Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Charming toddler's padded board book: "God Made Us Just Right" by Allia Zobel Noland [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780825446634
Kregel Children's Books

My thoughts: This is a charming and sweetly illustrated toddler's board book that addresses differences and how they don't matter because God Made Us Just Right. With lyrical rhymes the sweet questions from little ones and the replies by parent don't have a particular cadence but are nice and certainly express a conversational tone with some rhymes.

I just love this little book and there will be lots of look and see moments as the book is read and re-read to little ones who will easily learn to accept how God has created them and also to appreciate how God has created differences.

Highly recommend.

About the book: No need to compare--God has a reason for creating everyone just the way they are!

How come puppies get to bark, but kittens can't? Why do elephants have such long trunks when other animals don't risk tripping over their noses? What's the point of all these differences?

Through playful illustrations of animals and warmhearted words in rhyme, young children will see God as their loving creator. God Made Us Just Right helps them realize that God has a reason for creating us just the way we are.

Kids who are always asking, Why, Mom? and How come, Dad? will easily relate to the back-and-forth question-and-answer format. It's a book the whole family will enjoy.

FUN TIME: There are four free downloadable activity pages that accompany this book and that are fun for both children and parents to do together. Just go to author's website: and on the opening slider, you'll see how you can download these fun games and puzzles. 

May 18 to June 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by Kregel Publishing or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Love in Disguise by Penny Zeller [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts:
This is a totally clean, Christian read set in Montana in 1911. The automobile is the trend of the times and ranching is the mode of living. The protagonists in the story are Mrs. Wheeler, widowed and wealthy, and Mr. Evanson, wealthy young rancher. Their two families have a feuding history from when the deceased Mr. Wheeler accused rancher Evanson of cattle rustling shenanigans and other crooked endeavors.

Both of these wealthy individuals who did not know each other have to fend off frequent intrusions from potential spouses who simply want to connect with them for their wealth alone. They'll have none of that!

By chance, the two literally bump into each other in a town nearby and a friendship begins to grow. They both give "doctored" names so their wealthy identities are not forthcoming. The friendship grows and then their true identity is discovered.

Unwanted suiters pursue both Emilie and Thad and their friendship and budding romance with each other is in danger because of their covert doings.

A fun, clean, totally Christian read. One you won't be afraid to hand over to a young teen or your grandmama.

About the book: Who knew concealing one’s true identity could be so disastrous?

Who knew asserting one’s independence would cause such embarrassment? If only Almira “Emilie” Crawford Wheeler hadn’t insisted upon carrying her own stack of parcels, she wouldn’t have landed in an unladylike heap on the boardwalk. And what about the half-truth she told the handsome stranger who came to her aid? The stranger she never expected to see again?

Thad Alexander Evanson should have been paying closer attention to the boardwalk, rather than the newfangled automobile motoring down the street. Had he been more astute, a collision with the beautiful parcel-laden stranger might never have happened. And if it never had happened, he wouldn’t have told a partial-truth he figured wouldn’t matter.

Before long, Emilie and Thad are arranging to meet for a noonday meal each weekend in Missoula under the guise of different names. But what happens when their true identities are revealed? When half-truths are exposed? Could God have a plan even in the midst of a tangled web of lies? Read first few pages on Amazon - click here.

May 17 to June 7 @ 11:59 p.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only for Paperback or eBook 
Open WW addresses for eBook
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the author to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by the author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, May 13, 2022

The crisis of infant baby formula in the United States (opinion)

 Much is being seen in the news here in the United States about the appalling  shortage of infant baby formula in stores across the US. This points to a many faceted problem and need for remediation. Just how we as a society reached this point and how this particular problem came into being is a reflection on our society as a whole and it is important to address.

First and foremost is the need to immediately provide for the little ones who need this product and to do so posthaste. If the product is really nonexistent at this point in time, find the ways and means to get those factories running 24/7 to provide it and ship it with armed, military escort if necessary to distribution points. No we don't want a military engaged, but we do need to feed those little ones.

Then we need to address the problem of how we reached this state of need in our country. We are not at war. We are not in major famine, drought, or plague distress. We are running pretty much as a normal day-to-day United States of America consumer nation. So what brought us to this state? Until we can solve that problem, we will continue to have issues of product supply from time to time. We've seen this with other items during the shut down caused by Covid. We will see it again.

But when it strikes at the very lives of babies who are our future and who are totally dependent on us, it should shake us from the very top of our heads to the soles of our feet with a mind jarring, body rattling fierceness! 

This is akin to cutting off live-giving water.

So the problem needs fixing. Immediately. And fixed so that it can not occur again.

Before today's baby formula existed, babies were breast fed. If not breast fed, they were given milk from cows and sometimes goats. These milk products were sterilized, had sugars added, diluted sometimes with boiled water. Babies survived. Lived. But we've grown beyond using these products because powdered, manufactured baby formula is so much better. (Note: No formula, no matter how well made, can supersede the nutritional value of breastfeeding.)

But it is only better if you can get it. 

I realize that all babies do not thrive on the baby formulas of times past, but they do live. Babies with no source of food do not live. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

May Celebration of Dinosaurs - DINOMAYNIA #GIVEAWAY - National Geographic Kids' dinosaurs books educate & entertain [6-Book Giveaway]

National Geographic Kids has an amazing DinoMAYnia website packed full of games, video shorts, facts, and even a dinosaur personality quiz!

In honor of International Dinosaur Day on May 17th, National Geographic Kids is celebrating DinoMAYnia and has compiled a terrific line up of books for dino-maniacs of all ages. 

Now we're celebrating this fun "DinoMAYnia" month by parterning with National Geographic Kids to offer a super 6-pack of Dino books for the kiddies. Read on to see just what's in the pack of books and how you can enter-2-win!

Little Kids First Board Book; Dinosaurs (ages baby - 3, hard cover, $7.99)

The prehistoric world comes alive with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic in this colorful book for the very youngest dinosaur lovers! Each spread in this sturdy book features a different dinosaur, along with super simple facts and lively, age-appropriate language to keep babies and toddlers--and their grown-ups--fascinated by every colorful page. Not only will readers learn about a variety of dinosaurs--and how to say their names, they can also find recurring shapes and patterns in the art, while adults can keep their eyes open for occasional funny commentary from the animals. Sidebar text offers additional learning for older siblings or those ready for more complex information.  The Little Kids First Board Books mirror the beloved First Big Books while taking a fresh new approach to excite a baby's sense of wonder and make learning about nature and science fun.

Little Kids First Big Book of Dinosaurs (hardcover, ages 4-8, 128 pages, $14.95)

A #1 best seller on Amazon! The prehistoric world comes alive with dinosaurs small, big, giant, and gigantic, with stunning illustrations. Bursting with fun facts and age-appropriate information, each spread features a different dinosaur, along with simple text in big type that is perfect for little kids. Young dino fans will love the interactivity included in every chapter, and parents will appreciate tips to help carry readers' experience beyond the page. 

So Cool! Dinos (hardcover, ages 3-5, $6.99)

Those sharp, pointy teeth! Those terrifying claws! Those long necks and pointy spines! Let’s face it ... dinosaurs are SO COOL! Blending dinosaur art with silly quips and Informational fact boxes about when dinosaurs lived on Earth, stats about dinos, dinosaur feathers, and more, this is the perfect little reader to get kids’ brains buzzing and keep them laughing while learning.

National Geographic Readers: T.Rex (ages 4-6, paperback, $4.99)

Giant teeth! Crushing bite! Slicing claws! And … feathers? Scientists have unearthed new knowledge about the king of the dinosaurs, and now you can, too. Travel back in time to the Mesozoic forests to meet the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex. Learn how their bodies were perfectly adapted for hunting, how T. rex parents guarded their nests, and just how much meat they could guzzle down in a single bite. Then explore some of the fascinating fossils―including Sue and Scotty―that have helped scientists make important discoveries (for example, T. rex may not have roared at all!). National Geographic Readers’ combination of expert-vetted text, brilliant images, and a fun approach to reading have proved to be a winning formula with kids, parents, and educators. This level 1 text provides accessible information for kids just beginning to read on their own, perfect to encourage the scientists and explorers of tomorrow!

Ultimate Dinopedia, 2nd ED (hardcover, ages 7-10, 296 pages, $24.99) 

Big, beautiful and gift-worthy! The new edition of the popular Nat Geo Kids Dinopedia includes all the latest species and is the most complete, up-to-date dinosaur reference available. Find favorites, like the fierce T-rex and the gentle Brontosaurus, plus audacious new finds, like the Anzu, Kosmoceratops, and Yi. Every dino profile is colorfully illustrated and features descriptions of when they roamed the Earth, how they lived, what they ate, and more. There are more than 600 dinos featured in all, including 10 profiles of recently discovered dinosaurs and new entries in the Dino Dictionary. Reports from paleontologists present the latest news and insights from the field.

Weird But True! Dinosaurs (paperback, ages 8-12, 208 pages, $8.99)

300 dino-mite facts to sink your teeth into! Perfectly sized for back seat boredom busting, this new addition to the wildly popular WBT series is taking on the jaws and claws that ruled the Mesozoic world.  Calling all dino dynamos!  Did you know that the T. rex had vision 13 times better than the average human's? Or that people collect fossilized dino poop? And get this: There's a dinosaur named after Hogwarts--Harry Potter's wizarding school! Get ready to meet dinosaurs with horns and feathers, razor-sharp claws and gigantic teeth. You'll encounter the places they lived, the bizarre art they inspired, and the amazing paleontologists who discovered them.

One-stop shopping:

6 National Geographic Kids Dinosaurs Books
Ends June 3 @ 11:59 p.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of these 6 books. Any opinions expressed are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by the publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, May 9, 2022

My Big Book of Outdoors by Tim Hopgood [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

My thoughts: Upon opening this big book of delightful imagery, I see the phrase.... "For everyone who stayed indoors in 2020."

How appropriate to place a beautiful celebration of the seasons just as the Covid pandemic seems to be coming to an end. That's not to say that our enemy "The Covid" is absolutely gone, it simply means we are moving on into a new season of dealing with this virus.

Now about this children's book. 

Firstly, it is divided into the four seasons. We're currently winding down on Spring and the book opens with the season of Spring. 

Secondly, I am amazed at the amount of information and wonderful illustrations that the author/illustrator provides in this book. Seeds, bulbs, ants, birds, eggs, rain. How it all is there to interact and perform. How each season brings new change to our world.

The text is easy going and sure to make a delicate impact on the senses as well as the learned skills and information gleaned. There are a few fun activities in which the child may engage as well as providing an opportunity to learn. 

I highly recommend this book for families with children up to about age 9 or 10. Sure to please!

About the book: Introduce little ones to the great outdoors with this beautifully illustrated treasury exploring the wonders of nature in four glorious seasons.

From vibrant springtime flowers to sweet fruits on summer trees, from the falling of autumn leaves to snowdrops in winter, this ode to the four seasons introduces young readers to the world of nature outside their door. During the chilly months, they can discover why birds fly south in winter, search for animal footprints in the snow, or learn to make the perfect paper snowflake. As the sun grows stronger, they're invited to weave a daisy chain, find a feather, or try their hand at growing a sunflower. Full of activities, poetry, fun facts to explore, and amazing things to see and do outside, this brightly illustrated book makes a delightful gift for all seasons.

Begins May 9
Ends June 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & Canada addresses only
No P.O. Boxes. Canadian winners must provide phone number.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, May 6, 2022

"I'm A Neutrino: Tiny Particles In a Big Universe" & "This Is a School" & "The Stardust That Made Us" [STEM] (Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

I'm a Neutrino: Tiny Particles in a Big Universe by Dr. Eve M. Vavagiakis & illustrated by Ilze Lemesis

My thoughts:
 Curious as to what a neutrino is, I Googled for a definition. Below is a screenshot of the online definition which tends to make this grandmother ponder why this is the subject matter for a kid's picturebook. But I do recognize the ability of young minds to grasp more than previously thought. As a MIT Kid's Press publication the high IQ and scientific density of such a picture book is understandable.

These super tiny particles are depicted as quirky little "critters" populating the world around us and beyond to the furthest galaxy. This is a little understood particle that physicists are learning more about as time goes along. 

So what's the purpose in introducing such material to a "picture book audience"? I'm thinking that simple introduction of terminology in an environment children understand begins to lay groundwork for future educational experiences. And while not a totally "fun" it can conceivably be enjoyed by those for whom it is intended. The back matter provided is interesting for those wishing to further pursue some information on neutrinos.

About the book: An accessible and visually arresting picture book about one of the universe's most mysterious particles for the youngest scientific minds.

Before you finish reading this sentence, trillions upon trillions of neutrinos will have passed through your body. Not sure what a neutrino is? Get an up-close-and-personal introduction in this dazzling picture book from MIT Kids Press, told in lilting rhyme from the neutrino’s point of view and filled with mind-bending, full-bleed illustrations that swirl and splash the cosmos to life. Some of the smallest bits of matter known to exist—and they exist everywhere—neutrinos are inspiring cutting-edge and Nobel Prize–winning research. Here, playful text and watercolor illustrations blended with photographs distill the concept of these mysterious particles down to its essence. “Know Your Neutrinos” end notes provide context for each spread, amplifying the science and making complex astrophysics and physics concepts approachable. This indispensable STEM title urges children to dream of contributing their own discoveries.

This Is a School by John Schu & illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison 

My thoughts:
 What a delightful picture book that will ease the young child into his or her school experience. I like also that the sense of "community" is addressed several times through the book.

Cute illustrations are inclusive of a variety of ethnicity and show all working well together and happily sharing experiences.

A delightful book.

About the book: A moving celebration of school and all it may signify: work and play, creativity and trust, and a supportive community that extends beyond walls.

A school isn’t just a building; it is all the people who work and learn together. It is a place for discovery and asking questions. A place for sharing, for helping, and for community. It is a place of hope and healing, even when that community can’t be together in the same room. John Schu, a librarian and former ambassador of school libraries for Scholastic, crafts a loving letter to schools and the people that make up the communities within in a picture book debut beautifully illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison.

The Stardust That Made Us: A Visual Exploration of Chemistry, Atoms, Elements, and the Universe by Colin Stuart & illustrated by Ximo Abadía 

My thoughts:
 An oversized, informational book for children that exceeds the usual educational load for young minds. Typically, the age for learning and understanding periodic tables and other "elements" of the scientific world is relegated to upper middle grades or high school. Who knew that normal, book-lovers in the elementary sphere would be interested or even adept at absorbing such material?

Yet, here it is - The Stardust That Made Us: A Visual Exploration of Chemistry, Atoms, Elements, and the Universe.  

I found it to be pretty heavy reading for the specified age group (and, yes, even for this grandmother). Though the presentation and organization is interesting, this is not a "quick read" picture book loaded with bright and engaging images. This is probably best used in school and classroom libraries and in homes where parental guidance can aid in understanding and absorbing the information. Designed for ages 8 to 12 and grades 3 to 7.

About the book: Designed to present chemistry in a new, approachable way, this book explores the history and application of chemistry in the natural world. With incredible artwork from Ximo Abadía , the reader can visualize the 118 known elements and explore the chemical makeup of the universe. With engaging, easy-to-understand text by acclaimed science writer Colin Stuart, this title will truly captivate and inspire.

2 winners - each 1 set of books
Begins May 6
Ends June 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & Canada addresses
No P.O. Boxes & Canadians must provide phone number
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winners by Candlewick and/or its representatives. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley from Crown Books for Young Readers [Giveaway]

The Natural Genius of Ants by Betty Culley  (5/10/22; Crown Books for Young Readers; ISBN: 9780593175774; Hardcover $16.99; Ages 8-12; 240 pg)

In The Natural Genius of Ants, Harvard’s dad is a doctor, caring for the smallest and sickest babies in the hospital where he works. After a mistake leads to tragedy, Dad isn’t the same, but a summer trip back to his hometown of Kettle Hole, Maine, could be just what the doctor ordered.

In the small town where he grew up, Dad seems more himself. Especially once the family decides to start an ant farm–just like Dad had as a kid! But when the mail-order ants are D.O.A., Harvard doesn’t want Dad to experience any more sadness. Luckily, his new friend Neveah has the brilliant idea to use the ants crawling around the kitchen instead. But these insects don’t come with directions. So the kids have a lot to learn–about the ants, each other, and how to forgive ourselves when things go wrong.

Culley draws on her time as a pediatric nurse in Maine, as well as keeping her own ant farm and caring for a carpenter ant queen, in this lyrical coming-of-age story about forgiveness, moving forward, and coming home. The Natural Genius of Ants is a perfect summer read for budding scientists, as well as fans of her first award-winning middle grade novel.

NOTE: To get a glimpse of the book, go to Amazon (click here) and read a few pages in the hardcopy version. Book is available in kindle, audio, and hardcover.

Begins April 28
Ends May 24 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I have not yet read it and therefore can not verify or comment on it's content. Winner's prize copy if provided and shipped directly to the winner by MMPublicity or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.