Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gentle Is the Night-Book Review

Gentle Is the Night
By: Kat Michaels
Illustrations by: Michael Graham
Published by: Tree of Life Publishing Date: 2006
ISBN: 978-0-9745052-7-5
Price: $15.95
Ages: 4-8
Rating: 5 stars (1-5)
Reviewed by: VS Grenier

Gentle Is the Night is a nighttime story that expresses a mother’s love for her child and the magic of the night. Cuddle up with a little one and enjoy the rhythmic verse and images sprinkled with a bit of fairy dust and a kiss good night. Gentle Is the Night is sure to be a bedtime favorite.

Overall thoughts:
Kat Michaels wrote this book for her son, Evan who came home from the hospital when he was three months old weighing only four pounds. The sweet story written in a soft rhyme is one my children enjoy reading right before a nap or going to bed. My five year old loves looking at the illustrations of a world hidden within our own. The illustrations are whimsical and beautifully done. Children will dream about crickets playing music while frogs fill the air with harmony. You even catch glimpses of a fairy sprinkling her dream dust in the evening sky.

This is one book I enjoy reading over and over again. The simple rhythm makes this a great book for beginning readers, too.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Try This Reading and Writing Activity with Your Child

Do you want to include a fun reading activity with a twist
during family night this week? Here is an idea. Take this easy reader story and
change the name of the character to the name of your child. Then have your
child change the name of the dog and the items found on the hunt for the brown
shoe. You can help your child to learn new words and increase your child’s
interest in reading and writing by making this story their own.
The Missing Brown Shoe
Kylie (insert your child’s name) is missing her brown shoe.
She looks under her bed.
No brown shoe.
Kylie looks in her closet.
She finds pink fluffy slippers. ( insert other items in your
child’s closet)
She finds purple flip-flops.
There is a yellow hula hoop.
Kylie is still missing her brown shoe.
Kylie looks behind the bathroom door.
No brown shoe.
She looks under the sofa in the den.
No brown shoe.
“Kylie, please let Hendrix (insert your dog’s name)
outside.” said Mommy.
Kylie calls her dog.
Hendrix runs to the door chewing on the missing brown shoe.
“OH NO!” yells Kylie, “Now I have to find my blue shoes.”
See how many ways your child can change the story.
Have your child draw pictures to illustrate their favorite parts of the story.
Most of all have fun with it.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Golden Pathway Blog Tour

The Golden Pathway Book Review
Author: Donna McDine
Illustrator: K.C. Snider
Print ISBN 13: 978-161633-081-1
eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-082-8
Published by: Guardian Angel Publishing, August 2010
Recommended for ages 8 to 12
5 stars

The Underground Railroad used many different code words to get slaves to freedom. The people that helped the slaves along the railroad were called “conductor.” The slaves were considered passengers or cargo and were called “freight” or “packages.” White folks that did not believe in slavery were called Quakers. The Underground Railroad was considered the golden path to freedom.

Raised in a hostile environment where abuse occurs daily, David attempts to break the mold and befriends the slave, Jenkins, owned by his Pa. Fighting against extraordinary times and beliefs, David leads Jenkins to freedom with no regard for his own safety and possible consequences dealt out by is Pa.

Overall Thoughts:
Donna McDine does a wonderful job with imagery to bring you right into the story. My heart would beat fast as David risk everything to help his friend, a slave named Jenkins to freedom. I could smell the air and even see in my mind’s eye every scene of this story. Children will enjoy this book not only for the historical facts, but also because they will feel as if they are there with David and Jenkins bravely finding their way on the Golden Pathway.

About the Author:
Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications and her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Her second book, The Hockey Agony is under contract and will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. She writes, moms and is the Publicist Intern for The National Writing for Children Center and Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Musing Our Children.

It’s nice to have you here today Donna. Can you share with us about your background and how you became a children's author?

I stumbled into writing for children when I came across an advertisement for the Institute of Children’s Literature and it pulled at my heartstrings immediately. When I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a reporter, but never followed this early dream for my future. It took me over 40 years to get where I truly feel I need to be, a children’s author.

Well we’re glad you made the journey to the World of Ink. You’re an amazing writer. We would love it if you could share with us about your current book “The Golden Pathway”?

Be transported through time to the Underground Railroad, where high-pitched screams echo each night. David’s cruel Pa always chooses the same victim. Despite the circumstances during slavery, David uncovers the courage to defy his Pa. 

Raised in a hostile environment where abuse occurs daily, David attempts to break the mold and befriends the slave, Jenkins, owned by his Pa. Fighting against extraordinary times and beliefs, David attempts to lead Jenkins to freedom with no regard for his own safety and possible consequences dealt out by his Pa.

Sounds like a very engaging story and one kids will learn a lot from. What gave you the idea to write about the Underground Railroad?

American history has always intrigued me and even though slavery was abolished, it is imperative that each generation learns about this horrific time in American History so that it never happens again.

As they say, “Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it”. Now what would you say is the most difficult part of writing for children?
Keeping it real without preaching.
Yes, I believe children today want you to explain, but not preach or talk down to them. Which can be very hard as an adult, but you did a great job in your book showing without preaching. Do you have any books coming out in 2011? If not, do you have any works in progress?
I currently have two more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing:
“The Hockey Agony” ~ Peer Pressure and honesty many times go hand-in-hand.  What is Larry to do when his teammate asks him to cheat when he is given the responsibility to run the clock during the big hockey game?  Outwardly, it may seem he will follow suit, but his conscious tells him otherwise at the moment of truth.

“Powder Monkey” ~ Forced into a life at sea by the Royal Navy Press Gangs, 12-year-old Tommy Kitt finds himself in a floating sea of misery. Life aboard the ship is like none other. Poor living conditions, beatings, and grueling hours are daily occurrences. Despite his runt like size, Tommy must summon the courage and physical ability to prevail in a situation in cannot escape.

They both sound wonderful. I can’t wait to read them when they are available. Okay Donna, if you could live in any book, which one would you choose?
Hmmm…this is a tough question since I’ve read so many wonderful books. The one that captured me from the onset is Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure. This time period of elegance and grace; and the beginnings of options for women is fascinating.
I haven’t read that one, but I’ll have to check it out. Beverly Stowe McClure is also a great writer just like you, Donna. Now what do you do when you're not writing?
Ahh, as mother’s we never stop. I’m usually in the midst of carpool and I’ve learned to take advantage of the time waiting at basketball practices and art classes. I always bring my writers bag with me so I can catch up on my reading or work on my writing. As I write my responses to your questions, I’m sitting in the lounge area during Hayley’s basketball practice.
Of course, reading and spending time with my family and friends is important to me, especially, curling up on the couch with my hubby and girls to watch a movie. Nicole and I love scary movies and not too long ago we picked one out that scared the heck out of us and never even finished watching it. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was a movie with Kevin Costner who played a divorced father of a boy and girl and strange happenings occur at their new home and to his daughter. Spooky scary!! Maybe one of these days we will actually finish watching it. Tom and Hayley want nothing to do with it.
You sound very busy. I’m surprised you find those minutes and hours to write. Do you make school visits? If so, please describe a typical school presentation.
I’ve taken the description of one of my school visit presentations from my website:
Invite children’s author, Donna M. McDine to your school for a fun day of hands-on writing workshops.  Donna will meet with you and your colleagues prior to her school visit to discuss your curriculum and how best to structure the workshop around your state guidelines. 

Your session will include the reading of the short story or non-fiction article aloud to the students followed with a short discussion and Q&A on the reading and interactive breakout sessions. At the conclusion of the reading, the students will participate in a group breakout session to brainstorm and develop a new ending or what happens next in the short story. 

If the reading includes a non-fiction article the students will also participate in a group breakout session to develop a graphic organizer and illustration of the topic discussed.

Workshops are scheduled around a standard classroom timeframe of approximately 40-45 minutes.

A personalized Certificate of Participation will be presented to each student and special handouts curtailed around the workshop will also be distributed to the students.

Contact children’s author, Donna M. McDine at, today to discuss your needs.
I think teachers and school should be knocking down your door from that description. Makes me wish I were still in school just so I could go. Now Donna, where can our readers go online to learn more about you and your book(s) and to order?
Donna, it has been great having you. Can you share with us before you go your best tip for aspiring authors?
Writing for children is a tough business and you must have a thick skin. Rejection is inevitable and it only takes one acceptance to reach your dream of publication.

Do not spread yourself too thin in social networking, which is quite time consuming and can easily take over your critical writing time.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Food–25 Amazing Projects Investigate the History and Science of What We Eat

By: Kathleen M. Reilly
Published by: Nomad Press    Date:   2010
ISBN: 978-1-934670-59-0
Price: $15.95
Ages: 9-12 years
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Kris Quinn Christopherson

Synopsis: Did you know that the first popcorn dates back about 5,500 years?  The Aztecs used popcorn in their dance ceremonies in the 1500’s!  Kids will enjoy learning this and many, many more fascinating facts about food. 
Food: 25 Amazing Projects Investigate the History and Science of What We Eat provides kids (and adults) with a comprehensive look at the history, science, and culture of what they eat.  The book covers ancient methods of growing and preserving food, the role of modern technology in food production and packaging, and the future of food.  The book encourages young readers to make healthy and sustainable food choices in their everyday lives.   

Overall thoughts:  In reading this book, I learned things about food I did not know before….who knew that marshmallows were first made by the Egyptians about 4,000 years ago!  The projects are very creative and promote delving into hands-on learning experiences. Complete with supply lists and step by step directions, each project is clear and concise.  The projects cover a wide variety of investigations into food, from making fried dandelion blossoms to conducting a bean gravity experiment to creating protective food packaging. 

The subject matter is broad, but the author is able to provide valuable information in an entertaining and meaningful way.  The book is filled with appropriate illustrations, ‘words to know’ glossary lists, and delightful ‘did you know’ factoids.  Overall, an educational and engaging journey with food awaits you with this book. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ClickN Kids Online Learning Program Review

ClickN Kids Review by VS Grenier

I love when companies contact us for a review. Why? Because we have the best testers around . . . our kids! When we were contacted by ClickN Kids to do a review, I was really excited. We’ve had them as advertisers on our sites for a couple of years now. I have even thought about signing up for their program in the past. I just get busy and never got around to doing, but now I will after taking it for a test run with my five year old daughter. The programs are great tool to help your child retain the knowledge they learned during the previous school year and to prepared when they re-enter in the fall. However, another reason why I love the program is because my daughter is in speech therapy and has been for just over a year now. I work with her every night on target sounds and words with those target sounds. The flash cards are fine, but after using the ClickN Kids program for just a little over two weeks . . . my husband and I were both impressed at how fast she improved. 

The ClickN Kids programs are very user friendly. They are completely online-based learning programs, but do not be fooled into thinking this is like JumpStart. It’s not! Your child will have a set lesson plan, which you can easily access wherever there is internet access. With the secure parent password your child cannot access the setup area of your account so you have no worries letting them login on their own. In addition, you can choose between Reading and/or Spelling. The spelling program was a bit advanced for my daughter; however, I played around with it. I wasn’t a great speller when I was young and having a program like this would have helped me a lot.

If your child is having problems with reading and/or spelling, ClickN Kids is something you will want to check out. This is also a great program for teachers and schools. They even offer setup for classroom use making learning fun.

LikeKidZui™, a FREE child-safe browser program you can download and install on your computer to keep your children safe while using online programs, also recognizes ClickN Kids.  Your child can even use the KidZui program to go on the internet and use ClickN KIDS programs instead of your usual browser program, such as Internet Explorer.

Another great thing ClickN Kids does for their customer is once a month ClickN KIDS mails checks to their customers for referring new customers!  They pay you $5.00 for every home and school account. What a great way to say thank you for spreading the word about ClickN Kids.

Special Drawing from ClickN Kids!

ClickN Kids has offered one lucky reader their choice of a ClickN Read or a ClickN Spell account. To enter the drawing you need to:

  1. Visit the ClickN Kids site, try the ClickN Read and ClickN Spell FREE lessons on the homepage and then leave a comment about what you learned on the program in the comments section of this post.
  2. You must “Like” the ClickN Kids FACEBOOK fan page.
  3. You must “Follow” the ClickN Kids Twitter page @ClickNKids and post a comment saying, “SFC sent me”.
  4. You need to link back to this review.
  5. You need leave let us know you did all the above in the comments section with links to each one.

There will be 3 runners-ups who will receive one of the following books:
Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg
Mummy Mazes: A Monumental Book by Elizabeth Carpenter
Explore Rocks and Minerals! by Cynthia Light & Nick Brown
The drawing ends on November 30th at 11:59pm MST. Winners will be posted here the following day and will need to email the blog editor, Terri Forehand by December 1st with the requested details listed before another winner is picked.

Your full name, address, phone, email and the type of account (ClickN READ Phonics or ClickN SPELL). We will email you the account login information for your free account.

(Note: SFC was not paid for this review. VS Grenier received the products mentioned above for this review.)

Thank you ClickN Kids for sponsoring this drawing!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tales from the Crypt #9: Wickeder-Book Review

By: Stefan Petrucha, Maia Kinney-Petrucha, Margo Kinney-Petrucha, Scott 
Lobdell, Jim Salicrup, writers; and Diego Jourdan, Rick Parker, James 
Romberger, and Marguerite Van Cook, artists
Published by: Papercutz          Date: September 28, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-59707-215-1
Price: $6.99
Ages: 9-12
Rating:  4 stars
Reviewed by: Nancy Messmore

Synopsis:  The Crypt-Keeper returns with his GhouLunatics for the ninth incarnation of twisted tales and peculiar parodies.  Three tales are introduced by the Crypt-Keeper and friends in ghastly good humor.

The first tale is a sequel.  Because the parody of Diary of a Wimpy Kid was so successful, Glugg returns in “Dead Dog Dies!”  Celebrating his one year death day isn’t all Glugg thought it would be—zombies don’t do gifts.  Thanks to his one living friend, Crowley, Glugg may still have something other than dirt to open.

In the second story, nature takes revenge after an oil spill at an off-shore drilling rig.  “Kill, Baby, Kill!” pits big business, green advocates and a surprise avenger against each other.  Who will win?  The scariest part of this story is how close it hits home.

The graphic novel ends with the Crypt-Keeper’s friend, the Old Witch, presenting a play.  “Wickeder” is based on “Frank N. Balmed’s Wizard of Ooze.”  The story follows Dotty’s trial in the murder of Alfalfa, the Wickeder Witch.  All preconceptions are destroyed in this retelling of a classic story. 

Overall thoughts:  Because this graphic novel continues in the Tales of the Crypt tradition, readers will expect a bit of guts and gore with a lot of tongue-in-cheek.  All of that is served with illustrations that seamlessly shift styles to enhance each story.  Add text that delivers shocks and laughs simultaneously and you’ve got a fun read for older tweens.  Parody fans of all ages will find this a satisfying read as well.

For me, the word play was most fun.  The Crypt-Keeper’s puns were fairly obvious but still made me chuckle.  However, the witticisms in the three main stories often had me laughing out, (I apologize to the people sitting near me at library).  That wittiness is why I like this book so much:  I think humor is the best way to coerce reluctant readers into picking up books.  With the humor and terrific art, I expect many reluctant readers will be making friends with the Crypt-Keeper and his GhouLunatics.



*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.