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Picture Book Review & Giveaway Day 3

LET’S GET KIDS READING!

Today is Day 3 of our picture book giveaway worth over $130, and the theme we’ve chosen is Learning.

Monday, September 10, through Wednesday, September 12, 2012 of this week we’ll be reviewing and/or briefly mentioning picture books that we’ve read recently then giving them away! And guess what? If  you LIKE us on Facebook and also send us your name and contact info in an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com by Monday, September 24, 2012 you’ll be entered to win a prize package of all books covered!! Remember to write Picture Book Giveaway in the subject line.  **YOU MUST LIST ALL BOOKS COVERED ALL 3 DAYS as part of your entry eligibility so be sure to read the blog every day!! One lucky winner will receive eight hardcover books worth a total retail value of $136.88!  We’re making it SO easy for you to get your kids reading again this back-to-school season. And isn’t that priceless?  The giveaway opportunity ends at midnight on Monday, September 24, 2012 and a winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, September 25, 2012. Click here now for rules. Good luck!

Green ($16.99, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press, ages  2-6) written and illustrated by Caldecott Honor Book and Geisel Honor Book awardee, Laura Vaccaro Seeger, will make you and your children think about green in a whole exciting new way. I’m in the process of repainting both the interior and exterior of my home and since green is one of my two favorite colors (the other is purple), I just knew I would be wild about this book. And speaking of wild, of course there’s jungle green, forest green, sea green, lime green and pea green covered. But what really works so well is how there’s a deliberate die cut on every spread which little ones will love looking through. Add to that how they’ll enjoy talking about a certain surprise they may notice when peering through to a different page to find moths flitting near a fern or the delicious looking red apples on a tree, or the word khaki hidden in tall grass.  Here’s a great book of discovery for youngsters that is ideal to use as inspiration for creating their own picture book or work of art.

My Pop-Up World Atlas ( $18.99, Templar Books, ages 5-8) by Anita Ganeri and Stephen Waterhouse is a book right up reviewer Debbie Glade’s alley. She’d loves promoting geography to kids and here’s a book that would make doing so all the more fun. Who doesn’t love a pop-up book?  Travel around the globe from the comfort of your sofa as you learn facts, check out maps, lift flaps, pull tabs, spin wheels. There are so many thing to do on every page to keep a child glued to this book. 

**Recap – To be eligible for the giveaway: 

1. Read our blog this week
2. Like us on Facebook
3. Send us an email to Ronna.L.Mandel@gmail.com by Monday, September 24, 2012. Write “Picture Book Giveaway” in the subject line. In the body of the email, write:
a. The names of all the books mentioned in our blog posts from Monday September 10 through Wednesday September 12, 2012.
b. Your name
c. Phone number
d. Address
A winner will be randomly chosen on Tuesday, September 25, 2012.

Dare to Explore!

Our family always loves the yearly National Geographic Kids Almanac and the newest edition is no exception. With fab photos, facts, and an overall coolness quotient of 10, what’s not to love?

The best thing about the latest almanac is that it’s kept up with technology and offers readers a chance to watch neat new videos, play games and get even more facts via a QR Code you can scan with a smart phone or iPod Touch. Dinosaurs like me can also go the website.

So spend summer break the right way by packing a copy of the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 ($13.99, National Geographic Children’s Publishing, ages 8 and up). It’ll keep your entire family entertained while on the road or at home. It will also be a great conversation starter, a dispute resolver and something to keep returning to throughout the year.

Broken down into themed sections so fact hungry kids can devour the book in small chunks, the book begins with Your World 2013 then moves into the ever popular Amazing Animals pages packed with amazing pictures and tons of information. Did you know, for example, that there are 10, 158 vulnerable or endangered species in the world?  The list even includes the American crocodile!

Next comes the Awesome Adventure section where kids can learn about different fields of exploration, hone up on their photo taking skills and even get tips on writing an engaging essay. Following is Culture Connection, Super Science and some Fun and Games. The Wonders of Nature section covers world climate, natural disasters, biomes, oceans, coral reefs and so much more.  I appreciated the Going Green section with its out-of-this-world green inventions including Hotel in The Clouds lazily making its way across the Atlantic from New York to London in 37 hours. Talk about a room with a view!

The book ends with History Happens and Geography Rocks saving the best for last in my adult opinion, but kids will be delighted from start to finish. With 500 photos, maps, crafts, fun facts and a slew of other interesting tidbits, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 is an adventure on every page.

By the way, I just learned that London is the only city to host the Olympics three times. 

Postcards about Planet Earth: Q & A

ask-drkfisher_pearth-6Ask Dr. K. Fisher About Planet Earth ($10.99, Kingfisher/Macmillan, ages 4-8) is a clever, sturdy hardcover book by author Claire Llewellyn. Full of postcards and letters written by animals who pose the most unusual questions to expert Dr. Fisher, this book is sure get kids thinking about Mother Nature. For instance, a salmon wants to know what life will be like for him when he swims from the river to the ocean. Dr. Fisher helps the salmon rest easy by telling him this is a completely natural and safe process for him. All the ask-drkfisher_pearth-7letters teach young readers about the animals and the places where they live.

9780753463048Each of the postcards and letters, both to and from Dr. K. Fisher, are craftily illustrated by Kate Sheppard. This makes the book extraordinarily fun to read. There’s a simple glossary and an index in the back of the book as well.

ask-drkfisher_pearth-12The best aspect of this book is that it teaches kids fascinating facts in a subtle way rather that pounding them over the head with them. I suppose I already knew there are three different layers of the earth, and the core is too hot for any creature to survive. But somehow, seeing an illustration and reading a real simple description, really hit home with me.

debbiegladeDebbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

If America Were a Village

Startling Statistics About the USA for Little People

Regular contributor Debbie Glade reviews this terrific book from the Citizen Kid series published by Kids Can Press:

2046_cv2David J. Smith is the author of If the World Were a Village, which sold more than 400,000 copies in 16 languages. In If America Were a Village: A Book About the People of the United States, Smith takes facts and figures about the 306 million people of America and reduces them down to a village of 100 people, to give children vital information they can easily understand in the simplest terms. Essentially, this is a book of statistics for little people, and I for one think it’s a brilliant idea.

Did you know that in 1900, 40 people out of 100 in the US lived in towns and cities, and 60 lived in the country? And today, 80 out of 100 live in cities and 20 live in the country? Well, you will learn many more fascinating facts like these when you read this beautiful book. Statistics regarding where we come from, our religions, what we do for a living, how wealthy we are, how many products we consume (this will astound you), how healthy we are and more are all covered. There’s a helpful section in the back of the book with tips to help children understand more about America. And like all books with facts and figures, there’s a list of sources of information.

I love the unique, slightly hazy yet colorful illustrations done by Shelagh Armstrong, depicting Americans in every day life situations. Her cover design, an aerial view of a village is more defined and is also incredibly appealing. The talented Ms. Armstrong has had a lot of experience designing packages for international products, some of which you can see on her Web site by clicking here.

As a geography literacy advocate myself, I am so pleased when I find creative books like this that teach kids (and their parents and teachers) about the world in unusual ways. And what better way to start teaching children about the world than helping them understand their own country first? I highly recommend all children in the USA read If America Were a Village. It certainly would be a welcome addition to any classroom.

Now why didn’t I think of this idea for a book myself?

debbiegladeDebbie Glade, today’s guest reviewer, is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

Animals As Seen By Darwin & Polo

Yesterday, guest reviewer Debbie Glade looked at Charles Darwin and today she is also reviewing Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around-the-World Adventure and Animals Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road, two Chronicle Books by author Sandra Markle.

9780811850490_normAnimals Charles Darwin Saw (Chronicle, $16.99; ages 7-10) is beautifully illustrated with bright colors by Zina Saunders. The depictions bring the reader closer to the reality of Darwin’s nineteenth century world. Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzinni’s illustrations in Animals Marco Polo Saw (Chronicle, $16.99; ages 7-10) are both vivid and somewhat smoky at the same time, demonstrating her originality. Her use of light and shadows are incredibly impressive, and I really enjoyed studying all the detail.

In the Darwin book, readers learn about the naturalist’s expedition aboard the HMS Beagle. The author does a good job introducing his theory of evolution to young readers, and I like the way she explains what Darwin was trying to accomplish on his voyage. In reality, Darwin’s findings and theories are quite sophisticated, and Sandra Markle simplifies it for children in a way that is understandable yet not at all patronizing. In Marco Polo, readers are taken on a j9780811850513_normourney from Italy, through the Middle East and to China, along the same path this great explorer took during the 13th century. Young readers learn about Marco Polo’s interest in the people he encountered (Kublai Kahn among them), their cultures and religions, as well as the many unique animals he saw that were unfamiliar to him. Both books highlight specific animals with offset copy, giving the reader a greater depth of information.

Also, each book starts off with a note to parents and teachers and has a Table of Contents. In the back is a Glossary, a “For More Information” page and even a helpful Index.

unknownAnimals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around-the-World Adventure and Animals Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road teach children about two curious men from long ago, with great minds, who journeyed afar in search of answers. They each brought back an abundance of new information to share that would change the way we think and live. There is so much that Charles Darwin and Marco Polo have taught us, and these books are a great way to expose young readers to these great men.


dsc_0024-300x217Debbie Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.

Let’s Go Exploring for Geography Awareness Week

According to guest reviewer Debbie Glade, Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure (Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick, $19.99; ages 8-12), written by A.J. Wood and Clint Twist, “is the highest quality, most inviting, most creative, most entertaining, most sophisticated and most informative children’s science book I have ever read. There, I said it.”

dsc_0024-300x217Debbie Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.


51lyslu9b5l_sl500_aa240_As soon as I took one look at the unique cover, I knew this was a special book. The pages are accessed by opening the flaps of a sturdy, magnetic cardboard cover. What lies inside is a visual wonderland of flaps to flip and envelopes to open, revealing letters, illustrations, maps, photos and scientific information regarding Darwin’s findings aboard the HMS Beagle. You will actually feel as though you are reading Darwin’s diary from the famed voyage of 1831 to 1836. The pages were even printed to look as though they were hand sewn to the binding! (FYI – This book is one of three historical notebooks from Templar Books, all of which I’d love to read.)

This is not a book for you or your child to rush through; rather you will want to curl up on the couch and take your time reading and discovering. You don’t want to miss a thing. Open the inside cover to pull Darwin’s family tree out of an envelope. Then continue on to read about the experiences that led Darwin to a life of scientific exploration and discovery. View a map of the track the HMS Beagle took, read a letter from Darwin to his father about his decision to take the voyage and then soak in all the flora and fauna as seen by the great naturalist himself. And of course, learn about Darwin’s theory of evolution.

0763645389int1Did you know that the HMS Beagle’s departure was delayed numerous times before setting sail? Or that there were 74 people on board the not-so-large ship? And that Darwin experienced severe seasickness? Or that Darwin was a very religious man? You will learn about these facts as well as details about Darwin’s tracking of plant and animal species and how he collected specimens in South America, around Cape Horn and on his voyage back to England.

Reading Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure is as close as you can get to actually being on Darwin’s voyage of 1831-1836. This book is indeed a lifetime keeper.

Writing and Art Contest for Children

glade_224 Days Left to Enter
I Love Costa Rica’s Rain Forest”
Writing and Art Contest for Children

Prizes Donated by Rand McNally’s Online Store

Smart Poodle Publishing announces its final call for entries for the “I Love Costa Rica’s Rain Forest” Writing and Art Contest for Children. The contest is FREE and is designed to teach children about geography and give them an opportunity to practice their writing skills as well as express themselves artistically. The deadline is November 30, 2009. Children in grades 5K through 5th grade are invited to write a story about Costa Rica and submit art work to win fantastic prizes generously donated by Rand McNally’s Online Store. In addition to these valuable prizes, Smart Poodle Publishing will award the First Place winners in each age category $100 as listed below.

Teachers are welcome to submit all their students’ essays and artwork together, using the teacher’s email address as the contact, rather than each parent’s email. Please visit www.smartpoodlepublishing.com for full contest rules and entry form.

First Place Winners in three grade categories (5K-1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, 4th-5th grade) will each receive these three prizes (Value listed):

Rand McNally Personal Journeys World Pinable Wall Map($84.99)
Rand McNally Hard Bound World Atlas ($24.95)
Kids’ Travel Activity Bundle ($15.80)
A Check for $100

Second Place Winners in three grade categories (5K-1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, 4th-5th grade) will each receive these two prizes (Value listed):

Rand McNally Traveler Series Kids Illustrated Wall Map ($64.99)
Kids’ Travel Activity Bundle ($15.80)

Third Place Winners in three grade categories (5K-1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, 4th-5th grade) will each receive this prize (Value listed):

World Knowledge Bundle ($22.90)

The Scrambled States of America Contest

gamewright-55051

Election Day is a perfect day to celebrate our great country and win a prize, too! Based on the hit book by Laurie Keller from Henry Holt And Company, Gamewright brings us The Scrambled States of America Game. Billed as the Whimsical, Mad-Dashing Geography Game, according to my eight year-old son, Coleman, it’s simply an amazing game! But don’t just take Coleman’s word for it. The amount of awards this game has garnered is so impressive and these are just a few!

Got twenty minutes to share with your child? This game for two to four players makes learning the states a snap. The object of the game is to send the most states home (because they’ve all gone somewhere else hence the ‘scrambled’ in the game’s title) by matching State Cards to Scramble Cards. The player who collects the most State Cards wins.

I am giving away one of these educational games recommended for ages eight and up to one Good Reads With Ronna winner. Click here now to enter for your chance to win. The contest ends on November 23. Be sure to write Scrambled States of America Contest in the subject line. For contest rules click here now and good luck!

From the Great Wall to the Land Down Under

dsc_0024-300x217Natasha Lands Down Under by Katherine McCaughan is reviewed by frequent contributor, traveler and author Debbie Glade.  Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.


377_frontNatasha is a ten-year-old Russian girl who is forced to adjust to abrupt lifestyle changes when her family flees from China to Australia in 1950. The challenges and hardships Natasha’s family faces are beautifully depicted in this young adult novel, Natasha Lands Down Under. Author Katherine McCaughan was inspired to write this fictional book to reflect her own heritage. Katherine was born in China to Russian parents, and her family fled to Australia – just like the family in the book.  She knows firsthand what it feels like to be an outsider in unfamiliar land.

Back to the book…Natasha is an intelligent, curious girl who is headstrong and cannot help but speak her mind – though this often gets her into trouble. Her family has no choice but to escape China during the Communist Revolution and journey to Australia to live with Natasha’s difficult, annoying aunt and her two spoiled sons. No one in the family including Natasha can speak English, yet she must attend school and learn as quickly as possible. She longs to find a true friend and adjust to her new way of life, but she desperately misses her life in Shanghai.

The story takes place during the course of a year, revealing many flashbacks as well as the gamut of emotions Natasha experiences as an immigrant to Australia. She herself discovers something about her baby sister that becomes a difficult reality for her parents to face. And throughout the book, Natasha learns unexpected truths about other family members. All of the characters in Natasha Lands Down Under are well developed, making them easy for readers to conceptualize.

In Natasha Lands Down Under, the words cascade off the page like a gently flowing river, and the engaging dialogue takes the reader right to the heart of each scene. I love the way author Katherine McCaughan exposes young adult readers to different cultures, languages and lifestyles by subtly weaving the information into the story line. A curious reader will not be able to resist researching more about Russia, China and Australia after reading this book.

Like me, readers young and old will finish this book with a new appreciation for modern day comforts and familiar surroundings. They will also think about the struggles their immigrant ancestors faced when coming to America. Natasha Lands Down Under is a pleasure to read, and I would love to find out in another novel what lies ahead for Natasha.

Natasha Lands Down Under won the 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book Gold Award in the Young Adult Fiction – Historical/Cultural category.

Globetrotting With Kiwi and Pear

The very talented artist, Joyce Wan, won a greeting card illustration contest as a child, and that led to creating greeting card collections with the loveable hugging monkeys we see on her new book, Greetings from Kiwi and Pear.

9781934706596_normHaving just returned from the annual National Council for Geography Education Conference, I was delighted to review this book. Young children in America are in desperate need of educational materials that teach them about the world. When you open this sturdy, compact book, you will find a colorful map of the world showing the plane routes taken by Kiwi and Pear on their world journey. And to make that even better, there are 34 stickers at the back of the book, so children can mark the monkeys’ travel locations as they read or listen along to the story. I love that!

41xv-btml1lOn each set of pages is a simple postcard describing what Kiwi and Pear did in each destination, with a postage stamp that matches a sticker (with illustration and place name) to stick on the map. An outline showing where the sticker should go is included on the map to make it easier for little ones to find. Brilliant! The pages on the right fold out to display adorable, colorful illustrations of the monkeys enjoying their travels. Among their destinations you will find something on every continent – places such as New York, Antarctica, Paris, India, China, Mexico, Australia and more. And to make this even more fun, there’s a page about outer space!

I can’t say enough about the importance of books like Greetings from Kiwi and Pear. This book introduces children to travel and geography in a fun and educational way. Parents and grandparents will thoroughly enjoy sharing it with their loved ones. It’s never too early to teach your kids about the world, and Greetings from Kiwi and Pear is a great place to start!

Editor’s Note: This book is available from Blue Apple, an imprint of Chronicle Books and is recommended for ages 4-8.

dsc_0024-300x217This delightful book was reviewed by regular contributor Debbie Glade. Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com.


Colorful, incredible Costa Rica

dsc_0021If you know a family heading off to Costa Rica, or even just one that loves nature and exotic travel, The Travel Adventures of Lilly P. Badilly: Costa Rica written and illustrated by Debbie Glade is certainly worth buying and bringing along.

Picture, if you will, a brightly colored mature millipede who has been bitten by the travel bug (pun intended) and you’ve got one of your main characters, Grandma Nellie O. Badilly. Nellie, along with her hubby ‘windy’ Grandpa Willie Z. (my 8 year old son Coleman’s fave) and talented Granddaughter Lilly live in teeny, tiny hole in Concourse A at the Miami International Airport. Soon they are stowaways inside a business man’s briefcase on a flight to Costa Rica despite Lilly’s tremendous fear of ‘millipede-chomping spiders.”

glade_2Knowing very little about Central America and in particular Costa Rica, I was surprised to learn courtesy of Lilly’s guidebook that there are over 800 different types of birds, hundreds of mammals and more than 35,000 different kinds of insects there. No wonder Costa Rica is experiencing a boom in eco-tourism. I had no doubt Lilly was going to encounter more than her share of scary spiders on their journey to the rain forest and Poas Volcanic National Park.

Everything seemed to be going according to plan until a storm and an injured beetle arrived on the scene. Glade weaves rhyme and humor along with fascinating facts seamlessly into this tale of an adventurous family getting themselves into a very sticky situation involving a cruel spider. Read how Lilly’s inventiveness and musical talent save the day and the vacation. You’ll laugh while you learn and will be looking forward to Glade’s second installment in Lilly’s series of travel expeditions.

Included with the book is an engaging audio CD filled with music (remember that Lilly plays the piano and loves music) and songs plus Costa Rican sound effects bringing Lilly’s adventures alive and making this a great gift for the entire family.

Readers can have FREE SHIPPING on Glade’s website. Just
enter FBS1208 (case sensitive) in the Shipping Code Box on the order page. http://www.lillybadilly.com/store.ph

dsc_0024Debbie Glade is the author, illustrator and voice talent of the award-winning children’s picture book The Travel Adventures of Lilly P Badilly: Costa Rica, published by Smart Poodle Publishing. She visits South Florida schools with her reading, writing and geography programs. For years, Debbie was a travel writer for luxury cruise lines. She writes parenting articles for various websites and is the Geography Awareness Editor for WanderingEducators.com. She blogs daily at smartpoodlepublishing.com and is running a writing contest for kids that can still be entered today. To learn more, click here.

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