Sunday, February 26, 2017

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer - Book Review

 I am Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Author: Brad Meltzer
Illustrated by: Christopher Eliopoulos
Amazon Link:
  • Age Range: 5 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 0640 (What's this?)
  • Series: Ordinary People Change the World
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Dial Books; First Edition/First Printing edition (January 5, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525428526
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525428527

About the Book (Summary from Amazon): 

We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer.

Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words. He helped gather people together for nonviolent protests and marches, and he always spoke up about loving other human beings and doing what’s right. He spoke about the dream of a kinder future, and bravely led the way toward racial equality in America. 

This lively, New York Times Bestselling biography series inspires kids to dream big, one great role model at a time. You’ll want to collect each book.

My Review: 

Lately, as a parent I have felt like a complete failure. The world is a complete mess, or so it feels that way. I cannot cope with all the hatred and violence. How could I possibly be expected to reassure my children that everything is going to be alright? 

A couple weeks ago, I hit a real low. It was a feeling of hopelessness kind of low. Nothing particularly bad had happened, but I felt like there was nothing I could do to help the people that were having very bad things happen to them. I not only felt this way, but my oldest daughter has been struggling with filtering though the world news. And then this magical thing happened...I came home from a particularly long day and discovered I am Martin Luther King, Jr. in my mailbox. That night when we sat down to read the book, I was transfixed with one particular page where Dr. King explains what he learned from the teachings of Henry David Thoreau and Mahatma Gandhi.  It was a lesson of nonviolent resistance, a lesson of love and peace. I needed to hear this lesson as much as my children needed to hear it. 

The book can be difficult to read at times because it does not shy away from the truth about racism and injustice. It takes courage to step out of your own bubble and acknowledge the pain in others' lives.  My children, who both attend extremely culturally diverse schools, were shocked at the inequities demonstrated in the text and images. With my oldest daughter, we were able to engage in discussion of when she still recognizes racist behavior or inequities today. With my youngest daughter, we talked about how she should respond if she sees someone not being treated fairly. 

The book provides a joyous lesson in hope. It provides a lesson in refusing to give into hate and violence. These lessons are difficult to teach your children, but having a book as a guide helps tremendously. Books like this serve as conversation starters. 

The cartoon-like illustrations by Christopher Eliopoulos provide images that small children are naturally draw into viewing for long periods of time. This is important if you want to read a page and then discuss what the words mean. The illustrations also make difficult topics less scary. I remember taking Miss M to the King Center in Downtown Atlanta when she was only five, and some of the pictures that were at the King Center made her very upset because of their violent and graphic nature. This book provides the perfect balance of realism for the topic and palatable imagery to engage young minds. I look forward to reading many other books in this Ordinary People Change the World. 

FTC Required Disclosures:
 *I received a review copy from the publisher free of charge. All opinions expressed in this review represent my honest opinions about the book. **This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Multicultural Children's Book Day! Spreading Gratitude and Positive Energy

Welcome to Multicultural Children's Book Day (MCBD) 2017! I am honored and excited to share with you not one, but TWO amazing books this year that promote wonder, gratitude, and confidence for children of all cultural backgrounds. 

This is my third year participating in this event.  Check out my 2016 and 2015 posts. Both of these books I have previously read still mean so much to my girls. 

This year, I have a couple of very special things to share with you. 

First, there is a FREE Kindness Classroom Kit for you, my readers, to download!  Check out the MCBD's Downloadable Kindness Classroom Kit for #Educators & #Homeschoolers (cost=ZERO!) #readyourworld

Second, there is a MCBD BOOK! An entire book dedicated to celebrating diversity in our world! The MCBD ebook is LIVE on Amazon and will be FREE to everyone January 26th-January 30th. For people who have KindleUnlimited it's free for them all of the time.

And now, onto my book reviews. Like I said earlier, I was lucky to receive two books. bok was sent to me by the authors. I always love to receive books direct from the authors because I know just how much work, love, and dedication went to get the book to its final form. So, thank you Karin and Stacy!

Now, the books:

Author: Karin Fisher-Golton
Photographer: Lori A. Cheung
Designer: Elizabeth Iwamiya
Age Range: Baby - 5 years 
Board book: 26 pages 
Publisher: Pacific Dogwood Press; First edition (November 1, 2013) 
Language: English ISBN-10: 0989614514 ISBN-13: 978-0989614511

About the Book (Summary from Amazon):

Every day is amazing!

The ordinary world is extraordinary when seen through little one's eyes. My Amazing Day is a remarkable everyday journey that ends with a happy burst of gratitude.

People have long experienced that expressing gratitude brings them happiness. Now scientific studies show that expressing gratitude leads to many health benefits as well.
Sharing My Amazing Day can be a joyful way to help establish habits of gratitude with the youngest people in your life.

My Review

This pint sized board book is the perfect way to introduce the simple wonders of the world to babies and toddlers. Simplistic wording and gorgeous photos capture the essence of life. Babies and toddlers alike will be captivated by the beautiful child featured in this board book. Her expressions of wonder, joy, and excitement will resonate with a baby, and hopefully get the parent reading the book to reflect on the innocence of childhood. For the youngest of readers, this book will allow parents to teach babies simple words and concepts. For toddlers and young children, parents will be able to introduce the concept of gratitude and discuss how to reflect on the multitude of blessings we have in our daily lives.

While reading this book with my four-year-old, even though it is a little young for her, we were able to launch into a discussion about what makes a day amazing. She loved the picture of the little girl appreciating her banana, and we were able to talk about how food makes us strong and healthy. As an activity, I asked her to share her amazing day. This is what she drew:
My little J drew a picture of her (with green skin- because why not!?!) reading books with her two best friends, which she drew having tan and brown skin. She wrote "Reading with Friends" as the thing that made her day amazing. I think this picture is an amazing representation of multicultural children's book day! (And honest to GOD I did not tell her to make her drawing about books- she just did.)

Title: Excellent Ed
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Julia Sarcone-Roach 
Age Range: 4 - 8 years 
Grade Level: Preschool - 3 
Hardcover: 32 pages 
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 17, 2016) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 0553510231 
ISBN-13: 978-0553510232

About the Book (From Amazon):  

Dog lovers will adore this imperfect yet endearing mutt and his quest for excellence!

Everyone in the Ellis family is excellent--except Ed.

Ed wonders if this is why he isn’t allowed to eat at the table or sit on the couch with the other children. So he’s determined to find his own thing to be excellent at--only to be (inadvertently) outdone by a family member every time.

Now Ed is really nervous--what if he’s not excellent enough to belong in this family?

This funny and endearing story offers a subtle look at sibling rivalry and self esteem, and will reassure kids that everyone is excellent at something, and that your family loves you, just as you are.

My Review

This book has become instant classic in our home! Witty writing, lots of alliteration, and this awesome, relatable family make the book enticing and fun to read. Poor Ed, the ornery dog, cannot figure out just what makes him excellent. All the kids in the family, who all happen to have names beginning with the letter E, are excellent at lots of exciting things- like soccer, dancing, and losing baby teeth. Luckily, the kids help Ed, the dog, figure out what makes him excellent. What makes this book excellent is the culturally diverse family doing what families do- spending time together, taking rides in the mini-van, celebrating family members' successes, and snuggling on the couch together. The book doesn't preach diversity- it is just diverse. And this is why we love it so much. Both of my children go to extremely diverse schools. Their normal is diversity. They don't live in homogeneous world, and so their books shouldn't represent a homogeneous population either.

In fact, Little J loved the book so much she had to read it to our ornery dog, Bretagne. Little J said that Bretagne is excellent at chewing things. 
Little J just loved "reading" Bretagne one of the books we received for Multicultural Children's Book Day (MCBD). MCBD is this Friday, January 27. Make sure to share a book that promotes tolerance, diversity, or kindness to spread love. The book Little J is reading is called Excellent Ed by @stacymcanulty and illustrated by @jsarconeroach. It is published by @aaknopf. What a perfect selection for us to receive because it is a book about an ornery dog that gets into lots of trouble trying to figure out what makes him excellent! The book features a culturally diverse family doing what families do- playing soccer, dancing, taking drives in the car, and sitting on the couch reading books. This book doesn't preach diversity, it represents diversity- which is why we love it so much. Now to go and write my full review. ­čśÄ #readyourworld #mcbd #readabook #raisingreaders #choosekind #beexcellent #diversity
A photo posted by Jenny (@booksbabiesandbows) on

I actually think that Bretagne is excellent at snuggling. I think the author of the book would appreciate these pictures of our dog because she is a dog lover too! Although, she confessed to me that her dogs are well behaved.  Check out her website to see photos of her cute pooches.

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators.  
Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include ScholasticBarefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. RomanAudrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTVCapstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle SwiftWisdom Tales PressLee& Low BooksThe Pack-n-Go GirlsLive Oak MediaAuthor Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.
MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site:
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:

FTC Required Disclosures:
 *I received a review copy from the publisher free of charge. All opinions expressed in this review represent my honest opinions about the book. **This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Anna & Froga: Out and About by Anouk Richard

Anna & Froga: Out and About

In the fifth volume of Anouk Ricard's hilarious modern kids’ classic, Anna, Froga, Ron, Christopher, and Bubu continue their non-adventures with bickering, needling, cajoling, and honest friendship. No white lie goes unexposed, no small embarrassment goes unrevealed, no secret is kept. For Christmas, the gang decides to forego shopping malls and make their own gifts for one another; Bubu goes on a retreat to shed a few extra pounds and get in touch with his zen side; a vampire with exceptional Scrabble skills moves in next door; and the five friends embark on an unforgettable trip to Paris, where they stay in an itsy-bitsy apartment. Rarely is friendship treated so realistically and delightfully as it is in the comics of Anouk Ricard.

My Review

I feel slightly awkward writing this review because I have to confess the book has gone missing. I usually write my reviews with the book sitting right next to me. However, I know why the book has gone missing. Since we received this book from the publisher about a month ago, my children have been obsessed with the quirky, mildly inappropriate, and the unapologetic dialogue between the characters in this book. They have it hidden in their rooms, safe from me taking it away for the purpose of writing reviews. The content is definitely intended for an older audience (8-10 years old). However, my four-year-old has spent countless hours pouring over the bright illustrations.

 What makes the dialogue so hysterical, is because I can actually hear people saying the phrases. Sometimes, when you read children's books, the dialogue comes across as cutesy.

However, the author also knows how to go without any dialogue to get a point across.  In particular, there are two pages that show hot air balloon safety rules which exemplify creative restraint where words are not necessary. My youngest child loves these pages probably because it shows a series of things she would try to do if she had the chance. (See image below.)
I also appreciate how come pages look like comic book pages, and other pages look like they were taken from a children's picture book. For kids who are reluctant readers, this book is an excellent example of making stories intelligent and visually enticing to draw in the reader.

My nine-year-old daughter told me what she likes the most about this book is how each of the characters is unique. The book celebrates their differences rather than have them all act and dress the same way. The book is broken up into several short stories. Her favorite of the short stories is one called "Smartyphone." In this short story, the dog character, who is named Bubu, finds a smart phone and keeps it. When his friends find out he kept a phone he found, they debate whether or not he should try to find the owner. Eventually, the owner of the phone calls and finds the kids. Bubu learned a lesson to try and return items that are found. My daughter told me she really liked how it taught a moral that you should return found items without sounding "like a teacher." This is why I think the book will appeal to the third to fifth grader.


Check it out for sale on Amazon:

FTC Required Disclosures:
 *I received a review copy from the publisher free of charge. All opinions expressed in this review represent my honest opinions about the book. **This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!

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