Tuesday, October 6, 2015

For crafty kids, a sweet, accessible guide to sewing modern dolls' clothes

For budding young designers, an accessible guide to sewing fashionable dolls’ clothes

I Can Make Dolls' Clothes is an easy-to-follow guide for young fashionistas ages 8+ that shows them how to create a wardrobe for their standard-sized (12 inch) dolls. The approach is easy, quick, and fun and the results are extremely stylish. Children ages 8 and up can follow clear instructions to make a range of garments and accessories for their dolls, using basic materials such as fabric scraps, sequins, and a needle and thread.

The beautifully-designed handbook includes actual-size patterns for creating a doll’s tunic top, a knee-length coat, an A-line skirt, a faux-fur jacket, a skater skirt, a day dress, a party dress, an evening bag, and a fringed bag. There are simple, step-by-step diagrams and instructions for creating each piece of the outfit, with photos of dolls modeling the finished designs. A section at the back of the book outlines the basics of sewing, including how to thread a needle, how do a running stitch, and how to sew on buttons. Beginners with no sewing experience will have no trouble picking up the techniques.

Throughout, young seamstresses and crafters are encouraged to be creative and adapt the patterns to make their own designs. As vintage fashion and crafting emerge as an antidote to our frenzied, tech-filled lifestyles, this charming sewing book will appeal to parents and children looking for wholesome, hands-on activities. 

Our Thoughts:
Knowing how to sew is a talent slowly going away so when we see craft ideas for kids that help to grow this talent or help plant the seed, we jump for joy. This book of fun, easy to follow instructions is the perfect crafters dream. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy this book of design. When we were little, our grandmother used to make doll clothes for us. Our mom also made a few here and there for our Barbies. Even though we learned to sew clothes for oursevles and children (once we had them), we never tried our talent at doll clothes. This just seemed something a bit beyond our sewing experience. That was until we sat down with one of our daughters and went to work on an outfit. We were excited how easy it was and well...our daughter is now hooked on sewing herself. 

About the Creators

Louise Scott-Smith is a children’s wear designer. She was formerly Head of Children’s Wear Design at Liberty of London and at Caramel Baby & Child.
Georgia Vaux is a graphic designer, book designer, and art director.

About the Book

I Can Make Dolls’ Clothes
Easy-to-follow patterns to make clothes and accessories
for your favorite doll
By Louise Scott-Smith and Georgia Vaux
Pub date: October 13, 2015 | ISBN: 9780500650516
$19.95 | Hardcover | 176 pp | Illustrated in color throughout | Ages 8 and up

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Henry Morrison takes a courageous journey driving his family’s Ford Model T

Boys and books. Sometimes it’s a natural pairing, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth.
No one knows this better than veteran award-winning classroom teacher Arthur Brood, otherwise known as “Author Arthur,” who takes the bull by the horns and deliberately pens books for the underserved market of reluctant boy readers ages 8 to 12.

In his latest book, a sequel to his popular juvenile historical fiction book titled The Mud Hole, Brood tells the entertaining story of how eleven-year-old Henry finds himself in the surprising role of hero one winter’s day.

The Snow Car begins on a winter morning in 1912, with fifth grader Henry driving himself and his brother Robert to school in the family’s Ford Model T. The cow on their family farm has escaped, and if the boys had walked to school, they would have been late.

Alas, the winter weather causes all kinds of problems for the novice driver, who drops off a number of his classmates on the way home, since no one wants to walk in the wet snow falling from the sky.

As additional adventures occur, many centered around the family’s Ford Model T, Henry explores some unique ways to keep the car running both in and on the snow. In the process, he goes from a mischievous boy full of creative ideas to town hero when he takes a courageous journey to get medicine for his father and others who come down with the deadly disease called influenza.
“Author Arthur” explains that his story touches on automobile history and winter driving in the early days of automobile transportation. Each chapter ends with a short “Did You Know?” fact relating to the story, with interesting information about early cars and road conditions in the early 1900s. For one thing, the first automobiles weren’t made to drive in wet or cold weather, most didn’t come with wipers, and there was no such thing as snow tires.

Brood comments, “As a teacher, I saw many boys who were reluctant readers and had difficulty finding fiction books they enjoyed. They were often drawn to books that were inappropriate for their age or contained questionable content.  I felt I could write fiction books on car themes that would draw these reluctant readers into reading and provide wholesome content at the same time.”

The chapters in The Snow Car are deliberately short to help keep the attention span of readers, and the book can be used in classroom settings and out.

The Snow Car is a great story for kids. Not only do they get a story, but they learn facts about Model T cars and what life was like for boys back in 1912. The book held my interest and is a page turner towards the end.” ~ Roxie Arnott, fourth grade teacher, Ontonagon Area Schools

AUTHOR: “Author Arthur” is an author and educator with twenty-five years of experience as an elementary teacher. He is the winner of the 2015 McConnell History Educator Award. As an educator, he focuses his writing on reluctant boy readers by writing about cars, yet he appeals to a wider audience by blending historical fiction with supporting facts. The author of The Mud Hole and its sequel The Snow Car, he has been a frequent guest of the ASK (Authors, Specialist, Knowledge) program with Macomb Intermediate School District since 2009. This interactive TV format allows him to interact and respond to questions from hundreds of students each year. He also shares his passion and knowledge about early automobile history through school assemblies in which he uses a mini Model T and portrays Henry Ford to share about the assembly line. “Author Arthur” resides in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. To learn more, visit his website at

The Snow Car by Arthur Brood; Class Act Productions; Category: Juvenile Fiction; Soft Cover: 978-0979485114, $7.50; eBook: 978-0979485138, $1.99; Availability:,, Ingram Children’s Advance

Monday, August 10, 2015

Richly illustrated picture book encourages children to eat their veggies!

A family friend shared a secret with VS Grenier when she was little. The secret was how to whistle. However, she only shared it with her children…until now!

Children have a hard time learning to whistle. However, there is a secret and VS Grenier shares it in the latest SugarPaw adventure picture book, “Whistle Beans.” But how can vegetables help and what do they have to do with whistling? 

“When I about four or five, Charlie Baker, a family friend, told me that if I ate Whistle Beans, I’d be able to whistle just like him,” said Grenier. “Charlie was like my second dad when I was younger. He taught me how to fish, ride a horse and much more. So it only made since when he shared the secret to a good whistle, it had to be true. Only problem was…Whistle Beans are a part of the vegetable family. I soon got over this little fact and I’ve been able to whistle good and loud ever since.”

Children will get to go on another adventure with SugarPaw and Bonnie Whiskers, two of VS Grenier’s beloved characters from her award-winning picture book, “Babysitting SugarPaw.” This time SugarPaw finds himself in trouble when he lets out Bonnie Whiskers pet parrot Cesar. They end up chasing Cesar all over town and in the process; SugarPaw learns secrets about the vegetable growing in his own backyard.

“I wanted a fun way to teach children not only the importance of eating healthy, but also some unknown facts about vegetables,” said Grenier. “My kids had fun helping me research some of the different veggies in my book. They even gave me different ideas of how to share our family secret about Whistle Beans.”

Through exploring the world of vegetables with SugarPaw and Bonnie Whiskers, children gain a deeper understanding of healthy eating in a fun and silly way. “Whistle Beans” exposes children to an unexpected new way of looking at those leafy greens. While building confidence, critical thinking skills and strong whistles. Of course, SugarPaw will be up to his usually antics and will have kids laughing, too.

“This picture book isn’t only for children. Parents and educators will find in the back of the book Fresh Facts about the different vegetables in the story. Each vegetable plays an important part in helping SugarPaw and Bonnie Whiskers find Cesar, and this section gives information on why that is,” said Halo Publisher Lisa M. Umina.

You can purchase “Whistle Beans: Another SugarPaw Adventure” through Halo Publishing’s website (, Amazon, B&N or you can purchase your autographed book from the author’s website

About the Author:
VS Grenier is an award-winning author and a Mom’s Choice Honoree, who loves spinning tales from her childhood into adventures in the World of Ink for children of all ages to enjoy. When she isn’t busy writing, playing dress-up or having tea parties with her girls, she takes long hikes in the desert with her miniature schnauzer, Taz. 
You can learn more about the VS Grenier at

About the Illustrator:
Kevin Scott Collier is a commercial artist/designer by profession as well as an author and illustrator of over 130 children's books. He lives in beautiful Grand Haven, a quaint port city along the Lake Michigan shoreline with his wife, Kristen and son, Jarod.

You can learn more about Kevin Scott Collier at

Whistle Beans: Another SugarPaw Adventure written by VS Grenier and illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier, publisher Halo Publishing, Int., ISBN: 978-1612443676 (paperback) ; Price: $10.95 (paperback); $16.99 (Hard cover) $4.95 (eBook)

Review copies, cover and author photography and interviews are available upon request.

Contact: Ann Stallard at

Thursday, August 6, 2015

New Book Takes an Idyllic and Humorous Step Back in Time to 1930s Thurrock

Author Gordon Andrews take the reader back to 1930s Thurrock - a time when children roamed through grassy headlands and countryside unhindered and where being part of a gang of boys meant getting up to pranks rather than the vandalism and threatening behaviour we’re only too well accustomed to today. It’s a nostalgic look at an earlier Britain that simply doesn’t exist today. This is a funny, first-hand account of what it was like to be a boy then - written by a man now.

t’s not every day we get a first-hand account of what it was like to be a youngster in 1930s England. But author Gordon Andrews shows us exactly that – and beautifully too.  His Thurrock is a nicer, gentler place than researchers would have us believe us today, thanks to de-industrialization and high unemployment. Sitting 25 miles east of London on the north bank of the Thames, Thurrock is far enough away from the capital to be considered country but has its excitements nonetheless (many manufactured by Andrews and his friends).

Real life (ie the politics and economics of the time) don’t play a big role in this drama but there’s a generational perspective. This was an age where children were ‘seen and not heard’ but had far more freedom than those who came after them.

This is a funny tale of a group of young men running around causing mischief rather than terror. Their high jinks consists of such pranks as getting a wireless to work using a quartz crystal, piece of wire, battery and some lead acid accumulators – and charged unknowingly to the local bicycle shop.
As the author so eloquently puts it in his own words: “Here is a story of childhood adventures, of young people roaming the countryside with little hindrance, yet adhering strictly to the lore of the countryside. Shutting gates so cattle couldn’t escape, keeping under the hedges rather than ruining crops or pastures by small boots, treating their elders with respect and civility and yet stretching the bounds of the established rules to the point of breaking.”

Historians will love the detail in this novel. For instance, television wasn’t available so youngsters were left to their own imaginations. They created adventures, many of which are outlined hilariously in this book. Much of their time was spent outdoors and obesity was unheard of, despite three meals a day and the author’s mouth watering descriptions of his favourite puddings – golden syrup tart, plum duff, date pudding and rice with syrup.

Readers may also be interested to learn of the single sex schooling at the time – for co-education hadn’t been universally introduced into the public sector. Boys, says the author, had matters other than romance on their minds in their teens.

The depictions of an idyllic childhood are all the more poignant when you consider that years later these young men would be off to fight in World War II – some of whom wouldn’t return and others for whom the memories of their free and fun-filled childhood was all the more precious.

‘Devils in Innocence’ will be available soon from Barny Books

About the author
Born in Thurrock, Essex on 26 February nineteen twenty-two, Gordon Andrews (aged 93) is probably one of the oldest people in the UK to have a novel published. As a young man Gordon left grammar school and began forging a career as an engineering design draughtsman.  However a stint in the Royal Electrical and mechanical Engineers during WW2 saw him rise to Sergeant and then Armament Sergeant Major. The role took him to India and Burma.

On retiring from the army he worked in Property Services until a stroke forced him to leave work. As part of his recovery he began writing and hasn’t stopped to this day. Devils in Innocence is his third book. His first, Fans and Feathers, came out in 2011 and his second, The Outlanders, the following year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The best picks for filling out first home libraries to get families reading together early and often!

Don’t miss these titles if you are planning coverage or round ups around best books for new and expecting parents this year. 


Owl BabiesOwl Babies
By Martin Waddell, Illustrated by Patrick Benson
BB: 9780763679613∙ September 2015 ∙ $6.99∙ 22 pages ∙ Ages 0-3

When three baby owls awake one night to find their mother gone, they can’t help but wonder where she is. Stunning illustrations capture the owls as they worry about their mother: What is she doing? When will she be back? Not surprisingly, a joyous flapping and dancing and bouncing greets her return, lending a celebratory tone to the ending of this comforting tale. Never has the plight of young ones who miss their mother been so simply told or so beautifully rendered.

“There aren’t many ‘baby books’ that convey this kind of emotional richness supported by a perfect artistic form.” – Washington Post Book World

Snuggle Up with Mother GooseSnuggle Up with Mother Goose
By Iona Opie, Illustrated by Rosemary Wells
BB: 9780763678678∙ October 2015 ∙ $8.99∙ 26 pages ∙ Ages 0-3

Books and vibrant language are vitally important early learning tools. With that in mind, selected poems from Iona Opie’s classic Mother Goose nursery-rhyme compilations are gathered here in a sturdy, baby-friendly board book just right for lap time, nap time, or any time, really. Accentuating the soothing rhymes are cuddly creatures warming their hands and wishing on stars. So snuggle up with Mother Goose and give the hush-a-bye baby in your life a solid and loving head start.

When I Grow UpWhen I Grow Up
By Emma Dodd
HB: 9780763679859∙ September 2015 ∙ $8.99∙ 24 pages ∙ Ages 2-5

“When I grow up I want to be clever and funny, wild and free.” 

One little bear shares his hopes and dreams in this picture-book treasure from the ever-popular Emma Dodd. This line of books features rhyming text and delightful artwork that is embellished with foil throughout.

Say It!
Say It!
By Charlotte Zolotov, Illustrated by Charlotte Voake
HB: 9780763681159 ∙ September 2015 ∙ $15.99∙ 32 pages ∙ Ages 2-5

It’s a golden, windy autumn day, and a mother a daughter set out walking among the swirling leaves. As they wend their way, they share little adventures—spying a kitten, seeing the trees zigzag with streaks of color, catching some floating milkweed, watching the setting sun color the clouds. Throughout their walk, the girl keeps urging her mother to “say it” with more and more persistence. What could “it” be? From a sterling picture-book team comes a quiet story that shows the many ways love is expressed in the small moments shared between parent and child.

The New Small PersonThe New Small Person
By Lauren Child
HB: 9780763678104∙ February 2015 ∙ $17.99∙ 32 pages ∙ Ages 4-8

Elmore Green starts life as an only child, as many children do. He has a room to himself, where he can line up his precious things and nobody will move them one inch. But one day everything changes. When the new small person comes along, it seems that everybody might like it a bit more than they like Elmore Green. And when the small person knocks over Elmore’s things and even licks his jelly-bean collection, Elmore’s parents say that he can’t be angry because the small person is only small. Elmore wants the small person to go back to wherever it came from. Then, one night, everything changes. . . . In her signature visual style, Lauren Child gets to the heart of a child’s evolving emotions about becoming a big brother or sister.

“Fresh and amusing…With expressive illustrations and a story that speaks directly to children, this picture book is beautifully crafted for reading aloud.” – Booklist (starred review)
Guess How Much I Love You
Guess How Much I Love You: Deluxe Book and Toy Gift Set
By Sam McBratney, Illustrated by Anita Jeram
BB: 9780763681081∙ September 2015 ∙ $15.99∙ 24 pages ∙ Ages 3-7

Combine one of the best-selling children’s books of all time with a cuddly Little Nutbrown Hare to hug, and you have the perfect way to say, “I love you right up to the moon and back!” Whether for devotees of Guess How Much I Love You or complete newcomers, this winsome gift set is guaranteed to charm.

There's Going to Be a BabyThere’s Going to Be a Baby
By John Burningham, Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
HB: 9780763649074∙ August 2014 ∙ $7.99∙ 48 pages ∙ Ages 2-5

When is the baby coming? What will we call it? John Burningham’s timeless story, perfectly complemented by Helen Oxenbury’s illustrations, follows the swirl of questions in the mind of a young child anticipating a baby sibling with excitement, curiosity, and just a bit of trepidation.

“Delights on many levels. . . . A gorgeous book, full of warmth, spirit, and imagination.” — Booklist (starred review)

Friday, June 5, 2015

New book encourages children to explore the world around them

Rislov Come In Cover
Open the Doors to You is a unique and comforting book that will take readers through many metaphorical doors to explore all the different aspects that make up each of our lives: family, neighborhood, charity, friendship, education, creativity, sports, and nature. Through vibrant, cheerful artwork and playful text, this inviting book offers a way to expand a sense of self-awareness in children, building resiliency, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Open the Doors to You is Casey Rislov’s third children’s book. She credits her parents for encouraging her from a young age to open doors whenever possible: "Whether it was the door to education, sports, friends, hobbies, or travel, my parents always supported my adventurous ways. So when writing books became a passion of mine, they were just as excited as I was."

An excerpt from the book reads:
So if you ever find yourself stuck and upside down, ask:What am I going to do? Is there something else to learn?Can a friend show me something new? Which door is theone I haven’t visited in awhile?

Rislov wrote her newest book to inspire readers to try new things: "I hope Open the Doors to You will encourage young children and adults to see what new adventures are waiting behind each door. There are always new things to see and do and new friends to make!"

Through exploring the world around them and experiencing new things, children gain a deeper understanding of others and themselves. Child development studies show that sensory experiences shape how a child’s brain develops and grows. Children who are exposed to varied new experiences have increased confidence, feelings of security, and learn how to better deal with challenges later in life.

About the Author
Casey Rislov holds a master’s degree in elementary education and is endorsed in early childhood and special needs. She has spent most of her career teaching children everything from swimming and downhill ski racing to developmental skills and reading and writing. She lives in Wyoming with her family.

Praise and awards for Casey Rislov

Love is Forever (November 2013)

Living Now Book Award Winner 2014
Children’s Picture Book Category, Gold Medal
Time Together, Time Well Spent! (November 2011)

"A wonderful antidote to the presence of increasingly isolation-heavy media and technology."
—Midwest Book Review
Los Angeles Book Festival Winner 2012
Children’s Book Category, Honorable Mention

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Open the Doors to You by Casey Rislov; Casey Rislov Books; Category: Juvenile Fiction; Hard Cover: 32 Pages, $15.95; Availability:,

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*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive. SFC does not review any samples sent without a request for review to the Blog Editor, VS Grenier. SFC's staff members will not return unauthorized samples to the senders, but will donate them without review.