Monday, December 18, 2017

An Important Shopping Message from a Very Overwhelmed Momma

This dang Santa countdown clock is driving me crazy. It lurks in our living room telling me, "You will never get it all done. Ho Ho Ho!" Seriously, I just got finished submitting my grades for the course I was teaching, stayed up half the night grading finals and projects, only to realize that it is now magically six days until Christmas. This means I will now be fore-fitting lunch breaks to finish that which I have not done yet. Which is basically EVERYTHING. 

I am pretty sure that I can't breathe. No really...OK, maybe I just am breaking out in hives. 
Now, if you are one of those super-put-together-I-finished-shopping-before-Thanksgiving-Moms, GOOD FOR YOU. You can go back to Pinterest and making a mess out of your house with the shenanigans that your Elf on the Shelf is getting in to. Our elf has been stuck in the same spot for the past five days.

I am over here just trying to not let one more ball drop. It has been one of the most hectic past couple of months in my life, and what I really need is probably a good dose of Christmas cheer.

Work, family, our country, the all seems a little overwhelming right about now. 
Have you watched the news lately? 

HOWEVER, what ALWAYS works for my kids (and me!) is some quiet time reading books. 
Enter BOOKROO book subscription service! I was lucky enough to receive a Bookroo box earlier this month. We had just gotten home from a hectic trip to see family where we experienced major delays at the airport and a few other mishaps along the way. Can I just say seeing the beautiful turquoise box on our front steps when we got home was like a warm kangaroo hug? Wait, do kangaroos hug? I don't know, but I am going with it.
 WHY DO I LOVE LOVE LOVE BOOKROO? (I mean I just used all caps, and I HATE all caps under normal circumstances). Inside were two magically wrapped, beautiful hardcover children's books for my kids to read. Of all the Bookroo boxes I have gotten, I have NEVER received a book we already had, which is impressive since we have probably over 1000 children's books in our house.

Even our dog doesn't TOTALLY mind Little J reading him a book about a fluffy cat. Well, maybe he is a little put off by the book, but Piggie and Gerald seem amused.

But, the real reason I love Bookroo is because it is the perfect gift for literally any child. I mean I cannot think of a reason not to give this subscription as a gift. In fact, I bought a three month subscription for my brother's kid. I wish I could share the pictures my brother sent me of his kid opening up the books. There is this look of pure joy on his face that is priceless. His kid's birthday is in January- so I got the birthday covered, too.

Gifting a Bookroo box is also nice because you can do it at the last minute, and then you can give them a card or send them an email telling them about the gift. Because lets face it, one of the toughest thing is when the holidays are over, and all the packages have been opened. You can't tell me you don't remember being a little bummed as a child when you knew there were no more presents to open up? Well, with Bookroo, your little giftee will get mail!  What could be better? I really cannot think of a single thing.

So for all you last minute shoppers out there- consider checking out and sending children's books to all the little readers in your life.

FTC Disclosure: Thank you Bookroo for sending me a Bookroo box exchange for a fair and honest review.  Thanks for your support!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Click'd by Tamara Ireland Stone

Title: Click'd
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Release date: September 5, 2017

Grade Level: 3 - 7 
Series: CLICK'D 
Hardcover: 304 pages 
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; hardcover edition (September 5, 2017) 
Language: English

Connect with Click'd:  Visit the Official Site

Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram
Like Disney Books on Facebook

Hashtag #ClickdBook

About the Book

New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone combines friendship, coding, and lots of popcorn in her fun and empowering middle-grade debut.

Allie Navarro can't wait to show her best friends the app she built at CodeGirls summer camp. Click'd pairs users based on common interests and sends them on a fun (and occasionally rule-breaking) scavenger hunt to find each other. And it's a hit. By the second day of school, everyone is talking
about Click'd.

Watching her app go viral is amazing. Leaderboards are filling up! Everyone's making new friends. And with all the data Allie is collecting, she has an even better shot at beating her archenemy, Nathan, at the upcoming youth coding competition. But when Allie discovers a glitch that
threatens to expose everyone's secrets, she has to figure out how to make things right, even if that means sharing the computer lab with Nathan. Can Allie fix her app, stop it from doing any more damage, and win back the friends it hurt-all before she steps on stage to present Click'd to the

About the Author

Tamara Ireland Stone is the author of Time and Time Again, a collection of her two novels Time Between Us and Time After Time, and the New York Times best seller Every Last Word. A Silicon Valley-native, she has worked in the technology industry all her life, first testing Atari game boards in her parents' garage, and later, co-founding a woman-owned marketing strategy firm where she worked with some of the world's largest software companies. She enjoys skiing, hiking,and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Check out here website here.

My Review

Y'all, so I stayed up late last night, till 2 am in fact, reading the latest book by Tamara Ireland Stone- Click'd. I cannot wait for my daughter, who is 10, to read this book. It starts off fun, hitting all the highlights of the utter joy technology can bring to young kids. The book draws you in, and you desperately wish that the Click'd app was real. Wouldn't it be amazing if you could walk around the world and find people that you actually "click" with? I mean, honestly, as an adult that would be great, too. Then reality hits. The book dives into the complexities of social media. What happens when a picture on your phone that is private is shared to the world? What happens when a friend sees you out with other friends and feels excluded? What happens when people you don't want to hang out with keep sending you messages? It is all there- the harsh realities of opening up your life to the world of social media. What is also there in the book is a whole heck of a lot of grit. Allie, the creator of the app, had to fix the problems she created. It takes a whole lot of determination and time to get it done. And even then, she doesn't fix the problem in time and has to face the reality of the situation. The temptation to run and hide feels real because this is something that happens all the time in real life. What I love about the way the author handles the situation is that Allie's parents do not protect her from the pain, but they are supportive of her as she faces the challenges- with her friends, with her app, and with her arch nemesis. This middle grade novel is a winning example of triumph as a result of learning through failure, one of the most important lessons any child (or adult for that matter) could learn.

Don't take my word for it? Read an excerpt from Click'd here.

The Giveaway

Now for the fun part! Disney-Hyperion sent me a copy to check out, and is partnering with me for a giveaway! How can you win? Share and comment on one of my social media posts to spread the word about #clickdbook and to enter the giveaway. Make sure to use the hashtag  #ClickdBook. Contest closes October 7th and a winner will be notified shortly after the close of the giveaway.

Here are links to my social media posts:

Instagram (the star social media platform in Click'd.) 
A post shared by Jenny (@booksbabiesandbows) on


And Facebook:

FTC Disclosure: Thank you Disney-Hyperion for sending me a copy of Click'd in exchange for a fair and honest review. 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!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hilde Cracks the Case: Hero Dog!


Title: Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1)
Author: Hilde Lysiak with Matthew Lysiak
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Release: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Scholastic
Recommended for ages 6-8

About the Author

Hilde Kate Lysiak is the reporter and publisher of the Orange Street News. Since starting her paper at the age of seven Hilde has written and published hundreds of stories in her hometown of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Hilde has been recognized for her work in the New York Times, NBC Today Show, GMA, The Washington Post, and thousands of other media across the world.

 About Hero Dog!

Ten-year-old crime reporter Hilde Lysiak is starring in her very own Branches early chapter book series -- inspired by news stories Hilde wrote in real life! In this first book, there's been a break-in on Orange Street! Cupcakes have been stolen, and soon a pie goes missing, too. Hilde and her
sister/photographer, Izzy, must interview witnesses and follow the clues. Can Hilde crack the case in time to post her news story online? Joanne Lew-Vriethoff's personality-filled illustrations appear on every page, bringing Hilde's adventures to life for young readers!


Branches is a unique line of books specifically designed for newly independent readers, typically kids ages 5 to 8. The Branches line is here to help you foster a love of reading in your kids and give them the tools they need to become life-long readers. Each book includes: easy-to-read text, simple plot lines, plenty of context cues, cliffhanger chapter endings, and purposeful illustrations (on every page!) that aid in reading comprehension.  Feeling like a successful reader will bolster your child's
self-confidence, which will lead to an increased interest in reading.

My Review

We were lucky enough to receive an advance reader copy of  Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) from Scholastic to share with you, my readers, and we get to host a giveaway with Scholastic for a copy of this book!

I was so excited to receive this book because I have heard such great things about the Branches line of books from Scholastic. My five-year-old is starting to read on her own. However, unlike my older daughter, she lacks the attention span to listen to me read a chapter book to her. She prefers picture books, but I can tell she craves a longer story. Sometimes, she comments how some of our picture books seem babyish to her, which is really her way of saying she wants to be like her big sister.

I introduced Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) to Little J a couple of days ago. It took us two days to read the entire book, which has 89 pages of text. We loved it! The story was simple,  buoyant, and fun. There were no complex emotional story-lines to interrupt the reading, which has been a block to us reading chapter books if I am honest. Invariably when we read chapter books, there is some heavy subject that leads us off topic and distracts from the story, with just doesn't work my daughter's current emotional developmental stage. We didn't have any of those issues reading this book. My daughter was engaged, in particular because of the large number of pictures. There is a picture on almost every page in this book.

Here is an interview I conducted with my Little J. Now, bear in mind that my husband spent several years as a detective, so she equates any investigative work with being a detective.

And, what makes it even better. She asked to read it again tonight. You always know when a book is a hit when a kids wants to read it over and over again.

Let me show you some of the parts of the book that I love. The book essentially teaches kids the basics on how to be a reporter. Check out this "Reporter's Toolbox."

The book also focuses on recognizing the five W's and H questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how. As the book progresses, Hilde jots down the answers she gets after asking these questions while she is out on the trail of the case. Towards the end, she summarizes her finding with this illustration.
Finally, you get to see the final product- a finished story based on the facts Hilde gathers throughout the book. I love that the book takes the time to break out the parts of a new story: headline, lede, nut, quote, support, and kicker.
I can see this book being a huge asset to teachers teaching Writer's Workshop. Check out this discussion guide (that aligns with Common Core standards). I uploaded it to my Google Drive to share with you.

Miss M read the book in about 20 minutes. (She is almost 11 and an advanced reader). I interviewed her for her thoughts on the book. 

1. Who is your favorite character in the book?

My favorite character in the book is Zeus- the hero dog. 

2. What made this book interesting?
The fact that Maddy, the Meanager) stole from people to get money to go to a concert.

3. Where do you think you could investigate a story or be a reporter?
I could be a reporter in our neighborhood, some local place, or at a home, with permission.  

4. When do you think this kind of book should be introduced in school?
When kids are in first grade or at least know how to read.  

5. Why did you like or not like this book?
I like this book because it was easy to read and about mysteries.  

6. How do you think you could become a reporter?
I would start by researching how stories (news) have to be written.  

I agree with Miss M that this book would be ideal for a first grade (or maybe even a second grade) classroom.  And by the way, it is on sale on Amazon for only $2.42 for the paperback plus free shipping for Prime members. Skip that next latte and get your kid reading.

Now, for the fun part! We are giving away a copy of this book. Branches books help readers grow! Leave a comment on how you help your reader grow. 


Visit the Official Site
Like Scholastic on Facebook
Follow Scholastic on Twitter  and Instagram

If you share this post, please use hashtag #ScholasticBranches

FTC Disclosure: Thank you Scholastic for sending me a copy of Hero Dog! (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) in exchange for a fair and honest review. 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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