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K'NEX Extreme Sports motorcycle

Staying Off Screens and K’NEX GIVEAWAY

My 8-year-old son is off this week while his sisters are in day camp. One is playing soccer with some members of the FC Barcelona coaching staff, the other is learning hot glass blowing. This is a good week for all my kids as they fulfil their dreams but not so much for me and my husband. We are crisscrossing across Boston suburbs to drive them to their camps battling traffic, limited parking and narrow streets. Thank goodness for car pools!

I did not do any preparation for my son’s week off like I did last summer. My only strategy to keep him off screens is to play with K’NEX sets. I am an blog ambassador for them and my son would agree that the most awesome box just arrived.

Angry Birds Space: Red Planet “Hogs on Mars” Building Set

My son loves Angry Birds and I have an iTunes bill to prove it! iGame Mom had great ideas on keeping boys off screens by doing video game extensions … like book extensions, it takes boys off screens to act out their favorite games. Genius!

K'NEX Angry Birds, K'NEX gaming toys, Read more…

summer camp picture book, summer camp chapter book, picture book of the day

Funny Picture Books About Summer Camp

For the Picture Book of the Day, my 8-year-old son and I chose one of our favorite funny picture books about summer camp, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee.

We think this is the funniest picture book ever! When James and Eamon visit Eamon’s grandparents’ house to attend a week of day camp  communing with nature, they prefer the little things much more: eating waffles, playing video games, and generally staying inside despite the fact that Eamon’s grandparents live on the beach!

Marla Frazee writes with dry wit that appeals to adults as much as parents.

For example:

“In the morning, Bill [Eamon’s grandfather] took the boys to nature camp. The road was long and curvy. James and Eamon learned a lot of new vocabulary words while Bill drove.”

Her cartoon-y illustrations set off the text perfectly; in fact, she won a Caldecott Honor for this picture book! [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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Alphabet Trucks by Samantha Vamos giveaway

Alphabet Trucks Picture Book GIVEAWAY

I excited to announce the book launch of Alphabet Trucks by Samantha Vamos! I adore her last book, The Cazuela That the Farm Maiden Stirred!

In celebration of her book launch TODAY, I am doing a giveaway of her new book and hosting a short Q and A with Samantha.

Alphabet Trucks by Samantha Vamos

An alphabetical treat for truck lovers.

Everyone’s heard of a tow truck. And a pickup truck. An ice-cream truck? Of course! But what about a quint truck? A lowboy truck? A knuckle-boom truck? Readers will learn about these kinds of trucks—and many more—while learning the alphabet in Alphabet Trucks.

Each letter of the alphabet is accounted for in this introductory concept book for young readers. From the familiar to the unusual, Samantha Vamos writes in snappy verse to present twenty-six different kinds of trucks, explaining where they work and what they do. From a dump truck that unloads a pile of dirt containing the letter “D,” to a fuel truck filling up at a tank shaped like the letter “F,” Ryan O’Rourke’s playful and light-hearted illustrations involve the letters in supporting roles in each scene. Read more…

starting school diversity picture books for kids, starting kindergarten multicultural books

Multicultural Starting School Books for Kids

It’s almost time to go back to school and starting a new school can be fraught with anxiety. I thought I would do a round up of starting Kindergarten and/or Preschool books with a multicultural slant. These are 10 Multicultural Starting School Books for Kids that I found. I choose them because either the story is multicultural, the author is a person of color, or the illustrations showed racial diversity. 

Do you have a favorite that I missed? Please help me build this list and add it as a comment. Thank you!

Top 10 Back to School Diversity Picture Books

10. This Is the Way We Go to School: A Book About Children Around the World by
Edith Baer

All around the world, children go to school by different means including walking, skating, school bus, ferry, trolley car and helicopter. This rhyming picture book explores both the United States and the world beyond including Italy, Egypt, Norway, China, Israel, Switzerland, Kenya, Australia, India, Mexico and Siberia.

9. Mama Don’t Go by Rosemary Wells

The characters in Yoko and Friends are all animals and Rosemary Wells makes it clear that Yoko is both Japanese and a cat! Yoko has separation anxiety on her first day of school and doesn’t want her mother to leave. Luckily, Yoko’s new friend helps her understand that moms will always return!

Read more…

pirate books and project for kids, non fiction for kids, GenZ, GenZ online

Summer Reading Fun and Giveaway from GenZ!

Note: I think GenZ Read Together is out of business!

My son and I started reading very short non-fiction stories from GenZ Read Together, a website that makes reading together an entertaining educational experience. We get a wide assortment of non-fiction stories which include:

  • vocabulary building exercises
  • a hangman reveal-the-hidden-picture puzzle
  • an educational video

As part of their Summer Reading program, some of my favorite educational, arts, and children’s book bloggers are hosting a Blog Tour where we come up with activities you can do at home with your kids for one of GenZ’s non-fiction stories.

GenZ Online, GenZ, GenZ Read Together

We are also each hosting a giveaway so YOU can win 20 stories from GenZ Read Together. Finally, if you don’t win but want to try it out, GenZ is offering a special discount to my readers:

20 stories for $3.99!!  Use promo code:  SUM20

Today, my son and I read about the largest pirate treasure ever discovered, The Atocha! After 16 years searching with his family, Mel Fisher finally located $400 million dollars of gold, silver and emeralds — lost treasure from the Spanish Galleon, The Atocha, near Key West, Florida.  Read more…

Undocumented Immigrants in Children’s Literature

Undocumented Immigrants in Children’s Literature

Please welcome my guest blogger, Natalie Dias Lorenzi.

Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a librarian in Fairfax County, Virginia. Her debut middle grade novel, Flying the Dragon, was published last year by Charlesbridge. Follow her on Twitter (@NatalieLorenzi) or visit her website at

As a school librarian, I often see kids get excited when they connect with characters and settings and problems in stories. “She’s just like me!” they’ll say, or, “I know exactly how he felt.” A major part of my job as a librarian is to help kids find books they can connect with, books that speak to them. If a student has lost a pet, I’ve got several books for that. Problems with bullies? I could recommend a slew of titles. Ditto for the new kid at school, the one moving away, the new big brother or sister, or the kid who worships soccer.

But there are some topics that are largely ignored in children’s literature. According to the Pew Hispanic Center, there were an estimated 11.1 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in 2011, one million of whom are children, and 4.5 million born in the U.S. to undocumented parents. Like other kids, these children also read books on pets, bullies, new baby siblings, and soccer. But the life of an undocumented child brings special challenges not found in books on their library shelves: feelings of isolation from neighbors, the burden of secrecy, and a constant fear of deportation. Read more…

Pragmatic Mom, path to pugilism, mom boxing, Nonantum Boxing Club, Marc Gargaro,

My Path to Pugilism is Strewn With Skeptics

Now that it’s summer, my kids have certain weeks where they are completely unscheduled. I have masterminded their summer plans so that they each have at least one week off while the other two siblings are in camp. During this week, my husband takes the “only child” out to play golf with him and I take that same kid to box with me. Even kicking and screaming.

In the case of 11-year-old PickyKidPix, she was game to box. We had a lot of fun and she turned out to be a natural. Here she is learning how to wrap her hands.

Grasshopper and Sensei, my 13-year-old, had to be bribed to box. Her reasoning is that she’s learning martial arts for self defense so she would obviously use her legs to kick if attacked. There are no rules for self defense against a bad guy, she reasons correctly. She did end up liking boxing though, as I hoped she would. We did the second lesson together with no bribery needed.

My son is desperate to box with me. He’s been watching reruns of Power Rangers and all that martial art action has him doing flying sidekicks and spinning roundhouse kicks all over the house. Usually, I bear the brunt of his attacks as he entreats me to hold a pillow for him to use as a punching bag. Better the pillow than me!

My kids, however, don’t think I’m any good at boxing. The Path to Pugilism, it seems,  is strewn with skeptics, most of whom I live with. Read more…

LifeProof nuud iphone 5 case

LifeProof Case Giveaway: The new nüüd case!

My girls really want the LifeProof case so badly that they are willing to complete their summer math workbooks to earn one. I had actually ordered two of them for prizes when Natalie from LifeProof, whom I met at BlogHer last year, offered me one to try out.

My daughters want to use the LifeProf case to take underwater photos during our upcoming trip to California to celebrate their grandmother’s 90th birthday. They very much want to try out the new LifeProof nüüd iPhone Case but it’s for an iPhone 5 and they have the iPhone 4.

The new LifeProof case is waterproof, drop proof, dirt proof and snow proof. It’s for the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy SIII. I’m not sure how they did it, but the LifeProof nüüd cases leave the screen completely naked, yet are still waterproof. They are the only waterproof and drop proof cases that let you touch the actual screen.

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books for a prince, prince books, picture books for a prince

Top 10 Books for a Prince GIVEAWAY

I had the pleasure of meeting Leah Lesser from Barefoot Books today. We had fun talking about children’s books and, somehow, ended up chatting about the birth of the new baby prince.

We thought it would be fun to conjure up a book list for young princes, every where, both of royal birth or just beloved. Here are 10 books for a prince that we think belong on every young prince’s bookshelf.

What would you add to the list? Please share!

The Prince's Bedtime

Top 10 Books Every Young Prince Should Read

10.  The Prince’s Bedtime by Joanne Oppenheim

Meet a young prince who refuses to go to sleep! The entire kingdom comes out to lend a hand in this rhyming bedtime adventure. There is a hullabaloo of activity—jugglers juggling, magicians hypnotizing, dancers dancing—but it is the wonder of a good story that finally does the trick. Book with CD editions include story read by actor Jim Broadbent. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

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