Saturday, April 28, 2012

SFC April Educational Tip by Alice Knisley Matthias

April Showers Bring Standardized Tests
Can you hear it? That is the sound of the sigh of relief for many students as the standardized tests in English Language Arts and Math come to a close. Each test required students to be tested for three days in ninety minute sessions. That’s some serious time to be filling in those tiny bubbles with Number 2 pencils.
This year, the preparation for the tests required teachers to use specific language to engage the students in the large amount of time they spend in class focused on the readiness of the students preparing for the tests administered in the spring. Some teachers expressed frustration at these tests, which reflect on the students as well as the teachers, and the alternate language used in the reading comprehension passages. It may not seem like a big deal to the overall scope of the process but for some students to hear the word “entertain” used to describe it is a real stumbling block when that same essay is now asking if the reading passage is one that would “excite” a reader.
By using a different word a 9 or 10 year old test-taker is being asked to understand the inference of a different word meaning the same thing. Some children can make the leap that the words “excite” and “entertain” essentially mean the same thing. But for a struggling reader to hear a teacher ask over and over “Is this an essay that would entertain a reader?” to suddenly silently read the question on your standardized test as “Is this an essay that would excite the reader?” can be a major stumbling block. It highlights the disparity of what goes on in a classroom boiling down to being held against a standard of an outside party. Some students can read a sentence, with a word that is different than what they have heard the teacher use in her test preparation, and move on. Yet, for those who are struggling with reading comprehension, an entirely different word used in a comprehension passage can, not only add to an incorrect answer, but a blow to their confidence for every answer that comes after it.
Why would a test, that is supposed to be a fair and accurate assessment of a child’s reading comprehension, not use the exact same language that was used for months of preparation with students? Maybe next year.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Bee Learns to Persevere: Bizzy Bee and the Flowers

Veteran children's author Jill Warren's newest juvenile fiction takes readers on Bizzy's

first extraordinary day as a young bumblebee to show that perseverance can turn

obstacles into successes and that diversity plus acceptance equals cooperation.

New York Mills, NY - April 27, 2012 - Children's author Jill Warren announces the

release of Bizzy Bee and the Flowers. Written predominantly for children aged six to

nine, Warren's newest work educates youngsters about the factual routine and nature of

the bumblebee, but also teaches children that although others they meet may be different

from themselves, understanding and perseverance will always pay off.

One sunny spring morning a newly hatched and eager Bizzy Bee begins his first

adventure into the world. As he flies away, his instinct tells him to carry pollen from one

flower to another, but the first several stops he makes show him that sometimes even our

best ideas don't come off as planned!

An exceedingly proud sunflower turns Bizzy away in favor of more handsome prospects.

A timid dandelion is afraid to have Bizzy near her without the protection of her friend, a

domineering rock. A rose bush has been so damaged as a young plant that it misreads

Bizzy's intentions and backs away from his well-meant gesture of friendship.

By nightfall Bizzy is discouraged.

Finally the tired bumblebee stumbles across a kind daisy that is not too proud, fragile, or

frightened to share with him her authentic self, and offers him a spot to spend the night.

Bizzy also learns -- as do Warren's young readers - that the daisy's accepting nature is an

example to be followed and that the differences Bizzy has observed in others that day are

now more understandable. He sees, too, that his power to persevere through hardship and

adversity will ultimately bring him success.

Richly illustrated and admirably written, Warren's newest tale offers up an aesthetically

pleasing book and a comfortable narrative that gently carries along to them the author's

worthwhile message.

About the book:

Bizzy Bee and the Flowers by Jill Warren

ISBN: 978-1-4327-8239-9

Publisher: Outskirts Press

Date of publish: April 23, 2012

Pages: 31

S.R.P.: $16.95

About the author:

Jill Warren has a B. A. in Psychology and works as a Behavior Specialist Assistant with
preschool children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Sharing the joy of reading
with her students and with her own son over the years inspired her to write stories for
children to enjoy and to talk about with their favorite adults. She resides in New York
and is currently working on her third book.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Beautiful Daughter by Tasha K Douglas

With Mother's Day coming this is a great time to read books about mothers and daughters. My Beautiful Daughter- What it means to be loved by God is one of those books that inspires girls to be the best they can be.

My Beautiful Daughter-What it means to be loved by God

Author: Tasha K. Douglas

ISBN: 978-0-310-72643-2

Juvenile fiction/ Religious/ Christian/ Inspirational

This book challenges girls to love God. Author Tasha K. Douglas communicates the message of the Father's love to women and girls. For some, a loving daddy is not in their daily life. The author shows girls and women the importance of knowing God and how God works in their lives today.

I enjoyed this book. It gives real life examples of how God works in the lives of His children without being preachy. The reader turns the page because the author writes in words and scenarios the reader can relate to. This is a nondenominational book so girls of all religions and cultures can come away with inspiration to be the best they can be and knowing they are special.

Visit for more about this and other books in the Faithgirlz  series.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A YA Book on Depression: Author Anne Tibbets

Childhood depression is a real issue. Look for a review of this book soon. I am sure it is one that parents will want to read before their children do or possibly read together to open the conversation about depression. Chances are your child will know of a student or peer who may suffer from some form of depression so an open discussion will help your child to verbalize how they feel and look at the topic..

SHUT UP- a YA novel.

Author Uses PersonalExperience to Write Book About Childhood Depression

Author Anne Tibbets, the BestSelling author of YA fantasy The Beast Call, and
co-author of MG time travel adventure The AmuletChronicles, Book One: The Journey Home,
writes a new YA contemporary novel based on herexperiences with childhood depression.

Agoura Hills, CA, April23, 2012 -- Author Anne Tibbets knows a thing or two about
depression. As a younggirl Anne suffered through an undiagnosed bout with depression when
her family experiencedsome painful times, which included unemployment, losing their home,
and her teenagedsister's unplanned pregnancy and subsequent marriage to a sexual predator.

"It wasn't anybody'sfault nobody noticed. We were all suffering," Anne says, who now boasts a
healthy relationshipwith all members of her immediate family. "It's very common for the children's
emotional needs to get lost in the shuffle."

Using her personal experience, and a "good dose of fiction," Anne Tibbets, a
Best Selling author of the Young Adult Fantasy The Beast Calland co-author of Middle Grade
adventure The Amulet Chronicles, Book One: The JourneyHome, departs from her customary
comfort zone of swordfights and time travel to delve into a deeper issue, so close to her heart.

"It took three years towrite. I'd work for a few weeks and find myself so depressed, I'd have to
put it away for a monthor two before I could stomach it again. It was rough, but was a story I
had to tell. For myself,and all the other kids out there like Mary," Anne says.
ShutUp follows twelve-year-old Mary, who suffers from depression while dealing with
unwanted sexual advances from her soon-to-be brother-in-law, physical abuse from her
over wrought mother, and emotional abuse from her pregnant teenage sister. Mary's depression
eventually leads to her running away from home and plans of suicide.
"It's about finding your way through all the chaos around you, and being okay with who you are,
despite what everybody else is telling you. Such an important thing to learn! I've gotten just as
many positive responses from parents of teens as I have from the kids. It's a book for everyone."

About the book:
Shut Up by Anne Tibbets
ISBN: 978-1937957360
Publisher: Premier Digital Publishing
Date of publish:February 28, 2012
Pages: 118
S.R.P.: $9.99

About the author:
Anne Tibbets is a children's screenwriter, with such credits as BLAKE HOLSEY HIGH for
NBC/Discovery Kids, andTHE ZACH FILES, for ABC Family.  Anne is also an SCBWI award-
winner, and Best Selling author of Young Adult Fantasy THE BEAST
CALL.  Anne alsoco-authored the Middle Grade time travel adventure THE AMULET
CHRONICLES, BOOK ONE:THE JOURNEY HOME, and lives in the Los Angeles area with
her family and many pets.  For more information about Anne, visit her website, at or her blog at

The Families Matter Show with Kecia Burham VS Grenier 04/25 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Come join Kecia Burham, VS Grenier & Irene Roth once a month on the 4th Wednseday on BTR’s World of Ink Network show: Families Matter.
Airs live 6pm EST - 5pm CT - 4pm MT - 3pm PST
This is a discussion based show. Call in at (714) 242-5259
This months show topic is on 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens will air live April 25th.

We will be talking about tips for parents and teens so they can be successful in school and life.
The idea of this show is to have guests and listeners (adults or kids) share information to help empower children, teens and their families.
Please post any questions or stories you would like us to answer or share on the show to our chat room. We invited you to call in and join the conversation. Or email us here at Blog Talk Radio.
Call in at (714) 242-5259

Visit us at out blog
Check out our new website

RVSP for the show at the link below:
The Families Matter Show with Kecia Burham VS Grenier 04/25 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Interview with Author Nicole Borgenicht

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

I was frustrated by an outbreak of teen violence in the U.S. I wrote my first published article for the United Nations International Newsletter:The Secretariat News, about American creative teens raising money for peace.

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.

The Kids of Dandelion Township experience enchanted moments together in a magic meadow where they discover. the differences and similarities between cultures.

This is a self-published book on Amazon’s CreateSpace. I was writing a story about three friends and I started thinking about Katrina, and a way to interject the impact that might have on a young person.

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

I will write a couple of hours in the morning, a few in the afternoon and then several more in the evening. When I have plans at night, I start earlier and work more hours in the day.

4. What do you enjoy most about writing?

Inventing ways to say something I feel strongly about with characters who are created out of my imagination.

5. What is the most difficult part of writing?

Time! My idea of how long I would like it to take to get published is a lot quicker than the actual process.

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

Not yet.

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


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? ordering is on Amazon. Also my illustrator has a great website where she also has links to her blog

9. What are you working on right now?

I am working on The Kids of Dandelion Township II

I also have a young adult novel and a picture book on tap.

10. What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

Look for an editor who appreciates your work. Find mentors and take workshops.

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

Follow your heart and do the work you love.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Medical Missions: A Family Service

There are so many wonderful services for families but many times the average person has no idea they exist unless it is a service they have required. Grace on Wings is a service that is worthy of sharing with your children and other family members just because it shows the importance of becoming a volunteer.

This video clip is only one minute but it shows several things. It shows a group of Christians with a mission and how they have taken their individual talents or career choices to help another human being. It gives children an "outside of the box" idea of what can be done within a career choice. For example, pilots can have military training as pilots or commercial training.  Nurses can use their nursing skill by caring for patients outside of the hospital setting. Respiratory therapists and paramedics can also use their training to care for these patients during a flight.

This clip also offers an opportunity to talk with your children about those less fortunate or who have been injured or have become ill. Talk about how important family is to recovery and what things a family can do to help others in various situations.

And this clip lets children visualize what it is like to help others. Talk about what it means to volunteer without being paid and why it offers character building.

This group is run totally by volunteers. Donations are made in the form of money, talent, or time. Equipment can be donated, and services outside of the medical arena can also be used. Check out the website for more information about this Christian medical aviation mission. It is an awesome group and a great opportunity to talk with your children about volunteering and about some of the services for families that may be found.

This group is based in Indiana but will fly to all the states. Take the time to investigate other volunteer opportunities and groups in your state and make a plan to pick one for your family to support.

Visit: for more information on medical missions in aviation and why there is a need.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: Adventures of Little Herbert in Mushroomland

Adventures of Little Herbert in Mushroomland

Author: Natasha Guruleva

Mushroomland Series

ISBN: 978-1434-843616

Available as a Kindle version or paperback at Amazon

Natasha Guruleva is an independent writer-filmmaker and she has used her talents as both in this magical story about Herbert. This is a story where every living thing has value including mushrooms. This is the first in a series of delightful fairy-tale stories that demonstrate valuable life lessons on being different and belonging.

The author has created the dolls and the scenes and places them in real nature like settings for the photos in the story. This only adds to the magical appeal of the fairy-tale and children will want to read this over and over.

I appreciate the work and talents of this author as she creates the world for Herbert and I think parents will enjoy the magic behind the lessons. A real treasure to share with a child.

Visit the Mushroomland Series at

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Book Review:

Author: Nicole Borgenicht
Illustrator: Lisa M. Giffen
Book: The Kids of Dandelion Township - chapter book for kids

Publisher: Create Space

ISBN Number(s): ISBN-13:978-1466466401 (CreateSpace-Assigned)

The Kids of Dandelion Township is a chapter book about a safe community of families where kids are free to explore. There is a magical zoo where kids can visit the animals and learn that it is not fun to laugh at anothers expense.

There is a school where learning and studying result in an A and where kids long to get good grades.

And there is a magical meadow where children discover that no matter where they came from or what they believe, they are all more alike than they are different.

This is an easy to read chapter book that will engage the reader with it's magic and mystery while showing valuable life lessons on community, loving, and friendship.

Author Website:

Illustrator Website:

Blog Address:

Twitter URL: LisaMGriffinArt

Facebook URL:

Facebook Fan Page URL:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post: Sharing Their Stories by Debra R. Borys

I spent over eight years volunteering with the homeless on the streets of Chicago and Seattle. That experience not only changed the way I look at life, but also inspired me to tell some of the stories I heard there.

Fiction can be a great way to educate without preaching. That’s why I chose to write Painted Black, my recently published suspense novel that combines the gritty world of Chicago’s homeless community with murder, corporate greed, and a bizarre collection of freeze-dried corpses. By adding a twist of reality to a fast paced plot, I hope to debunk some of the myths about street culture without the reader even realizing it.

My goal is to take away some of the fear and prejudices most people feel when confronted by street people. Nine times out of ten, giving someone a smile and saying, “Sorry, not today” if asked for money is going to provide the person with more than they usually get. Respect and acknowledgement of their presence goes a long way in satisfying the needs of a homeless person.

Here are a few suggestions for other ways to react to solicitations:
  1. If you have time, offer to take them into a nearby coffee shop or restaurant and buy them something to eat or drink. If they truly are hungry, they’ll be happy to take you up on it. Even if they say no, they will respect you for offering.
  2.  If somewhere to eat isn’t close by but another place is, such as a drug or clothing store, ask if you can get them something from inside. Buying inexpensive items like a pair of socks, a trial-size tube of toothpaste, or even a candy bar or pack of gum fulfills basic needs.
  3. Instead of carrying money in your pocket or purse, carry a couple of apples, energy bars or similar items. Offer to share the treat.
  4. If you live in a metro area with a transit system that offers public transit tokens, carry a few extra one trip passes in your pocket. Often times people will request money saying they need a dollar for the bus.  If you have a bus pass to give them instead, that should satisfy their need.
  5. If you aren’t financially able to do any of the above, offer them information on homeless resources that may be available to them. You might want to print up small cards listing contact information and addresses of some of the nearby shelter or food banks. Even simpler, just make yourself familiar with the name and general location of one or two places. They may already know about the Youth Shelter that opens at nine p.m. in the University District, but will appreciate the suggestion even so.
If you make any of the offers above and they refuse, you shouldn’t be offended, or jump to the conclusion that they are asking for money only so that they can use it for drugs or alcohol. The most important thing to do when confronted by a homeless person is to NOT jump to conclusions. Keep in mind that the person in front of you is a PERSON first, just like you. Unless you know a person’s whole story, you should never pass judgment on how they are living their lives.

Former Chicagoan DEBRA R. BORYS is a freelance writer living in Seattle who spent eight years volunteering with the homeless.  She is a freelance writer and the author of several published short stories.  She is currently working on a second novel in the Jo Sullivan series which reflects the reality of throw away youth striving to survive.  More information about Ms. Borys and Painted Black can be found at and

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: Under the Baobab Tree by Julie Stiegemeyer

Under the Baobab Tree

Author: Julie Stiegemeyer

Illustrations: E.B. Lewis

ISBN: 978-0-310-72561-9

Zondervan Publishing


Ages 4-7

Moyo and Japera walk down a dusty road to the next village to gather under the Baobab Tree, the tree of life. But who will gather there today?

Villagers gather to sell wares, others gather to pray or sing, friends gather to tell the truest stories of the village. But who will gather there today?

This is a beautiful story of the big tree in an African village where children walk miles just to visit under the big tree. Ten children cannot hold hands and reach around the tree because it is so large. It is the scene for story telling and sharing friendships for generation to generation. Read the story to find out who gathers today. It is a wonderful celebration.

I loved the story and it will keep children 4-7 engaged trying to guess who is meeting under the tree of life. It celebrates the Beautiful African culture of the villages far away. This is a great book to add to your collection and offers parents a wonderful way to introduce other cultures to young readers. The illustrations serve to enhance the story and offer examples of the African landscape of small villages.

Visit  for more information on this author.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Lovers Blog Hop & Giveaway - April '12

Book Lovers April ‘12 Blog Hop & Giveaway:

Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win FREE books! There will be up to 2 winners during this Book Lovers Blog Hop & Giveaway. All you have to do is enter the giveaway below. 

There are many ways you can enter. 1)Promote the Book Lovers Hop and World of Ink Tours on any social network. 2) Tweet it once a day. 3) Share on Facebook. 4) Like this blog post. 5) Leave a comment. 

Also, don't forget to follow those who have joined in the Book Lovers Blog Hop. By joining the Book Lovers Blog Hop, you are automatically entered in our Book Giveaway! There will be up to two (2) winners for this Book Giveaway. Note: two books per winner. One will be "The Kids of Dandelion Township"!

Join the Hop & Rules:
1.      Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matters 
2. Grab the button for the hop and place it in a post, sidebar or on a blog hop page
and make sure to let us know.
3.Grab the button for the April '12 World of Ink Tour and place it in a post or side bar. 
Make sure you let us know where it is in the comments section below.

Just right click on the pictures and choose save as to get our banners.

Just enter the book giveaway:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Stories for Children Show with VS Grenier 04/09 by WorldOfInkNetwork

Author Nicole Borgenicht on Blog Talk Radio’s
World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children – April 9, 2012 

Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network Show: Stories for Children with host VS Grenier and producer Irene Roth will be chatting with children’s author Nicole Borgenicht about her recently released children’s chapter book, The Kids of Dandelion Township.

About the Book: The Kids of Dandelion Township is a story about new friends who in the process of discovering magic together, learn about their similar emotions and different cultures. All in the context of a child's day, the kids unravel mysteries of A students, and invent ways to be creative while completing their homework assignments. Preparing the way for children to receive magic, the kids of Dandelion Township wish all children will experience it one day.

Get a sneak peek of the book at

 About the author: Nicole Borgenicht is a children's fiction writer. Her most recent picture book, The Bridge was published by Publish America. Some of Nicole's other kid's stories have appeared in The Los Angeles Times Kid's Reading Room section, Stories for Children Magazine and LadyBug Flights Magazine. Additional works comprise poetry and essays, short stories, one act plays or articles in magazines such as Arts and Entertainment Skyline and American Fitness.

The Stories for Children show will air live, April 9, 2012 at 2pm EST. Tune in at the BTR World of Ink Network site at You can listen/call in at (714) 242-5259. (Note: if you can’t make the show, you can listen on demand at the same link.)

You can find out more about Nicole Borgenicht’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Borgenicht and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

 Also, don't forget to join our Book Lovers Blog Hop, which starts April 9th! 
So stop by tomorrow to enter for your chance to win some great books, including The Kids of Dandelion Township!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Book Review: A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon

David Broughton's review of
A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon.

ISBN 978-1-933718-52-1
Tanglewood Publishing - A Kissing Hand book for bedtime
Suggested Retail $7.95 
Rating: Five Stars.

A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon by aptly named Audrey Penn is a fantastic little book. It's what we used to call a board-book, since the pages are cardboard, not paper. (Back in the day, they were literally done on thin boards.) This means it should last a very long time. Parents and children will want it to last, because it's such a cute, rhyming story with fabulous artwork by Barbara L. Gibson. Chester the raccoon needs to go to bed, for a raccoon, that's in the daytime. The beam of sunlight playing on the walls of the hollow tree seems to make all kinds of scary things appear. I won't go into detail here, you should be surprised like I was. I won't tell you the ending either, I don't want to spoil it. Suffice to say, it's a sweet ending. I can see a number of lessons in this book. It could be used with children that are afraid of the dark, since in this case the opposite is the story line, but just as scary to Chester. The rhymes aren't in perfect meter, (I'm a bit of a nitpicker about that,) but are close enough to work well. The artwork is beyond fabulous, at least three notches above the norm. This is a book that could be handed down from generation to generation, it's that good and that well made. A Bedtime Kiss for Chester Raccoon is available wherever better books are sold.


*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.