Saturday, August 30, 2014

2014 AJC Decatur Book Festival- A review in pictures.

Crowded Streets full of Readers and Amazing Authors

We had a great time this morning at the 2014 AJC Decatur Book Festival. I can't wait to share over the coming days some of the books we purchased. However, for now, enjoy some pictures from the festival.
The Adorable Little Bus Filled with Books from Little Shop of Stories

Love the Window Art at Little Shop of Stories

The amazing "All in the Family" panel- Including James Dean (Pete the Cat illustrator)

Meeting the author of Emily's Best Birthday Party Ever- Mary Nestor-Harper

Getting a copy of Dogs, Dogs! signed by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

Love this Science themed book by Blake Washington
So great to meet Mark Wayne Adams, an illustrator we love.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

#30booksforpeace- Part 2- War and Peace

 #30booksforpeace- books 6-13. For books 1-5, check out my previous post.

Book 6. The Kites are Flying by Micheal Morpurgo. (This book I ended up not reading to either girls yet because it is really meant for an older audience. I choose to include it in on my list because it exemplifies the desire for peace and will be shared with my girls as soon as they are ready.)

This weekend, my daughters and I took a trip over to the Book Worm Used Bookstore in Powder Springs, GA. As I scanned the shelves for books to read to them about peace, I happened upon this beautiful, unassuming book titled The Kites are Flying by Micheael Morpurgo. Its subtitle was Friendship Knows No Barriers, so I decided to pick it up. (The story, published in the UK, is not readily available in the US.) The author beautifully weaves the tale of a reporter's journey to the West Bank where he meets Said, a young Palestinian boy who spends his days tending to his sheep on a hill while making kites. Said is full of life and hope even thought he no longer speaks after witnessing the tragic killing of his brother by soldiers. When the wind is just right, he releases the kites he makes over the wall with a message of peace written on each kite, sending out seeds of friendship. This story, written following the conflict in 2008, seemed very timely to stumble upon. I will be perfectly honest that the fighting in the Gaza strip seems daunting and unrelenting to me. Here, in the US, there is much talk about the the fighting and who is deemed right or wrong, but there is little talk about the unfortunate victims of the wars- the children. This book brought me to tears with the way the human impact of war is conveyed.

In one part of the book, the reporter is describing how he is there to film life on both sides of the wall, and he details how certain events frame a person's context for peace and war for the rest of their lives:
"It all depends on how old you are. For some people it is the television footage of the assassination of President Kennedy, or the pictures of Neil Armstrong stepping down onto the surface of the moon. For others it might be Nelson Mandela walking out of prison in South Africa, or it might be those planes slamming into the Twin Towers of Manhattan. For most of us there is a happening we have witnessed at an impressionable time of our lives that we shall never forget."
For me, my moment in time was indeed the moment the planes slammed into the Twin Towers. I was in college. The early morning class I was in was interrupted by a student urgently letting us know that a plane had hit the towers. Our professor, a Holocaust survivor, strikingly said, "That is impossible. Nothing that evil could happen here." She was wrong. A woman who had thought the worst of her suffering was years in her past was wrong. For this and so many other reasons, when I stumbled upon September Roses at the library, I knew I had to include it in my list.

7. September Roses by Jeanette Winter. For such a tiny book, this retelling of a true act of kindness and heroism following 9/11 leaves a profound impact on the reader. When two women visiting the US for a flower show find themselves stranded after 9/11, a kind gentleman offers his home and a bed for them to sleep in. When they ask how to repay his kindness, he suggests they bring the flowers they brought for the now cancelled convention to Union Square as an offering a peace and condolences.

When my oldest read this book, she came running over to me completely flabbergasted that book had an image of a plane flying into a building. She was shocked and dismayed when I confirmed that it was true. And for her,  hearing me tell her about where I was when this tragedy unfolded was like when my mom told me where she was when Kennedy was shot- a history lesson.

8. Peace by Wendy Anderson Halperin. Last week, I picked up five books I had reserved from the library specifically for this series of posts. Of those five books, this was by far the favorite for both Miss M and myself. I fell in love with book from the moment I read the authors thoughtful dedication- to the senses and how you can foster peace by using all five senses. The book ponders the question: How can there be peace in the world? And to answer this question, carefully woven into the illustrations are endless magnificent quotes about peace. The entire book is built around the poem written by Lao-Tzu, over 2,500 ago, showing the reader that if there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the heart. The illustrations in this book are intricate, offering hours of perusal, finding something new with every read. If there is one book that I plan on purchasing, it will be this one.

9.  What Does Peace Feel Like? by V. Radunsky and children just like you from around the world. I love that a percentage of the net proceeds from the purchase of this book will be donated to CARE, a humanitarian organization that is based out of our city of Atlanta. In this book, the meaning of peace is described through the eyes and imaginations of children. It is delightful to read children describe peace looking like a mother kissing and hugging a child or smelling "like the wind when it comes to your nose when you are sleeping." My favorite page is when the children asked what peace tasted like. Apparently, the vast majority of children said that peace tastes like ice cream. I would have to agree. This book is definitely appropriate for a younger audience, and children will love hearing something explained in their own words.

10. Can You Say Peace? by Karen Katz brings a multicultural perspective to the selection of peace books by having children from countries around the world say "peace" in their native language. This book has bright illustrations and sparse text, making it a perfect read aloud for a toddler. My older daughter loved the challenge of memorizing the various ways to say peace, and my youngest enjoyed the pictures. We borrowed this one from the library. I think it would be great to have in a classroom.

11.  The Big Book for Peace Edited by Ann Durell and Marilyn Sachs and designed by Jane Byers Bierhorst. I will be perfectly honest that this book was not my favorite, by a long shot. The story behind this collection of stories is almost more compelling than the collection. It was inspired by discussions at a conference where I librarian expressed a need for books about peace. I think the main problem is the age old cliche of judging a book by its cover. I expected, when I borrowed this from the library, to have a volume completely filled will colorful illustrations, like the cover by Maurice Sendak. It is actually a collection of short stories, poems, letters, and illustrations from various authors and illustrators meant to focus on themes of peace. We read several of short stories, but the honestly did not keep my oldest daughter's attention. It may be that this book is better suited for an older audience. I would recommend picking this one up from the library before making the purchase.

12. War and Peace by Child's Play and illustrated by Toni Goffe. No, this is not the classic by Tolstoy. It is instead a very basic description of how disagreements can occur between siblings, families, communities, or countries. I picked this book up from the Book Worm Bookstore. It is simple, easy for a child to understand, and really drives the point home that war can be futile. At first glance, I really liked this book; however there are parts of this book that I felt came off as judgmental and propaganda when I read the book aloud to my kids. It left me feeling a little angst instead of warm and hopeful, like I did when finishing many of the other books. It is overall a good book, I just wish I could go back and edit a few of the word choices made throughout the text.

13. Let There Be Peace: Prayers from Around the World by Jeremy Brooks and Jude Daly.  This collection of prayers for peace from all around the world reminds the reader that no matter where you are from, what God you believe in, or what your religious beliefs may be, we all share the common desire for peace. Since so many wars are sparked by differences with religion, I love how this book shows how similar the prayers of different religions can be. I am adding this one to our to-buy list because it contains so many great poems and prayers and the illustrations are sublime.

Thirteen books down, seventeen books to go. I am so excited to share the books I have lined up to read this coming week and the ones I have reserved from the library. If you have started reading my challenge to read 30 books about peace to with my children, make sure to check out the first five selections. And, make sure to check back next Wednesday as we continue our journey reading #30booksforpeace.

Monday, August 25, 2014

From the Magical Mind of Mindy Munson by Nikki Bennett - A Review

Title: From the Magical Mind of Mindy Munson
Author: Nikki Bennett 
Publication Date: June 26, 2014
Publisher: Firedrake Books, LLC
Pages: 116
Recommended Ages: 7 to 12

When I received From the Magical Mind of Mindy Munson by Nikki Bennett, I figured I would read a couple chapters on my own before sharing it with my daughter to make sure the story was appropriate for her; however, I quickly found myself sucked into the story and finished it in a day. Tonight, I started rereading this book with  my oldest daughter, Miss M, who is seven. She is already hooked.

From the Magical Mind of Mindy Munson is the story of four kids who have just moved into a large haunted house with their Aunt after losing their parents in a car crash. Mindy Munson hasn't spoken since she was in the car with her twin brother on That Day. However, that doesn't stop her from sharing with her siblings all the magical creatures that lurk on the expansive grounds of the house, including "Da Fing" that lives in the basement. Communicating only with her twin brother, she lets them know each time a new creature has arrived, warning her brothers and sister if the creature is good or bad. At first, her creatures seem unbelievable; however, things keep happening around the house to confirm the existence of creatures like the Mulberry Dragon and the Goony bird. The reader is left wondering if she does indeed have a sixth sense or if her imagination is just some childlike coping mechanism.

Death is a difficult subject to broach for most anyone at any age; however Nikki Bennett masterfully imagines a world in which four siblings can cope with the loss of their parents on their own terms. I think the reason I enjoyed this book so much is because the mixture of unapologetic and real characters with completely magical ones felt very much like a Roald Dahl book. I found myself torn between my adult desire to negate the magical creatures as nonsense and my inner child hoping that they were indeed not just figments of Mindy's imagination. This book will make a great read aloud to share with my daughters, and it will provide an opportunity to discuss what it must feel like to experience loss.

Right now, my youngest daughter recites the mantra, "No Monsters, No Alligators," each night before bed and whenever we go somewhere new. My oldest teases her for believing that there really are alligators in strange new places, and I think this book perfectly suits kids with wild imaginations. For Mindy, Da Fing was real and something to be feared, just as for my daughter alligators poses a real threat. I hope this is something that my oldest picks up on as we read the book.

I found From the Magical Mind of Mindy Munson to feel refreshingly inventive in a time when many books we read feel like slightly changed versions of books that have already been read. I hope you take the time to check out the magical mind in Mindy Munson. I am sure glad that I did.

* I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.

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!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

#30BooksForPeace - Part 1

The other day, my seven-year-old daughter informed me that murder was bad. Perplexed by her strange remark that seemed to have come from nowhere, I questioned her until I learned that she had caught far too much of the news. The globe is flush with conflict, famine, war, and disease. I personally have a hard time watching the news without being left with an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. The unrest and anger across the globe and here in the US is palpable, leaving a sadness in my heart.

However, today, while up in my oldest daughter's room, I found this note she had written, unprompted, and it sparked a hope for peace inside that I hadn't felt for a long time.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to consciously choose the best books to share with my daughters in the hopes of making them better people, kinder people, empathic people. I want to look back at the time we have spent reading together and know that it fostered meaningful discussions about life that I may never have broached had we not read a certain book. For this reason, given all that is in the news, I have decided to read 30 books that in some way promote peace. This challenge will be a weekly post where I share the books connected with peace that we have read. In the end, I hope that I will have compiled a dynamic list of children's picture books that challenge a parent to talk about all the aspects and meanings of the word "PEACE" with their children. But more than that, I hope that the discussion will lead to visions of hope and action towards a more peaceful planet.

So, without further ado, here are our first five books for peace:

1. Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy with paintings by Jon J. Muth.

This may seem like an unconventional first choice for books about peace- it is just a collection of poems. However, I have found that it is easiest to broach the most complex subjects with poetry This collection of poems, compiled by Caroline Kennedy, covers a broad selection of subjects, allowing the reader to select the perfect poem for each moment in life. The illustrations are breathtaking and unobtrusive, allowing the poems to shine on the page. For this moment in time, I choose a very simple but masterful poem by Janet S. Wong. In her poem Liberty, we are challenge to take that first step towards peace: acceptance of different views.

2. We March by Shane W. Evans. We just borrowed this book from the library on our last trip, and I am so thankful that we did. The beauty of this book is the sparse use of words that keeps my rambunctious two-year-old listening. The book describes one child's journey to participate in the March on Washington for jobs and freedom that took place on August 28, 1963 at the nation's capitol. More than 250,000 people participated in this peaceful march, where Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. The illustrations are striking and the words perfectly convey a concise message of justice, freedom, and hope.

3. Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier. This is the second time I have blogged about this book. I purchased this book while visiting the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. Unlike many autobiographical books that are only read once, this book calls you to read it again and again. Bryan Collier does a masterful job creating pictures that pull you into the moment, while Doreen Rappaport carefully framed a story of Dr. King's life around his amazing words. My oldest daughter loves the honesty and bluntness with which the author uses Dr. King's words to address issues of race.

4. Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. I choose this book as the fourth book to read for this series because it displays another perspective of peaceful protests from an event that most individuals know little to nothing about. I think it is important that my daughters grow up learning about all types of injustice and action towards peace and a better world. This book tells the story of Clara, a young immigrant, who dreams  of a better life in New York, only to find herself locked inside a factory working in horrendous conditions. She organizes and unites with her fellow workers to stand up for their right to fair wages and humane working conditions. I also wrote about this book in one of my first posts on this blog. The story and illustrations in this book are breathtaking. Did you know that 146 women lost their lives in a fire at one of these shirtwaist factories (The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory) spurring the creation of fire safety codes? Can you imagine the grit it took to peacefully strike as a young immigrant woman, standing up to an entire industry? But, what I think is so amazing, is watching my daughter make the connection that Dr. King was killed participating in a strike with garbage collectors, who were demanding better working conditions, and Clara was jailed 17 times and had six ribs broken while peacefully protesting.

5. One by Kathryn Otoshi. A beautiful tale of the quiet color blue getting bullied by the hot headed color red until "one" stands up and says no to the bullying. The message is clear, though the images are just colored dots, that it only takes one person to stand up for someone else and be counted. The attraction of the book is that it doesn't directly confront any specific instances of injustice, which the other books do contain sensitive subject material. Because of this ambiguity, it allows the book to be applied to almost any situation where someone is being bullied, while at the same time giving younger readers the opportunity to listen without potentially being exposed to sensitive material.

Check in next week to see which books we will be adding to our #30booksforpeace.

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!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The King's Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello - Book Blast

Young Knights of the Round Table:  The King's Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello  

About the Book

Title: Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom | Author: Cheryl Carpinello | Year published: April 17, 2013 | Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing | Number of pages: 120 | Recommended age: 9+
Summary: Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions.
At Pembroke Castle in medieval Wales,11-year-old Prince Gavin, 13-year-old orphan Philip, and 15-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan, brought together in friendship by the one they call The Wild Man, embark upon a quest to save The Wild Man's life when he is accused of murder and robbery. If they have any hope of succeeding, the three will have to confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. But it is the arrival of King Arthur and what he reveals that surprises characters and readers.  


2013 EVVY Finalist and EVVY Merit Award for Juvenile/Young Adult from Colorado Independent Publishers Assoc.
2013 Ariana Cover Finalist
2012 Silver Award Recipient for YA Fiction from Children's Literary Classics and the CLC's 2012 Seal of Approval.
2012 Finalist E-Book Children from USA 2012 Best Book Awards


Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iBookstore

Smashwords * MuseItUp Publishing


Free Educational Supplement

Visit the Wise Owl Factory for a FREE study guide. Click on the image below.
Young Knights Teaching Supplement - Wise Owl Factory  

The Buzz About the Book

"Young Knights of the Round Table is a short, fast-paced adventure set in Arthurian times which features great character development, an intriguing and engaging plot, and a surprise ending (in more ways than one!). I would highly recommend this book to tween and teen boys and girls who love mysteries or stories set in the time of King Arthur." ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
"I so enjoyed the factual information about weapons, clothing, daily life, and places, cleverly interspersed in the text and dialogue to inform without overwhelming young readers. The author has a gift for delving into the depths of each young hero’s psyche. The way each one of the trio faces their fears, learns to believe in themselves, and finds their true meaning and path in life is moving. This is a superb coming-of-age story, set in a time of chivalry and pageantry, and harking back to an age when a hero was truly a hero. Five stars! " ~ Fiona Ingram, Author
"There is much to rave about this book, and I don’t want to give anything away because it’s a quick paced, thrilling, new classic about the knights. Witches, white stags, and a Wild Man make the plot exciting, along with cheering along the young knights. There are quite a few surprises at the end that really make the book a great read. We highly recommend this book for any young reader; sure, boys might convinced by the action and title, but I’m positive all young readers will enjoy the mystery and chivalry of Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom! " ~ Tales of a Bookworm
"I absolutely loved this book... [T]his book has just enough Arthurian legend to tie it to and draw from that period of history while being jam-packed with fantastic new characters and fresh plot twists. I am rarely surprised by things in books, but this book really surprised me with a few events I totally did not see coming! I highly recommend this book for young readers! It would be an excellent tie-in to a unit study about King Arthur." ~ Mommynificent
"This is a fast-paced story that children and adults will both enjoy! It's well-written and exciting as we read about the fears each boy faces and how they are able to triumph. It's a great story about loyalty, friendship and overcoming obstacles. Because of the length, it doesn't drag or slow down at all, so it's fun to read and hard to put down. And the ending is full of surprises! I highly recommend reading this book! " ~ Mel's Shelves

About the Author: Cheryl Carpinello

Cheryl Carpinello, Author I love the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! As a retired English teacher, I hope to inspire young readers to read more andto reach reluctant readers with my Arthurian Tales and soon a series of stories from ancient lands and legends that will take readers on adventurous quests throughout history.

Author Website * Author Blog * Facebook

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Book Buzzer * Amazon Author Page



* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift CardPrize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: September 9, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Cheryl Carpinello and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services
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