Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween



Happy Halloween. Be safe and enjoy. Send me pictures of your favorite costume and we can post them here on the blog. Also, if you had a great time and found a safe way to celebrate, share them here in the comment section. We look forward to hearing about your Halloween Night. Was is scarey or just plain fun?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

New Book: Media Release: Cybertraps for the Young by Frederick Lane



New Book Release: Expert offers tips on protecting children from cyber traps


We are addicted to our technology. Children in particular effortlessly navigate complicated menus, rapidly master the intricate seeming nuances of the latest electronic devices, and nimbly text, tilt, and click away their time happily.

But not all is well in this amazing wonderland. In fact, it has become a dangerous playground filled with risks, dangers, and hazards for the unwary.

Frederick Lane, attorney, forensic computer expert and author of the new book, Cybertraps for the Young, says that the risks of the technologies are many and continue to evolve.


Lane’s book is an eye-opening look at how today’s youth are using and misusing smart phones and the Internet in unforeseen ways and with terrible consequences.

“It goes far beyond simply the time kids spend texting on their cell-phone, playing on Facebook, or watching videos on You Tube. There are more and more cases of electronic harassment and cyber-bullying, illegal downloading and sharing of music, film, and video on peer-to-peer networks, predators in chat rooms, sexting, cheating, plagiarism, defamation, libel and slander, and a variety of internet addictions, the sharing of sensitive personal and financial information, and identify theft, computer fraud and hacking.”


Youth are easily addicted and even become seduced by the digital devices. They are unable to stop checking in on friends, focusing on the latest developments instead of focusing on the real things like sports and homework. The can find quickly and inadvertently themselves communicating with others inappropriately, spending excessive time and money, downloading illegally, or wandering into the seamy, dark and even dangerous places that exist in cyberspace.

The gadgets make it so easy. Added to this, parents have little real knowledge or understanding about what their children are doing until it is too late.


Cybertraps for the Young grew out of Lane’s research and work as an expert witness in litigation. It takes the mystery out of the technology and describes the risks drawing on contemporary news reports and legal cases. He also spells out what parents can do to take affirmative action, protect their children and maintain maximum control of their life.


One key for parents to getting control is to ask themselves several simple, straightforward questions before buying a child the latest electronic gadget:


1.What kinds of information can the device or software collect or distribute?

2.Can it be used to communicate with others, and if so, how?

3.How much data does it store, and where?

4.Can you child change the device’s capabilities without your knowledge/

5.Can you monitor your child’s use of the device, and if so, how?


A huge key practical issue is the monitoring. Short of surgically attaching yourself to you r child, (not generally a good idea), it’s impossible to know everything they’re doing online. How much monitoring is appropriate depends on your child’s maturity, and that of his or her friends, the amount of free time available, whether you’ve noticed or witnessed any disturbing changes in behavior. Fortunately, the forms of communication most likely to be problems can be monitored. For example:



- Your mobile phone company can be asked to provide you with copies of all texts your child has sent or received in the last month.

- With instant messaging, some services allow all messages to be recorded electronically.

- There is an ever increasing variety of third party software available that can monitor, record, and capture online activity and send updates to your mailbox.


“There is such a thing as too much sharing,” lane says. “The answer to avoiding cybertraps is to train yourself and your children to remain in control of your information, time, your attention, and how you manage communications”. His book is filled with tactical advice and proven strategies for protecting children from the hazards presented by technology Here are some of the valuable recommendations he provides:

• Don’t stop educating yourself. Keeping pace with the changes is a serious challenge but it is one that can be achieved by staying aware of what’s available, by investing a small amount of time, by asking the right questions, and learning what it takes to steer children past the cybertraps. Talk to your child, visit a few key websites, do some online searches and educate yourself.


• Learn and understand the impact of technology on your child. Be aware of how much time your child spends with the technology and what he or she is doing with the technology. Be the one to decide when it’s time for the child to take a break make sure the break occurs. Make sure you understand that the time a child spends texting is usually in addition to TV time. Be aware of how much time is spent on the phone.


• Don’t let computers and technology out of ‘common spaces’. The location of the family home computer should not be in the child’s bedroom. It should be where everyone can use it and see what it is being used for. Even if you give your child a computer, make sure you retain super-user administrative access to the entire machine. Do not allow for electronic privacy. Make sure the child knows, understands and accepts that you have the right and the expectation to see anything and everything on the computer at any time. .Understand that there is no pleasant resolution to a conflict of wills. You must monitor and be able to assure yourself that your child is not doing inappropriate or illegal things online.


• Install surveillance software and conduct frequent inspections. At the end of the day, children and children and parents are parents, the children must fully understand the consequences of abusing the rights that will be fully granted to them when they become adults. Parents must be just as careful with technology as they are careful about giving children knives, letting them ride bicycles, or drive automobiles. A smart phone or a laptop computer can become a dangerous instrument in the hands of an immature or misbehaving child. Surveillance of a child’s use of electronic devices in a parent’s responsibility. Taking appropriate action for misconduct is the best course of action a parent can take.

• Focus on what they do, not how they do it. It doesn’t really matter whether a child is a cyber bully by means of a laptop, a cell phone or an xBox 360 console, or instant messaging. The issue is not the technology, it is the behavior and use that gets the kids into trouble. The main objective is to teach and educate children about the appropriate use and the boundaries and rules of behavior. Some rules and lessons are not very complicated-don’t take pictures of people without their permission, or don’t be mean to friends or classmates, or don’t take or spread personal or embarrassing information. But others are much more complicated and require more structured education and guidance: intellectual property theft, identify theft, computer hacking, online purchases, sexting and sextortion. The basic approach is to work with your child to create a household code of conduct that can evolve and grow as your child matures and technology continues to improve.

• Get full access, passwords and full friend status. You must be able to actually see what your child is posting online. Condition the use of the technology with open acceptance and agreement for full access at any and at all times. If you encounter resistance, then be prepared to deny your child the privilege of using the electronic devices. Realize that of course, the period of greatest resistance, middle school through high school, coincides with the period when children are at the greatest risk of falling into one or more of the cybertraps.


The bottom line is that children need to understand the specific cybertraps that exist and how to avoid falling into them. Remember that supervising is not stalking. Be the one friend that they can trust. Open up channels to communicate with other important people in the community. Network with friends, other parents, teachers and the administrators in school district. Learn the policies and laws in your area. Your child may not like it, but have a down to earth heart to heart conversation with them and set appropriate limits on the use of electronic devices. Make your boundaries and enforce them.

Cybertraps for the Young



Frederick S. Lane

List $24.99



Hardcover, 324 pages

ISBN 978-0-9840531-7-9

Published by NTI Upstream, Chicago, IL


Available in bookstores nationwide and online. For more information visit www.fredericklane.com


This groundbreaking book looks at the issue of child safety online from a unique perspective -- the legal consequences that children can face as a result of the use and misuse of electronic devices. It is intended to educate parents, teachers, and school administrators about those risks, and to offer practical suggestions for minimizing the likelihood that children will stumble into one or more of the myriad pitfalls that lurk online. Among the topics covered:







* Intellectual Dishonesty;



* Copyright Infringement;



* Defamation and Invasion of Privacy;



* Internet Addictions;



* Hacking and Identity Theft;



* Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking;



* Sexting and Sextortion; and



* Obscenity and Child Pornography.











About the Author


Frederick S. Lane is an attorney, expert witness, and professional speaker on the legal and cultural implications of emerging technology. He has written six books, including most recently "Cybertraps for the Young" (NTI Upstream, 2011) and "American Privacy: The Four-Hundred-Year History of Our Most Contested Right" (Beacon Press, 2010). All of his books are available on Amazon.com or through his Web site. He has appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, the BBC, and MSNBC. He is the former chairman of the Burlington (VT) School Board. He lives in Burlington VT.


What People Are Saying

"… Cybertraps for the Young, is an eye-opening look at how children across the nation are using new and rapidly-evolving technologies in unforeseen ways. This marvelous book should be required reading for any student, parent, teacher, school board member or administrator struggling to combat the growing problems of cyberbullying, plagiarism/cheating, and sexting."

- Carol Bua Ode, Esq., Former Member and Chair of both the Burlington School Board and the Vermont State Board of Education

"Harassment, cyberbullying, sexting, child pornography, identity theft, obscenity, sexploitation, sextortion, illegal purchases, loss of privacy… and that is just the beginning. …[]… For parents, educators, and students, Cybertraps for the Young may very well be the best tool available to guide behavior and minimize risks in the on-line world.”

- Dr. Troy R. Hutchings, Faculty, Educational Leadership, Northern Arizona University

"Fred Lane has a gift: The ability to explain complex matters so non-lawyers can comprehend the important nuances. Cyber Traps for the Young should be standard issue for parents of all ages."

- Mike Brunker, Projects Editor, MSNBC.com

"CyberTraps for the Young is the perfect resource for providing parents and educators with an overview of cyber risks, coupled with mitigation strategies while presenting opportunities to connect and communicate with children."

- Michael Touchette, Digital Forensics Analyst, Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force

"Fred Lane’s knowledge of technology and its history gives Cybertraps for the Young's warning cries weight and substance. Lane has kept apace with youths’ interest in the next new thing and is clearly attuned to how our imagined sense of privacy is an illusion and even more so for our children. His scary stories of suicides, legal cases, and worst case scenarios can’t be easily dismissed. Lane’s brand of writing is one part good old fashioned parent, one part admiring techy, and one part lawyer. While his advice is provocative and controversial, it is worthy of consideration and will induce great discussions among parents and parents and kids."


- Dr. Sharon Lamb, Chair & Distinguished Professor of Mental Health, Department of Counseling & School Psychology, University of Massachusetts - Boston



"Cybertraps for the Young is a methodical exploration into the many forms of trouble a child's use of the internet can bring, and an empowering guide for parents seeking to apply time-tested values to an ever-changing set of modern problems.”

- Haik Bedrosian, Burlington School Commissioner and parent


Reviews here:

http://www.cybertrapsfortheyoung.com/Reviews/cybertraps-book-reviews.html

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tricky Halloween Treats by Linda Valderrama




Tricky Halloween Treats

by Linda Valderrama, R.D.H.

author "Brush Barry Brush"

October 2011



This is the season for wacky witches, ghosts and goodies, mummies and yummies! Everyone can enjoy Halloween with a few tricks to help protect your child's teeth.



Kids enjoy the idea of collecting a bag of Halloween candy. As parents, make sure to keep the candy in your control. Kids like to sort and trade it. Eating 5 or 6 pieces at once is better than eating candy all day long. Eat some, then put it away, each day depleting the stash. It is probably a good idea to make it "disappear" after a week (not by eating it!) Some of the candies may also be used in craft projects to make holiday decorations such as wreaths, decorated vases, gingerbread houses etc. Another alternative is to give away some of the candy to a school or hospital that is looking for donations of wrapped candy for the kids who are less fortunate and cannot go out for "trick or treat".



Sticky candies (caramels, taffy, bubblegum) are bad because they stick to teeth and allow acids to form that can break down tooth enamel. Minimize exposure to sticky types of treats and if they are eaten, try to brush afterwards.



Sour candies are popular now, but they are sour because they are made with acidic additives. Listed in the ingredients you will usually find acids such as: lactic, ascorbic, malic , tartaric, fumaric, phosphoric, or citric acid. Teeth suffer a double whammy being exposed to one or more acids plus sugar! "Concentrated fruit juice extracts" is another code word for ingredients that can be highly acidic. A PH between 1 and 5 softens teeth. Sour candies have a PH of 1-4. If you or your children do snack on sour or tart candy, rinse with water and then brush.



Treats like pretzels, animal crackers, string cheese, nuts, granola bars, trail mix, fruit, applesauce cups, cherry tomatoes, fresh vegetables cut up or cut into different shapes, make good snack alternatives. Kids usually do not like foods because of their texture, so sometimes kids will eat a raw vegetable over one that is cooked or mashed. Be creative and offer fun and appetizing alternatives to your kids. You can make sandwiches using a healthy type of bread like whole wheat or oat bran and use a cookie cutter to cut out small pieces in different shapes. You can try switching out bread and use a whole-wheat tortilla and wrap up just about anything. I have a friend who used avocado instead of mayonnaise in sandwiches.



Be sure to have your children get in the habit of rinsing and /or brushing their teeth after eating any treat. This is one of the most important things you can do to keep their smile healthy. Cultivate this ritual by rewarding and praising this good habit and introducing them to healthy, tasty snack alternatives .The kids will enjoy helping to make and create fun snacks.



Teaching a child to take proper care of their teeth and to make good food choices is no easy task. Tooth decay,however, is mostly preventable and brushing might be one of the most important habits they will acquire. As a parent or grandparent try to limit the most destructive sweets by using a little variety, imagination and have some fun doing it!


______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks Linda for great advice....

Fruit tray instead of candy.... and don't forget to brush.... Happy Halloween.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Book Review: The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye






Title: The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye


By: Jane Yolen and Jim LaMarche

Published by: Random House; Date: 2011

ISBN: 978-0-375-86663-0

Price: $16.99

Ages: 4-8

Rating: 5 stars

Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

Synopsis: Have you ever experienced the death of a pet cat or dog? Tiger Rose is a gray striped tabby cat. She was born in the city but now lives in the country with a boy and a girl who love her, a dog named Rowf who tolerates her, and two grown-ups named Mom and Pop who let her sit on the sofa as long as she doesn’t use her claws. She is surrounded by bushes, pine trees, butterflies, blue jays, moles, voles, chipmunks, snakes, starlings, ants, bees, sparrows, and goldfinches.

However, Tiger Rose has grown old and tired and slow. Her kitten days are so long ago that they are only small sparks of memory. Her legs sometimes hurt, and she no longer has an appetite for chasing food. One soft, spring day, she knows that it is time to say goodbye. “It is time,” she says to Rowf who is lying on the porch. She says goodbye to Mom and Pop as they drive off in their cars. She says farewell to the boy and girl as they walk to school. She says goodbye to all the rest of her friends. Finally, she cleans herself from head to tail, lies down under the roses, curls up into a ball, and falls asleep. What will happen then?

Overall thoughts: The loss of a beloved pet is a difficult time for children, and sometimes for many of us who are older too. When I was growing up, we had lots of cats and a few dogs, so we had our share of kids’ pet funerals. In the last almost twenty or so years, we have had three house cats in our family, and when the first two passed on each instance was hard on our boys. Author Jane Yolen, whose Owl Moon won a Caldecott Medal, tells a very touching and sensitive story, beautifully illustrated by pastel drawings by Jim LaMarche, which will help to provide a sense of peace and comfort to a child whose pet has died. Yes, the book is sad, and I must admit to having eyes blurred by tears when I finished it, but I heartily recommend it as a tender, loving tale that can well be called “as much a celebration of life as of its gentle end.”

Links: http://www.janeyolen.com/ (author), http://www.randomhouse.com/kids(publisher)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: My Brother the Frog





Title: My Brother the Frog


By: Kevin McNamee

Illustrated by: Alexander Morris

Published by: Guardian Angel Publishing, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61633-160-3; 1616331607

Ages: 4-8

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewed by: Irene S. Roth



Synopsis: This is a cute and humorous book about sibling rivalry. It is Kevin McNamee’s second book about this topic. What is this Thing was also published by Guardian Angels Press earlier this year.



My Brother the Frog discusses the problems that arise when one brother really bugs another one. The troubled brother decides that if he turned his brother into a frog, he wouldn’t have to deal with him as much. So, one day he turns his brother into a frog. But his parents get mad, and all the other frogs get mad too. And there are still some major drawbacks to having a frog as a brother. So, the brother tries to turn him back to the way he was, but this doesn’t happen. Instead, he becomes a large duckling and can’t even fit into the tub. So, he still bugs his brother. Then he turns him into a chicken. As a chicken, his brother keeps him awake all night. Then the brother tries to turn him back into what he was initially, but this time he becomes a penguin and lives in the freezer. The moral of the story is even if your brother bugs you and you get mad at him, he’s really not that bad. Maybe siblings should just accept their brothers as they are and not try to turn them into something they not.



Overall thoughts: There are many great lessons to learn from this book for kids. For one thing, it can open up some much needed discussion about the problems that siblings have with each other. Some siblings don’t get along no matter what and are always mad at each other. This leads to bad morale in the family and unnecessary conflict and tension. Secondly, it can teach kids that there is no point in trying to change their brothers or sisters. All they have to do is accept them for what they are and love them unconditionally. What a great message for kids.

For more books and products for kids, please visit Irene’s inspiring books and products at http://rothsinspiringbooksandproducts.wordpress.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Interesting Educational Post on SAT testing and Fraud.




October is traditionally a month for clear autumn days for school reunions combined with football games and homecoming celebrations. For high school students looking to their futures it means channeling all the test preparation they have accumulated and taking the college admissions examination; the SAT.

For a group of college bound students in a New York, Long Island school district, SAT-time meant handing over a fee that ran as high as $2,500 to an enterprising young man who was accepting payment and taking the test for students feeling the pressure to achieve impressive scores in the competitive field of college admission procedures.

Administrators apparently heard about rumors of cheating and began to compare a list of students who took the test in another district and found discrepancies in student averages and test performance.

The administration and school officials do not believe that this incident was an isolated event. In fact, those involved in the investigation suggest that as the stakes are raised in the competition for college acceptances and scholarships available, creative methods of cheating the system are increasing.

Students taking the SAT are free to register to take the test at a school other than the one they attend. This certainly seems to highlight the idea of making security an area that could use some improvement. One founder of an educational tutoring program based in New York takes the SAT every year to keep up with the changes in content. This thirty-something year old man claims he shows up every year to take the SAT, and aside from the odd glance at the sight of a somewhat older test-taker, he has never been questioned about his presence at the test. (The man is commended for wanting to stay relevant in his field.)


There are several arguments for having students take the SAT at their own school; security being the most obvious. Many feel that taking such an important examination at the school a student attends, with the sight of familiar faces and staff, would bring a psychological sense of ownership to the test-taker which would help with reducing student fraud.


In an education system where children are taught from the moment they enter preschool that there are good choices and poor choices that can be made, and that there are rewards and consequences that come with each; what happens when you cheat on the SAT in some way? Your scores are withdrawn and no other disciplinary action follows. No college or high school is ever alerted.


Be well,

Alice Knisley Matthias

Education Writer

Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Safety Tips






Halloween can be a fun and scary time for kids. Here are a few tips for keeping Halloween safe too.

1. Make sure masks and costumes don't block the vision of your child. Keep props easy to carry and avoid using any prop that has sharp points or edges to prevent injury while trick or treating.

2. Use flashlights, reflector material on the costume, or bright clothing to make sure others see your child, especially vehicles following or driving in the neighborhood.

3. Inspect all candy and treats before allowing children to eat them. Dispose of any that are not sealed properly. Fruits and homemade goodies should only be consumed from those you know, and not strangers.

4. One option to trick or treating might be a small party for your child's friends. Supervision by parents that you know, foods that you are preparing, and having the party at your house all work towards keeping your children safe while providing a fun atmosphere. Games, prizes, and a movie or bonfire make a great alternative to trick or treating for many families.

5. Making costumes from scratch can be added fun and can be done early to avoid the Halloween rush. It can be less expensive to come up with a costume from things you already own than to purchase ready made. If you don't sew, consider making a costume from cardboard or a box, painting it, and having your child wear it over sweat pants and shirt.

6. Dress for the weather. Have children wear warm clothing and sturdy shoes under their costumes to prevent illness and injury while going from house to house. October can be cool and damp so be prepared.

The most important part of Halloween... Be safe and Have fun.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Poetry and Verse: A Writing Contest- Write for Children.



Any parents or followers here who are writers? Here is a contest you can enter. Follow the link and you could be a winner. It may just be the start you need or the spark your writing needs to jump start your writing journey.

Visit the link here for details: http://www.thechildrenswriter.com/af627/

Feel free to share your work here after the contest. We will be thrilled to spread the word.

Book Review: The Cave Monster by Thomas and Peter Weck







The Cave Monster, by Thomas and Peter Weck, is different from most children's picture books in a number of ways. It's physically a first-class book, well made in the USA on heavyweight stock. It should last a very long time, probably hundreds or with a little care, thousands of readings. Cave Monster has more words than the average picture book, it's almost an intermediate reader, but doesn't quite cross that threshold. Another difference is in the back of the book there are two pages of ways to increase the learning potential, including many fun activities. However, I recommend that the first time you read this with your child, you simply read it, allowing them time to take in the brilliant artwork by Len DiSalvo. They'll want to read it again and again, so you can do some of the teaching or activities on other occasions. Now, break out of my usual review style to let co-author Thomas Weck tell you all about the book, and why he and Peter wrote it.


(Thomas) Come on - how can a Cave Monster take this seriously? To save L. Joe Bean from being eaten, his friends "attack" the Cave Monster with the oddest assortment of weapons you could ever imagine: a red flag, a bow and arrow that doesn't work, a canteen of water, a rock smaller than a pebble, and a sword no bigger than a pin. The Cave Monster will just swallow them up along with L. Joe Bean and be done with it. Or will he? These pesky animals might just surprise him - and themselves.

When our 4 children were young I used to tell them bedtime stories that I made up on the spot. One night, I came up with the idea of a clan of beans living in the forest with other forest animals. The two key beans were Lima Bear (good-hearted) and L. Joe Bean (the smartest of all the animals in the forest). The children identified with these beans right away because:

1: They had such good qualities [and it tickled the children pink that a tiny bean could be the smartest in the forest].

2: Children come into a world that is sized for adults, not for them, and this gives them many challenges - similar to what Lima Bear and L. Joe Bean [and all the other beans of Beandom] have to deal with. Children identify immediately to these types of 'sizing' problems.

In addition to making the stories engaging and suspenseful, very funny, I made sure to weave into the fabric of each story an important message such as: stick to your convictions, have tolerance for the differences in others, working collectively you can accomplish things that you could not accomplish on your own - these being the messages in the first three stories in order of their release. In subsequent stories, our messages will be: compassion, forgiveness, courage, look before you leap, perseverance, etc.

When Peter (my co-author) was in his 30's with 3 young daughters of his own, he would tell them bedtime stories. One day he approached me and said: "Dad, the Lima Bear Stories you told us were so good, so funny, and what I learned from them made such an impression on me. We need to share these stories with others. We need to bring them out as books." This was the genesis of Lima Bear Press.

We decided to set up a publishing company ourselves because we wanted to have the final say in all decisions. Years ago, I had a book on executive job-hunting published by one of the top publishing companies in the country. While they listened carefully to all my suggestions on cover, layout, marketing, etc. the final decision was theirs, and I did not always agree with them.

For example, we have an Extend the Learning and an Activities section at the end of each book. The book serves as the "platform" to now let the children verbalize themselves about the story (you can see what we put in those sections). Young children as so open and innocent and speak only the truth as they perceive it (it is often very funny how their minds process information). Their imagination has no boundaries and to let them explore their imaginations verbally in the context of the story transforms the book into a whole new and deeper learning experience. We would have been devastated if a publisher had decided to cut that out.

We found a gifted illustrator then we lined up one of the top national book distributors, Bookmasters/Atlas, and, by attending BEA for a couple of years, I brought onto the team 5 top professionals, all of whom are recognized experts in their respective fields. Barnes and Noble picked up the books on their website right away as did Amazon. We have had some newspaper feature articles on our books with more being scheduled. Great reviews have come in in response to Kate's outreach to let reviewers know that we exist. With a national distributor, our books can be purchased at any bookstore in the country.

We have already had an in-depth interview on a major PBS station and look forward to more television appearances as the word spreads about our mission and our messages and the fact that we put fun into learning. We are excited about how the launch of Lima Bear Press is going.

Peter and I have a passion about our mission: Helping children become lifelong readers, while giving children important life messages woven into the fabric of each story is, for us, an absolute requirement before we will bring a story to the public.

I'm back, thanks for the insight, Thomas. To put it plainly, The Cave Monster is one of the best books you can invest in for your child. It will last, and it teaches many lessons, some might be for when you child is older, so keep it around, and read with them often. After all is said and done that is the best gift for you and your children -- spending quality time with them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review: My Dog, My Cat by Ashlee Fletcher




My Dog, My Cat


Review By David Broughton



My Dog, My Cat is all that, and a bag of chips. When Ashlee Fletcher wrote and illustrated a book for two to six year old children, I don't think she knew how wonderful it would be. The words are right for a beginning reader. What makes the book a standout is the artwork. The bright colors, and stylish art make it enjoyable for any age. (Note to parents and grandparents: The large, clear print is easy to see, even with tired eyes) The art so precisely illustrates the words on the page, it's my opinion that this little book would be a great tool not only for beginning readers, but also for the developmentally disabled, or those learning to read English as a second language. Ashlee said: "My Dog, My Cat is an ode to the funny little things our pets do! If you look closely at my dog and my cat you'll see that your dog and your cat have a lot in common, and a lot of things that are different! Have the children compare my pets with your pets. Retell stories of funny little things your pets do. Remember tales of past pets. Be sure to talk about what makes your pet so special, different, and why your pet, dog or cat, pig or rat, touches your heart!" I won't give the ending away, but this cute little book subtly teaches a special, all-important lesson at the end of the story. This high quality book should last a long time; maybe to be enjoyed by future generations. Available wherever quality books are sold.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Quirky Kids' Zoo by Pat Brannon


By David Broughton



I found no flaws in Quirky Kids Zoo, though I thought it should be Quirky Animals Zoo, since it's the animals that are a bit strange. However, the author pointed out she meant that it's a quirky zoo for kids, so how you read the title makes all the difference. This beautiful full color book was designed to teach young children counting as the story unfolds. Written in lyrical rhyme, it sure is fine. (Yeah, I know, my rhymes aren't that great, but Pat's are!) Generally, rhyming books aren't good, most authors don't know how to make the meter work, but Pat Brannon does. Maybe it's her musical upbringing. Those who know music seem to be able to do beautifully metered rhymes. The illustrations by Jimena Pinto-Kroujiline are perfect for this book. If you have children or grandchildren who are learning to count, get them this moderately priced gem. It'll be fun for you too. Some of the pictures and rhymes will make you laugh out loud. In preparation for reviewing this book, I spoke with the author a number of times, she had me laughing most of the time; she's quite the fun, quirky character. When I asked for a quote for this review, here's what she replied:

Wonderful, weird, and wacky should give you clues.

You’re going to have fun before your day is through.

A cow might lick a lollipop or a birddog sing the blues.

You might see most anything at the Quirky Kids’ Zoo.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: The Bridge: True Story of Jason Veitch By Jackie Carpenter

The Bridge: Between "Cell Block A" and A Miracle is Psalm 91

Author: Jackie Carpenter

ISBN: 978-1-61579-684-7

Xulon Press

The Bridge: is the true story of Jason Veitch. The story is told by his mother, author Jackie Carpenter. It is a heartfelt account of 10 months while incarcerated for the death of a thief. It details  the true story from the beginning until the trial  and clearly depicts the emotional turmoil he and his family withstood while dealing with lawyers, detectives, and the press.

The faith of his family and the Bible verse Psalm 91 was the thread this family held onto during this difficult time. The story is honest and true, giving the reader a feel for the horror and the pain this family felt.

In a sequel to The Bridge, author Jackie Carpenter has also written Georgia Justice. This is a "Journey of Faith" and gives more details of the true story of her family's struggle with faith during the incarceration of her son Jason and a more intimate view of her own struggle with faith and depression.

Readers both religious and not will be able to relate to the emotional pain this family has endured. It is a heartfelt story of truth, both the good and the bad of family relationships. The story will inspire the reader to change an attitude, reconcile a relationship, and take another look at their personal faith journey. It is encouraging to those going through difficult times and a good read for all.

Georgia Justice is due out as a movie in 2013. A remarkable story to be sure and one that honestly shows how faith and life work together.


Visit http://www.bridgetoamiracle.com/ for more information or to get your copies.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Book Review: My Air Force Mom




My Air Force Mom
By: Mary Lee
Published by: Tate Publishing    Date: 2007
ISBN: 978-1-6024734-1-6
Price: $6.99
Ages: 4-8
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by: Kris Quinn Christopherson
                          
Synopsis:  This picture book explores customs and courtesies of military culture through a child's eyes. Author Mary Lee takes your child along with her fictional character Susie on a journey of discovery. From military uniforms through a military child's 'rite of passage' full circle to Susie's development of a sense of pride and patriotism in our country. My Air Force Mom shows children that the military offers careers to women as well as men. It gives military moms and dads a book to help their young children begin to understand military life. My Air Force Mom gives civilian parents a tool to explain mysteries of military life to their children.

Overall thoughts:  A winner in the Children’s Fiction Category of the 73rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Contest, this fun book does an excellent job of explaining the military life to children.  I really liked how it was written from the view point of the daughter, and that it was about her mom – another fantastic reminder to all that girls proudly serve in the military. The author was able to capture the pride the daughter has for her mom’s occupation, and the excitement she feels for being a part of the military community. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Guest Post by Author Rachael Benson-




Please Help me welcome author Rachael Benson to the blog today. She has a wonderful and inspirational testimony about living in a wheel chair. She is a great example for those who have a child with a physical challenge because she is such a positive example. She is someone these parents need to know.


As the last few months of the year are upon us and the holidays are just around the corner, may her story inspire you to reach beyond today and do something for others. She will change the way you think about physical disabilities believe me.


Please feel free to visit her blog or leave a comment. Rachael is always available to answer questions or to help others who may be living with a physical challenge. She really is an inspiration.


The Unexpected Visitor

I volunteer at my local hospital. I’m known as the “patient visitations” volunteer but I have many names. Nurses and doctors who have known me for a while and know what I do say, “Here comes the magazine lady.” But I like to call myself, ‘the unexpected visitor.” At the hospital, I knock on a patient’s door. When I hear “come in,” I enter with a big smile on my face as I say, “Hi, my name is Rachael. I volunteer here. Would you like a magazine? It’s free.” Patients are often surprised when I say that – for a couple of reasons. One reason is that they can’t believe something free is being offered to them. Once a patient answered, “What a delight.” The other reason people are often surprised is because I’m in a wheelchair, and I have cerebral palsy. Many people are surprised by the fact that someone with a disability is out in the community, let alone out contributing to society. They wonder how I can help others when it looks as if I need help myself. They might also wonder why I’d want to help others. No one says anything, but it’s obvious that people don’t know how to react because I’m in a wheelchair. Silently, their first reaction seems to be, What is she doing here?

My wheelchair starts conversation. People will ask, “What kind of illness do you have?” “It’s not an illness,” I tell them. “It’s a condition. It’s called cerebral palsy. I was born this way. I have a walker at home. I use the wheelchair in the community for faster mobility.”

People are also surprised by my openness and my ability to communicate. It makes them want to know more. Some patients may have been told by their doctor that they’re going to have to start using a wheelchair at home. They’ve never had to use a wheelchair before, and now they want to know what it’s like. “It takes a lot of practice,” I tell them. “It’s like learning how to drive a car. Even if you’ve been driving for years, every time you get a new car, you have to learn how that particular one works because each one is different. It takes time and patience. But once you get the hang of it, you can do it.”

At the end of a visit people are encouraged. Seeing me in my wheelchair often gives patients and their families the assurance they need that everything is going to be okay. Many times someone will say to me, “Thanks for coming by.” “You’re welcome.” I reply. “I’m glad to be of service.” People also say, “God Bless you.” I smile and say, “Thank you.” Volunteering at the hospital reminds me to be thankful for what I have. Some patients I visit don’t have any family at all, or their families live too far away to come visit them. I may be the only person they see besides a doctor or a nurse. If they want to talk, I’m usually the only one who has time to sit and listen to them. For these patients I call myself, “the unexpected visitor.” If I didn’t come visit them, who would? I’m able to brighten someone else’s day. It’s my pleasure.


Volunteering at the hospital and visiting patients also gives me a sense of fulfillment. People are always looking for ways to help me because of my disability. When I’m volunteering, it’s the other way around. I’m able to show them that having a disability doesn’t mean they can’t be a productive member of society. Even if they suddenly have to adjust to a lifetime in a wheelchair, they can still do the things they used to do, maybe just a little bit differently. I’m able to get people to start thinking, If this girl can do it, and she was born this way, then what’s stopping me? I always say that I was born with extra determination. If someone asks me, “Rachael, don’t you thinks this is a little dangerous?” I look at them and say, “Danger is my middle name!” It makes people laugh as they reply, “Well then, go for it!” That’s how I strive to live my life, and I try to communicate that to the people in my community. If you really want to accomplish something, nothing is impossible! Go for it!


Biography:
I was born at Tarzana Hospital on February 8, 1983. I have Cerebral Palsy. I was two months earlier than expected. I was originally supposed to come on April 8, but due to lack of oxygen supply to the brain, I got pneumonia in my mother’s womb, and had to come out early. I was not expected to live. I’m only alive today by God’s grace. I’m twenty-eight years old, and I’ve been a Christian since I was very young. I live in Valencia California with my mother. My dad died of a massive heart attack on January 27, 1995.

I graduated from College of the Canyons with my A.A. degree in Social Science in June 2007. I’ve been published locally in the Canyon Call, the college newspaper, in March 2005. I’ve also been published in The Santa Clartia Magazine in April 2009. My first published work was a rebuttal, written in response to an editorial headlined: “Religious Nuts Expose Spongebob Squarepants.” The other one was called, “Would You Like A Magazine?” It was about the volunteer work that I do at the hospital, passing out magazines, and bringing smiles to patients. A lot of people don’t expect a person with a disability to be helping others. They’re surprised! I also have a blogspot. http://rachaelsadventuresinfaith.blogspot.com/

My passion for writing began with Sesame Street books and Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I attend Grace Baptist Church where I help out with the Awana program, where I get many of my story ideas. The idea for The Hunt for heaven sparked from a child who asked, “What will heaven be like?” The story is built around the parable of the hidden treasure found in Matthew 13:44.

Now, I’m working on a second book called The Special Gift. The story line revolves around a girl named Rebecca who is in a wheelchair and also has CP. Rebecca likes to dance, but how can someone in a wheelchair dance? My goal in writing this story is to spread the gospel and raise disability awareness- to show people that having a disability does not mean deaf and dumb. People with disabilities are able to contribute to society, just in a different way. I’ve got a lot to say and I’m going to say it! As my writing advances, I want to be very similar to Joni Eareckson Tada. She is paralyzed from the waist down from a diving accident at the age of seventeen. Now she has her own disability ministry in Aguora Hills California called Joni and Friends. She helps people with disabilities and their families cope with the daily challenges of disability as well as address the spiritual aspect of it. She has written many books. I call her my spiritual mentor. I want to be the next Joni. My goal is to minister to kids and their families through my writing for many years to come.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review: When Monsters Get Lonely by Author Maha Huneidi


When Monsters Get Lonely

Author: Maha Huneidi

Illustrator: Karen McDonald

ISBN: 13-978-1461063070

2011

Monsters tend to come out after dark but this story has a different spin. Hannah is afraid of  the dark because the monster comes out and scares her. Grandma tells her that she can choose to be afraid or she can make a different choice. 

The author does a wonderful job of helping the reader see how it is a choice to be afraid and a choice to be joyful. Hannah learns to make the choice to see the monster in a different light discovering that the monster isn't there to scare her but is there because he is lonely.

This is one of my favorite books. It is a delightful read, has a life lesson woven throughout the text, and has an imaginative ending. Children will have a new attitude about bedtime after reading this comforting bedtime story.

Book Reviews: Quincy Moves to The Desert by Author Camille Matthews




Quincy Moves to the Dessert

Author Camille Matthews

ISBN: 978-0-9819240-1-4

A Pathfinder Equine Publications Book

2010

Picture Book: Ages 5-10



From the back of the book: In this story about adventure, friendship and hope, Quincy goes West and learns that horses are everywhere.

Quincy must move and he and his friend Beau travel in a horse trailer for a trek across nine states to a new home with their owner. Quincy has fears and concerns about finding new friends, being in a new barn, and feeling like he belongs. Children often feel the same way.

Quincy discovers that there are many new horses, long riding trails, and many good things about moving to a new home. The reader will feel the same fears and the hopes of Quincy from this wonderful story about how Quincy adapts to his new home in the desert. The pictures are beautiful and the story will keep children interested until the end of the book.

Author, Camille Matthews is an award winning author with her books about Quincy. These books will become a favorite with children. You can find more information about Quincy at www.quincythehorse.com

Thursday, October 13, 2011

World Egg Day- October 14





Hi! I’m Stanley Bookman. I 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.




I’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 . . . World Egg Day!



You may like them fried, scrambled, poached, deviled, hard boiled or a variety of other methods. No matter the form, the egg is a much utilized, healthy and nutritionally packed food. Eggs have been a dietary staple in many countries for hundreds of years.



World Egg Day was declared by the International Egg Commission in 1996. It is a food holiday observed on the second Friday of each October. In 2011, World Egg Day falls on October 14th. Countries around the world sponsor campaigns to promote the “incredible, edible egg”. From Mexico to China and the U.S. to Great Britain, you will find clever, resourceful and unique uses of the egg.



How do you really like your eggs? Spend World Egg Day finding out. You may find a new favorite way to make your egg. Maybe you’ll find that you really enjoy playing with your eggs.

You could try decorating them. Would you like to try a 1,000 year old egg from China? Or maybe you’d rather enjoy a game of egg throwing? Any way you try it, the egg is a unique, nutritionally power packed food source.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Try This Fun Recipe


Try this fun recipe. Send a picture of your cake and we will post it to the blog.





Strawberry Ghost Graveyard Cake


Prep time: 30 minutes

Bake time: 25 minutes

Yield 12 servings

Serving Size: 1 slice



Strawberry Ghosts and Tombstones

1 container (1 pound) Driscoll’s strawberries, divided

3 Milano cookies

1 cup white candy melts

2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Assorted Halloween sprinkles,like Jumbo Ghost Sprinkles

6 cream filled chocolate cookies, Oreo’s



Graveyard Cake

1 container (6 ounces) Driscoll’s blueberries

¾ cup water

1 package (18.25 ounce) devil food cake mix

1/3 cup oil

3 large eggs



Raspberry Strawberry Filling

1 container (6 ounce) Driscoll’s raspberries

1 ½ cup coarsely chopped Driscoll’s strawberries, divided

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch



Chocolate Ganache Whipped Frosting

2 cups heavy cream

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Garnish

1 container (6 ounces) Driscoll Blueberries

1 container (6 ounces)Driscoll Raspberries



Strawberry Ghosts and Tombstones

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.



Combine candy melts and shortening in large microwave safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir thoroughly. Continue to microwave and stir at 30 seconds intervals until smooth and completely melted.



Dip strawberries into candy melt to coat completely, let excess drip off. Carefully place stem side down onto prepared cookie sheet. Let stand at room temperature or store in refrigerator 30 minutes or until coating is firm



Using melted chocolate place dots of chocolate as glue and arrange ghost sprinkles for eyes. Pipe on eyebrows and mouth, let stand until firm.



Arrange cookies on tray. Spoon melted chocolate into a pastry bag fitted with Wilton tip # 3. Pipe saying onto each cookie.



Let stand at room temperature until coating is firm. In food processor blend cookies until fine crumbs, set aside.





Graveyard Cake

Heat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour 2 (9-inch) square baking pans. Combine in food processor 1 cup blueberries and water. Puree 1 minute or until smooth



Blend cake mix, blueberry mixture, oil and eggs in large bowl on low speed just until moistened. Scrape sides of bowl.



Beat at medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in remaining blueberries. Divide batter evenly into prepared pans.



Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely.



Raspberry Strawberry Filling

Combine raspberries and 1 cup coarsely chopped strawberries in food processor. Puree 1 minute or until smooth.



Press through a sieve to remove seeds. Whisk sugar, cornstarch and berry puree in small saucepan until blended.



Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and boil 1 minute.



Remove from heat stir in ½ cup chopped strawberries; set aside. Cool completely.





Chocolate Ganache Whipped Frosting

Bring heavy cream to a boil over medium- high heat in medium saucepan. Whisk in chocolate. Whisking constantly until the chocolate is completely melted.



Pour chocolate into a bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap, chill 2 hours.



Beat on low to medium speed 30 seconds or just until ganache is thickened and begins to hold a shape. Do not overbeat.





To Assemble:

Place one cake layer on serving plate. Spread raspberry strawberry filling to ½ inch from edge. Top with second cake layer.



Frost sides and top with ganache whipped frosting. Arrange blueberries around top edge of cake and raspberries around bottom edge of cake.



Sprinkle center top with cookie crumbs. Arrange strawberry ghosts and press cookies into cake, for tombstones.





Yields

Raspberry Strawberry filling= 1 ¼ cup

Whipped Ganache yield 2 ½ cups



Healthy Tips:

Prepare cake with eggbeaters





Recipe courtesy of Driscoll’s, Photograph courtesy of Driscoll’s.

Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Interview with Children's Author: Maha Huneidi


Please help me welcome children's author, Maha Huneidi to our blog today.

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




I always loved writing, but never thought I’d publish a book because I thought of writing as just a hobby. After reading Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich,” I decided to write down my goals, and when it came down to it, I had no idea what I was passionate about, until one day when I was writing I noticed how exhilarated I felt, so my goal became to publish “When Monsters Get Lonely” as well as my website http://www.empowerment-and-kids.com/index.html. They were both launched together.

2. 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.

“When Monsters Get Lonely” is a picture book about a little girl who is afraid of the dark and of monsters, but she gets over her fear when her grandmother explains how her thoughts really create her life. I decided to take the self publishing route because at my age I can’t afford to wait, and I know that it would take ages to be accepted by a traditional publisher. I went with CreateSpace, and it was a positive experience. I had a great team; they were very helpful and accommodating.

I decided to write about monsters and the dark because I was afraid as a child and I know how debilitating fear can be for a small child. My granddaughter loves monster movies and stories, and when my son told me how she refused to stop watching scary movies even though she had nightmares, the story became about her. I wanted to give her the tools to get over her fear, which is why Grams explains to Hannah that our thoughts create our lives and leaves it to her to deal with her fear on her own terms.

3. What is a typical writing day like for you?

I don’t have a schedule, and it’s easy for me to work at any time because my sons are grown men, so I don’t have to take care of the kids. I’m not an early riser because I’m an insomniac. Besides, I do my best thinking at night, but I write whenever I get an idea. It could be at night or in the middle of the day. My laptop is right next to me and I just open up a word document and start writing. It’s as simple as that. I used to write long hand, and at first I found the transition very difficult. It took me some time to accept it, but when I got used to Word I found that it makes much more sense. I can carry everything on my computer and I don’t have to carry loads of copy books or paper.

4. What do you enjoy most about writing?



I love it when an idea works. It’s so uplifting and empowering; it’s like a meditation to me because I have to go within in order to bring out the next idea to continue the writing process. I love trying different outcomes with an idea and seeing which one works better, so I’ll write something in several different ways and then choose to build up on one of them.

5. What is the most difficult part of writing?

It’s not the writing that’s difficult, it’s the editing and proofing, and I’m not talking about editing the story line. I’m always doing that anyway, but it’s the punctuation and the technical stuff. I leave that to my editor in the end, but I have to do the proofing, which is so tedious. I have my family help with that too because you need more than one pair of eyes to catch typos.

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

Well this is my first book and I haven’t done any yet, but I am looking to do book signing and book reading engagements.

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

I’ve read many books that I absolutely loved, but never wished I had written them because they are unique to their authors and I want my books to be unique to me.

8. 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?

Yes, my website is http://www.empowerment-and-kids.com/

9. What are you working on right now?


Mostly, I’m working on my website, but I also have two children’s books in the working. One is a Hannah book, but it’s not about monsters, it’s about whining. The other is about crabs. I’ve had to leave them alone for a while though, because I had to concentrate on “When Monsters Get Lonely” and on my website which was launched at the same time as the book. Now I’m in the process of moving as well, so these three things are taking up most of my time at the present.

10. What is your best tip for aspiring authors?


-Write, write, write. Even if you’re not going to publish it, just write it for yourself. It’s good practice and you never know, you may come to use it one day.

-If you’re going to self publish make sure to get your work professionally edited.



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



-Choose your friends carefully. Good friends don’t ask you to do stuff you’re not comfortable with.

-Be your own person; don’t let yourself be lead by other people. If you have to follow make sure you’re following good people and good idea.

-Cultivate the confidence to set the trends yourself.

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



I would like to thank anyone who has read my book or my website and would love to hear their feedback. They can find my contact on my website http://www.empowerment-and-kids.com/contact-maha.html. I would also like to invite your readers to participate in the playing roles challenge on my website and write about it; http://www.empowerment-and-kids.com/playingroles.html. It’s a fun way to spend the day with the kids playing pretend roles, and participants are invited to create their own page on my website to share with family and friends.

Thank you so much for visiting. Blessings for success on this book and your future projects.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Cool Morning Breakfast Treat: Easy




School mornings can be rushed and breakfast can be a hectic time. Try this easy breakfast casserole for a warm and delicious breakfast on these fall crisp mornings.

8 frozen hash brown patties
1 cup of sausage crumbled and cooked
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
5 eggs
1 can of evaporated milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp nutmeg ( optional)

Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Layer the hash brown patties to cover the bottom of the pan.
Spread the crumbled sausage over the hash browns then sprinkle with 1/2 the cheese. Beat the eggs with the evaporated milk and the seasoning and pour over the ingredients in the pan. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden. Cut and serve.

You can put the casserole together, cover and refrigerate the night before, then pop it in the oven as the kids get ready for school. Make two batches and freeze one. Yummy.

Be sure to send me some of your favorite fall recipes to share.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Welcome Children's Author: Camille Matthews

Joining us today is Camille Matthews, author of Quincy Moves to the Desert. This is a children’s book geared toward ages 5-9.


Thank you for joining us today, Camille. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

I grew up in Lexington, KY. I am a life long equestrian and it is not surprising that I write about horses. I have also been a clinical social worker and psychotherapist for many years and am certified to provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. The real Quincy is now a 20 year old Quarterhorse who is a therapy horse in my program. We live in Reading PA.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I loved writing as a child and teen, but I changed directions in college and grad school and became a clinical social worker. I have done a good bit of technical writing in my professional role but never from a creative perspective. About 8 years ago I had the idea for the Quincy the Horse Books and it grew into a series of 4 books. The first two, Quincy Finds A New Home and Quincy Moves to the Desert have been published.

Why did you decide to write for children?

Quincy is a real horse and the stories were inspired by adventures he had early in his life. They are reminiscent of everyday challenges that children face. I sensed that Quincy was a character they would relate to and bond with. Another factor was that I began to write the books during a period when I was taking care of my elderly mother who was ill, and I was more in touch with memories of my own childhood.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

I would say it is different. The two main differences are that there are fewer words and there are pictures. At times writing the text is like writing poetry where every word has to count and there is a rhythm. I specifically wanted to create a picture book because my goal was not just to tell the story but to create a world that children could enter and experience. I believe the melodic style and the vibrant artwork are what make the books special.

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

My work as a therapist has given me a lot of insight into what children feel and need, and I have always had a good rapport with them. I like the feeling that I am providing them with a role model in Quincy’s adventures. Quincy is an observer of the world around him. He tries to solve problems by struggling to get outside of his comfort zone and learn new things. He is able to do this because he has a mentor in Beau, an old horse who is his best friend. He is also motivated and comforted by his love for his owner. I hope to convey that it is ok to have feelings and to ask for help with problems because I think this is an incredibly important coping skill for children to have.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

Quincy Moves to the Desert is the second book in the Quincy the Horse series. In this story Quincy goes on a BIG TRIP. He has doubts about the journey at first but his trusted friend, Beau, explains that in the West they will find “Trails as far as a horse can see.” Before he knows it, Quincy is soaking up the sights. He discovers different parts of the US and all the jobs horses do in different places. Quincy even begins to dream about his own possibilities and wonder what kind of horse he is and what job he will find in the desert. It is a story of self-discovery.

What inspired you to write it?
In 1998 I made a life-changing move to New Mexico from upstate New York where I had lived for many years. The real Quincy made that move with me. Those events gave me the initial idea. At first it was more of a travel story. In the middle of my writing the story, Quincy began to dream about his own possibilities and the issue of self-discovery became more central. As with many authors, I find that characters have minds of their own.

Where can readers purchase a copy?


Amazon, Barnes and Noble and many independent bookstores. The Quincy the Horse Books are also in public libraries. If a library does not have it, I hope readers will ask the librarian to order it.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Our website http://www.quincythehorse.com/ has lots of information about the two books in the series and pictures of selected illustrations. It is also possible to order a copy on the website. Kids can even meet the real Quincy on the Kids’ Page.

I have a blog called Pathfinder Pursuits and it is a good place to see all the things I am interested in and learn more about me. The address is Pathfinderpursuits.wordpress.com and I always love new subscribers.

What is up next for you?

The third and fourth books in the series are in the pipe line. The third book in the series is called Quincy and Buck. It is about Quincy’s fear of trail riding alone in the desert. Beau advises him to get out there anyway and practice not being afraid. He has the idea of following in the footsteps of Buck, an experienced trail horse. Unfortunately Buck does not like Quincy and turns out to be a bully as well.

Do you have anything else to add?

I have a creative writing project called Build A Book that involves 2nd and 3rd graders joining into writer/illustrator teams and writing, illustrating and designing their own children’s picture book. Teachers like it because it involves the use of language arts, fines arts and computer resources and collaboration among the classroom teachers and specialists. If a classroom teacher decides to use it, I can often come and begin the project with a reading of my books. A more detailed description is available on the website and I can be reached through the website contact if there are any questions.

Thank you for spending time with us today, Camille. We wish you much success.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Guest Post by Rachael Benson

Please Help me welcome author Rachael Benson to the blog today. She has a wonderful and inspirational testimony about living in a wheel chair. She is a great example for those who have a child with a physical challenge because she is such a positive person. She is someone these parents need to know.

As the last few months of the year are upon us and the holidays are just around the corner, may her story inspire you to reach beyond today and do something for others. She will change the way you think about physical disabilities believe me.

 Please feel free to visit her blog or leave a comment. Rachael is always available to answer questions or to help others who may be living with a physical challenge. She really is an inspiration.



The Unexpected Visitor



I volunteer at my local hospital. I’m known as the “patient visitations” volunteer but I have many names. Nurses and doctors who have known me for a while and know what I do say, “Here comes the magazine lady.” But I like to call myself, ‘the unexpected visitor.” At the hospital, I knock on a patient’s door. When I hear “come in,” I enter with a big smile on my face as I say, “Hi, my name is Rachael. I volunteer here. Would you like a magazine? It’s free.” Patients are often surprised when I say that – for a couple of reasons. One reason is that they can’t believe something free is being offered to them. Once a patient answered, “What a delight.” The other reason people are often surprised is because I’m in a wheelchair, and I have cerebral palsy. Many people are surprised by the fact that someone with a disability is out in the community, let alone out contributing to society. They wonder how I can help others when it looks as if I need help myself. They might also wonder why I’d want to help others. No one says anything, but it’s obvious that people don’t know how to react because I’m in a wheelchair. Silently, their first reaction seems to be, What is she doing here?

My wheelchair starts conversation. People will ask, “What kind of illness do you have?” “It’s not an illness,” I tell them. “It’s a condition. It’s called cerebral palsy. I was born this way. I have a walker at home. I use the wheelchair in the community for faster mobility.”

People are also surprised by my openness and my ability to communicate. It makes them want to know more. Some patients may have been told by their doctor that they’re going to have to start using a wheelchair at home. They’ve never had to use a wheelchair before, and now they want to know what it’s like. “It takes a lot of practice,” I tell them. “It’s like learning how to drive a car. Even if you’ve been driving for years, every time you get a new car, you have to learn how that particular one works because each one is different. It takes time and patience. But once you get the hang of it, you can do it.”

At the end of a visit people are encouraged. Seeing me in my wheelchair often gives patients and their families the assurance they need that everything is going to be okay. Many times someone will say to me, “Thanks for coming by.” “You’re welcome.” I reply. “I’m glad to be of service.” People also say, “God Bless you.” I smile and say, “Thank you.” Volunteering at the hospital reminds me to be thankful for what I have. Some patients I visit don’t have any family at all, or their families live too far away to come visit them. I may be the only person they see besides a doctor or a nurse. If they want to talk, I’m usually the only one who has time to sit and listen to them. For these patients I call myself, “the unexpected visitor.” If I didn’t come visit them, who would? I’m able to brighten someone else’s day. It’s my pleasure.

Volunteering at the hospital and visiting patients also gives me a sense of fulfillment. People are always looking for ways to help me because of my disability. When I’m volunteering, it’s the other way around. I’m able to show them that having a disability doesn’t mean they can’t be a productive member of society. Even if they suddenly have to adjust to a lifetime in a wheelchair, they can still do the things they used to do, maybe just a little bit differently. I’m able to get people to start thinking, If this girl can do it, and she was born this way, then what’s stopping me? I always say that I was born with extra determination. If someone asks me, “Rachael, don’t you thinks this is a little dangerous?” I look at them and say, “Danger is my middle name!” It makes people laugh as they reply, “Well then, go for it!” That’s how I strive to live my life, and I try to communicate that to the people in my community. If you really want to accomplish something, nothing is impossible! Go for it!


Biography:

I was born at Tarzana Hospital on February 8, 1983. I have Cerebral Palsy. I was two months earlier than expected. I was originally supposed to come on April 8, but due to lack of oxygen supply to the brain, I got pneumonia in my mother’s womb, and had to come out early. I was not expected to live. I’m only alive today by God’s grace. I’m twenty-eight years old, and I’ve been a Christian since I was very young. I live in Valencia California with my mother. My dad died of a massive heart attack on January 27, 1995.


I graduated from College of the Canyons with my A.A. degree in Social Science in June 2007. I’ve been published locally in the Canyon Call, the college newspaper, in March 2005. I’ve also been published in The Santa Clartia Magazine in April 2009. My first published work was a rebuttal, written in response to an editorial headlined: “Religious Nuts Expose Spongebob Squarepants.” The other one was called, “Would You Like A Magazine?” It was about the volunteer work that I do at the hospital, passing out magazines, and bringing smiles to patients. A lot of people don’t expect a person with a disability to be helping others. They’re surprised! I also have a blogspot. http://rachaelsadventuresinfaith.blogspot.com/

My passion for writing began with Sesame Street books and Mister Rogers Neighborhood. I attend Grace Baptist Church where I help out with the Awana program, where I get many of my story ideas. The idea for The Hunt for heaven sparked from a child who asked, “What will heaven be like?” The story is built around the parable of the hidden treasure found in Matthew 13:44.

Now, I’m working on a second book called The Special Gift. The story line revolves around a girl named Rebecca who is in a wheelchair and also has CP. Rebecca likes to dance, but how can someone in a wheelchair dance? My goal in writing this story is to spread the gospel and raise disability awareness- to show people that having a disability does not mean deaf and dumb. People with disabilities are able to contribute to society, just in a different way. I’ve got a lot to say and I’m going to say it! As my writing advances, I want to be very similar to Joni Eareckson Tada. She is paralyzed from the waist down from a diving accident at the age of seventeen. Now she has her own disability ministry in Aguora Hills California called Joni and Friends. She helps people with disabilities and their families cope with the daily challenges of disability as well as address the spiritual aspect of it. She has written many books. I call her my spiritual mentor. I want to be the next Joni. My goal is to minister to kids and their families through my writing for many years to come.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book Lovers Blog Hop - October 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 October '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! 

There will be three (3) winners and each will get a different book in the Book Giveaway. 

Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
Copy this code to your website to display this banner!

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.
 
Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
Copy this code to your website to display this banner!


Create your own banner at mybannermaker.com!
Copy this code to your website to display this banner!
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)

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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…

  October 2, 2011 at 12am MST and closes October 31, 2011 at 11pm MST!

PLEASE NOTE

*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.