Monday, September 22, 2014

Crafterina! Read, Dance, and Create!

I am excited to be partnering with Crafterina! to share the launch of their new video and YouTube channel. What could be more attractive to a mom that has two young girls that love to dance and read books than a children's book that combines the best of both worlds? 
See! They love books and dance.
Crafterina is an educational resource and online boutique that creates fun, engaging, artistic play for young girls through reading and dance. The brainchild behind these books and the related crafts is Vanessa Salgado, who is a Professional Dancer and Visual Artist based out of New York City. She wanted to create resources for parents to promote a love for the arts with their children, extending what they learned in class into the home. The boutique offers a winsome storybook that promotes reading, crafts, and dance all in one. Check out their video that beautifully shares the magic behind the book: 

What I love the most about this book is that you can purchase the book featuring a dancer with a complexion to match your child through their boutique. You can also shop the incredible Etsy shop, which contains over 133 items to meet all your creative dancers needs. Many of these items are economically priced printables, which make them a win-win for any busy mom looking to supplement any invitation to play. Just perusing the shop makes me want to plan a Crafterina birthday party for my youngest daughter's third birthday.

Here is some more information directly from Crafterina:
The Crafterina storybook describes the day-to-day life of a young dancer who uses her savvy crafting skills to create a world of ballet at home. Crafterina’s tale illustrates the essence of the creative experience: a self-inspired, hands-on process of bringing ideas imagined to life. Complimenting the story, the Crafterina ETSY shop has easy Instant Download crafts, with an educational twist, that spark imagination, artistry, and movement. Crafterina is fun and educational, while sending a message that inspires. Get young minds reading, creating, and dancing, by spreading the message: #CreateYourDream. For more information, please visit

I cannot wait to share the book and crafts with my girls so that they can Create Their Own dream!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules! and Be Patient, Pandora! by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli

A very Happy Book Birthday to these two adorable board books: Mini Myths: Be Patient, Pandora! and Mini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules! by Joan Holub and Leslie Patricelli! I have been waiting for what has seemed like forever to share these books with my readers.

First- a confession. At first, I was a little reluctant to review these books because I could not imagine how anyone could make Greek Mythology age-appropriate for a toddler. I was pleasantly surprised. My two-year-old has fallen head over heals in love with these books, so much so she has been sleeping with them at night.

The Mini Myths Board Books




Summary of the Book: 

Pandora knows she should listen to her mother. She knows she shouldn't touch the package sitting right there within her reach. But, she just cannot help herself. She isn't going to open it. Oh no! She is only going to do everything BUT open the package. Unfortunately, her impatience leads her to destroy the delectable cup cakes her mom has brought home. Pandora quickly learns the importance of patience, and more importantly, she is shown forgiveness by her mother.

 Summary of the Book:

Hercules has been warned by his dad to play nice. But, Hercules doesn't play nice. No, he is big and strong. He fights monsters and bad guys. He knocks down castles. Only catch is that the castle was actually built by his little sister, and now she is crying. Hercules learns to apologize to his sister and fix his mistake, a lesson that the Hercules from Greek Mythology also had to learn.


Our Review:

These two board books are absolutely captivating reads for toddlers. The brilliant balance between sparse words, dialogue, and colorful illustrations makes both of these books inviting and friendly, while at the same time teaching important lessons. It is obvious that the author and illustrator worked closely together to bring out each others' strengths. The pages alternate between concisely worded  text playing off of the illustration to pages with only illustrations. Because of this, the books beg for the reader to act out the naughty behavior of each character or the reactions of the other characters involved.

The end of each Mini Myth story contains a brief background of the Greek Myth.
Most likely thinking of how much fun it would be to knock down a block castle.
Each book also has a summary of the actual Greek Myth character from which the stories are based at the end of the book. I found this really useful because I hadn't read any Greek Mythology since elementary school, which was a long time ago. I especially liked how the blocks in Play Nice, Hercules! had images of each of the labors that Hercules had to face. Knocking those blocks over in the book was not only funny to my daughter but also symbolic.

These books make great lessons on manners and would be excellent in a preschool classroom. Children will be able to easily relate to the temptations of both Hercules and Pandora, which will make understanding the importance of being kind to your family and having patience interesting and straightforward.
Reading to her dog.
My 2 year old likes the Play Nice, Hercules! the best, while my seven year old informed me that Be Patient, Pandora! is better. This makes complete sense since my youngest is always knocking over blocks and other things and my oldest may need to work on her patience. I am looking forward to reading these with Little J as she grows to see how well she actually understands the lessons being taught. Since receiving these books from Ms. Joan Holub a couple months ago, we have read them more times than I can count. They have been read to the dog, stuff animals, and little doll house figurines. I can usually find them in bed with Little J because she carries them up there during nap time. She shouts, "Oh! No" every time Hercules knocks down the castle or Pandora makes the cup cakes go flying. These facts, so much more than the words I use in my review, prove that these books are great.
A rare picture of me reading to my youngest.
* I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.

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    Sunday, September 14, 2014

    #30BooksforPeace- Part 4- A Search for Inner Peace

    After reading 21 books for peace with my kids, it occurred to me that we were missing any books about inner peace. After all, if there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in our hearts. My belief that reading children's books is as important for grownups has been reaffirmed during these final nine books. I am pretty sure that I have benefited from these books as much as my kids, if not more.

     22. Is Nothing Something?: Kids' Questions and Zen Answers About Life, Death, Family, Friendship, and Everything in Between by Thich Nhat Hanh.  This book is a collection of some of life's toughest questions that a child may pose with answers penned by Thich Nhat Hanh. While the book was written by a Buddist, the book feels more like a guide how to find peace in your heart than a religious text. I reviewed the book back in April, and since purchasing it, it has maintained a spot in our regular reads pile. For the purpose of finding inner peace, I especially love this quote from the book, which summarizing the conclusion we have come to from reading these #30BooksforPeace:
    "I used to try to create peace, but I was not successful. Then, one day I realized that breathing in and breathing out mindfully could help bring peace to my body and mind. That was the day I truly started practicing peace."
     23. The Story of Ferdinandby Munro Leaf and illustrated by Robert Lawson. I was reminded of this great book by Books Mama's post in August about the book. What an amazing story about nonviolence! Bulls are supposed to fight, but Ferdinand would rather sit peacefully and observe the beauty in the world that surrounds him. His mother is not afraid to let her son be different from the other bulls, giving him the freedom to be true to himself. Even when thrown into the ring for a bull fight, he choose to admire the beauty instead of fighting. An amazing analogy for mindfulness and peace.
    24. A Good Day Board Book by Kevin Henkes. Some days may seem like bad days, but bad days can turn into good days. In this sparsely worded book, colorful illustrations with contrasting colors capture even the youngest of readers attention. The message of this book is simple- there are good days and bad days, but we need to find the joy in both the good and bad to find peace.

    25. The Twelve Gifts of Birth by Charlene Costanzo. I am borrowing this beauty of a book from a dear friend of mine. This beautiful book shares twelve gifts that one mother told her children they were born with and how they can use these gifts to make the world a better place. This book would make a wonderful baby shower gift for any expecting mother. I love these simple "gifts" and the message that you can make change for the better.

    26.Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud and illustrated by David Messing. My daughter borrowed this book from the library because they read it at her school and it makes her feel better about herself. Want to teach your children to be bucket fillers? Bucket fillers are those that go around adding to other people's buckets of happiness by spreading joy and love. Did you fill a bucket today? Finding inner peace requires you to be a bucket filler.

    27. Woolburby Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Lee Harper. If there is to be peace in the heart, you have to be true to yourself. Woolbur is the perfect book to teach kids how to march to the beat of their own drum, even if that means being completely different from everyone else. My favorite character in this book is the yogi Grandpaa goat that is constantly telling the concerned parents of Woolbur to not worry. Go forth young little Woolbur- do something that is completely unheard of!

    28. You Are a Lion! And Other Fun Yoga Poses by Taeeun Yoo and book
    29. Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Bedtime Story by Giselle Shardlow and illustrated by Emily Gedzyk. 

    Helping my kids quiet their minds has always been a struggle of mine because I have trouble quieting my own mind at night. We were lucky enough to have been asked to review Good Night, Animal World  back in March. It has been a blessing to find this book and to discover other children's books that share fun yoga poses. Both of these books share calming poses inspired by animals. I love yoga poses inspired by animals because young children love pretending to be animals. These books have become a staple to our bedtime routines, encouraging us to calm down both our bodies and minds, making them ready for bed.

    30. Jonathan James and the Whatif Monster by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. The final book that made our list for #30booksforpeace is this amazing book by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt. At first, Jonathan James listens to his inner Whatif Monster-  imaging all the horrible, no-good things that could go wrong when you try something new. However, Jonathan James realizes that maybe, just maybe things could go amazingly right if he tries something new and his Whatif Monster becomes a confidant to share his dreams and fears with.

    We purchased this book about a year ago and has been a huge blessing to my oldest, who tends to worry endlessly about things. And we are not the only people that find this book completely comforting. When I read about the Whatif Military Challenge, I knew I had add this book to our list. This book changed the lives of one military family after the mom saw how much it helped her child cope with the stresses surrounding military deployment and having a father suffering from PTSD. Her mission is to share this book with every family that has disabled vet, in the hopes that it may help other families. Check out the website and see how you can help her accomplish this amazing dream to bring peace to military families around the country.

    Make sure to check out Parts 1, 2, and 3 of this series.
    FTC Required Disclosure:
    This site is an Amazon affiliate, if you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Books, Babies, and Bows (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support!

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    #30BooksforPeace Part 3- If there is to be peace in the world...


    This past week has been particularly hard. The idea of peace in this world seems distant and hopeless. I found myself lurching inside when my oldest asked me what the word execution meant. We try to keep the television off. We try to filter the news they receive.

    I know that I cannot protect them from the world forever, so I must use this time to plant as many seeds of hope as possible. And I think that is why we kept talking about the one message from Lao Tzu that was quoted in more than one book we read last week.

    The idea of peace in the world may seems overwhelming, but if we break it down to the smaller parts, then we can begin to once again envision peace.

    This week we certainly took a more global look at peace, and next week I am excited to share a post of books to talk to kids about peace in the home and the heart.

    14. Children's World Atlas  by DK Publishing- We started by purchasing from Little Shop of Stories a Children's World Atlas. They were lovely enough to order several for me to choose from, which was so helpful compared to shopping online. I choose this atlas because it also includes an updated compact disc that has digital maps and statistics about the countries around the world. I had been meaning to get an atlas for a while because every time my oldest asks where a country is located she only ends up confused by my explanation of  the country's location. This makes any news discussion at dinner very cumbersome. Therefore, we have kept this book on the coffee table. Why include this book in a series about peace?  

    If there is to be peace in the world, we need to have a better understanding about our fellow Earthly inhabitants. I am always amazed how clueless adults can be in relation to geography. My hope is that this book lets her see how we share this world with a whole lot of other individuals. It's a great big Earth, and we are only a small part of it.

    I have two gripes about this atlas now that we have been using it for a couple of days. The first is that with the way the maps are printed and the binding, some major cities get lost, in particular Atlanta. The second gripe is that they never have a map of the whole United States of America, instead they show in a series of maps by region. This feels disjointed when you are trying to show your child how far she lives from her cousins. Aside from those two items, the book is beautiful and provides lots of helpful information for children interested in geography.

    15. Black Fella White Fella by Neil Murray and illustrated by students from schools around Australia. My dear friend gave this book to me as a gift several years ago. This book brings our stories about peace all the way to Australia. This story is built from the lyrics of a song, an anthem performed by the Warumpi Band. It is profound, beautiful, and amazingly poignant at this moment in time. "Are you the one that is going to stand up and be counted?" the lyrics ask.

     If there is to peace in the world, we must stand up and be counted. The message screams out for us to see each other as family and treat each other with respect. Take a moment, you won't regret it, to watch the video from the book launch for this children's book.

    This is my favorite illustration in the book. The text on this page reads, "It doesn't matter which religion/ It's all the same when the ship is sinking." Isn't that the truth?

    16. Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story from Africa by Jeanette Winter. Imagine leaving to attend college only to come home to discover your once lush homeland has become a barren wasteland. For Wangari, this was the reality she discovered when she returned to her Kenyan home. She was determined to undo the damage that deforestation had caused, and she began planting one tree at a time.  

    If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace for our Earth. Her determination worked. Women joined with her, and together they stood up and were counted. This army of women planted millions of trees. Wangari's Green Belt Movement earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. This book beautifully tells this story, showing how one person truly can make a difference. I will be sad to return this book to the library.

    There is also the book Seeds of Change about Wangari. Check out this review from Seeds of Change. The book looks enchanting

    17. Peaceful Protest: The Life of Nelson Mandela by Yona Seldis McDonough and illustrated by Malcah Seldis. I purchased this book from The Book Worm in Powder Springs. It is an autobiography of Nelson Mandela that is technically geared towards 6-10 years old children. I think it would be better suited for an older reader because of the length of the text and the descriptions of his life events. I've done some research and think that I will try to reserve Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson, which looks like it might be better suited for the ages of my daughters. Regardless of the book we read, I firmly believe that any discussion about peace must include dialogue about Nelson Mandela's magnificent life.

    If there is to be peace in the world, we must learn to find forgiveness. Nelson Mandela's ability to forgive his advisories and work with them to achieve peace continues to be inspiring.

    “Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.” ― Nelson Mandela

    18.  Waiting for the Owl's Call (Tales of the World) by Gloria Whelan. This is a haunting story told from the first person perspective of eight-year-old Zulviya, who must work long hours next to her sister and mother weaving rugs by hand. Despite her inability to go to school or play as a child should, she weaves dreams in her mind to pass the time. Imagining this young girl, almost the same age as my oldest, in Afghanistan being forced to hard labor was humbling. The beautiful prose told the story of child labor in a way that was both powerful and and something a child could relate to.

    If there is to be peace in the world, we first must begin with the children. 

    19.  Who Was the Woman Who Wore the Hat? by Nancy Patz. This book is so simple in concept, focusing on imagining who the woman was that wore a hat seen on display at the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. The author ponders if she took cream in her coffee, what she was like, who were her children, and so many other characteristics that make the idea of this far off person someone not to different from yourself. The illustrations are subtle and matte tones, and their subdued nature invites you in to ponder who the woman was without being loud or forceful. This book is important for a discussion of peace because we must be able to relate to those that are in pain and suffering. Mother Teresa once said, "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." I believe this to be true. If there is to be peace in the world, we must believe that we belong to each other. 

    Seeing yourself in the shoes of another woman, wearing something simple like a hat, makes what happened during the holocaust less of a history lesson and more of a human tragedy. The beauty of this picture book is that the superficial nature of the text allows a broad range of readers to pull from it what they are developmentally ready to understand.

    20.  The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. This classic book brings our journey and discussion of books about peace to the neighborhood. If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace between neighbors.

     For Wanda Petronski, she does not find peace in her neighborhood as the other girls tease and taunt her for her plain dress. This Polish girl in a Connecticut school experiences teasing, bullying and the timeless desire to just want to below. The book won a Newbery Honor in 1945, but still remains relevant today. It was the perfect book to read to a daughter seeking to find peace on the playground.

    21.  Jubilee!: One Man's Big, Bold, and Very, Very Loud Celebration of Peace by Alicia Potter and illustrated by Matt Tavares. Published in 2014, this is one of the newest books about peace we have read. I had never heard of this tremendous event that occurred following the civil war to celebrate the peace in our country prior to reading this book. What an amazing story of one man's journey to celebrate the beauty of peace! I cannot express how much I enjoyed this non-fiction selection. We borrowed it from the library, but I will add it to our to-buy list. You will cheer this unsung hero of our early American history after reading about Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore's amazing life.
    If there is to be peace in the world, we must share the music within our hearts.

    Make sure to check out Part 1and Part 2 of this series.

    Check back next week as we continue our journey reading #30booksforpeace as we look towards ways of finding inner peace.

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