Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review: Sparrow Alone on the Housetop

Sparrow Alone on the Housetop

Authors: Jean James and Mary James

Publisher: 4RV Publishing LLC


YA/Adult Christian Fiction/

The kids are back in school and moms everywhere may have some spare time to grab a good book. Here is one you may want to add to your fall reading list while the kids are in school.

Sparrow Alone on the Housetop is the new release by authors Jean James and Mary James. It is a fast moving story about family, evil vs. good, and what happens when people with big money and power get greedy. It is the story of the good girl and her evil father. Does a good heart win over greed and money?

Anne Sumner has a heart for the mission field. Leaving her money and family name behind she sets out to improve the life for the poverty stricken in Mexico. At the same time, her powerful and greedy father uses money and corruption to almost destroy both the people that Anne was serving as well as his own family.

The authors do a wonderful job of creating emotional characters that resonate with the reader. Readers will find themselves loving and hating the characters and what they have done. Dialogue, details, emotions, and the real life characteristics of love, greed, and ambition bring the reader into the story from the beginning until the very end. Those who have a greedy or evil family member will relate to how difficult it is to love yet hate someone you should be able to trust and what this does to family relationships.

This story has it all, mystery, suspense, love, death, hate, and forgiveness. The reader will not be disappointed.

Check out the publishers website for more information at

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fall is Here ...

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Crisp air, beautiful colors, falling leaves, brisk walks, and a time to start making hot meals and snacks. I would love to share your favorite recipes for fall here on the blog.   Do you have a fun recipe that you and your kids like to make?

Recipes for dips, treats, soups, stews, chili, or whatever your fall favorites are. Send them to me at or

Who knows, we may even gather enough great recipes to put together an EBook for our readers. So join the fun and bring it on.

Here is a quick hot dip for fall:

Harvest Cheese Dip

1 large package of cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Teaspoon onion powder
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Optional: 1/4 cup cooked and crumbled bacon, or 1/4 cup chopped tomato, or 1/4 cup chopped green pepper

Mix the softened cream cheese, sour cream, seasonings, veggies, and 1/2 of the shredded cheddar cheese in a oven safe dish. Sprinkle the remainder of the shredded cheese on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes until cheese is melted. Serve hot with crackers.

Great snack for watching the football games on a Sunday afternoon.

Looking forward to sharing your favorites with the readers. Send them along soon. Fall is here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Book Review: The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister

The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister

Author: Linda Lodding

Illustrated by: Suzanne Beaky

ISBN: 978-0-979974-69-4

October 2011

Picture Book Ages 4-8

Ernestine Buckmeister is a very busy girl. She has an activity for every day of the week on top of going to school. Ernestine is so busy she can barely think. What happens when she just stops to play?

This action packed picture book is a fun story about an over booked child. Her parents think they are providing her with valuable life lessons, yet Ernestine just wants to jump and play. Parents and kids will love this fun description of all the activities filling the days for Ernestine and they will equally enjoy seeing the results when Ernestine takes time to play with her friends.

The book is entertaining but also offers food for thought on just how we plan our time with our children. What is important to you and your child? The story will be read over and over again bringing an opportunity for frank discussions about what activities matter and what can be changed or eliminated.

Take time to read this with your child today. You will be glad for the moments shared.

Visit for more information on this and other great picture books for families.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Vanished by Sheela Chari


Author: Sheela Chari

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3163-2

August 2011

Disney-Hyperion Books

Eleven year old Neela has dreams of becoming a musician. She is given a beautiful heirloom instrument with a deep family history and cultural influence but it disappears. It vanishes from a church of all places, and she is devastated.

Neela begins her journey trying to find her beloved veena which was a present from her grandmother. The missing instrument is intricately carved with a mysterious dragon and her investigation leads to omnious letters, a tea pot, and more. It is good vs. evil at it's best.  

The author weaves a wonderful tale of mystery, intrigue, and culture as Neela searches for her instrument. Her friends at school may know something but will Neela learn the truth? Her instrument has a long history, going back to India where her grandmother lives and where the instrument was carved.  It turns out that the instrument has disappeared before. How does this mysterious instrument vanish and reappear over the course of years? Will Neela be able to find it and perform and will she be able to keep it with her always protecting the fine instrument from vanishing again?

This story is filled with questions  that will keep readers interested from the beginning until a satisfying end as it spans generations and two countries throughout the story line. Not only does the author tell a great tale, but she does it as she injects bits of the culture of India and the history of a little known instrument called the veena. She exposes the reader to very interesting information while she entertains and demonstrates the importance of family and the concept of good and evil.

I would recommend this for middle school readers who are in search of a great mystery. They will not only get a good mystery, they will relate to a likeable character and feel her passion for her beloved veena.

Learn more about the author at

Visit for more great book ideas.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Exploring Your Child's Feelings with School and Much More

There are many discussions that focus on academics, test scores and student performance but there is another critical component that needs to be in place for a child to have a productive school year and it starts with one simple question. Is your child happy? Psychologists who work with school-age children talk about how important it is to speak with children about how they feel about their roles as students in schools and it is just as important to acknowledge positive attitudes as it is to intervene when there are negative feelings. Buried among statistics and test scores is one of the most nourishing tools in a parent’s ability to help a child with school performance; exploring a child’s feelings about school and the world around him or her.

This month marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country and our spirit. In the coverage of how downtown New York will mark the day and honor those who were lost, is a story of some former students from a nearby high school who fled their building with their teachers that morning and how they, now adults, a decade later, plan to honor the anniversary. They were scared teenagers when the tragedy occurred and now they are productive adults discussing, as alumni, what feels like the right way to remember that day. Who knows what conversations these students had with teachers and staff in the time that followed the world changing events; but these former high school students are a lasting reminder that life does go on.

There were also some very young students evacuating the area that fateful day and teachers and the staff of schools had the added responsibility of taking precious care of these children until anxious and overwhelmed parents and caregivers could get to them. In order to help such young children sort through their questions and feelings after September 11, many students participated in art projects that helped shape their thoughts into pictures. It is incredibly powerful to see the story of what happened that September morning told through the eyes of children and their crayons and colored markers.

As parents and caregivers, we can supply our children with pencils, and pack some cookies in a lunch box, but we should also remember to spend as much time focusing on their feelings and innermost thoughts. They need all our help to try and grasp the often unexplainable world we live in.

Be well,

Alice Knisley Matthias

Education Writer

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Families Matter Show 09/21 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

The Families Matter Show 09/21 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

The Families Matter show is a monthly show for families where no issue is to small or great for us to tackle. We want to share as much information and true stories as we can to help uplift and strengthen the family unit.

Joining us will be Irene Roth, wonderful Children’s Author and Stories for Children Magazine Nonfiction Editor. She will be our shows new Producer.

Your hosts are Kecia Burchan and VS Grenier.

This weeks topic: Standardized Testing and How Teachers are Teaching to Tests. If you would like to read some articles about standardized testing by Kecia Burcham visit

This is a huge discussion going on all over the nation with No Child Left Behind and Teacher Accountability. If we can get people thinking about it - we can make a change!

Book Review: AdoraPet's Book Series Featuring Pima Puppy and Pico Puppy

AdoraPet Book Series is by author YiShaun Yang. The main characters Pima Puppy and Pico Puppy take the reader on all kinds of adventures from a Pirate Adventure, Mermaid Adventure, and Astronaut Adventure to being a Ballerina, a Chef, or a Firefighter.

The books titled Visit the Dentist and On the Farm take the reader on a real life trip to everyday destinations. The author weaves facts, fiction, and the magic of real life into each individual story. Readers will love Pima and Pico making it fun to read each new book in the series.

The author clearly succeeds in her mission to inspire kids to read by showing kids the magic and hope of life as Pima and Pico visit all kinds of places that children have questions about. What child won't enjoy reading about and getting to know these cute pets?

Visit for more information.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Press Release for New Book for Parents of Special Needs Children

A Challenged Life:

Raising a Child with Special Needs

By Danielle Zimmerman


In a heartening book based on her personal experience raising a child with global development delays, devoted mother and debut author provides inspirational and enlightening guidance for parents and professionals caring for special needs children.

Today, one in five households with children in the United States includes at least one child with special health care needs. In fact, nearly 20% of all children in the US under the age of eighteen have special health care needs. However, despite such staggering statistics, parents, family members, friends, and even specialists oftentimes fail to fully comprehend what the future holds when they realize their child is not developing typically and questions quickly arise regarding what steps to take, how to cope, and especially how each life will be affected. In an honest and reflective account of her experiences raising a daughter with global development delays, Danielle Zimmerman reveals the life altering impact that her daughter’s diagnosis has had on her family, as well as their careers, finances, and relationships. Danielle Zimmerman’s brave writing in A Challenged Life: Raising a Child with Special Needs not only give readers an inspiring look into the world of parents of special needs children, but also provide indispensable advice for families embarking on a similar journey.

When Danielle Zimmerman’s daughter, Abigail, was eight months old, doctors not only diagnosed her with global development delays, but also put a ceiling on her entire future. However, as a result of successful strategies that she and her husband implemented, combined with their continuous love and support, Abigail’s development has been phenomenal. Through an intimate account of the emotional journey from the time Abigail was diagnosed up until the present-day, Danielle describes how she and her husband have learned to deal with some of the more recurrent challenges associated with raising a special needs child, such as doctor’s visits, marital intimacy, finances, and education. Having experienced first-hand the joys and pains associated with raising a special needs child, Danielle’s advice in both compassionate and practical. Furthermore, by addressing such real and personal issues, readers will walk away laughing, crying, and with a better understanding of how to cope with a child with special needs.

Through her role as an experienced mother of a special needs child, Danielle Zimmerman hopes her heartfelt words illustrate that even though a diagnosis helps with medical services and insurance payments, it should not mark the end of a parent’s hopes and dreams for their child. While A Challenged Life serves as a vivid depiction of the daily social, financial, and marital challenges associated with raising a special needs child, it is most of all a testimony to a mother’s unconditional love and the power of the human spirit when faced with uncertainty.

About the Author: While a pre-med student at Barry University and Nova University, Danielle Zimmerman became certified in early childhood development, as well as a certified EMT. During this time, she also opened B.E.S.M. Inc., a telemarketing company, with her soon to be husband Brett. Today, Zimmerman is the CFO of B.E.S.M. and KB Promotions, a subsequent telemarketing company that she and her husband opened in Tampa in 2007. Moreover, she is the Founder and current Treasurer of Abi’s Place, a non-profit private school in Coral Springs for children with moderate to severe disabilities. Danielle Zimmerman currently lives in Coral Springs, Florida with her husband and their two children, Abigail and Ethan. A Challenged Life: Raising a Child with Special Needs by Danielle Zimmerman (published by B.E.S.M. Inc., RRP $14.95) is available from Amazon and can be ordered from all good bookstores.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Interesting Guest Post on Bullying

How Self Esteem Can Be More Powerful Than Bullies by Dr. Bill Page

Dr. Bill Page would rather teach than do just about anything else any day of the week.

“During my career I was an educator and administrator in elementary, middle and high schools, as well as college, for 33 years,” Page said. “During that time I enjoyed serving as a Boy and Cub Scout master, and a Sunday school teacher. Through all that time, I have seen just about everything children can experience, both positive and negative, and helped these kids solve what many today see as practically unsolvable problems. For the most part, I didn’t have any special technology or divine wisdom. All I had was the head on my shoulders and the heart beating in my chest, and for 33 years those were the only tools I needed.”

Page, a PhD who in retirement became a children’s book author known as Billy D, said that he has dealt with the absolute worst kids in his school and the best ones, too. In most cases, he said that they were one and the same, just on different days.

“It doesn’t take a PhD to figure out why a kid bullies another kid, or why that kid lets the other one bully him,” said Page, author of the children’s book series The Marion Series ( “Both kids are scared of something. The kid who is being bullied is afraid of getting beat up, and the bully is afraid of most everything. The secret is being able to connect with them and figure out what both kids are afraid of and helping them face and defeat those fears. The heart of the matter is really one of the most basic truths I know: every child is special. If you want to prevent problems, then parents and teachers simply need to remind kids of this fact on a regular basis. If you tell them often enough, they’ll begin to believe it and feel it, too.”

But as much as Page is an idealist, he also knows he has to channel that idealism to kids through some harsh realism.

“I put the characters in my books through some paces,” he said. “They encounter the challenges of responsibility, honesty, self-pride, peer pressure, sibling rivalry, and race relations. They experience the consequences of drug use, over-confidence and facing ridicule. On the other hand, my characters also see the benefits from loving people, befriending them and cooperating with others. My characters are grounded by events that are true-to-life, so that the kids who read them, who are also dealing with the realism in their lives, can relate, understand and learn.”

In that way, Page believes kids who read his stories can unconsciously see the parallels in their own lives, and learn the same lessons his characters learn in his stories.

“Is the bully somehow less special than the bullied?” he asked. “Or are both simply good kids in a bad situation who need to see that their lives can be better if they only see how special they are and the difference they can make in other lives? We all need to know where we keep our strength, the parts of ourselves that help us overcome adversities. If our children don’t learn where those places are when they’re kids, they won’t know where to find those places as adults.”

About Bill “BillyD” Page

Bill D. Page, PhD, a.k.a. BillyD, is a graduate of Marion High School, Northern Iowa, Michigan State and St. Louis Universities. He has published two books for children ages nine to twelve, and has others for children two to six near completion. Dr. Page has been a teacher at all levels of public education from elementary through graduate school in Manson and Marion, Iowa, Lincoln Park, Michigan and adjunct professor for Western Michigan University. He lives with his wife of sixty-three years in Muskegon, Michigan. They have three children, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He and his wife are proud to state that there have been no divorces in their immediate family, which has accumulated 181 years of marriage. (

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Parents: Get to Know Your Kid by Shana Connell Noyes

Get to Know Your Kid

Author: Shana Connell Noyes

ISBN: 978-1-58479-862-0

Abrams Publishing-2011

School is in session and kids are busy with friends so it may seem difficult to get your kids to talk. Grab a copy of Get to Know Your Kid and you will never be without a conversation starter.

Author Shana Connell Noyes has written this book to help parents get started with questions beyond
 "Have you done your homework?" Her book will give you all you need to really get your kids to open up and tell you how they feel, what they like, and what matters most to them. It is a journal allowing you to write down some of these precious conversations making this a keepsake to share as your child grows.

Questions include things like " If you were an animal, which one would you be?" and " What is your favorite word?"  The pages do not have to be done in any specific order, rather randomly as you deepen your relationship with your child.

The book is thought provoking and inspiring, making it a valuable addition to childhood and the time you spend together.

Visit for more information the book and the author.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

10th Anniversary Edition of Walter The Farting Dog

Walter the Farting Dog- 10th Anniversary Edition

Author: William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray

Illustrator: Audrey Colman

ISBN: 13-978-1-58394-053-2

If you have never picked up a book about a farting dog before, now is the time. This 10th anniversary edition of Walter the Farting Dog remains on the New York Times Bestsellers list and it has been popular with kids for the entire 10 years.

 Not only has this first book about Walter been a hit with children at the elementary level, but there is a series of books about Walter that keep kids reading. The author knows just what makes kids laugh and more importantly, knows what makes them want to read more.

Walter is a hero and saves the day in this book and he does it in the nick of time. You see, mother and father want Walter to go because his farts are so awful. Walter uses this gas problem to scare a set of criminals away so he becomes the hero dog for this family. Other books in the series show Walter in  situations where he becomes a hero or a friend.

Grab a copy of the newly released 10th anniversary edition. It is sure to keep you laughing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Book Review: Alaska's 12 Days of Summer

Alaska's 12 Days of Summer

Author: Pat Chamberlin-Calamar

Illustrator: Shannon Cartwright

Publisher: Sasquatch Books-2003

ISBN: 1-57061-341-9

When I travel, I try to bring back a children's book from wherever I visit. In Alaska I picked up a delightful children's picture book telling the story of the animals of the area.

Alaska's 12 Days of Summer by Pat Chamberlin-Calamar is a unique example of a wonderful story, a lesson in counting, and true facts about some of the animals that any teacher would appreciate all tightly woven into a good book.

The story counts one day of summer all the way to 12 days of summer adding one bear, two moose, three bald eagles... well you get the idea. There are caribou, cranes, wolves, grizzlies, frogs, and swans to name a few more of the delightful and interesting animals children will find in Alaska. And the best part is not only does the reader find a great counting tale, each page gives some wonderful and little known facts about the animals being counted. It even includes the lyrics and music on the back page for those who may read music or play the piano.

What a great addition to a classroom? This book is a keeper. And who doesn't like bears?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11th, A Tribute Through Art



Foreword by Christy Ferer

Introduction by Alice M. Greenwald

"At least the Twin Towers have each other and could say their

last words. I would hope I could tell anyone I knew how much I cared."

— NYU Child Study Center participant, 12 years old

All of us were affected by the events of September 11th, but it was the youngest generation who was affected most of all. The innocence so profoundly disrupted that day is nowhere better demonstrated than in the drawings created shortly after the attacks by thousands of children. In their straightforward depictions, these works, both heartbreaking and heartwarming are testaments to the human instinct to bear witness, provide comfort, and attempt to make sense out of the unthinkable.

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of September 11th, Assouline is honored to present a collection of these drawings in Art for Heart: Remembering 9/11. This exquisite tome includes selections of artwork and messages from the New York University Child Study Center, the Art for Heart Program of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and Dear Hero and Notes of Hope collections, which have been acquired by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

The book's proceeds are graciously provided to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a not-for-profit corporation created to oversee design, raise funds, and operate the Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center site. The Memorial, designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker, will remember and honor the thousands of people who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001 and February 26, 1993. For more information on the National September 11 Memorial & Museum:

About the Authors:

Christy Ferer is an Emmy Award-winning political news reporter and anchor, who began her career in St. Louis before moving to New York as a lifestyle contributor to the network morning news shows. She founded Vidicom, a media services company, and Citybuzz, the nation’s first television visitors’ network, in 1982. She currently serves as a special assistant to Mayor Bloomberg on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks. Ferer worked as commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for five years, is Chairman of Development for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan and currently serves on the Board of the Jacob Javits Center, the 92nd Street Y, Global Green and American Corporate Partners.

Alice M. Greenwald is Executive Vice President for Programs and Director of the Memorial Museum at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. She previously served as Associate Museum Director for museum programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Executive Director of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and curator of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion Skirball Museum.


ASSOULINE was chosen by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to create Art for Heart: Remembering 9/11 for their highly original graphic concept. ASSOULINE books and luxury gift items are works of art that capture culture and bring it to life. The spirit and savoir-faire of the company have contributed to the creation of a unique and eclectic, chic and elegant brand that is immediately identifiable. ASSOULINE has published over one thousand titles across international markets on subjects including fashion, art, architecture and design, gastronomy, photography, travel, and viticulture.

ASSOULINE books have been translated into more than ten languages and are distributed in the most exclusive retail destinations worldwide, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Sotheby’s, and Harvey Nichols, Dubai. ASSOULINE Boutique locations include Paris; ASSOULINE at The Plaza Hotel in New York City; ASSOULINE at Crystals at CityCenter in Las Vegas; ASSOULINE Books, Gifts & Gallery at South Coast Plaza; ASSOULINE Istanbul; and most recently, ASSOULINE at Liberty in London.

Art for Heart: Remembering 9/11 is available for purchase at ASSOULINE Boutiques worldwide and through and

7 ½ x 10 ¾ inches / 18.5 x 27 cm – 144 pages – 72 illustrations – hardcover ISBN: 9781614280323 – $35

Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Review: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab- The Chronicles of the Stone: Book One

Author: Fiona Ingram

iUniverse Publishing

ISBN: 978-0-595-45716-8

Grades 4-6

Chapter Book

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is the first book in an adventure series. Cousins Justin and Adam travel with their aunt and grandmother to Egypt. They are both interested in finding adventure and in experiencing new things but they had no idea this trip would be a series of mysterious events.

The boys and their aunt were familiar with an archaeologist by the name of James Kinnaind and his work in Egypt. It becomes more fascinating to the boys when they discover that Mr. Kinnaind is missing. It becomes even more intriguing when the boys are given a scarab from a peddler and then get followed, vandalized, and targeted by unknown assailants.

The boys have more adventure and mystery than they could possibly imagine but they stick together and use courage and wit to solve the mystery of the missing scarab. They also aid in finding the missing archaeologist. Their vacation to Egypt turns into a dream of a lifetime and a personal growth opportunity for both Justin and Adam.

This book has just enough details about Egypt to be helpful to 4-6th grade students learning about ancient Egypt and enough adventure to keep the students reading for fun and entertainment. This is a great story and I believe kids will be anxious to read the series. I wouldn't be surprised to see this turn into a movie someday. It has all the excitement and mystery that kids will love. The author has done a great job keeping the reader hooked until the very end and those who want to write for this age group will do well to read and study Ms. Ingram.

Visit for more about this book and the author.

Remembering kids today are computer savvy, ALL of Fiona Ingram’s books are available both in hard copy and eBook.

You can find out more about Fiona Ingram’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Ingram and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Ingram will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children. The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Fiona Ingram about her children’s book series, writing, the publishing industry, and the trials and tribulations of the writer’s life.

The show will be live September 26, 2011 at 2pm EST. You can tune in at the World of Ink Network site at You can listen/call in at (714) 242-5259. (Note: if you can’t make the show, you can listen on demand at the same link.)

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit Stories for Children Publishing at:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Activist Reveals How One Act of Community Service Can Spark Thousands More

What Can One Person Do?

Don’t tell Lisa Sellman that one person can’t make a difference. She knows better.

Sellman, a community activist and lifelong volunteer, recently learned how one act of kindness can set off a chain reaction that can span the globe.

“It just started out with me asking a regional pet food company for a donation of dog food for Red Lake Rosie’s in Minnesota,” said Sellman, a professional dog trainer and owner of a pet care business. “I called Solid Gold Northland, and one of the marketing managers there advised me that they were trying to increase the number of people who ‘liked’ them on Facebook, and that if I could get 40 new Facebook members to click on their ‘like’ button, they’d give me $200 worth of pet food.”

So Sellman, who currently volunteers for six different community groups, sent a message out to all her Facebook friends inviting them to Solid Gold Northland’s fan page on Facebook. Somehow, the invite made it to the Facebook page of The Patrick Miracle, a page devoted to the story of a two year old pitbull found by a janitor in a dumpster. Their Facebook page has charted over 109,000 “like” clicks from users. When the founders of the page posted Sellman’s invite, Solid Gold Northland received more than 2,000 new fans from all over the world in the course of about 48 hours.

“When I contacted them the next week, they were blown away by how quickly the response took off,” said Sellman, also author of the children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake (, which contains the theme of the value of community service and which she hopes will serve to inspire others. “As a result of the combined outreach, Solid Gold Northland and Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet have committed a donation of $2,000 worth of pet food, and I’ve helped to forge new friends from other countries who all care about the same things I care about. And it all started with a simple posting on Facebook because I wanted to help a local animal shelter. It’s been magical.”

Sellman’s simple act was a drop in the bucket compared to her schedule of volunteer activities. She works as an after school care volunteer at the Minneapolis Indian Center, a special events assistant at the Loft Literary Center, a volunteer marketing director for canine events at the Gunflint Lodge (the real location contained in her children’s book), and a trail staff assistant with Wilderness Inquiry, where she and her husband take disabled children and adults on outdoor adventures throughout the US. They’ve been volunteers with this organization since 1997.

“Although I work hard, I love being able to serve my community.” Sellman said. “The people in all the organizations I’m involved with, all share my values and my world view and they are my friends and my family. The people and the activities fill up my life with fun, joy and a purpose I could never have achieved any other way. It doesn’t mean that I think everyone should take the same path that I have. I know most people don’t have the time. My point is this: it only takes one simple act, one click of a mouse button to start a movement. It happened to me and it can happen to you. All you need to do is give it a shot.”

About Lisa Sellman

Lisa Sellman, owner and professional dog trainer at Aloha Pet Care & Dog Training, volunteers for half a dozen charitable organizations. She believes that community service is its own reward, a message that resonates throughout her new children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

School is Back in Session

School has started for most kids in every State in the country. Labor Day marks the last of summer and the start of fall. School sports and activities will be in full swing soon and so will the homework and tests that students dread. Here are a couple of tips for students to make school less stressful.

1. Stay organized from the beginning.  Keep that assignment book handy and work ahead. Don't wait to the last minute to do big projects or to cram for that exam.

2. Sleep at least 7-8 hours per night. Younger children need 8-9 hours of sleep and teens can get by with less on occasion but 8 hours or more will keep your brain working and your body healthy.

3. Eat breakfast. The importance of a good breakfast can't be stressed enough. Grab a fruit if you are in a hurry but breakfast is important to keep your body working well.

4. Drink plenty of water. Kids get so busy with their friends that they forget to drink water and eat healthy. Teens especially need to drink water to help keep their skin clear.

5. Set a time to study or read every night. Studying and reading keep the mind active but it also helps your brain to retain what you learn by feeding it regularly with facts. 

6. Turn off the television and the video games for 30 minutes and use that time to do a physical activity. Walk the dog, ride a bike, jog, skateboard, roller blade, play basketball, or just run around the backyard but keep it moving. It will keep you feeling your best and help you to stay alert in school.

Have a great new school year and remember to keep learning fun.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Interview with Author Fiona Ingram

Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s bookThe Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has finished the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has travelled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Stanley: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you became an author.

Fiona: I was born and educated in South Africa. I come from a background of theater studies and journalism. I have always written, even if it was just plays, which we acted out for my long-suffering parents when I was young. I have four brothers (a great cast) and we would create these grandiose plots, dress up, and act it all out. I also had a long-running serial to entertain the younger ones and their friends – a ghost story, in weekly installments called Gruesome Gables. Lots of fun. I then chose the stage for a career, studied mime and theater in Europe after university, worked in community and grass-roots theater in South Africa upon my return home and one day made the switch to journalism, much to the relief of my parents. I believe my acting experiences have enabled me to write with strong visual impact.

Stanley: Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary; tell us about your publisher, and also how you got the idea for this book.

Fiona: The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is a thrilling adventure for two boys (12 and 13), whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret. A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt.  Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a  lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another! I am a self-published author through iUniverse. Becoming a children’s author happened by accident after I went on a family trip to Egypt with my mother and two young nephews.

Stanley: What is a typical writing day like for you?

Fiona: Lucky me, I can work from home and write all day and all night if I want to. My day starts very early with dropping my daughter off at school. Then I make sure my disabled mom is made ready for her day. Then either some errands, or a Pilates class, then back home and getting stuck into the next chapters. I write articles and I maintain a blog, as well as two other writing projects, so there is a choice if I am not inspired for my main project, which is my book series The Chronicles of the Stone.

Stanley: What do you enjoy most about writing?

Fiona: The best part is reading previous chapters and immediately slipping into the fantasy world I have created. I love the way characters come alive, make their own decisions, and sometimes surprise me.

Stanley: What is the most difficult part of writing?

Fiona: The hardest part is when the scenes have already played out visually in my head, like a movie, and I need to grasp those images and put them into words. Often I find I can’t type fast enough.

Stanley: Why do you like working with children and teens?

Fiona: I think this is because I have three younger brothers, so I grew up taking care of them. Then my book was inspired by the trip to Egypt with my two young nephews. Shortly after our return home, I began fostering Mabel, a young African girl from a disadvantaged background. I subsequently adopted Mabel. Another aspect is how kids embrace the magicality of a world inside a book with enthusiasm. They read, believe, experience, and love what is happening as the story unfolds.

Stanley: Do you make school visits or do speaking engagements? If so, please describe a typical presentation.

Fiona: I find that book readings are a wonderful way of introducing a book to a target audience. My background in theater studies has also enabled me to inject a lot of dramatic excitement into my readings. A captivating book reading is an excellent way to create interest in your book, the kind of interest that remains unforgettable because it is both interesting and fun. I liaise with the teachers a few days before and find out what they would like their pupils to gain from the reading since Egypt is part of the history syllabus. I suggest to teachers that they prepare their class beforehand by doing some research. Then, we can incorporate a fancy dress event (kids love to dress up) with everyone coming as either a pharaoh or (usually) Cleopatra! Classes can also make models or collages to show at the reading. I also use my promotional bookmarks to give a mini talk on creative writing, to show kids how easy it is to write. My bookmarks have illustrations and a bit of story line so this makes it more fun and everyone gets a freebie. If there’s time, I have a general knowledge quiz on Egypt and make it really enjoyable by dividing the group into team A and team B. I choose the most exciting chapter possible when doing the actual reading. Kids don’t have to know everything in advance and a brief outline of the story is enough. Using my bookmark, the kids generally go for the image of the giant cobra menacing my two heroes for a riveting 20-minute read. During my reading, I interrupt myself to ask the kids questions such as ‘Where is so-and-so place?’ or ask them if they know what particular words mean. Since my book is set in Egypt, a country that holds the promise of mystery and ancient magic for most kids, talking about an exotic location holds their attention, and asking them to explain words like ‘sarcophagus’ keeps us busy. I also use posters, pieces of painted papyrus and my real photos from the trip to show the kids that having an adventure is as easy as stepping on a plane.

Stanley: 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?

Fiona: Readers can visit for more information and purchase details. It is a fun, interactive website incorporating the journey the young heroes take, as well as hints and clues about the story, photos from my actual trip, and some general knowledge about Egypt. There is a wonderful Curse of Thoth to interpret at the end of the journey, which takes readers into the first chapter of the next book in the series.

Stanley: What are you working on right now?

Fiona: I am working on editing the second book in the series. In Book One, Adam and Justin discover that the ancient scarab they were given is, in fact, the First Stone of Power, one of seven scattered around the ancient world thousands of years ago. A race against time and uber-baddie Dr. Faisal Khalid ensues. The person who unites all the Stones of Power with the Stone of Fire, (swept away when the tomb of the Scarab King collapses) will be able to read the ancient and magical Book of Thoth. The reader will gain mastery of time and space, and hold dominion over the beasts of the earth, creatures of the sea, birds of the air, and be able to achieve immortality. (The amazing thing is that this is a real legend, not something I made up.) Scary stuff as readers realize when they encounter the ruthless Dr. Khalid. Once the first Stone of Power came to light, it is only a matter of time before the others begin to surface, manifesting usually in the weapons or regalia of long-dead warriors and kings. Such is the case with the second stone which might just be hidden in the hilt of the most famous sword in history—the sword of King Arthur, the sword Excalibur. My second title is The Search for the Stone of Excalibur. The quest takes Justin and Adam to Scotland. The continuing books in the series take Justin and Adam all over the world on their quest for the remaining lost Stones of Power.

Stanley: What is your best tip for aspiring authors?
Fiona: I have some great articles on my website with all the steps I took to get to where I am now. However, 3 simple tips should help.
i)                    Don’t give up. Even if you feel beaten, down, depressed, unappreciated, whatever, do not give up your project. Make your mantra for success and say it every day. (Mine involves being a world famous, best selling author with as much money as You-Know-Who)
ii)                  Make sure that your manuscript/book is as perfect as can be, and if that means spending money on editing and proofreading, do it.
iii)                Do not stop marketing: Even when your book is out there and you’ve sent off your press releases, don’t stop spreading the word! Do something every day (either online or physical) to continue your marketing thrust. Remember—marketing doesn’t sell books … marketing gives you exposure and exposure sells books (my thanks to marketing guru Penny Sansevieri of Author Marketing Experts for those words).
Stanley: What advice would you give children and teens as they prepare for life?

Fiona: Find your moral compass early in life and stick to it. It is easy to be swayed and influenced by friends and peers into doing something that you may later regret. We all know instinctively what is right and wrong, and life will test you later on. In my book, my young heroes face challenges they never thought they would ever encounter. Their reactions showed them who they are. Don’t wait for life to spring a big surprise. Get ready now by making your personal life code one you can admire and respect. Be the best person you can possibly be, every minute of every day. Don’t worry; it’s easier than it sounds!

Stanley: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership?

Fiona: I’d like parents to know that there’s a lot of educational material in the book that will help children enjoy their history and geography classes so much more. The story makes Egypt come alive for readers. As the heroes learn about their new environment, they remember things because they either need that information to survive (shifting sand and facing a giant cobra), or else to work out more clues (deciphering ancient hieroglyphics). Illustrations include a map of the journey and the Egyptian hieroglyphic alphabet. Clever readers will take note of the Tablet of Thoth right at the beginning…. There are clues hidden on it.

For parents wanting to introduce their kids to reading, or who would like to encourage their kids to read more, I have some wonderful articles on my website. Technology and computer-driven entertainment have had an impact on literacy and reading. Kids may need help discovering what a wonderful world is contained within books. Visit my media page on for fun, easy, and family-oriented ideas to make reading part of your children’s lives.

Places where book is available for sale: Amazon, B&N and publisher's website.


Stories for Children Publishing will be touring The Secret of the Sacred Scarab written by Fiona Ingram, which is the first book of the Chronicles of the Stone children’s book series, all month long in September 2011.

You can find out more about Fiona Ingram’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Ingram and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Ingram will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour. 

Also, don't forget to join the "Book Lovers" blog hop

Book Lovers Blog Hop (9/3/2011)

What is a blog hop?
A blog hop is a linky list that is SHARED ON MULTIPLE BLOGS. When several blogs put the same linky list code on their blog, the exact same list appears on each blog.

Blog visitors can submit their entries on any blog that contains the list. The entries will appear on each blog where the list resides.

Blog readers see the same list on each blog, and can "HOP" from blog to blog seeing the same list of links to follow: BLOG HOP!

Book Lovers Blog Hop:
Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!

All you have to do is post the Book Lovers Blog Hop and World of Ink Tour Banner below to your blog. Promote the Book Lovers Hop and World of Ink Tour on any social network. Tweet it once a day, share on Facebook and then follow others back that leave you a comment. By joining the Book Lovers Blog Hop, you are automatically entered in our Book Giveaway! 

There will be one (1) winner for this Book Giveaway.  
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Hop Rules:
1. Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matter
       2. Grab the button for the hop and place it in a post, sidebar, or on a blog hop page and let us know where it is in the comments section below. This will help the hop grow and gain us all new followers. It's a Win-Win for everyone!
      3. Grab the button for the World of Ink Tour and place it in a post or side bar. Make sure you let us know where it is in the comments section below.

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Book Giveaway Rules:
· Join the Book Lovers Blog Hop. (One entry)
     · Follow the World of Ink Tour and leave a comment per tour blog stop. (must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com. (One bonus entry per blog stop)
· Ask a question per World of Ink Tour blog stop. (One bonus entry per tour blog stop)

Please play nice and follow our simple rules! Make sure to FOLLOW AT LEAST ONE PERSON and as many other blogs as you'd like to have more follow back. This is what makes Book Lovers Blog Hop work, so if you're not willing to follow, please don't link up.

Remember to leave a comment on the blogs you follow to let them know you found them here at FAMILIES MATTER, and if someone follows you, be sure to follow back. If you follow us and leave a comment, we'll definitely follow you too!

Book Lovers Blog Hop is Open…

  September 3, 2011 at 12am MST and closes September 28, 2011 at 11pm MST!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Another Great Family Movie

Game Time: Tackling the Past

Next Family Movie Night is scheduled September 3rd at 8/7cst on NBC. Click to watch the movie trailer.

Family Movie nights are the best. It is a good solid story line with each movie and always some take away for family discussions. Break out the favorite snacks and sit back and relax with this one. Tune in Saturday night for an inexpensive treat that you can count on being family friendly.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Alaska is BEAUTIFUL....

Alaska is so beautiful. It was almost surreal to see the landscape so untouched on either side of the Inside Passage. A masterful creation to be sure.

 Our trip was a cruise on one of the famous kids cartoon ships, believe me when I say Disney does it best.
But out of the entire trip of good food, great service, and family time ( a reunion of sorts) it was the landscape and the mountains, the sea and the glaciers that are the most memorable.

Most of the open sea sailing was during the night and during the day you could see nothing but mountains, trees, and beauty. It has inspired me to write a Picture book series, take more photos every where I go, and appreciate untouched nature. It also made me appreciate home. No place like home.

Where was your most memorable vacation? Was it filled with constant activities or the peaceful sites of untouched nature? Let me know as I will continue to share my vacation thoughts in between some great book reviews and other family fun here on our blog.

Glad to be home. How about you?


*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.