Monday, November 24, 2008

Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot- FREE Online

Wanted to let you know that anyone who is interested can currently read Meg Cabot's The Princess Diaries, in its entirity for free, online at Harper Collins' website. Click below to check it out!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

MobiStories: Virtual Books for Kids

In a day and age when seemingly everything is going electronic it makes a certain amount of sense to steer that way in literature too. We've seen it happen years ago with books on tape, then on cds, and now you can download them for your iPod, or to read on your e-readers and computers. Mostly it's adults who have been able to benefit from the modern advancements (tapes and cds aside), but now that's all changing. Enter, MobiStories: Virtual Books for Kids.

Anytime - Anywhere Whether on the go or at home, MobiStories makes reading fun. With a library in your pocket, storytime is wherever and whenever your child wants it to be. Just load up your portable device with some of our great books and voila - you’ll never be without an entertaining story in the palm of your hand. And remember, when people ask why your child is so quiet, just say: "MobiStories!"

MobiStories bring books to life right before your eyes. With graphics, narrators, and read-along text, children from 1-10 can curl up with a book anywhere and anytime. Need a few minutes for a quick shower or to toss a load of laundry in? With MobiStories, your child can be entertained and mentally stimulated without sitting infront of the television or playing games online. Parents and their children can easily browse the great online books offered on, preview a short snippet of each, and then quickly purchase their selections (for really reasonable prices) for immediate download. MobiStories are compatible for viewing on PCs, DVDs, iPods, iPhones, the iTouch, and more. With so many compatibility options, your child can view the stories whether at home or on the go.

As anyone will tell you, I'm a big proponant for print books. I love the convenience of e-books just like everyone else, but in giving up the bound and printed books for the techno style I feel that readers are missing out on so much of the experience that reading itself has to offer. So, when I heard about MobiStories my interest was piqued. Could this company really make a digital version be as fun and straightforward, without all the bells and whistles, as sitting down to read a hardcopy? The answer is, Yes!

I figured this would be something my 5 year old would enjoy, and I was right. She was hooked on the spot by the first book we "read" together, Good Mousekeeping. The stories come across like a blend of audio books and movies. Read by a narrator and coupled with fun musical accompaniment and sound effects, each book appears visually on the screen for young readers to watch and follow along with. The illustrations are fun and because the text appears on each page as it would without narration, the child can read along, outloud or silently, with the narrator. Even the pages realistically turn at the appropriate times. All in all, it's a pretty neat combo.

My daughter loved the interactive aspect of the books, and all four that we downloaded (Good Mousekeeping, Ella Elephant, The Squirrels' Thanksgiving, and Salsa for Kittens and Puppies) were a big hit. Naturally we had to "read" them all back to back, and she was immediately asking if we could download more. If that's not a stamp of approval I'm not sure what is!

And while I'd still never in a million years give up print books, I can say honestly that this new version is pretty cool. With several great age categories and titles to choose from, MobiStories is an awesome tool for parents, grandparents, and educators alike to use to continue to inspire the love of reading in the kids in their lives.

Would you like to try out MobiStories for yourself? Well, thanks to MobiStories and Mom Select I'm excited to tell you that you too can try MobiStories on for size. Through December 31st, 2008 ALL of my readers here at Ready Set Read Reviews can use coupon code BSM226A upon checkout at to receive $10 in free downloads. Plus act now and you'll be able to score a bonus as Salsa for Kittens and Puppies is currently being offered for free too!

***Thanks again to the wonderful people at MobiStories and Mom Select for this great review opportunity!***

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Commenters Tag Fest (a little fun)

I've been tagged for a meme, but I'm not actually sure I even have enough qualifications to continue the tagging process. LOL Like Sara, it was really hard to find enough commenters to actually do this, but here it goes...

The rules are:

1. List the last 10 commenters on your blog.
2. If you’re on the list, you’re tagged.

My List of 10:

1. Michelle
2. morninglight mama
3. sarahwithnoh
4. Anna
5. Terry
6. Ruby (Mouth)
7. Cecelia
8. ChefDruck
9. Claire
10. Mary512

And here are the questions:

1. What's your favorite post from number 3's blog?
I enjoy all of Sara's posts, but from her most recent ones I'd pick the one she made about her anniversary gift she gave her husband. The gift was very unique and creative, and it was cool to see what the finished product looked like.

2. Has number 10 taken any pictures that moved you?
I don't think Mary has posted any pictures lately that haven't gone along with a product review or post, so I'll go with 'no' on this question. (Aren't I boring? lol)

3. Does number 6 reply to comments on her blog?
She would if she had any. (Love ya, Sis.)

4. Which part of blogland is #2 from?
morninglight mama has a great blog centering around her life as a mom and wife. Her posts generally have to do with whatever happens to be on her mind, and are often times very insightful, thought provoking, and funny.

5. If you could give one piece of advice to number 7, what would it be?
Keep up the good work. You've a wonderful blog!

6. Have you ever tried something from number 9's blog?
I've tried the Avon Foot Works stuff she has posted in one of her most recent giveaway posts.

7. Has number 1 blogged something that inspired you?
I thought that Michelle's post about staying busy with work and missing your kids touched home with me. I love my p/t job and I love the benefits it provides for my family, but I miss the time I'm no longer getting with my girls during those hours. Michelle's post inspired me to simply enjoy all the time that I can with my girls when I'm not at work, and to keep in mind that they grow up so quickly.

8. How often do you comment on number 4's blog?
I don't comment enough, but I have sooooo many blogs that I try to keep up. I really need to do better. I love reading her interviews and reviews at Diary of Eccentric.

9. Do you wait for number 8 to post excitedly?
Yes, actually. ChefDruck always has great reviews and giveaways on her site, so I always look forward to getting my e-updates from her.

10. How did number 5's blog change your life?
I've only really just recently discovered this blog, so I don't have much to say about it yet. And while I'm not sure it's necessarily changed my life I would say that it's bound to provide lots of wonderful reviews and book recommendations. I'm all about kids lit, and this blogsite is very much in the same boat.

Okay, that's it. That's my boring responses. LOL

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teen FIRST Blog Tour: Infidel (The Lost Books Vol 2) by Ted Dekker **Plus Review**

It's the 21st, time for the Teen FIRST blog tour!(Join our alliance! Click the button!) Every 21st, we will feature an author and his/her latest Teen fiction book's FIRST chapter!

and his book:

Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)


Ted is the son of missionaries John and Helen Dekker, whose incredible story of life among headhunters in Indonesia has been told in several books. Surrounded by the vivid colors of the jungle and a myriad of cultures, each steeped in their own interpretation of life and faith, Dekker received a first-class education on human nature and behavior. This, he believes, is the foundation of his writing.

After graduating from a multi-cultural high school, he took up permanent residence in the United States to study Religion and Philosophy. After earning his Bachelor's Degree, Dekker entered the corporate world in management for a large healthcare company in California. Dekker was quickly recognized as a talent in the field of marketing and was soon promoted to Director of Marketing. This experience gave him a background which enabled him to eventually form his own company and steadily climb the corporate ladder.

Since 1997, Dekker has written full-time. He states that each time he writes, he finds his understanding of life and love just a little clearer and his expression of that understanding a little more vivid. To see a complete list of Dekker's work, visit The Works section of

Here are some of his latest titles:
Chosen (The Lost Books, Book 1) (The Books of History Chronicles)
Black: The Birth of Evil (The Circle Trilogy Graphic Novels, Book 1)


Product Details
List Price:$15.99
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (November 11, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595546049
ISBN-13: 978-1595546043


(Click Pictures to Zoom!)

Time for my thoughts...

I wasn't sure what I should expect going in to reading this book because I hadn't ever read a graphic novel. I've also never really gotten in to the comic book scene, so the entire thing was new to me. I accepted the review opportunity based solely on the fact that I really like Dekker, and I figured this would be a fun opportunity to see both another side of him and to see what all the hype is about regarding graphic novels.

I won't go as far as to say that I'd rush out to read another graphic novel, but I do see why the appeal is there. There's something unique about being able to read and have the pictures there all along the way to illustrate for you just how everything is happening. I was actually amazed by the degree of depth and detail of some of the images. Some were pretty basic, but then you had others that were just beautiful. I especially liked how gorgeous the woman were.

For the story, I'd say that it was neither here nor there for me. I think maybe I just didn't fully grasp the concept due to the fact that it was in graphic novel format or maybe because I haven't read the first volume or either of the regular novels. I thought it was okay, but the plot seemed kind of shallow. On the back cover synopsis it sounds like Infidel will be quite the well put together story with just the right amount of mystery, drama, and action to really draw in the reader. What I found when reading, however, wasn't quite that fantastic. It was interesting, but I didn't think that the storyline was really all that deep or exciting. Again though, maybe I'm over simplifying it because I'm not use to reading this style (ie graphic novel).

Whatever the case, I can say that I was intrigued enough by how it came together at the end. So, I'd probably want to read the next books Renegade and Chaos when they come out. I'm not so invested in the story that I'm biting at the bit for the next releases, but I'm curious enough to give them a go when the time comes. Maybe they'll get better for me as I get more familiar with the style.

OUR GRADE: 3 Hearts

The Secret History of Giants- BOOK GIVEAWAY

The time has come, my friends, for me to host my very first ever Ready Set Read Reviews book giveaway! It's unfortunately not something I can afford to do all the time, but Candlewick Press has ever so generously donated a brand new hardcopy of Professor Ari Berk's The Secret History of Giants for me to giveaway here on my blog.

Because I haven't read the book, I can't post a review. However, I can say that, after having taken a quick peek between the covers, that it looks like a really cool book. From the textured front cover to the incredibly detailed illustrations to the neat surprises included on many of the pages. It just looks like a fun book!

Here's what the publisher has to say about it...

Ancient Greece had its Titans, the Celts their Green Knight, the Bible Goliath -- and for those who know where to look, signs of these legendary hulking creatures still abound. Now comes a hugely engrossing chronicle of
giants since antiquity, from their role in forming mountains and causing earthquakes to the mysteries of their sacks (watch out for hitchhiking humans); from their means of employment (how did the Druids built Stonehenge?) to an extensive map of places around the world where giants may likely be found. Exhaustive and lushly illustrated, this enormously valuable resource is sure to fascinate all who open its covers.

Special features include:

  • sundry flaps, booklets, and gatefolds
  • a lavish foiled and embossed cover
  • an elegant tassel dangling from the spine

Are there giants among us? Find their story writ large in a lavish exploration touching on folklore and myth, truth and whimsy.

If you live in the US and think this book sounds like something you'd be interested in winning for yourself or a special child in your life, please leave me a comment here telling me about your favorite folklore or mythical creature.

For extra entries readers can do one or all of the following:

  • Subscribe to my e-mail updates (link can be found on right side column)

  • Follow me here at Ready Set Read Reviews (link can be found on right side column)

  • Stumble either this post or the main Ready Set Read Reviews page and comment back with your Stumble ID

  • Add my button (found on right side coloum) to your blog roll

  • Mention this giveaway on your blog by creating a new post linking back to me

Please come back and leave a new comment for each new entry. (Please include links.)

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up next week, I'm going to leave this open for entries through Friday December 5th. I'll then do an online random draw to determine which lucky reader will be taking home this prize just in time for Christmas.

Due to cost of postage, US entries ONLY on this first giveaway. I'll see how it goes, and then consider my options again in the future.


Book Fair

Oooh, the temptation! Last week began the set up for my daughter's school book fair. Being the involved and book loving momma that I am, I immediately signed up at the beginning of the school year to volunteer at the book fair when the time rolled around. I knew I'd be getting in deep being surrounded by all those books for sale, but I had no idea how bad it would be. Add to it the fact that it's being hosted in the library and, OH MY GOD, it's torture. *laugh* Nah, seriously, I am so thrilled that I signed up to help out, and it's been so much fun.

Last Friday I volunteered for 3.5hrs in the afternoon, and I helped the kids as they came in to make their wish lists for the parents, grandparents, etc. All of the younger classes had already been through the day before and earlier that morning, so the kids that were coming in weren't so small as to need me to do all the work. They did need help finding certain titles they were looking for and locating the product prices. It was fun and exciting (Silly, I'm sure.) to be able to volunteer.

Then today I picked up the first shift and worked a little over 5hrs during the actual sale itself. Last week I had my mum take off work to watch my 3 yr old, but today's hours I actually picked up yesterday. So, I had to take dd#2 with me. I was pretty curious how it was going to work out, and I have to say she really surprised me. I knew she'd be good, yet I totally didn't think she'd hold out so well for so long. She was so good though, and kept herself entertained by looking at the books and playing with some duplos that the librarian keeps on hand in the back room for just those occassions. I'm glad she did so well, cause we're going back tomorrow. Only, tomorrow I'm scheduled for both the morning and the afternoon shift. We'll be there from 7a-3p. I hope the novelty hasn't worn off for dd. :P

Anyway, the fair itself seems to be going great, and I've really enjoyed being able to talk books with the students, parents, volunteers, and library staff. It's fun to be able to recommend a book and see the parent or child turn around and buy it based on your recommendation. I know that's what I hope to accomplish through this blog (or the reading of the books anyways, not necessarily the buying), yet it was even more exciting to see it happen first hand.

Another totally positive note on the whole thing is that I got to shop today. Woohoo! As a volunteer I earn $5 of credit for each shift I work. Added up, when all is said and done, I'll have earned $30, maybe $35 in free books! I still have all day tomorrow and all day Tuesday to work; that's 4 shifts. Who knows, I might even pick up a shift on Monday if they're short handed. With all the awesome books they have for sale this year, I knew it was going to be really hard to narrow my choices down to keep me from going over what I alloted myself to spend. This extra bonus money was totally wonderful because it means, SCORE, more books! I bought sextoday, having only spent $16 out of pocket. I haven't yet decided what I'll get with the rest of the credit I'll earn. Was actually looking at some cute YA books for myself. hehehe I'm so bad! :P

Today's take home bargains were-

Barbie Mariposa: A Storybook by Mary Man-Kong (for dd#1)
Butterfly Meadow: Dazzle's First Day by Olivia Moss (for dd#1)
Madagascar Escape 2 Africa: Father and Son Save the Day by Gail Herman (for dd#2)
Hugs and Kisses by Christophe Loupy (for dd#2)
Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems (for girls to share)

The sixth book was called Don't Eat the Babysitter, and it was on dd#1's teacher's wish list for her classroom. So we bought it for her, and had a cute little bookplate sticker put inside saying it was from dd#1 to her teacher's class and it marked the year. I thought that was really cool.

Oi, long day, long night at work, and I'm pretty convinced that this post is going to be utter babble. Ugh. Sorry! LOL

Short point of long story, I'm having a blast being involved at dd#1's school. The book fair is awesome, and I'm so glad I decided to step up and jump in.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Always and Everywhere... a book with a cause

Most of the time when we as readers determine to buy a book it's based on some trivial reason such as price, appeal, etc. We buy the book, the author makes some money of it, and so do several people in between. Now there's nothing at all wrong with this process of elimination, and there is certainly nothing wrong with the chain of command as that's the nature of the business. But, what if there was a book that looked interesting and inspiring, was very reasonably priced, and was written and being sold for a totally selfless cause? Would this cause you to pause and take note? If it would, then get ready to put everything on hold for just a few moments, because I have a book I'd like to suggest to you.

Always and Everywhere by Laura Bowman

I have personally never seen or read this book except for what I'm about to share with you here online. Infact, I only just discovered it myself tonight while browsing some of my favorite blogs. Just reading the author's introduction on the site though has me thinking this is a book worth promoting. I'd absolutely love to read it too, but will have to wait til I have some extra money to pick up a copy. If anyone should read it, based on this post referral, before I get a chance to, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Author and illustrator, Laura Bowman, created Always and Everywhere to help a dear friend in need. Margie LaSalle was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. The book is intended to raise funds for Margie and her family. The LaSalle family, including husband Chris and children, John Mark and Claire, currently live in a two bedroom condominium. The stairs throughout their current home are difficult for Margie to negotiate due to the pain associated with the cancer in her bones. The LaSalle’s are in need of funds to help cover medical expenses and to assist in moving expenses. Proceeds from Always and Everywhere will assist in these initiatives.

Always and Everywhere features John Mark and Claire, Margie’s two children. The book revolves around a series of questions from the children, and reassuring responses from their mom. The final question, regarding the existence of angels, provides reinforcement that we are never alone. For the children who are facing, or have faced, the loss of a Mother; Always and Everywhere is a reminder that Mom is always with you in the lessons that she taught and her spirit is eternal.

So, if the sound of this book or the drive behind it inspires you, there's no better time to order the special child(ren) in your life a copy than right now. Doing so will not only help promote the love of reading I hope all of you are trying to instill in your child(ren), but you'll also be helping out a very worthy cause in the process.

If you've read this far, THANK YOU!

One last side note, if anyone reading this lives in the Atlanta, GA area or knows of anyone who does, there's a Book Launch party coming up soon.

Thursday, November 20th from 5 - 9 PM @ the Mason Murer Projects in Buckhead
There will be: Live music, book signings, and silent auction of the original artwork from the book (Which is stunning, by the way.) Please go to the artwork section for information about bidding and to view the paintings.
All proceeds go to the Margie LaSalle Cancer Fund

Falling for Rapunzel & Waking Beauty by Leah Wilcox

Falling for Rapunzel by Leah Wilcox
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Puffin
Publication Date: December 2005
ISBN-13: 978-0439750462

Always a fan of fairy tales, I love to read new renditions just to see what the authors will do with them. Granted almost all the fairy tales that our children have come to know and love, and likely ourselves as wee ones as well, are in and of themselves retellings. Anyone who has read the original Grimm tales knows they are far darker than anything we actually pass along to our kiddos. However, I digress. Back to Falling for Rapunzel.

This is a book we actually checked out from our local library a couple of months ago, but my 5 year old liked it so much she ended up checking it out from her school library again just the other day. Falling for Rapunzel is, as the name suggests, a retelling of the original Rapunzel fairy tale. Though, unlike its classic counterpart, Wilcox's version is simply uproarious.

When the Prince happens past Rapunzel's tower he hears her crying [because she's having a bad hair day] and thinks she is upset because she is unable to escape her stone confines. In an effort to try and rescue her, the Prince cries out to Rapunzel telling her to toss her long hair out the window. He intends to climb up and save her (How, I'm not exactly sure, but that's just me.), but his idea is lost on Rapunzel. Unable to understand exactly what the Prince has shouted up to her, the ditzy Rapunzel proceeds to toss down everything but the kitchen sink- starting with her underwear. (This was my daughter's absolute favorite part of the entire book. I'm quite certain it was this bit alone that was at least ninety percent responsible for causing her to pick up the book in the first place.)

The Prince tries countless times to get Rapunzel to understand his request, but he eventually gives up after she tosses out her maid in lieu of her braid. For the Prince and the maid, it's love at first sight. And truly, the Prince is exasperated with Rapunzel anyways. So, the maid and the Prince take off together, leaving Rapunzel and her bad hair behind.

What a clever, off the wall story. I can see why my daughter loves it so much. Combine the witty, rhyming text with the colorful and jocular illustrations (by illustrator Lydia Monks), and you have both a visually and mentally engaging tale.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Waking Beauty by Leah Wilcox
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Putnam Juvenile
Publication Date: January 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0399246159

When I picked this book up off the library shelf I didn't immediately realize it was written by the same author as Falling for Rapunzel. As it turns out, it was actually only after we got home and I started to really look at the artwork that I sensed a familiarity I couldn't quite place. Just as I was about to pull the connection out of my head, I happened to flip to the back cover where there was a picture of Wilcox's previous book. If only I'd have realized there was a sequel, or rather yet another fractured fairy tale from Wilcox, I'd have looked for this one sooner.

As I've said before, I've always been fond of checking out the retellings of popular fairy tales. And this take on Sleeping Beauty is nothing short of comical, entertaining, and truly original.

While out on a dragon hunt, Prince Charming hears a horrible dragon roaring from within Sleeping Beauty's castle. He rushes in to bag his beast, only to discover the roar was not that of a dragon but the snore of Beauty fast asleep. The three good faeries are there watching over her, and they are thrilled to see that a prince has finally, after 100 years, arrived to break Beauty's sleeping spell. However, as readers will quickly find out, Prince Charming isn't exactly charming. Nor is he very bright. But then, if he was, this story wouldn't be nearly as funny.

Instead of kissing the fair maiden, the Prince determines he must try a number of other things first. He shouts, jumps on the bed, dumps water on the sleeping Princess, and even shoots her out of the castle from a canon! Alas, Beauty doesn't not wake up. And as the faeries have tried to tell the stubborn Prince, there is only one way that he can wake her- with a kiss. Finally the Prince relents and listens to what the faeries have been trying to tell him. Once he does, he is able to eventually wake Sleeping Beauty from her century long nap. Yet, there's one more surprise in store for the Prince. I won't tell you what though because I need leave some element of surprise for you should you decide to pick this one up to read to your kiddo(s).

Waking Beauty is a hilarious tale which will evoke laughter from both boys and girls alike. While I don't expect boys to be drawn to the title or even the girlie cover, I think I can say, without a shadow of doubt, that even they would get a kick out of this fairy tale retelling. They will surely enjoy the rough and tumble ways the crazy lead character, aka the Prince, attempts to wake the princess. Girls too will relish the kooky steps the Prince takes to wake Princess Beauty, but they'll also be happy to get their semi-romantic ending. Well, unless they're still in that "boys are yucky" stage-which mine had better be in til their 30. (teeheehee)

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Thursday, November 13, 2008

How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen

How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? by Jane Yolen & Mark Teague
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: The Blue Sky Press (Scholastic)
Publication Date: February 2003
ISBN-13: 978-0439241007

Jane Yolen is an author we've read many times, and I'm certain we must have read one or two of her other Dinosaur books. Yet, for the life of me I couldn't begin to tell you which or when. Hmpf. Guess that means I need to be on the look out for more books in this series when my 3 year old and I hit the library Monday. Why?, you ask. Because this was a stinkin' cute book.

How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? is a beautifully illustrated fun look at what it might be like if human parents had dinosaurs for children. And we're not talking about just any old dinosaurs. No, we're talking about SICK dinosaurs. Just like real kids, the dinosaurs in this book don't seem to be keen on taking medicine, visiting the doctor, getting rest, and all the other things that go hand in hand with getting over a cold or sicky bug.

Each dinosaur is fighting his parent for the upper hand. Stubborn like any child forced to do anything they don't want to do, especially when sick, none of the dinosaurs in this book want to do what their mommies and daddies tell them will help make them better. But, much to this mother's delight, Yolen turns things around at the end of the story and shows the kids that even dinosaurs can follow the rules so that they can get better quickly.

Yolen does a fantastic job of making the scenes and setting realistic, so her young readers will be easily able to pick up on the similarities she's trying to draw attention to in regards to how the dinosaurs act and how most young children act when it comes to being sick. Perhaps kiddos everywhere reading this book will suddenly realize that nobody, not even big scary dinosaurs, likes to go through the process of recovering from being sick. It's unpleasant and yucky, yet if the dinosaurs decided they had to listen to their mommies, daddies, and doctors (and they're WAY bigger than all of them) then maybe the kiddos will realize they can do it to.

Mark Teague, the illustrator, has come up with some great, eye catching illustrations for this one. Each of his dinosaurs has a great expression on its face; so there's no doubting what he's feeling or thinking. Likewise, each dinosaur is, over all, very detailed and realistic looking (in that obviously illustrated way). Younger kids might not catch on or care much, but Teague has even managed to incorporate the name of each kind of dinosaur somewhere within it's own two page spread.

Great story, great illustrations, a book I can see picking up over and over again.

Last but not least... I'm not sure if this is a feature that comes with all the copies of this book or if it's maybe just with the hardback releases, however, the copy we borrowed from the library came with a read along audio cd. Read by the author, Yolen does a wonderful job of inflecting her voice and making the story fun to listen to. With two follow along formats to choose from, young readers can opt for either a version with a "turn the page" que or one without. My 3 year old wasn't interested in listening to the cd version as she was content to have mommy read it to her. I think I'll try sitting my 5 year old down with it later though. I'm sure she'd have a blast reading along with the author.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber

Leaf Jumpers by Carole Gerber
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Charlesbridge Publishing
Publication Date: June 2006
ISBN-13: 978-1570914980

It's that time of year again. The leaves are beginning to change colors, and a chill is most certainly in the air. What better time to pick up a book about, you guessed it, Fall?!

Leaf Jumpers is about just that. Young readers will enjoy following along with this brother sister duo as they make a learning adventure out of yard clean up. As the children work to rake all the fallen leaves from the grass, they stop to notice each one's shape, size, and color. From the common oak leave to the more peculiar ginko leave. Readers will enjoy the bright array of colors and rhyming story that they won't even realize they're actually having a mini biology lesson and learning something too. My 3 year old loves this one, and I'm just waiting for her to start naming out the leaves the next time she happens upon them outside. That'll be a proud mommy moment for sure.

What kid, who lives in a climate where the leaves change colors and fall off the trees, hasn't experienced the fun of raking all the fallen leaves up, only to turn around and send them flying from their neat piles with a hearty jump and roll? Seriously, I believe this should be a requirement for all kids. There's just nothing quite like the crisp air, combined with a big full pile of crunchy leaves to inspire a child- or an adult, for that matter- to want to throw caution to the wind and live a little. JuMp!

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Spoonfuls of Stories

Being the big proponent that I am when it comes to books, I had to make a post reminding you all about the promotion General Mills is running right now.

Just as Cheerios cereal helps fuel kids to start the day, reading gives them the power to succeed in life. Parents and families play a critical role in making reading a priority.

For the last 7 years, Cheerios has teamed up with parents and families to encourage reading with "Spoonfuls of Stories®," distributing more than 35 million books in boxes of Cheerios and donating over $2.9 million to First Book, an award-winning children's literacy nonprofit.

Look for these books inside specially marked boxes of Cheerios starting November 2008, and while supplies last:

Romeo and Lou Blast Off
By Derek Anderson
Illustrated by Derek Anderson

Monkey and Me
By Emily Gravett
Illustrated by Emily Gravett

Diego's Wolf Pup Rescue
Adapted by Christine Ricci
Illustrated by Art Mawhinney

Duck for President
By Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything
By Elise Broach
Illustrated by David Small

So, whether or not you're a big fan of the plain Cheerios themselves (I'm not. I prefer the Honeynut kind myself.), why not go out and pick up a couple of boxes now. If your kids are anything like mine they see the prizes/toys shown on a cereal box and are jumping crazy to get them. Why not indulge them this time, and get a prize that will keep on giving for years to come through strengthened language skills, literary skills, etc?!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Animal Babies by Jennifer Schofield

Animal Babies in Ponds and Rivers by Jennifer Schofield
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Kingfisher
Publication Date: April 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0753460597

Animal Babies in Rain Forests by Jennifer Schofield
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Kingfisher
Publication Date: April 2007
ISBN-13: 978-0753460603

Both of these short hardbacks are absolutely perfect for any little kid. With several incredibly clear and upclose animal photographs, budding readers will enjoy the visual entertainment as much if not more than the literary side. Designed to encourage readers to actively participate in the reading process, each page's text tells a short snippet about the upcoming animal and asks the reader to use the clue to guess what animal will be next. For example: "When I'm hungry I plunge my head under the water to look for my food. Who is my mommy?"

My daughters and I enjoyed these books because they really were fun to read. The animal pictures were bright and interesting, and I loved that the book reinforced information they already knew about the animals or even taught them some new things. The text was short and simple, and that made the game factor fun without being overwhelming for my 3 year old.

I do have to say, that I don't think the age listing is accurate on these books. Listed at 4-8 years, I truly think the publisher missed the mark. It's my opinion that the younger kids (think even baby age) would totally get in to these because of the visual stimulation, and the flow of the text. If they're the hardback then you wouldn't set a baby loose with them if you didn't want them chewed on and torn up, but they'd be perfect for cuddling up together with at storytime. Not to mention I think most 8 year olds would probably be bored by the books because while they'd enjoy the pictures I think the text would just be too simple.

OUR RATING: 5 Hearts

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Awesome Book Giveaway for Kids

The wonderful ladies over at are hosting an awesome kid's book giveaway right now, and I just couldn't let the opportunity pass without telling everyone about it. Sure, advertising it for them gets me more competition in the contest, but it's kids books! And I am certainly not one to begrudge any child a chance at adding some incredible books to his or her collection.

What's up for grabs?

PRIZE- Take Me Back: The Ultimate $250 Reader Prize Pack! Nov 14th

Four commenters will be randomly selected to win a $25 copy of the hardback release Take Me Back. And one extremely lucky first place randomly selected commenter will win an Ultimate Reader Prize Pack that includes 8 books from DK Publishing and a $50 Amazon gift card.


Then check out this post on MomDot to find out more and to get entered today.

Good luck! :)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Plaidypus Lost by Janet Stevens & Susan Stevens Crummel

Plaidypus Lost by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Holiday House
Publication Date: March 2004
ISBN-13: 978-0823415618

This is a book my kindergartener came home from school talking about a few weeks ago. Her teacher had read it to them during story time, and she just thought it was the best story. I, having never heard of it before, decided I had to see what all the hype was about. So, off to the library I went, and low and behold there was a well loved copy on the shelf. Naturally, I grabbed it like it was gold, nevermind that there wasn't another soul even in the kid's section with me. I wasn't about to lose out on it though, and was bound and determined to get it in to my 3 year old's pile as quickly as humanly possible.

I have to say, my 5 year old's hype was spot on. This book was incredibly cute, and actually struck a cord with me as we often have our own "Hippo Lost" and "Cow Lost" moments. Hippo is Jo's lovey that she's had since she was 4mos old, and Cow is Joc's lovey she's had since the day she was born. Both go everywhere with us, and both inexplainably disappear on a daily basis.

Darn! Why didn't I think to write the book?! LOL

"Plaidypus Lost. Plaidypus Found. This story goes around and around."

Yep, that about sums it up, but how about just a little more detail?

Plaidypus belongs to a little girl whose grandma made him out of grandpa's old shirt and buttons. He's big, he's lumpy, he's goofy looking, and he's absolutely and completely loved. Plaidypus goes sliding and swinging with his little girl at the park, rides in the cart at the grocery store, and goes swimming with her in the lake. But each time he goes out with his little girl she ends up distracted and forgets all about him until later when she realizes he's lost. Luckily, each time she is able to retrace her steps, and eventually finds her beloved Plaidypus.

However, one day while pretending to have Plaidypus fly in the car, they hit a bump and Plaidypus really does fly- right out the car window. His girl looks and looks, but Plaidypus is no where to be found. Sad and distraught, she decides the best idea she has left is to make posters in hopes that someone will recognize the picture of Plaidypus and send him home.

Days pass, and Plaidypus doesn't return. Then one day, there's a knock on the door. When the little girl opens it, she finds a brown sack with her sweet Plaidypus stuffed inside. Only, now her Plaidypus doesn't look quite the same. He's hurt, torn, and missing pieces. His girl is upset, yet she knows just what to do. Grandma made and gave her her Plaidypus, so surely she can make him well again. And, in the end, that's just what she does.

Plaidypus Lost was a sweet story. One I reckon most any parent can relate to on some level. It might not be a homemade Plaidypus, but undoubtedly there's been some other stuffed lovey, silky, blankie, or what-not. Whatever the case may be, I'm near positive that most parents will agree with me in saying that Plaidypus Lost or a variation thereof, could have been written by any of us. For me, the recurring line would be...

"Hippo/Cow Lost. Hippo/Cow Found. This story goes around and around." :P

Both the girls and I thought this story was well worth the read. The words were catchy and fun to read, plus the story itself made you feel happy inside when all was said and done. And the oversized hardback provided big, bold illustrations that while not my favorites were appropriate enough for the story.

Last but not least, I enjoyed that there was an underlying message with this one. That message is what I'm always looking for in kid's books. I mean, you can have a great story that's totally fun and nothing more, but it's nice to have a story with even a subtle good message incorporated. For Plaidypus Lost I'd say that message was that we (kids and adults alike) need to pay better attention to the world around us and take good care of the things we have, especially those we hold dear. Poor little Plaidypus was well loved, but because his little girl was not careful enough with him she ended up nearly losing him for good. Even when she did get him back he'd been damaged and wasn't the same as he'd been before. It's true she was able to have him fixed, but such a simple solution isn't always possible.

In short, I liked that the book taught kids that while it's okay to have fun and really enjoy the things we've been given and blessed with, that we must also never stop being responsible for and taking care of those things.

OUR RATING: 4 hearts