Sunday, October 14, 2018

Two delightful children's picture books from Candlewick Press: Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise & Do You Believe in Unicorns? [Review & Giveaway-US/CANADA]

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise (Interrupting Chicken #2) by David Ezra Stein

ISBN: 9780763688424
Hardcover $16.99 US
Candlewick Press

My thoughts:  I haven't seen book #1 featuring Interrupting Chicken but from the looks of #2, I'd say it was a real cute one. Now book  #2 - Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise features a young chicken that comes home from school and he and his papa  get into a discussion about the surprise of the story.

Little chicken says there is an Elephant in the story and Papa says the word is not a real elephant but an element of surprise - or a bit of surprise in the story and that is called an "element of surprise."

But there is no convincing Little Chicken that the Elephant is not there, too.

Illustrations are vividly drawn capturing the essence of this delightful read for youngsters. And really was there an elephant hiding in the pages? Check it out to find out.

About the book: Surprise! The little red chicken is back -- and as endearingly silly as ever -- in David Ezra Stein's follow-up to the Caldecott Honor-winning Interrupting Chicken.

It's homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say "Whoa! I didn't know that was going to happen," Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he's right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in "The Ugly Duckling," "Rapunzel," or "The Little Mermaid" -- or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well. Full of the same boisterous charm that made Interrupting Chicken so beloved by readers, this gleeful follow-up is sure to delight fans of stories, surprises, and elephants alike.

Do You Believe in Unicorns? by Bethanie Deeney Murguia 

ISBN: 9780763694685
Hardcover $14.99 US
Candlewick Press

My thoughts:  We never find out if the horse in the red hat is a horse or a unicorn that is hiding his horn. But what does it matter?

A cute read that handles our personal mindset that we have something about us that we wish we could hide but should we really hide our blotches and "horns"?

When the hat comes off, we still can't tell if the critter is a horse or a unicorn because he blends nicely into the pictures and we can "believe" he is a unicorn, or we can believe he is a horse. But do you believe in unicorns - really believe? That is up to the individual.

We can believe we have special attributes and features and hide them, or we can believe we have special attributes and show the world what we are.

A hidden meaning? Perhaps. Or perhaps it is just a cute story with really cute artwork. Be sure you check this one out at the library or find it on your bookseller's shelf.

About the book: Is believing in magic the key to seeing a unicorn? If you keep your eyes open to wonder, the possibilities are endless.

Is that a horse wearing a hat? It's definitely not a unicorn in disguise -- that would be ridiculous, right? It's probably just a horse that's having a bad hair day. Or trying to keep the sun out of its eyes. Or perhaps this horse just really likes hats! If you follow it long enough, maybe it will take off its hat and you'll finally know for sure. Or will you? It's all a matter of perspective in this cheerful, cheeky story about seeing magic in the everyday.
2 winners - 2 books each
Begins October 14
Ends November 6 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses
NO P.O. Boxes, please
DISCLOSURE: I was provided copies of each book to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear [Review and Giveaway]

My thoughts:  Journeying with one's family over trails - mere footpaths - on foot, with few horses, and no wagons in 1794 ranks at the top of the list of terrifying accomplishments that the settlers of the United States managed and that absolutely astound me. I have long been highly respectful of early people and  how they lived and what they accomplished. The story of The Cumberland Bride is just that sort of account. True, it involves a sweet bride, but that is not the story. The story is one of endurance. A long list of dangers and terrors and accidents that seemed to plague them as they made their way along the trails.

Kate Gruener seems to find trouble or it seems to find her. She, like many of the young ladies during that time, were held to a different set of rules of decorum even through they were in the wilderness and life was vastly different from that expected in towns and cities.

Couple the rigors of actually walking a trail in the forest wilderness for many days and coping with fear of Indians who don't want the white people settling their lands with mind and body numbing accidents and no time or place to recover and you have a story of harrowing experiences.

The author's descriptive skills of the land, the dangers, the troubles, the accidents, the character development, and the action keeps the reader turning page after page consumed with interest and absorbed by the fear they experienced.

I highly recommend this story.

About the book:  Love and Adventure Are Discovered on the Wilderness Road

In 1794, when Kate Gruener’s father is ready to move the family farther west into the wilderness to farm untouched land, Kate is eager to live out her own story of adventure like he did during the War for Independence and to see untamed lands. And she sets her sights on learning more about their scout, Thomas Bledsoe. Thomas’s job is to get settlers safely across the Kentucky Wilderness Road to their destination while keeping an ear open for news of Shawnee unrest. But na├»ve Kate’s inquisitive nature could put them both in the middle of a rising tide of conflict. Is there more to Thomas’s story than he is willing to tell? Is there an untapped courage in Kate that can thwart a coming disaster?
2 winners each win 1 copy
Begins October 12
Ends November 2 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Barbour Publishing to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given. Winners' copies are provided by and shipped directly to the winners by the publisher.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Explore science of the seasons through adventure! The Acadia Files: Autumn Science [Review and Giveaway]

ISBN: 978088448646
Hardcover $13.95
Grades 4-7, 88 pages
My thoughts: This is such a fun book. It involves "Acadia," a delightfully precocious child, who throughout her day finds things to explore and learn about. Written in a style that will engage the listener to whom the book is read aloud, or the reader who reads and discovers for themselves. This is a fun and entertaining story of how Acadia questions aspects of a changing season and discovers answers.

Reading these five chapters about Acadia's venture into the realm of seasonal science is fun and the author makes scientific discovery likeable and understandable. I particularly liked the chapter on water and the cycle that is never ending. The author, or Acadia and her parents, put a new perspective on it which is a bit funny when you think about water from this framework.

The illustrations are at the end of each chapter and focus on the information discussed (the story) and the scientific explanation. The conclusion is like that of a scientific journal as handwritten by Acadia. She also has questions for which there are no answers given as a means for further contemplation.

I heartily recommend this series. The Acadia Files: Book One, Summer Science has previously been published and Book Three, Winter Science, will be published later.

About the book: The Acadia Files: Book Two, Autumn Science presents five stories of fall, each one followed by Acadia’s science notebook pages with her simple explanations and lively, whimsical drawings of natural phenomena. The Acadia Files is a fun introduction to the wonders of science, using real-world scenarios to make scientific inquiry relatable and understandable. Parents and educators can use The Acadia Files to let kids discover for themselves what it’s like to be curious about the world and to satisfy that curiosity with scientific thinking.

Acadia Greene wants answers. What happened to the frogs she used to see at her favorite local pond? Why do leaves change color in the fall, and why don’t evergreen needles do the same? What is the water cycle, and what is transpiration? How do time zones work, and why does the sun set at different times in different places within a single zone? How do germs infect us? Acadia doesn’t mean to do science, but she has questions and her parents refuse to simply give her the answers. “Conduct an experiment,” they tell her. “Use the scientific method.” So Acadia makes hypotheses, designs experiments, analyzes data, and draws conclusions. Acadia does science.

The author, Katie Coppens writes a recurring column for NSTA's middle school magazine Science Scope on science and literacy called "The Integrated Classroom.”
Begins October 10
Ends October 31 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA and CANADA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided by and mailed/shipped directly to the winner by MMPublicity or publisher.

Monday, October 8, 2018

The scents of the season: Pumpkin Spice from Good Earth Beauty all natural products

When September rolls around we begin to think "Fall"! Yet, we still feel "Summer"! We're tired of hot and sweaty and ready for a change. We want to see the leaves change from green to an array of beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges - or yes, the browns, too! So we hope to edge out the summer and usher in the Fall and our world explodes with.....

PUMPKIN - Can you feel the nostalgia engulfing you as you shop?

Yep, pumpkin everything... or just about everything.

And what makes it extra special are the fragrant and energizing spices that accompany all things "pumpkin."

The folks at Good Earth Beauty have crafted some fabulous pumpkin and fall products that simply have me drooling in anticipation for a piece for pumpkin pie or a cup of spiced chai (chai is the word for tea in many languages). And I love their beauty products that are infused with essential oils and spices and the pumpkin sense of goodness.

My most-favorite is their Pumpkin Chai Shampoo and the accompanying Pumpkin Chai Conditioner. It has been a favorite for over a year and has a special place in my bath where it sits ready to be used on a regular basis. My hair washing moments when my senses are bathed in the fragrance that is unique to this shampoo and my hair is lathered are simply delightful. The end result is fabulous as well with my hair manageable and looking its best! I highly recommend.

And now we are going to explore more delightful Good Earth Beauty seasonal pumpkin spice goodies

In your bath you can luxuriate with the sensual smoothness that is the Pumpkin Chai bar soap. The good folks at have taken our love of pumpkin spice a step further and used these wonderful spices and essential oils to produce soaps, fragrances (the kind you wear yourself), shampoos, body washes, etc. and it is WONDERFUL! 

But pumpkin spice isn't just for September and October, we have November, December, January. All are wonderful times to enjoy these fragrances that tweak the sensory heart bringing memories and feelings of warmth, happiness, and love to our beings.

I showered with the soap and it feels so good. Looking at it one would think "old fashioned lye soap" that is harsh as this soap is not "prettied up" and is just simple and plain. But it absolutely is NOT harsh. It lathers beautifully and my skin feels soft and clean. I'm quite impressed! 

And the Pumpkin Pie Shower Wash is fabulous. So you have your choice of delectable bar soap or liquid bath wash for your fragrant bath time. Scrumptious and foamy natural body wash moisturizes and softens, while nourishing even the most sensitive of skin types. Infused with organic milk and nourishing honey, it cleanses and refreshes while being gentle enough to use every day.  Free of:  parabens, pesticides, petroleum, propylene glycol, phthalates, sulfates, artificial colors Click here to find it

Pumpkin Pie Lip Balm: When your lips need a bit of help for softening them there is the option of this refreshing and moisturizing lip application. Ingredients: Meadowfoam oil, olive oil, avocado butter, candellia wax, vitamin E, natural flavor oil.

They have a lovely Good Earth Beauty Box especially packed with Autumn goodies. Click here to find it. It is $22.00 and there is NO SHIPPING COST.

DISCLOSURE: I received samples of the products featured in the pumpkin spice line from Good Earth Beauty to facilitate this review and recommendation. I only recommend products that I use or my family has used successfully.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Imagine...The Fall of Jericho by Matt Koceich from Barbour Publishing [Review and Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781683227144
Paperback 112 pages
Ages 8-12 - $5.99
My thoughts: Getting kids interested in what happened during ancient times and especially Biblical ancient times can sometimes be a daunting assignment for parents. But if you help them imagine themselves right-smack-dab in the center of the action, their minds take flight fleshing out the details they think might have happened.

In Jericho there surely were kids, but we don't really know what they did. Author Matt Koceich recounts the events leading up to the collapse of the walls of Jericho and how they might have been seen through the adventurous eyes of a young boy of perhaps 10 or 12 years.

A leap back in time from the environs of a summer camp straight to Jericho. Of course, Jake wasn't really in Jericho, we're just going to IMAGINE him there and he doesn't really stay there because he ends up right back at summer camp. Can you Imagine?!

When younger children are reading or having the story read to them, parents should caution them to differentiate between the imaginary and the real Biblical accounting. It's a fun read that immerses the reader into the action.

About the book: The Third Release in an Epic Bible Adventure Series for Kids

The last thing fifth-grader Jake Henry remembers (before the world as he knew it disappeared) is napping at summer camp. What happens next can't be explained as Jake finds himself surrounded by massive stone walls that rise up all around him—in ancient Jericho! Imagine. . .The Fall of Jericho is the third release in an exciting epic adventure series for kids ages 8 to 12 written by schoolteacher Matt Koceich. The Imagine series brings the Bible to life for today's kids as they ponder what it would be like to live through a monumental biblical event.
3 books to a winner:
Imagine…The Great Flood,
Imagine…The Ten Plagues, and
Imagine…The Fall of Jericho
Begins October 5
Ends October 27 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of "Jericho" to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given. The 3-book giveaway is provided by Barbour Publishing and will be sent by them directly to the winner.

DOUGLAS, YOU’RE A GENIUS! by Ged Adamson from Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House)

My thoughts:  This is a funny saga of a girl and her dog as they discover that there is life beyond the fence. It all begins when the ball escapes their yard and rolls through a hole in the fence.

The girl actually talks to the dog Douglas and what pet owner doesn't converse with a beloved companion? Well, they get into problem solving. The problem being how to make contact with the other side. They discover that it is a person who writes in a language the girl doesn't know.

The resolution is cute and fun and gives a sprinkling of Spanish to young readers. If you're not a dual language household, this should prove funny to you as you try to pronounce words unfamiliar to you.

Kind of off-the-wall funny and simply lots of fun to read and share.

About the book: Pals Nancy and Douglas think their baseball game is over after their ball rolls through a hole in the fence. But when the ball rolls back, followed by a note in an unfamiliar language, they have to discover who's on the other side of the fence. And so in a series of truly outrageous--and hilarious--stunts, Nancy tries to launch, vault, and fly Douglas over to the other side to see what's what. Finally, after all Nancy's plans fail, Douglas gets his turn to execute a plan--and it works! And who do they find? New friends who speak Spanish. Readers will laugh out loud at the antics in this zany picture book, which proves that working together makes everything more fun.
Begins October 5
ENDS October 26 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Penguin Random House Publishing to facilitate this review of my personal opinions which are freely given. Giveaway winner's copy is provided by Penguin Random House and it will be sent directly to the winner by Penguin Random House or its associates.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Hidden Among the Stars by Melanie Dobson

My thoughts:  Hidden Among the Stars is a beautifully crafted story that takes the reader from the pleasant stacks of a lovely bookstore and its gracious ladies through time to Austria and the years just prior to World War II.

The descriptive language of Melanie Dobson prevailed upon this reader to take my time and bathe in the lovely scenes and word pictures. The emotions of contemporary protagonist Callie as she reads to children in the bookstore - children that include the young child of the man that left her at the alter, are hurting and tender, accepting and gracious. The terror and daunting fears of Jewish Austrians at the encroaching Nazi onslaught bring the reader to breathless anticipation and tears.

As I said, a beautifully crafted story the conclusion of which was a true surprise and joy.

I highly recommend.

About the book: From the award-winning author of Catching the Wind, which Publishers Weekly called “unforgettable” and a “must-read,” comes another gripping time-slip novel about hidden treasure, a castle, and ordinary people who resisted evil in their own extraordinary way.
The year is 1938, and as Hitler’s troops sweep into Vienna, Austrian Max Dornbach promises to help his Jewish friends hide their most valuable possessions from the Nazis, smuggling them to his family’s summer estate near the picturesque village of Hallstatt. He enlists the help of Annika Knopf, his childhood friend and the caretaker’s daughter, who is eager to help the man she’s loved her entire life. But when Max also brings Luzia Weiss, a young Jewish woman, to hide at the castle, it complicates Annika’s feelings and puts their entire plan—even their very lives—in jeopardy. Especially when the Nazis come to scour the estate and find both Luzia and the treasure gone.

Eighty years later, Callie Randall is mostly content with her quiet life, running a bookstore with her sister and reaching out into the world through her blog. Then she finds a cryptic list in an old edition of Bambi that connects her to Annika’s story . . . and maybe to the long-buried story of a dear friend. As she digs into the past, Callie must risk venturing outside the safe world she’s built for a chance at answers, adventure, and maybe even new love.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Tyndale Blog Network reviewers program on behalf of the publisher to facilitate this review. Opinions are mine alone and are freely given.