Thursday, September 16, 2021

Birthdays, the Galaxies, and Engineering books to tickle a girl's fancy [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA 2 winners]

How to Have a Birthday by Mary Lyn Ray & illustrated by Cindy Derby 

My thoughts: 
Essentially the story celebrates the ways and joys of celebrating one's birthday. It is uniquely one's own. This is a cheerful story of ways (vaguely presented) one celebrates a birthday.

Key to the whole book is that it is a day, it is your day, it is your birthday. So while some don't celebrate with cake, presents, recording one's height, or blowing out candles, one can look forward to and celebrate the day they are one year older.

Sweet, cheerful book.

About the book: Joyful and utterly unique, this vibrant picture book celebrates the best birthday gift of all: a whole day that is yours to unwrap.

Wise and infinitely cozy, Mary Lyn Ray’s simple text and Cindy Derby’s fluid, playful illustrations invite readers of all ages to view that most extraordinary of ordinary days in a simple but festive new light, as if for the first time. What makes birthdays special? Whether you are turning three or one hundred and three, whether you are feted by others or sing yourself happy, the anticipation and surprise of the day you were born never fail to deliver “that shivery feeling that belongs only to a birthday.” An ideal gift for new and expectant parents, for children marking a birthday or attending their first party—for everyone who was ever born! This exuberant celebration in words and pictures will leave you feeling a warm connection to the cycle of life and growth.

Ada and the Galaxies by authors Alan Lightman & Olga Pastuchiv. Illustrated by Susanna Chapman

My thoughts: 
Ada is certainly a precocious little girl, quite lively, inquisitive, and loveable. I love the interaction between Ada and her grandparents who live on an island in Maine. Ada goes to visit them and wants to see and learn about the stars. She can't see stars in the night sky in New York because of all the lights. Maine is different  and the opportunity will hopefully present itself.

The book is a product of MIT Press and is the first children's book by MIT Professor Alan Lightman who draws from his personal family background for this book. We are told numbers given in the book are accurate as is the assumption that there are "people" on planets in other galaxies. 

I realize this is a story for preschool and early elementary age children, but I truly expected more "star" and "galaxy" in the book. There are pictures taken from the Hubble space telescope camera which brings authenticity to the story. 

All-in-all, the book is charming, a delightful read for little ones, a grand multi-generational story, and a bit of science to whet one's interest. 

About the book: Stargazers rejoice! In his first book for children, renowned physicist Alan Lightman and collaborators, with help from the Hubble telescope, light up the night sky.

New York Times best-selling author Alan Lightman, in collaboration with Olga Pastuchiv, brings galaxies close in a stunning picture-book tribute to the interconnectedness of the natural world. Layering photographs taken from the Hubble telescope into charming and expressive art, illustrator Susanna Chapman zooms in on one child's experiences: Ada knows that the best place for star-gazing is on the island in Maine where she vacations with her grandparents. By day, she tracks osprey in the trees, paddles a kayak, and hunts for shells. But she's most in her element when the sun goes down and the stars blink to life. Will the fog this year foil her plans, or will her grandfather find a way to shine a spotlight on the vast puzzle of the universe . . . until the weather turns?

The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer by Mara Rockliff & illustrated by Daniel Duncan 

My thoughts: 
I absolutely love this biographic picture book. I knew women's roles during World War II were significant and important in a variety of fields. I had not heard of Beatrice Shilling and her achievements as an engineer.

This well written and enjoyable read coupled with the wonderful illustrations, will definitely encourage young readers to pursue reading about the accomplishments of real people doing really important things. And of course, the achievements of women in fields typically not attributed to women's accomplishments.

I highly endorse this book for public and school libraries as well as private collections. 

About the book: This true story of a woman whose brilliance and mechanical expertise helped Britain win World War II is sure to inspire STEM readers and fans of amazing women in history.

Beatrice Shilling wasn't quite like other children. She could make anything. She could fix anything. And when she took a thing apart, she put it back together better than before.

When Beatrice left home to study engineering, she knew that as a girl she wouldn't be quite like the other engineers--and she wasn't. She was better. Still, it took hard work and perseverance to persuade the Royal Aircraft Establishment to give her a chance.

But when World War II broke out and British fighter pilots took to the skies in a desperate struggle for survival against Hitler's bombers, it was clearly time for new ideas. Could Beatrice solve an engine puzzle and help Britain win the war? American author Mara Rockliff and British illustrator Daniel Duncan team up for a fresh look at a turning point in modern history--and the role of a remarkable woman whose ingenuity, persistence, and way with a wrench (or spanner) made her quite unlike anyone else. An author's note and a list of selective sources provide additional information for curious readers.

Begins September 16
Ends October 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open USA/CANADA. NO P.O. Boxes.
Canadian winner's must provide phone number.
DISCLOSURE: I received 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.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Grumpy Frumpy Croissant by Mona K. & illustrated by Korey Scott

My thoughts: 
This is a bit of a far fetched tale of bready items at the breakfast table that is illustrated with quirky, cartoony characters. The grumpy episode begins when Croissant comes to the table unhappy, and from then on nothing suits.

Typical early morning scene in many homes? Perhaps. But like I said, a bit far fetched. I don't see the symbolism where angry grumpy frumpy croissant loses his butter dwindling down in size. I don't see the symbolism of everyone taking a slurp of milk to help them calm down.

I do like the take a deep breath and count to 10 technique to facilitate calmness and patience. 

All in all, an ok book but not a favorite of mine. 

About the book: Grumpy Frumpy Croissant isn't happy, and he's taking it out on the breakfast plate! Toast, Scone, and Milk think he's being mean, but Croissant thinks they're being mean. A sip of Milk and ten deep breaths help everyone calm down and talk to each other.

Beneath the charming, hand-drawn illustrations in Grumpy Frumpy Croissant is a lesson about misunderstandings that any child can grasp. Croissant learns about about letting anger pass by stopping and breathing, and how he hurts other's feelings when he yells. It's a simple story for parents to introduce ideas of managing feelings to children. Grumpy Frumpy Croissant also features:

  • Croissant recipe that parents can make with their children.
  • Full-page coloring activities featuring the characters in the books 

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Roar Like A Lion - Kids Devotional by Levi Lusko [Review & Giveaway USA--ENDS 9/24]

My thoughts: In today's world of uncertainties and an emotional atmosphere rife with strife and a world where Covid constraints and fears prevent much in the opportunity for families to gain strong fellowship with other Christians and benefit from good, faithful Biblical instruction, we are in sore need of good books that lead and guide us in our walk with God.

Road Like A Lion can be used in family devotionals or by a kid for his own quite-time or personal devotions. The book encourages kids in their walk with God. Encourages them how to be a light in the world. How to overcome the fear of witnessing to others and of showing kindness to others.

Well written in a style that is good for listening when read aloud or for the older child to read to themselves. Very understandable. Very relatable. And a good "did you know" side bar for each day's devotional.

With 90 of these timely devotionals, you'll get 3 months of quality spiritual education. Published by Tommy Nelson an Imprint of Thomas Nelson Publishing, this Christian book of devotions and prayers will have a positive spiritual impact on your family.

About the book: 
Kids are wrestling with tough issues these days—peer pressure, purpose, unexpected change or loss, and wondering where their faith fits in with it all. Roar Like a Lion encourages your kids to "run toward the roar" as they face their fears, knowing that God is with them every step of the way. 

Pastor and bestselling author Levi Lusko is known for making tough topics accessible while drawing his readers toward a richer spiritual life. In his first children's devotional for ages 6 to 10, Levi tackles real issues our kids face with a lighthearted and approachable tone. Kids are equipped to approach both fun moments and tough times with their hearts set on God's faithfulness with the help of fascinating stories and facts, eye-catching art, Bible verses, prayers, and simple action steps. 

This 90-day devotional covers highly relevant topics such as: 
  • Roar Like a Lion covers highly relevant topics such as:
  • Facing fears about school and friendships
  • Dealing with peer pressure and bullying
  • Handling new challenges, disappointments, and grief
  • Having courage to try something new
  • Understanding how we each fit into God's great story
With eye-catching art, fascinating stories and facts, Bible verses and prayers, and simple action steps, this 90-day devotional will help your kids approach both fun moments and tough times with their hearts set on God's faithfulness. order ROAR LIKE A LION -
Begins September 14
Ends September 25 @ 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 publicist, publisher, or author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Trendy, cool, fun caps with a bit of joy - Smiley Face Caps [Review & Giveaway - USA]

Isn't she cute as a button!!!???
What's not to like about these cute caps?

A little bit trendy, but not "too out there." We all need a bit of trend in our days especially with the overhanging shadow of the dreaded Covid-19 still on the horizon.

Put a smile on it. Put some joy in it. Put some happiness in your day and the day of others that see this cute cap perched atop your head.

Cute smiley faces are tops! Silver, gold, pink, blue, and classic "yellow smiley." What do you think of this cutie in the pink cap with silver smiley? 

Or "Mr. Cool" in the white cap with smiley? Caps are made of cotton twill and have adjustable strap at back. 

Check out ShopGalNY's Etsy store (click here). Under $20 and lots of fun in that purchase! Kid's size caps, too. Order on her Etsy store on via Instagram. Find her at @ShopGalNY on IG.

1 Smiley Face Cap (no color choice)
Begins September 10
Ends October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary cap to facilitate my review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by ShopGalNY. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

"Born to Sparkle" & "Book of Hugs" [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

BORN TO SPARKLE - A Story About Achieving Your Dreams 

Hardcover $12.99
Flower Pot Press

My thoughts: 
This cover is so cute and sweet and the title's letters are glitzy sparkly. 

Written by a young Down Syndrome lady, she has determined within herself to push herself, and not limiting her dreams and desires to move forward to achieve those dreams.

This little book is simply a line of encouragement to all young people - whether they have perceived limitations such as Down Syndrome - to dream big and work hard at achieving those dreams.

A cute book and very positive encouragement.

About the book: Author Megan Bomgaars, who has Down syndrome, is an activist, TV personality, and entrepreneur. This Fall, she adds “published children’s book author” to her list of accomplishments with her debut title arriving in stores nationwide.

Inspired by Megan’s moving “Don’t Limit Me” speech, Born to Sparkle encourages young readers to dream big and work hard to make those big dreams come true. Whether you dream is to become an astronaut, firefighter, dancer, teacher, chef or anything you can imagine, you can achieve it because, just like Megan, you were born to sparkle!

Never condescending or preachy, Megan’s pitch perfect story reassures, that there are no limits and anything is possible if one follows their dreams and works hard. It’s about doing your very best to make dreams happen. Be brave. Study. Learn. Practice. Ask questions. Educators and parents will revel in this uplifting, inspiring picture book with a cast of stuffed animals leading by example at each turn of the page.

About the author: Megan Bomgaars is an amazing woman who works hard to achieve her dreams every day. She starred on A&Es Emmy Award-winning and Critic’s Choice Real TV Award-winning reality television show Born this Way. Megan currently attends college and has already started her own business, starred on a TV show, and travelled the world as a public speaker. She was even invited to the White house by Michelle Obama to attend the “Beating the Odds Summit.”  This is Megan’s first children’s book.

About the illustrator: Peter John Olcyzk was born in Manchester. He studied art foundation at Manchester Metropolitan University and then illustration at Stockport College. He uses his own experiences and memories to put himself in the mind and shoes of a child when he illustrates, as well as being greatly influenced by stories, music and nature. He currently lives in the Highlands of Scotland with his wife and two young children.

BOOK OF HUGS - A Story About Achieving Your Dreams

Hardcover $12.99
Flower Pot Press

My thoughts:
  Who doesn't love a loveable bear book and especially one with lots of hugs?

Book of Hugs takes the reader (or listener) through a foray of types of hugs and this is done in a gently, jovial reading style. 

Especially good to note is the encouragement to "first ask permission" before giving a hug.

A cute book.

About the book: Motivational speaker, disability advocate, and restaurateur Tim Harris’ debut picture book, Book of Hugs, publishes this September. Inspired by Tim’s love of giving big bear hugs and his restaurant that offered up hugs on the menu, this charming how-to guide inspires readers with plenty of reasons to give someone a big hug!

Colorful characters Teddy Bear Tim and his trio of energetic monkey friends share tips on delivering the very best hugs – no matter whether they are happy hugs, sad hugs, fast or slow hugs. Every type of hug is about sharing love. As the book says, “Love is the most important part!”

In our new world of pandemic etiquette and a post #MeToo era, setting and respecting boundaries and gaining consent are among the most important practices we can instill in children. Book of Hugs is an entertaining story that can lead into deeper discussions about permission and new norms.

“Affirms the joy of hugs while highlighting the importance of consent.”  –Kirkus Reviews

About the author: Tim Harris is a motivational speaker, business owner, and disability advocate. He is really good at giving hugs. For a long time, Tim owned his own restaurant and he even had free hugs on the menu. They were so popular that Tim has now hugged over 75,000 people, including the president of the United States! Tim really does love hugs, mostly because he loves LOVE and that is what hugs are all about. This is Tim’s first children’s book.

About the illustrator: Charlie Astrella graduated from the University of Teesside with a First Class Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Computer Animation. He now works in 3D modeling, animation, and 2D illustration to create works of art he is proud of. He has experience in advertising, product design, video games, and children’s books.

Begins September 7
Ends October 2 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses.
About Flower Pot Press: Since 2005 Flowerpot Press has been planting the seeds that help young minds grow, offering a broad range of books.  The Hayes family has been in the publishing and media business for two generations now. The family members grew up living in the midst of the golden periods of publishing and media distribution.

Watching and participating in the growth of their father’s children’s publishing business, they learned from the ground up and understood the unique character and needs that publishing for young children demanded. Anne and Pat served in every role from warehouse operation to acquisition, design, licensing, printing production, and editing to name a few areas.

As entrepreneurs, they separately and together founded companies still owned, integrating other media such as video and music. This well-rounded creative team uses a hands-on approach in every aspect of the business, first and foremost because they love it. Pat is also a published author in his own right. Anne (our publisher and CEO) lives in the Toronto area with her husband and family operating the Canadian office of Flowerpot Press, while Pat and his family live in Franklin, Tennessee, and operate the US office of the company.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Barn At Night [Review & Giveaway 3 winners-USA]

ISBN: 978-1948898058 
Ages 4-7 | $17.99 Hardcover
My thoughts:  The story opens on a beautiful wintry night and the farm is covered in snow. Father and child leave the warmth of their house and traipse out to the barn. The night is still. Quiet. And the animals gently welcome them into the barn.

It isn't night, it is pre-dawn and they have awakened to do the farm chores. Step by step the illustrations take the reader gently and beautifully through the house, across the ground, into the barn. The animals are awake and awaiting their arrival.

Time for feed and water. And then it is also a time for a wonderful surprise of new life begun during the dark hours of the night.

Beautifully written and softly illustrated, the book is a gentle introduction for the young child to life (and chores) on the farm.

About the book: A beautiful and sweet celebration of a barn at night will help children fall asleep and also learn more about life on a farm. This after-dark journey out to the barn, even on the coldest winter evening, can be a warm and welcoming scene. The young narrator gently details what actually goes on in a barn at night. Who is awake, who is asleep, and who is just making their first appearance in the barn? Smells, sounds and sights are quietly revealed to young readers.

Michelle Houts' lyrical poetry paired with Jen's glowing watercolors create a warm and wonderful bedtime story - best shared together. Downloadable coloring pages can be found at: Barn at Night Activity

About the author: Michelle Houts is the author of more than a dozen books for young readers. Her debut novel, The Beef Princess of Practical County, has been featured by the American Farm Bureau Foundation and won a Best Book of the Year from Nebraska Farm Bureau. Houts writes from a restored one-room schoolhouse in Ohio. 

About the illustrator: Jen Betton grew up playing on friends' farms in Pennsylvania. Illustrating Barn at Night gave her a delightful excuse to lurk around old barns and feed goats. Her other books include Hedgehog Needs a Hug (winner of Pennsylvania’s Keystone to Reading Award), which she both wrote and illustrated, and Twilight Chant, written by Holly Thompson. She now lives with her family near Dallas, Texas. You can see more of her work at

About Feeding Minds Press is a project of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The mission of the Foundation is to build awareness and understanding of agriculture through education. The goal of Feeding Minds Press is to publish accurate and engaging books about agriculture that connect readers to where their food comes from and who grows it.  

3 Winners in USA
Begins September 6
Ends September 30 @ 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. Winners' copies are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist, publisher, or author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

"The Day Time Stopped" & "Where Is Everyone?" from Prestel Junior International

The Day Time Stopped by Flavia Ruotolo (October 2021; ISBN: 978-3791374895; Hardcover $14.95; Ages 5+; 48 pages)

My thoughts: 
Actually, this isn't a book about time standing still but simply the concept of what happens in one moment in time around the World. The picture book takes the reader to places across the Globe that is Planet Earth and what someone is doing in that spot on Earth at the same moment in time that the initial character is licking a popsicle.

In a simply shown story in text and pictures the reality of time zones and what can happen in each of the time zones is presented. You're not actually aware that this is what is taking place, because this concept is foreign to a young child. But you see what can be happening.

The last couple of pages, explain why it is not the same time all around the globe. This presents a grand opportunity to explain "time" to a young child.

About the book: One afternoon in Italy, a little girl is about to take a bite of her delicious popsicle when time . . . stops. At that very moment, across the planet, people and animals are frozen in action— captured by this book’s warm, quirky illustrations and clever, time-stamped captions. A penguin hatches in South Georgia; a little girl gets a haircut in Brazil; a family sits down to breakfast in California; a tiger falls asleep in Bangladesh; a boy’s football ball gets stuck in a tree in Cape Verde. The sheer enormity of planet Earth can be impossible for young kids to grasp. Here, in this playful introduction to time zones, hemispheres, and life in different climates, kids will identify with all the ordinary things going on at the same time in our extraordinary world

Where is Everyone? by Tom Schamp (September 2021; ISBN: 978-3-7913-7450-5; Hardcover $14.95; Ages 2+; 14 pages)

My thoughts:
 Each page has a lift-the-flap to discover who is behind the flap. These are different from the usual behind-the-flap items seen in kiddie books. The humps along the back of the couch hid the humps of the camel. In the cold of the 'fridge hides a Polar Bear.

Kiddies will delight in lifting the flap as the book is read to them and discovering what is behind the flap but also they will have their imagination stimulated a bit.

Originally published as a Danish book, it bodes well for introducing it to young English kiddies. 

About the book: A toaster, a refrigerator, a sink, a bed, a car. Most kids can recognize these and other things that are part of their everyday lives. Leave it to Tom Schamp to imagine a different way of seeing them. As kids pore over these brightly colored and highly detailed pictures they’ll be delighted to discover a monkey on a surfboard and an elephant in a bowler hat— all inhabiting the same shapes they recognize in their homes. Each whimsical illustration offers a chance to explore, discuss, and giggle at the unexpected. Every page will encourage kids to think creatively and differently about the world around them and the possibilities that lie hidden in the things we see every day.

I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.