written for a younger audience.  I love it!  Any chance you have to share a story with your kids is just another way to reinforce the value of reading in your family, and kids love discussing books with their parents.

Jump on this trend!  I have provided a list of some great books that have been adapted so that you can all enjoy the power of a great story at a level that is appropriate for every member of the family!  To purchase these books, click on the image and you will be taken to Amazon.  A portion of each  purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand 

If you were captivated by this book, or the movie, your child can now enjoy this age appropriate adaptation.  Versions of being a POW have been softened and the book is shortened by about a third.  It is a wonderful chance for kids to see that the choices they make matter, and that heroes can come from the most unexpected places.

The Boys in the Boat (Young Readers Adaptation): The True Story of an American Team's Epic Journey to Win Gold at the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown

This is a wonderful book for kids who love sports or even being part of team.  The underdog aspect of the story will inspire young readers and the story emphasizes the benefit of working hard and of shared experiences.  As with Unbroken, kids will get a look at Nazi Germany and a unique history lesson.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: Young Readers Edition by Michael Pollan

This is without a doubt the one book that my kids read that stopped them from ever wanting to eat fast food.  I could have shared the findings of the adult version with them, but reading it for themselves cemented their distaste for mass produced food and made them aware of where their food comes from.  A wonderful opportunity for you to have real conversations with your kids about what they put in their bodies!

I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition) by Malala Yousafzai and Patricia McCormick

I have to admit that with all the focus on The Kardashians and other pop stars, it feels good to give my kids a book about a teenager who should really inspire and motivate them.  Her story is not an easy one to read, so I appreciate the young readers version, but kids really need to see what courage, conviction and a call to action look like in a teen.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Stella Brings the Family

Another picture book today to celebrate Picture Book Month.  This one is charming and it is a lovely reminder that kids worry about what is "normal" even when we as a community are very accepting of families that are made up of non traditional parts.  It is important to acknowledge kid's feelings and help them understand that everyone's family has their challenges!

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and by email so that you don't miss any of the fabulous picture books that make a difference in the lives of kids.  Picture Book Month is about celebrating the magic of this genre, and you don't want to miss out!

Title: Stella Brings the Family

Author: Miriam Schiffer

Target: Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about: 
Stella is worried.  They are celebrating Mother’s Day at her elementary school and can invite a special guest, but Stella has two dads so who will she invite?  When her friends question her about who does all the things their mother’s do at home, it turns out Stella has a lot of people who are taking care of her.  She is encouraged to invite all the people who have taken on the role of mother in her life and bring them to the party.  Of course the party is filled with moms, grandmothers and other caregivers.  It is a party to celebrate the people who care for you.  It is a big success and with two dads, Stella is not at all worried about Father’s Day!

Why I love this book: 
Mother’s Day is not about having a mother, it is about celebrating the individuals in your life who support you, care for you and love you.  This book celebrates those relationships.

I think that sometimes in our acceptance of many different kinds of families, we forget the pressure it puts on kids when their families don’t conform to the specifics of a holiday.  This book is a lovely reminder that even though we know that love comes from many different places, it is important to remind kids that their celebration doesn’t have to look like everyone else, and in fact, “everyone else” often times looks different than what we expect.

Who this book is for: 
All kids would benefit from the reminder that all families may not look traditional, but that a loving community is the most important thing.

Final thoughts:
 The ending really make me chuckle.  You will just have to read it to see!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect with Amazon: Stella Brings the Family A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Tooth Fairy Picture Book

I thought I would devote this week to picture books in honor of it being Picture Book Month and all!  I am a sucker for any picture book that makes me laugh and the book I am profiling today does that in spades.  It is the latest installment in a series which I hope will never end!

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and by email so that you won't miss any lovely picture books that will delight both you and your child!

Title: Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat

Author: Deborah Underwood

Target: Presechool - Grade 3

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
This story is told as a conversation between cat and the narrator with our cat using pictures and our narrator deciphering what cat means.  In this book cat has lost a tooth and the tooth fairy leaves a coin, but cat is not satisfied.  He wanted to meet the illustrious tooth fairy.  He thinks that perhaps tricking her with the tooth of comb might work, but in fact the fairy lets him know that if cat helps her with a few deliveries, they will be able to meet.  Of course, nothing is easy as cat gets an unexpected assistant - mouse.  These two are not know to get along but they must work together or cat’s hopes of meeting the tooth fairy will never be realized. 

Why I love this book:  
I love all the books in this series which include Here Comes Santa Cat and Here Comes the Easter Cat.  They are clever funny and the illustrations by Claudia Rueda are spot on.  Just the delightful facial expressions drawn by Rueda make this book hysterical as a read aloud and the narrator as the straight man plays perfectly with our challenging cat.

Who this book is for:  
Well kids who like to laugh of course!  If your kids loved Here Comes the Easter Cat or Here Comes Santa Cat, they will not be disappointed with this latest installment.

Final thoughts: 
This might be a fun gift to find under the pillow in exchange for a tooth!  Just saying!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Best Picture Books

November is Picture Book Month!  To commemorate I am writing about what makes a wonderful picture book and have included some of my family favorites.  Celebrate with abandon.  It's good for you!

Kids love picture books, and can you blame them?  They are presented with these wonderful little vignettes of humanity, that last for 30 pages, just their attention span.  The stories are imaginative, filled with colorful illustrations and can suit a kid’s mood.  If they need love and reassurance a story can act like warm blanket, cuddling them in the warmth of familiarity.  If they are full of the sillies, a book can tickle their funny bone and channel their inner jackrabbit.  A great picture book can lift them out of the everyday into somewhere special. 

Too often I know that befuddled parents standing at the library or the bookstore looking at an immense selection of stories.  They search on Amazon and read reviews from “book loving mom,” who must know that this is the one book that will bring that little bit of joy into the house, because isn’t that really what a great picture book can do?  

I have had the opportunity to talk about children’s books, and just recently picture books, to a variety of parent audiences.  It got me thinking about the elements that take a picture book from OK to one where the pages are littered with tape because it has been read so many times, where the book jacket was lost long ago, and where my kids refuse to let me throw it out.

Here is what I know:

All exceptional picture books tell a truth.  They bring forward something we know to be important or they remind us of something we may have forgotten along the way.  In its simplest form, these are little life lessons.   But, here is the key, these life lessons are always wrapped in an engaging story so that they aren’t recognizable at first glance.  Any child can see through the obvious stories that are meant to teach first and entertain second.  It is the stories that  start off by grabbing your imagination and then leave you surprised with something more at the end that are the real gems.

You can’t have a really good picture book without gorgeous illustrations.  Now beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so these pictures must suit the tone and mood of the story, but if they don’t help move the story forward the book won’t succeed.  Picture books conserve words and these select words play and intertwine with illustrations to help tell the tale.  If the story is not dependent on the illustrations, the book will not work.  Children live the story through the illustrations while you read.  If the pictures are not compelling, well then neither is your picture book.

All great picture books have a sense of humor.  Now I know you will remind me that some of your favorite picture books are not ones where you and your family are holding your sides, bent over laughing.  But these books don’t have to be laugh out loud funny, they just have to have a clever playfulness to them.  The author and illustrator can never forget that life taken with a sense of humor is probably the best life lived.  That doesn’t mean that the message of the book can’t be thoughtful and serious, it simply means that there must be moments of intelligent lightheartedness that remind us that this is a picture book for goodness sake.

At their best, picture books are part entertainment, part teaching tools, part art history lessons, and part bonding time.  It is amazing to think that one little picture book can do all that, but that is why they remain treasured possessions, why we construct buildings to house these wonders and we are willing to pay for a prime membership on Amazon to have them shipped to us in only two days!  So select carefully and thoughtfully.  Here are a few of my favorites that our family can’t live without!

Arnie, the Doughnut by Laurie Keller

This fun filled adventure starts off in a bakery where Arnie, the doughnut is first concocted.  Imagine his surprise when someone buys him and takes him home and then tries to EAT HIM!  

Let's Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile

In this hilarious story, two friends realize that doing nothing is a lot harder then it looks!

In this mathematical folktale, children are amazed by the power of doubling.  They graphics deliver a powerful sense of the cultural heritage of India.

Brief Thief by Michael Escoffier

In this laugh out loud story, lizard makes use of an abandoned pair of underpants, but perhaps they haven't been abandoned, and they might not even be underpants!