Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review of 'The Revenge of Thelma Hill,' by Margot Finke

Book description:

When Frannie’s dad transfers to Oregon, she worried about going to a new school, and why she and her twin, Jeff, weren’t really close. Frannie also dreams about her missing Mom, and wonders why she never returned to them. Ghosts, a long ago murder, and helping to trap a killer was never on her private “worry” list. Yet a late night visit from a scary apparition, trailing long gray veils, and begging for Frannie’s help, changes everything. Twin Jeff was not a believer, and her dad thought ghosts were rubbish. So Frannie and the ghost, who was amazingly kind and friendly, put their heads together and planned revenge. 

A chilling encounter in the basement, and the appearance of the ghost’s familiar, an arachnid of gargantuan size, persuades Jeff to help them trap Thelma Hill’s killer. Keeping Dad out of the ghostly loop is tricky, and using the internet to trap the killer is dangerous. When the panicked and treacherous killer pays a midnight visit to their basement, the trap is sprung. Later, Thelma Hill gets her wish to be buried in a consecrated church cemetery. And when the hoo-hah of the capture dies down, Dad meets a reporter he can’t say no too, and Thelma Hill finally brings news about Frannie’s mom.

My thoughts:

This was such an entertaining, delightful read! I enjoyed it as much as a middle grader would! Margot Finke has a gift for storytelling and her prose fits the age group perfectly. The story has just the right amount of creepiness without being scary. There's enough mystery and suspense to keep young readers turning pages, but what I loved most was the characterization. Frannie is such a genuine character, her interactions with the ghost and her twin brother simply jump up the page, making this a thoroughly pleasurable read. Highly recommended for middle-graders and fans of ghost stories. 

Purchase from Amazon www.tips-fb.com

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review of 'My Brother is my Best Friend,' by Nicole Weaver

Book description:

Brothers are very special. Meet two brothers that do everything together. This delightful story transcends all cultural barriers. It will warm the hearts of children from all over the world. 


Los hermanos son muy especiales: Conozca a dos hermanos que hacen todo juntos. Esta bella historia trasciende todas las barreras culturales. Tocará el corazón de todos los niños del mundo.

 Être frère, c'est très spécial. Voici deux frères qui font tout ensemble. Cette histoire merveilleuse transcende toutes les barrières culturelles. L'histoire va réchauffer le cœur des enfants dans du monde entier.

Find out more on Amazon or the author's Amazon page.

My thoughts:

Nicole Weaver's latest picture book is, in one word: excellent. It is the perfect book to begin teaching your children three languages: English, Spanish, and French. The best part is, children won't even be aware that this is an educational book. The pictures are wonderfully colorful and expressive, and the snapshots of the twin boys as they enjoy various activities together will delight and entertain young minds. A fine addition to any home, school, or library shelf.

Be sure to check out Weaver's trilingual picture book, "My Sister is my Best Friend." www.tips-fb.com

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Water Play: The Water Cycle now has a free, 29-page educator's guide

I'm happy to announce that educational expert Amy M. O'Quinn just finished completing a 29-page educator's guide for my nonfiction picture book, Water Play: The Water Cycle, book 1. You can download it free from my website: www.MayrasSecretBookcase.com. Perfect for homeschooling!

Now from Amazon

The guide is chock-full with activities:

Language Arts....................................................................................................... 7-8
Vocabulary, Word Search, Weather and Moods
Integrated Science and Math ……………............................................................ 8- 9
Evaporation and Measurement, Sun or Shade? Classroom Weather/Tally Chart
Science……..................................................................................................................
Water Cycle Sheet, Cloud in a Jar, Fog in a Jar, Properties of Water, Terrarium, Make Rain
Math……………………………………………..………….................................... 11-12
Make a Rain Gauge, Measure and Record Rainfall, Make a Rainfall Bar Graph
Art/Drama………………………………………………………………………......12-13
Water Cycle Drawings, Water Cycle Skit, Weather and Mood Skit
Games…………………………………………………………………………….13
Water Cycle Games, Water Conservation Games
Water Cycle: Water Play Series (Book 1) Book Suggestions………..…………….14
Website Suggestions……......................................................................................14
Resources………………………………………………………………..….........15-28


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Follow the water droplets in their journey from the clouds to the earth and back to the clouds again. Written in a lyrical style, the book takes a new angle on the water cycle by showing the feelings it evokes in people.

Suggested age range for readers: 4-8

Now from Amazon


www.tips-fb.com

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Inspiration Behind 'Addie B. Strong – I Am So Strong,' by Alyson Flippo

My guest today is children's author Alyson Flippo. In this guest post, Alyson talks about the story behind her adorable picture book, Addie B. Strong – I Am So Strong. She's currently touring the blogosphere with The National Writing for Children Center. Let's give her a warm welcome!

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Guest Post:

On a beautiful spring day, my husband and I strolled our then-one-year-old daughter through an art festival and were struck by a portrait of a simple girl with her arms held high and a smile on her face. Underneath this character were the words “I Am So Strong.” Even in her simplicity, she emitted a strength and character that spoke to us both. On our way home we talked about how we were both more than touched by the sentiment, and as parents of a young girl, identified with the message. After all, what parent wouldn’t want their child to embrace and be empowered by that notion. As the days passed, we couldn’t stop thinking about what we wanted for our own daughter and for young girls everywhere, and how important it is that they believe in themselves as they grow up in a world that presents so many challenges to their sense of self-esteem.


Given my own challenges as a young girl growing up, I was determined to do something to try to make a difference for our young girls of today. With my husband’s encouragement, I began visualizing a way to help our girls focus on their strength and self-worth, instead of more superficial characteristics. And so our character Addie B. Strong was created.
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Title: Addie B. Strong – I Am So Strong
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Author: Alyson Flippo
Publisher: B-Strong, LLC
Purchase link: www.iamsostrong.com; www.bstrongbrand.com; Amazon.com 

Join Addie B. Strong as she embarks on her journey of self-discovery, and learns with a little help from her mom, that it is not what you have or look like but who you are inside that really counts.
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Alyson Flippo is the author of Addie B. Strong – I Am So Strong, released Fall 2013. Ms. Flippo’s book was inspired by the desire to remind each and every reader of their vast potential – the strength that comes from inside.

Given her own challenges as a young girl growing up, she was determined to do something to try to make a difference for our young girls of today.  The story of Addie B. Strong her way of helping our girls focus on their strength and self-worth, instead of more superficial characteristics.  She wants to help inspire our girls to see that they are amazing, not because of how they look but because of what they can do; that the only person they need to impress is themselves; that the sky is not the limit and there is nothing they cannot do.

An only child, Ms. Flippo grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey, and graduated from New Jersey’s Ramapo State College with a degree in business administration.  Prior to her writing career, she spent 20 years as a paralegal at several East Coast law firms. She currently lives in South Florida with her husband and children, pursuing her passions which include eating ice cream daily, playing hide-and-seek, and spreading the love along with Addie B. Strong


www.tips-fb.com

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

"My Inspiration Behind Magical Matthew," by Penelope Anne Cole

My guest today is children's author Penelope Anne Cole. Penelope is currently touring the blogosphere with The National Writing for Children Center. Read how she got the inspiration to write Magical Matthew.

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I’m often asked about the inspiration for Magical Matthew. On my daily dog walks around the neighborhood I met a wonderful mother, Allison, who quickly became my friend. Her son, Matthew, is autistic and struggles in school. We’d often talk about education, school problems, and dealing with learning difficulties, since my daughter has special needs, too. One day, when I was walking by their house, Allison told me they were celebrating Matthew’s tenth birthday – double digits – no longer a single digit child. How magical a milestone that is! I often let my mind wander on our walks, so by the time we got home, I had the idea for a children’s story. It was about a boy with magical powers who secretly fixes things for his family and friends. Then I added other characters:  a handicapped playmate, Lily, named after their beloved cat who died recently, and Grandma Nonie, a wise woman, who takes care of Matthew and becomes his sounding board. I gave Matthew some problems, such as not being able to “fix” Lily so she can walk. Later Matthew has to deal with Lily suspecting special is going on with him. I gave him a big disappointment he had to cope with and added a surprise at the end – which led to a second book, Magical Mea. Then I got an idea for a third book, Magical Mea Goes to School, and finally, Magical M and M. After sending the story in, Allison and Matthew kept asking for updates on its progress – none of us prepared for the 14 month wait until it was published. I promised them a book signing. After Magical Mea was published in May the next year, I still had to get my daughter graduated. I finally set up the Book Launch Party for the end of June, complete with a Magician. It was very gratifying to see Matthew going around shaking hands and introducing himself: “Hi, I’m Matthew. I’m the Inspiration.” That was worth everything to me. 

About the book:

Matthew has a secret. In Magical Matthew, a young boy with magical powers secretly fixes things for his family and friends. Later, Matthew expands his magical good deeds by fixing things in his neighborhood. His close friend Lily suspects something is special about him. Worried that Lily will guess his secret, Matthew confides in Grandma Nonie. Should he share his secret with Lily? Matthew must decide whether to tell her the truth or not.


This is a sweet story about using your gifts and talents to help others. It also deals with differences, challenges, and changes as one grows up.

Title:   Magical Matthew, Magical Mea
Genre:  Children’s books
Author:  Penelope Anne Cole
Publisher:  Guardian Angel Publishing

About the  author:

Before writing and reviewing children’s books, Penelope Anne Cole taught every grade level. She tutors elementary, middle, and high school students. Reading to children to help them read on their own and love books is a special joy for Ms. Cole. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Fremont Area Writers Group of the California Writers Club, and is a Certified Phonographix Reading Therapist with Read America, has a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, a Liberal Arts B.A. (English Major), and an M.A. in Education.  She lives in Santa Clara, California with her family and their rescued dogs and cats.


Ms. Cole's Magical Matthew (2012) is the first in her Magical series. Magical Mea is second (2013). Mágico Mateo (2013) is the Spanish Version of Magical Matthew. Next is Magical Mea Goes to School, with Magical M and M to follow. Magical Matthew won a Readers' Favorite Bronze Medal, Creative Child Magazine’s Book of the Year Award, and NABE’s Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. Magical Mea won Creative Child Magazine’s Preferred Choice Award, NABE’s Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, and was a Readers' Favorite Finalist.

Connect with the author on the web:



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Sunday, February 2, 2014

Guest post: Neighborwood – Earthliteracy for Kids, by April Manning

My intent and vision for the Neighborwood series is to connect children and nature to teach Earth Literacy to them. I have acquired my MA in Earth Literacy and my thesis was teaching Earth Literacy to kids. My project was this book (Neighborwood…Earth Literacy for Kids) and I have many ideas for the series.

Here is my abstract from my thesis:

The themes presented in the Earth Literacy program are concepts that need to be taught at the beginning of one’s education, not at the end. This is the vision behind Earth Literacy for Kids. The Neighborwood series will consist of sets of books that will illustrate the various Earth Literacy Masters program themes, such as the importance of diversity, recycling, and sense of place. 
The animals that reside in the forest of the Neighborwood are the characters that will be learning the themes along with the reader. The guide through the journey will be the Neighborwood land ambassador, a girl whom they call Lamb. The first book will be part of a pen pal series that shows the importance of niches and diversity in communities. This book will have a country mouse and a city mouse as pen pals learning how they are similar and how they differ. The rest of the pen pal series will include land turtle and sea turtle pen pals, and mockingbird - African Gray parrot pen pals.

About April:

I love to learn and have earned two AAS in Quality Science, a BS in biology with a minor in chemistry a MA in Earth Literacy. The Earth Literacy program is interdisciplinary learning which fosters the capacity to understand the natural world in order to ensure sustainability of the planet as a habitat for life. I am a firm believer in the importance of diversity and want to teach this importance to the next generation.

On a personal note I am happily married to a wonderful man (Shawn Doan) and we enjoy living in Indiana raising our “four-legged” children together.


Link to purchase: http://www.amazon.com/Neighborwood-Earth-Literacy-April-Manning/dp/1466988010/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1390498473&sr=8-1&keywords=neighborwood www.tips-fb.com