Sunday, May 29, 2011

Book Review: Rock-a-Bye Baby

Title: Rock-a-bye Baby
Illustrator: John Kanzler
Padded Board Book: 24 pagesPublisher: Tiger Tales Publishing, 2011ISBN: 9781589258532
Ages: 2-5 years


This soft padded and gently illustrated book will sing your little ones right to sleep. Follow baby bear as the wind blows him gently down the tree from his rocking cradle to his mommas arms. And watch him sleep as momma sings.
These soft rhymes have been sung to little ones for many generations. This is a great way for parents to introduce their preschoolers to songs before they go to sleep.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

This month's hop I will be giving away 3 books. For a chance to win all you have to do is:
  1. Tweet this giveaway
  2. Leave a comment with your name and email within the post
  3. Sign up to the KBN network.
  4. If you're already a member of the network, you can invite a friend to sing up for KBN Google Friend Connect. Good Luck!

Title: Case Closed? Nine Mysteries Unlocked by Modern Science
Author: Susan Hughes
Illustrator: Michael Wandelmaier
Hardback: 88 pagesPublisher: Kids Can Press Ltd.ISBN: 978-1-55453-362-6
Ages: 8 to 12


Do your kids love a good mystery? Are they interested in seeing how real cases get solved. If so, they are in for a real treat with this great fact finding and informative book. Young readers will learn about mummies over 3500 years old. A missing Chinese explorer from 215 BCE weaves a mystery that readers will become engaged in. Kids will learn about facts and how the mysteries were solved. Wonderful photographs and maps from around the world will have parents and children turning the pages and wanting more.

This is an excellent resource of true mystery that parents and teachers will love to share with kids. Young readers will want to solve mysteries of their own.

Baby notes is a personal journey of the birth of a child. Parents will enjoy flipping through the pages and sharing the experiences of parents and this wonderful journey.

Fun Facts About Baby Notes by Jennifer L. Cowart
  • The baby in the pregnant bell seen on page 1 is the baby who is also seen on pages 55 and 58.
  • the baby on the cover is my niece, the baby for whose shower I'd originally written the book. She's also found throughout the book.
  • Her brother is the baby in the ultrasound on page 61. he's my one and only nephew and he was born the week that this book went to print.
  • The baby photos are from across the country. They include children from Rhode Island, Virginia and California.
  • The testimonials on the back of the book are from real people who originally commented on the list when I first put it on Facebook. They are from New Hampshire, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
  • The girls on page 29 are two my daughters. Oftentimes people think that photo was created to look like the same person twice, but it is not.
  • The baby photos on pages 8,16,21,22,23,41,42,45,49,50,57 are stock photos. They are the only photos in which we do not know the children.
  • Other than the stock photos, none of the photos are professionally done. They are all snapshots taken by moms and dads of their children.
  • The people on page 54 are really my parents. At the time of the photo, they were pregnant with me.
  • The tips on pages 10,31,40,41, and 60 were not in the original “Important Notes” book. There were added by friends and family when it came time to create the Baby Notes book.

Title: A Little Bit of Love
Author: Cynthia Platt
Illustrator: Hannah Whitty
Hardback: 32 pagesPublisher: Tiger Tales BooksISBN: 9781589250956
Ages: 3-7 yrs


If you've ever taken the time to bake a cake, cookies or pie with your little one, this is a great story to share with them. Small mouse wants a snack. Momma mouse offers her a piece of cheese, small mouse is tired of cheese. She is craving something sweet. Together momma mouse and small go out together collecting things made with love to create a sweet tasting pie. All the things that gather together are made with love. Sharing this experience together is a symbol of love, caring and sharing.
This is an excellent way to share with a child. Bake something together and read this book. Parents can share stories about baking with their parent when they were a child. Everyone has a story like this to share. Well done Cynthia and Hannah!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Card - A Van Stone Novel

Get your boys reading this summer! Enter for a chance to win this great novel by Jim Devitt.
All you have to do is leave a comment and your email address.

One Kid... One Card ... One Chance to Discover the Truth

Van Stone has it all, the perfect family, great friends and the best job in the world. then, his life falls apart. Thrust into a deadly plot masterminded by unknown enemies, Van is in a race against time to save those closest to him.

When Van wins an essay contest to become the new batboy for a Major league baseball team, he finds himself in a foreign world of million dollar athletes and fame. Forced into the spotlight, Van is uncomfortable in his new role. His instant fame at South Seattle High School has turned all eyes toward him, including unknown adversaries that want something he has.

Jack Stone works for Biotrust, a large and secretive biotechnology company. Van's father is on the verge of making one of the most stunning discoveries in over a century, a technology that could change the world forever. While finishing the project, Biotrust forces Van's father into a leave of absence. In an effort to protect his secrets, Jack may have endangered his family.

As The Card barrels forward, Van slams headfirst into a plot that threatens the people near to him. Working through adversity, Van finds an inner strength. He draws on his deductive powers and an unstoppable attitude, to battle the corrupt forces. Not knowing who to trust, Van sets out with his two best friends to solve the secrets behind an innocent gift, a Moe Berg baseball card. Set in Seattle, Washington, this fast paced mystery takes yo behind the scenes in professional baseball and into  world of cutting edge science and technology. Full of unexpected twists and high stakes drama, this first in a series adventure will keep you guessing until the final scene.

As fresh as today's headlines, Jim Devitt, in his debut novel, weaves a suspenseful ride that blows the lid off scientific advancement, in a story of breathtaking action and suspense.

Jim Devitt spent eight years working behind the scenes in a Major League clubhouse. After his time in professinal baseball, Jim graduated from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology, and then continued on to complete his Master of Science degree in Education from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. He has authored and co-authored numerous peer-reviewed research papers and presented at conferences throughout the country. He currently lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife Melissa and their son, Gavin.

Review provided by Jim Devitt.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Bob Books Giveaway!

Bobs Books For Beginning Readers Giveaway! Enter For A Chance To Win Set 1 and Set 2:

1) Leave a comment with your name and email
2) Tweet this post
3) Invite a friend to follow the Networked Blog

Bob Books came about as a result of teacher Bobby Lynn Maslen’s careful attention to the specific needs of children learning to read for the very first time.

As a teacher at the Catlin Gabel School in Portland, Oregon, Bobby’s work with 3 to 5 year-olds involved constant invention in art, math games, physical growth activities and, of course, reading materials. When she didn’t find books that she felt were interesting enough for her young students, she created the Bob Books.
The first books were handmade, inspired by two small dolls—one circular and one triangular— she bought at a craft fair. She named the dolls Mat and Sam and spun stories about them, illustrated with line drawings that the children could copy and color. The stories were very personal, customized to each one of her students.
Soon it became too cumbersome to make books for each student, so Maslen standardized the set and persuaded her school to print 300 copies. “In the beginning I just went to the grocery store and bought baggies -- little sandwich baggies -- and that's how we packaged them," Maslen said. “The whole thing from beginning to end was a trial-and-error process."

Portland State University next published the books for several years, and word began to spread, leading to self publishing and a cottage industry. Bobby Maslen’s husband, John Maslen, a watercolor artist and former architect, drew new pictures. "She officially hired me to illustrate and help market and publish the books," says John, as demand increased.The couple's growing children helped collate and staple.

The Bob Books went on to become a Children's Book-of-the-Month-Club selection, and the series was adopted by home-schoolers and Montessori teachers.  Articles recommending the Bob Books appeared in the Washington Post, CNN, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Publisher’s Weekly. In 1993 USA Today ran a story about the Bob Books. The Maslens were inundated with phone calls.

``By that time we were going crazy," Bobby Maslen said. ``We knew the potential was much more than we could handle ourselves." The Maslens turned to a major publisher of children’s books, Scholastic, Inc., for help. Happily, the Maslens and Scholastic together keep all five sets of Bob Books available to children throughout the world.

Thanks so much for sharing these wonderful books with us! For a chance to win the iPads apps for Bobs Books please stop by Get Kids To Read.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Grimm Legacy

I am so pleased to share a book review by my niece Aimee Bernard. She read this wonderful book and wanted to share it with all of you.

Have you ever wondered what happened to all the magical items in fairy tales? Well, when Elizabeth starts her new job at the New York circulating material repository she learns that most of the items found in The Brothers Grimm fairy tales are stored there, along with many other items from an everyday spoon to a garden of seasons. Elizabeth and the other pages that work at the repository are forced to set their differences aside and come together to catch the thief stealing magical items from the Grimm Collection. With the help of her new friends, and a few magical items from the collections, they put their heads together to capture the thief before the thief captures them.

I enjoyed how Polly Shulman created this story of betrayal, magic, friendship and love. I have always wondered where all the fairy tale items would wind up in our current century. A repository just seems the best place for them along with many other special items. Shulman has laid out an exciting story full of adventure and unexpected twists and turns. I can’t wait to get my hands on more books from her!
Thanks Aimee for this great review.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Too Many Tamales by Gary Soto

Cinco De Mayo Book Giveaway! Just Tweet and leave a comment with your email!

 Too Many Tamales is a wonderful story of traditions. Maria is helping her mother make tamales. Her mother removes her beautiful diamond ring so that it won't get sticky from the masa. Maria picks it up and places it on her thumb. Distracted, she forgets that she was wearing it. When the cousins show up they have to help her find the ring by eating all of the tamales. But they don't find it, and now Maria must tell her mother. You will have to read the story to see if it is found in a cousins belly or someplace else.

Ed Martinze was the illustrator of this story. His artful paintings really bring Maria and her family to life. If you would like to learn more about Gary Soto, please visit

If you would like to purchase this book please select the cover on the sidebar of I Recommend. As always, happy reading.

Monday, May 2, 2011

James Mayfield Smith - Story Resonance

This week is special guest James Mayfield Smith. He is a mythologist who specializes in getting your kids to truly understand what they are reading and to help parents better understand their children through reading.

How to Connect with Your Child through Story Resonance

As a former reading teacher, I always encouraged parents to read to and with their children. I usually emphasized that reading with your child develops vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Rarely, though, did I discuss how reading can be used to understand and connect more deeply with your child. In my role as an educational consultant, I’ve come to appreciate how approaching reading with understanding and connection in mind can bring amazing gifts to families. Children who feel a deep connection to a parent and who feel seen and heard on a more intimate level become more confident in themselves and more courageous in the world. Reading with your child in a specific way can foster such confidence and courage.

I am trained as an applied mythologist, which is a fancy term that means I study the effect that story has on people and use this insight for specific, practical purposes. The reason that stories can help us connect more deeply is because people naturally become emotionally involved in stories. When we hear a story, we identify with characters who share our values or who possess qualities we would like to grow into. Such characters elicit an emotional response, or resonate, within us. Exploring how this story resonance shows up can illuminate some very interesting things about ourselves. I use this principle of story resonance with my transformational coaching clients to help them find clarity about their own values and new directions for their lives.

This process can be adapted for use with children so that we as parents can get a peek into the inner world of our child’s thoughts and feelings. When we take the time to do this, we get to know our child better and our child feels more seen and heard for who he or she really is, which fosters a more intimate and trusting connection. All it takes is asking questions about stories in a slightly different way. Here are some guidelines for using this approach:

1. Pay attention to the stories and characters that your child is drawn to. This is especially true for stories your child asks for over and over again. There’s something in these stories or characters that appeals to your child. Ask open-ended questions about these stories. What do you like about this story? Which characters do you like and why? How are you like this character? Can you tell me more about that? Children can usually go deeper into their values and their fears when they are discussing a character that is “like them” than when they are discussing themselves. Resist the urge to quiz your child about what happened in the story. Instead, see this as an opportunity to explore how your child sees himself or herself. You may be surprised at what you find. Many children suppress their longing to step into a new area of growth. Knowing that your child is drawn to something allows you to better support your child in gaining the necessary skills for success. When your child shares, accept your child’s personal truth as a gift rather than as a teachable moment. Teaching can come later. Honoring their truth as is by saying I hear that you’d like to…” reinforces that it’s safe to share their dreams and increases the chance of it happening again.

2. Pay attention to negative reactions to stories and characters. Even more so than adults, children respond to a story with authentic emotions. Fears can surface. Inner conflict can be brought to light. Ask open-ended questions such as What do you NOT like about this story? What is scary about that character? What isn’t fair in this tale? Can you tell me more about that? Like us, children carry around many hidden fears and judgments about themselves and the world they live in. When they spot injustices in stories, it’s usually because it mirrors something they feel as unfair in their own world. As parents, we can use open ended questions and our child’s reactions to learn about our child’s inner dialogue. When my daughter knows that I know her fears and love her anyway, she gradually becomes more confident. When she finds that through a story she can reveal her sense of what’s fair and not fair, she feels closer to me. Simply being seen, heard, and loved is the magic here. Again, resist the temptation to correct your child’s misperceptions when she shares her personal truth. Simply thank her for sharing and remember it for future interactions.

3. To go beyond the story, consider questions that go Outside-Inside-Beyond-Deeper. Ask about outside actions, then go to inside feelings, then go beyond the story to connect further to your child’s life, and then go deeper. Use present tense to bring the imagery alive.

Outside Actions
Outside action questions encourage your child to follow the metaphor of the story. The format When ____happens, then what? is a great way to build a good outside question. When the Troll jumps in front of the littlest Billy Goat, then what?

Inside Feelings
Inside questions prompt your child to consider what feelings arise from such actions. How do you feel when faced with a situation that is big and hairy and mean?

Beyond the Story
Then go beyond the story and further into your child’s life. What are the Trolls in your life? What situations in your life are scary?

Deeper Feelings
Then go deeper. In these situations, what do you hope will happen?

As you can see, this type of questioning provides the stage for your child to share very intimately about his or her interior life…what brings joy, what causes fear, what your child wishes were different, and what is longed for. Without the metaphor of a story, many children (and even more adults) find it difficult to discuss such things. Simply verbalizing these thoughts helps a child to find clarity and to feel more confident. Being seen and heard by a parent through story discussions builds a bridge for future conversations. Such conversations then begin to happen without needing a story to frame them. Beginning with a good book and asking these types of questions are the first steps to building a closer connection with your child.

Below, you’ll find a 6 minute video example of me using this technique with my daughter, Ella. She shares a difficult social situation that she faces at school. While I was aware of the situation (because of earlier such conversations), Ella is able to verbalize a specific dynamic that is bothering her. Because of this discussion, I’m able to support her more effectively in later conversations.

Video Example of Using Story Resonance:

To embed video:


In the video, we also discuss a project that Ella is working on to achieve her dream of exploring Paris, France. You can find out more about her project and encourage this young writer’s dream at

To learn about my educational consulting, which supports increased engagement and achievement for schools and innovative product development for educational publishers, visit or

To learn about my work as a transformation coach, visit

About James Mayfield Smith
James Mayfield Smith is an educational consultant, applied mythologist, and transformation coach. James applies the principles of depth mythology and a deep understanding of how children and adults respond to Story to shed light on practical issues. As an educational consultant, James has created an award-winning reading program, co-authored a book with his young daughter, taught hundreds of children to read, and trained thousands of teachers and school administrators,. As an applied mythologist, James has helped build the foundation of a successful story-oriented selling model and trained business executives to think outside the box. As a transformational coach, James assists adults in stepping into greater clarity and freedom in their lives. This often involves letting go of old stories that no longer serve and calling in new symbols, images, and stories for the next stage of their lives. James can be reached at

If you would like to learn more about James please visit him at my other blogs The Neophyte Writer and Get Kids To Read.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...