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Books for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day




Be a King cover imageBe a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by James E. Ransome
(Bloomsbury Children’s Books; $17.99, Ages 4-8)

This picture book is a beautiful tribute to the profound impact Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. made in his lifetime by espousing a non-violent approach to ending oppressive segregation and other inequalities Black Americans lived with in the Jim Crow era South. The book alternates between spreads of Martin Luther King’s life and a current classroom pursuing inclusive activities.
Ransome’s evocative illustrations coupled with Weatherford’s impactful and poetic prose, provide readers with an accessible way into King’s dream of peace, community and equality for all. Pivotal moments in King’s life are depicted along with how key aspects of his philosophy can be incorporated into the classroom as a microcosm of life itself. “You can be a king. Break the chains of ignorance. Learn as much as you can.” When read individually, each stanza can serve as a conversation starter both at school or at home. The author’s note in the back matter is geared for older readers or a teacher sharing the book with youngsters.

Cover image of Martin Luther King from Martin Luther King: The Peaceful WarriorMartin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior
Written by Ed Clayton (with a new forward by Xernona Clayton)
Illustrated by Donald Bermudez
(Candlewick Press; $16.99, Ages 8-12)

This newly updated edition of Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior, is the first authorized middle grade biography of the Nobel Prize winning civil rights leader whose non-violent campaign for equal rights inspired a nationwide movement that led to the passing of Civil Rights Act of 1964. Originally published in 1965, Ed Clayton’s biography of King remains an insightful and relevant read today. Clayton, an editor, author and reporter was an associate of Dr. King’s at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. In fact, King’s commitment to civil rights and his humanity were what convinced Ed and Xernona to come onboard to help with PR, speech writing, assisting Coretta Scott King and other crucial and invaluable tasks needed to forward their cause. Fourteen easy-to-read chapters take readers from King’s early school days and his first experiences with racism, on through his time at Morehouse College, learning about Civil Disobedience, attending Crozer Theological Seminary, getting a doctorate and meeting his future wife, Coretta. The years of 1955-1968 are by far his most famous one when his “big words” and oratorial skill played a huge role in creating some of history’s greatest speeches. The biography smoothly moves onto King’s accepting the pastorate of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, to the Montgomery bus boycott, bombings and threats of violence, King’s rise to world renowned status, the March on Washington, winning the Nobel Peace Prize and ultimately his assassination in 1968. New artwork by Donald Bermudez complements each chapter. My favorite illustrations are the ones featuring Rosa Parks being fingerprinted and also the March on Washington. An Afterward addresses the holiday created in King’s honor, the music and lyrics to “We Shall Overcome” and a bibliography for further study. This 114 page engaging read is highly recommended for any child interested in learning more about Dr. King and his lifelong commitment to equal rights

Chasing King's Killer cover imageChasing King’s Killer: The Hunt for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Assassin
Written by James L. Swanson
(Scholastic Press; $19.99, Ages 12-18)

If it weren’t for my librarian friend, (thanks Deborah T.), I would never have heard about Chasing King’s Killer. This fantastic new young adult nonfiction novel with its fast-paced, fact-filled narrative simply wasn’t on my radar. I sat down and read it in one sitting because I couldn’t tear myself away. At times I was so engrossed that I forgot to highlight pages with snippets I wanted to share in my review. Gripping and enthralling, Swanson’s book is about the worlds of prison escapee, James Earl Ray, and MLK colliding and culminating in King’s tragic assassination. I had no idea about Ray’s troubled background, and despite years of reading picture books about King, I’ll admit I didn’t have anywhere near the full picture of this great leader’s life and the struggles he faced head on with a multitude of people both in the Black community and outside of it. There were many who didn’t agree with either his non-violent philosophy of tackling civil rights or his combining it with his anti-Vietnam War stance. The way Swanson sets up the reader for how the two men end up in Memphis on April 4, 1968 is top-notch, much like what I admire in the adult novelist Erik Larson’s books. The timeline of action takes us year by year through both men’s lives and what other events were happening concurrently to influence both individuals. Meticulously researched, Chasing King’s Killer doesn’t miss a beat and in addition to be an enlightening read, it’s a powerful and timely one too. Over 80 photographs, captions, bibliography, various source notes, and index included making an educational way to stay in the moment if you feel, as I did, that you don’t want the book to end.


  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel






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A Year’s Worth of Top Picks for Book Gifts

It’s a Most Wonderful Time To Give Books as Gifts

Reviewer Ronna Mandel shares her selection of favorite books from 2012 to help make filling those stockings less stressful. There are really tons more I’d love to mention, so if  you are hankering to expand your list, just click here now to browse through the covers on our Pinterest page for more ideas.

  • 9780399256653_large_The_InsomniacsMost Original and Pro Mom Picture Book

The Insomniacs (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $16.99, ages 3-5)
by Karina Wolf and illustrated by The Brothers Hilts.

  • Best Science Book

What Color Is My World?:
The Lost History of African American Inventors,
($17.99, Candlewick, ages 8 and up) by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
co-written with Raymond Obstfeld and illustrated by Ben Boos and A.G. Ford.

  • Best Board Books to Teach Colors and Opposites

9781419701801PANTONE: Colors ($9.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 1 and up).

Hippopposites ($14.95, Abrams/Appleseed, ages 2 and up) written and illustrated by Janik Coat.

  • Most Clever Follow-up Book

This Is Not My Hat ($15.99, Candlewick, ages 4 and up)
written and illustrated by Jon Klassen.

  • Most Uplifting Picture Book

Because Amelia Smiled ($16.99, Candlewick, ages 3-7) by David Ezra Stein.

  • Favorite Family Cookbook

9780761166030The Mom 100 Cookbook: 100 Recipes Every Mom Needs in Her Back Pocket  ($16.95, Workman Publishing) by Katie Workman with photographs by Todd Coleman.

  • Best Middle Grade Novels

LIAR & SPY ($17.99, Random House, ages 9-12) by Rebecca Stead.

Wonder ($15.99, Knopf Books for Young Readers, ages 8-12) by R.J. Palacio.

  • Best Young Adult (YA) Novel

shadesofgray_bookBetween Shades of Gray ($8.99, Penguin paperback; ages 12 and up) by Ruta Sepetys.

  • Best Silly Books for Preschoolers

image.phpIcky, Sticky Monster: A Super Yucky Pop-up Book  ($12.99, Nosy Crow, ages 3 and up) by Jo Lodge.

Poopendous!: The Inside Scoop on Every Type and Use of Poop ($16.99, Blue Apple Books, Ages 4 and up)  by Artie Bennett.

  • Best Classics

51i9SMWImyL._SL160_BabyLit board book series including Dracula: A BabyLit Counting Primer and  A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit Colors Primer both by Jennifer Adams with illustrations by Alison Oliver ($9.99, Gibbs Smith, ages 1 and up).

  • Favorite Biographies

A Boy Called Dickens $17.99, Schwartz & Wade, ages 4-8) by Deborah Hopkinson with illustrations by John Hendrix.

Hanging Off Jefferson’s Nose: Growing Up On Mount Rushmore ($16.99, Dial Books for Young Readers, ages 5 and up) by  Tina Nichols Coury with illustrations by Sally Wern Comport.


dickens_jacketpoopen6548645 0763645648.med51-rWrDpk6L._SL500_AA300_

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Let’s Save the Animals: A Flip-the-Flap-Book

514uplvdt8l_sl500_aa300_As soon as young children see the cover and unusual shape of Let’s Save the Animals: A Flip-the-Flap-Book (Candlewick Press, $12.99, ages 4-7), by Frances Barry, they’ll be compelled to open it. Kids aren’t the only ones who love turning over all the flaps to see what’s on the other side; parents like me enjoy it too! With simple prose and illustrations, readers learn a little bit about some of our earth’s most endangered species. There are also tips in the back of the book suggesting how readers can help protect these species. This book is a perfect way to introduce the youngest readers to saving the earth and the creatures who live on it.

debbieglade2Debbie 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 She blogs daily at

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You Can Change The World

31 Ways to Change the World (Candlewick Press, $8.99, ages 8-12) is reviewed today by Debbie Glade.

0763645060med31 Ways to Change the World is the result of suggestions from thousands of children. The theory is that “Small Actions x Lots of People = Big Change.” Inside this ultra colorful and busy book are 31 really cute and crafty, yet simple actions we can take every day to make the world a better place to live. I love that the book teaches kids about consumption, waste and preservation, plus treating others well. For example, Action #11 teaches you to the love the stuff you already have. Other actions include teaching your granny to text, giving people compliments, taking shorter showers and not starting a war. Hey, maybe this book should be for adults too. In any event, the premise of 31 Ways to Change the World is all for the greater good, and it really is clever. I’m sending my copy to my daughter, who is a freshman in college. I know she’s going to love it. She’ll particularly enjoy Action #25, which is “Talk Trash to Your Parents.”

debbieglade1Debbie 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 She blogs daily at

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More Independence Day Reads

Some of the following books are not brand new releases, but noteworthy nonetheless as we think back this weekend to how our great nation came to be. Find out more about these interesting books at the pubisher’s websites or visit your local library or bookstore.

9781599903712-1Road To The Revolution (The Cartoon Chronicles of America) by Stan Mack and Susan Champlin – ($10.99, BloomsburyUSA, ages 10-14)

0763647039medFree? Stories About Human Rights AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL with a forward by Jacqueline Wilson – ($17.99, Candlewick Press, ages 10 and up)

63005171776: A New Look at Revolutionary Williamsburg by K.M. Kostyal with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, photographs by Lori Epstein Renda – ($17.95, National Geographic Kids Books)

91899Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation by Jacqueline Jules with illustrations by Jef Czekaj-  ($7.95, Charlesbridge, ages 5-9)

catalog_cover_100-1Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming with illustrations by Nancy Carpenter – ($16.99, Random House Children’s Books, ages 4-8)

Editor’s Note: Please check to make sure these books are in stock and that prices have not changed since original details were supplied to us. There may be copies available in remainders stores online if no longer available from the publishing house.

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If I Had a Hammer

Habitat for Humanity Builds So Much More Than Homes

If I Had a Hammer: Building Homes and Hopes with Habitat for Humanity is reviewed today by Debbie Glade.

51rzlyooagl_sl500_aa300_Like me you may have once thought that Jimmy Carter created the organization, Habitat for Humanity. Though he was instrumental in the success of the organization, he did not initiate it. The reality is that it evolved from a series of actions, by a man named Millard Fuller. Distraught over how money and excessive work were taking over their lives in the 1960s, Mr. Fuller and his wife, Linda donated all their money to charity. Millard spent his free time helping out a man named Clarence Jordan, revitalize run-down houses in the South. This led to what is now Habitat for Humanity, located in Americus, GA.

When President Carter left office in 1980, he longed to use his resources and free time to help those in greatest need. One day Carter was reading a negative article in the Americus newspaper about himself from Millard Fuller, who had sent President Carter an invitation to dedicate some newly renovated homes, but failed to get a response. At that time, President Carter was receiving tens of thousands of letters per week. But now Fuller had Carter’s full attention, and once the two families met, the rest was history.

If I Had a Hammer (Candlewick, $19.99, ages 9-13, also available in paperback) by David Rubel, is such an inspiring story. Jimmy Carter used his powers and recognition as President to help change so many lives. He and wife, Rosalyn spent many nights dragging their own luggage, sleeping in dormitories and countless days hammering and building homes. (Ironically Carter already had excellent carpentry skills long before his experience with Habitat.) They rounded up volunteers from every walk of life and attracted the publicity and donations the organization so desperately needed to make it grow.


While reading the book, you will be inspired by the stories about the people who live in Habitat homes, their hardships, how they helped build their own houses and how they take great pride in home ownership. Their gratitude is what keeps volunteers coming year after year. You’ll also get insight into the fascinating process of building. One highly motivated group of volunteers built a Habitat home in less than 4 hours!

Today Habitat builds homes in all 50 U.S. states and 90 countries. These homes are not donated. Rather they are mortgaged at very affordable rates to the new owners, and the money from the mortgages is used to build new homes around the world.

I envy Millard Fuller and Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter for having found their true life calling, selflessly, all for the greater good of those less fortunate. Their organization has brought people together in so many positive ways from all over the world, building homes, enriching and virtually saving lives. As Americans we should all be proud of Habitat for Humanity. I know I am. And my life has been enriched just by reading this heart-warming book.

debbieglade1Debbie 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 She blogs daily at

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All About Art, Artists and Some Architecture, too!

Let’s take a look at a wide variety of interesting art (and architecture) books that have caught my eye. It’s fun to to spend time with your kids reading these books and then going to a museum to experience and enjoy art up close. Of course, there’s always the option to create art at home, outdoors or anywhere you go – think sandcastles and photographs or simply designing a birthday card!

9781402759048mCatch Picasso’s Rooster – by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo (Sterling Publishing/Touch the Art series, $12.95, ages 4-6)

This hands-on board book should even appeal to younger children since it’s all about animals in art. Whether it’s wiggling the whiskers of The Tabby by Henri Rousseau or feeling the texture of a farmer’s blue jeans in Grant Wood’s Boy Milking Cow, the interactive artwork will make the animals seem more real and alive. Follow Picasso’s rooster on an art tour that ends on the Artifacts page with info on all the paintings included in the book. Touch more art by sampling other titles in the series including Brush Mona Lisa’s Hair and Tickle Tut’s Toes.

9781934706541_normLines that Wiggle – by Candace Whitman with illustrations by Steve Wilson (Blue Apple Books/Chronicle, $14.99, ages 4-8 )

Lines that wiggle, lines that bend. Wavy lines from end to end.

Let your kids use their fingers to follow the raised, glittery lines throughout the book. The humorous rhymes weave through the story side by side with criss-crossing lines that take kids swishing and zigzagging about on colorful pages and bold graphics meeting monsters and all kinds of animals. A playful book with just the right amount of twists and turns.

1Paris in the Spring with Picassoby Joan Yolleck with illustrations by Marjorie Priceman (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $17.99, ages 4-8*)

Spending this summer stateside? Don’t despair, we’re going to visit Paris on the pages of this new book. Yolleck introduces readers to early 20th century luminaries such as Gertrude Stein, Guillaume Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Pablo Picasso by imagining how Stein’s friends would spend a day prior to a party at her home. We are taken behind the scenes to observe the City of Light’s sights, sounds and smells and then cleverly switched to a new scene by an occasional “Pardonnez moi!” Priceman’s artwork adds to the fabulous French flavor of this book which kids and parents alike will eat up. *I think this book would be most appreciated by 6-9 year-olds.


Art With Anything: 52 Weeks of Fun Using Everyday Stuff
– by MaryAnn F. Kohl (Gryphon House, $19.95, ages 4-10)

Here’s a book that’s bound to keep kids constructively occupied and entertained this summer or the entire year! To give you an idea of how clever this book is, let’s peruse the table of contents to see just what types of everyday stuff Kohl is referring to. For starters there’s address labels, aluminum foil, berry baskets and bubble wraps. Learn how to make things with buttons, cardboard tubes CDs, coffee filters and even coffee grounds! Put together a project from magazines, masking tape, paper plates and more! As Kohl describes in the introduction, the included activities stress the “process of art,” and encourage children to experiment and be creative.

abc-smAn ABC of What Art Can Be – by Meher McArthur with illustrations by Pearl Watson (Getty Publications, $17.95, ages 4 and up)

This witty and whimsical alphabet book is great inspiration for children to find their inner artist. Filled with fun pictures and clever, spot-on rhymes, An ABC of What Art Can Be also includes five “Fun Stuff” pages with 15 suggestions for projects to get those creative juices flowing.

E’s for Expression,
your personal style.
You might find it soon,
or it might take a while.

colors-smRenoir’s Colors – by Marie Sellier (Getty Publications, $16.95, ages 2-5)

This interactive board book is an amiable introduction to the artwork (and children) of Impressionist master, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. By looking behind eight flaps of varying colors, we get a glimpse of a small portion of a Renoir painting which is then expanded in more detail on the following page with delightful descriptions.

White like Coco’s collar.
White like slightly itchy tights.
Coco does not like this costume,
but Renoir, his father wants to paint him as a clown.
“Daddy, are you done yet?
I want to go play!”

On the pink page you’ll see Renoir’s son Coco’s pink cheeks and on the black page find Jean Renoir’s nanny Gabrielle, whose lock of black hair has fallen over her eyes. Find painting names and dates in the back of the book then head over to the Getty to see La Promenade (The Stroll) in their collection.

catalog_cover_100Matisse on the Loose – by Georgia Bragg (Delacorte Press Books/Random House Children’s Books, $16.99, ages 8-12)

I love an action-packed adventure and this one not only includes a protagonist who just happens to be named Matisse, but it’s all about an art caper that is actually unintended. How does young Matisse replace the priceless painting by his namesake that he replaced with his own art back on the wall of the museum without getting caught? Here you have the premise for a great summer read and a rollicking romp around a museum.

9780810989412_s3The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale — written and illustrated by Steven Guarnaccia (Abrams Books for Young Readers, $18.95, ages 4-8*)

Meet three of the coolest, connected pigs on the planet in this hip new take on the classic tale. These design-savvy brothers have constructed their homes out of scraps (very eco-friendly), glass, and stone and concrete having garnered inspiration from three famous architects: Frank Gehry, Phillip Johnson, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to all the exciting and innovative exteriors, the interiors include some unique and fab furnishings from Starck to Stam. A read through of this book offers young readers a humorous (and surprising) story along with a virtual tour of the delightful design world as we know it. *Parents might find this book’s concept more appealing to the sensibilities of 5-9 year-olds .

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A Great Grad Gift

Just in time for graduation, Debbie Glade reviews Reach for the Stars: And Other Advice for Life’s Journey

Advice for Life Children Can Really Use

66137610Serge Bloch was the illustrator for my favorite children’s book of all time, The Enemy: A Book About Peace. (If you haven’t read that yet, you must get it!) He also writes books too. And after writing the popular, Butterflies in my Stomach and Other School Hazards, Serge wrote Reach for the Stars: And Other Advice for Life’s Journey.

66137614The artwork is an adorable combination of simple drawings and photographs, like crumpled paper, and the message is even cuter. The author uses everyday sayings familiar to adults and weaves them into his artwork in clever ways, so young children can easily understand them. The book teaches readers about the many bumps, twists, turns and setbacks we all experience in life and how we can rise 66137616above them to soar as high as the stars.

You’ll find yourself taking it off the shelf when you’re having a bad day. It’s just a simple, small, feel good book, that is sure to put a smile on your face and warm your heart. I highly recommend it, and it would make a great gift for a special child (or adult) in your life.

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 She blogs daily at

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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 She blogs daily at

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Get on Board with a Good Book on National Train Day May 8th

A Is for “All Aboard!” is one of those books both my son and daughter would have loved when they were younger and big-time into all things
T R A I N!! We had our turn with Thomas and Brio, even Lionel for a while, but there’s nothing like the real thing. I have to admit we are all tremendous train fans in our family. Having lived in both Frankfurt and London, we frequently travelled by train throughout the Continent and the U.K. taking the Eurostar and the I.C.E.  I was even hoping we’d get a chance on the TGV in France or better yet, the fabled Orient Express, but there’s still time.

516fonxryhl_sl500_aa300_Reading through this lively new book has brought all our exciting train journeys back to the fore and will definitely get youngsters eager to have an experience of their own. My husband still takes my son, Coleman, down to Union Station now and then and frankly I wonder if it’s really more for him than for Coleman!

Written by Paula Kluth, Ph.D. and Victoria Kluth, the  daughters of a Green Bay & Western Railroad worker, this ABC book  for train lovers is both educational and entertaining. When I delved a little deeper I also discovered the book was conceived with autistic children in mind, and the publisher’s Web site says the authors even incorporated feedback from children with autism. The bright bold artwork by Brad Littlejohn will capture kids’ attention and the information is sure to spark their imagination. The language used is clear and concise and many new concepts are introduced creating great learning opportunities.  I liked the teaching tips included at the end pages since ABC books are a great vehicle for engaging children and promoting literacy. At $16.95 this book is worth every penny.

The following is an example that is a particular favorite of mine. O is for Orient Express: The Orient Express is the name of a long-distance passenger train. The route has changed many times. Paris and Istanbul were its original end points.

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Join L.A. Parent live at L.A. Times Festival of Books

filler-banner_tdes2_finalCelebrity Authors Come Together

on Target Children’s Stage to Inspire Love of Learning

L.A. Parent Editor Carolyn Graham and I will be blogging and tweeting live behind the scenes this Saturday, April 24th, as we meet all your favorite authors.

What: Children of all ages and their families will gather at the Target Children’s Stage on the UCLA campus for the 15th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The event, which is free to the public, will feature two full days of celebrity book readings and signings, live entertainment and musical performances – all in the name of helping to foster children’s love of reading as a fun and recreational activity.

In addition, Target is partnering with Times in Education to support local Los Angeles schools. All attendees of the Festival of Books are welcome to bring new and gently used books to the Target Donation Station. All books collected will be donated to nine Los Angeles area K-6 schools.

songs-for-little280a6eter-yarrowWho: Celebrity authors including John Carter Cash, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Holly Robinson Peete, Carl Reiner, Bernadette Peters, Henry Winkler, Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, and Shawn and Marlon Wayans will appear on the Target Children’s Stage to bring their books to life for children of all ages and the young at heart, while seated on the larger-than-life Target filler-banner_tdes3_final“Big Red Chair” – a symbol of the company’s commitment to supporting education and fostering children’s love of learning. Families are also invited to enjoy live musical performances by some of today’s most popular children’s groups including Nickelodeon’s The Fresh Beat Band, Hip Hop Harry and Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players.

When: Saturday, April 24, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, April 25, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Where: UCLA Campus , Los Angeles, CA

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WORDGIRL CONTEST – Packing powerful punches and dictionary strength

512fwcjievl_sl500_aa300_WORDGIRL EARTH DAY GIRL CONTEST

“Fighting for Truth, Justice, and Use of The Right Word”

A girl after my own heart (and vocabulary), WORDGIRL EARTH DAY GIRL comes to us courtesy of PBS Kids and Paramount Home Entertainment. This exciting new animated series follows the adventures of a superhero who fights crime and enriches vocabulary usage all in a day’s work. Join WORDGIRL and her sidekick CAPTAIN HUGGY FACE as they battle Dr. Two-Brains, The Butcher, Mr. Big, Lady Redundant and more in 100 minutes of word walloping wackiness! Here’s to word power.

Good Reads With Ronna is offering three lucky winners the new-to-DVD called WORDGIRL Earth Day Girl that includes eight adventures, interactive games, video shorts, coloring pages and each episode introduces four new vocabulary words and reinforces their meanings in a variety of contexts. ($14.99, not rated).

Your child will be introduced to 16 new vocabulary words including Recycle, Excess, Coincidence, Perplexed, Motivate and more! Enter now by clicking here for your chance to win one of three DVDs. Please click here to see rules. The contest ends Monday, May 3 so don’t wait and remember to write WORDGIRL in the subject line. Good luck!

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Ugly is the new Adorable!

L.A. Parent graphic artist and mom to Teagan, aged 2, Terresa Burgess has some interesting info to share about the Uglydolls.

“Ugly” doll? Who would want an “ugly” doll? Have you ever seen an Uglydoll? Here’s a little history in case you’re not familiar with
Uglydolls. The origin is actually quite romantic!

The Uglydolls characters are from the creative minds of husband and wife team David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim. Horvath’s soon to be wife, Sun-Min, who at the time lived in the USA, returned to Korea. David was unable to join her. He sent her many “I miss you” letters with his little Wage character drawn at the bottom. As a surprise, Sun-Min sewed this character into a plush doll and sent it back to David. David asked Sun-Min to sew a couple more for the Giant Robot store in Los Angeles and they sold out in one day! A very excited Sun-Min sewed many more and those sold just as fast. That brought on the ultra-big bang of the “Uglyverse”!

My daughter Teagan received an Uglydoll on her 1st birthday. It goes by the name of Babo. Babo means “fool” in Korean. He does look pretty foolish but is quite loveable. Uglydolls have 2 Board Books out with a 3rd one set to release this month. We were able to read and review all three books. Teagan loves the characters and the hubby and I love the humor and off beat story line!

All titles by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim. Illustrated by David Horvath.
Published by Random House Children’s Books.

catalog_coverABC U Later
Ages 0-4 years

There are many ABC titles to choose from in this world but none are like this board book. “A is for Apple” is probably the only standard line. “B is for Bargain”, “C is for Check-up”…each page has a little scene or skit that represents and follows the sequence of letters. You are also introduced to a vast array of Uglies from the Uglyverse. This book is a huge hit in our house! Teagan loves to recite her ABCs and there are distinctive new words for her to learn. Mommy and daddy love the to read them, too.

Ages 0-4 years

1234U is of course about counting. The book counts up to “10”. Not only are you seeing the number “2” but also see the word “two”, and two items, etc. There are plenty of opportunities to count, calculate and associate the words with the numbers. Again, a big hit with Teagan. She loves counting the cookies and snackies. The artwork is atypical and the content created to count is so kooky! My husband, a music teacher, even shared these with the literature teacher and math teacher at his high school for a laugh!

colorsuglyUgly Colors
Ages 0-4 years
Release date: April 27, 2010

Ugly Colors is the latest edition to the Ugly Board Books. This book continues the hilarious discourse found in the first two books. The pages are full of color “commentary.” Teagan enjoys pointing out and naming colors especially the brown cookies. She’s also learning about a secret color!

We love reading to Teagan and have enjoyed even the most “baby” of baby books we have shared with her. But what a surprise when we found ourselves laughing out loud and actually reading the Ugly Board Books again after Teagan went to bed. One of the rare moments where there is an exceptional combination of kid and (not quite) adult humor.

All titles can be purchased online at Random House by clicking here.

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Our Forest Friends

“Animal lovers will love to read this book day or night,” says guest reviewer Debbie Glade.

39984042Kids aren’t the only ones who enjoy books with foldout pages and detailed illustrations of animals. Parents can be thoroughly entertained by this too. Day and Night in the Forest by Susan and Peter Barrett introduces readers to how the entire ecosystem of a forest works including the life forms that vary between day and night.

The book starts out with a simple page that tells you how to best use the book. Following the two fabulous foldouts of the Daytime and Nighttime Forest (with keys to help you identify the animals) are pages separated by Conifer Forests, Dense Forest, Mixed Forest and the Forest’s Edge so that readers can understand how and why different animals live in different forest locations during either the daylight or nighttime hours. Each page has illustrations of animals along with short descriptions of its habits and survival techniques. There is a helpful index in the back of the book along with a glossary of terms.


What I like about the book is that many of the animals described are those that children are familiar with and have seen in their backyards or local parks – butterflies, chipmunks, squirrels, woodpeckers, owls, deer, raccoons and more. It is wonderful that the readers can learn about these creatures’ homes and the importance of preserving our forests for their survival. It is obvious that the Susan and Peter Barrett spent a great deal of time researching and writing this valuable book to educate young readers. The only thing that could have made Day and Night in the Forest even better would have been the use of brighter colors for the incredible illustrations.

Editor’s Note: This book is recommended for ages 7-10. If you like this, there’s also Day and Night in The Swamp.

Debbie 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 She blogs daily at

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National Math Day is THIS SUNDAY, March 14th!

In honor of National Math Day, here’s a book that gives new meaning to number crunchers!

1Tyrannosaurus Math by Michelle Markel, with illustrations by Doug Cushman ($15.99, Tricycle Press, ages 6-9) is a fun new way for kids to explore mathematics. Fifteen math problems including numbers sentences, skip-counting and symmetry are explained courtesy of T-Math. Counting and problem-solving his way through this colorful book, T-Math makes this often vexing subject look easy (and whoever thought dinosaurs were brainy?). Join T-Math, his family and friends for a lively look at all sorts of math problems. The end page features Tyrannosaurus Math Skills, a handy review page of all the topics covered by the clever, claw-footed creature.

Make sure to visit the publisher’s Web site for an author interview and an excerpt from the book.

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