I’ve been blogging and Instagramming about Odd Dot’s Outdoor School series, and today is the big day: launch day! Keep your eyes on this space for news about a giveaway coming soon, and if you’re able, register for a launch event tonight, featuring series creators Jennifer Davis, Haley Blevins, Mary Kay Carson, and Jennifer Swanson discussing the series and answering your questions about mastering outdoor skills! The event is free and open to the public; all you need to do is register here with EventBrite!
I’m excited to be a super influencer in Macmillan and Odd Dot’s Outdoor School campaign! Outdoor School is a series of books that’s going to help kids (and us grownups!) “re-wild” our lives, by helping reacquaint us with the outdoors and the world around us. Launching at the end of April, Outdoor School will have three definitive, interactive nature guides: Animal Watching; Rock, Fossil, and Shell Hunting, and Hiking and Camping. There are also two smaller, pocket Essentials Guides on Animal Tracks and Survival Skills; made with durable Tyvek material, these little guides are waterproof and tear-proof. Finally, there are Spot and Sticker books on Animals, Plants, and Birds, each with over 400 illustrated stickers for kids to use as decoration; plus, the book folds out into a checklist poster where kids can keep track of animals they discover along the way.
It’s been a heck of a year, and one thing we have started doing more is embracing the outdoors. I know, during the initial lockdown, we started walking around more because it was somewhere to go, somewhere to be able to see our friends and let my Kiddo run around and have while being able to keep a safe distance. Being able to take this a step further, with these guide books and sticker books, will make the spring and summer even more fun for my Kiddo and for my library kiddos: think of your local green spaces, like public parks. Think of local wildlife – we found raccoon footprints the cement over by a house near Kiddos’s school, which made us laugh, thinking about a raccoon leaving his little mark on wet cement in the middle of an urban borough. These books are beautifully constructed, with colorful pages and artwork, and it fosters a real respect for and love of the outside.
This is just the beginning of the promotion, so keep an eye out for lots more content and challenges until the books publish at the end of April. Watch this space for more.
I know, the clock is ticking down, and you need stocking stuffers. I’ve got stocking stuffers. Read on.
Remember friendship bracelets? Wow, I made so many of those back in the ’80s. Well, they’re back! Odd Dot’s Show How Guides are a series of quick and easy, step-by-step books that walk readers through the steps in making different crafts, like hair braiding, making slime and sand, hand-lettering, and making paper airplanes. Odd Dot was kind enough to send me a copy of Friendship Bracelets, which I loved. Two-color illustrations include friendly shapes that talk to the readers; materials needed for each craft are up front, as is a short table of contents. These guides are all about the essentials: the basics needed to get started on your journey. You can always look for more complex stuff when you’re ready to move on. These books are no pressure. There are 10 types of friendship bracelets included here: macramé, zipper, twist, wrap, butterfly, box, fishtail, diagonal, chevron, and braid, and each bracelet has an illustrated, numbered, step-by-step series to complete the bracelet. It’s a great gift idea, especially if you want to pick up some materials (embroidery floss, a tape measure, pair of scissors, and a binder clip or tape) to put together a little starter kit.
Perfect stocking stuffer, and for me? Perfect make and take craft idea to put together for my library kids. Enjoy!
Brain Candy 2: Seriously Sweet Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity, by National Geographic Kids, (Oct. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3886-1
More facts, more photos, more fun! Brain Candy 2 is the second Brain Candy book from NatGeo Kids. It’s digest-sized, fits nicely into schoolbags and Mom’s purse, and is chock-full of the coolest facts about just about everything and anything. Misleading animals names, sneaky animal predators, and wacky whale behaviors are just a few of the facts readers will find in here. Facts go from the giggle-worthy: birds, octopuses, and sloths don’t pass gas – to the spooky: visitors to a German castle report hearing the armor of the knights who once protected it. NatGeo always maintains a respectful sense of conservation and preservation, too, including facts about how much plastic has been pulled from our planet’s waters (hint: A LOT). Always informative, always fun, these digest-sized books are great gift ideas, are worth their weight in gold for my circulation, and are almost impossible to sneak out of my Kiddo’s room so I can review them.
Bundle this with some actual holiday sweets and call it a stocking stuffer. Ta-Da!
I’m going to take a moment to bask in the fact that being called a Nerd is having its moment. Okay, I’m done. NatGeo Kids’s Nerdlet is a little book made for “animal nerds”: kids who can’t get enough of reading cool facts about animals. Digest-sized like Brain Candy and Brain Candy 2, Nerdlet has all of the NatGeo-famous gorgeous color photos, with slightly denser text for a more middle-grader reader. Fun Facts and Nerd Alerts – callout boxes with bizarre and brainy facts – run throughout. Nerds of Note introduce readers to animal researchers and professionals. Discover an island of cats on Taiwan, follow a flow chart to discover what type of fox you’d be, and learn to tell the different types of spotted cats apart. Nerdlet has it all and then some. Perfect for animal fans! Buy a little plush or some animal toys (Kiddo has so many of those animal tubes laying around his room) and you’ve saved Christmas.
Okay, get ready for the latest MomReadIt gift guide – if you can find great deals on Cyber Monday, go for it; if you prefer your local indie bookstore, have at it! Here are some books that the kiddos you know will be thrilled to receive, whether it’s for holiday or any day.
An awesome lift-the-flap book for bigger kids, Paper World: Planet Earth is a die-cut, lift-the-flap trip in and around our big blue planet. Readers explore and learn about earth’s tectonic plates; volcanoes, mountains, and glaciers; weather and storms, and more. Sturdy pages and flaps reveal facts, and die cut features add incredible texture. Hands-on science starts here! Back matter includes a glossary.
I’ve been working on coding with the Girls Who Code club at my library, and with my kiddo at home. We’ve been doing a lot of Scratch programming, but we want our kids to be multilingual in all areas – and that includes programming! Code This Game teaches kids how to use the Python programming language, and guides them, step-by-step, through how to make their very own computer game: Attack of the Vampire Pizzas! Brightly illustrated, with chunks of easy-to-read, easy to digest information, this is a fantastic book to get kids up and running with Python. The book is spiral bound and opens into an easel stand, so you can have the book open and standing up, making it that much easier to read while you work.
Code This! Puzzles, Games, Challenges, and Computer Coding Concepts
for the Problem-Solver in You!, by Jennifer Szymanski,
(Aug. 2019, National Geographic Kids), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3443-6
What would the holidays be without a little bling? NatGeo Kids packs a bunch of bling into one volume, with incredible photos and facts about all things shiny. There are rocks and gems both dazzling and dangerous (stay away from that Hope Diamond), and some of nature’s most extra creations, like the Indian Peacock and the Jewel Caterpillar. Want to meet the richest pets in the world? They’re in here. Ever wonder what sushi wrapped in 24K gold looks like? You’ll find out, in here. Loaded with facts and stunning photos, this will definitely add some zing to the holiday gift-giving.
I can’t believe Black Beauty was published over 140 years ago. It was a mainstay of my childhood library, and I still hand it to kids in my library today. This Anna Sewell classic features more than 50 new illustrations by artist Christian Birmingham, and is a gorgeous gift to anyone who grew up loving this story – or a horse-loving reader who hasn’t yet met the beautiful horse in this Victorian novel. Pair with Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli for a reader who loves an eternal story.
This stunning compendium of Bible stories are taken from the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Christian Old Testament. There are 28 stories in all, beginning with Creation and going through to the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, all gorgeously illustrated in full color. The author’s note talks about the writing process, under the guidance of Rabbi Helen Plotkin, over the course of a year and how the book presents a “human history from Creation to the building of the second temple in Jerusalem”. A note on the illustrations points out that the stunning artwork is informed by archaeology and biogenetics: in other words, the humans are depicted with different skin tones, facial characteristics and hair texture. Callouts and fact boxes throughout the stories provide nonfiction content such as the domestication of animals, beginning and diversification of human language, and one of my favorites, “Sanctioned Recklessness”, which talks about the spring festivals of Purim and Carnival. There are maps for Lands of the Bible, a timeline of early civilizations, and a section spotlighting major figures in the Bible. Includes a bibliography and index.
Welcome to this year’s edition of “What the heck do I do with a house full of kids?” Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK, which means Hanukkah and Christmas are right around the corner. We’re going to have homes full of kids while you’re getting the house clean, cooking meals, wrapping gifts, decorating your home. Sure, you could turn on Klaus on Netflix, but why not have some fun things ready to keep the kids entertained while you and the grownups get some face time in? Here are a few fun books chock full of ideas.
Who doesn’t love making collages? It’s one of our favorite things to do at the library. Jeannie Baker is a picture book author-illustrator who created this master class on working with collage for kids and adults alike. She provides a look at the tools and textures she uses to create wonderful collage artwork, with plenty of examples. How do you prep leaves for pressing? Did I even know you prep leaves for pressing, rather than just gluing them to a page and calling it a day? How do you use corrugated cardboard and torn tissue paper to create a visually stunning scene that you can feel by just looking at it? Jeannie Baker is here for you with easy-to-read explanations and techniques. She’s got a whole section dedicated to kitchen materials, so keep things aside as you prep for holiday cooking – your kids will find ways to work with them. She even includes a fun guessing game at the end of the book, challenging readers to identify the materials in her final collage. Provide the materials, set aside a creative space (I usually designate my dining room table), and let them go to work with this book as a fun reference guide. There are suggestions for more advanced crafters in here – make sure any kinds of superglue or cutting materials are used with an adult’s guidance.
How much fun is this? You get to dress up Santa! The inner flap of this softcover paper doll book is Santa, in all his underwear-rocking glory. The rest of the book includes pages of accessories and outfits to dress him in. All of his gear are removable stickers, so you can dress him up, mix and match, and do it all again. Dress him up in bunny pajamas, biker gear, a superhero set of tights, a sheriff, get him ready for his post-Christmas nap with a pair of fuzzy pajamas and reindeer slippers. Get creative, and have fun! At $6.99, you can definitely swing buying a couple of these for stocking stuffers or to let groups of kids have their own Dress Santa contests.
Come ON. This is just too much fun, especially if you have tween and teen girls in the home. Get in some pampering for the holidays with this adorable book from Odd Dot. Everything is natural; straight from your fridge or the produce section to your face. I bet you can find nearly everything in your home right now. The masks have the cutest names, and the book is beautifully illustrated. The contents tell you exactly what you need, and the step-by-step directions help you prep your face and your ingredients for absolute pampering and relaxation while you watch March of the Wooden Soldiers and wait for your turkey to cook. The book comes with ten sheet masks to get you started. Keep an eye out for any prep that requires cutting or blending; you may want to prep the ingredients with your spa participants the night before.
Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!
The Joke Machine is one of those books that’s kind of a no-brainer for my library purchases. Joke books are huge in my library community. A book that teaches you how to build the perfect joke, and manages to squeak in some English lessons while it’s at it? That’s a book my kids need.
Set up like as a trip through a fictional Laugh Lab, The Joke Machine takes readers through 16 “rooms”, each where they’ll learn a new strategy and meet a new joke specialist. They’ll also get to know LOLA, a joke machine whose name stands for Laugh Out Loud Apparatus. There are chapters on such joke techniques as contrast, specifics, being literal, and personalizing jokes to your own sense of humor (“twizzling”), all with dozens of examples. The book contains over 500 family-friendly jokes, many of which have been tested by my second grader and me, with varying degrees of success (everything from a chuckle to “MOM, STOP” – that one was from my too-cool-for-me college student), plus quick and easy ideas for creating your own jokes.
Teaching kids the subtle art of playing with words and helping them fine-tune the magic of exaggeration? Priceless. A note on sarcasm cautions kids about hurt feelings, and encourages them to be positive and respectful when joking. Black and white line illustrations get a dose of orange to liven things up throughout.
Get ready to hear these jokes over and over again – and have some of your own ready to answer with. This one will be a popular selection.
ollow a cast of fictional funny experts into the Laugh Lab, a hilarious joke-building factory that teaches middle-grade readers how to create their own jokes, puns, silly one-liners, and more. Each chapter explores a different style of joke making, such as surprise, understatement, and exaggeration, and includes hundreds of hilarious examples.
By the end of the book, readers will have a set of tools in their joke belt to make their friends and family actually LOL.
The book includes more than 500 family-friendly jokes—plus zillions that you can create on your own!