Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review: Trouble on Earth Day

Trouble on Earth Day

Author Kathy Stemke

Illustrator: Kurt Wilcken

ISBN: 978-1-936021-36-9

Synopsis: Shelly and the squirrel family learn about recycling and reusing items to protect the environment.

REVIEW: This is a delightful tale of Shelly a young squirrel as she learns what it means to reused and recycle items you no longer use. She finds a bluebird who has lost the tree where she was to make her nest. And to make matters worse, there were no sticks enough to build a nest in a new place. Where would she make her nest now that her favorite tree has been cut down?

Trouble on Earth Day gives the reader a story with a lesson on the consequences of what we do to our environment- like cutting down the trees. But it also is a fun story about what to do to reuse and recycle what you have on hand. Shelley shares yarn and other fine items to help bluebird make the nest.

Trouble on Earth Day also offers games, activities, and crafts from recycled items. How about a pinecone bird feeder? Maybe you would rather make toilet paper role napkin rings or any number of other fun projects in the book.

This is a great book for classrooms and also for those who home school their children. With the fun learning activiites, students will read this over and over. The author has done a great job of telling an important story in a fun, entertaining, and educational way.

Visit Kathy Stemke at

Kathy Stemke

Award Winning Author/Educator/Freelance Writer

Trouble on Earth Day earned the Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval
Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep won the Children's Literary Classics Seal of Approval
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

March '12 Educational Tip

We, as caregivers, are invested in giving our children the best education we can provide. There are a whole assortment of elements that are part of a child’s education. Yes, we need to keep on top of programs being offered, topics covered in school and how they are presented to the students. We all want the best for the children in our lives. Our focus is constantly hovering over the academic foundation and sometimes we forget to take a measured look at our children as a whole. Education is reading and math, science and social studies; yet, it is also about making smarter food choices and it is the core focus of the sustainable agriculture movement of getting children to understand the connection of the earth and the food we eat.
This past week, First Lady Michelle Obama, planted vegetables, potatoes, beans and tomatoes in the garden at the White House.  She had students help her and everyone got their hands dirty and planted the vegetable and herb plants in raised container beds, with the help of one of the White House chefs, explaining what he planned to do with the produce in the coming growing season.
Childhood obesity is at a record high and this year the familiar food pyramid changed to a plate to better help children visualize what a healthy meal, with appropriate sized portions, looks like as a meal in front of someone at a table. Children are viewed as test scores and statistics in plenty of the areas of education. It is important to encourage students to see themselves as people and the impact they can have as champions of a cause.
You don’t have to plant an entire garden in the middle of rolling hills to help a child understand the connection between food that is grown and what you eat at a meal. A few pots placed on an apartment balcony can serve as a platform to watch a tomato plant grow and start to bear fruit. A small patch of soil to grow some cucumbers that train up a trellis or some herbs planted in the corner of a yard can open up a world of understanding of where the food you eat comes from in its simplest form.
Even if you don’t think you have a green thumb, give it a try this growing season and help your child understand the importance of good health and healthy choices.

Be Well 
Alice Knisley Matthias
SFC Educational Writer

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review: Princess Reborn, A Graphic Novel

Princess Reborn, A Graphic Novel
A review by David Broughton
  • Publisher: Lee Tidball; Writer; Original edition (February 23, 2007)
  • ISBN-10: 1424329191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1424329199
Princess Reborn, the graphic novel, is something new for my review process, the first graphic novel I've ever reviewed. In fact, I hadn't seen one in years, so I went out to compare Princess Reborn with other graphic novels. The story of a superhero from another world isn't a new idea, but it's presented in Princess in a fresh way. The story by author and educator Lee Tidball is adapted to the media from a screenplay. This seems to work well. After all, a graphic novel is the words on the page with art to show what's going on. This isn't my preferred genre, but I see hundreds of children's and YA books per year, so I know good writing when I see it. The writing in Princess is on par with the best. The art by Jim Jiminez and Jason De Campo exceeds my expectations. Princess Reborn is reminiscent of the days when these were called comic books, but is far better than the anything that was available back then, both in art and story.

It's time for a hero again -- Princess Reborn is she. Everything the younger set likes these days is in this novel, in some form. Super powers, futuristic vehicles, ominous villains, a werewolf, space travel, everything but a vampire, and I fully expect one of those to show up in the next episode.

I wouldn't have gone looking for this genre for my own reading, but I'm glad I got to review Princess Reborn. I enjoyed it immensely. It's a guilty pleasure to be sure, but a pleasure all the same. If you have pre-teens and up in your house, get this one for the strong values it teaches, or maybe just because it's fun. Princess Reborn is available wherever quality books and graphic novels are sold.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Book Review: Beloved School Horses

Beloved School Horses
Author:  Sharon Miner
ISBN: 0741422255
Retail: $14.94
Rating:  Four Stars
Review by: David Broughton
Beloved School Horses by Sharon Miner is akin to walking into a large jewelry store, there are gems everywhere. This is a book of short stories with one theme, the love of horses by the students and owner of a riding school. Each story stands alone as a shining diamond cut by a master's hand, though in the early version I read, they weren't completely polished, yet they were so beautiful, non-editors wouldn't notice the minor faults. Some of the stories can make you laugh out loud; others may bring a tear to your eye.

This book is marketed as a book for what are commonly called tweens, not quite a teenager but not exactly a small child either. However, I think anyone will enjoy this book, I know I did, and I don't know a whole lot about horses or what goes with them, though I have had some dealings with what horses generally leave behind. When read to younger children they will enjoy it too. By the time you're reading this, a glossary of terms should be added to make it easier for the uninitiated to understand and enjoy the stories. When that's done, I would definitely give Beloved School Horses the full five stars. To put it simply, if you want an uplifting, enjoyable book, that you can read at whatever pace you have time for, get this one. 

It's available at the author’s site or

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Book Review: G. W. Frog and the Pumpkin Patch Bandit

G. W. Frog and the Pumpkin Patch Bandit
By: George W. Everett
Published by:  Westbow Press, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-4497-0759-0
Price: $16.95
Ages: 4-8
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker
Synopsis:  Farmer Brown’s pumpkin patch is the pride of Misty Meadow, and he has kept thieves out of it with the meanest and scariest old scarecrow in all of Frog Holler.  However, this year is different.  Every night for a couple of weeks, someone has been stealing pumpkins.  Old Scarecrow is worried because he is old and unable to stay awake, so his job is in danger.  Will G. W. Frog be able to come up with a plan to help Old Scarecrow?  Who is the bandit?  And how will fireflies figure into the picture?
Overall thoughts:  This is one of a series of delightful children’s stories about G. W. Frog of Frog Holler in Misty Meadow.  Author George Everett, who is the founder of Avodah ministries in Mentone, CA, originally wrote the G. W. Frog stories back in the 1980s but just recently had them published.  Each story illustrates one or more important moral principles.  G. W. Frog and the Pumpkin Patch Bandit reminds children that we should never take something that doesn’t belong to us, and that a true friend is one who will listen to our deepest hurts and feel that they are his too.  There is also a fun “look and find” activity page where youngsters can locate and count the critters in the story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Book Review: Dael and the Painted People

Dael and the Painted People
By: Allan Richard Shickman
Published by: Earthshaker Books; Date: 2011
ISBN: 978-0-9790357-6-0
Price: $9.95
Ages: Teens and young adults
Rating:  5 stars
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker

     Synopsis: Is it true what some people say, that you can never go home again?  In this third book of the Zan-Gah prehistoric young adult series, Dael has decided to leave his people, the Ba-Coro tribe.  In the first book, Zan-Gah goes to find his twin brother Dael, who had been captured by the Wasp People and then sold to the Noi tribe.  In the second book, the two brothers lead the Ba-Coro people to the Beautiful Country where the Wasp People had formerly lived but died out in a plague.  However, haunted by his abuse at the hands of the Wasp and Noi people and the deaths of his wife Lissa-Na and their child, Dael has become very violent and unpredictable.  After the Ba-Coro tribe almost divides between the followers of Dael and the followers of Zan-Gah, Dael goes to dwell with the Painted People whom they had met on their trek to the Beautiful Country.
     He asks a young mute girl named Sparrow to accompany him, almost like a servant, and his pet wolves, Dara and Nata which he had given to two of his followers, also come running after them.  The painted people, who call themselves “the children of the earth,” live in the land of red rocks and color their skin with crimson dye from the soil.  Their council of elders is headed by a woman named Mlaka.  Dael makes friends with a man named Koli, but Mlaka’s brother, Schnur, is the tribe’s shaman, and he becomes Dael’s enemy.  Dael had learned some medicine from Lissa-Na and helps cure some of the painted people.  Also, Dael has dreams and “fits” which Schnur believes are visits to the spirit world over which he thinks that he himself should have control.  And Dael is liked by the crows who dwell nearby, but the shaman interprets this as an evil omen too.  Slowly, Dael’s inner wounds begin to heal, but Schnur considers him a rival and even tries to kill him.  Will Dael choose to remain with the painted people or return home?  And if he wants to go home, will he survive the shaman’s wrath to make it?

     Overall thoughts:     Like its predecessors, Dael and the Painted People is a well-crafted story with easy-to-follow action and the right amount of suspense to keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next.  Parents may want to know that after Dael and Sparrow left the Ba-Coro, the statement is made, “That night, under the doubtful orb, on a soft and yielding place encircled by thorny growth, Sparrow conceived a child—while the two wolves wailed at the shadowy lantern.”  However, no more detail than that is given, and the two later marry according to the tradition of the painted people.  Also, Dael eats some special mushrooms which Lissa-Na had shown him and they seem to bring him into an ecstatic, almost hallucinogenic, state, but he eventually quits using them, and they cause some serious problems for Schnur when he finds out about them.  There is a bit more mysticism in this book than in the other two, which some people may not care for, but generally it is an interesting and readable tale set in prehistoric times.

     Links: and 

Inspiration from Children's Author, J. Aday Kennedy

J Aday Kennedy

It is with great pleasure that I found this author several months ago and then recently found this video interview with J.Aday Kennedy. She is an inspiration to children because of the books she writes but also because of the life she leads. Please click on the link and enjoy this awesome interview with a really cool children's author.
Children's Author, J Aday Kennedy

Woman on Life Support, Inspirational Speaker, & Published Author interviewed by
Joan Hallmark “Proud of East Texas

J. Aday Kennedy the Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker

KLTV Tyler & KTRE Nacogdoches
2-12-2012 Sunday @ 10:00 pm “Proud of East Texas”
2-14-2012 Tuesday @ 5:00-7:00 am  “Good Morning East Texas”
2-16-2012 Thursday @ 11:30-`12:00 am “Proud of East Texas”

The interview will be televised during the news in the above listed times.

Miss Kennedy shares her struggle recovering from bacterial spinal meningitis as well as complications due to a brainstem stroke. The public is invited to attend.

The illness and stroke that left Aday a legally blind ventilator-dependent quadriplegic, failed to dim her love of life and determination to spread a message of inspiration and hope.
Joan Hallmark shares Aday’s story of triumph over tragedy in a memorable interview. In the fourteen years since becoming disabled she has cried and laughed her way through the hard times. Aday’s “CAN DO” philosophy shapes her speeches and writing.
Her writing has appeared in many newspapers and magazines including five inspirational essays  in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Currently she is writing her memoir, “Laughter Through Tears,” about her physical and spiritual recovery.

J. Aday Kennedy is the differently-abled writer and speaker making her dreams come true one story and speech at a time. As a speaker, she entertains, instructs, motivates and inspires audiences of all ages by focusing on what she CAN do instead of CAN’T. She surrounds herself with family, friends and positivity in Mineola, Texas. Her picture books, Klutzy Kantor, Stella the Fire Farting Dragon, and Marta’s Gargantuan Wings, published by Guardian Angel Publishing are available through Amazon.

Permanent promotional biography—should remain the same unless experience grows (more books published—more speaking venues, etc.)

To learn more about her, visit her website at
Klutzy Kantor by J Aday Kennedy

Visit her website for more information: at

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Release: Reckless Heart by Amy Clipston

Author Amy Clipston Debuts Her First Young Adult Book in her Bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery Series

Award-winning author Amy Clipston returns to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with a gripping new story about hope, faith and family with the first young adult novel in her ECPA and Christian Book Distributors bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery series.

In RECKLESS HEART (ZONDERVAN; April 2012; $9.99), Lydia Bontrager seems to have the perfect Amish existence - a loving family, a boy in whom she's interested, loyal friends and a promising position as a teaching assistant that may soon lead to a full-time career. But following a night out with a group of "bad boys," she finds herself carrying the burden of a shameful secret that threatens to destroy her reputation. That same week, her four-year-old sister is diagnosed with leukemia, forcing Lydia to take on a maternal role to her younger siblings - all while continuing to work at the schoolhouse and her grandmother's bakery.

With the added pressures at home, her community's displeasure with her friendships and a faltering relationship with the only boy she's ever loved, Lydia feels as though her safe little world is crumbling around her.

Early readers of Reckless Heart say Clipston has hit a home run, creating a strong-willed character who is sure to become one of the most beloved heroines on the YA fiction scene. Teens will instantly fall in love with Lydia and empathize as she struggles to find her place in the Amish community while keeping her relationships with family, friends and God.

Mastering the unique Amish dialect, Clipston captures the cultural charm of the community in stunning precision - right down to the scrumptious chocolate peanut butter cookie recipe included at the end of the book.

Clipston says she's always been drawn to the simplicity and faith of Amish society: "Due to my German heritage, I feel a loose connection to the Amish and their culture. My plots come straight from my heart and all involve family issues intertwined with faith."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amy Clipston is the author of the bestselling Kauffman Amish Bakery novels, as well as last year's YA title Roadside Assistance. She is also the recipient of the 2011 Selah Award for Fiction for A Promise of Hope. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband and two sons.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Utah Children's Writers: What is Fiction with VS Grenier

Great post if you are interested in writing for children. Check this out.

Utah Children's Writers: What is Fiction with VS Grenier: I loved how the ICL broke down what fiction is to a writer when I first began my journey down the world of ink. They say, “Fiction is som...

Book Review: The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye

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 the 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: (author), (publisher)


*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.