Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my bookish friends! I’m drinking Abuelita brand hot chocolate to bring back the Mexican Navidad of my childhood.

I’ve had a wonderful Christmas Eve with my family, eating, laughing, talking, and singing carols together, with me playing on the piano and my brother and Dad on their guitars.

I’ve been reading Christmas stories to my little nieces and nephew, especially from this Christmas compilation book. My favorite short story in here is “Christmas Every Day” by William Dean Howells. What is your favorite Christmas story to read at this time of year?

Non Fiction Book Review: Curly Kids

Curly Kids by Lorraine Massey
Curly Kids: How to Help Your Child Care For and Love That Glorious Hair: A Handbook
by  Lorraine Massey,  Michele Bender

4 out of 5 stars

This book details how to use the Curly Girl method, no shampoo, conditioner-washing method for babies, toddlers, children, and teens. There is a lot of useful information with beautiful pictures, and helpful home recipes for hair products.

I really appreciated that this book details all the harmful chemical ingredients found in basic shampoos that are especially harmful for curly hair. Curly hair is way more sensitive to harsh chemicals like sulfates, and it dries out the hair creating that dreaded frizz. This book gives such good advice about looking for sulfate-free shampoos and silicone-free conditioners. Children’s hair can be especially fine and fragile, and the tips in this book help to manage unruly hair without damaging it. Continue reading

Activity Book Review: Mega Maze Adventure

Mega-Maze Adventure! by Scott Bedford
Mega-Maze Adventure!: A Journey Through the World’s Longest Maze in a Book
by Scott Bedford 

5 out of 5 stars

You might think I got this to share with kids, but no. This one is for me! All mine to enjoy and relax and have fun! I’m already on page three.

This book has a continual maze that takes you in one long line through cut-out portals in each page onto the next page and the next until you reach the end of the book at which point you will have drawn a line 607 feet (185m)long. “That’s four times the height of the Statue of Liberty!” Continue reading

Non Fiction Book Review: Unplugged Play- Toddler

Unplugged Play by Bobbi Conner
Unplugged Play: Toddler: 156 Activities Games for Ages 1-2
by Bobbi Conner 

5 out of 5 stars

My favorite part of the book is a quote from Fred Rogers that says, “Play is not trivial. When children play, they’re doing important work.” I love that this book celebrates the joy of childhood play!

This book is divided into sections with ideas for solo play, parent and child play, playing with others, and playing at a party. There is an introduction that goes deeper into why playing is so important for childhood development.

There are so many great ideas for simple games and crafts in this book! There are ball games, a bean bag toss, clapping and counting games, and role-playing as a cook, mailman, or doll mother. You can head outside for hide and seek games, hula-hoop target games, or floating plastic plates in a wading pool.
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Non Fiction Book: Amazing Islands

Amazing Islands by Sabrina Weiss
Amazing Islands
by Sabrina Weiss

5 out of 5 stars

This book gives information about islands all over the world. There are river islands like Manhattan, and mysterious islands with ancient ruins, and disappearing islands that are eroding away. I especially liked the pages about artificial islands that have been created by man. There are factoids about animal life and history and different cultures around the globe.

The illustrations are eye-catching, and I loved the art style. The colors are bright, and each scene is beautifully designed.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the way they presented scientific theories as if they were fact, and they wrote about widely-accepted but unproven ideas as if they were fact.

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Picture Book Review: Little Pearl

Little Pearl by Martin Widmark
Little Pearl
by Martin Widmark, Emilia Dziubak (Illustrator)

5 out of 5 stars

Grace tells the story of how her brother disappeared, and how she followed him into a land where she was tiny as a bug. She befriends some silly insects, but is then kidnapped by a monstrous crab and forced to dive deep into the river looking for pearls. How will Grace ever escape the crab and find her lost brother?

This story is so whimsical and imaginative! I love the mellow story-telling and the rich writing. The story has a positive message that together we can overcome any obstacle and rescue ourselves if we work together.

I adore the beautiful illustrations! The art is warm and delicate, and makes me think of sunny summer days and cool shade by the water. It’s a little window into a fantasy world.

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Picture Book Review: Benjamin’s Blue Feet

Benjamin's Blue Feet by Sue Macartney
Benjamin’s Blue Feet
by Sue Macartney 

5 out of 5 stars

A wild bird with blue feet finds a discarded mirror and begins to worry that his feet are too blue, his wings are too big, or his beak is too long. He tries to hide his body image problems with hilarious results. Eventually, he learns to appreciate that his wonderful feet allow him to swim, his long beak is perfect for catching fish, and his big wings lift him into the air to fly with his family.

I loved this adorable book! Poor Benjamin gets so confused about his body image, but I love how he is curious and resourceful and he is willing to learn and accept his own wonderfully-created body. He tries to use trash to hide his wings and feet and shorten his beak, so there is also a good message about human trash affecting animals.

The best thing about this book is the rich wording and silly descriptions! Benjamin finds the old mirror and promptly calls it a “twink-um-doodle” because it twinkles in the sunshine. There are some fun descriptions as Benjamin “wobble-waddles” or “kick-flips, flap-slaps” or “churn-turns, worm-squirms” to get the pieces of trash off his body. It’s a delight to read aloud and sure to bring giggles and chuckles to little readers. Continue reading

Picture Book Review: I’ll Believe You When

I'll Believe You When . . . by Susan Schubert
by Susan Schubert, Raquel Bonita (Illustrations)

5 out of 5 stars

A child claims to have seen a dragon, but his friends around the world say they’ll believe him when pigs fly, or when frogs grow hair, or when cows skate on ice. There are delightful idioms from Germany, India, Philippines, Netherlands, Spain and many more. Each idiom is accompanied by an illustration showing a frog with hair and pigs flying and cows skating and fish climbing trees.

I love the whimsy and silliness in this book as a child from each culture refuses to believe that there is a dragon, and we get to learn a fun saying from their homeland. Language is such a crazy thing, and often doesn’t make sense, but that is what makes it fun!

I love the cute illustrations! The artwork is colorful, and each page made me laugh and chuckle at all the ridiculous things going on in the background.
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Picture Book Review: A Story about Afiya

A Story about Afiya by James Berry
A Story about Afiya
by James Berry, Anna Cunha (Illustrations)

5 out of 5 stars

Each day Afiya wears the same white frock, and washes it clean each night, and hangs it up on the clothes line to dry. But her white dress never appears to be white for long. It is magically imprinted with the beautiful things she sees each day. When she goes to the zoo, tiger stripes are imprinted on her dress. When she walks past red roses, the leaves and blossoms are entwined in the fabric of her white dress. Colorful butterfly wings and white pigeon wings are imprinted on her dress. Fish and the waves of the sea are imprinted, and leaves from the trees decorate her dress. Afiya carries each memory with her, and in the morning her dress is white and clean again.

I am dazzled by the beauty and whimsy in this book! Afiya is a glorious little girl, dancing and laughing across each page. I love the sweet story that draws your attention to the beauty in everyday life and how precious each experience is.

The illustrations are truly special, with bright colors and misty lines. The artwork makes every little detail magical. Afiya herself is absolutely beautiful, with her pretty hair and pink cheeks and soulful eyes. I love her little earrings, and how she walks around barefoot like a dainty fairy. Continue reading