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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh

The St. Patrick's Day Shillelagh by Janet Nolan, illustrated by Ben F. Stahl (Albert Whitman & Company, 2002). 

This is a lovely book about a family heirloom that gets passed down from generation to generation.  It starts with Fergus, a boy in Ireland during the potato famine who must immigrate to America with his family. He cuts a branch from a blackthorn tree to bring a piece of his country with him and whittles it into a shillelagh, or walking stick. Every St. Patrick's Day he tells his son his story of leaving Ireland. This tradition gets passed down through the generations until we see young Kayleigh being told the story by her grandfather. This is a great book to use for teaching about family history.

For more St. Patrick's Day children's books, you can check out my Pinterest board here

Also, if you need some good Celtic music, I recommend AccuRadio.  They have several different stations, such "Songs of the Sea," "Celtic Legends," "First Fiddle," and "St. Paddy's Party." I swear I'm not being paid, I just really love their options! I think Irish music is so beautiful and whenever I hear it, I feel connected to my Irish roots. (Although only 16% according to AncestryDNA.) 

Hope everyone has a great St. Patrick's Day with some good craic!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day by Gail Gibbons (Holiday House, 1989).

For more Valentine's Day books, see my Pinterest board.

Friday, February 3, 2017


Minou by Mindy Bingham, illustrated by Itoko Maeno (Advocacy Press, 1987).  

Growing up, we had a dog. Despite not having a cat of my own until I was a teenager, I have always been a cat lover. "Kitty" was one of my very first words. So I loved this book about a Siamese cat in Paris. 

Minou is a loved, pampered kitty.  But when her elderly owner becomes ill, she is left to fend for herself on the streets of Paris, something she doesn't know how to do. Luckily another cat teaches her how to survive and she becomes a mouser at Notre Dame Cathedral. Written by the then-Executive Director of the Girls Club of Santa Barbara, this book promotes independence and self-reliance to girls. Adults (and kids familiar with Paris) will also enjoy seeing the famous landmarks in the pictures. However, as a kid, I just knew I loved the story of the sweet Minou. 

Monday, January 23, 2017

Rice and Rocks: Multicultural Children's Book Day

Rice and Rocks by Sandra L. Richards, illustrated by Megan Kayleigh Sullivan (Wise Ink Creative Publishing, 2016.)

It's that time again!  This is my third year participating in Multicultural Children's Book Day, which is January 27. Thank you to the author for providing me with this book to review.  It actually had been on my "to read" list for a while, so I was so happy when we were matched. Also, just an interesting coincidence... I saw that she is from a town in Long Island five minutes from where I used to live before moving back to my home state of Connecticut earlier this year. 

This is a fun book about a boy named Giovanni who is embarrassed to have his friends come over for dinner because his grandmother will be serving rice and beans, or "rice and rocks" as he calls them. He thinks his family's traditional Jamaican dish will be seen as weird to his friends. But with the help of his aunt and a magical talking parrot, he learns how rice and beans is a staple in all different countries around the world, just prepared in different ways. I really enjoyed the creative story, fun illustrations, and important message. 

For more information, see the author's website here.

This book also provides a great excuse to cook with kids! For a good place to start, here is a website with 24 different rice and beans dishes from around the world.

About MCBD:

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Our mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.

Current Sponsors:  MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press,  Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:

MCBD site:

Free Multicultural Books for Teachers:

Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators:

Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents:

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use their official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me...

Tomorrow is a big day for me... it's my 30th birthday!  I can't believe it.  I'm looking forward to celebrating with family and then next week taking a mini-vacation to Miami with friends. 

I always loved my birthday parties as a kid because my mom threw me some great ones.  I always had a theme and fun, creative activities.  Here is a photo from my 7th birthday when I was obsessed with Aladdin.  We had a magician perform also, so it was sort of a combo theme.  

Another one of my favorite parties was themed "The Birthday Lady Vanishes" when I was turning nine. It was a mystery party where all my guests had to make up a character and come in costume with a name and some facts about their alias. We made a short movie with cheesy camcorder tricks to make it look like various items and then finally the birthday girl "disappeared." I played two parts, the detective there to solve the case and the disappearing wealthy socialite birthday lady. I still have the VHS tape. I remember another fun decorating detail was that my mom and I made "Wanted" posters of all my friends.  

Anyway, to tie in this birthday post with children's literature, I will share one of my favorite birthday books. It's Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch (1982).  I loved the Weston Woods video, and luckily it's available on Youtube, so I will share it with you below. (The film is actually only 6 minutes, the video here repeats for some reason.)
You can find more birthday books on my Pinterest here.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Minnie Saves the Day

Minnie Saves the Day by Melodye Benson Rosales (Little, Brown, 2001). 

One day recently when I was walking around my neighborhood, I came across a Little Free Library.  

The rules stated were simple: take a book and either return it or replace it with a different book.  Looking through, an illustrated children's book stood out to me. I knew the author/illustrator from her other books, including the original three Addy books for American Girl. I decided to borrow it and I'm glad I did.


Taking place in Chicago during the Great Depression, it's about an African-American girl named Hester who receives a rag doll made by her grandmother.  She's excited because it's the first doll she owns that looks like her. She names her Minnie. We soon learn that all toys come to life when people aren't around.  When Hester's mother thinks her butter pound cake for an upcoming party is ruined, Minnie decides to help save the day. 

The book it set up as part one of a series, "The Adventures of Minnie," although unfortunately it doesn't appear that there were any other stories published. It's formatted similarly to American Girl in that it's historical fiction with a family tree of the characters in the front and some true historical facts in the back, as well as a recipe for the butter pound cake featured in the book. It's a shame there aren't more books in the series.

For more information on black dolls, read this wonderful article titled "Black is Beautiful: Why Black Dolls Matter."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Counting to Christmas

Counting to Christmas by Nancy Tafuri (Duck Pond Press, 2014). 

I really love this book. The text is simple but lovely and the illustrations are wonderful. It shows a girl as she counts the days to Christmas and what activities she does each day, such as baking cookies, making cards, stringing popcorn, playing recorder at a recital, and making treats for wild animals.  I like that it starts with her opening an advent calendar, and the image on the calendar is then the last page of the book. Also her pet Keeshond follows her throughout, which is very cute. In the back of the book are instructions for the activities and recipes that were shown in the story. I definitely recommend this for a nice holiday read!

For more Christmas books, see my Pinterest page. I also have a list of multicultural Christmas books here.