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.”

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Book News: Mindful Parenting by Dr. Kristen Race

Dr. Kristen Race, a nationally recognized expert in child, family, and school psychology and founder of Mindful Life. In her new book, Mindful Parenting (St. Martin's Griffin; January 7), Dr. Race uses brain science research to explain how today's technology and over-scheduled kids increases anxiety and impedes proper brain development through the overuse of the amygdala. The book discusses the realities of raising a family in our fast paced and often frenetic world and provides hundreds of easy-to-implement solutions, both for parents and their children, to help them manage stress, create peace, and live happier lives.

Dr. Race refers to today's families as "Generation Stress." But such families can move away from this stigma by practicing these simple solutions to slow down, recharge, and counteract stress by using the prefrontal cortex more frequently. Take a look at some of these fun tips that Mindful Parenting suggests!

  • Quick tips that can be used in the moment to help families relax, recharge, and create happiness
  • Routine, Empowerment, Snuggle Time, Teaching Children to Relax
  • A powerful framework that can transform bedtime into a lovely transition from a busy day

See this video to watch Kristen discuss the brain science behind the book and visit her website to learn more about mindfulness practices!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

Release Date - October 2013

Matthew Cody
Random House Children's

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Young Will, son of Lord Shackley and heir to Shackley House, finds himself exiled while his father is embroiled in the Crusades with Richard the Lionheart. With his home unsafe, Will flees into the woods, where he befriends a crew of bandits whose goal is to rob from the rich and give to the poor. Sound familiar? That's because the crew Will is with are Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

From the start, I adored Will. He may be 13, but he's a tough kid. He's seen a lot, gained experience from his father's men, and can stand up to the best of their teasing. That prepares him for the experiences he has with Robin Hood and the Merry Men.

The story does mirror the classic tale of Robin Hood, but it has its own style that I found appealing. I never could get through The Adventures of Robin Hood as a child, but Will in Scarlet pulled me in with the witty banter, enjoyable characters, and fast pace.

Will in Scarlet is a historical fiction novel, but it's so engaging that I can see a lot of kids who say they hate history really getting into Will's adventures. It's a great gift idea for the coming holidays!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

Release Date - September 2013

Peter Brown
Little Brown

Book Review by Bob Walch

Mr. Tiger was very prim and proper. He wore an expensive suit, and top hat and was quite well mannered Unfortunately, Mr. Tiger was bored. “He wanted to loosen up. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to be …wild.”

Well, you might say, what has gotten into Mr. Tiger? Good question! But Mr. Tiger continued to want to break loose. Then one day the process began. First, Mr. Tiger began walking on all four legs instead of upright on just two legs. Then he let out a big ‘ROAR!’

Now that certainly got some attention. Mr. Tiger’s friends didn’t know what to think. And when he took off all his clothing and went for a swim in the town’s fountain, everyone was aghast. Everyone, that is, but Mr, Tiger; he was delighted!

If you must act wild, kindly do so in the WILDERNESS!” , Mr. Tiger’s friends said. And so off he went where he could go totally and completely WILD.

But soon Tiger became lonely. He missed his friends, so he returned to his city home. When he got back home there were some interesting changes awaiting Mr. Tiger. You’ll see what these were when you read this picture book that celebrates that little bit of wildness that resides within all of us.

If you feel the need to “cut loose” and get a little wild occasionally, this is a story that will touch your very core. So sit back and enjoy Mr. Tiger’s attempt to reconnect with his wild side.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Olivia and the Ice Show by Tina Gallo and Shane L. Johnson

Release Date - August 27, 2013

Tina Gallo
Shane L. Johnson
Simon Spotlight

Book Review by Bob Walch

Join Olivia in this Lift-the-Flap picture book as the precocious little pig practices her ice skating skills so she will be selected to skate with "Cinderella on Ice" star Sonya Spencer. 

Olivia creates an ice rink in her backyard so she can hone her skating skills and she also teaches her friend, Julian, how to skate. Things are going along quite well when disaster strikes. Sonia Spencer is ill and the ice show is cancelled.

At this point the creative little pig decides she’ll have her own ice show for the neighborhood and her friends can skate the various roles of her “Cinderella on Ice”. Of course, you know who will skate the lead role!

Naturally the show is a big hit and everyone applauds Olivia. In fact, the local paper even runs a story about the backyard ice show and you know whose photo is prominently featured.

Everyone loves Olivia and her indomitable “can do” spirit. This latest book is ideal for winter read aloud sessions and youngsters will have fun peeking behind the flaps to discover what is concealed there.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Who Goes There by Karma Wilson

Release Date - October 2013

Karma Wilson

Book Review by Bob Walch

Lewis Mouse is all set for winter. He has filled his small hole with good food and is ready to enjoy his warm, cozy home as snow blankets the countryside. Even though he is quite happy he feels there’s something missing. Well, no matter, let the winds howl and the snow blow; Lewis is all set to ride out the long winter nights.

Then Lewis hears, ‘Scritch, scratch, tap, tap, tap.’ My goodness, what could that be?
Who goes there? Who could it be?’ Lewis wonders. ‘Who scritches and scratches and taps at my tree?’

Could it be an owl, a big cat or even a bear? Lewis investigates and discovers none of these fierce creatures is making the noise. Who could it be?

You’ll have to read this picture book to see what sort of critter is making the mysterious noise. Let it suffice to say, though, that when Lewis does discover where the noise is coming from, he’ll be quite delighted with his discovery and he’ll discover what that “missing something” is!

Children four years of age and older will find this a delightful story and one they’ll enjoy reading over and over again. The illustrations by Anna Currey enhance the narrative and capture the full range of the little mouse’s emotions as this lovely story unfolds.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel

Release Date - November 2013

Sarah Zettel
HMH Books for Young Readers

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

As an orphan, sixteen-year-old Peggy Fitzroy is appreciative that her aunt and uncle took her in, but she's less than pleased to learn her uncle's arranged a marriage to a man who is heading for the Caribbean. She's not thrilled marrying a stranger and definitely not with being uprooted from her cousin. When her husband-to-be accosts her, Peggy fights back. She ends up being kicked out of her uncle's home empty-handed.

Peggy is lucky enough to have had a mysterious man approach. He says he was a friend of her mother's, so Peggy doesn't have to be out on the streets. Instead, she's given the opportunity to pose as Lady Francesca and become part of King George I's court. The ruse seems easy enough, Lady Francesca became ill and while she actually died, Peggy is going to pose as a recovering Lady Francesca. Along the way, Peggy becomes certain that Lady Francesca didn't succumb to an illness but instead was murdered. Peggy is determined to unravel the truth.

I have to say, I don't read many historical romances because they tend to follow the same old plot. Palace of Spies is different. I started out with a lot of respect for Peggy, because she didn't do what was expected of women in that era. She fought her betrothed and definitely had the skills needed to keep herself safe.

Once she was out of her uncle's house, the action picked up and the book became part spy novel and part romance. I loved that balance. I became addicted to the story and kept reading well into the night to see how everything would play out. This is the first book in a new series, so I'm anxious to see what happens next.