Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hip Hop Speaks to Children edited by: Nikki Giovanni

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Hardcover: 80 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; Har/Com edition (October 1, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1402210485

ISBN-13: 978-1402210488

Hip Hop Speaks to Children is a delightful and enlightening collection of poetry from various Poets, several performed by the authors themselves, on the included audio CD. With beautiful pictures depicting the poems and the contagious beat that the words pound out, this is a collection sure to capture the interest of all ages. Geared toward the 9 - 12 age group, this easily goes beyond that. As an adult, I greatly enjoyed each poem and as I read them out loud to my 6 year old daughter, she bopped around to the rhythm of my voice just reading the words. She was delighted with the rhyming, which easily draws the reader into the words.

While some of the poems within Hip Hop Speaks to Children are fun and playful, others speak of deep emotion. One that I found especially fun is as follows:

Funky Snowman
by: Calef Brown

Funky Snowman loves to dance.
You'd think he wouldn't
have much chance
without two legs
or even pants
Does that stop
Funky Snowman?

Turn up the music
with the disco beat,
when you're in the groove,
you don't need feet.
Crowds come out
and fill the street.

Kick it.
Funky Snowman!!

Another favorite that is more on the serious side and geared toward helping a child's self esteem, I feel, is as follows:

The Rose that Grew from the Concrete
by: Tupac Shakur

Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack
in the concrete
Proving nature's laws wrong it learned 2 walk
without having feet
Funny it seems but by keeping its dreams
it learned 2 breathe fresh air
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else even cared!

Loneliness, anger and sadness are feelings that every child knows. More often than not, however, a child is not given or taught an appropriate way to express these strong emotions. The written word is a powerful tool ,that perhaps if given to children, would allow them to positively cleanse themselves and possibly even spark that creative fire that smolders within each soul. Hop Hop Speaks to Children is a positive collection of such emotional expressions. It does not matter what color your skin is, what nationality, race, economic position, size or shape a person is, the written word transcends each and every boundary. With Hip Hop Speaks to Children, you can introduce and excite children to celebrate within the written expression and beat and rhythm of words. I greatly enjoyed this collection and highly recommend it to everyone.


Product Description:

Hip Hop Speaks to Children is a celebration of poetry with a beat. Like Poetry Speaks to Children, the classic book and CD that started it all, it's meant to be the beginning of a journey of discovery. Readers can immerse themselves in 51 selections from 42 poets and performers, and 30 performances on the audio CD, many recorded especially for this collection.Some tracks on the CD are performed by the artists who created them, others are unique interpretations by admiring poets and artists. Hear a musical interpretation of Sterling Brown's poem "Long Track Blues" and a youth performance of Elizabeth Swados's poem "Me" plus much more!

The audio CD also includes contributions from:

Nikki Grimes

Queen Latifah

Langston Hughes

Sugarhill Gang

Charles R. Smith, Jr.


James Berry

A Tribe Called Quest

Gary Soto

Eloise Greenfield

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Welcome to Camp Nightmare by R.L. Stine

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Scholastic (September 1, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0439568463
ISBN-13: 978-0439568463
Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 5 x 0.4 inches

Ahhh, another venture into the infamous Goosebumps series. In Welcome To Camp Nightmare, we travel along with Billy as he enters summer camp. Be aware, this camp is like no other. From disappearing camp mates, to strange sounds and goings on, you will think twice before heading to a fun sun filled adventure at camp.

Right from the beginning, things just didn't seem right to Billy. First the bus load of kids are dropped off in the middle of no where with no idea what is to happen to them. Next, when they do make it to camp, it seems as though they are prisoners and the counselors don't seem to have a care in the world what happens to the kids. Billy knows one thing for sure, he must find a way to get out and get home and fast - before he ends up like his friends - gone, without a trace!

My daughter and I enjoyed this quite well. She said that she was a bit disappointed that there wasn't a true monster, as there appears to be on the cover of the book. I know that these are geared toward a bit older audience ( 9-12), but at 6, she is loving this series of books and can't wait to move on to a new one after one is finished! I enjoyed them as well and look forward to cuddling up and reading these books at the end of each day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jimmy's Stars by Mary Ann Rodman

Jimmy's Stars
by Mary Ann Rodman

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (April 29, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0374337039
ISBN-13: 978-0374337032
Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches

Jimmy's Stars is a beautiful, poignant and touching story. Eleven year old Ellie McKelvey finds out one day that her beloved brother, Jimmy, has been drafted into the war. He must report to Union Station at 6 A.M. October 2, 1943. This is the day that will change Ellie's life forever.

As young Ellie learns to deal with a house and daily life without her brother at home, she cherishes the days when a letter comes in the mail addressed to her from Jimmy and she knows that he is all right. Soon Christmas comes and goes and Jimmy does not come home, as he promised. An occasional letter still makes it's way to Ellie, as her young life is filled with the sacrifices and worries brought on by the war. Each day prayers are said that the war will come to an end and loved ones will be home safely.

Jimmy's Stars is a vivid peek into a bygone era of war and sacrifice. Mary Ann Rodman brings both the characters and the sitting to life and enables the reader to fall right within it's pages. This is a story geared toward the 9 - 12 age range, however, I think that anyone of any age would deeply enjoy this stirring work. Though this is the first story by this author that I have read, I anxiously look forward to reading more by her. I greatly enjoy her style of writing and am enormously pleased to have discovered her.

Not only do I give Jimmy's Stars my highest recommendation, I also believe that this would be a perfect book for a book club pick. Such a perfect book for young people (and adults alike) to read and discuss together. Mary Ann Rodman brings forth an engrossing story, with Jimmy's Stars, and displays a true talent to engulf young people in the treasure of reading.


Product Description:

It’s September 1943, and eleven-year-old Ellie McKelvey’s older brother, Jimmy, has just been drafted. Jimmy has a joyful heart and a kind word for everyone, and he’s the only person who thinks Ellie is smart and funny and as beautiful as Lana Turner, the movie star. Ellie can hardly stand to see him go. With Jimmy gone, Aunt Toots moves into his bedroom, Ellie’s mother takes a war job at a factory, and everything in Ellie’s life seems upside down. But she figures that the war will be over and Jimmy home by Christmas, so as much as she misses him, she keeps her spirits up. Even as families in the neighborhood begin to receive telegrams informing them that their boys are wounded or worse, Ellie never stops believing in Jimmy.

In her second work of historical fiction, Mary Ann Rodman captures all the authentic details of life on the homefront during World War II, as well as the fierce love a sister has for her beloved big brother.


About the Author:

MARY ANN RODMAN’s debut novel,Yankee Girl, was chosen as a VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers and an NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies. She lives with her family in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Additional works by Mary Ann Rodman:

Yankee Girl
My Best Friend
First Grade Stinks
Surprise Soup coming in Spring 2009

Click above titles to find out more information about each title and how to order.


Be sure to visit the following bloggers, also on tour for Jimmy's Stars:

01 Charger
A Childhood of Dreams
A Christian Worldview of Fiction
A Mom Speaks
All About Children's Books
Becky's Book Reviews
Book Review Maniac
By the Book Reviews
Dolce Bellezza
Fireside Musings
Homeschool Buzz
Looking Glass Reviews
Maggie Reads
Maw Books
Small World Reads
The Friendly Book Nook
The Hidden Side of a Leaf

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Great coloring page website

I just stumbled across this site this morning as I was looking for dinosaur pictures to print off for my daughter to color. I have to say that it is an awesome site filled with every kind of picture you could possibly want to color - from animals to tons of popular children's characters! Be sure to check it out! Coloring Book Fun!

Oh, there are also mazes, dot to dots, educational pages and tons of fun things for kids to do!! I'm thrilled to have found it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

It Came From Beneath The Sink by R.L. Stine

It Came From Beneath The Sink
Goosebumps Series
By R.L. Stine

A harmless dried up sponge or an evil creature? That is what Kat and her brother Daniel must figure out when they discover what appears to be an old sponge under the sink of their new house. It doesn't take long for them to do just that - soon they discover the sponge is alive complete with a set of evil looking eyes. Bad luck follows where ever they go and with each accident, the creature becomes more excited and alive.

Will Kate and Daniel figure out just what this thing is and if there is a way to get rid of it before it is too late?

It Came From Beneath The Sink is another great story by R.L. Stine. It has just the right amount of creepiness for this young age group and never has a dull moment. My six year old daughter is loving this series of books and is always ready to grab another, just as soon as we finish one up. I also enjoy reading them with her and love how the author ends each chapter in a way that makes the reader want to continue onto the next. Great books to hold children's attention!

*112 pgs
*ages 9-12

Ghost Town at Sundown by Mary Pope Osborne

Ghost Town at Sundown
Magic Tree House #10
By Mary Pope Osborne

Take a trip to the Wild Wild West with Annie and Jack in this lastest installment of the Magic Tree House Series. The riddle that the kids must solve this time around to become Master Librarians:

Out of the blue,
my lonely voice
calls out to you.
Who am I? Am I?

As Jack and Annie gather clues to try to figure out the answer to this mysterious riddle, they encounter a rattlesnake, horse thieves, a lost colt and a helpful cowboy named Slim. A real life Ghost Town complete with ghosts? Or just wild imaginations?

Come along on another great adventure with Jack and Annie. My daughter and I both enjoyed this one, as we have all of the books in this series thus far. The fact that this included horses, made it an even bigger hit since my daughter is a huge horse fan! We both look forward to the next adventure.
*73 pgs
ages 9-12

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne

Dolphins at Daybreak
Magic Tree House #9
by Mary Pope Osborne

In the ninth installment of the Magic Tree House series, Jack and Annie are sitting out on a new adventure, to become Master Librarians. In order to do this, they must prove their ability to do research, in the form of solving riddles. They must solve four riddles, the first being this:
Rough and gray as rock,
I'm plain as plain can be.
But hidden deep inside
There's great beauty in me.
What am I?

As Jack and Annie find themselves in the middle of the ocean, within a mini - sub, they encounter a giant octopus, a very hungry shark and two beautiful dolphins. As they race to save themselves from becoming shark bait, Jack and Annie learn great new things about the ocean and the life it holds. With a cracking mini - sub, will the kids make it back on land before it's too late and will they be able to follow the clues to solve the riddle?

Dolphins at Daybreak is another hit for my six year old! We read it in two nights and enjoyed every moment of it. Again, I cannot stress how wonderful this series is and how much we anticipate each upcoming book!

*67 pgs

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Book Giveaway!

Ok, I have been wanting to try this out for a while, but just wasn't sure how to go about it. So, I am just going to dive on in. I am going to have my very first book giveaway.

The book is one that I reviewed a while back A Day With No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch. It's a wonderful book, so please be sure to check out the review. To enter, just post a comment letting me know and if you post a link on your site about the contest, you will get your name entered twice (please post your link in the comments letting me know that you posted on your site).
The winner will be drawn July 22nd. You can also find this contest on my Cafe of Dreams blog.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Spray Bottle Fun

MySpace Comments - Summer

MySpace Layouts - Summer
Free Comments & Graphics

I posted this on my other blog: Cafe of Dreams and that is what actually gave me the idea to add the activity posts to this blog.
With the weather being so insanely crazy and the heat and humidity upon us, water seems to be the ultimate pleasure. With us (myself and 6 year old and nearly 2 year old) simple plastic spray bottles hold much fun! At .98 a bottle, how can you go wrong?! In the summer, we fill our spray bottles with water and go crazy - squirting one another to bring about squeals and belly deep laughter. The kids also love to go and squirt anything and everything around the yard - "cleaning" their toys, playhouse, swing set, etc. I'm telling you, this can keep them busy for over an hour at a time - which means blissful peace for mom (or dad), lol!
When simply squirting water becomes tiresome, simply add a bit of tempera paint, bring out sheets of paper and watch the masterpieces develop before your eyes!
In the winter time, for those that live where snow graces us, adding food coloring to the water in the squirt bottles allows for some great and awesomely fun snow painting! I'm not sure who has more fun with this - myself or the kids, lol!
If anyone else has other ideas and ways to use squirt bottles, I would love to hear them and post them for everyone to read!!
Have a happy and squirty day!

Great Kid Fun!

Free Glitter Text Maker Comments

I am going to try something a bit new on this blog. Along with my Children's book reviews, I am going to add some fun activities and website info that have great ideas for fun learning. I stumble across some really great sites, every now and then, and thought it would be fun to share. I will post as a regular post as well as a running list on the sidebar. Hope everyone finds some new and fun ideas. Also, I would love to hear from others as to activities they enjoy with their kids and great websites for children as well!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Bunny Fun by Sarah Weeks

Bunny Fun
by Sarah Weeks
illustrated by Sam Williams

It's a rainy day and Little Bunny cannot go out to play. What wonders can Little Bunny find inside - there's Mama's shoes, Papa's news, dribbling and scribbling, chit chat and zip, zoom, vroom. So many fun things to find. Soon the rain ends and Little Bunny can go out to play - can you guess what Little Bunny finds?

With bright, vivid illustrations and delightfully fun rhyming text, Bunny Fun is sure to be a huge hit. Tons of smile and lots of fun for parents to read to their little ones - many times over.

*40 pgs*
baby-preschool age

Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic

Duck Soup
by Jackie Urbanovic

There once was a duck named Max, an aspiring chef of soups. Previously, Max had made such culinary "concoctions" as Fish Soup with Curry and Pickled Lemon, Cracker Barrel Cheese and Marshmallow Soup, and Squash Gumbo.

One day, Max decided to make a masterpiece of soup, but discovers that he is missing an herb to bring his dish to perfection. While out in the garden, Max's friends come by. While they discover and empty kitchen, they find a pot bubbling away on the stove. What follows can only be described as a hilarious and fun treat. With bright eye-catching illustrations and gloriously fun text, Duck Soup is sure to be a hit with young and old alike!

*32 pgs*
ages 4 - 8

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Day With No Crayons by: Elizabeth Rusch

A Day With No Crayons
by: Elizabeth Rusch
Illustrated by: Chad Camerson

Brilliant! With gorgeous pictures and a delightfully clever text, A Day With No Crayons is an excellent book, to grace any child's library.
Young Liza gets her crayons taken away, after using a blank bedroom wall as her latest canvas. Crayons are her life and what will Liza do an entire day without them?! After starting out in a black and white world, Liza soon discovers the vivid color surrounding her everywhere she goes. It doesn't take long for her imagination to kick in and she begins to create masterpieces, with all that nature has to offer. Just imagine - flower petal birds, drawings made with an old red brick along a sidewalk, a tree drawn with a stick covered in mud and leaves squished in the mud, the color of meadow green, sea green and forest green. Adults, as well as children will delight in the colorful and enormously fun story!
ages 4-8
*32 pgs*

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R.L. Stine

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp
Goosebumps Series
by: R.L. Stine

The Werewolf of Fever Swamp is my daughter's (as well as my) first time reading any of the books in the Goosebumps series. She just turned 6, last month, and the only chapter type books we have read, thus far, are the Magic Tree House books. During our last trip to Barnes and Noble, I told her that she could pick out a few books to kick off some great summer reading. This was one that she picked out - much to my excitement, lol.

Grady and his family have recently moved to Fever Swamp. His parents are both Scientists and his Dad has decided to do some research on South American swamp deer, thus the reason for moving to Florida - and the swamp.
It's not long before hair-raising howling, echoes through the area, bringing not only chills, but questions of a possible....werewolf?! Does the dog that suddenly shows up at Grady's house have anything to do with the horrible things happening? Or perhaps it is the swamp hermit, who has a way of showing up at odd times, when the kids are walking through the swamp area. Whatever the cause, the one thing that is without a doubt - when the moon is full, the only safe place to be is behind locked doors.

With a hint of scariness and mystery, The Werewolf of Fever Swamp is a great first exposure to the suspense horror genre for children. The author has a wonderful way of ending each chapter with suspense, leaving the reader wanting to continue until the very last page. My daughter and I read this in a very short time and each time we had to stop, she would give a groan of protest. At the end of this book, there was a teaser (first chapter) of another Goosebumps book titled It Came From Beneath the Sink. We read this and needless to say, will be making it a purchase in the very near future!
* ages 9 - 12*
**123 pgs**

Dog Den Mystery by Darrel & Sally Odgers

Dog Den Mystery
Jack Russell: Dog Detective bk 1
By: Darrel & Sally Odgers

In Dog Den Mystery, we meet Jack Russell who, along with his owner Sarge, is making a move to Doggeroo. It is not long before trouble begins, in the form of a missing treasured squeaker bone and blanket. Jack Russell realizes that he is the only one that can solve the crime and regain is stolen goods.
Though simplistic, this is a fun book and appears as though it will be a fun series. With the point of view being from Jack Russell, it is easy for the reader to view the story head on. Though I cannot say that I enjoyed the story overly well, by 6 year old daughter loved it and that is the entire purpose. Overall, it was cute and a quick read, with a few simplistic pencil drawings throughout. We will be adding the second book of the series to our library fairly soon.
ages 4-8
**76 pgs**

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book by Rufus Seder

Gallop!: A Scanimation Picture Book

by Rufus Seder

What a delightful, magical and wonderful book. Each page contains a different animal, brought to life simply by turning page. The text is simple, as not to overpower or take away from main focus of the pictures. This 12 page book is sure to mesmorize children for a great block of time. I must add, however, that it will also mesmorize adults just as well. I highly recommend this one - it is truly unique and a can't go wrong addition to anyone library.

*ages 4- 8 (though I recommend for any age)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne

Dinosaurs Before Dark
Magic Tree House Bk 1
by Mary Pope Osborne

This is the first in the "Magic Tree House" series. I read it to my 5 year old daughter and we both loved it. It took us only 2 nights to read and we are very anxious to read the second in the series.
In this installment, brother and sister, Jack and Annie, come across a tree house high in a very tall tree. Annie enthusiastically begins climbing the long rope later and Jack follows to be sure she ends up safe. Once they reach the inside of the tree house, they find it filled with books. One book even contains a picture of the place they are at right now. After glancing around, Jack picks up a book of dinosaurs and looks at a picture of a Pteranodon - wishing that he could see one for real. Suddenly, their surroundings have changed and they find themselves at a place 65 million years ago. Jack gets his wish - seeing not only a Pteranodon, but other dinosaurs up close and personal!
Now, the question remains - how can Jack and Annie find their way home? Can they do it before becoming lunch for a hungry meat eating dinosaur?
The characters are delightful - Jack the cautious one and his younger sister, Annie, the adventurous one. The idea of looking into a book and wishing to be in that place and finding yourself there is such a fun one! I can't wait to continue with this series!
ages 4 - 8
*68 pages*

The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo By Judy Blume

The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo
by Judy Blume

I grew up on and always had a love for Judy Blume books, as I know many have. I don't ever remember reading this one, however, so I thought it would be a fun one to pick. The basic storyline is about little Freddy Dissel. He is the middle child with one older brother and one younger sister. It seems that he cannot find a place to fit in - he is either too young or too old. Until one day, his school is casting parts for an upcoming play and Freddy ends up with a very special part. This is Freddy's chance to shine and show everyone that he is more than just "in the middle".
This was a cute story, I thought. The illustrations are in black and white and I found it particularly intriguing that Freddy is always shaded in a bit more - making him stand out in the pictures. Perhaps this is the author's way to bring forth the fact that Freddy really does stand out and is more than just the middle sibling. I would definitely recommend this to the younger reader - it has both humor and a bit of a lesson to learn.
ages 4 - 8
*39 pages*

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Nate the Great
by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
We've had this one sitting around the house for a bit and one day, last wkend, while I was sitting on the couch, Nate the Great just happened to be on the table next to me, so I decided to pick it up and give it a whirl. What an adorably cute and fun book! This is the first in this Children's series and we are introduced to a young fellow named - you guessed it - Nate. He has a penchent for pancakes - any time and any where, lol. He is quite the character and envisions himself a master detective. In this first book, young Nate solves the mystery of a little girl's missing picture, that she painted of her dog - as well as another little girl's missing kitty.
While reading this, I was given the gift of many chuckles and think that this is a perfect book to share with any child who wants a fun read. We have another of the Nate the Great books - this one Nate the Great Talks Turkey and am looking forward to reading that one as well.
Tons of humor and tons of fun!
*62 pgs*

The Magic In You by Sally H. Taylor

The Magic In You
by Sally H. Taylor

First off, thanks so much to J.Kaye over at J.Kaye's Book Blog for this delightful book, which I was lucky enough to win in her weekly book raffle!
The first time that I read this, I read it to myself - meaning not to my kids, but just to myself. The concept sounded like a great one and I wanted to check it out right away. I have to say, with all my heart, I truly believe that this book should be one that graces everyone's bookshelves! If you have children, Grandchildren, nieces, nephews or even if you don't have children, The Magic In You is a truly uplifting book, for everyone of any age.
In this day and age of low self-esteem, peer pressure to fit in, and just all of life's pressures, it is reassuring to know that there is something out there that can speak to everyone and let them know that it is ok to be yourself - no matter what.
The Magic In You focuses on a little wildflower who has a bit of a disconcerting start, next to the side of a road, and all alone. She has splendid yellow petals that shimmer in the sun, yet all of the other flowers make her feel alone and like an outcast. All of this becomes worse when a Billy goat happens along and eats one of her petals, leaving her a damaged flower. Now, not only is she alone, but she is being laughed at because she is different. After another harrowing incident with a rude driver, who dashes by, running over the wildflower's leaf, life seems only to be getting crueler. Then one night, as the wildflower is weeping, a beautiful fairy happens by, asking what is wrong. The wildflower asks the fairy to make her beautiful, so that she will fit in and be liked by the others. However, the fairy refuses and instead tells the little flower that she is the one who can make herself beautiful and happy, anytime that she wants, she does not need the fairy's magic for that. At first, the little flower does not understand this, but after a bit of time passes and she learns the true gift of kindness, she discovers that real and true beauty comes from within.
You always hear that inner beauty is the most powerful and precious. No matter how true this is, it is easily forgotten in today's society. This is the perfect book to reinterate such an important lesson and serves as a wonderful reminder and pick me up. To me, it almost seems as though The Magic In You combines all of the many self-help books out there and sums them all up within a few powerfully packed pages.
Not only is the story memorable and beautiful, but the pictures are gorgous works of art. I highly recommend this to everyone - you will not be disappointed!
**40 pgs**


Welcome to A Childhood of Dreams. This is the place to read about and hopefully find some great new children's books. At my other blog, Cafe of Dreams, I blog occasionally about children's books, that I come across that really stand out, then decided why not just start a blog dedicated to just that - Children's books and perhaps YA books as well. Be warned - my children's libraries are almost as extensive as my own, so there will be several books that I will list and review. Now, just to find the time to get them all down, lol!
I am very excited about this new little adventure and hope that some fun can be had by everyone!