Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Educational Post by Alice

There was an article last fall in a national newspaper that covered the topic of eager parents who were bypassing the picture book phase of childhood and pushing young book lovers forward to early reader books in the effort to, in their opinion, help their children gain academic ground.  Educators made the call that skipping any phase of development does not help a child achieve anything faster, and in fact, not fully exploring one phase of development detracts from the foundation being built. 
A group of authors and illustrators in the children’s book publishing industry have banded together to try and make every November “National Picture Book Month.”  They want to get the word out that as this generation of children grows up with more technology around them, it is not just the picture book itself that is important to children, but the experience of learning to read and having someone read to them.  Listening to the rhythm of the author’s chosen words and learning to make the magical connection of the written word and a colorful illustration is a creative process that generations have enjoyed and this group of children’s book authors and illustrators wants to make sure future generations get to be a part of as well.  After all, picture books are part of the unspoken message that make a child feel loved and makes the ritual of a bedtime story something to cherish.
The website for National Picture Book Month features a different children’s author each day, in the month of November, sharing individual thoughts on the important aspects of a picture book to a child’s emotional and educational development and what picture books meant to them growing up as a young child. The authors bring the unique perspective of remembering their childhood experiences and how, as adults, they contribute to the children’s book industry today.
November brings us the first event of the holiday season with Thanksgiving; a day to slow down in our routines, gather together and be thankful for what we have.  Some mistakenly think that because a picture book is made of fewer pages or aimed at very young readers that it is “simple.”  Every word and illustration in a picture book is painstakingly chosen and many are quiet masterpieces.  Don’t underestimate the picture book and its power as a learning tool and critical part of childhood. 
Be a champion in a child’s life and embrace the picture book all year long.  

Be well, 
Alice Knisley Matthias
SFC Education Writer

Book Review: Mary Tudor: Bloody Mary

Mary Tudor: Bloody Mary

Author: Gretchen Maurer

Illustrated by Perer Malone

Goose Bottom Books

ISBN: 978-0-9834256-2-5

Ages 9-13

Mary Tudor was the first Reigning Queen of England. She was also a Catholic. She believed everyone should be Catholic. She ordered hundreds of Protestants to be burned at the stake because they would not convert.

While it was wrong in doing that aweful thing, was there more to her story about why she was so hateful to the people who were not Catholic? Mary Tudor: Bloody Mary gives a wonderful view of the history of the first Queen of England. Students will be surprised at the facts behind the story and will gain a new appreciation for religious beliefs.

Mary Tudor: Bloody Mary is a factual historical book for kids. Author Gretchen Maurer did a fantastic job of bringing the reader into the past to sort out the legend. This is part of The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames and is good start on getting kids hooked on history.

Visit for more on this book and other books in the series.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Ralph the Dragon Learns to Fly and Meets the Blue Butterfly

Ralph The Dragon Learns to Fly and Meets the Blue Butterfly

Author: Barney Kowalski

Illustrations by: Dawn Phillips

This is a delightful story about Ralph the Dragon and his wishes about flying. Who could imagine that a large green dragon could fly? And many of his friends told him it could never happen. His parents were even doubtful.

That was until Ralph met up with the blue butterfly. The beautiful blue butterfly helped Ralph to understand that he could do anything if he believed. And so it was.

The illustrations are so fun, bright, and interesting that the reader can't help but love them. And the story is a heartwarming tale of dreams and believing in them. Kids will be delighted.

The book is available at . Be sure to check for more on this book and more great illustrations.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stanley & Tyke Bookman's November Tips

Hi! I’m Stanley Bookman and this is my brother Tyke. We come from Storyville. This is the place where all the characters in each story live. Where is Storyville, you ask? It’s in the World of Ink, and you can only get there by reading.

We’ve come to live here at Stories for Children Magazine to share tips with you on how to become better readers and have you help me spread the word about special events or holidays, such as . . .Family Stories Month!

November starts out with crisp weather and ends with the gathering of family and friends around the table, which makes November the perfect month to start telling and saving family stories. It also gives us an opportunity to celebrate and share ourselves by putting our life stories in writing. All over the country there are special activities and events showcasing the importance of family literacy and keeping family history. Family literacy programs bring parents and children together in the classroom to learn and support each other in efforts to further their education and improve their life skills. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate. So get out those pens and some paper and start preserving your autobiographies with future generations.

You can also learn about how to create and tell stories from the popular book, Using Stories and Humor: Grab Your Audience, which has been recommended by Toastmasters International. To find out more about this book, go to and put in Joanna Campbell Slan.

The month of November is also known for many wonderful holidays.. Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving… but did you know that November 25, is National Parfait Day? A parfait is a delicious treat of creamy layers usually ice cream or yogurt with fruit, all served in a tall glass.

What would you layer to make a parfait? Use your imagination and create something zany or something you would love to eat. Perhaps layers of chopped liver and cream for your kitten, or a creamy mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and pepperonis for a pizza parfait for lunch!

Parfait is a French word meaning “perfect”. Parfait, perfect… what other “p” words can you think of? Here are a few to get you started --- puddles, peas, punctuation, paintbrush....
Enjoy a perfectly, pretty and pleasing parfait on November 25!

Reading Tip:
Children‘s magazines are a great way to introduce young readers to the joys of reading. Unlike a book, a magazine has many stories, articles, crafts, activities and poems to entice a young mind. Besides colorful pictures and illustrations, children‘s magazines have tips and unknown facts children will want to know about, giving you the opportunity as a parent to take a trip to the library to find books on the subject matter.

Another thing children‘s magazines offer is a place for children to share their own writing or artwork. Many of the children‘s magazines like Stories for Children have information on youth submissions. I can‘t think of a better way for a child to find the love of reading and the magic of the world of ink than by seeing their own work in print and/or online.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends here at the blog and to each reader who blesses us with a visit here. We appreciate your support and wish you and your family a blessed and safe Thanksgiving Holiday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Rodger Meet Mr.Glee by author Jan Britland

The Adventure of Rodger Dodger Dog: Rodger Meets Dr. Glee

Author: jan Britland

Illustrated by: Mike Swaim

ISBN: 978-1-449-59362-9

Pages: 50

Ages: 5-9

Rodger Dodger is a sick dog. His friend knows Dr. Glee but Dr. Glee is busy at the zoo today. What should they do? Rodger Dodger Dog is turning green and his tummy doesn't feel good either.

This is a delightful story of a friend, a dog, and getting better after feeling sick, really sick. Green flu is the illness and readers will enjoy discovering what the cure for Green flu is. It will make a good story to read to those who are home sick with the flu but it will also make a great story to share over and over again.

For more adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog visit the author's website :

Look for other titles in The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog
                                                        Rodger Saves Bunny
                                                       A Christmas Story
                                                       Rodger Dodger Dog

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving Week- Do Something As a Family for Someone in Need.

This is the beginning of Thanksgiving week, a week of baking, cooking, and shopping. It is also a great time to be reminded to appreciate what you have and to share with others if you are able.

Consider donating to your local animal shelter, food pantry, homeless shelter, or community shelter for abused women and children. A single can of food or toiletry items  will bless someone in need.

Other activities that might be a blessing to others are volunteering at a local nursing home, donating decorations for the holiday, or helping at your child's school during this busy time. Raking leaves for someone who is not able, taking over a plate of food to a lonely neighbor, or visiting a shut-in through your community churches are also good ideas.

Whatever you choose to do, do it with a grateful heart and share a piece of yourself with someone in need. Make it a family activity so children can begin to understand that giving is a wonderful thing. You might even consider making one of these activities a new Thanksgiving week tradition.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: Day's end Lullaby by Children's Author, Karen Cioffi

Day's End Lullaby

Author: Karen Cioffi

ISBN: 13-978-1419691577


This is a charming bedtime story for young children that explains in simple text that it is time to go to sleep. The story is really lyrics to a lullaby and the music is included in the last pages of the book.

The illustrations are simple and will keep the child interested as the story explains how the sun goes down and the night comes, time for little ones to sleep. It is comforting and sweet, a story that can be read over and over and enjoyed each night. It will sure to become a favorite for little ones and is a great addition to your child's collection.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Review: Cixi: The Dragon Empress by Natasha Yim

Cixi: The Dragon Empress                                      

Author: Natasha Yim

ISBN: 978-0-9834256-5-6

The Thinking Girl's Treasury of Dastardly Dames

The inside cover: The last empress of China, Cixi fought ruthlessly to isolate her country from the West,while cloistered inside her lavish Forbidden City, ignoring the needs of her people. But was the Dragon Empress evil or just out of touch?

Review: The wonderful illustrations and the easy to understand text gives an interesting history lesson on the Empress of China. Readers 9-13 will be captivated by both the pictures and the interesting life of Cixi. This book makes reading a biography not only educational but entertaining and will hook the reader on learning more about interesting women in history.

You can find out more about this book and others in the series at

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Book: Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper


Written and Illustrated by Helen Cooper

Read by Kathleen McInerney

**Book and CD Set**

Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal

The latest addition to Macmillan Young Listeners' Book and CD set collection is Helen Cooper's ultimately endearing tale of friendship between a Cat, Squirrel, and a Duck: PUMPKIN SOUP (August 2009, $9.99). Cooper's luscious illustrations merge beautifully with this musical and animated narration, read by Kathleen McInerney.

Listeners of all ages will enjoy this read-along; perfect for a bedtime story and for learning the simple values of friendship and sharing. Deep in the woods in an old white cabin, three friends make their pumpkin soup the same way every day. The Cat slices up the pumpkin, the Squirrel stirs in the water, and the Duck tips in just enough salt. But one day the Duck wants to stir instead, and then there is a horrible squabble, and he leaves the cabin in a huff. It isn't long before the Cat and the Squirrel start to worry about him and begin a search for their friend. Rendered in pictures richly evoking autumn, Helen Cooper's delightful story will resonate for a child who has known the difficulties that come with friendship. Included at the end is a recipe for delicious pumpkin soup.

Additional Praise for Pumpkin Soup:

“Enchanting...” -- Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Housemates Squirrel, Cat and Duck team up for activities . . . until Duck wants to
be Head Cook and stir the soup. The trio spats and Duck waddles off in a huff . . .
Coziness returns when they . . . learn to share . . . Readers will linger over each
page, savoring the delicious illustrations."

- School Library Journal, Starred Review

"A steamy mouth-watering triumph of a book." -- The Guardian

HELEN COOPER was born in London and is the illustrator and author of several children’s books. Helen won a Kate Greenaway Medal for her exceptional work in children’s literature illustration for both Pumpkin Soup and The Baby Who Wouldn’t Go To Bed. She currently resides in Oxford with her husband, author/illustrator Ted Dewan, and their daughter.

KATHLEEN MCINERNEY’s credits include both classical and contemporary theater, as well as television commercials, daytime drama, radio plays, and animation voice-over. Kathleen has leant her voice to the spoken word for the works of bestselling authors such as: Emily Giffin, Linda Castillo, and Judy Blume.

Written and Illustrated by Helen Cooper
Read by Kathleen McInerney

ISBN-13: 978-1-4272-0740-1
ISBN-10: 1-4272-0740-2

Monday, November 14, 2011

Your Thoughts Would be Appreciated

We have been busy bringing you a great group of authors and their books on the World of Ink tours. We hope you have enjoyed reading and discovering some of these great books and will continue to stop by for the rest of the month. Families matter to us. But what matters to you, the reader is more important. With the end of the year approaching we would love your thoughts as we move forward with new and fun information here on the blog.

Which topics are the most helpful? The most interesting?

  • Children's book reviews
  • Parenting book reviews
  • Homework help reviews
  • News and educational legislature that influences our kids
  • Bullying
  • Health related topics
  • Pets
Which topics would you like more information on?
  • Education
  • Books
  • Parenting
  • Health
  • Recipes
  • Family Activities
  • Blogging
  • Working mothers
Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions or email us with other ideas. We have some great books for kids and children's authors that we will be bringing you but we are always on the lookout for other informative ideas.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review: What Do You Use To Help YOur Body? by Author Jewel Kats

What Do YOu Use To Help Your Body?
Author: Jewel Kats
ISBN: 978-1-61599-082-5

Genre of Book(s): Fiction / Disabilities


Maggie and Momma love going for walks. During every outing, Maggie learns about something new. Today’s no different! Momma has arranged for Maggie to meet lots of people in her neighborhood. They all have different jobs. They all come from different cultures. They all use different things to help their bodies. Maggie doesn’t just stop to chit-chat. Rather, she gets to the bottom of things. By asking the right question, she discovers how many people with disabilities use aids to help them out.

My Review: This is a great example of diversity and teaching children in a compassionate way about others and their disabilities. The story is sweet, the characters are real, and it makes a good story to read to children to open up the discussion or conversation about those that are different. The author has a wonderful way of bringing the reader into the story and helping them to see what it is like for others and how things like an eye patch, cane, or other aide can assist the person to be more capable.

Author Bio

Jewel Kats, 32, is an award-winning writer. She’s also one tough cookie. At the age of nine, Jewel endured a car accident. Her physical abilities altered forever. She spent weeks in the Hospital for Sick Children recovering, has survived eight leg surgeries, and currently walks with a cane. (Note: It’s fashionably handpainted!) Nothing stops Jewel. For six years, she penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps-Howard News Service and TorStar Syndication Services. Jewel has earned $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network and Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. She’s penned three children’s books, including: “Reena’s Bollywood Dream” and “What Do You Use to Help Your Body?” She calls Toronto home

Visit the author at her website:
Publisher's website:

You can find out more about Jewel Kats’ 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 Kats and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Jewel Kats about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Kats will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life. The show will be live November 7, 2011 at 2pm EST.

VS Grenier - Founder, Stories for Children Publishing, LLC

World of Ink Author/Book Tours (Book Your World of Ink Tour Today)

SFC Newsletter for Writers - Voted one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers by Writer's Digest 2009

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tips on Volunteering by Lisa Sellman

Lisa Sellman

If volunteerism is a measure of someone’s passion, then Lisa Sellman’s knows no bounds.

Sellman, a professional dog trainer and owner of a pet care business, volunteers periodically with no fewer than 16 different organizations, with her activities ranging from working at an animal shelter to taking disabled kids on nature hikes during the summer. She is a community activist and lifelong volunteer, and she knows what it means to serve others.

"If you want to feel good, volunteer," 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. "There are few ways to feel as good about yourself as volunteering. Now, I realize that many of us are wrapped up with work and family, trying to make ends meet, so the idea of volunteering can seem like it’s just another ‘have-to’ to write into the already crowded calendar. However, I know for a fact that if you do it right, it can be a great stress reliever and a source of true joy in your life."

The key to discovering that feeling is to let your passion guide you when you decide to volunteer, she added. Her tips for beginning volunteers include:

•Choose Wisely – Many people get "roped into" volunteering for an organization because their boss is involved with a charity or a family member is working on a community project. Those can be rewarding ways to enter volunteerism, but only if the project is a match for your personal interests. The most important aspect to volunteerism is to find what you love, and direct your energies into a charity or community organization that matches those passions. If you’re an animal lover, work with a wildlife rescue mission or animal shelter. If you are a nature buff, there are plenty of environmental foundations that can use an extra set of hands. If sports is your thing, there are plenty of community recreation centers that need coaches for needy kids enrolled in their programs. No matter your interest, you can match it to a cause that needs help. Just pick the right one, and your volunteer time won’t be a chore – it will be a joy.

•Watch Your Schedule – As much as you want your passion to direct your choice of project, you don’t want those volunteer projects to rule your schedule. Make sure you balance your volunteer time carefully so that your professional life and your family time doesn’t take a critical hit. Most organizations will take as much time as you offer them, but if you only have an hour or two each week, they’ll take that time, too. Your volunteer life should not consume your work or home life.

•Have Fun – Helping others is its own reward, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore. Even the most mundane task can be fun if you manage it with a sense of humor and passion for helping others.

"You don’t have to spend a lot of time as a volunteer," Sellman said. "If everyone gave even just an hour a week, every community organization in the country would be turning volunteers away, because they’d have more than enough. The key is to understand that volunteerism doesn’t have to take over your life, and that if you do it right, it will add far more to your spirit than it takes away from your calendar."

About Lisa Sellman

Lisa Sellman is a professional dog trainer and owner of a pet care business who volunteers for half a dozen charitable organizations. She believes that community service is its own reward, a message that resonates throughout her children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake. The book encourages parents and children to discuss being of service in the community and how this can lead to lives of compassion and connectedness. (

Friday, November 11, 2011

Book Lovers Blog Hop - November 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 Banners below to your blog. Promote the Book Lovers Hop and the November '11 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! 

Create your own banner at!
Copy this code for this banner

There will be four (4) winners and each will get a different book in the Book Giveaway. 

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 Tours and place it in a post or side bar. 
Make sure you let us know where it is in the comments section below.
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. 
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…

  November 11, 2011 at 12am MST and closes November 30, 2011 at 11pm MST!

Book Review: Walking Through Walls by Author Karen Cioffi

Walking Through Walls

Author: Karen Cioffi

4RV Publishing

ISBN: 13-978-0-9826594-7-2

Stories for children that show a life lesson in interesting ways and grab the attention of the reader from the first page are the kind of stories that children will read over and over again. And with all the video games and technology to distract a child from reading it is a pleasure to read a book like this one that will get their attention.

Walking Through Walls is that kind of book. It has adventure and a sense of magical mystery that will keep the reader interested. It also has enough deeper meaning that the reader will discover more depth to the story each time it is read.

The story is based on Chinese Folklore and is brilliantly woven into a realistic tale. The main character is a young boy whom the reader immediately relates to because of the boys dreams to have more than he has now. The lure of money and riches sends him on a journey to become an Eternal, one who has magical power. The boy finds that the power is really from within, as he learns to walk through walls.  He confronts his heart and his own conscience regarding right and wrong, good and evil as he learns the difference between what he thought he wanted and what was right.

This is a great book for children facing coming of age decisions. The story demonstrates the difference between what you think you want, and what is really important. It also helps the reader to understand that things are not always what they seem as the writer does a great job creating similar illusions throughout the story. I give this book 5 stars for excellence.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Book Review: The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog: Rodger Saves Bunny

Here is a review of one of the great books in The Adventures of Rodger dodger Dog.

The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog: Rodger Saves Bunny

Author: Jan Britland

Illustrated by : Mike Swaim

ISBN: 9781456534035

Rodger finds Bunny laid out flat and he doesn't know what to do. This is a cute story about friends, communication, and the concept of right and wrong. Rodger has chased Bunny forever, thinking all along that  Bunny was having fun.

When Rodger saves Bunny and nurses him back to health, he wants to go back to the fun part of chasing and running. Rodger is surprised to find out that Bunny has been running because he was afraid. Communication is opened and the two friends find a way to run and play so no one is afraid.

Kids will love the easy text, the bright illustrations, and the fun story in this adventure. The lesson of friendship is a life lesson take away from the story that will be read over and over again.

Learn about other Rodger Dodger Adventures at

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Documentary Channel Schedule Looks Interesting and Full of History.

For those interested in History and have access to the Documentary Channel on your cable, you might find the November schedule for programs pretty interesting. Here is the schedule:

November programming on Documentary Channel

Primetime Premieres

•November 6th at 8pm ET/PT - Niger ’66: A Peace Corps Diary

•November 13th at 8pm ET/PT - Space Tourists

•November 20th at 8pm ET/PT - Toyland

•November 27th at 8pm ET/PT - Autumn Gold (USTVP)

•November 22nd - JFK Tribute

Film Synopsis

November 6th at 8pm ET/PT - Niger ’66: A Peace Corps Diary

50th anniversary of the Peace Core, which began in the Kennedy administration.

In the summer of 1966 a group of 65 idealistic Peace Corps volunteers headed for Africa and landed in the dusty, heat-scorched desert of Niger. This is their collective story.

November 13th at 8pm ET/PT - Space Tourists

In his most recent work, Christian Frei turns to an age-old dream of man: to leave our planet as a normal person and travel into outer space. For 20 million dollars, the American Anousheh Ansari was able to fulfill this childhood dream. This documentary follows her journey into space and shows everyday life as it is on the International Space Station.

November 20th at 8pm ET/PT - Toyland

TOYLAND is a never-before-seen look at a place where fun is born and competition is fierce: The $22 billion dollar toy business.

November 27th at 8pm ET/PT - Autumn Gold (USTVP)

The film follows five senior athletes along their biggest challenge - maturity. As all of them are between 80 and 100 years old it is a race against time and personal degeneration. Nevertheless they are united in one common goal - to take part in the track and field World Masters Championships. Life will end soon - so what?

November 22nd - JFK Tribute

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, a day of films celebrating the life of this great president.

Films include:

In Search of Kennedy

Documentary about the myth and legacy of JFK featuring interviews with more than 50 luminaries such as Norman Mailer, Tom Hayden, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Michael Moore, Garrison Keillor, Chris Matthews, Arianna Huffington and Senators Edward Kennedy, Joseph Biden and Chris Dodd. Alec Baldwin and Elisabeth Peña speak the words of prominent writers.

Virtual JFK

In the era of nuclear confrontation, John F. Kennedy attempted to prevent war six times during his short tenure as president. He didn't live to face a seventh. VIRTUAL JFK: VIETNAM IF KENNEDY HAD LIVED takes up one of America's controversial "what if" scenarios, examining the question: Would the U.S. have escalated the war in Vietnam if Kennedy was not assassinated in 1963?

O’Kennedy’s Ireland

This historic and touching documentary follows President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, grandson of proud Irish immigrants, on a 4-day visit to the ancient family homeland. Landing at Dublin Airport on June 26, 1963, he visited both small hamlet and big city, entertaining all with warm words, and honest smile.


Senator John F. Kennedy running for the Presidential nomination of the Democratic Party against Senator Hubert H. Humphrey in the Wisconsin Presidential Primary.


JFK in the White House making decisions during a crisis. George Wallace stands in the schoolhouse door to try to block the integration of the University of Alabama.

About Documentary Channel®: Documentary Channel (DOC) is the USA's first 24-hour television network exclusively devoted to documentary films and the independent documentary filmmaker, providing viewers with round-the-clock opportunities to see fascinating, eclectic and award-winning documentary films of all lengths and genres. For more information on DOC, visit the network website at, in addition to or

Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair

Cinderella'a Magical Wheelchair

Author: Jewel Kats

Illustrations: Richa Kinra

ISBN: 978-1-61-599-112-9

Loving Healing Press

Cinderella's Magical Wheelchair is a fresh twist on the fairytale we all know and love. The wicked stepmother is still in the picture as are the wicked stepsisters, there is the prince, and of course Cinderella. The wonder of this story is the magical thread showing the reader that those with disabilities can have their dreams too.

A wonderful story like this is remarkable and long over due. Children will love the characters and will love and learn from Cinderella. The reader will see courage and determination as Cinderella doesn't let her disability or physical challenge get in her way, and they will be thrilled when the prince sees past the wheelchair and into the real person that Cinderella has become.

I give this book a 5 star applause for bringing the challenges of a physical disability into the forefront and helping the reader to gain a sense of understanding and compassion not only for the characters but hopefully for those in real life. The text with the great illustrations begin the conversation for the reader and the adults who care for them about those with physical challenges.

Visit the authors website for more about the meaning behind her books and what is to come.

You can find out more about Jewel Kats’ 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 Kats and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Jewel Kats about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Kats will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life. The show will be live November 7, 2011 at 2pm EST.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Interview: Natasha Yim and Gretchen Maurer

Natasha Yim is a children's book author and freelance writer. Her first book, Otto's Rainy Day was published by Charlesbridge Publishing in 2000. It was selected as a Kids' Pick of the Lists. She has written for Highlights for Children, Appleseeds and Faces magazines, and her new picture book biography, Cixi, The Dragon Empress was released by Goosebottom Books in October 2011.

Gretchen Maurer's writing has been published in Frances Mayes' The Discovery of Poetry, and in Adventure Cyclist and Highlights for Children magazines. She also co-wrote a short film, Alma, that has won multiple awards. Mary Tudor, "Bloody Mary" is her first picture book. She lives in Northern California with her family.

Natasha Yim’s current book, Cixi, The Dragon Empress and Gretchen Maurer’s current book, Mary Tudor, “Bloody Mary” are two of the six books (all written by different authors) in Goosebottom Books’ series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames. The series profiles six women in history who have earned dastardly reputations.

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

Natasha: I’m a children’s book author, freelance writer, and playwright. My first picture book, Otto’s Rainy Day, was published in 2000 by Charlesbridge Publishing. It was a Kids’ Pick of the Lists for that year. Cixi, The Dragon Empress, a picture book biography, was just released in October 2011 by Goosebottom Books. I have also written articles for adult magazines such as “Vibrant Life”, “AsiaPacific”, and “Mendocino Arts” as well as the children’s magazines, “Highlights for Children”, “Appleseeds”, and “Faces”. My ten-minute plays have been performed in venues around Northern California; Los Angeles; Sydney, Australia; with an upcoming play to be performed in Singapore this December.

Gretchen: I live in Northern California with my husband and three kids. I have a BA in English and an MA in Education, and I’ve taught high school and college English. I took a magazine writing class in college that I absolutely loved. The teacher asked us to analyze The New Yorker for sentence structure and punctuation, and he showed us drafts of pieces he was working on … his enthusiasm for writing was infectious. After that, I worked hard to improve my writing. My writing has been published in The Discovery of Poetry, and in A Cup of Comfort for Mothers to Be. I co-wrote the screenplay, Alma, a short film that has screened in film festivals throughout the country, and I’ve written for several magazines, including Adventure Cyclist and Highlights for Children. Mary Tudor "Bloody Mary," is my fist picture book. It’s a biography for 9 to 13-year-olds, published by Goosebottom Books.

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.

Natasha: Cixi, The Dragon Empress is one of six books (all written by different authors) in Goosebottom Books’ series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames, for ages 9 – 13. The series profiles six women in history who have earned dastardly reputations. Cixi was the last empress of China who rose from the ranks of a lowly concubine to become ruler of a nation. As with all the dastardly dames, she was a woman who wielded great power at a time when women had very little say at all. She was vilified for many things from stealing funds from the imperial navy to support her extravagant tastes to poisoning rivals. But was she truly evil or merely misunderstood? Would she still have attained this reputation if she had been a man? In addition to telling her fascinating story, the book (as are all the books in the series) is filled with cultural and historical details of the time in which Cixi lived. And it poses the question: did she deserve her dastardly nickname? And begs kids to consider the long-lasting effects and consequences of name-calling.

Goosebottom Books’ first series was The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses, also for ages 9 – 13. The publisher, Shirin Yim Bridges, who is also the author of Agrippina one of the “dames” in the Dastardly Dames series, was looking for history books for this age group about princesses who were the antitheses of the Disney princesses who sit around looking pretty and waiting for their prince to rescue them, but couldn’t find any, so she decided to write that series herself. It was very well received by parents, librarians, and teachers, and she wanted to put out a different kind of series about real women, but this time those who have gained more wicked reputations, but were also women who wielded great power at a time when women had very little say at all. The writers chosen for the project (through a national call for submissions) were asked to give their first and second choice of dames. I picked Cixi because in the last few years, I have been more interested in getting in touch with my cultural roots and heritage and I wanted to know more about Chinese history.

Gretchen: I was fortunate to be selected by the publisher of Goosebottom Books to write one of the biographies in the series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Dastardly Dames. Out of the 6 dames to be featured in the series, Mary Tudor, the first reigning queen of England, was my first choice. I thought she had the most brutal-sounding nickname, and I wanted to learn more about why and how she earned it and whether or not she deserved it. I wanted to find out if she did anything good, too, and to learn more about her childhood and who she was as a person. I dug into my research and wrote a boiled down version of all the fascinating stuff I learned, which, once edited and put into book form, became Mary Tudor “Bloody Mary”. It’s definitely a book that makes you think. I believe it’s important for girls to read books about powerful women in history, books that really flesh out their lives and explore the social/political times in which they lived. A lot of children’s books have been published about influential men in history, but not as many about women.

What is a typical writing day like for you?

Natasha: I write mainly between 5 and 7 am. before the kids get up for school, and for a few hours in the morning until I pick up my son from kindergarten at 1pm. Even if I can’t be at my computer when the kids are out of school, I’ll utilize times like waiting at doctor’s offices, sidelines of soccer games, grocery shopping etc. to think of plot, dialogue, work through problems in my writing projects.

Gretchen: During the week, I usually write for several hours each morning before turning to everything else I need to do. In the afternoon, I shuttle my kids around and help them with their homework and music; sometimes I sneak in some writing time when waiting for them at sports practice or music lessons. If I’m really on a roll with a project, I’ll write late into the night after everyone’s in bed and the dishes are done, or I’ll get up around 5:00 a.m. to work.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

Natasha: I love the creative process—creating worlds, characters, dialogue, seeing my story vision come to life on the page. I enjoy finding out about what makes these characters tick and I really like finding out what happens in the story because I often don’t know when I start out. For nonfiction, I’ve discovered I enjoy the research more than I thought I would. Instead of being dry and limiting, it has opened up a whole new world of learning, and really getting to know my subjects. Benjamin Disraeli has a great quote: “The best way to become acquainted with a subject, is to write a book about it.” I also love the vast yet supportive and close-knit world of writers. Only writers truly understand the angst of rejection and constant self-doubt of the writing life, and when I attend conferences and retreats, an amazing thing happens—I find immediate kinship and literary soul mates in the writing community around me.

Gretchen: Writing suits me because I like thinking things through carefully and at my own pace. I’m not as good at arguing a point or telling a story in person. I love how time falls away when I’m writing. It’s meditative, in a way, like how I imagine fly fishing might be for some people. And I like how writing allows me to think about and tell the truth, as I see it, and to have fun with language. I enjoy writing non-fiction because I learn so much while researching the topic. I also like puzzling through how to best organize the information and deciding which information to highlight, which to leave out, and so on. I enjoy writing fiction because it’s fun molding pieces of my life or things I think about or observe into new shapes and forms.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Natasha: Trying not to get discouraged by negative feedback. Also, the excruciatingly long waiting periods in publishing—waiting for an editor to respond, waiting to get feedback back on a project, waiting for your contract to show up in the mail, for an illustrator to sign on to your project, waiting for your book to finally hit the bookstores. The waiting is endless, and can be demoralizing because then all your writer’s angst sets in—maybe they didn’t like my manuscript, maybe they didn’t like my edits, maybe I’m just a terrible writer after all and I’ll never get another book published…

Gretchen: The times when I feel like I’m spinning around and around on a section I’m working on, making it worse rather than better. But it helps to remind myself that somehow I always manage to get out of that mode, and that, as trite as it may sound, tomorrow’s another day.

Do you make school visits or do speaking/book signing engagements? If so, please describe a typical presentation.

Natasha: Yes, I do. Because of the length of the book, it’s not easy to do a straight reading of Cixi, The Dragon Empress. So, I’ll usually talk about who Cixi was and tell the students a little about her life and how she came to earn her dastardly reputation as the Dragon Empress. I’ll read excerpts from the book. I’ll mention fun facts in the book, such as in the “What She Wore” and “What She Ate” sections and discuss what life was like in the time in which Cixi lived. I might also mention fun facts that I found through researching the book, but that did not get into the printed version of the book. For older kids, I’ll talk a little about the research and writing process, and about the question of whether Cixi and the other Dastardly Dames really deserved their dastardly reputation. We might play “telephone” and discuss the long-term consequences of telling and starting rumors. For younger kids, I have a “secret” box (Ching Dynasty emperors did not automatically pass the throne down from father to son. The ruling emperor had to write the name of his successor on a piece of paper, and put it in a secret box. Upon his death, the box was opened, and the new emperor announced). I’ll ask the kids to put their names in, then open it at the end of the event, and draw a name out of the box. That child will get to be the emperor or empress, get a Chinese crown to wear and a little gift box. I also do Skype school visits. You can find me on:

Gretchen: I do. Since I’ve taught high school and college English, directed an afterschool elementary program, and worked in my kids’ classrooms, I’m comfortable with and enjoy talking to kids about my book or my writing process. I especially like to show them drafts of my book or articles, so they can see for themselves the importance of revision. The type of presentation I do depends on the age of the kids and what the teacher wants me to focus on: I talk to the teacher and go from there. I’m also happy to talk about my book at bookstores or festivals. Feel free to contact me directly at

Is there any book that, when you read it, you thought, "I wish I had written that!"?

Natasha: I wish I had written the Harry Potter series and the Percy Jackson series. What brilliant concepts! And I just bought a really adorable picture book for my son called, Who Said Coo? that I wished I had written. Also Alice Schertle’s rhyming picture book, Little Blue Truck. Very cute book.

Gretchen: When I was a girl, I remember being completely enchanted by The Secret Garden and The Little Princess (written by the same author, Frances Hodgson Burnett). I wanted either be one of the characters in the novels or to be Burnett, because dreaming up either novel would be almost as good as existing within it. I remember feeling the same way about Harriet the Spy and The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, too.

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?

Natasha: My website is:, and my blog is: You can also find me on Facebook,, and on the Cixi, The Dragon Empress Facebook page:

You can follow me on LinkedIn:

And Twitter:!/natashayim

Gretchen: You can reach me by email at, and I have a Facebook book page for my Mary Tudor book: You can click here to order Mary Tudor “Bloody Mary” from the publisher’s website:, or the distributor’s website:

What are you working on right now?

Natasha: I have just completed the biography of Sacajawea for Goosebottom Books that will be added to their first series, The Thinking Girl’s Treasury of Real Princesses. It will be released in fall, 2012. Charlesbridge Publishing (publisher of my first book, Otto’s Rainy Day) has just acquired my picture book manuscript, Goldy Luck and the Three Chans. I also have another picture book and a middle-grade project I’m working on. But I’m going to take a short break from books, and work on some play projects through the rest of fall and winter. I’m currently writing a children’s play based on the Dastardly Dames for a local children’s performance art center.

Gretchen: I’m finishing up a novel I’m co-writing with a friend, targeted at the women’s fiction market. We’ve been at it for a while, so I cannot wait to complete it and send it off.

What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

Natasha: Follow the three P’s: Persistence, Perseverance and Patience. Don’t give up. If you keep working on your manuscript and submitting it to editors who like similar work to your project, you will find a home somewhere for your story. Writing and publication can both be an extremely long process. You have to have the stamina to stick with it if you want to get published.

Gretchen: This quote by Ira Glass inspires me, because it normalizes how challenging it can be to write something other people find interesting: “It's hard to make something that's interesting. It's really, really hard. It's like a law of nature, a law of aerodynamics, that anything that's written or anything that's created wants to be mediocre. The natural state of all writing is mediocrity... So what it takes to make anything more than mediocre is such an act of will...”

What advice would you give children and teens as they prepare for life?

Natasha: That most things in life are choices we make, and it’s important to learn how to make the right choices because the wrong ones can affect you for a long time to come.

Gretchen: I’ll go with my mom’s mantra: Be Yourself. It took a while to know who that was, but I always knew it was something to shoot for. I’ve realized that it’s essential to Be Yourself as a writer, too. See the world as only you see it, and share that viewpoint—your perspective; your take on a person, character, or event—the way only you can.

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

Natasha: On Nov. 2 & 3, tune in to The Authors Show,, to listen to my interview with host, Don MacAuley.

You can find out more about Natasha Yim and Gretchen Maurer’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 Yim and Maurer, along with the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Natasha Yim and Gretchen Maurer about their books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Yim and Maurer will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life. The show will be live November 14, 2011 at 2pm EST.


*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.