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8 BIG Adventure Book Series & GIVEAWAY

8 BIG Adventure Book Series & GIVEAWAY

Please welcome Dustin Hansen who has a book list of his favorite dinosaur books! We are also giving away his two newest books! Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.

MICROSAURS: Follow That Tiny-Dactyl! by Dustin Hansen

“Hansen mixes fantasy, science fiction, and realistic fiction to create a fast-paced read for elementary readers.” —Booklist

Danny and Lin are up for anything—but even they weren’t prepared for a secret laboratory filled with amazing inventions and astonishing discoveries. Who knew that tracking one tiny pterodactyl would open up such a giant world of adventure with the Microsaurs?

With punchy illustrations, neat spy gadgets, and informative backmatter with facts about the real-life dinosaurs on which the Microsaurs are based, here is a new chapter book series sure to appeal to dinosaur fans, daredevils, and young scientists alike! [early chapter book, ages 7 and up]

MICROSAURS: Tiny-Raptor Pack Attack! by Dustin Hansen

When Danny and Lin receive a mysterious package filled with toothy, scratchy Microsaurs hungry enough to chew through walls, along with a very large Microsaur egg, even the bravest adventurers might find themselves in over their heads! [early chapter book series, ages 7 and up]

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Teaching Kids DIY Skills: Woodworking Projects for Kids

Teaching Kids DIY Skills

I’m not very handy myself and I’ve come to realize that knowing how to fix and make things is a learned skill passed down from parent to child. My kids did take Tech Ed in middle school, a version of wood shop, which taught them how to use tools, a great first step.

girls and wood shop

This is a replica of a Mesopotamia Throne that my daughter and her friend built for a class project.

Two of my kids like to build things using tools. PickyKidPix prefers power tools to build her woodworking projects. My son has been crafting wooden swords using planes, knives, and carving tools.

wooden sword woodworking projects for kids

Now that it’s starting to warm up here in Boston, our backyard deck is bare of furniture, so I asked my husband if he would tackle a project and have our kids help out. Father to son and daughter power! Let’s pass on the handiness. Read more…

21 Wonderful Japanese Folk Tales Books for Kids

21 Wonderful Japanese Folk Tales Books for Kids

My introduction to Japanese folk tales was through a beautifully illustrated copy of Momotaro. In this book, Momotaro wears the traditional samurai armor and it was a glimpse into my Japanese ancestry. I’ve since sought out Japanese folk tales to read to my kids, searching in Japanese markets and bookstores when I am visiting family in California. About half of these books are from my collection. The rest I researched and found in my public library. Since there are 21 books, I’ve broken them down:

  • Japanese Folk Tales About Friendship
  • Momotaro (Peach Boy)
  • Japanese Crane Folk Tales
  • Japanese Joke Tales
  • Japanese Folk Tales with Surprise Endings

What Japanese folk tales are you familiar with? Can you add to this list? Thanks so much!

21 Japanese Folk Tales for Kids

Japanese Folk Tales About Friendship

Both these stories are about Buddhist priests and a special friendship with a rescued animal.

Tanuki’s Gift: A Japanese Tale by Tim Myers, illustrated by R. G. Roth

A tanuki is a small badger-like animal like a raccoon-dog. It’s an actual animal in Japan, but it has also taken on mythological qualities as a shapeshifter trickster. This story is based on A. B. Mitford’s 19th century Tales of Old Japan which he derived from a phamphlet that appeared as early as 1688.

Tanuki Japanese raccoon dogTanuki, from Mother Nature Network

This is a lovely story of friendship and sacrifice. A Buddhist priest spends all of his days praying in his little hut. The poor people bring him food and clothing so he doesn’t have worry about worldly things. One day, a tanuki ask for shelter during a bitter cold night, and they become friends. For ten years, the tanuki came every night during the winter. Finally, the tanuki asks the priest for a way to repay him for his kindness. The priest admits he longs for three gold coins to pay for prayers so that he might enter Paradise when he dies. The tanuki then disappears for a long time and the priest mourns his departure. Finally the tanuki returns, having spent this time collecting gold ore and smelting it. The priest is overjoyed because the gift of friendship is what he realized he wanted all along. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

I am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend by Wendy Henrichs, illustrated by Yoshiko Jaeggi

The story probably originated during the Edo period, which was from 1603 to 1868. It is believed that Lord Naotaka li was the daimyō, a Japanese feudal warlord, in this story.Maneki Neko

The Maneki Neko is commonly in Japanese stores and restaurants as a symbol of good luck. This is the story of why its so popular.

Long ago in Japan, a cat found shelter in a run down Buddhist temple. The priest welcomed the cat and shared the meager food he had. He hoped to improve the lives of the villagers who worshipped there but they were as poor as he was. One day, the cat, named Tama, the Lucky Cat, by the priest, welcomed a warlord from under the shelter of a cherry tree just before it was struck by lightening. In thanks for saving him and his horse, the wealthy daimyō honored the temple with his patronage. [folk tale picture book, ages 4 and up]

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12 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

12 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

Kids who like knights, princesses, and castles will like books set in Medieval Times. Adam Gidwitz writes in the back notes of The Inquisitor’s Tale:

I hope, if nothing else, this book has convinced you that the Middle Ages were not “dark” (never call them the dark ages), but rather an amazing, vibrant, dynamic period. Universities were invented, the modern financial system was born, kingship as we know it developed — and so did the modern strife the currently grips our world.

It was a time when people were defining how they lived with the “other,” with people who were different from them. The parallels between our time and theirs are rich, poignant, and, to often, tragic.

The Middle Ages, or Medieval Times, in Europe was a thousand-year period of history that started in 500 AD until 1500 AD. It gets a bad rap in books as evidenced by 1o Worst Misconceptions About Medieval Life You’d Get From Fantasy Books:

  1. Peasants were a single class of people who were more or less equal to one another.
  2. Inns were public houses with big common halls below and rooms above.
  3. You would never see a woman engaged in a trade such as armorer or merchant.
  4. People had horrible table manners, throwing bones and scraps on the floor.
  5. People distrusted all forms of magic and witches were frequently burned.
  6. Men’s clothing was always practical and functional.
  7. Servants were all low-class people.
  8. Medicine was based on pure superstition.
  9. The most powerful military force consisted of armored knights riding into battle.
  10. Only men’s pleasure was important.

I found different kinds of books to bring this period alive from fiction books to a folk tale, a play, and an art history book on castles and knights. If your kids like this period, there’s a lot of options to see what life was like just through books.

How about you? What period of history fascinates you?

10 Exciting Medieval Times Books for Kids

10. Marguerite Makes a Book by Bruce Robertson, illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt

Set during the 1400’s, Marguerite’s father is the most famous manuscript illuminator in Paris. He’s trying to finish a prayer book for Lady Isabelle, his patron, but his hands are trembling with age lately. Together, he sets off with his daughter to get the materials they need. Marguerite uses egg whites, goose feathers, gold leaf, powdered silver, soot, honey, parsley, spices, wax, Lapis lazuli stone and other natural materials to make the paint for the book. With careful concentration, she finishes her father’s book, just in time for Lady Isabelle’s name day event. The illustrations in this lovely picture book include illuminations decorating the text, just like Marguerite’s father would have done. [picture book, ages 5 and up]

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Help Your Kids Have a More Creative Wedding

Help Your Kid Have A More Unique Wedding With These 7 Ideas

Your child getting married is a great moment. As they are planning the event, they are probably going to ask you for help at some point. If you want your child to have a truly unique day, consider mentioning some of the ideas below.

Have The Wedding In An Exotic Location

If you have the budget for it, having the wedding in an exotic location is a great way to make it unique. Every guest is sure to remember traveling to someplace new in order to watch your child get married. Consider having the wedding in the Bahamas, Europe, or even someplace very different like Iceland. Of course you’ll have to factor in the costs, not just for you but for all of the guests to attend, but should at least consider having the wedding someplace fun.

Choose A Theme Based on Common Interests

A great way to choose a theme for the wedding is by looking at the shared interests between the couple. For instance, if the couple has bonded over their shared love of hiking, you could center the theme around the outdoors, or even have the wedding outside. Or, if the two people getting married are teachers, you could decorate the wedding to look like a classroom. If you take the time to think about what the couple has in common, you’re likely to find something you can turn into a theme.

Set Up A Photobooth

A fun activity to set up at weddings is a photobooth. With a photobooth, guests can go in, take some silly pictures together, and then have a nice keepsake to take home with them. The couple can also get into the fun, taking pictures with all of their guests. The best part is that the bride and groom receive copies of all of the pictures taken, so they can share them after the wedding, or even turn them into custom thank-you cards. Read more…

RISD Admissions, Rhode Island School of Design

Applying to RISD: Advice from Antonio Peters in Admissions

RISD offered an admission session for parents of pre-college students this year. Antonio Peters led this informative session. I’ve condensed the one hour session into fourteen minutes in the video below.

RISD Admissions, Rhode Island School of Design

RISD Admissions Presentation for Pre-College Parents. How to apply and get into RISD by Antonio Peters, Assistant Director of Admissions.

Some pertinent information:

  • Show growth in your portfolio and be sure to label the circumstances in which the piece was created. Show timeframe of when piece was created … high school versus pre-college program. In class assignment versus private art teacher versus something I did at home for myself. Read more…
Skittles Rainbow Science Experiment Fail

Easy and Fun Rainbow Science Experiments

A rainbow is made of the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Where did the rainbow come from? All the colors exist in sunlight. We can’t see them because they are mixed together.

When sunlight moves from the air to the water in the glass, it bends in a special way. When it bends, the light separates into all the colors of the rainbow. It’s called refraction. From How To Make a Rainbow video

Read more…

Hawaiian Folk Tales & Children's Books

Hawaiian Folk Tales & Children’s Books

When I was a child, a relative in Hawaii from my mother’s side that I’d never met sent me two picture books as a Christmas present. It was a little weird because they didn’t send a gift for either of two siblings, nor did they indicate that this was a shared gift.

Pua Pua Lena Lena and the Magic Kiha-Pu by Guy & Pam Buffet, illustrated by Guy Buffet

One book was a Hawaiian folk tale of Pua Pua Lena Lena, a kind of magical dog who has to  retrieve the kiha pu, a conch shell that sounds an alarm if an enemy is approaching the kingdom, from spirits who have stolen it. This is his punishment for accidentally stealing plants from the Royal Garden in order to make awa tea for his master.

I also received a beautiful version of Momotaro, the peach boy warrior, a Japanese folk tale.

Both books were treasured favorites of mine, and I still have both copies. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to visit Hawaii a few times. My husband played golf for the University of Hawaii which is another connection that brings us back there.

I’m working on a series of Folk Tale posts from Asia and the Pacific Islands. Korea was my first. Today’s post celebrates Folk Tales from Hawaii. Because I had trouble finding these stories, I’ve also included Hawaiian notable picture book biographies.

p.s. I also have a post on Pearl Harbor Books for Kids.

p.p.s. This is the second post of my Folk Tale series. The first one is 16 Great Korean Folk Tales for Kids. Read more…

Visiting West Coast Art Schools

Visiting West Coast Art Schools & Foodie Stops Nearby

We are planning our family summer vacation trip around art and design school visits for my oldest, Grasshopper and Sensei, who is a rising senior in high school. Her wish list for this trip includes a visit to the Chihuly Gardens in Seattle so we will be driving from San Francisco to Vancouver, British Columbia, with a pit stop along the way in Seattle. For anyone planning a similar trip, note that rental car places will not let you return the car in another country, including Canada. Thus, we have to fly out of Seattle in order to drop the car off.

We are also doing a quick leg in Southern California to see a few schools, and my mother as well. At 92, she’s now in an independent living home, so we plan to see her and take her out for a meals. Foodie stops are important for all legs of the trip, and I’m including my research on those in this post below. My mother likes Asian food that is both delicious, plentiful, and inexpensive. We all joke that she must have a hollow leg because her appetite is impressive.

How about you? Any foodie stops you recommend for us to check out in Southbay California, San Francisco, Seattle and/or Vancouver, British Columbia? Thanks for sharing.

Art Schools Southern California

California Institute of the Arts: CalArts

California Institute of the Arts: CalArts

My daughter is interested in the very competitive computer animation program at CalArts. Read more…