Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New from Tiny Prints!

As a Tiny Print affiliate I get to find out about all their latest products and then share them with you! One of their new products that I'm really excited about are Photobooks by Tiny Prints. I've been wanting to create a photo book for the longest time but just haven't found the best fit for us until now. I love Tiny Prints photo book site and options. Choose your cover, size of album, page layout and number of pictures on each page. Plus there are a wide variety of backgrounds to choose from and you get to hand select which to use on each of your pages. Did I mention that the backgrounds have been designed by Tiny Prints’ own top artists? Personally I would love to create themed photo books for our vacations and Holidays. Be sure to check out Photobooks by Tiny Prints.

Also now available:

Free online RSVP service from Tiny Prints.

Save The Date Cards, Magnets, Postcards and more from Wedding Paper Divas.

Photo Wall Calendars by Tiny Prints.

Plus if you love my affiliate Tea Collection and Tiny Prints then you'll love the Tea Collection line available at Tiny Prints.
Tea Collection for Tiny Prints:
Birth Announcements, Baby Shower Invitations, Holiday Cards & More

Monday, August 30, 2010

Emily and Albert

Well the school year is here. One of my fond memories of returning to school was getting to return to friends. So I thought I'd feature a fun little BFF picture book, Emily and Albert, by Jan Ormerod and illustrated by David Slonim. Join the adventures of Emily and Albert in this five chapter book of the give and takes of friendship. Emily and Albert couldn't be more different from one another. Emily is dramatic and opinionated to Albert's calm, easy going ways. The balance works out just great for these two. The chapter list includes: Noses, Hiccups, Dancing, Feeling Better and, my favorite, A Good Book. I love all the personality that David Slonim adds to this twosome through his cartoon illustrations.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Top Five Fridays - Kevin Henkes

With my oldest starting pre-K very soon I thought it would be a good week to highlight some great back to school reads. Growing up and going to school are easy, right? If only it always was. One of my favorite authors of great reads for those early school years is Kevin Henkes.No one tackles some of the tough parts of growing up quite like Kevin Henkes in early children's picture books. His characters are very relatable to children. Some are anxious to go to school, clinging to a loved snuggly, singled out for being different, worried about, well, everything. We've all been there and many have helped our kids through these days as well. Henkes handles these topics wonderfully with a sun will and does come out tomorrow outlook.

You will find his stories and characters endearing. He has written and illustrated dozens of children book classics. Most of his picture books have been illustrated by him. His illustrations are often colorful, cheery and cartoon style. The only exception is the black and white illustrations of his Kitten's First Full Moon book.

I must confess I've not read all of Henkes books, we're working on it. There's a lot. But I have read many. I also have not read any of his novels for older kids. I honestly did not know he wrote juvenile fiction until I started working on writing this post. I will definitely be checking those out soon. To learn more about Henkes please visit his site: kevinhenkes.com.

So here are my top five picks for the picture books of Kevin Henkes-

1. Owen - All you crafty Mom's will appreciate Owen's own Mom's resourcefulness

2. Chrysanthemum - As for terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, poor Chrysanthemum has her share. But Mrs. Twinkle a wonderful teacher comes to the rescue. Hooray for teachers like Mrs. Twinkle!

3. Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse - Another great read of a day gone bad and a wise teacher to help make things right.

4. My Garden - Okay I LOVE garden books and oh my what a garden a good imagination can grow!

5. Birds, illustrated by Laura Dronzek - Also not a back to school book but a lovely read about types of birds and filled with a rainbow of colors. Would make a lovely classroom read though too.

What are some of your favorites? Any suggestions on which novel I should check out first by Henkes?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hospitality and so much more

I was thrilled to receive a copy of the The Reluctant Entertainer: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality by Sandy Coughlin to review. I've been a browser of her blog, The Reluctant Entertainer, for awhile now, so I had a sense of what this book would be about. I must say it exceeded my expectations and I was already set for a great read. This truly is an every woman's guide. I must say my own personal experiences in hospitality and entertaining were very similar to Sandy's. In my 20s I couldn't wait to host events and have friends over even in our small 600 SF condo. We would host dinners for up to 12 guests there. Now in my 30s with kids a little bit bigger home I've locked myself a bit in the need to be perfect box, just as Sandy shared. I guess I feel, as many others probably do, that I should have it more together now that I'm older. I've raised the expectations on myself and in turn have simply started to shy away from hosting events. Or maybe I've just had more time to build up my arsenal of excuses.

I'm so glad I got a copy of this book so it will not take me until I reach my 40s or longer to get my priorities and expectations set right. Sandy's writing style is personable, open and gracious. This book is packed with all the practical tips, recipes, ins and outs of hosting events in a simple and inviting way. Add in all of Sandy's warm encouragement and you will be set to start opening your heart and home to others. This is a must have guide to entertaining and will be a resource that I will go to for many years to come.

I received a free copy of this book from Revell: A division of Baker Publishing Group. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

DaySpring introduces the new Ever Grateful Collection

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sometimes I Swirl - I won!

So I actually won, one of the lovely blog giveaways that I entered! It was hosted by Amanda at Serenity Now and it was for the art work of Sarah Hennessey. She has the lovely Etsy shop Sometimes I Swirl. Don't you love that name! She says she's inspired by the art work of Paul Klee one of my favorite artist so it's no wonder I love her art work. The two pieces I selected with my gift certificate were:

This 5x7 drawing titled - Teal and Blue Abstract Flowers

And this 5x7 drawing titled - Blue, Navy, Teal Ink Drawn Flower Garden

Aren't they gorgeous? I seriously can not stop staring at them. I had shared with Sarah in my selection that I had thought that I would order the Crooked City. Being an Architect, prior to becoming a SAHM, I am just drawn to architectural drawings and love ones with a touch of whimsy. Or in this case a good dose of whimsy:-) But that we desperately needed art work for our Master Bedroom that we are working on and just fell in love with her teal and blue pieces. Our MB color schemes are dark browns, grey and teal. I could not be happier with how they fit in!

So what does Sarah do? She sends me the Crooked City print in addition to the two I won!!! That just floored me. Isn't it amazing?? It'll go in our living room. We love decorating with our architectural books and I'm sure it will be a great conversation piece of art! Sarah, is not only very talented but so generous!

I was a little nervous picking out pieces on my own. My Husband has a great eye for art and is very opinionated about what pieces we select. He LOVED them!! We have even tentatively talked about the possibility of seeing if Sarah could create larger pieces to go over the MB bed. I think they would be lovely. We've been on the hunt for art work that was abstract, in the blues/teals color scheme and floral. Check, check, check. Maybe for Christmas or our next anniversary....

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mrs. Spitzer's Garden

Mrs. Spritzer's Garden by Edith Pattou and illustrated by Tricia Tusa makes a lovely back to school read or gift for student and teacher alike. Each September the Principal hands Mrs. Spritzer a new packet of seeds, what?? Each September? Okay this is clearly not a spring gardening book. Rather Pattou does a fun play and comparison on how each new class for a teacher is like lovingly tending to a new garden. The plants, I mean students, need lots of care. Each are different, some need lots of light, some more attention, some simply flourish like wild flowers. Each are unique. Mrs. Spritzer spends her year watching over and tending to her new garden, I mean class. Then at the end of the year she gets to stand back and admire all the growth! The drawings are equally lovely and whimsical as the story is.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Top Five Friday - Mo Willems

We're big fans of Mo Willems around here. Publishing his first children's picture book in 2003, his bibliography has simply exploded. They are almost too numerous to count and he's continuing to write more! I am a huge fan of his humerous, simple writing style and equally simplistic drawing style. And so are my kids. To learn more about Mo Willems visit this link to his site. We went on a Mo Willems reading spree at our library to make sure we've checked out all the books before even attempting to write this post. So here goes...

My top five picks for Mo Willems:

1. Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale - You've got to love a good cautionary tale, no?

2. Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identities - What can I say we're hooked on Trixie and Knuffle.

3. Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She was Extinct - This is so my sense of humor!

4. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! - We love the pigeon books but I'd have to say this is one of our favorites. We can not get enough books about sharing over here it seems...repetition, repetition, repetition.

5. I Love my New Toy! - We love the Elephant and Piggie series too, you really can't go wrong here but this is definitly one of my favorites. Oh, the drama!

What are your favorites?

And there's a new Knuffle bunny book on it's way! Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion is due out September 28th, be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Illustrated Dictionary of Math

The first time I learned about the Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Math by Tori Large and illustrated by Adam Constantine, I knew I NEEDED to add it to my collection. I'm actually fairly comfortable with math, I took college level calculus. Studying architecture I also had to take several structural engineering courses but knew I would need to have a quick refresher guide on hand to help my two little ones as they began the study of mathematics. I would have loved to have had this guide as I learned algebra, geometry, trigonometry etc. It's recommended for ages 12 and up but this book actually does have a brief section in the front that covers the most basic concepts and definitions of numbers, arithmetic, subtraction, division, multiplication. So I would recommend getting this book right for the start of your children's beginnings in math. You will then have a great resource for years to come. It will also give you time to familiarize yourself with the book and all the resources and information that it has to offer.

Concepts are clearly explained, illustrations are provided where applicable to further help define complex math concepts. The content is arranged thematically and words are defined in proper context. Plus this book has a comprehensive index is provided. It also comes with recommended websites to reference for additional online help and resources.

Usborne books has several other illustrated dictionaries to assist in the most challenging subjects of math and science, all with internet resources including: Illustrated Elementary Math Dictionary, Illustrated Dictionary of Biology, Illustrated Dictionary of Chemistry, Illustrated Dictionary of Physics and the Illustrated Dictionary of Science.

As always, please contact me if you are interested in the Usborne or Kane Miller books I have recommended here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Latte Daze, by Erynn Mangum

Latte Daze by Erynn Mangum is the follow up to Cool Beans in her Maya Davis novels. I'd have to say I'm a big fan of Mangum's writing style and am hooked. Love is in the air in this book as both Maya and her roommate Jen are in committed relationships with their boyfriends and both taking big steps forward in each respective relationship as the book progresses. You hope that it all works out for both of them but there is a slight air of uncertainty that lingers. There are a few bumps in the road and many changes swirling around for Maya, someone who does not like change. I liked how Mangum is able to interject applicable scripture versus throughout whether it was through Maya's devotions, church or Bible study. I've not read another Christian fiction writer who has built so much of the story around multiple scripture before and found this very refreshing. It's a great light, enjoyable read and I look forward to the next book in this series. I'm maybe even more so curious about a few of the secondary characters of this book, like Jen's Mom and how Maya's relationship and witness to them might change them in upcoming books.

I received a free copy of this book from NavPress Publishers' book review program. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Good Knight Sleep Tight

Yet another happy library find. Good Knight Sleep Tight by David Melling will capture your imagination and tickle your funny bone. I would like to start with a little on the illustrations. In my opinion illustrations are more important than the story of a picture book. A good story line can also carry a picture book but after all these are called picture books so the illustrations are where it’s at for me. This book delivers both a good storyline and wacky, whimsical illustrations that do what all great picture books should do. They add even more to the storyline than the written words tell. There are numerous cast of characters to be watched in the tapestries of the castle and on the Good Knights shield. The Good Knight is accompanied by a lion on his shield that has his own activities and actions going on as they go along their quest, so be sure to keep an eye on him.

This is a great read especially if you are about to welcome a new little baby to your family. The story is about just that. A young prince is not to impressed with his new baby sister. All is going along okay until her favorite royal pillow is destroyed and the Good Knight is called on to re-stuff the royal pillow so that peace and quiet will be once again restored to the castle. In the end the little prince’s attention and care is all that is needed for the little princess to be satisfied. I think it’s a great lesson for older siblings on how much their new little brothers and sisters look up to and adore them too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Captured by Grace: No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God by Dr. David Jeremiah

Captured by Grace: No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God, by Dr. David Jeremiah.

Ever feel like God is pursuing you or trying to get your attention? Well, God is trying to get your attention. Why does he want to get your attention? It’s because he wants to give you the gift of his grace. Grace, an incredible gift indeed, ever thought about that word before or just what it implies? Dr. David Jeremiah delves right into this concept in his book Captured by Grace: No One is Beyond the Reach of a Loving God. Using one of the probably best known, well loved hymns of all times, Amazing Grace, and a look at it's author, John Newton's life paralleled with the life of and scriptures written by the apostle Paul as a framework to unfold just what exactly God's grace is for us.

Filled with vivid, descriptive text, illustrative stories and solidly grounded in the scripture this book will change your understanding and perspective at some degree for every one, as to what grace is, and how God works. It was a slow read for me but a good one as it is packed with Biblical teachings and truths. My understanding of God's word grew it seemed with pretty much each turn of the page. I know that this will be a reference book that I turn back to time and time again, not just a one time read.

I received a free copy of this book through Thomas Nelson Publishing’s Book Sneeze book review program. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer Reading Usborne Style - a novel idea

Today I'm continuing on with the last installment of my Usborne summer reading picks. Thanks so much for joining in! I thought I better get these wrapped up as it's August already and I see all the posts about back to school on your lovely blogs starting to pop up! I'm going to try to cling to these last few weeks of summer here for awhile if I can.

Ages 10 & up

For me this is a great age for enjoying a good novel read. I'm sure many of your children are participating in summer reading through your schools or libraries, so I'd like to end this little series highlighting a few of the great book series that Usborne and Kane Miller Publishing have to offer. Be sure to check out these wonderful juvenile reads. I'm actually a huge fan of juvenile fiction and hope to highlight some more of these great books and series that I grew up reading and am discovering new.

Here's my five favorite juvenile fiction/non-fiction series that Usborne/Kane Miller books carry-

I love the Usborne Classics retold series. I've shared before that I think it's never to early to start reading classic stories to your little ones, in a post I did on the picture book series of Little House of the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My two are preschoolers so I'm busy snatching up picture books that fit this criteria and eyeing many of the early readers series from Usborne and someday will be filling our shelves with and encouraging my two to read these wonderful adapted versions of some of my most loved classic reads. Retold by various authors other titles include Tom Sawyer, A Tale of Two Cities and Moby Dick.

Authors Adele Geras, Linda Newbery and Ann Turnbull collaborated in this unique series where they all write about one very special house and the extraordinary young women who have lived there throughout history. Other titles in this series include: Cecily's Portrait, Polly's March and Josie Under Fire.

If you're looking for a great non-fiction read you should check out the Usborne True Stories series which includes a collection of thrilling adventure stories all based on actual life events. Others titles in this series by various authors include: Crime and Detection, True Stories of D-Day, True Escape Stories, The First World War, Ghosts, Heroes, Pirates, True Stories of The Second World War, Spies, Survival, The Blitz, and War Stories.

The Jack Russell Dog Detective series by Darrell Odgers and Sally Odgers is a series brought to us from Australia by Kane Miller Publishing. Best read in order this is a great series for anyone who enjoys a good mystery and of course a dog lover. There are currently 11 titles in all.

Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord is one of Usborne/Kane Millers new best selling series. If action adventure is your type of a read then you will enjoy this series. Started in January 2010 with an idea of a subscription read that you would receive a new book each month this series has taken off. While it is now August these books are still available to purchase or if you're lucky your library may have gotten on board with several subscriptions. Best read in order of course come join in the adventure with Callum Ordmund as he fights for his survival and to uncover the truth surrounding his father's mysterious death.

As always if you would like to order any of these books or have any questions regarding Usborne books and Kane Miller please contact me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer Reading Usborne Style - It's elementary my dear

Continuing on with my little series highlighting great summer reads from Usborne books. Thanks for joining in again today! There is a HUGE variety of books available from Usborne so they've got you covered for summer reading, activities, crafts and more!

Ages 6 & older

Looking for some great summer reads for your summer reading list? Try one of these early readers levels 1-4 available with a variety of titles.

Whether your child or you is into fiction, non-fiction, a good classic tale such as an Aesop fable and fairytales or all of the above Usborne First Readers series will have a book for you. As noted above there is a great selections of titles available in reading levels 1-4. Above is a sampling of some of my favorites all by various authors and illustrators.

Want to beat the summer 'I'm boreds'? Usborne has you covered with a wide variety of kid kits, activity books and activity cards to keep you busy all summer long.

The Young Naturalist Kit includes book by A. Mitchell, butterfly net, vacuum style bug catching device, tools for planting a bottle garden and magnifying glass.

Dinosaur Excavation Adventure Kit includes clay rock with dinosaur skeleton buried inside, archeological digging tools, eye goggles and brush. Think about paring this with one of Usborne's numerous Dinosaur books or opt for the T-Rex Excavation Kit which includes the Dinosaurs (Beginners) book.

Rocks and Fossils Kit includes book by M. Bramwell, sample box of 8 rocks and minerals and a magnifying glass.

There are many other options to choose from too.

Usborne has a wide selection of Things to Do and Make books and card sets. The Doodle cards have a wipe clean surface to use again and again. Above are some of my favorite picks for summer activities by various authors and illustrators.

And to close do you remember back a few posts to my themed preschool picks? Well try these books for your older kids to continue the themed reading and learning fun for everyone!

Whales and Dolphins by Susanna Davidson is filled with all kinds of fascinating information on whales and dolphins. Learn how the breathe, swim, eat and much more.

1001 Things to Spot in the Sea by Katie Daynes. This book is filled with things to find, count and talk about great for hours of puzzle-solving fun as you discover secrets of the sea.

Continue the deep sea finding and learning with Great Undersea Search by Rosie Heywood.

Discovery Bugs by Rosie Dickins is a vividly illustrated guide of bugs from around the world.

1001 Bugs to Spot by Emma Helbrough is filled with bugs to find, count and talk about great for hours of puzzle-solving fun.

Continue the searching and learning with over 100 bugs to find on each double page with Big Bug Search by Caroline Young.

Check back for my picks for ages 10 & up

Due to number of selections covered, I opted not to include other titles available in the various series. Series usually have several different topics and books in them. Also several listed titles are internet referenced for additional information and resources. As always if you would like to order any of these books or have any questions regarding Usborne books and Kane Miller please contact me.