Sunday, June 4, 2017

If Found Please Return to Elise Gravel - Review

  • Title: If Found, Please Return to Elise Gravel (
  • Author and Illustrator: Elise Gravel
  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Hardcover: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly (June 6, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1770462783
  • ISBN-13: 978-1770462786
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches 

I have been struggling for days to write this book review. Not because I don't have anything to say, but because the book keeps disappearing in my house. You see my oldest daughter has adopted the book, read it several times, and then created her own sketch book to doodle just like author/illustrator Elise Gravel.

Now, I would love to share my daughter's doodles with you; however, she literally freaked out when I asked to share her notebook. I guess she is officially entering pre-tweendom. I am lame and my blog is embarrassing.  I get it. I remember that feeling. I will respect her wishes.

However, I think you will agree that her complete obsession with the book is warranted. It is full of vibrant colors, quirky creatures, and just enough bathroom humor that will have kids thinking they have discovered something their parent's might not approve of, making it that much more desirable. What I love about the book, however, is how it encourages creativity in kids. My favorite page in the book provides some sage advice for the aspiring children's book illustrator.

It is exactly what any person needs to hear to help them realize their dreams summed up on a page. "Enormous amounts of practice. That's how you improve." Yes, Elise Gravel! Every kid needs to hear those words. Even a few adults need to hear those words. Even I need to hear those words and be reminded that it is OK to fail all along the road to success, as long as you keep practicing.

If I haven't convinced you to go online and pre-order this book (which will be released on June 6th), then check out Elise Gravel's Instagram. I am in love with her creativity!

A post shared by Elise Gravel (@elise_gravel) on

FTC Disclosure: Thank you Drawn and Quarterly for sending me a copy of If Found, Please Return to Elise Gravel. 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, May 21, 2017

Thunder & A Lightning Bug Named Lou by Rosalind Bunn - A Review

My children's interest in fireflies or lightning bugs, as we call them, has grown since reading The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle. For that reason, I was so excited to be invited to review Thunder and A Lightning Bug Named Lou by Rosalind Bunn. And it is great!

  • Title: Thunder & A Lightning Bug Named Lou
  • Author: Rosalind Bunn
  • Illustrator: Angela G. Hawkins
  • Hardcover: 34 pages
  • Publisher: Deeds Publishing LLC (December 5, 2016)
  • Language: English

About the Book

Lou is a little lightning bug with a big problem---his light is too bright. But as Lou soon discovers, sometimes what makes you different is what makes you special.

My Review

Summer is upon us! My daughter's school gets out next week, and nothing sums up summer like late nights hunting for fireflies. If you are looking for a summer read for a young child, I highly recommend picking up this book to learn more about the adorable lightning bug named Lou. I mean look at the cover! The illustrator did a fantastic job bringing to life this little lightning bug. Lou, the main character, is strong, independent, and never gives up in the face of adversity. Not to mention, Lou is adorable. My youngest daughter loves his big blue eyes and the little antenna. I, personally, loved how the story incorporated a diverse selection of characters, making it a much better representation of the world my children are growing up in. The other element about this book that stood out to me is there is something special that is hidden on every page of the book. Remember looking for the little gold bug in the Richard Scarry books? This book has something similar; which adds another dynamic for engaging young readers.  The book also contains facts about fireflies in the back of the book, creating a springboard to encourage kids to learn more about lightning bugs. I am always a sucker for anytime science is integrated into a book. I really can't say enough about this beautiful book. It is a treasure for us to own.

To purchase this or any other books by Rosalind Bunn, please check out her author page at Deeds Publishing:

*I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review represent my honest opinions about the book.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Wonderful You- An Adoption Story by Lauren McLaughlin

  • Wonderful You- An Adoptive Story (
  • Author: Lauren McLaughlin
  • Illustrator: Meilo So
  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Library Binding: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (April 25, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553510037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553510034

About the Book

A lyrical adoption story that tenderly addresses a baby’s transition from the care of her birth mother to that of her adoptive parents.

This lovely poem illuminates the role of an adopted child’s birth mother, respecting her choice to give her child to a loving family. We follow a mother’s journey as she carries her child, searches for deserving parents, and ultimately creates a new family. The story offers a version of the process that is full of warmth, care, and joy.

An adoptive mother herself, author Lauren McLaughlin was glad for an opportunity to memorialize her family’s own fairy tale, and Meilo So’s ethereal illustrations breathe magic into an already wondrous experience.

My Review

I love children's books that are illustrated with watercolors. There is something that is reminiscent of a classic children's story anytime the soft colors are splashed onto a page. It reminds me of being little and pouring over Beatrix Potter books or A Child's Garden of Verses. And for that reason, I was drawn into the book. Meilo So's soulful artwork, of which I have always admired, in this book wraps around you like a warm blanket. Her people are imperfectly shaped, like real people. The characters have blended looks, not locking them into any one race or ethnicity. You float through the pages, which is perfect because Lauren McLaughlin's lyrical story floats above the page and carries you through the story. You witness one family becoming whole with the adoption of a baby they have waited so long for her arrival; but ironically you do not feel sadness for the mother who gives the baby to the family. The way the story is told, the lady in blue, as the birth mother is referred to, is seen as an almost spirit whose purpose is to find the right family for her baby. The story pours over with love in a way, that I hope, will leave adoptive children not feeling abandoned by their birth parents, but instead loved completely at each stage of the process. I cannot recommend this book enough as a gift to adoptive parents or for parents to purchase for their adopted children. Wonderful You left me feeling warm inside and desperate for another read through of the book. 

FTC Disclosure: Thank you Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy of Wonderful You- An Adoption Story. 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, April 19, 2017

In Celebration of Earth Day! Animal Planet: Animal Bites Series

A couple weeks ago, we received a package with two books from the Animal Planet Animal Bites series in the mail. We were on our way to gymnastics practice, so I handed the books to my youngest daughter to read on the way there. The books we received were: Animals on the Move and Baby Animals. Little J had the Baby Animals. For the next 20 minutes during the drive, all I heard coming from the back seat was a series of "Awwws!" and "Oh my goodness look at this cute little animal!" I was laughing out loud from her dramatic reaction to the images in the book. She was smitten with the cute and cuddly creatures. She just couldn't get enough of those adorable little babies. When we got home, my oldest grabbed both books and spent hours reading all the tidbits and facts contained within the books. I love it when I discover books that capture both my daughters' attention, books that have enough interesting information to keep my ten-year-old intrigued and enough vibrant photos to keep my youngest enthralled. What makes these books even more fantastic is that they a packed full of scientific information- which is exactly what a scientist mamma wants to be providing for her daughters.

Sunday marked the beginning of National Park Week, and Saturday is Earth Day. I felt that this week would be the best time to share with you, my readers, these latest awesome and amazing additions to the Animal Planet Animal Bites series.

Hiking at Red Top Mountain State Park
 We have been celebrating nature and science these past couple of weeks by hiking at state and national parks, visiting ZooAtlanta, and on Saturday participatin in the March for Science.
Looking out over Lake Allatoona at the birds
It is great getting the kids out into nature, and we are lucky to live within a short drive of some great places to spot wildlife.
Pretending to be the Lorax at Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park
My daughters even insisted on bringing their new Animal Planet books to ZooAtlanta to check out if they saw any of the animals featured in the book.
While the elephants were on the move, the kangaroos had no interest in moving in the hot Atlanta sun.

We even went up to Amicalola Falls and attended a science lesson about birds of prey to learn more way animals move.

So, I guess you can safely say, my kids loved the books and made sure they were part of our adventures.

Animal Planet Animals on the Move (Animal Bites Series)

Age Range: 7 - 10 years 
Grade Level: Preschool - 3 
Lexile Measure: 870 (What's this?) 
Series: Animal Bites 
Flexibound: 80 pages 
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 7, 2017) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1618931792 
ISBN-13: 978-1618931795

About the Book

With more than 200 gorgeous photos of animals in their natural habitats, there's action and adventure on every page of Animal Planet Animals on the Move. This fast-moving addition to the Animal Bites series provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite animals. Arranged thematically with a focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about migration, fast and slow, hunting and playing, and animal movement on land, in the air, and in water, Special book features designed for this age group include simple graphics and 'Just Like Me' sidebars with fascinating animal facts for young readers to learn more about themselves and the amazing animals that share our world.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of books in the Animal Bites series benefits the principal partners of R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.), Animal Planet's initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild.

My Review

Animals on the Move combines beautiful photography with eye popping graphics that will capture the attention of a wide age range of children.  Whether it is flying squirrels or lizards running over the surface of water, the author and designers of this series of books do a fantastic job of honing in on the quirky facts about animals that will get kids excited about science. In addition to the content, the book contains a glossary, index, list of resources, and a couple of activities.
I wish a review could do justice to the photography in the book, but there are really no words for how amazing animals look when captured in flight or on the run.

There are a couple of things I would add, if I had my way, to help answer questions my children had when reading the books. First, there are "Info Bites" sections that include information about specific animals. It would be really helpful to have not only the home listed but to also include a small map of the world with the location of the animals highlighted. The second thing I would add periodically throughout the book would be ways that kids could help protect the animals or animal homes. My kids are always asking me how they could help animals, and it helps to have simple steps kids could take to make a difference, like clipping the plastic that comes around soda cans.

Animal Planet Baby Animals (Animal Bites Series)

Age Range: 8 - 12 years 
Grade Level: Preschool - 3 
Lexile Measure: 800 (What's this?) 
Series: Animal Bites 
Flexibound: 80 pages 
Publisher: Animal Planet (March 7, 2017) 
Language: English 
ISBN-10: 1618931784 
ISBN-13: 978-1618931788

 About the Book

With more than 200 adorable photos of baby animals and their families, there's serious "aw" factor on every page of Animal Planet Baby Animals. This fun addition to the Animal Bites series provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite animals. Arranged thematically with a focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about life cycles, feeding, play time, conservation, getting around, and much more. Special book features designed for this age group include simple infographics and 'All Grown Up' animal facts to help kids learn more about how young and adult animals differ-just like humans!

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of books in the Animal Bites series benefits the principal partners of R.O.A.R. (Reach Out. Act. Respond.), Animal Planet's initiative dedicated to improving the lives of animals in our communities and in the wild.

My Review

Honestly, you can NEVER go wrong with a book full of baby animals. Children and adults, alike, love to see just how cute animals are before they grow up. This book kept my four-year-old entertained for hours. She kept saying, "Aww!" on every page. My older daughter loved reading about how mothers take care of their young. Just like the other books in the Animal Bites series, in addition to the content, the book contains a glossary, index, list of resources, and a couple of activities.

My absolute favorite photo in the book is of a duck-billed platypus nursing her young. The shot is amazing and information provided in the caption of the photo was intriguing. It is hard to imagine such a seemingly hardy animal like that gently holding multiple infants and nursing them!

Not only did both my daughters find this book to be thoroughly engaging, but I did as well. I cannot say enough for the photography that Animal Planet includes in this series of books.

Want to join in the fun and get a sneak peek on how awesome this series of books are? Check out this activity packet that goes with the books.

What a copy of these books? I am thrilled to announce thatTime Inc. books is giving away not one or two, but all six books in the series to one lucky reader! Leave a comment letting me know how you celebrate Earth Day.

 FTC Required Disclosures:
 *I received review copies 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!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Happy Dreamer by Peter H. Reynolds Prize Pack Giveaway!

During the day, I work as a scientist at a college. The students right now are ragged. They are desperately trying to make it through the end of the semester and finals. I wonder how many of them could use a little motivation as they sprint to the finish line? I hope, as my mom did, that they were given motivational books at graduation from high school, and they can sneak some inspiration before finishing the semester.

As graduation day approaches, I know many people will be looking for a book to purchase to give to their graduate. While Happy Dreamer is a children's book states it is geared towards ages 4-8, I firmly believe that this book would make a great gift. This book screams, "Dream Big!" But, this book also has quiet moments reminding the reader to keep moving forward during tough days. This is a great lesson for little growing minds, but I also think it would serve these tired looking college kids I see every day.

I am so excited to share that Scholastic will be providing one lucky reader of my blog with a copy of this book and another super special on to find out!


By Peter H. Reynolds
Release: March 28, 2017
Recommended for ages 4-8

In the same spirit as OH, ALL THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!, the beloved, worldwide bestselling creator of The Dot and Ish inspires readers of every age to find their own unique path to happy, and to always follow their dreams with HAPPY DREAMER.

Picture book and creativity guru Peter H. Reynolds brings us a universally poignant celebration of the colorful spectrum of what it means to dream and the many ways to find happy!

While the world tells us to sit still, to follow the rules, and to color inside the lines, Happy Dreamer celebrates all those moments in between when the mind and spirit soar and we are free to become our own true dreamer maximus! In Peter's signature voice and style, this empowering picture book reminds children of how much their dreams matter, and while life will have ups and downs, he enlists readers to stay true to who they are, to tap into their most creative inner selves, and to never ever forget to dream big!
Peter H. Reynolds' latest inspirational book is a perfect gift for graduations, new babies, milestone moments, and any happy occasion throughout the year for any age!


Peter is a New York Times bestselling children's book author and illustrator of many books for children, including the Judy Moody series, written by Meghan McDonald; The Dot; Ish; Sky Color; and Allison McGhee's Someday, selling more than two million books in over 25 languages around the globe. In 1996, he founded FableVision with his brother Paul as a social change agency to help move the world to a better place by creating "stories that matter, stories that move." He lives in Dedham, Massachusetts, with his family.

And now....the big prize!!!

HAVE HAPPY DREAMS! Let your mind and spirit soar at night! One winner will receive:
  • A gorgeous hardcover copy of Happy Dreamer
  • AND a Doodle pillowcase! The doddle pillowcase is a speciality pillowcase that invites the dreamer and sleeper to doodle their own dreams on the pillow.

(Open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Scholastic.)

So to win, I want to know what kind of dreamer are you? One lucky person who comments on this post or on my social media pages for Instagram or Facebook will be randomly selected to win the prize.   

Contest Open from April 10, 2017 through April 17, 2017 at midnight.

Don't forget to check out Scholastic - my awesome prize pack sponsor.

Follow Scholastic on Twitter & Instagram
Like Scholastic on Facebook

Teachers, make sure to check out the Happy Dreamer teacher's guide with lots of amazing activities:

How to purchase: 


Thank you @Scholastic for sending me a copy of Happy Dreamer in exchange for sharing information about he book and providing the prize pack! 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!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Margarita Engle deserves a Bravo!

My oldest daughter is 10 now, and she has no interest in reading together. Granted, I have been busy reading at night with my four-year-old, but I miss the conversations I used to have with Miss M. She is the reason I started the blog. While I don't expect her to change her desire to read solely on her own, I think I have come up with a way to engage in a dialogue about books with her.

It all started a couple of weeks ago...

Miss M brought a book over to me, slammed it down on the dining room table, and said, "Mom! You HAVE to read this book."

She is a voracious reader. And sometimes she shares little bits and pieces about books she she is reading, but she never makes book recommendations for me. The book she brought me was The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle.

That night I devoured the book, which is written in verse, and was left with a richness in my heart. This is exactly the type of book I want my daughter to be reading. This book was not about catty girls in the lunchroom. She gets enough of that at school. This book brought to life a world I never realized existed. In my perfect little bubble here in the USA, I never thought about slavery in Cuba. I never thought much about the plight of young girls who lived long before I was born. And, neither had my daughter. Because of this book, we had long conversations about arranged marriages, slavery, and what it means to be mixed race. All of these complex themes that I might never broach under normal circumstances became the springboard from which I was able to engage in thought provoking conversations with my daughter.

I immediately went onto Amazon and ordered two more of Ms. Engle's books: The Firefly Letters and Bravo! 

When The Firefly Letters arrived in the mailbox, I sat down with a pencil in hand and read the book. As I read, I did what might horrify many readers- I wrote notes and underlined each phrase or word that moved me.

Some passages were too profound for a comment. I just underlined the words and hoped my daughter would read and reflect on the words.

 Some descriptions were so fanciful, like the idea of tame flamingos, I wrote a quick note.
And other times, when a central theme to the story would have an important moment, I wrote questions to hopefully prompt discussion after she had time to read the book.

When I was done, I handed my daughter a heavily marked up novel and waited for her to read it. Hoping it would help spur discussions between us.

Well it worked! After finishing the book, she remarked that my underlines and notes helped her make connections to other books we had read, to current political events, and to emotions that we all feel. It felt like our own mother daughter book club. We debated how we would have acted in similar circumstances, but more often than not, we remarked how we simply couldn't imagine being in a circumstance anywhere remotely like the ones the characters in the books experienced.

Several days later, our third book by Margarita Engle arrived: Bravo!

  • Author: Margarita Engle 
  • Illustrator:  Rafael Lopez 
  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (March 14, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805098763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805098761

About the book: 

Musician, botanist, baseball player, pilot―the Latinos featured in this collection come from many different countries and from many different backgrounds. Celebrate their accomplishments and their contributions to a collective history and a community that continues to evolve and thrive today!
Biographical poems include: Aida de Acosta, Arnold Rojas, Baruj Benacerraf, César Chávez, Fabiola Cabeza de Baca, Félix Varela, George Meléndez, José Martí, Juan de Miralles, Juana Briones, Julia de Burgos, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, Paulina Pedroso, Pura Belpré, Roberto Clemente, Tito Puente, Ynes Mexia, Tomás Rivera

My Review: 

Bravo! is a children's book that simply must be in every library and school. This is a book of poems featuring the accomplishments of a select group of amazing Hispanics. Each poem is written from the perspective of the person being featured, allowing the reader to walk a mile in their shoes. In an age when there is a desperate need for children's books representing our diverse culture, I love that this book was written by a Cuban-American author and illustrated by a person of Mexican heritage. The words, the imagery, the colors feel authentic. I especially like the diverse spectrum of accomplishments chosen for this book. The people featured include activists, businessmen, parishioners, artists, athletes, scientists, and librarians. A child reading this book will truly be able to envision any life they would like to lead through the words of those that came before them. My favorite illustration in this book can be found on the leaves at the beginning of the book. It is the image of a child lying on her back reading a book. Out of the book, pouring down on her, are little rainbow droplets. That is what reading this entire book felt like- like having a beautiful rainbow of culture rain down upon the reader.

FTC Required Disclosures:
 **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, 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. 😎 #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!
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