Friday, August 26, 2022

Adorable, life-lesson teaching children's picture books from Candlewick [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Sometimes, All I Need Is Me by Juliana Perdomo

My thoughts: 
A lovely book that endorses the individual's social needs and times when the individual doesn't actually need to socially interact with others. This is a truth that needs to be shared more frequently. Humans need "alone" time to wind down, relax, rest, and come to terms with their own inner being without the intrusion of all the activities of the beehive of life that surrounds.

So if your child likes to sit and play in a corner, perhaps that is all they need at the moment. And sometimes if your child is enveloped in the continual activities, people, and noises of life, they may need a break away from it all to be themselves. They need to discover that they can be alone, they can depend on themselves alone, and they can find that they are good to be with just themselves alone.

This sweet book shows the child at peace with being and interacting with all that is around her in the world, but it also shows that she is quite at peace with just her own self and being by herself.

A good book.

About the book: Gentle themes of resiliency, mindfulness, and self-care are brought home in this sweet and soulful picture book with charmingly graphic illustrations and a poetic text.
I love listening to music, especially samba!
It feels like my heart follows the beat.
Meet a young girl who loves her cozy home. It smells like cinnamon tea and feels like warm pajamas. But even when she’s away from home, and everything is different, she finds a way to become her own home, where she feels calm. At night, when it’s too dark and her feet are cold, her room can be a little scary. But she creates her own light when she closes her eyes and thinks of the sun. With friendliness and charm, Juliana Perdomo, in her debut as author-illustrator, shows young readers how to find comfort and confidence within. Her heartwarming picture book reassures children that sometimes, everything we need—courage, joy, peace, and love—is already inside us.


Tisha and the Blossom by Wendy Meddour & illustrated by Daniel Egnéus 

My thoughts: 
This delightful book could almost be a chastisement to adults for all the "hurry up" they cast into a child's life. True, children procrastinate, piddle-along, meander in steps and thoughts and true they need to be encouraged to "hurry up" from time to time.

But we see in little Tisha's day that it is a constant hurry up she hears from the adults in her life. She sees so much about her that she is missing out on because of the rush of activity.

So when she gets home she finally asks for some "slow down."

This story is a gentle and lovely reminder that though we do need to hurry in life, we also need to slow down and delight in the loveliness around us.

About the book: Tisha and Mommy are always having to hurry up. What would happen if they slowed down? A gentle, gorgeously illustrated story of mindfulness—and sharing the small moments.
Tisha was catching a blossom in her backyard.
“Hurry up,” cried Mommy. “You’ll be late for school.”
Tisha has spent the entire day rushing. She has to hustle for the bus in the morning, though she wants to stop and listen to the sounds around her. She has to quickly put her crayons away at school, though she’s not finished with her drawing. She even has to speed through recess so she doesn’t miss lunch. So when Mommy picks her up, Tisha asks if they can please “have a little slowdown.” What if they walked instead of taking the bus? What if they counted cars and seagulls, umbrellas and hats? What if they simply sat on a bench in the sunshine and gave names to the pigeons in the park? From the creators of Grandpa’s Top Threes comes a beautifully illustrated, tenderly told story about taking the time to experience the world around us, listen to one another, and enjoy the little things in life. 

The Boy with Flowers in His Hair by Jarvis

My thoughts: 
This is a gentle, teaching book that encourages compassion and understanding for someone who is going through a difficult time. It is actually helpful to adults to understand how to explain the "seasons of life" to a child and how they can be helpful and understanding.

Similar to an allegory, the flowers in the boy's hair depict the joyful, happy season of life. During such a season there is loveliness and outgoing sharing of this happy time.

When the flowers disappear, spiky stems remain and they are not pretty. They are prickly and fearful to be around. And the other children shy away from this unloveliness.

And then..... another child shows understanding, caring, and coping mechanisms.

An excellent book!

About the book: Jarvis offers a moving tale of friendship, kindness, and acceptance, softly touching on the subjects of illness or hardship in a way that young children can understand.

Everyone likes David, the boy with flowers in his hair. He’s sweet and gentle, just like his colorful petals. David and his best friend have a great time together, finding the good puddles, making up songs, and running away from the bees. But one day David comes to school wearing a hat, and he is quiet. When he takes off the hat, his bright petals flutter down like butterflies. Now, where his flowers were looks twiggy and prickly, causing the other children to stay away. But David’s best friend has an idea—a way to help David get his color back, wielding paintbrushes and plenty of love. Sensitively told and simply illustrated, Jarvis’s story invites even the youngest children to talk about difficult subjects in an age-appropriate way—and feel inspired to support others when they face trying times. 

2 winners, each 3 books
Begins August 26
Ends September 21 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only
Canadian winner must provide phone number
No P.O. Boxes
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Moonlight by Stephen Savage from Holiday House Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

On August 23, Neal Porter Books/Holiday House will have the honor of publishing Moonlight. Those in need of  a new bedtime read are sure to gravitate towards this captivating story about effects of moonlight and its nightly journey.

ISBN: 9780823450848 - $18.99
Neal Porter Books
Holiday House Publishing

My thoughts:
As the black darkness descends outside and the child prepares for bed and a night of sleep in the black darkness that is his or her bedroom, a dread of the black darkness can also creep into the depths of that sweet little one's mind and heart.

In Moonlight the artist/author uses a few words to tell how light seeps and creeps into the black darkness revealing blues, teals, and greens with the whiteness that is moonlight.

It simply shows that in the black darkness there is light that slips, creeps, descends, and lights the darkness.

Intended to bring encouragement to fearful children or perhaps to simply teach the beauty of the spreading moonlight on our world, the story and pictures can bring joy. It is an unusual book in that it doesn't contain an array of joyful colors and happy, lively critters. It is a book that shows that there is delight in the darkness because there is the light of the moonlight.

About the book: When moonlight shines, it’s not like most light. In the quietest hours of the night, it swings through trees and slithers down rivers. It drifts in the wake of steamships and catches on the propeller of a passing plane. It blankets neighborhoods before coming to rest by your side. In this bedtime picture book, Geisel Honoree Savage, presents lyrical text and illustration full of dramatic light and shadow to pay homage to the mysterious moon and the unique ways it reveals itself each night. “Light and shadow are as much characters as the animals and people moving through the night,” shared Savage.

When it came time to bring his characters to life, the author/illustrator who typically uses digital methods selected an art style he first tried in college: Linocut. Each of Moonlight’s illustrations is imbued with an energy that Savage credits to this art style. “Print-making processes impose limitations on the image,” shared Savage. “But limitations are essential in art making. They are what give the work life!”

About the author/artist: Stephen Savage is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator whose accolades include a New York Times Best Illustrated Book (Polar Bear Night) and a Geisel Honor (Supertruck). Polar Bear Night was a New York Times bestseller. He also wrote and illustrated And Then Came Hope and Babysitter from Another Planet. He teaches at the School of Visual Arts and lives in Brooklyn with his wife, daughter and two dogs.

Begins August 23
Ends September 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's 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, August 17, 2022

LED Solar Camping Lantern Rechargeable with Bluetooth Speaker, Power Bank [Review]

$19.99 on Amazon
I've found a new "camping" or emergency lantern. And I #founditonAmazon. I love that it has a rechargeable battery that can be USB or SOLAR charged. There is a hanging handle so you can use it outside, camping, or in your home to cast an area light.

There are 2 levels of bright light to illuminate as well as a glow when on. 

A key feature that I just love is it's Bluetooth speaker. You can Bluetooth connect it to your smart phone or other device and the sound is really good!  You can USB connect it to your phone or computer and use the lantern/speaker as a POWERBANK. 

Here is a link so you can check it out for yourself:

I really like this. Watch my little video.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided this product at no cost to me to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone and are given as an honest reflection of my actual use of product in my home. I was not paid beyond the cost of the product for this activity. #sponsored

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Your RSS Feed to receive "Chat With Vera" is now ""

If you are already a follower of "Chat With Vera" and utilized the Feedburner option to follow and receive notification emails, I have imported your email into the "" alternative. The reason???......

Google has closed out the Feedburner application so a change was necessary in order for me to continue to provide a follow application easily applicable for you to use.

You may want to double-check to make sure you are in the new app and you can do this by re-submitting your email via the widget in the side bar on my blog. It looks like...... 

With "" you can now use to now define filters and more delivery channels, e.g. to receive your news via Telegram, news page etc. (many others to follow soon)

Thanks for understanding and thanks so much for being a reader of "Chat With Vera."

Monday, August 15, 2022

A Quilt for Christmas: A Christmas Novella by Melody Carlson

My thoughts:
There is so much packed in the 184 pages of this little Christmas novella. A lonely widowed lady, a precocious 4 year old, an artsy-trendy young divorcee, some other older ladies, a young musician, and a family with many needs.

What a hodge-podge of personalities and life events mixed and shaken together to bring some magic into the lives of those who need a spark of goodness to brighten their days.

I was bemused because the lonely widowed lady that got the story going is named "Vera." Whoa! Well this Vera that is reading the book has a good read ahead with "book-Vera" at the helm.

Little Fiona wins hearts of all as she joyfully weaves herself into the patchwork that is the makeup of individuals in the quilting group. She welds them together with her smiles and joy but she also has a knack for getting to the point of needs in their own lives that need to be stitched in a nicer way. 

Again the author, Melody Carlson, has neatly quilted together a story that is sure to bring joy to readers at Christmas.

About the book: Christmas should be celebrated with family. But for Vera Swanson, that's not an option this year. Widowed and recently relocated, she is lonely in her condo-for-one—until little Fiona Albright knocks on her door needing help. With her mother seriously ill and her father out of town, Fiona enlists Vera's help, and when she finds out her new neighbor is a quilter, she has a special request—a Christmas quilt for Mama.

Vera will have to get a ragtag group of women together in order to fulfill the request. Between free-spirited artist Tasha, chatty empty nester Beverly, retired therapist Eleanor, and herself, Vera has hopes that Christmas for the Albright family will be merry, after all and she may find herself a new family of friends along the way.

Bestselling and award-winning author Melody Carlson invites you to cuddle up this holiday season with this cozy story of giving, forgiving, and a little bit of romance.

DISCLOSURE: I won an ARC from the Early Reviewers group on I was not required to leave a review, but reviews are appreciated. Opinions are mine, alone.

Friday, August 12, 2022

Ultimate Food Atlas: Maps, Games, Recipes, and More for Hours of Delicious Fun by Nancy F. Castaldo & Christy Mihaly from National Geographic Kids [Giveaway]

 National Geographic Kids -- The Ultimate Food Atlas (ages 8-12, paperback and hardback library edition), a culinary tour around the world that reveals the rich diversity of foods and cultures from many different countries.  

My thoughts: 
This is quite an interesting book and would be a great resource when doing school reports on continents or countries. Kids could incorporate food resources and preparation into the report making it a bit different and interesting.

As the reader peruses this interesting book, they might be enticed to experiment a bit in their own kitchen with ingredients they can acquire at their local grocery store to experience another culture's food. Of course, local stores most likely won't have all the same ingredients since many are unique to their area, but similar items can be used to have something akin.

Regardless, it is interesting to see pictures and learn of new foods and likes across the globe that is our home, Earth.

NOTE: This is NOT a recipe book though there are some directions for food preparation. It is a book exploring the foods enjoyed in various parts of the world, food distribution maps, etc.

About The Ultimate Food Atlas: From monkey bread in Niger to hokey pokey ice cream in New Zealand, the National Geographic Kids Ultimate Food Atlas takes young readers on a culinary journey, showcasing a mouthwatering mixture of foods, feasts and festivals from around the globe. Kids can also learn about the food industry, food attractions and traditional meals from every continent; put on their chef's hat and try one of the recipes in the book (cherry kompot from Bulgaria, perhaps?); and get some helpful foodie travel tips (when visiting South America, be prepared that the big meal of the day is lunch and dinner is more of a light snack like an arepa or bread and cheese).  

With a cartographic attention to detail only National Geographic can deliver, this atlas features not only political world and continent-specific maps, but also has additional maps that show where on each continent different amounts of selected crops, livestock and featured foods are grown.  Every spread in the Ultimate Food Atlas contains gorgeous full color photos highlighting the food, culture, people, plants and animals on every continent and there are even sections dedicated to sustainable eating and the challenges and opportunities related to providing food for a changing world. This book has it all -- hours of foodie fun and page after page of informative maps, scrumptious fare, fascinating facts and a unique and approachable way to learn more about the world we live in. 

Begins August 12
Ends September 1 @ 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. Prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

The Deadly Shallows (Coastal Guardians #3) by Dani Pettrey from Bethany House Publishing

My thoughts: 
It was fun and interesting to read a book set in the area I was born and raised in - Wilmington, North Carolina. It's a historic Atlantic coast city sandwiched between the Cape Fear River and the Atlantic Ocean. There is a lot of water in the area. Historically, the city is pre-American Revolution and played a key role in the Civil War. During World War II it was riddled with military importance. I say this to give an idea why this story about the Coast Guard contingency in the Wilmington/Coastal area is credible in possibility.

The story begins explosively with an attack at a graduation ceremony that leave multiple deaths - both civilian and military. The characters leap into action investigating and piecing together the bits of information that soon leads to the conclusion that this is more than a deranged individual out to reap deadly horror.

Packed with more than one story line that seem to be separate but in the end the maze leads to centrality. The team of investigators work individually and with cohesive teamwork to determine the who and why and where this deadly criminal activity is headed. The book is  a good, clean read with strong moral compass guiding the individuals. There are strong romantic vibes throughout the book with sweet conclusions.

I found the story intriguing and fun to envision locales familiar to me. 

About the book: 
CGIS Agent Noah Rowley is rocked to the core when several of his valued team members come under fire on his Coast Guard base. He and his remaining team race to the scene and end the attack, but not before innocent lives are lost. Furious and grief-stricken, he vows to do whatever is needed to bring the mastermind behind the attack to justice.

Stunned by the ambush, Coast Guard flight medic Brooke Kesler evacuates in a helicopter carrying the only surviving gunman. The gravely wounded man whispers mysterious information to Brooke that immediately paints a target on her back.

As Brooke and Noah race to uncover answers, emotions between them ignite. Noah struggles to protect Brooke at all costs and to conceal the secret that prevents him from becoming what he longs to be--the right man for her.

Everything is at stake as a horrifying truth emerges. . . . The attack wasn't the end game. It was only the beginning.

Bestselling author Dani Pettrey again delivers a fast-paced story in an acclaimed style readers have come to love: full of snappy dialogue, thrilling adventure romance, and unexpected plot twists. 

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

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Summery picture books from Candlewick wrap up the lazy-hazy-days-of-summer [Review & Giveaway]

Frog vs. Toad by Ben Mantle

My thoughts: 
This is such a funny, delightful book that involves name-calling, mud-slinging doings down in the woods. The audience grows as frog and toad begin their fitful challenge of ownership over a fly caught by both of them at the same time with their tongues. 

The author uses this verbal and real life mudslinging to teach differences in frogs and toads - their ability to hop high or low, the movement of their eyes, etc. The teaching is achieved in an immensely entertaining way utilizing the mode of storytelling. The lesson is actually hidden in the story.

The main discoverable lesson is that of differences between members of the amphibian reptile group. But the hidden discoverable lesson is that of a society that needs to learn that though there are differences there are also similarities that make us much the same. This provides a good opportunity to gently touch on the differences in races and cultures and how our differences shouldn't drive us apart but how we can appreciate each for their own strengths.

I love the cute illustrations and they help immensely to tell this story. I like particularly how the audience of observers grows with each page turn teaching us that our own actions and performances are observed by a growing audience.

About the book: Two amphibians vie for superiority—before banding together against a toothy foe—in a humorous, light-hearted fable about seeing past differences.

Frog is a frog and Toad is a toad. They are clearly totally different from each other. So when an unlucky fly mistakes Frog and Toad for two frogs, the two are determined to set the record straight. After all, Toad is obviously stronger, while Frog is unmistakably the superior hopper . . . and before long, things start to get a bit heated among the amphibian population in the swamp. But when the two rivals have a close encounter with a snappy alligator, both Frog and Toad see the benefit of joining forces. Perhaps they’re not so different after all? In his authorial debut, author-illustrator Ben Mantle offers a laugh-out-loud look at putting aside differences and celebrating the fact that friends come in all shapes and sizes. (Be sure to enter the giveaway below for a copy of Frog vs. Toad.)

A Day for Sandcastles by JonArno Lawson & illustrated by Qin Leng 

My thoughts: 
Wordless books are great for developing the child's imagination and having them verbalize what they see happening in the story. It does not teach or introduce new words into the vocabulary or develop sentence structure capability. Nor does it allow for introduction of a sense of rhyme and rhythm. What it allows is the blossoming of imagination and individual expression.

 So many personal memories of my own childhood were brought forth with the "reading" of this wordless book. Family visits to the beach are treasured occasions and the family in A Day for Sandcastles is no exception. They have a delightful day of fun, sun, wind, sand, and water. I love the saga of the sandcastle and its literal "ups 'n downs." 

Children will love this book.

About the book: A dazzling wordless picture book celebrates creative problem-solving, teamwork, and the sun-splashed wonder of a day at the beach.
The creators of the acclaimed Over the Shop evoke a perfect summer beach day—and themes of creativity, cooperation, flexibility, and persistence—all without a word in this sun-warmed, salt-stained delight of a story. A busload of beachgoers spills out onto the sand for a day of fun and frolic. Three siblings begin work on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home. An authentic portrait of sibling cooperation—and glorious inspiration for creative people of all ages—A Day for Sandcastles channels the thrill of surrendering expectations on the path to infinite possibility. 

GIVEAWAY - 2 Winners
"Frog vs. Toad"
Begins August 7
Ends August 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only.
Canadian winners must also 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 winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.