Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't Slam the Door! - Dori Chaconas (Picture Book)

Released August 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This humorous picture book shows what can happen when someone ignores the admonition to “Don’t slam that screen door!” It may not seem like a big deal, but when the narrator’s dog ignores her warning, it sets off a chain of events that will have preschooler giggling with glee.

A mischievous cat makes a mess of the mother’s yarn balls, which means the narrator’s father ends up with knitted socks with lumps and knots in them. This means he is unsteady on his feet, so naturally he takes a tumble into the beehive outside the house.

The bees chase a bear that, in turn, scares the family’s cows and they make a beeline for the house. The resulting chaos just illustrates that it is never a good idea, whether it is done accidentally or on purpose, to slam a door!

An ideal read out loud book, your pre-schooler will love this rollicking tale of a family’s misadventures that all result from a slammed door.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Capstone Publishes Oil Spills Book Proceeds to Benefit Gulf Mammal Rescue Program

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Aug. 25, 2010 – Capstone imprint Capstone Press, children’s publisher of accessible, engaging nonfiction for beginning, struggling, and reluctant readers, is developing a new book to help kids understand the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil Spills, written for young elementary grade students, will answer kids’ questions about how oil spills happen, their effects on animals and the environment, and how people work to clean them up.

Partial proceeds from the book will be donated to the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP), coordinated by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas based in New Orleans, La. LMMSTRP is the primary responder for the state of Louisiana for rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing marine mammals (dolphins, whales and manatees) and sea turtles affected by the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

“The Gulf oil spill has captured the interest and concern of students across the country. It’s important to us to give educators and parents a resource to help address kids’ questions and calm their fears. It’s also important to us to give back to the communities forever changed by the disaster,” said Matt Keller, President of Capstone Nonfiction.

“Helping young people understand what happened in the Gulf of Mexico has enormous implications for our future,” said Ron Forman, President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans. “Through telling the story of the spill, we can engage kids and give them hope that there can be some success stories to emerge out of tragedies when people pull together for a common cause.”

Consulting on the book is noted oceanographer and professor at Florida State University Dr. Ian R. MacDonald, who was among the first scientists to question the size of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill initially reported by the government and became an advocate for more accurate, scientific estimates.

“Kids have a lot of questions about the oil spill and our book is specifically written at their level. It offers them accessible information, to help alleviate their fears and maybe even inspire them into action. With many curriculum tie-ins, Oil Spills will be a useful resource for educators to incorporate into lesson plans about this and other environmental disasters,” said Nick Healy, Editorial Director of Capstone Nonfiction.

Oil Spills will debut Oct. 15, but is available now for pre-purchase through the publisher’s website under its Capstone Press imprint in the First Facts brand. Later in the fall, the title will also be available in Capstone Digital’s Capstone Interactive LibraryTM as part of Capstone’s commitment to making titles available in multiple formats so that all types of readers can find the information they need. Oil Spills will be available in the school library and trade markets.

Oil Spills
By Christine A. Caputo
Publication Date: Oct. 15, 2010
Pre-purchase at
ISBN: 978-1-4296-6658-9
Pages: 24
Hardcover List: $23.99
Hardcover S/L: $17.99
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4296-6765-4
Paperback: $6.95
Interest Level: Grades 1 – 3 (Ages 6-9)
Reading Level: Grades 1-2 (Ages 6-8)
Trim Size: 8 1/8 x 8

About the Author
Christine A. Caputo is a Florida-based writer who has written educational materials for more than 20 years. She works to make scientific concepts accessible to children and relate the significance of scientific principles to their everyday lives. Her writing has been published in numerous earth, life, and physical textbooks and extensively in online educational materials.

About the Consultant
Dr. Ian R. MacDonald is a Professor of Biological Oceanography at Florida State University. In his research, he uses imaging and GIS techniques to investigate the ecology of deep-sea hydrocarbon seeps, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. He was among the scientists to question the size of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Dr. MacDonald used satellite imagery to challenge estimates of the size of the spill by BP and U.S. governmental scientists, and to produce independent scientific evidence of the spill's significance, which BP and the U.S. governmental scientists eventually confirmed. He holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Texas A&M University.

About Capstone
Capstone is the leading publisher of children’s books and digital products and services, offering everything from nonfiction, fiction, and picture books to interactive books, audio books, and literacy programs. Imprints and divisions include Capstone Press, Compass Point Books, Picture Window Books, Stone Arch Books, Red Brick Learning, Capstone Digital, and Heinemann-Raintree. Visit us at

About Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program
Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP) is a volunteer organization based out of Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. It is funded in part through the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Prescott Grant Program. LMMSTRP is the primary responder for the state of Louisiana for rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing marine mammals (dolphins, whales and manatees) and sea turtles affected by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Audubon and LMMSTRP are collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that the most up to date information about the oil spill and any possible animals in its path. For more information, visit 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Princess and the Frog - Annie Auerbach (Read-Along Book)

Released July 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This read-along book which features a CD of the movie voices and sound effects brings to life the enchanting story of “The Princess and the Frog”. Set in Jazz Age New Orleans, the tale introduces Tiana, a young African- American girl who dreams of owning her own restaurant.

As you following along in this 32-page story, you hear how Tiana works to make her dream come true. Yes, the little girl does “wish upon a star," but it takes awhile before that wish is fulfilled.

Of course there’s also a handsome prince (Prince Naveen of Maldonia) and an evil villain (Dr. Facilier). But first and foremost, there are some delightful frogs and their friend (a jazz loving alligator named Naveen) who play major roles in this story.

There’s plenty of adventure which makes this a picture book that youngsters three and older should enjoy hearing over and over again. Probably slightly older children who are ready for reading instruction would benefit more from the read-along aspect of this story and its extended length.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Toy Story 3: A Busy Day - Lara Bergen (Board Book)

Released June 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This novelty book invites youngsters to join Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang as they meet some new toys at Bonnie’s house. You’ll have to slide the windows open and lift the flaps to discover who these new playmates are.

After a game of hide-and-seek, the gang is in for a real surprise over at the doll house. Are those three-eyed, green Martians eating a pizza? Yup!
When everyone is acquainted, it’s time join Bonnie in a little playtime fun.

Since there isn’t much text in this oversized board book and its main attraction lies with the interactive parts, I would think toddlers just beginning to get comfortable using their little fingers would enjoy this book.

Older children will probably not be that intrigued by the this overly simplistic volume.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Journey Into the Deep: Discovering New Ocean Creatures - Rebecca Johnson (Non-Fiction)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Absolutely gorgeous color photographs grace every page of this juvenile non-fiction offering. Journey Into the Deep is an outstanding resource for any school-aged child who is studying or shows interest in our seas and oceans. There's also narrative that provides helpful information, as well as a few surprises that even grown-ups may not know.

Within Journey Into the Deep, the author discusses things such as ocean depth and how it varies, coral reefs and classifications of the different creatures.Sure, you'll find things you readily recognize like sea stars and jellyfish, but there are other lesser known sea critters. Learn about things like methane ice worms, siphonophores (trust me these unique creatures are worth viewing) and even creatures sounding like they belong in a horror movie such as the zombie worm.

The format to this book makes it easy to follow along as you read the informative text. Older children should have no problems with the text. There may be a few tougher words, but a glossary helps out with unfamiliar vocabulary. If you're in a hurry, choose the specific chapter of interest and flip right too it. Chapters include:
  • Shallow Edges
  • Open Water
  • Deep Slopes
  • Dark Zone
  • Abyssal Plains
  • Mountains in the Sea
  • Ridges and Vents
  • The Unfathomable Deep
Throughout each section you'll find quotes from famous scientists. All in all, I think this is a must for families with children who love to learn new things.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Moon Dreams - Ruth Martin (Picture Book)

Released August 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Luna was fascinated by the moon and each night she gazed at it before she fell asleep. In her dreams the little girl often had adventures like walking on the Moon. But what puzzled Luna the most was the question – What happened to the Moon during the day when it wasn’t visible in the sky?

Perhaps the Moon hides in the ocean, behind the mountains or it might be covered by the clouds. Where the Moon went was a real mystery and one Luna was determined to solve.

Olivier Latyk’s digital artwork provides the illustrations for this striking picture book. Young children who may also wonder where the Moon goes when it disappears from the night sky will enjoy accompanying this little girl on her quest to discover why the Moon sometimes vanishes.

A nice combination of vibrant, colorful illustrations and a clever text, Moon Dreams will capture the imagination of children four years of age and older. Perhaps it will lead to other questions like – Where does the sun go at night? Why don’t lakes fill up with water and run over when it rains? Where do the birds go during the winter?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Capstone Acquires Educational Software Company Portage Interactive

Capstone Acquires Educational Software Company Portage Interactive

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Aug. 5, 2010 – Capstone, the leading publisher of children’s books and digital products and services, has acquired Portage Interactive, LLC, an e-learning technology solutions company based out of Minneapolis. Founded in 1999, Portage Interactive has an extensive background in technology, product development, and audio and media automation for learning games and creativity tools for children.

"We acquired Portage Interactive because of their vast experience in the interactive market and are excited to add them to our team to help grow our digital products and solutions on a national and international scale ," said Tom Ahern, CEO of Capstone.

Over the course of a decade, Portage Interactive partnered with companies such as DreamWorks, Hewlett-Packard, the Learning Company (now Houghton Mifflin Learning Technologies), and PLATO Learning to develop interactive experiences for children, from the initial concept, art direction, and animation to development, production, and web design. Among its high-profile projects includes development work on versions of The Oregon TrailÒ and activity CDs for the animated movie classics Shrek 2ä, Shrek 3ä, Kung Fu Pandaä, Madagascarä, and Over the Hedgeä, which were translated into more than 10 languages and received worldwide promotion.

Portage Interactive built an introductory reading program for Learning Elements, sold to Plato Learning called Focus Reading and Language Program, which was recognized as an outstanding education technology curriculum product by Tech & Learning with a 2003 Award of Excellence. Portage Interactive also built and delivered their own products to market, including GradePad, an iPhone grading application, and TeamTreks, a project-based adventure game.  

"The creativity and expertise in the area of e-learning and product development that Portage Interactive brings will catapult our digital reading solutions into the education market,” said Todd Brekhus, Capstone Digital President.

Former partner at Portage Interactive and now Capstone Digital's Director of Development Mike Palmquist added, “The entire Portage Interactive team was excited by the innovative product vision that Capstone outlined and based on our experience we felt it was a perfect match. We plan on leveraging our expertise to develop a new generation of interactive learning environments for schools and students.”

Capstone Digital, the digital division of Capstone, formed in early 2010 and is quickly becoming an innovator in the education market with its award-winning digital products Capstone Interactive Libraryä and PebbleGoä Animals and Earth and Space. For more information on Capstone Digital, visit


About Capstone Digital
Capstone Digital, a division of Capstone, develops personalized learning environments and interactive resources.  Offerings include digital books, research databases and audio books, all designed to increase fluency and reading levels for PreK-9 students.  Using Capstone Digital products, students gain confidence in their abilities, take ownership in their reading growth, and achieve success across the curriculum.  For more information, visit

About Capstone
Capstone is the leading publisher of children’s books and digital solutions, offering everything from nonfiction, fiction, and picture books to interactive books, ebooks and literacy programs. Imprints and divisions include Capstone Press, Compass Point Books, Picture Window Books, Stone Arch Books. Capstone Digital, and Heinemann-Raintree. For more information, visit

Saturday, August 7, 2010

One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days - Rita Gray (Poetry)

Released July 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This beautifully designed collection of poetry captures the seasonal mood, sights, sounds and feelings associated with wet weather. You’ll find five short poems in each section of the book that corresponds to summer, autumn, winter and spring.

The poetry Rita Gray presents ranges from haikus from a number of Japanese poets such as Sora, Sodo, Issa and Shisei-jo to more familiar names like Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, Lillian Moore and Eve Merriam.

Given the variety of poetic forms, this collection not only evokes the feelings wet weather creates, but it also offers enough variety to open the door to a discussion of poetic styles.

After you have shared these poems with your child you might want to have him or her try writing a haiku or short mood piece to capture whatever is happening that day. This could be a great activity for an indoor snow day or one when the heavens open up and send torrents earthward!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Bat Scientists - Mary Kay Carson (Non-Fiction)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Award-winning author Mary Kay Carson's latest offering truly mesmerized me. The narrative is perfect for younger children, and the photographs from Tom Ulhman are even better. There's good reason the author's won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2009 Children's Literature Award.

The Bat Scientists provides ample information into the world of bats. With so many bats succumbing to White-Nose Syndrome, it's important to make sure children do not fear these creatures. The author does a great job sharing facts about bats, as well as detailing why they are so important.

Bats from around the world have their place in this book.  Children learn about the bats they see around their own home and other species they might not have heard of. The book corrects many myths you hear about bats and delves into a bat's skeletal structure, habits and behaviors. It's complex, yet geared for children. Despite that, I think the book is fascinating and will appeal to Mom and Dad just as much as the youngster for whom it is intended.

If you're leery of bats, I really suggest reading this informative guide into everything about bats. I have bats that live under the shutters on my front deck. They definitely earn their keep keeping moths and mosquitoes from pestering us as we sit outside and enjoy cool breezes on sultry summer nights. I only hope they keep returning and don't disappear completely.