Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Review: Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure

Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure
Written by: Allan Richard Shickman
Earthshaker Books, 2010
ISBN: 13-978-0-9790357-0-8
Ages 11-15
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: This is a prehistoric adventure story of a tribal boy, Zan, and his twin brother, Zan-Han. The book spans more than a year in which time Zan goes on a journey to find his lost twin brother who has been captured by a dangerous clan.
While the story is interesting and Zan's story is fascinating to watch, much was packed into these two little books. Thus, there was little time to really properly develop the plot, characters, or allowing the story to naturally unfold. 

In addition, there is a bit of imbalance in the reading level versus maturity level of the targeted readership. Although the prose and structure of the book seem simple enough and easy to follow, there are varying degrees in vocabulary and thematic difficulty levels. This can make it a bit confusing for the younger reader.

Lastly, I found the books to be a bit too violent in places for the younger kid as for instance in the graphic slaying of a rival clan member. So, parent supervision is essential for kids in the middle grade age group. It is best to read the book along with your kids than let them read these books alone. 

Overall Thoughts: These books will be especially interesting for boys who are 13 years of age and up. These books aren't really suited for younger kids as the main character is a young man and there are really violent aspects to the story. With adult supervision, however, these books can be read at home as well as in traditional school settings. 

For more books and products for kids, please visit Irene’s inspiring books and products website just in time for the holidays at 
And  Also, to read about self-esteem and self-confidence for adolescents, please visit Irene’s adolescent website at:

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Writing Mama: Interview Friday with SFC Education Writer Alice K...

The Writing Mama: Interview Friday with SFC Education Writer Alice K...: "Alice Knisley Matthias, Educational Writer of SFC, lives in the New York metropolitan area with her husband, children and floppy eared mix..."

Book Review : I Love You, Be Careful

Welcome to the Blog book tour for Judy Snider and Joan Dickow. Here is a wonderful book review by Irene Roth of I Love You, Be Careful.

I Love You, Be Careful

 Judy Snider and Joan Dickow

 Xlibris, 2010


Ages 3 to 8
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: This is a very heartwarming and enchanting book about how we must be careful in our lives. Our parents are always telling us that there is so much out there that we should be careful of. As the reader is reading the book, (s)he will be moved by the truth of what the author is saying. Children have to be careful when they are playing in the backyard, riding their bikes for the first time, holding a baby sibling and going off to school for the first time. Overall thoughts: I absolutely love this book. The illustrations are as beautiful as the message and they capture some of the poignant memories during a child's life. The book portrays the love and care of parents from babyhood through adulthood. There are different layers and complexities of love during the various stages of a child's life. But there is still a very concerned, unconditional love by a parent towards a child at all stages. What a wonderful message for readers, young and older. There is also a page at the beginning of the book to personalize it as a gift for children as well as adults. I just can't say enough nice things about this book! What a treasure it truly is!

For more books and products for kids, please visit Irene’s inspiring books and products website just in time for the holidays at and Also, to read about self-esteem and self-confidence for adolescents, please visit Irene’s adolescent website at:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Book Review: Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson About Teasing

Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson About Teasing
Written by: Dana Lehman
Illustrated by: Judy Lehman
Lehman Publishing, 2007
ISBN: 13-978-0-9792686-0-1
Ages 3-8
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: This is a great book about treating others like you'd like to be treated. Sammy was different. He was a squirrel but he had the eyes of a raccoon. Because of this he got teased a lot. 

Bucky, one of the animals in the forest, kept calling him raccoon eyes when he tried to play walnut ball. Because of this, he struck out. However, when Bucky got teased himself, he finally learned how much it hurt, and he wowed to never do it again. That is such a great lesson for kids to learn.

Overall Thoughts: Dana's book has many great messages for young kids. She shows that it is wrong to tease others because it really hurts their feelings. In addition, we have to appreciate people for who they are but not their physical appearance. Lastly, she shows that we shouldn't tease others if we don't like to be teased ourselves. Our true friends will love us for who we truly are. We don't need to be something that we're not. 

For more books and products for kids, please visit Irene’s inspiring books and products website just in time for the holidays at    
and Also, to read about self-esteem and self-confidence for adolescents, please visit Irene’s adolescent website at:  

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Book Review: I Can Do It

I Can Do It
Written by: Dana Lehman
Illustrated by: Judy Lehman
Lehman Publishing, 2010
ISBN: 13-978-0-9792686-9-4
Ages 3-8  
5 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Synopsis: This is the third book in this series. From the author of Adventures at Walnut Grove: A Lesson about Teasing and I DOUBLE Dare you comes a story about believing in yourself.

Sammy enjoys visiting new places. So he decides to go to a forest called Whispering Willows with his friends. Along the way, they go visit Paradise Pond. As they go through the pond, Sammy realizes that with practice and confidence he can finally swim. Magical things happen in Whispering Willows if you believe in yourself. What a wonderful message for kids.

Overall Thoughts: There is no phrase that is more important for kids to understand than I can do it! Kids today are so filled with negativity. Dana's story shows the importance of believing in yourself. Dana's story shows that if kids don't have confidence in themselves, they become invisible. What a great lesson for kids to learn from the earliest age.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Book Review: What is That Thing?


What is That Thing?
By: Kevin McNamee
Published: 2011
ISBN-13: 978-1616331412
E-book ISBN: 978-1-61633-142-9; 1616331429
Ages: 4-8
4 stars
Reviewed by Irene S. Roth

This is a story about a young girl, Jenna, who is trying to come to terms with the arrival of a new baby sister. She has a difficult time adapting to her, and one of the ways that she believes she could help herself is to play a game of astronaut Jenna. Through the little alien, she comes to terms with changing diapers and listening to baby cries.

The story is cute, and kids of all ages will be able to relate to it. Older siblings struggle when they have to share their lives with another little being. And this story shows how kids can come to terms with their new responsibilities when a baby sister or brother comes into the family and they have to help with the chores.

Overall Thoughts:
This is a heart-warming story of how a young child can accept a new member of the family. The illustrations are hilarious and witty. It will keep a child spellbound and captive. 

I recommend the book to any child who has younger siblings or is about to accept the arrival of a new sibling. They will be able to laugh and also accept the little being into their lives, and even be very happy and enriched by the new little baby sister or brother.

For more information about Irene Roth's books and products for kids, please visit her inspiring books and products website at:

Also, to read more about self-esteem and self-
confidence for adolescents, please visit Irene's
adolescent website at:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: The Weaver

The Weaver
By: Kai Strand
Published: 2010
ISBN: 978-1-61633-122-1
Ages: 9-12
4 stars
Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth

Kai Strand’s The Weaver is her first mid-grade novel. It is a wonderful book that is a must- read for kids of all ages. The story begins with Mary Wordsmith, who wishes to weave a tale just like her mother. Mary, however, is a typical teenager who has similar vulnerabilities and sensitivities. She wants to be liked and respected. She wants so badly to be like her mother. But story telling doesn’t come easily for her. 

In her quest, she meets a blue man who tries to convince her that he will help her achieve her wish of weaving a story just like her mother. Since Mary feels especially vulnerable and experiences the lowest self-esteem she ever had, she allows the little blue man to help her. However, despite his help, Mary’s wish isn’t granted. She feels betrayed and even unhappier than before. And things get increasingly complex for Mary when the blue man keeps appearing after each practice of weaving a story.

Overall thoughts:
I was spellbound by this book. I just couldn’t put it down when I started reading it. It is about a topic that most young and older teenagers could easily relate to. In addition, Mary is portrayed as a vulnerable character too, one that most adolescent girls will be able to relate to right away. 

Kai’s book is unique in that there are valuable lessons for younger kids and teens of all ages. One of the themes underlying her book is that each of us is special and we should celebrate and accept ourselves for who we are.     

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Children and Picture Books: What Parents Might be Missing

Cross another childhood pastime off the list.  A report released back in the fall stated that there has been a decline in the number of parents having their children look at picture books in an effort to move them to “big kid” reading choices.  The parents of these children do not see any value in the picture book phase of child development and are skipping what many experts consider to be an important first step toward the experience of learning to read.  
One of the many pleasures of early childhood is discovering the wonder that a picture book holds for a beginning reader.  The combination of illustration and text, distinct to each author and illustrator’s style, provides enjoyment and skills while laying the groundwork for a lifetime of reading pleasure.
The picture book provides more than a reading experience.  It is the introduction of art appreciation in the illustrations and hearing the beauty in spoken language and well crafted words.  The picture book is also an act of a physical nature by holding an object and turning pages. 
Children are constantly comparing and contrasting: “who got the bigger slice of pie?”, “who got more milk?” and “who ran to the door first?”  Think of the contest in “Guess How Much I Love You?” and the lyrical language by Sam Mc Bratney accompanied by the pastel illustrations from Anita Jeram.  The colors are soft and muted to mirror the contest of ‘who-loves-who-more’ with the determined little bunny and his parent.  By the end of the book the bunny is exhausted from trying to top the adult bunny in the contest of comparing amounts of love and falls asleep.  It is a question and answer session that children can identify with, told in story-form, with pictures of situations they can see themselves in.  These are important ‘self-to-text’ connections for a beginning reader to make, not just in the literal comprehension of the book, but in the area of social development by helping a young child become more aware of other people’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
Ask any children’s picture book author and he or she will tell you that writing a picture book is a challenge because every word is scrutinized.  The author needs to write an engaging arc of a story in as few words possible and keep the story entertaining for a young reader.  The classic picture books have stood the test of time.  What child, after having a favorite picture book read at bedtime, hasn’t pulled up the covers and with one final yawn for the day asked “one more time?”
Be well, 

Alice Knisley Matthias

Education Writer

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review: Review and Giveaway-The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill

The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill      
Case # 2: Mineral Mischief

Author: Renee Hand

Illustrated By: jake Karwoski

ISBN 978-0-87839-415-9

Pages: 74

Publisher: North Star Press

Author Bio:

Renee Hand writes because it is a passion in her heart. She is a homeschooling parent and likes to create books that educate and inspire the children of today. She was born in Michigan and still lives there with her husband and two children. She has a degree in Zoology with a minor in Chemistry. Renee is the author of the amazing mystery series known as the Crypto-Capers Series that encourages children to read by incorporating several topics of interest. The reader participates into the story by solving cryptograms and puzzles to solve the case. She is also the author of the Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Series, which focuses on animal detectives. This series is a great way to teach children about animals in a fun and interesting way that captures the reader's attention and yet fills them with knowledge they will be learning about in school. All books are great to use in a classroom setting to supplement various topics or to just enjoy. Renee is an award-winning author, receiving awards such as a Best Book Award, a National Literary Award and a Preferred Choice award for her children's series and adult books. She has just recently won a Seal of Excellence award in Storytelling for her Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Series. She has been writing for over twenty years and when she is not spending time with her family or participating in author events, she is coaching and playing tennis, as well as doing research for her books and many other things that keep her busy. Not quite sure what a cryptogram is and want to learn more? Visit the author's website at to learn about cryptograms and how to solve the ones that are in the books.

Joe-Joe Nut 2 : Summary

In the midst of having her friends visit her rock collection, Maple Moo’s rare mineral goes missing from underneath her large cow nose. She instantly turns to Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill, the most famous detectives in Acorn Valley, to find it. They didn’t know the task was going to be an impossible one. The suspects were hard to figure out. Was it Candy Cardinal, who committed the crime? She collects various gemstones to make jewelry. Brutus and Betty Blue Beaver also collect minerals and have a fancy quartz collection. Liam the Llama looks suspicious with his igneous rocks and exploding volcano, or was it Huckleberry Moose with his sedimentary rock collection? Joe-Joe and Biscuit find themselves at a loss until some bullies roar into town. Will the detectives be able to find the missing mineral? Or, will this be a case they won’t be able to close? Find out in case #2 in the Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill Series-Mineral Mischief. Look for the various activities in the back of the book concerning rocks and minerals for added learning. Bubbling rocks, anyone?

My review: I found this book fun with a sense of true mystery. It will keep kids reading because of the story but it also has some teaching principles threaded throughout the story which provides science learning without being boring. The experiments at the end of the story and the extra activities offer fun ways for parents and teachers to enhance the learning standards while providing a fun environment. I think Ms Hand has done an amazing job of capturing characters that kids will love. She entertains and teaches in a way that kids will be hooked on. Kids will return again and again to get the next book in the series.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Book Review: ON The Wings of Self-Esteem

On The Wings of Self- Esteem

Dr. Louise Hart with Kristen Caven

Uplift Press- 2011

ISBN 9780962283444

Pages 126

From the back of the book: At birth we begin life as truthful, open, and creative beings. As we grow older, however our wings may get clipped by dysfunctional family and social systems. Building layer upon layer of self-protection in order to negotiate such social systems, we learn to cut ourselves off from that original expansiveness. In essence, many of us go through a type of reverse metamorphosis: we start out as beautiful butterflies and turn into caterpillars. It is Louise Hart's goal to help us become butterflies again.

My general view of the book: This is a great book to help the reader understand self esteem and to improve on it. The book is insightful, truthful, and simple. It offers the reader inspiration and encouragement along with self discovery. There are down to earth tips to help restore self esteem and to nurture our inner being in a way that is not selfish yet is good to self.

Ms. Hart uses the butterfly to help the reader to explore the truths about self and exercise to transform back to the beautiful inner person each of us was born to be. Nature is a great example throughout the book to bring us back to the center of who we are. The book is inspirational and transforming if your read it and follow the tips to self care and discovery. You come away with something positive no matter what your self esteem was before you began the book. It is an easy read and worth your time and attention to self.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Writing Mama with hosts VS Grenier Marsha Casper Cook 04/22 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

The Writing Mama with hosts VS Grenier Marsha Casper Cook 04/22 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Our show guest is Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen never thought she’d grow up to be a writer. As a child, she thought of being a doctor (but she’s afraid of blood), a lawyer (but she doesn’t like losing arguments), a carpenter (but she’s too clumsy), a model (but she likes eating too much), a presidential candidate (but she had a dissolute youth), a UN ambassador (the argument losing thing again)… almost everything but a writer.

In fact, in 2001, Sudipta was well on her way to not being a writer. She had graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 1998 with a BS in Biology, spent a year in Boston, and then had returned to Caltech as a PhD candidate in developmental biology. Even the birth of her first child, Isabella, didn’t change Sudipta’s plans – she thought she’d take a long maternity leave then return to graduate school. Then, her daughter Brooklyn came along.

With two small children, Sudipta found herself less interested in biology as she was in parenting. After a half-dozen rejections, in 2003, Sudipta sold her first story to a children’s magazine, Highlights for Children.

Using her science background as a springboard, Sudipta began writing nonfiction for children. She has now written 18 nonfiction books for kids, ranging from science to history to biography. Her first love, however, was always picture books, so using a facility with word play and a love for animals (especially pigs), Sudipta worked on a number of manuscripts. Sudipta visits schools to share her stories and experience, and teaches writing to children and adults. She lives in New Jersey with her family and an imaginary pony named Penny.

This is going to be one fun show and full of information on writing and being a mom. We'll be live 2pm PST-3pm MST-4pm CST-5pm EST.

Keeping Kids Active and Hydrated by expert Jane Low

As you probably already know, exercise is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, but when your kids are running around, it's just as important for them to stay hydrated! Make sure you know these tips and tricks for encouraging kids stay hydrated.

Keeping Active Kids Hydrated

By []Jane Low

As you probably already know, exercise is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle, but when your kids are running around, it's just as important for them to stay hydrated!

Did you know that your body is approximately 60 percent water? In fact, water is arguably one of the most valuable resources on Earth. Everything from cacti to kittens need it to live and your kiddos are no exception. When exercising, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests school-aged children should drink 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes.

However, when kids are on the go, it's sometimes hard to get them to stop, even long enough to get a drink. The best way to keep kids hydrated is to remind them to keep drinking water. Here four tips and tricks for encouraging kids stay hydrated:

1. Make A Water Bottle Part of Your Workout Gear

You wouldn't go to hockey practice without a stick or a football game without pads, why would you leave the house without a bottle of water? Teach kids to think of a plastic water bottle as part of their essential sports gear.

2. Count It Out!

Have kids count to eight while taking eight big gulps of water. For small children eight big gulps ends up being somewhere between 4 and 8 ounces of water!

3. Make it Sweet

Would your kids rather drink something sugary? Try naturally sweetening water with a squeeze of lemon or lime or a piece of frozen fruit.

4. Chow Down!

Fruit like watermelon, peaches and grapes are great playtime snacks. They're not only water-packed (many contain 70 - 95 percent water), but they're a naturally sweet treat!

Remind your kids: Active play is fun, but being dehydrated isn't. Dehydration can make you feel fatigued, give you a headache and cause you to have rapid heart rate. Severe enough dehydration could even land you in the hospital!

While it's not necessarily easy to get kids to drink water, it's pretty easy to spot dehydration in children. Crying without tears and dark circles under the eyes are two signs that a child might be dehydrated. If your kids seem sleepy and lethargic or irritable and fussy, that might also mean that they are dehydrated. In other words, not only is being dehydrated not fun for kids, but dealing with even a moderately dehydrated kid is no fun for parents either!

So stay hydrated; it's the best way to feel good while you play!

Staying physically active is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and encouraging kids to exercise is one of the best ways to help []combat childhood obesity. For more articles about how parents and communities can help encourage kids to get up and get active visit []

Article Source: [] Keeping Active Kids Hydrated

Keywords: keeping kids hydrated,kids health,parenting,hydration,staying hydrated,prevening childhood obesity

Monday, April 18, 2011

Life Skills for Teens

Teens need life skills and interests.

Teens are some of the most lovable kids around although they often give off the impression that they know it all. Educational statistics prove otherwise. Basic life skills may not be taught in the high school and often kids may not get these lessons at home. Here are a few of the basic life skills that every teen needs to succeed in life as an adult. As parents, we can help our teens develop these needed skills.

1. Teens need to learn the value of money. Many teens may not be able to find a job or to work when involved in sports and school activities but that doesn’t mean they should not learn the value of money. Parent who provide for every whim their teen requests do not help to teach what money means, how hard it is to earn it, the value of saving for what you need or how to wait for what you want. Teens need to learn what taxes mean, how to save, how to balance a check book and how to budget. Earn, save, give, and spend. Those are the basics about money. A good way to teach the concept is the 10-10-80 rule. Earn the money, save 10 percent, give away to charity or church 10 percent, and budget on the remaining 80 percent. If teens learn that formula, they will be years ahead of most of their peers and have a cushion of cash in the bank too.

2. Teens need to learn to cook, clean, and do laundry. These skills will be valuable no matter where a teen lives, works, or goes to school. These skills are the basics of life. I know teens who know nothing about cooking other than ordering pizza. They think cleaning is throwing dirty clothes in the hamper for mom and the pizza box in the trash, and some don’t know how to turn on a washing machine let alone how much soap to use. These basic skills will make your teen a better adult and a more responsible partner in future relationships because they will understand sharing household tasks.

3. Teens need to know how to sew, at least to put a new button on or fix a hole in a seam. I am not suggesting that every teen needs to learn to make a quilt or an entire outfit. I am suggesting that they know how to do an emergency repair on a favorite shirt and that means boys and girls. Home economics is no longer part of many school curriculum's but I highly recommend teens learn this skill on their own after all it is not rocket science. It is a needle and thread.

4. Teens need to learn basic polite conversation without the slang. Please, thank you, how do you do, nice to meet you, and I’m sorry are the minimal basics that a teen should feel comfortable with. It is not old fashioned to expect a teenager to say hello and thank you when speaking with parents or adults. It is respect. These skills will be used for the rest of their lives during job interviews, school conferences, dealing with work place customers, and business dealings as an employee or as the boss. Teens that speak clearly and with polite conversation will walk away with a better chance at the job when being interviewed. Those teens uncomfortable speaking without slang may not fare as well against competition for the same position.

5. Teens need to learn and maintain personal hygiene. Clean hair, clean teeth, clean nails, and in general a clean appearance will increase self esteem, improve mental attitudes, and improve the overall state of health of a teen no matter what socio-economic background the teen comes from. Soap and water are one of the least expensive ways to take care of teen skin and prevent or treat acne. A clean appearance tells the world that a teen has pride in what he or she does and cares.

These are the basic skills that will help teens to transition into the adult work force and into the role of partner, parent, and employee. Learning these skills at a young age and continuing them through high school and college will increase the chances that each person will enjoy a positive and productive life.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Family Movie Night Returns

After a long week of activities, make Saturday night family night. Here is a great family movie supported by Walmart and Moms4familyTV.

Family Movie Night has another great movie scheduled on Fox on April 16th. That is this Saturday. Check out the link to the movie page. It looks like it is going to be a great one.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Goldy's Baby Socks and Giveaway!

Goldy’s Baby Socks
By: Judy Snider
Illustrated by: Thomas McAteer
Published by: Xlibris  Date: 2005
ISBN10:1-59926-453-6(Picture Book)

ISBN13: 978-1-5992-6453-0(Picture Book)

ISBN10:1-59926-454-4(Picture Book - HB)

ISBN13: 978-1-5992-6454-7(Picture Book - HB)

Picture Book - Soft Cover ($15.99)

Ages: 4-8
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: VS Grenier

Goldy’s Baby Socks is the funny and heartwarming story of a family who almost had to move because their cat, Goldy filled their house with her surprise gifts. Goldy was a pretty gold colored stray that was taken in by Lucy’s family. Lucy, her brother and her parents had no idea when they adopted Goldy that the fun and the sleepless nights, were about to begin!

Overall thoughts:
I read this cute picture book with my two girls. They both loved the story and the beautifully done illustrations. The girls loved reading about Goldy and how she treated socks as if they were her baby kittens. The laughed as Lucy’s home became filled with socks and much more as Goldy practiced carrying a baby in her mouth like all mama cats do.

What really helped my girls love this story is we have a neighborhood cat that looks just like Goldy in the book. So now my girls call our neighborhood cat…you guessed it, Goldy.

This is a great book for the animal lover in your family, for those who have a mama cat with kittens on the way, or for those who love a fun story to read as a family.

Publisher Website:

Visit the author´s website at

The book is delightful and when you visit the website there is a cute video of Ms. Snider talking about the book followed by a video of the author doing a song about the book. Very imaginative and fun. Children will love the story as well as visiting the site to view the videos.

Picture from the book- delightful
Children will relate to the story if they have a cat or kitten that plays fun games or tricks. Children who don't have a cat will want one. Parents be prepared for fun and the question... "Can I have a kitty?"

1 copy of "Goldy's Baby Socks"
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