I meant to write this review three days ago but…I was busy.

The media makes a lot of “busy” these days – how we wear it like a badge, how busy as a construct is not a great thing for us to be experiencing in our lives, how we fill our lives with so much stuff that we’re not exactly relishing the moments we’re in. And, you know, while I couldn’t really care less what the media says about pretty much anything – there’s something to it.

Even if we’re not glorifying the state of “busy” – fact is, most of us are just… too busy.

Which is why when I heard about Alli Worthington’s book, “Breaking Busy” I was eager to check it out and get my hands on a review copy. [Full disclosure: That’s not an Amazon affiliate link. Why? Because I was too busy to reply to whatever email they sent telling me I needed to do x, y or z so my affiliate relationship wouldn’t expire… and then I forgot, so it expired. So click away, y’all. I get nothing from it. You’re welcome. Also: I received Alli’s book for review purposes, but the opinions about it are solely my own because I HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT STUFF AND NO ONE WANTS TO PAY ME FOR THEM so… well… these opinions are all my own.]

Let me be clear: I am not the intended target audience for this book which is listed in the “Christian Personal Growth” category on Amazon. I am not a person who is drawn to faith-based books.

There’s a lot of faith in this book.

You would think – since I’ve just said that that’s not what floats my boat – that I wouldn’t have much to say about “Breaking Busy” but I think you first need to know a few things.

I know Alli knows busy.

I met her about a hundred years ago (in blog years) through Blissfully Domestic. I was a contributor first, then an editor. It was through Blissfully Domestic and Blissdom that I met some of my favorite people I have ever met in my life.

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(I do review posts wrong. These are not pictures from Breaking Busy. Those are pictures from a hundred years ago and that’s Alli kissin’ my face and that’s me looking like I need a nap and a cookie.)

I saw first hand the effects of busy – and just what it takes to put on a conference so big and coordinate and manage and make something look effortless.

So – on I read.

I’m a single mom. I work full time. I shuttle my kids around from activity to activity – and while I have not fixed all areas of my life since reading – there is a LOT of information in “Breaking Busy” that had me nodding my head, and at times, laughing (hello, iPhone in the bra. Want to know what I’m talking about? You should get the book.)

This book covers relationships in the age of social media. Decision making. The effects of miscommunication (I am an over communicator…except when I’m not. *winky face emoji*)

Unless our real relationships are strong no amount of likes and comments will fill our souls. Breaking

This book covers a wide range o’ things:

  • Worry (“Worry, on the other hand, is our attempt to control the future.”)
  • Finding your groove (“Bake your cake! Buy your cake! Don’t have a cake at all!”)
  • Decision making (“Don’t ask all your Facebook friends to weigh in on your most important decisions. Ask the friends who have earned the right to speak into your life.”)
  • And how we play a role in it all (“When we live in a world of crazy busy, it is sometimes of our own making.”)

It’s true – I am the unlikely audience of this book, but I still walked away with a lot from it – and I’d recommend it – even more so if a bit of a kick in the pants with a faith-based approach is your jam.



Day 27: Holiday Books for Children

Tonight as we sat at the dinner table, I was glancing at the flap of the book I was reading – you know, the part filled with praise and people saying great stuff about the books.

“It’s always good,” said Pumpkin.

“Well,” I responded, “you don’t sell very many books when you put bad things on their covers.”

“I wonder if they pay people to say good things about bad books,” was her reply.

Probably some do. But – I am not one of those who gets paid to talk about books. I get books in the mail and I’m happy for it because WE LOVE BOOKS – but the opinions are, of course, mine. I tend to avoid talking about the books we don’t enjoy but I don’t mind at all sharing with you the ones that we’ve loved.

This latest round of books are great for the approaching holiday season. The girls and I put up our Christmas tree tonight and I admit, I think I’m finally ready to find that Christmas spirit. Here are a few of the Christmas stories that we’ll be re-reading this season.

Twelve Days of Christmas Susan Jeffers

The Twelve Days of Christmas by Susan Jeffers

This story is a retelling of the classic “Twelve Days of Christmas” song, only it’s focused around a girl named Emma who finds a gift left for her by Santa and then imagines this great adventure where Santa saves the day. The illustrations are lovely – in fact, The Princess mentioned repeatedly how much she loved the art. I can never remember how the song goes so it’s kind of awesome to have a book as a cheat sheet.

Charlie the Ranch Dog

Charlie the Ranch Dog: Charlie’s Snow Day (I Can Read Book 1) based on the Charlie the Ranch Dog books by Ree Drummond

We’re kinda fans of The Pioneer Woman around here (well, her cookbooks and her recipes anyway… I hate to say it but the show leaves me kinda underwhelmed though I really love how she keeps her spices in mason jars), and that extends to Charlie the Ranch Dog. My youngest is a huge Charlie fan. Well, she’s a huge fan of most dogs – but when she saw this Charlie book in the mail, she may have squealed. This learning-to-read book is a bit young for my eight-year-old, but she loved the adventures of Charlie playing in the snow (and Charlie’s eventual longing for the warmth indoors).

Zoomer's Out of this world christmas

Zoomer’s Out-of-This-World Christmas Written and illustrated by Ned Young

Another dog book! When a space ship crash lands in Zoomer’s backyard, Zoomer and his brothers end up having a picnic with a family from outer space and sharing adventures before helping them mend their ship to send them on their way so they could get home in time for Santa’s arrival. A bright, funny story with lots of made-up words and creative and intriguing illustrations.

Biscuit's Christmas Storybook

Biscuit’s Christmas Storybook Collection

What? More dogs?! (Hey, we know what we like). This collection of Biscuit stories features nine stories – they’re short and easy to read so they’re ideal for your beginning reader. Both of my girls are far past the Biscuit stage of books – but your beginning reader will love them even though they’re not all Christmassy or even winter-y and some of them kind of seem like an odd selection for this Christmas storybook but odds are the only person in your home it will bother is you.

What are your favorite Christmas books for kiddos?

Day 12: A Children’s Book for Adults by Dallas Clayton. A review.

It's Never Too Late by Dallas ClaytonIn college during midterm and finals season, I would keep my copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You Will Go” on my desk. I’d read it before I ventured out onto campus into my next test-taking adventure, certain that if it was not luck provided to me by reading those words, it was a certain bit of centeredness, calm, that I got from the ritual.

There’s always been a place in my heart for children’s literature, for nonsense rhymes. There’s a bigger place in my heart for literature that is fun, but has meaning. I admit it, I’m a sap. A mushball. An emotional sponge soaking up what is around me and feeling ALL OF THE EMOTIONS. It’s just me. I’m just that way.

“What would you care
of bills and debt?
Or opinions of people
you’d never met?”

The day I received a copy of Dallas Clayton’s new book, I stood at my kitchen counter reading it out loud to my daughters as I read it for the first time. Several pages in, my voice broke and my eyes welled up with tears. By the time I turned the last page, I knew I’d found a keeper of a book.

It resonated with me. It hit me at the core. It was indeed, a children’s book for grownups.

“And the truth
is that nobody has all the answers.”

And maybe it’s because of where I am and how life is – and if things were smooth sailing, perhaps I’d not appreciate it as I do.

“And everyone’s mind
gets all full of mess,
and we all read the signs
and we all try our best.”

Without getting too cheesy, this book is uplifting and spoke to my heart with a quiet simplicity. I didn’t find it overbearing, heavy handed. It didn’t feel like it was forcing me to try to feel something.

By and large a lot of what we experience in life, to varying degrees, is universal. There are struggles and we’re all needing to find our way, make the most of what we can. But I find that when I am at my most stressed, books like this from Dallas Clayton, or Dr Seuss bring a bit of calm. Maybe it’s the pictures – just how often do we get picture books now that we’re old? Maybe it’s the calming rhythm of the rhyming text. Maybe it’s the acknowledgment that yeah, life can be really hard, but it’s hard for everyone, and if you can look past some of this crap (Note: Dallas Clayton doesn’t say “crap”), you’ll see there’s a lot of amazing and wonderful things to be experienced.

“…or you smiled like a mom
or you cried like forever.

These are the moments
you’re going to remember…”

I kind of really loved this book. This one will stay in my library for awhile. And like Seuss’s book that I reread before exams, I am certain that there will be times when I’ll revisit this one for its comfort, as well.

Day 9: Fun Children’s Books for Thanksgiving and Fall

See, the awesome thing about writing every day is that I have had a stack of books that I’ve needed to talk about and since I’ve committed to talking to y’all daily, NOW is the chance to tell you about some super cute books for children that celebrate the autumn season and some that celebrate Thanksgiving. And hey, I’m even telling you about ’em kind of early enough that if you want to pick up these books for Thanksgiving you STILL can.

Or you can just get a jump on next year.

As always, these books were provided to me for review and the opinions about them are solely my own. Well, fine – mine and my kids’. I have the kids check out every book I review — because sure, it’s fine if I like it, but you also want to know if your kids will like them too.

Fancy Nancy Apples Galore
Fancy Nancy: Apples Galore! (I Can Read Book 1)

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned the Fancy Nancy books here before — because I love this series. I love Nancy and can appreciate a kid who wants add a bit of flair to what she does. I also love the way these books manage to integrate newer “fancy” vocabulary words in a way that is informative, fun and not at all heavy handed. This book finds Nancy on a class trip to an apple orchard, with a trip buddy who is a bit of a boy who cried wolf (seriously, practical jokers? BOO). It’s a fun book, and you’re early readers might enjoy it.

Thanksgiving Day Thanks book
Thanksgiving Day Thanks

Filled with facts about the origins of Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving facts, this book focuses on Sam the bear and his animal classmates as they discuss the first Thanksgiving, what they’re thankful for, and creating Thanksgiving day projects. Sam struggles a bit – in thinking of what he’s thankful for, as well as determining what his project would be. Of course, he figures it out in the end. This book is cute – and gives a bit of the historical background for the holiday (hey parents, it’s okay if you’ve forgotten the stuff you learned in elementary school history – I know a lot of people are gonna disagree with that, but hey, I remember Algebra, so sometimes a little history has to disappear for that to happen).

Pete the Cat: The First Thanksgiving

I guess children’s book authors were counting on us old folks needing a reminder for how to explain Thanksgiving and the pilgrims and the Native Americans to our kiddos. I kind of love how it’s done in this book, one of the many in the Pete the Cat series (Don’t know Pete the Cat? We sure do love Pete around here. The only way we could love him more is if he was a dog). Pete the Cat is a pilgrim in his class play – and Pete acts out the journey to the New World, the difficulties the pilgrims faced that first winter in what became Massachusetts and the eventual meeting with the Native Americans and celebration of the first Thanksgiving. It’s a short, easy-to-read book (and easy to read out loud, meaning you’re not going to be recounting history lessons for forty minutes when all you wanted was to read a bedtime story to your kids). Nicely done, and as typical for most Thanksgiving books, gives you the opportunity to lead into a conversation with your kids about what they’re thankful for (the answers are always fun… and sometimes surprising).

Fancy Nancy Budding Ballerina
Fancy Nancy: Budding Ballerina

More Fancy Nancy! (Whut?) Though this book doesn’t have anything to do with fall or Thanksgiving, really, it’s a fun short read that has Fancy Nancy in ballet class (ideal because just think of all the fancy words in ballet — don’t worry, you’ll learn a bunch here — you’ll even learn how to pronounce some of ’em). Nancy decides to teach her dad how to do ballet in this cute story. I love the illustrations, I love how Nancy is a really genuine and enthusiastic kid. And I love that this demonstrate, and pirouette.

That’s it for now, but I just received a box of holiday books waiting to be read and shared with you. I’ll try to get those up before the end of the month (writer’s block will kick in and I will be SO HAPPY to have something to talk about. There are some cute new holiday books so be on the look out for that!).

I love this time of year and everytime I think about Thanksgiving I get really hungry. And then I think of all the amazing things that I’m thankful for. It’s always a good reminder to count our blessings.

If you have kiddos in the three to eight years old age range, be sure to check these books out. Note, all links are affiliate because it’s my blog and sometimes it’s nice to make a few cents from Amazon (and I’m not exaggerating – I’ve made 89 cents so far this quarter. That’ll get me…not much).


Thursday Ten: Gaining Confidence. Maybe. Kinda. Sorta. Edition

1. Well, with all this free time on my hands I have decided to try to spend more time on portraits. It’s a process because despite my business background and marketing degree, none of that helps with the lack of confidence that can creep in when it comes to my photography skills. It’s too bad, really, because I am the one getting in my own way.

2. Kayak is the coolest. Now, you can set a budget and see all the places you still can’t afford to go. {Flights to Spain for under a grand but…alas! Not yet for me.}

3. Fall, how I already miss thee. What the heck, Michigan? It’s already COLD here. Cold weather means comfort food so last night I baked some beer bread. Delish.

4. And in the midst of editing photographs, I lose sight of taking my own pictures just because. Except this one. This one I love.
052 | 365

5. Halloween is coming and though I strongly dislike Halloween, there’ve been quite a few adorable Halloween books for kids to land in my mailbox. Like Monsters on the Loose!: A Seek and Solve Mystery!, which is very “Where’s Waldo”-esque but without the Waldo. A fun oversized book with brightly colored illustrations to keep your kiddos busy for a bit, looking for the “monsters.” Also Hedgehug’s Halloween – an adorable Hedgehog and awesome collage style illustrations. Finally, Lulu Goes to Witch School (I Can Read Book 2), ideal for your learning to read kiddo. Each of these books retails for under ten bucks each on Amazon right now. Mostly because Halloween is in a few days and I should have told you about these awesome books like two weeks ago.


7. Earlier in the week after a few rough days, I went on a walk after work with one of my dearest friends on the planet. We both kind of needed to vent. The long walk and the accompanying conversation sparked a lot of thoughts and potential blog posts (I always threaten to write deep blog posts but then I never do it, so don’t you worry). My wheels are turning.

8. I am pretty tired this week. Looking forward to a weekend of sleeping in. I hope my brain lets me sleep in!

9. A week past 37, I’m holding up remarkably well for an old lady. And… not really feeling any older. Birthdays are weird, I guess. There’s a lot of emotion tied into my birthdays, mostly because there’s a whole lot of upheaval in my life… but… aside from these gray hairs, I’m doing alright.

10. Every year my mom writes one of those long “this is what we did this year” Christmas letters — I’ve always kind of hated them. When I was a kid, I hated them because our year never could compare with those from people who spent their holidays skiing and traveling and having adventures. As an adult, they’re dreadful for kind of the same reason — how many years in a row do people want to read about us having essentially the same life? This year, I’ve asked if I can write it — it seems like we can’t just be business as usual this year. Every time I’ve tried to imagine what I’ll write, my eyes fill with tears – but I figure that will just have to be okay.

Fun Children’s Books for Back To School

If I was a more organized blogger, I’d have probably written and posted this over a month ago – when some of y’all were getting your kids ready for school ALL THE WAY BACK IN AUGUST. Here in Michigan, law says public school can’t start until after Labor Day, which means that while kids all over the country are already back in the swing of things, my peeps are enjoying (I hope!) their first day of third and sixth grade today.

I received some fun school related books to review – and I forgot to tell you about them. I hope you’ll give me a free pass because this summer was ridiculously hard. Maybe next year, I’ll get my self together and be legit with an editorial calendar or something.

Stranger things have happened.

Amelia Bedelia’s First Library Card

I grew up with Amelia Bedelia stories – silly, literal Amelia Bedelia (who doesn’t love saying that name?) – and in this update, Amelia gets new life…as a kid! I don’t know that I love it, to be honest – this updated and young Amelia, but the book and illustrations are fun and the story is cute. Seeing as how I have a kiddo just itching to get her first library card, I thought this book was a fun read. Amelia’s class goes to the library, learns about how to find books, and gets their first library card. And when Amelia Bedelia checks out her book, something goes wrong… it wouldn’t be Amelia Bedelia otherwise!

My New Teacher and Me

My New Teacher and Me!

This delightful story from Al Yankovic (yeah, that’s the one) surprised me – a skeptic because, well… I don’t love his music. I don’t love the parodies, I don’t find him particularly amusing but I think that this is the right target demographic for Weird Al, because I really kinda dug this story about Billy on his first day of school. Admittedly, I’m a sucker for a rhyming story for kids and the bright illustrations enhanced the details of the wild stories Billy tells his doubting teacher, Mr. Booth, on the first day of school. A lovely tale about imagination and thinking beyond what’s already known. It was almost inspiring. I liked it.

Clark the Shark

Clark the Shark reminds me of any number of students I’ve seen over the past several years that my kids have been in school – only, y’know… he’s a shark. Easily excitable, not always on task, boisterous in a way that can be annoying to others… Clark the Shark struggles because his behavior makes his friends not want to play with him and causes the teacher to reprimand him often. A little lesson in self control teaches Clark that there’s a time and a place for that playful behavior. A good book for that oh-so-enthusiastic kiddo in your life – in a not preachy way, it provides a good lesson – that the enthusiasm is great, but sometimes we need to take it easy, or as Clark’s teacher says: “Stay Cool.”

Those are a few of the books that have found their way to our bookshelves and our hearts as we roll into a new school year. Opinions, as always, are my own, though the books were sent to me for review. These books are appropriate for ages four to eight, approximately – though your mileage may vary depending on your kiddo.

Happy School!

Our Favorite Children’s Books For Summer

One of my favorite blogging perks – since no one is clamoring to send me on lovely trips to write about them (though I’m TOTALLY open to that, FYI) – is getting brand new books in the mail to review. I get quite a lot of books, and it makes me and the little people tremendously happy. It also makes me friends happy because for some reason, I get a bit of romance novels and I really don’t care to read or review those so they immediately get passed on to friends who will dig ’em.

The kids’ books I mention on my blog have met a few criteria:

  • My daughters like them
  • I like them
  • I believe they have enough staying power to not get annoying after you’ve read it to a kid four times in a row

When I get books, Pumpkin goes through them first (most of what I’ve received has been more fitting for a 4 – 8 year old age group, so The Princess opts out of a lot of the reading). She tells me what she likes, and I read and pare the list down from there. What you’re seeing here are some of our latest faves.

Fanciest Doll in the Universe

Fancy Nancy: Fanciest Doll in the Universe

I’m forever a fan of the Fancy Nancy series – I love the illustrations, I love the concept, and I love the sneaky vocabulary lessons (“Then my mom tries consoling me. That’s fancy for making me feel better.”). In this latest book, Nancy’s little sister draws all over Nancy’s favorite doll with a permanent marker. Nancy is devastated that her doll is “ruined” and mad at her little sister. In the end, of course, the sister-drawn tattoo ends up being a good thing, and Nancy realizes her sister won’t always be little forever. I kind of dug this – I remember Pumpkin ruining her older sister’s stuff. It’s a sibling thing and it’s pretty common and I love how they covered it.

Sticky, Sticky, Stuck!

A family so wrapped up with work, cell phones, television and the like that they fail to pay attention to little Annie except to tell her she’s sticky. So when Annie makes a sticky sticky sandwich and the whole family gets stuck they realize they actually kind of like to spend time with each other and it’s good to put the phones down and connect with the people in front of us. Uh, whut? Yeah. Kind of heavy handed, but a cute way to share a good message. And yes, I put the iPhone down for awhile after reading it.

Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach (My First I Can Read)

The Pete the Cat series (we just received Pete at the Beach, Pete’s Big Lunch, and Play Ball) are great because they are for beginning readers and are entertaining and somewhat challenging but not so challenging that you’re filling in every third word for your reader.

Tyler Makes Spaghetti!
But perhaps my favorite of the bunch is this offering from chef Tyler Florence (apparently, he’s also penned Tyler Makes Pancakes! which sounds equally fun). With the focus I’m working on instilling in my kids – eating more whole foods and less meals from packages (I’m not all the way there yet, by the way. My addiction to snack foods isn’t likely to end any time soon, but for meals, I’m doing a pretty darn good job), I love this book’s focus on the simple and natural ingredients that encompass a meal of spaghetti and meatballs. The book finishes with Tyler Florence’s recipe – and yeah, I’ll be giving that a try soon with the kids in the near future.


So these are some of the latest pages we’ve been turning. What have you been reading with your kiddos this summer?


Though these books were sent to me free for review, the opinions expressed are my own. Amazon affiliate links used because why on earth not.

National Poetry Month – Children’s Poetry Books

From the time we are born, poetry is infused into our lives in many ways – whether we realize it or not. Nursery rhymes, lullabies, silly nicknames. All poetry. From there, maybe your roads lead to Shel Silverstein or Dr. Seuss. And then onward and upward.

Chances are, your kiddos aren’t UNFAMILIAR with poetry. Which is good – because poetry is AWESOME.

I’ve loved – perhaps as much as my daughters have loved – looking at these books we received for review for National Poetry Month. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love children’s lit – this poetry? It’s FUN. It’s entertaining. And some of the book art is absolutely lovely.

Take for example, Stardines Swim High Across the Sky: and Other Poems. This book of poems by Jack Prelutsky features amazing art by Carin Berger – these images are dioramas, shadow boxes, and cut paper collages. Pictured above are the “Braindeer” (Braindeer are very clever, Braindeer are very wise. Their brains are very wrinkled and of a massive size…). From SLOBsters to Panteaters, this book is entertaining, but the art makes the book. It’s unique and special and really stands apart from most of the books we own

As a tremendous fan of Maurice Sendak and “Where the Wild Things Are,” I was excited to receive a review copy of My Brother’s Book, Sendak’s elegy “for his brother, Jack, his partner of over fifty years, Eugene Glynn, and for himself.” Described as the kind of fairy tale a grieving child tells, this book was moving and quasi-Shakespearean. And my kids hated it. I guess it’s fair to say that Pumpkin also hates “Where the Wild Things Are” and The Princess was disturbed that it says “To hell with you then!” She didn’t find that appropriate. Given how I mourned the death of Sendak, though, I found the book to be a welcome addition to our book collection – and even though the kids don’t love it now, I’ll hang on to it.

Two other volumes of poems by Jack Prelutsky –The New Kid on the Block and A Pizza the Size of the Sun feature a more age appropriate nonsense kind of poem that my children, particularly seven-year-old Pumpkin, seem to enjoy. These poems are short and silly and remind me a bit of Shel Silverstein’s work (though, I’m a big Silverstein fan – and while these are good, Shel’s a tough act to follow!). Because the poems are short and sweet, they make for great bedtime reading – a few at a time, with an easy place to stop for the night.

This probably isn’t even fair to the other books because we are such total Dallas Clayton fans in this house. Make Magic! Do Good! is just as lovely as the other offerings from Clayton we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing. These are the kinds of books that the cynical side of me wants to dislike because they are so FREAKING POSITIVE, but frankly – we all could use a little positive. I find the poems to be calming and they make me smile. My daughters enjoy them as well. Particularly “My Mistake” – a good one for this house full of overachievers:

I made a mistake when I wrote this
then I covered it up with some ink
then my hands got mistaken and made a mistake
and they spilled it all over the sink
so I asked for a rag to help fix it
but they brought me a rug by mistake.
Now the sink and the rug are all covered in ink
and the writing has taken a break.
Now I’m down on my knees
And a scrubbin’ it clean
but the mistake that I made just keeps growin’
and I think
if I had it to do over again
I’d’ve made my mistake and kept goin’.


Disclaimer – I received the books for review but as always, my opinion is my own. Blah blah blah FTC blah blah blah.

Books for Valentines Day Even If You Don’t Actually LIKE Valentines Day

I’m sure you guys know this by now…

I have mixed feelings on Valetines Day. I’m a fan of Hallmark, not a fan of Hallmark holidays. Why wait for a holiday to say you care?

Having said that

My kids? They love it. A lot.

And they really loved this batch of books that we got for Valentines Day. Admittedly, even I got a little squooshy about one of ’em.

Awesome Book of Love!

How much do I love Dallas Clayton? Kind of a really lot. I truly enjoyed “An Awesome Book” and this one is pretty darn enjoyable too. With its quirky illustrations and its fun rhyming verse make this book truly enjoyable, whether you’re a kid or a kid’s mom or probably even if you’re a kid’s mom’s mom, you might dig this also. I like this because it’s not Valentines specific – you don’t need a special day to tell someone you care (okay, maybe you do, but some people don’t and they will be just as happy reading this book on a Tuesday in November as they are reading it on February 14). This book is a lovely little love story. And I’m not sure I’m going to let the kids take it for their own shelf – I may just keep it on mine!

But you know that’s not all that this love is about
Sometimes it’s a whisper when you feel you could shout
Or just being around when others have gone
or about letting go when you want to hold on


Mia: The Sweetest Valentine
by Robin Farley

Pumpkin loves the Mia series of books perfect for ages 4 – 8 (she’s seven years old and difficulty wise, she can read books a bit tougher than this one, but she’s at the point where she can’t decide if she wants chapter books or the cool pictures – and that’s OKAY). A fun little story of Mia celebrating Valentines Day with her friends annnnnnd… accidentally eating the box of chocolates her dad had purchased for her mom. This cute (short!) story also comes with a page of stickers which, as you know, makes every book better. Too bad it didn’t come with a box of chocolates. (Free marketing idea!)

Splat the Cat: Funny Valentine

Another series that Pumpkin LOVES. This cute story with lift-the-flap surprises is fun for kiddos ages 4 to 8. A sweet fun story that your kids will love, particularly if they are already fans of the Splat the Cat series (like my kiddo is).


Though I received the books for review, the opinions, as always are solely my own. It takes more than review copies of books to sway my opinion (but you’re welcome to try). All children’s books received for review go through the paces with both me and my kiddos. If they don’t like them or if I don’t, that’s the end of it. Children’s literature is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, which is why at 36 years old, I still LOVE kids’ books.


Happy Valentines Day.

Happy Reading.

Children’s Books for Black History Month

Perhaps one of my favorite things about blogging is getting love from book publishers – occasionally I come home from work to find books in the mail and my kids and I rip open the packages and read ’em and decide which are the best of the bunch.

A few weeks ago, I received several books in honor of Black History Month – the kids and I did some reading and of the bunch, these are our favorites. These books are well written with great art and were extremely informative (actually, so informative that I learned a lot, which I love).

In the Land of Milk and Honey by Joyce Carol Thomas

This book was our favorite. Lyrical prose, gorgeous art. This book is a true story of the author’s trip from Oklahoma to California in the late 40s. A former California girl myself, I have to say I loved seeing my old home, even in illustrations.

At the welcome party
limber-legged dancers
shimmy in and out of each other’s arms
And ever-changing rhythms
call the feet to follow the beat
here in
this Land of Milk and Honey

I was drawn in by the words and Floyd Cooper’s illustrations create a vivid backdrop for this tale. If you close your eyes, you’re almost there on a train making your way through dusty states on a quest to reach a land where lemons grow as big as oranges.

Beautiful story.

I’ve Seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Walter Dean Myers, Illustrated by Leonard Jenkins

My public school education not lacking so much that I didn’t know the story of Martin Luther King Jr., but this goes beyond “I Have a Dream” and details the life of MLK before his famous speech. This book is straight-forward and it’s narrative isn’t flowery, pretty or lovely. It’s history and it’s pretty straight up. This might be too “old” for Pumpkin, but The Princess sat and read it cover to cover.

I like the simplicity and matter-of-fact way it’s written.

What I really love though are Leonard Jenkins’s paintings. The illustrations in this book are so compelling and they really bring everything together.

Nelson Mandela
Words and Paintings by Kadir Nelson

Can I just admit something really quickly? History wasn’t my best subject in school. I once cried my way from a B+ to an A- (it worked too. It shouldn’t have but it did), and so it is with embarrassment that I admit that I didn’t really know a whole lot about Nelson Mandela before reading this book.

And so my girls and I learned together while reading this book.

When Nelson Mandela was a child, his father died and he was sent to live with a powerful chief. He  left his mother and his family to live with this chief. He grew on to become a lawyer, defending the poor and powerless.He was ultimately arrested for fighting apartheid, met his wife and had children, while continuing to fight apartheid. He went into hiding to avoid the warrants out for his arrest but ultimately he was captured and spent over 27 years in prison.

This book takes a complicated story and makes it easy to understand and the illustrations are bold, genuine, and straightforward.

So check them out – they’re pretty awesome new additions to our home library. The books were sent to me for review, but as always, the opinions are mine alone (I received a few others, but… they didn’t pass muster and rather than say bad things about books I don’t dig, I’d rather focus on the ones we loved).

Stay tuned because some great Valentines books for kiddos are coming soon. My kids are really happy lately about this whole “mom’s a blogger” thing. Hey, me too.