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:,

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Interview with Misti Kenison, Author of The Tiny Travelers Series

Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary.

The Tiny Traveler series is a collection of primers for children age 0-3, with a primary focus of teaching basic concepts, such as numbers, shapes, colors, etc. Each book uses iconic imagery from countries around the world to illustrate these concepts in an engaging way.

Unlike many other baby board books, which use basic items such as fruit or animals to teach primary concepts, The Tiny Traveler series uses exotic, fantastic images from places around the world to illustrate these concepts. From the Eiffel Tower, to the Great Pyramids, children will learn the basics of colors and shapes while also learning about these famous landmarks.

Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process worked in getting published?

My publisher, Sky Pony Press, is wonderful. I feel very lucky to have found them. I initially sent my manuscript out to a number of children’s book agents. Once I found an agent that was interested, she sent the material out to different publishers. It was a long process, it took many many months to find her, and many more for her to find an interested publisher. The publishing process took even longer, which was surprising to me. Once I signed on with Sky Pony, it was over a year before I actually saw the books in print. 

How did you get the idea for this book?

I got the idea for this series when I was pregnant with my oldest child. I spent a lot of time browsing bookstores and online catalogs to build a nice library of board books to start her out. I realized that there really wasn’t anything out there like the Tiny Traveler series, something that focused on exotic places and travel.

I actually studied illustration when I was in undergrad. I wanted to go into children’s book illustration then, but things took a detour for me after school and I went into graphic design instead. I’m so glad to finally be able to fulfill my dream of writing and illustrating these books, especially now that I have children who can enjoy them as well.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

Because I do both the writing and illustrations for my books, the process for me is interchangeable. I do a lot of research before I even start gathering ideas for each book, both for copy as well as possible images to use. Once I start writing, I’m constantly thinking about how the words will translate into illustrations as well. It does makes things a bit more complicated at times, but I end up with a more fully realized book than if I just tackled one part of it at a time.

What do you enjoy most about writing?
Since my books are aimed at a very young age group (0-3), I imagine reading them out loud to my children as I’m writing. In fact, many times I do run the copy by my kids to see if it makes sense. I love that they have become such an important part of my work.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

I really consider myself more of an illustrator than a writer, so the writing part of the job is difficult in many ways for me. I want to maintain a level of consistency with the copy in all of the books, and that can be hard as well. Thankfully, I have a great agent who proofreads everything for me.

How has publishing a book changed your life?

It’s been a great experience! I’m getting to do something I’ve always dreamed about, which is rewarding in itself. I also enjoy getting to go to author events and signings and just meeting so many amazing people. There are so many great librarians and booksellers that have become a big part of my life.

What are your plans now?
I am working on 2 new books in the series right now. My hope is that they will be published soon!

What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

Be patient. The whole publishing process takes so much time, and initially there is a lot of rejection. Not every agent will want to work with you, and not every publisher will want to carry your book. That doesn’t mean that your work is bad, or that you are a failure, it just means you have to keep looking.

Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can readers go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Heart Wrenching Story Encourages Children to Recognize and Report Risk

little girl remembers her two-year-old brother, killed at the hands of their birth father, and helps readers realize that others share their pain

The facts are grim. Every ten seconds, a child abuse report is filed. Every year, more than a thousand lives are lost as the result of child abuse. By extension, many thousands more are forever changed.

The newly published book "Why Did We Have to Say Goodbye? Valerie’s Story," illustrates the impact of loss through one young girl’s words and experiences as she grieves the death of her "Baby Maxwell."

Written in verse by Gwenn Eyer, Valerie’s adoptive mother, this beautifully illustrated book relays a story of love, loss, and hope. Valerie was just four years old when her baby brother died at the hands of their birth father. Valerie’s story describes her sad, scared, and angry feelings and traces her journey from her sudden removal from her home and the loss of everything she knew to her placement in foster care to her eventual adoption.

Eyer explains that "Why Did We Have to Say Goodbye? Valerie’s Story" offers a message to be shared with children and families who have been impacted by child abuse and loss. Traumatized children will identify with Valerie, and adult readers will benefit from viewing the impact of child abuse and domestic violence through a child’s eyes.

Eyer comments, "If allegations of child abuse are made every ten seconds, how many more incidents go unreported? This book, written in our adopted daughter’s words with childlike illustrations, provides encouragement for children to recognize risk and report it." She adds, "The book can be used at home and in therapeutic settings. It is my hope that it can serve as a ‘wake up call’ for families currently at risk."

"The artwork is amazing and the questions posed by one little girl give voice to the confusion and pain of many children." ~ Kimberly A. Mann, Ph.D., L.C.S.W.

Author: Gwenn Eyer is the mother of five adopted children ranging in age from eleven to forty. Valerie, her youngest daughter, came into the family following the death of her younger brother Maxwell at the hands of their birth father. Valerie shared her heartache with her "new" mom, writing journal entries and songs for her brother Maxwell along the way.  Gwenn used Valerie’s words and experiences as the basis for Valerie’s adoption Lifebook, a tool used in adoption to help children and youth take experiences and connections from their past to build on with hope for the future. This Lifebook became "Why Did We Have to Say Goodbye? Valerie’s Story." Gwenn has worked in the child welfare field for more than twenty-five years, spending much of that time training foster and adoptive parents and other trainers. An experienced conference presenter, she enjoys writing prose and plans to share more stories about children who have experienced life in foster care and in adoptive families.
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Why Did We Have to Say Goodbye? Valerie’s Story written by Gwenn Eyer with 11-year-old Valerie Eyer; Illustrated by Sharon Coker; Category: Family & Relationships; Hard Cover: 978-0990883807, $20.00; Availability:,, Ingram,

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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.