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!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Bravest Worrier

A couple of weeks ago I found myself arriving way too early for an eye doctor appointment. To waste the minutes away, I walked over to the Barnes and Nobel and wandered aimlessly through the store. My mind spun round in a frantic state of worries- work, home, family. anything, and everything. A lot is going on right now- personally, professionally, and in the world- and my mind is moving at 100 miles an hour like a bullet train. Enter wonderfully Barnes and Nobel employee! She stops me and asks if I am alright. I nod and start to walk away. She looks at me with a "I am not buying it look"- the kind that only mothers can truly perfect and asks me to check out this book. My first thought is to quickly say no thanks and walk away. I have enough on my plate- I don't need someone selling me a book. But, something in my heart told me to stay and listen. This employee introduced me to a book by a local author about worrying. Meet author and illustrator of The Bravest Worrier- Angelique Monet.


Angelique Monet was born in upstate New York. She grew up with two older sisters and one older brother.  She has fond memories of jumping in huge piles of leaves left by her favorite season autumn. She loves the smell of autumn, the crisp cool air, and the beautiful colors of the changing foliage.  Autumn will always remind Angelique of the fresh beginnings of new school days.

At a very early age Angelique felt inspired to write poetry.  Unable to keep a journal, Angelique would write her most inner feelings down through poem after poem.  As she grew older, her friends would often confide in her with their personal stories and want Angelique to turn it into poetry.  Angelique found great enjoyment in helping them express what they could not. 

Angelique left the cold winters behind and moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she met her husband. Together they have built a family and a wonderful life that combines their passion for art, creative inventions, and the need to make a positive impact.  They designed and created successful iPhone games.  It wasn’t until her daughters began school that she felt inspired to write about those complex feelings of growing up again. 

Angelique spends her days writing and painting.  After writing several children’s books Angelique knew ‘The Bravest Worrier’ had to be illustrated first.  The Bravest Worrier was written in only forty-five minutes but was illustrated over the course of two years.  Angelique has always known she was a writer but only recently discovered that she was an artist as well. As a self-taught artist she has a love for 18th- century art.  Angelique thoughtfully planned out each page and would often get lost in the details, the lighting, and emotional aspect of her art.  She wants her reader to feel the story not just from the words but the art as well. 

Angelique could never imagine that her love for writing would lead to writing children’s books. 
She hopes to inspire and positively impact her readers’ for years to come.  


And now meet her beautiful and so needed book: The Bravest Worrier.

My Review

There are no shortage of things to worry about today- flooding, war, healthcare, yellow jacket stings, and if your friends are talking about you. These are all topics my daughter has brought up to me as things that keep her up at night. My oldest can worry so much sometimes that she becomes paralyzed by her fears. While we work together all the time to put the worries and fears in perspective, no matter what I say or do, there seems to always be new worries brewing. 

The Bravest Worrier tackles the myriad of worries that cross a child's mind head on in a gorgeously illustrated picture book that saturates your mind with imagery and pushes out all the worries.  Each page is full of little witty statements that exemplify what voices can be heard in a worriers mind. I find myself discovering new parts of the book with every new read.

The book also comes with a small poster titled, "The Bravest Worrier Worry's Secrets Revealed." This poster is chock full of useful life skills that help a worrier kick the worrying habit. I love this book so much, I am not going to keep it, but instead I plan on sending it in to my daughter's elementary school to give to her guidance counselor. This book should be in every school.

Check out the author's website: to purchase your own copy of this beautiful book. Or- if you live in Cobb County Georgia- head on over to the Barnes and Noble at the Avenues of West Cobb on Dallas Highway where I was able to purchase a signed copy.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Duck and Hippo Lost and Found (Duck and Hippo Series) + Giveaway

Duck and Hippo Lost and Found (Duck and Hippo Series)

    • Author: Jonathan London
    • Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
    • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
    • Lexile Measure: 480 (What's this?)
    • Series: Duck and Hippo Series (Book 2)
    • Hardcover: 32 pages
    • Publisher: Two Lions (August 15, 2017)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1542045622
    • ISBN-13: 978-1542045629

    About the Book

    Duck and Hippo have a picnic and a new adventure!
    Duck and Hippo invite their friends Turtle, Elephant, and Pig to a picnic at their favorite pond. Yippee! It’s time to dance and sing, swim and eat. Everyone brings goodies to share…except Hippo. He didn’t bring ANYTHING. So Hippo sets off into the forest to find some berries. But he is gone a long time, and Duck begins to worry that Hippo is lost. What should his friends do to find him? Join Duck and Hippo on another fun adventure!

    About the Author

    Jonathan London has written more than one hundred children’s books, including the bestselling Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. He is the author of the popular Duck and Hippo series, illustrated by Andrew Joyner. Many of his books explore nature, among them Flamingo Sunset, illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, and Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica, illustrated by Julie Olson. He is also author of the Aaron’s Wilderness middle-grade series, illustrated by his son Sean London. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more online at


    About the Illustrator 

    Andrew Joyner is an illustrator, author, and cartoonist based in South Australia. He has illustrated a number of picture books, and he wrote and illustrated a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. He is the illustrator of the popular Duck and Hippo series, written by Jonathan London. He has also illustrated for newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Rolling Stone magazine, among others. Learn more online at





    My Review

    I need to be perfectly honest- I loved Duck and Hippo Lost and Found. It was playful and the pages were covered in vibrant illustrations. However, my five-year-old let me know that she doesn't like this book. To clarify, the idea of being lost scares her, and so she doesn't want to read a book about being lost...even if the whole book is finding your friends. That said, there are parts of the book she loves- the pizza, the rainbows, and the party at the end. She reluctantly asks to read the book and frets while Hippo is lost so that she can celebrate when Hippo is found. At the same time, we end up talking about why it would be scary to wander off on your own and end up lost. That is the beauty of children's books- they promote discussions about topics that parents might not ever broach with their children- those scary topics parents want to forget.  

    My favorite page in the book is when Hippo looked on both sides of the rainbow for the summer's last berries. I love the idea of looking on both sides of a rainbow- not just the "other side" of the rainbow. This also happened to be my daughter's favorite page. Even though she was scared for Hippo, she rejoiced that he saw a rainbow from start to finish. 

    I am also partial to this book because it is by the author of the Froggy series. My kids, especially my oldest daughter, loved the Froggy books. They have been bedtime staples for years, and this new series by Jonathan London creates strong characters that stay with a child long after the book is closed.

    Hey! Don't leave yet! 

    There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable activity pages:

    And I am excited to announce that I am hosting a giveaway! Two Lions is offering a set of the Duck and Hippo books--DUCK AND HIPPO IN THE RAINSTORM and DUCK AND HIPPO LOST AND FOUND--to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses).

    FTC Disclosure: Thank you Two Lions for sending me a copy of Duck and Hippo Lost and Found 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!  

    Sunday, August 13, 2017

    Sports Illustrated Kids: The Football Fanbook by Gary Gramling

    About 12 years ago I took my current job working for a university in the South. Before that, neither the undergrad or grad school that I attended had a football team. (Or, as we liked to say at Emory University, we were undefeated in football.) However, this lack of watching football left me woefully unprepared for my job, where I have to travel throughout the state to meet with businesses. I manage the requisite "visiting" before the start of each meeting just fine until August, when small talk moves from tomatoes and okra to football-and it really was just football. Oh, how I wish I had been gifted a copy of this book years ago. It really would have helped me not seem quite so daft.

    • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
    • Grade Level: 3 and up
    • Lexile Measure: 1080 (What's this?)
    • Hardcover: 192 pages
    • Publisher: Sports Illustrated (August 8, 2017)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1683300076
    • ISBN-13: 978-1683300076

    About the Book

    Everything You Need to Become a Gridiron Know-it-All

    So you're a football fan and now you want to take your passion for the game to the next level? The Football Fanbook from Sports Illustrated Kids is just what you need. A key addition to every young sports fanatic's library, The Football Fanbook is filled with fun trivia and unique lingo to impress friends, illustrated behind-the-skills how-to's, important game-winning strategies, and much more. Readers will sound like experts in no time.

    My Review

    We are a few days into the preseason, and we are blessed with stories about football from every angle. You have the lead story in the Sports section for the AJC (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution) about the 1970's Falcon's team. It is a throwback story perfectly suited to get football fans in the spirit of nostalgia and revelry about the game. This book would also be a great gift for the budding fan of football to not only read up on what is relevant now, but to also learn the history of the game to hang with the biggest of fans.

    As with all Sports Illustrated Kids books, this one is visually engaging with glossy, full color pages. There are lots of pictures, illustrations, changes in fonts, graphs, and large, eye-catching numbers. It includes a wide range of lingo, trivia, stats, and skills necessary to play or watch the game.

    I lent the book to one of my 10 year old daughter's friends who plays football. He eats, lives, and breaths football. He gave the book a rave review with the exception that he already knew most of the stats and trivia. My friend and I quizzed him using the book before he had a chance to read it, and he knew almost everything. I also asked him if he saw this at a book fair at school would he pay the list price for the book. This is something that I think is really important to understand with the older kids, as many of them are using their own money at the book fairs and can be quite shrewd on how they spend their money. He felt that $19.99 was too much to spend on a book about football, but he still wanted his mom to pay for it. His point is that some of the material in the book will be outdated in a year or so. I can appreciated that honest feedback.

    Lucky for you, my dearest readers, the book is on sale on Amazon for $13.59.  And that, I think is well worth the value of the book.

    FTC Disclosure: Thank you Sports Illustrated Kids for sending me a copy of The Football Fanbook 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!

    Wednesday, July 12, 2017

    I'm Going to Give You a Bear Hug by Caroline B. Cooney #bearhugbook

    I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!

    I am so excited to be working with Zonderkidz to celebrate this very special snuggle-up-and-hug-your-kid-book!

    Author:  Caroline B. Cooney
    Illustrator: Tim Warnes
    For Ages  4-8

    Watch the book trailer: 

    Connect with the Author and Publisher
    Like Caroline B. Cooney on Facebook
    Follow Zonderkidz on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
    Hashtag #BearHugBook

    I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug!, written by bestselling author Caroline B. Cooney, is a playful and comforting bedtime book that imagines all the wonderful ways a child might give and receive a hug.

    Whether it’s a big bear, gasp for air, knock over a chair hug or a wet and drippy, slimy, slippy fish hug, children will giggle their way through all the imaginative examples. Cooney’s sweet, whimsical rhymes encourage playful interaction between parent and child and ultimately help them wind down before they snuggle into bed and drift off to sleep.

    Caroline B. Cooney was born in New York, grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in South Carolina. Caroline is the author of 90 Young Adult novels in many genres, and her books have sold over fifteen million copies. I’m Going to Give You a Bear Hug! is her first picture book. It’s based on a verse she wrote for her own children, Louisa, Sayre and Harold, who are grown now.

    My favorite thing to do at the end of the day is to snuggle up with my girls and read books. After reading, I need big, it's been a long day, make the headaches go away, help me find my namaste hugs. In my home we call them snugglefests. So, I have a soft spot for any books that help prompt our nightly snugglefests to begin. This book sings to my soul. The words dance off your tongue. The rhythm of the text is easy and flows from page to page as if the words were meant to be sew together all along. This story just feels like if has always been around, and it is no surprise that it is based from a verse the author wrote for her own children. It just feels right. The book has become an instant classic in our home right alongside the Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle. I am thrilled to find a permanent home for this book on our shelves. 

    Buy the book at Barnes & Noble
    Follow ZonderKidz on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram
    Like Caroline B. Cooney on Facebook

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...