PB & J Book Review

Six months ago when I decided to dive back into blogging, I was fortunate to connect with some amazing authors. Not only did I review their books, two of them even did virtual visits with me for my EdOptions Academy kids. We continue to follow and support one another on social media, and have developed a really awesome friendship. Christine Reynebau was one of my first author friends, and she continues to be an absolute inspiration. I reviewed her picture book Celebrate back in June (click here to see my review for Celebrate), and I’m super excited to share another one of her works.

PB& J, by Christine Reynebau, is a sweet story about perseverance and support.

The main character is an adorable little girl who wants to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but she can’t open the jelly jar. She tries a few ways to open the jar on her own, but she is unsuccessful. She decides to do what all girls do when the going gets tough… she asks her parents for help.

Both of her parents gently say they will not open the jar because they believe that she can open the jar on her own. At first I was surprised when her dad told her this, because dad’s usually do anything to help their daughters. But the fact that the dad encourages her to keep trying is heartwarming. I love that by not helping his daughter open the jar her dad is teaching her an important life lesson of perseverance. And when her mom also tells her daughter to keep trying it reiterates the life lesson.

The little girl spends the rest of the picture book trying creative ways to open the jar. I love that she ties the jar to the back of her bike and when that doesn’t work pitches the jar to her brother Mike. She really does try anything she can think of to get the lid off.

Spoiler alert: After all of her creative attempts, the little girl is successful by opening the jar with one hand. She is so incredibly proud of herself, as she should be, and celebrates with encouraging words from her parents and a PB & J sandwich.

This adorable picture book would be great with little ones in preschool through second grade.

To purchase the book click here.

Miss Tree Tales #2 Incredible Cacao Book Review

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

So a fun fact about me: I have the world’s biggest sweet tooth. If you have ever seen how much sugar I put in coffee/tea you’d think I was a five year old. Which is why I couldn’t say no to reading a book all about chocolate.

Miss Tree Tales #2 Incredible Cacao, by Deepa Remesh, is a great short novel for young scientists about discovering where chocolate comes from.

What first caught my reader eye with this text was the pleasant blend of fantasy, science, time travel and farming. It reminded me a little bit of  The Magic School Bus, but instead of a class taking a field trip the book revolves around a sister (Mia) and brother (Nik).

Personally, I am not a big nature girl. I don’t find pleasure in gardening or learning about seeds. However, our main characters were not only knowledgable, they were enthusiastic about learning! Mia and Nik soaked in every bit of science thrown at them while showing young readers it can be enjoyable to plant a garden with one’s family. Having grown up in the 90s where I was always outside, I really liked that the author includes this to show readers that not everything takes place on a screen. Mia and Nik really enforce the magic of being outside in nature and the science that is all around.

I do like the use of made up nature gadgets the characters used on their mission to learn about cacao, and I thought the use of traveling to Costa Rica in 1998 and Switzerland in 2005 were both effective settings. Both show how cacao is processed to become chocolate, but I really liked Costa Rica. Readers learn  A LOT about the environment cacao is grown in. I love that the helpers in this part included a close knit family, who really embraced our characters. Although, I wish Mia and Nik had said goodbye to the family before moving on to the next part of their journey.

In Switzerland, the siblings took a tour of a factory. Readers can really see the difference in the process and it brings up some great discussion points about technology. A small, but important piece was when Nik fell into the chocolate because he did not read the sign. The adults reinforced the importance of safety and cleanliness, which I thought translated seamlessly to readers.

My teacher brain was going a little crazy while reading this. I think this book would be a fantastic cross curricular activity for grades 3-5. Social studies could focus on map skills and cultures, science can elaborate on fermentation and the growing process with seeds, math can explore percentages and measurements, language arts on reading and comprehending the story and vocabulary.

To purchase the book click here.

For more information about the series click here

A Day in the Life of a Kid: Circus Is Fun for Everyone Book Review

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

I absolutely love the relationships I’ve been able to establish with so many great authors over the last few years through this blog and social media. I also get super excited when authors reach out to me about a new project they want me to share, which is what brings me here today. In May, I did a book review for Spring Song (check out the post here), and was touched when Anetta emailed me two weeks ago about a new book.

A Day in the Life of a Kid: Circus Fun for Everyone, by Anetta Kotowicz, is a whimsical book about a circus experience that promotes anti-bullying.

As with Spring Song, there is a music component with this text. I think that this little extra helps readers to visualize what it is like going to a circus. The use of onomatopoeias in the text make it super fun to read aloud, especially if little ones repeat the sounds.

I really enjoyed the illustrations of this text. As a parent, I haven’t taken Molly to a circus yet, and I felt that this book does a great job depicting the whimsical and fun aspect of the experience. The bright colors, including all the different elements (food, animals, etc). provides readers with a realistic visit. I believe that books can take readers on new adventures, especially if readers don’t have the ability to physically go on these. This book definitely fulfills the adventure of going to the circus for the first time.

What I found a little unexpected was the shift the plot took when the clowns came out. Up until this point, I thought the book was quite enjoyable as we “watched” a circus performance. However, when one of the clowns did not feel comfortable to go through the ring of fire, the other clowns poked and bullied instead of supported their friend. Ellie, our main character, takes a very brave stand and speaks up for the scared clown in front of the entire circus.

In all honesty, I had to read this scene twice to make sure I understood what I was reading because as a reader I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought Ellie’s courage was admirable and sent a very powerful message to readers about bullying. Instead of being a bystander, Ellie intervenes and the crowd supports her decision. Typically, we think of clowns at a circus as silly characters who all follow the group. The fact that we see a clown, cry out of real fear, goes against the grain of what we typically think, which I personally happen to love. This scene teaches readers that there are times where we can be bullied by our friends, that it takes courage to stand up for what is right, and respect is important in all aspects of life.

And as always, the teacher in me gets excited when authors include activities at the end of the book. This book encourages students to draw or make signs about helping those who are hurt. Kids can then share their signs on Instagram @ArtsKindred with the hashtags #ArtsKindred #ADayInTheLifeOfAKid.

I recommend this book for ages P-2, and I think it would be a great text to springboard a discussion about bullying in early elementary.

To purchase the book, click here.

 

Arial the Youtuber Book Review

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book from the author to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

I absolutely love that I have connected with so many incredible authors over the last few months. Every time I read a new book I remember how powerful words truly are.

Arial the Youtuber, by Mary Nhin, is a fabulous picture book about a unicorn on a mission to encourage others through her Youtube channel.

This is my second blog book review for Mary Nhin, (click here for How to Win the World Cup in Pajamas ) and again I’m in love with her work. Mary is a true boss babe, who is building an empire with her whole family (so amazing!). Grow Grit (her business) is all about positivity and following a dream.

In this book, Arial learns a valuable life lesson that the way we speak to others makes an impact (both positive and negative). By encouraging others we can all make a difference in someone’s life.

Arial is an extremely relatable character. She says the wrong things without meaning to. Personally, I am totally guilty of doing just this, so I instantly felt a connection to the main character. After an inspiring talk with her mom, Arial learns how popular Youtube is and decides to encourage others by creating her own Youtube channel.

As a teacher and a mom, I thought it was so clever that Arial did research, created a checklist and got permission from her parents before diving into the world of Youtube. I’ve seen so many students just want to jump into a project without doing the necessary research, so having Arial take these steps sends a great message to young readers.

Once Arial is ready to go, we are with her while she makes, edits, and posts her first video. I was really hoping to know how successful the video was, but as readers we are left with a viewer leaving Arial a positive message, which is just as delightful.

I’m also slightly obsessed with the illustrations. They truly help readers comprehend the story and learn new information (checklist for creating a Youtube channel). The bright colors help create an upbeat and happy vibe throughout the reading, which enforces the message of the text.

As if the book couldn’t get any better, there are worksheets at the end!! My teacher heart did a happy dance because I could totally see this book working as an anti-bullying activity for grades K-2. There’s vocabulary, discussion topics, a writing component and a drawing piece, which would make for a great multi-day lesson plan.

Click here to purchase the book.

What’s in Molly’s Home Library?

Last weekend I was watching Molly play with her Disney princess dolls and her dollhouse. She’s at the age where she is starting to create stories with her toys, which is amazing to watch. She’s even becoming more independent with her reading skills. She still asks for me to read to her, but she is starting to “read” to herself more often.

I realized that it’s been quite a while since I’ve shared what’s in Molly’s home library. When I first started this blog, I wrote posts on Literacy in the First Year and Toddler Literacy, where I shared some fabulous Usborne Books.

Today I want to take you on a little tour of Molly’s home library.

I wanted to get a head start on her home library from the very beginning, so I had guests at my baby shower give me a book instead of a card. I am so incredibly grateful for all of the amazing texts that I got because it really created a great foundation.

As Molly has gotten older, family and friends continue to give her books, allowing us to expand her library. She also has mini libraries at both of her grandparents’ homes, and I’m pretty sure she has one in the car as well.

It’s crazy to think that Miss Molly is going to be three very soon. She has been in daycare for about two years, and I try to reinforce the skills she learns at school at home with specific books.

Vocabulary BooksRight now, we’re working on her vocabulary with opposites, colors, and shapes. Here are some of the books we’re using at home. Molly enjoys lifting the flaps and looking at the pictures. She will also point to all of the objects she knows on pages, and will guess at ones she isn’t sure of. I am a little bias and prefer Usborne books for teaching early learning skills. 

 

Molly is also a fan of singing. She loves the ABCs, “Bumble Bee” and “Row Row Row

Rhyming BooksYour Boat”. While we watch Frozen and Beauty and the Beast, she will sing along with the movies. We continue to use nursery rhymes at home using a few different books. All of these books were given to me at my baby shower.

Miss Molly has always loved listening to music, and when we first introduced her to noisy books she was excited.

Noisy Books

As she has gotten older, we have branched out to incorporate more books based on her interests (or current favorite TV show/movie). She has a habit of playing her favorite sounds over and over, that don’t align to the story.

As a teacher, I like to read Molly certain books to reflect the time of year, especially holidays. I like to give Molly a book for every

Holiday Stories

holiday, as do family members. We tend to read the same stories over and over again from this pile. Hug Day, is the biggest hit because Molly has an obsession with trolls. She also likes Pooh’s Halloween Pumpkin because she can carry it around by the string.

Regardless of how many new books she gets, there are always a few that will always be here favorite. Some of them are really obvious based on the teeth marks (Belly Button Book has been #1 since the beginning). Molly loves Pookie because

Molly's Favorite Books

she likes to say the name, and has even named one of her stuffed animals Pookie. Sandra Boynton is one of the most popular authors in our house. Potty Fairy Princess has always been one of her favorites, but now it’s even more popular because she’s starting to use the potty.

Just like Molly has her favorite books, Mommy also has her favorites. I Wish You More was the first book I bought Molly at the Scholastic book fair at my school when I was pregnant. I wanted theMommy's Favorite Books first book I bought her to be meaningful and special and this was was absolutely perfect. As a kid, I LOVED Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (I have the whole TV show on DVD for Molly when she’s ready) so of course this one will always have a special place on her bookshelf. This one was given to me at my baby shower from my mom, which makes it even more precious. Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney is my absolute favorite book to read aloud because I like saying Llama Llama. It’s a bonus that Molly also loves these books, especially the illustrations. I Love You Forever by Robert Munsch made me cry the first time I read it to Molly the night before I started working again. This one has more sentimental value to me.

I am no longer a consultant with Usborne Books & More, but you can order the fabulous titles in this post from my amazing book friend here.

Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach Book Review

I’m taking a little break from YA and diving back into some picture books. As I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE being part of such a phenomenal book community on social media. Today’s author shared her book in a Facebook group that we are both in, and I instantly knew I wanted to share this title.

Ben’s Adventures: A Day at the Beach by Elizabeth Gerlach, is a heartwarming story about a little boy with Cerebral Palsy who dreams about a day at the beach with his family.

I have to be honest, I had tears in my eyes while I read this picture book. I fell in love with Ben instantly. His positive outlook on life and use of imagination melted my heart. In the first few pages, Ben introduces us to his family (he’s a triplet!), mentions that he has Cerebral Palsy, and explains that he can’t walk or talk. However, that doesn’t stop this little boy from enjoying his family and life.

Ben’s imagination is inspiring. He does not let his limitations keep him from experiencing the sand on his toes or the wind in his hair. One of my favorite pages is when Ben is building a sandcastle with a friend. Ben accidentally kicks one of the towers, and his friend’s reaction is spot on. His friend laughs off the tower destruction and mentions they will come up with a new plan. I love the powerful message of friendship that comes through this page, which encourages readers to be easy going and accomodating.

I also really enjoyed that Ben’s imagination has him spending time with members of his family. He does not spend the day alone, but rather bonds with his immediate family. He flies a kite with his daddy and looks for shells with Ava and Colin. The most touching moment of the story was when Ben’s mommy tucks him in at night. I think little details like this demonstrate to young readers the importance of spending time with family, and the fun and memories that can be had.

I think this book would be a phenomenal addition to a home library and a classroom library for preschool and kindergarten. I love that it promotes acceptance, hope, and diversity. I’m so excited for Ben’s next adventure.

For more information about Ben and the book, please click here.

 

How to Win the World Cup in Your Pajamas Book Review

June is shaping up to be an extremely busy month I’m starting to realize. End of the school year, Father’s Day, graduation, and sport events, like the Women’s World Cup.

I’ve been on a motivational quotes and texts kick recently, so I was super excited to come across a book that sends positive messages to kids. How to Win the World Cup in Your Pajamas by Kobe and Mary Nhin and illustrated by Milena Salieri, is a book that helps young athletes set goals.

Emma is a young soccer player, who has won the World Cup many times. At first I thought the book would describe a dream of Emma’s experience winning, but I was pleasantly mistaken. Instead, the text dives into providing kids with 5 tools needed to be successful.

These tools include: grit, rituals, visualize, mantras, and positive body language. What I like most about these tools is that they are not watered down for kids. I consider these tools for adults as well, and I like how the authors include maturity with the wording of the tools. The text is written clearly and does not have any challenging vocabulary words, which makes it a great work for elementary students. It provides a clear explanation of how kids can set and accomplish their goals.

While reading the book, I felt like I had a life coach in my ear. I have yet to come across another text that is able to speak to me as an adult the same way it speaks to a child. I felt a surge of girl power and determination after reading this book.

However, the best surprise was at the end of the book. The teacher in me got really excited when there was a Mental Toughness Growth Plan graphic organizer. Not only does the story teach kids how to develop mental toughness, but it includes a step by step guide kids can actually use on a daily basis! There is lots of writing required for the organizer, but it would be a great activity for kids to complete with a parent, older sibling, coach, etc.

To check out the book, click here.