Friday, August 31, 2012

Book Review: KA-BOOM! by Alyce Joy

By Alyce Joy
Publisher: Halo Publishing Int.
ISBN-10: 161244069X
ISBN-13: 978-1612440699
Genre of Book: Children’s Chapter Book Fantasy Adventure
Paperback: 46 pages
July 2012
Review by Ann Stallard

About the Book:
Sprout is a fairy from Spritesville, Ohio. Her given name is Sprunetta Brunetta. She doesn’t like it, because she thinks it sounds too much like somebody’s wicked sister. Since she is only four inches tall, all her friends call her Sprout.

This little fairy is in the service of her queen, the beloved Splaminda Herminda, who rules Spritesville. The queen sends Sprout to different places to do whatever job needs done. Sprout is not a perfect fairy. She has a wild shoe fetish, and is always getting into some kind of trouble. Queen Splaminda realizes Sprout’s problems, but feels the fairy will grow out of her awkwardness, as she matures. Somehow, Sprout always manages to save the good and meek from the scary and sometimes bad…but… occasionally, she needs a little help.

To say the least, it was an explosive meeting between Taylor and Sprout. Taylor’s dollhouse blows up and her wary investigation finds Sprout among its wreckage. The little girl obviously thinks Sprout is a bad, fibbin’ fairy and the fun is about to begin.

Overall Thoughts:
Taylor is seven years old and is used to getting her own way. Seeing this site in front of her not only made her mad but a little afraid. What I love about this opening scene is it teaches children how to deal with anger and fear, and opens a chance for great conversation with your child. If you are Taylor, you might start by trying to boss this poor little four- inch fairy around even though she is really not dangerous. But, Sprout just wanted to be Taylor’s friends and when she apologizes Taylor feels bad. Taylor has to learn how to deal with these feelings and deal with the situation, and later even more, she is faced with. Besides teaching children how to deal with fear and anger, Alyce Joy does a great job showing children how we can’t judge each other from first impressions. Children also learn friendships are something that grow as we get to know each other and face what life throws at us together.

Get a sneak peek of the book at  

About the Author: 
Alyce Joy was blessed with four children for whom she composed bedtime verses every night. That inspired her to publish a children’s book of prayers, entitled, “Priceless Gems.” When her children were grown, she began to write stories for her grandchildren.

Always fascinated with arts and crafts, she taught herself the art of pyrography. This fired her imagination, and she started burning life-sized pictures of wildlife onto all the doors of her home. Her wood burnings are scattered through the U.S. and Canada.

After deciding to put away her burning tools and torches, she enrolled in, and graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature.

Alyce Joy hopes every child who reads her stories will look forward to each new adventure, as her favorite fairy becomes entangled into many, outrageous happenstances.

Follow Alyce Joy at

You can find out more about Alyce Joy and her book KA-BOOM! through their World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

You can buy KA-BOOM! wherever books are sold and online.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If I Had as Many Grandchildren As You....

If I Had as Many Grandchildren As You…
By: Lori Stewart
Publisher: Palmar Press; date: 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0-9839293-0-7
Reading level: Ages 3 and up withtheir grandparents and great-grandparents
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

Synopsis:  If you are a grandparent, how many grandchildren do you have? If you’re not, how many grandkids do your grandparents have? Did you know that there reported to be between sixty and eighty million grandparents currently in the United States? As this book opens, a grandparent is besieged by “a gaggle of grandchildren.” A plan for adventure and fun for them had been promised, but none had yet been thought of. All of a sudden, a huge lion in a red baseball cap appears in the garden. Named “Grand Paws,” he offers some sage advice on the things he’d like to do, places he’d like to go, sites he’d like to see, and lessons he’d like to teach, “if I had as many grandchildren as you.” What kind of fun activities can you imagine that kids and their grandparents might do?

Overall impressions: Author Lori Stewart uses highly inventive and catchy rhyme to tell this warm-hearted storythat grandparents will enjoy reading aloud to their grandchildren. One concept which is unfortunately being lost in our increasingly mobile society is a multi-generational vision, so anything which will help grandparents to connect more with their grandkids, and vice versa, is to be applauded. I especially appreciate the following suggestion by Grand Paws:
“I wouldn’t stop there…there’s much more I would do,
If I had as many grandchildren as you!
I’d teach them to work, and to play and to pray—
A little of each, and a little each day.”
In addition, there are 41 luscious, color photographs to illustrate what Grand Paws says. Have you ever seen a “circumzenithal arc”—in other words, an upside-down rainbow—caused by sunlight hitting hexagonal ice crystals? Did you even know such a thing is possible? If I Had as Many Grandchildren as You would make a perfect gift for children to give to their grandparents, and for anyone to give to somebody who is or is about to become a grandparent.

Links: (book), (publisher)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: Vin and the Dorky Duet

Vin and the Dorky Duet
Publisher: Halo Publishing Int. & MuseItUp Publishing (Canadian e-book publisher)
ISBN: 978-1-61244-091-0 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-77127-073-1 (eBook)
Genre of Book: Children’s Chapter Book Adventure

About the Book:
A twelve-year-old boy named Vin, goes on a mission but when magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths and other disasters erupt, Vin comes close to packing in the whole ridiculous business. He calls it Operation BS, his code name for a mission to introduce his sister to a boy she has a crush on and his only option to get out of playing doing a duet with his sister to boot.

The story is about the disasters that pile up when a seventh-grader’s brilliant plan to meet his sister’s challenge takes more than one wrong turn. He doesn’t want to play matchmaker, but Meg’s promise to reward him with a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey is an incentive. Vin learns sometimes life doesn't go as expected and some friendships aren't planned.

This is a great book for reluctant readers.  I highly recommend it for children who don’t like the average fantasy or adventure story.

About the Author:
Maggie Lyons was born in Wales and brought up in England before gravitating west to Virginia’s coast. She zigzagged her way through a motley variety of careers from orchestral management to law-firm media relations to academic editing. Writing and editing nonfiction for adults brought plenty of satisfaction but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children. Several of her articles, poetry, and a chapter book have been published in the children’s magazines Stories for Children Magazine and knowonder!

Follow Maggie Lyons at
Twitter @maggielyons66

The World of Ink Network is touring author Maggie Lyons’s contemporary children’s chapter book, Vin and the Dorky Duet throughout August and September 2012. You can find out more about Maggie Lyons’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Great Article on Putting Rice Cereal in Your Baby's Bottle

Should You Put Rice Cereal in Your Baby’s Bottle?

2012 July 26

by Michelle

rice Should You Put Rice Cereal in Your Baby’s Bottle?In short, the answer is no. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against routinely adding cereal to a baby’s bottle.
While many moms believe that adding rice cereal to their baby’s bottle can help them to sleep longer and will better satisfy their growing baby’s appetite, putting rice cereal into your baby’s bottle is generally a bad idea.
There is one exception to this steadfast rule: If your child has reflux. For babies with reflux, many pediatricians recommend adding rice cereal to thicken formula, which can help reduce reflux symptoms. This practice, however, should only be done under your pediatrician’s watchful eye as adding cereal to bottles otherwise could cause more harm than good.
A baby’s immature digestive system wasn’t meant to digest solids straight out of the womb. Adding rice cereal to a baby’s diet too early, even when added to a bottle, can lead to constipation and other uncomfortable digestive issues. Babies may not have the enzymes necessary to break down the cereal which can lead to tummy troubles and overall discomfort.
Introducing solid foods before 4 months of age may also cause food allergies. While the experts disagree if adding rice cereal to a baby’s bottle can induce specific allergies, most experts do agree that serious allergies can result when an individual is exposed to an allergen early in life. While oatmeal and barley based cereals may be more common allergens, it’s best to steer clear of introducing potential allergens for as long as possible.
In the early months, babies haven’t yet fully developed the reflexes and coordination necessary to swallow anything but breast milk or formula. Adding rice cereal to a bottle can be a real choking hazard for babies who aren’t yet coordinated enough to swallow the thickened liquid. When babies inhale rather than swallow cereal during feedings serious pulmonary problems can arise.
Introducing rice into a baby’s bottle can also offset their self-regulation. When cereal is added to a baby’s bottle, the caloric intake of the baby’s feeding increases. Babies are born with the ability to self-regulate their intake. Adding cereal to a bottle can cause that regulation to falter, which can lead to obesity later in life.
For babies who become accustomed to getting additional calories from their bottle, introducing solid foods on a spoon can be problematic. Babies who are routinely full from their bottles may be less interested in learning to master the art of eating by spoon.
While many parents add cereal to bottles in hopes of increasing their baby’s sleep, doing so doesn’t actually help. According to a study by the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, adding rice cereal to a baby’s bottle before bedtime does not increase sleep; however since the time frame parents may consider adding cereal to their baby’s bottle coincides with the time frame babies typically begin to sleep for longer periods and go longer in between feedings, it may appear to parents that adding cereal to a baby’s bottle is an effective way to increase sleep and satisfy hunger.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Families Matter Show 08/22 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

BTR’s World of Ink Network show: Families Matter with hosts Kecia Burcham, Irene Roth and VS Grenier.
The Families Matter show airs live once a month on the 4th Wednesday of the month at 6pm EST - 5pm CST - 4pm MST - 3pm PDT
The idea of this show on BTR’s World of Ink Network is to have guests and listeners (adults or kids) share information to help empower children and their families.

Our August show topic: Parent Report Cards
Educators exasperated by the need for greater parent involvement have persuaded Tennessee lawmakers to sign off on a novel bit of arm-twisting: Asking parents to grade themselves on report cards.

We invite our listeners to call-in or share through the chatroom questions or their stories.
Learn more at the Families Matter blog

You can find out more about us at

Listen to at
Families Matter Show 08/22 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Interview with Children's Author, Alyce Joy

Great Interview with Alyce Joy, author of Ka-Boom. Enjoy!

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

I am a mother of 4, a grandmother of 13 and a great-grandmother of 13.  I have been married 54 years.   I always loved art, writing and composing stories for my grandchildren.  As I had so many stories, my family and friends encouraged me to put them down in writing.  My stories always involve one of my grandchildren.   I have 5 siblings who also are artistic.  My brother, Kelly, who is an accomplished painter and an excellent writer of historical thrillers.   My sister, Sandy, who paints on porcelain and jewelry, she is a fantastic free style painter.  I am very proud of them both.

2 - Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary. (You can follow this up with any points you hope readers will take away with them)

KA-BOOM! is the first in a series of possibly 8 books.  It is about a trouble, plagued fairy, with a shoe fetish.  The fairy of Spiritesville, sends her to different locations to do a job, whatever it might be.   She is not a perfect fairy, for she gets into a lot of serious difficulties.  Somehow, she always saves the day.  Everyone loves her, but she endures a lot of teasing because of her wild shoe fetish.  Sprout the fairy meets Taylor, a feisty little girl and the fun begins.  I hope the children learn about giving everyone a fair chance to show who they really are.  Don’t look down on people who don’t appear to look how you think they should look.

3 - Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process worked in getting published?

I got a call from Bernita, at Halo Publishing International, after my husband saw an advertisement on the TV.  He called to find about it.  We talked several times about it on the phone.  Bernita sent me all the information.  When I finished reading it, and hearing the difference between having an agent, or going with Halo Publishing, I was sold.  Lisa Umina, the founder and award winning author of The Milo Series, has been wonderful getting me through this process.   Step by step, they are with you all the way.  I am going to say the same about Virginia Grenier, the chief editor and award winning author of Babysitting Sugarpaw.  I’m just a grandma, who writes.  I’m cramming to learn my computer and all this high tech stuff and they are cramming to learn what my emails are saying.  I can’t say enough about these ladies that deal with me.  Everyone at Halo Publishing International, has been wonderful.  Halo has their own illustrators.  I was very pleased to meet Diane Lucas.  I was blown away when I learned she lives in Nova Scotia.  She did a beautiful job on the illustrations for KA-BOOM.

4 – How did you get the idea for this book?

Taylor was going through a phase where everything she said was so funny, and she was always serious.  Putting those things together with where she lives, and the huge pond and listening to the frogs, was all I needed to get it together. 

5 – What is a typical writing day like for you?

I have a nice quiet place to write.  During the day I write off and on.   Sometimes I write into the night.  It depends on what is going on in my head.  We have no air-conditioning, so in the summer I put the fan on the floor across from my desk and turn it on high.  I am happy with my long fruit juice Popsicle upside down in my glass and cool air on my legs.

6 – What do you enjoy most about writing?

It relaxes me.   I like to be alone with my thoughts and watch them develop into a good story.

7 – What is the most difficult part of writing?

The difficult part is when you are really into your story and you want to get it all down, when someone knocks on the door.  You are the only one there and it could be an emergency, so you answer the door, it’s a classmate of your husband’s and he’s not home yet so you have to entertain until he arrives.  How do you keep everything in your head, plus what you were scheming in the back of your mind to write in later?  Well, it all works out eventually.

8 – How has publishing a book changed your life?

It is showing me how disorganized I am.  Right now I am still learning how to use the darn computer.  I have to set up a filing system and put everything where it is supposed to be. 

9 – What are your plans now?

We are setting up book signings and school visits once school starts.  Interviews with local news papers and  TV interviews.

10 – What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

Set goals to aim for.  I didn’t do that because I didn’t know I would be doing this at age 75.  If you really want it, never give up.  In this country, you can do anything you want.  You just have to make up your mind and work like the dickens for it.   My husband is 83 years old, I talked him into writing.   His writing space is a card table under the stairs.  Some of the stories he can tell would curl your hair.

11 – What advice can you give adults, children and/or teens as they prepare for life?

Don’t get stuck in the past.  Life is a blast now.  You’ll have to keep up with technology in order to keep up with life in today’s world.  You have to make a plan and stick with it.  There is nothing wrong with revising your plan as you go through life.  Never give up!

12 – Do you make school visits or do speaking or book signing engagements.

This is all new to me.  I’ve never done them, but I am pretty sure of how I will do them.  I will have plenty of questions to ask them about the subjects and useful gifts they can use.  Also I think some games would be good.

13 – Do you have a website?

I have website:

My book, KA-BOOM, can be found at:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August '12 Book Lovers Giveaway & Blog Hop!

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Book Lovers August '12 Giveaway & Blog Hop:

Make friends, share the love of reading and be entered to win a FREE book!

All you have to do is post the Book Lovers Blog Hop and World of Ink Tour Banner below to your blog. You are free to copy any of the content here on this GIVEAWAY blog hop page to help promote the Book Lovers Giveaway & Hop and World of Ink Tours on any social network. 

Tweet it once to twice a day, share on Facebook, LinkedIn, SumbledUpon, Pinerest, etc 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 two (2) winners for this Book Giveaway. 
1st place winner: KA-BOOM! by Alyce Joy
2nd place winner: Vin and the Dorky Duet by Maggie Lyons

Note: One book per winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Hop Rules:

 1.  Follow the Top link of the hop! Hop Host: Families Matter 
      2.  Grab the button for the hop up top 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 buttons 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.

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…
If you want to become a World of Ink Host and do a review or interview shoot me an e-mail:  
Please make sure you Follow the top link of hop if you want to link up!
Note: You can use all or parts of this post for your post about the Book Lovers Blog Hop.

Friday, August 10, 2012

TIme for School

It is time for school to start soon. How do you get back into the swing of school, stay on a budget when getting kids clothing and supplies, and be ready for the first week when it is still summer like outside? For many parents it can be a challenge. Here are a few tips.

  • Plan ahead for breakfast quick meals and snacks so kids get a good start each morning.
  • Make lunches ahead of time or have single dollars handy for those who decide at the last minute to take a hot lunch provided by the school.
  • Give each child especially those over age 10 a budget for clothing. Kids ten and over can get an appreciation for what clothing costs and can make better choices when they have a budget to keep in mind. Leave room in the budget for supplies, undies, and things that are necesary but not as much fun to buy as new clothes.
  • Start getting ready for school by earlier bedtimes and setting an alarm for the mornings. It is much easier that first week if kids are somewhat in the habit of early to bed early to rise.
  • Begin the homework routine the very first day of school. If kids don't have homework, it is a great time to start a half hour of free reading and nuture their love for books.
  • Have children pick their clothing out the night before to avoid a mad rush in the morning. Have back packs ready and belongings together in one place so things don't get forgotten and children can be to school on time.
These tips will help you get organized for the first week of school. Setting those guidelines will help children to stay on track and be more responsible making the new school year get off to a great start.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Interview with Children's Author Maggie Lyons

Maggie Lyons, author, Vin and the Dorky Duet is our guest today. Please help me welcome Maggie to the blog.

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

I’m a trapeze artist, astronaut, spy—just kidding! Actually the bit about being a spy is true, but it was a very long time ago on another planet. My upbringing in Britain was much less exotic. I did all the usual stuff like playing hockey at an all-girls school —which I hated with a passion—and going on soggy caravan (British for trailer) holidays. When I grew up—well, that’s a bit of a fib; I’ve never actually grown up—I became a professional cat herder. Translated that means I worked in orchestral management, writing program notes for concerts, fundraising, marketing, public relations-ing—trying to put rear ends on seats, in other words. I also did marketing and public relations in a motley variety of other professional environments. All of it meant a lot of writing, mostly for adults. I became interested in writing for children because I’ve always enjoyed reading children’s literature—there! I’ve fessed up. As a child, I loved reading and being read to by my parents, and I really enjoyed reading to my son when he was young. Writing for children gives me the perfect excuse to raid the shelves of my local children’s library, where I can indulge in that enchanting mix of innocence, escapism, imagination, and humor that bubbles up from children’s literature.

Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary.

Vin and the Dorky Duet is about the magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths, and other disasters that erupt when an inventive seventh-grader meets a challenge to win a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey if he can befriend an unsociable nerd and introduce his sister to the nerd’s hunky brother.

Life presents us all with challenges. If it didn’t, we’d all be bored to death. Vin confronts a variety of them, including learning to play the trumpet. But the joy of music making is worth all the hard work of practicing—except for stage fright, but that’s a fleeting inconvenience, thank goodness. I play the piano and have taught piano to many children, so I know a bit about the stage-fright monster. Judging others is another challenge and, as Vin discovers, you can sometimes make up your mind too quickly about people. Personal relationships are tricky too, but Vin discovers all relationships change, some even faster and more surprisingly than others. On another level, Vin becomes aware of environmental challenges and the vulnerability of natural resources.

Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process worked in getting published?

MuseItUp Publishing is a Canadian e-book publisher with middle-grade (MuseItYoung) and YA book lines as well as books for adults. Like most authors, I received a number of rejections when I submitted the manuscript to agents, so I was thrilled when MuseItUp offered me a contract in October 2011. The next months involved reviewing the manuscript for errors I had failed to spot, making a book trailer, and preparing a promotional campaign. I’ve also worked with Halo Publishing International, which is releasing a paperback version in August. The promotion is the hard part. With millions of new books coming out each year, you can’t sit back and hope somebody will notice a new book on the market. You have work hard to let people know your baby has been born.

How did you get the idea for this book?

Inspiration wafted in from my love of music and my addiction to challenges—which, of course, I don’t always meet. I was trained as a classical pianist and throughout my life music has been my favorite language and port in a storm. As for challenges, anyone who wants to live—as opposed to vegetating—must try to meet them, don’t you think? Vin and the Dorky Duet is about a challenge that a seventh-grader gamely takes on. Of course, his plan of attack produces unexpected results, but when was life 100 percent predictable? My challenge in writing the story is to encourage reluctant readers to turn a few pages. I’d be thrilled if the book succeeds on that level because enthusiasm for reading as a child is critical to success as an adult. Literacy is a must if you want anything like quality of life in adulthood. But that’s another story …

What is a typical writing day like for you?

Alas, I don’t have a typical writing day. I squeeze creative writing in whenever I can, though I know I should set aside a certain time each day. Right now, I’m focusing quite a bit of my attention on getting the word out about Vin. The balance between book promotion and writing is a notorious challenge for today’s writers.

What do you enjoy most about writing?

The fun of seeing characters come alive and the challenge of successfully escorting them through the narrative maze.

What is the most difficult part of writing?

Being attacked by writer’s block. Sometimes a walk down a country road will do the trick. Sometimes I have to move to another country.

How has publishing a book changed your life?

I thought I had retired. I’m now busier than ever.

What are your plans now?

I’m looking forward to the release of the next book, Dewi and the Seeds of Doom. MuseItUp will publish this middle-grade adventure story in October. Halo Publishing International will release the paperback version around the same time. In the meantime, I’m trying my hand at picture books, a highly challenging medium.

What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. Rejection is simply a hard rite of passage. And the more you polish your prose, the more likely you are to find a publishing home for your creative offspring.

What advice can you give adults, children and/or teens as they prepare for life?

You are asking someone who never grew up to give advice to young people. So, of course, I would have to say keep young at heart. Oh, and if you have talent, let’s say for music, don’t throw it away. Try to make it your vocation if it’s a real fire-in-the-belly kind of talent. Otherwise, you may wind up with that saddest of all thoughts: If I had only done that.

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

Encouraging children to become avid, and therefore proficient, readers is critical. Some states actually base their budgets for new prison cells on fourth-grade reading scores. That’s how important literacy is. A child’s reading proficiency can have a profound impact on his or her future as an adult. Make reading fun for your child, your grandchildren—any child. If children want to read a comic, or something you feel is lightweight literature, let them. I hope even a lighthearted romp like Vin and the Dorky Duet will encourage a few young readers to voluntarily turn a page or two.  

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

Not yet. We live in hope, as they say.

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?

My books’ website is at:

My Facebook author page is:

I’ll announce on those sites when and where the e-book and paperback of Dewi and the Seeds of Doom will be released.

For reviews of Vin and the Dorky Duet and to buy the e-book at Amazon, the page URL is:

My author page at Amazon is:

MuseItUp Publishing also offers the book for sale in the MuseItYoung section of its bookstore: MuseItUp’s bookstore also shows other outlets where the book can be purchased.

As of August 1, the paperback of Vin and the Dorky Duet is available at Halo Publishing International:, and will soon be at Amazon, and other outlets.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Stories for Children Show 08/06 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Come join host VS Grenier and Irene Roth on BTR’s World of Ink Network's The Stories for Children Show August 6, 2012 live at 2pm EST - 1pm CT - 12pm MT - 11am PDT

We bring children's authors together with their readers.

This week come meet author Maggie Lyons of the contemporary children’s chapter book, Vin and the Dorky Duet.

Magnetic compost heaps, man-eating bubble baths and other disasters erupt when an inventive seventh-grader meets a challenge to win a David Beckham autographed soccer jersey if he can befriend an unsociable nerd and introduce his sister to the nerd’s hunky brother.

The story is about the disasters that pile up when a seventh-grader’s brilliant plan to meet his sister’s challenge takes more than one wrong turn. Life tosses challenges at all of us. It would be incredibly boring if it didn’t. What matters is what we learn from them.

Get a sneak peek of the book at
Available wherever books are sold and online.

Maggie Lyons was born in Wales and brought up in England before gravitating west to Virginia’s coast. She zigzagged her way through a motley variety of careers from orchestral management to law-firm media relations to academic editing. Writing and editing nonfiction for adults brought plenty of satisfaction but nothing like the magic she discovered in writing fiction and nonfiction for children.

You can find out more about Maggie Lyons’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit

Listen to the show at the link below
The Stories for Children Show 08/06 by WorldOfInkNetwork | Blog Talk Radio

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Guest Post by Sands Hetherington: Tips to Encourage Children to Read

Hi, Families, and thanks for having me.

Tips to encourage children to read? I know one thing that doesn't work. My parents tried paying me when I was eight or nine or ten. Mostly classics, I think, and there was no way I was going to get into that. I was into the money, though, and to get it I had to answer questions about the books. I got awfully good at skimming, good enough in any case to fool my parents, who at that point didn't know the books any better than I did.

Except for comic books, I never really enjoyed reading until they made me do it in college. I was in liberal arts and they really stuck it to me. It started out as a school chore, but became more and more congenial, and after two or three years I was hooked. The school did exactly what it was supposed to do, and I'm grateful for that, but, migod, I was twenty years old and had piddled away fifteen! If I ever had kids, though, I thought I knew what to do.

And in due course I did produce a son named John, and it happened that I became his single parent when he was six. Years earlier, though, I made bedtime stories an essential for us, like food, air and a place to live. It may be that we never missed a night for ten years when we were together, even on the road. I read him everything from Aesop to Tolkien and Dahl. (Harry Potter hadn't come along yet.) By the time John was twelve, we had gone through most of Dickens and Victor Hugo, with me still reading aloud at bedtime. John is a linguist now and was becoming an inveterate reader well before I got done.

So I say as loudly as I can, immerse them! From the age of a few months or even on the ride home from the birthing hospital. Read to them every day without fail, so that by the time they are two or three, they will expect it and know the process as a pleasure. Because it is a pleasure except to some who come to it later as something foreign. Then, when they learn to read, they will want to read. It's really so simple. And it's fun for both of you. And it's almost sure to work.

Thanks again for inviting me.

Sands Hetherington

Night Buddies and the Pineapple Cheesecake Scare is the first in a series featuring John, a young city kid who isn't ready for bed yet, and Crosley, a bright-red crocodile who shows up in his room to rescue him and take him on an adventure.

Night Buddies is an astonishing and inventive adventure with unforgettable cast of characters that will make you laugh and win over your heart. The book has lots of thoughtful, multi-layered twists, giggles, and perils -- things kids can relate to and enjoy. 

Publisher: Dune Buggy Press; One edition (June 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0984741712
ISBN-13: 978-0984741717

Get a sneak peek of the book at

About the Author: 
Sands Hetherington credits his son John for being his principal motivator. Sands raised his son as a single parent from the time John was six. He read to him every night during those formative years. He and young John developed the Crosley crocodile character in the series during months of bedtime story give-and-take. Sands majored in history at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill) and has an M.F.A. in creative writing and an M.A. in English from UNC-Greensboro. He lives in Greensboro.

You can find out more about Sands Hetherington’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Great Guest Post For Summer

10 Smart Tricks for Summer

Ah, the warm summer months are here, which means more time spent outside running around enjoying the outdoors. It also means occasionally battling the bugs, the sun, and the heat. To ensure that these and other common summer annoyances don’t derail your summertime fun, here are 10 smart tricks that can help make your summer a little sweeter:
  1. Keep a dryer sheet in your pocket to keep bugs away. You can spend tons of money buying bug spray, and you’ll most likely end up feeling sticky, smelling like bug spray, and getting bitten by bugs anyway. An easy solution is to carry a dryer sheet with you, which is something most people have at home already anyway. By carrying it in your pocket you can ward off bugs; something about the smell keeps the bugs away from you.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda in sweaty shoes. Running around in your shoes without socks is a regular occurrence during the summer time because everyone just wants to slip shoes on and go. Unfortunately, this also causes extra unwanted odor in your shoes. To fix this problem sprinkle the inside of the shoes with baking soda to absorb the odors. If you’d rather not have the powdery look in your shoes, you can create a sachet by using a rubber band wrapped around a few tablespoons of baking soda in a handkerchief. Just put a sachet in each shoe and the odors will disappear.
  3. Trap fruit flies with apple cider vinegar. Did you bring home fruit flies from the farmers market? Fill a glass jar half full of cider vinegar and screw the lid back on. Punch several holes in the lid and leave the jar where you have seen the fruit flies. They will be gone in no time.
  4. Cool a sunburn with white vinegar. Unfortunately, with the warm summer months comes the occasional sunburn. To take the sting out of a sunburn soak clean soft cloths in white vinegar, wring them out and lay them on the sunburned skin.
  5. Coat feet with petroleum jelly and cover with socks at bedtime. This trick will keep your feet soft and sandal ready all summer. A little petroleum jelly on your elbows and knees will make sure they stay soft and smooth for all of those revealing summer outfits.
  6. Mix a can of cola with ketchup for a quick and easy barbeque sauce. Figure out about how much sauce you want and add the cola to the ketchup to thin it out and add flavor and sweetness. Brush on chicken or ribs during the last stages of cooking on the grill to avoid burning.
  7. Use conditioner to shave your legs in a pinch. Did you forget to pack your shaving cream for your vacation? That’s okay; you can use the sample bottle of conditioner that most hotels give you. This will leave your legs smooth and silky soft.
  8. Apply coconut oil to bee stings and bug bites. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties and will help heal the sting or bite as well as soothe the pain.
  9. Straws make great strawberry hullers. Take a normal straw and push it up through the base of the strawberry and come up under the hull. Keep pushing and the hull will usually come right out. Practice makes perfect with this, but it really works well when you get the hang of it and you won’t have all those strawberry seeds under your finger nails.
  10. Use cute cupcake papers to cover your drinks this summer. When the weather turns nice eating and drinking outside becomes standard, and almost mandatory. The problem with eating and drinking outside is keeping the bugs away from your food and drinks. Get yourself some cupcake papers and use them to cover your drinks. If you’re having a party the cupcake papers can even match the theme. To make a drink cover you just need to punch a hole in the cupcake paper and stick a straw through. Just make sure there are no bugs inside the straw before you drink.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guest Article: Taking Kids on a Cruise

The Pros and Cons of Taking Kids on a Cruise

Published on July 29, 2012, by  in Sitters.
Cruises have become a popular vacation option lately because they offer multiple stops and plenty of activities both onboard the ship and off, and many of them have started catering to families, planning the entire cruise around kid-friendly events.  If you’re toying with the idea of taking the kids on a cruise for your next family vacation, then check out these pros and cons and see if they help if your decision making.
  1. More and more cruise lines are taking families into consideration and ships are more kid friendly now.
  2. Many of the cruise lines (Norwegian, Royal, Disney, and MSC) are catering to kids with ships that have attractions such as water slides, kids’ clubs, kids’ camps, mini-golf, outdoor movies, and video arcades.
  3. There are plenty of things for the kids to do so parents can enjoy some time alone.  Cruise lines have increased their staff to include camp counselors and others to work strictly with the kids on board.
  4. There are teen clubs where teens are free to dance the night away in a non-alcoholic environment or just hang out and make new friends.
  5. One cruise line (MSC) even lets kids cruise for free.
  6. Most cruise lines will accommodate the tastes of your child and several even make their own baby food, but you will need to request this ahead of time.
  7. Room service is free so if you would rather feed your child away from the crowds and distractions of the dining room you can.
  8. Staff members are willing to babysit on the ship during their off hours so that you can get out and take in a show.  Some parents prefer to bring their nanny or a babysitter with them on the cruise, and the cost for an on board babysitter can vary.
  9. High chairs are available in the dining room, or you can have one brought to your state room.
  10. Some cruise lines even have classes geared toward teenagers like photography and film making.
  1. Some cruise lines have not gone the extra mile to include very many kid friendly activities, so you’ll need to do some research ahead of time to see if they have or not.
  2. Even on the cruise lines that have been touted for their kid friendly programs there is often not enough for the kids to do.
  3. Typically kids have to be at least 3 to go into the kids’ clubs and they have to be potty trained.
  4. The tweens (8 to 12) struggle to find their place.  They are too old for many of the kid areas where they are doing crafts and games, but they are too young for the teen club areas.  Depending on the kid you may still find them saying that they are bored.
  5. While some cruise lines have added many kid-specific things to do there aren’t very many family friendly activities.  So if you are looking for a place that you can do something as a family the cruise ship may not be the place.
  6. Most cruise lines charge full price for kids.
  7. Most of the state rooms only have a stand up shower so if your child can’t take a shower you will need to bring an inflatable bathtub with you.
  8. Toddlers who are not potty trained cannot use the pools. Pools on the cruise ship are usually highly chlorinated and it probably wouldn’t be good for young kids anyway.
  9. There aren’t many outlets in the room so you will want to bring your own outlet strip to plug in cell phones, iPods, DVD players and the like.
  10. Closets are very small and filled with shelves, so keep that in mind when you are packing.  There are a few drawers, but not enough for everyone to have their own if you’re all in the same room.
Before booking a cruise with kids in tow, consider the pros and cons to evaluate it family cruising is right for you.


*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.