SUMMER BRAIN QUEST: Between Grades Pre-K & K
Written by Workman Publishing, Bridget Heos
Illustrated by Edison Yan, Maris Wicks
Consulting Editor: Kimberly Oliver Burnim
(Workman Publishing, $12.95, Ages 4-5)
If the SUMMER BRAIN QUEST® series of workbooks, which launched last summer, aren’t on your radar, now’s a great time to discover them. The most recent addition to the “parent-trusted and kid-approved Brain Quest series, America’s #1 educational bestseller” is SUMMER BRAIN QUEST: Between Grades Pre-K & K and is certain to make learning an adventure! This 160-page workbook/activity book has been designed to prepare four- and five-year-olds for school, something that Workman found both parents and educators have been requesting for this age group.
Billed as a workbook, a game and an outdoor adventure all-in-one, SUMMER BRAIN QUEST: Between Grades Pre-K & K aligns with Common Core standards and cleverly and creatively covers Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts and Math. If your children are familiar with the popular Brain Quest decks, they’ll find this new workbook as enjoyable. Spanning eight levels of curriculum-based activities including ABCs, phonics, vocabulary, counting, shapes, patterns, maps skills, seasons and lots more, the workbook comprises a detachable foldout progress map, over 150 stickers “to track your progress on the map,” outside activities, a Brain Quest mini deck and a super cool Summer Brainiac Award certificate. Not only are there plenty of things to do indoors such as coloring pictures, tracing letters, counting and calendar skills there are also a bunch of exciting outdoor activities called quests including bug detective, making letters from sticks and ABC hopscotch.
The colorful and inviting cover, map, and sticker artwork by video game artist Edison Yan will get your curious kids eager to open the workbook and easily engaged with the interactive style of the exercises. An answer key is provided at the end along with some SUMMER BRAIN QUEST extras. This is one workbook both you and your soon-to-be kindergartners will welcome. And a reminder, the SUMMER BRAIN QUEST series is available up to the summer between grades 5 & 6 so once your children get hooked, there are more books to look forward to.
Star Wars Workbooks
Grades 3 (Math, Reading and Writing) & 4 (Math, Reading and Writing)
by the Editors of Brain Quest; Consulting Editor: Barbara Black
(Workman; $8.95, Ages 8-10)
The latest installments in the Star Wars Workbooks are for 3rd and 4th graders and, like all the others (Pre-K through 2nd grade), they’re out of this world! Let the Force be with your kids as they conquer the curriculum-based exercises in these well-crafted, engaging books. They seamfully blend Star Wars spirit with “the unique mix of editorial quality, fun presentation, and rigorous educational standards of the Brain Quest Workbooks.”
These 96-paged interactive workbooks make learning or reviewing core subjects, including numbers, ABCs, phonics, and reading readiness for younger grades, and math, reading, and writing for the older ones, an intergalactic adventure. “The material aligns with national Common Core State Standards and is designed to reinforce essential concepts and lessons taught in schools.” In the 4th grade math workbook I had fun shopping with Han where it’s necessary to read a word problem first and, using fractions and multiplication, find the answers to questions such as: “Imagine that Chewie needs quarrels to load in the bowcaster. Each projectile costs 2/6 credit. How much will 6 quarrels cost? 6 x 2/6 = ? _______ credits.” Not sure of the math involved? Answers are provided in the back. I know because I had to double check—it’s been a while since 4th grade. 3rd grade math topics include multiplication and division, measuring area and perimeter, word problems, quadrilaterals and graph reading.
Illustrated throughout with fan faves like Rey and Finn from The Force Awakens as well as Luke Skywalker, Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and other creatures, monsters, Jedi, and Sith, the workbooks make math, reading and writing accessible and surprisingly enjoyable with their array of original art inspired by “Star Wars movies and the expanded Star Wars universe.” I mean it’s not every day that kids will find themselves eager to outline in order to write a Rebel Report from Princess Leia, picking up parts of speech at a new Imperial Pilot Academy or understanding adverbs by Describing Droids—all part of the 3rd Grade Reading and Writing Workbook. Comprehensive yet not overwhelming, the Star Wars Workbooks provide a clever incentive to get kids away from the electronics that will reinforce prior learning and introduce key grade-appropriate skills. Help your kids “stay on target” the Star Wars way for mastering school skills.
Find a review of a math activity book here.
NEW BOOKS & GIFT IDEAS
FOR VALENTINE’S DAY 2018
A Roundup – Part Two
We’ve taken a look at a lot of Valentine’s Day books which is why we’ve decided to add a second part to our holiday roundup. This year we’re adding some fun gift books into the mix because, for us, sharing the Valentine’s Day love means sharing books. It may be last minute, but here’s a chance to make every minute matter. Head over to your local indie bookshop and pick up any or all of these books to make Valentine’s Day 2018 best one ever!
Everything Grows With Love:
Beautiful Words. Inspiring Thoughts
By Irene Smit and Astrid van der Hulst
(Workman Publishing; $9.95)
From the editors of Flow, an international mindfulness magazine, comes Everything Grows With Love, a purse-sized soft-cover book filled with over 100 feel good thoughts including affirmations, motivational sayings and quotes. Imagine 396 pages of sheer joy and you’ve got a good idea what to expect when you open the cover of this creative book. There are decorated lines from songs like “Somewhere over the rainbow …” and simple statements such as “Let’s cuddle” and “Collect moments, not things” that are turned into art. Cool calligraphy, paint, chalk lettering, embroidery, even Scrabble-like letter tiles will greet you and invite you to turn the pages. I didn’t go through the book in order so that I could see what randomly appeared. My favorite illustrations are the animal ones, particularly the anthropomorphic mice, cats and bunnies, but that’s not to say that the vivid colors or soothing pastels and original designs and lettering coupled with the inspirational sayings don’t also lift my spirits, because they do and then some! Give this book to someone you love for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day and spread the love around.
Warts and All:
A Book of Unconditional Love
Written by Lori Haskins Houran
Illustrated by Sydney Hanson
(Albert Whitman & Company; $15.99, Ages 4-8)
Not only is the title, Warts and All a good one, so is the heartwarming sentiment of this adorable picture book. It’s the kind of story parents will enjoy reading at bedtime and kids will enjoy hearing. Warts and All is filled with precious animal kid characters from bats and birds to ponies and pugs. Hanson’s illustrations in subdued shades achieved with water color and colored pencils beautifully complement Houran’s easy flowing text. What a wonderful way to send youngsters off to dreamland with a caring message of love. The book opens with this honest line: “So here’s the thing. I love you. And not just when you’re sweet and cuddly.” In other words, not part time, but all of the time. Parents can use the story as a jumping off point for a reassuring conversation. Children will learn they are loved no matter what their mood or their actions are (and yes, that includes burps). And even when, like the spray from a sweetly portrayed skunk, they’re stinky! This book makes a nice companion to I Love You Stinky Face.
I Love Kisses
Written by Sheryl McFarlane
Illustrated by Brenna Vaughan
(Jabberwocky Kids; $9.99, Ages 3-7)
This charming book is all about smooches and McFarlane’s included them all here. Whether they’re wake up in the morning kisses, “Baby brother drool kisses” or “Daddy’s prickly hair kisses,” it’s clear that kisses are fantastic. McFarlane’s written I Love Kisses in a catchy rhyme with some internal rhymes and lots of alliteration, too. Illustrator Vaughan’s digital artwork is cheerful and varied, featuring a diverse group of families including several that are multicultural and biracial. It’s great that a gay couple and a child in a wheelchair are also shown making the neighborhood presented one I’d like to live in. Although the book is suggested for ages four and up, I found the book to be better suited to those a bit younger as older ones are ready for more of a storyline. Regardless, I Love Kisses definitely delivers the best message and that is how terrific it is to get kisses whatever kind of kiss you get. The book ends with this loving line: “But the very best kisses are the ones I get from you.”
Pour Your Heart Out:
A Journal of Wit, Wisdom, And a Touch of Charm
With Quotes by Jane Austen and illustrations by Clare Owen
(Penguin Young Readers; $10.99, Ages 13 and up)
Oh how I wish I’d had a journal like this when I was a teenager! Pour Your Heart Out is 224 pages of pure Regency charm in a 21st century time machine, like Pride and Prejudice meets Pretty Little Liars, especially for the passionate young adult in your life. If your teen, or adult friend for that matter, isn’t familiar with Austen’s seminal works, this is an ideal introduction. If they’re already a fan, this will fill them with delight. There are prompts tied to Austen’s quotes to help guide young writers, providing a safe place to share emotions and sort through feelings. On one page there’s the quote: “Angry people are not always wise.” On the opposite page is the question: “What’s a decision you’ve made in anger that you now regret?” Austen’s quotes are great to help teens get introspective and consider all aspects of their lives from friendships, to relationships and school. For example: “These were charming feelings, but not lasting.” Pour Your Heart Out then provides a blank page where the reader can “Write about a relationship that didn’t pan out.” Owen’s artwork is upbeat and works perfectly with the purpose of the book, put it all down on the page and by getting it off your chest, you’ll not only feel better, but learn about yourself at the sometime. Consider gifting this journal to your hopeless romantic, your college English major or your Anglophile just waiting to study abroad in search of her own modern day Mr. Darcy. “Laugh as much as you chuse, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion.”
Guess How Much I Love You:
Baby Milestone Moments
Written by Sam McBratney
Illustrated by Anita Jeram
(Candlewick Press; $17.99, Ages 0-3)
Here’s a book that needs no describing. Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare are back in this must-have classic board book set for new parents. Guess How Much I Love You, already a fave in so many households, is made even more giftable with the addition of beautifully illustrated milestone cards. For the cell-phone photo taking and social media savvy generation, the 24 cards make documenting all baby’s once-in-a-lifetime moments as easy and unique as ever! For Valentine’s Day or as a baby shower gift, this board book and cards gift set is a great idea for those of us who forget to keep track of pictures and, when looking back years later, cannot remember what milestone the photo was taken for. Capture those moments and make everyone happy.
- Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
Click here for our Valentine’s Day Books Roundup – Part One
The 12 Days of Valentine’s
(Including 30 stickers!)
Written by Jenna Lettice
Illustrated by Colleen Madden
(Random House Kids; $4.99, Ages 3-7)
Rookie on Love: 45 Voices on Romance, Friendship, and Self-Care
Edited by Tavi Gevinson and featuring – Janet Mock, John Green, Rainbow Rowell,
Hilton Als, Florence Welch, Gabourey Sidibe and more
(Razor Bill; $14.95, Ages 13 and up)
Instructions for a Secondhand Heart
Written by Tamsyn Murray
(Little, Brown BYR; $17.99, Ages 15 and up)
A Review & Giveaway!
Parenting is Easy: You’re Probably Just Doing it Wrong is one of those books you need to keep on hand to lift your spirits when you feel you’ve been doing too much laundry, chauffeuring too many kids, or cleaning up too many messes. It’s certain to bring loads of smiles and laugh out loud moments this holiday season (and year round) to lots of people on your gift list. And, at a little over 6″ x 6″ in size, it’ll easily stuff into stockings or make a delightful diaper cake topper for any baby shower! That’s if you don’t throw it at someone looking a little too well-dressed, a little too composed or a little too, well, perfect, first!!
Interior image from PARENTING IS EASY by Sara Given, Workman Publishing ©2015.
If you know someone raising kids, whether those kids are bloomered little cruisers, or skinny jean sporting teens asking for the car keys, there’s something in Parenting is Easy they’ll be able to relate to. My two may already be 14 and 21 years old, but I still can’t get the grin off my face when reading about pregnancy or bringing the baby home as covered in chapters one and two! In just five fab chapters (Perfecting Pregnancy, Bringing Home Baby, Enjoying Toddlerhood, Breezing Through the School-Aged Years, and Living the Good Life) plus a dynamite intro, Given takes us on a super satisfying, tongue-in-cheek journey through parenthood by using stock advertising photos of idealized families, new moms, new dads, couples and kids that resemble NOTHING like the families, new moms, new dads, couples and kids we know. In fact, that’s what prompted Given to post a picture with a sarcastic, spot on caption that went viral (see page 66). You may even already be familiar with Given from her popular Tumblr blog, “It’s Like They Know Us.”
To give you an idea of what to expect, here’s the blurb from the back of the book cover:
“Finally, a book that proves that pregnancy is glamorous, toddlers enjoy sitting patiently, teens love when their parents dance in public, and the best place to breast-feed is on a golf course.”
Right from the start you know you’re in for some side splitting entertainment beginning with the first chapter, Perfecting Pregnancy. We’re told by Given that “Pregnancy is the first of many opportunities you will have to be absolutely confident in every decision you make for your child!” Love that humor? I sure do so when I saw the picture of two stunning, sun-dressed pregnant women strolling and the caption read …
“I just peed a little when I laughed!”
“That’s okay, I just farted. Let’s keep walking.”
… I knew I had a winner in my hands. And the best part was sitting down alongside my husband seeing who could find THE picture that showed a parenting situation that could no way, shape or form ever occur on this planet. His pick – the one of a boy choosing to eat a healthy after school snack and hang out with his mom over playing Xbox with his buddy, Isaac. I mean, wouldn’t your child do the same?
Interior image from PARENTING IS EASY by Sara Given, Workman Publishing ©2015.
I also enjoyed how Given cleverly included one or two page guides for each chapter such as Chapter One’s Eating Healthily While Pregnant with kale being in both the Eat and Avoid columns! In Chapter Two Given answers the age old question Why Isn’t Baby Sleeping? We learn what could be keeping baby up at night is anxiety over the skyrocketing cost of college tuition. There’s also handy breast-feeding info, Dealing With Common Toddler Behaviors, advice on Mediating Conflicts With Your Teen and lots more.
Interior image from PARENTING IS EASY by Sara Given, Workman Publishing ©2015.
So if spending time hearing about everyone’s marvelous life on Facebook has got you pulling out hair, check out the smiley, happy people in Given’s book for a good, honest laugh because her captions are brilliant and her take on perfection includes countless references to white carpet, clothing and furniture which never failed to crack me up. Enter now for your chance to win a copy and buy extra books to give friends. See for yourself just how right Given gets it and then let me know which pictures and captions were your faves.
- Reviewed by Ronna Mande
ENTER OUR GIVEAWAY: WIN 1 COPY OF SARA GIVEN’S NEW BOOK!! Plus, if you follow us on Facebook and let us know in the comments below, we’ll give you an extra entry. Follow us on Instagram and get an additional entry, too. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
My kids grew up with Margaret Wise Brown for quiet, go-to-sleep, soothing bedtime stories. But when they wanted belly laughs, tales to memorize and repeat (and not necessarily go to sleep), they chose Sandra Boynton hands down. Her books are a constant in every baby book collection I give to new mom friends and relatives. In fact, I cannot imagine any starter book set without Moo, Baa, La La La!, The Going To Bed Book, Barnyard Dance!, Tickle Time! and Hippos Go Berserk! Now I’m delighted I can add a new fave, one of the Boynton on Board book series, to my gift list. The Bunny Rabbit Show! board book (Workman, $6.95, Ages 0-4), featuring an oval die cut cover revealing dancing rabbits, is as cute as can be.
Boynton’s in top form here with a catchy rhyming refrain and a feel-good, entertaining performance by the happy hoppers. What Boynton does best is create her books at two levels; the first appealing to the youngest child being read to, and the the second appealing to the parents and care-givers who will surely be sharing the story over and over again. And why not? What’s not to love about a bunny board book featuring a bunch of bunnies (ten terrific rabbits to be precise) in a Rockettes-like line on stage singing, dancing and strutting their stuff.
Add more to their listening and looking pleasure by asking, as you read, if your little ones can spot the cow, pig, duck and sheep in the audience for some guaranteed giggles. Maybe even pull out a pair of bunny ears so your child can join in the show! That’s a big part of what makes a Boynton book so very, very fun to read. It’s hard to keep them on the bookshelves. Enjoy!
– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel
Pocket Piggies are back
in a new line of board books from Workman Publishing.
What’s cuter than one pocket piggy? Two pocket piggies – in a teacup!
Pocket Piggies Numbers! with photographs by Richard Austin, Workman Publishing, 2014.
The Teacup Pigs of Pennywell Farm are back, this time starring in a new 22-page board book line perfect for tiny hands to hold. The simple language accompanied by Richard Austin’s adorable photographs will have your child “reading” in 1, 2, 3!
4 pocket piggies with a pup
5 pocket piggies in a row
6 pocket piggies in the snow
Counting from 1 to 10 is fun in Pocket Piggies Numbers! (Workman Publishing, $5.95, Ages 0-3) and the book is such a quick read, parents will love reading it again and again.
Pocket Piggies Colors! with photographs by Richard Austin, Workman Publishing, 2014.
Pocket Piggies Colors! (Workman Publishing, $5.95, Ages 0-3) with photos by Richard Austin is the perfect companion book for Pocket Piggy Numbers! With only two words on a page, this book will hold the youngest child’s attention and have them reading right along.
I don’t know how Austin managed to get the pocket piggie to hold a miniature red guitar, or push a baby buggy, but it’s easy to see why children and parents alike cannot resist the Teacup Pigs of Pennywell Farm. Now that’s something to oink about!
– Reviewed by MaryAnne Locher