Please Pardon Our Appearance While We Remodel!

With the success of my first blog, The Book Connection, I decided to start a blog dedicated to all the children’s and teen books I review.  I imported the information into this blog, and unfortunately, WordPress’ import feature seems to have a few bugs in it because some of the jpgs were lost and show up as boxes with red “x”‘s in them; so, I ask that you have a bit of patience when traveling through this place and hopefully  all the bugs will get worked out soon.




New Book Bundle Available at Laughing Zebra – Books for Children!

Zooprize Bundle Pack


This book bundle includes an Activity Book and a set of bilingual flashcards for hours of fun.  There are other book bundles available, so please stop by their book store and discover new ways to make reading fun!



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2009 Holiday Gift Ideas from Chronicle Books

I received this email from Chronicle Books today.  Some of these books I’ve reviewed or will be reviewing.  Others are new to me.  I’m a huge fan of their books, so check out the Chronicle Books website for more holiday gift choices. 

Ivy & BeanIvy & Bean: Doomed to Dance

By Annie Barrows

$14.99 – Hardcover

Ages 6 to 10

 The eagerly-anticipated 6th book in the hit series by Annie Barrows. Ivy and Bean beg their mothers for ballet lessons, but soon discover they HATE ballet class. Can they figure out a way to get out of it, or are they Doomed to Dance? Find out more at 

Duck! Rabbit!Duck! Rabbit!

By Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrated by Tom Litchenheld

$15.95 – Hardcover
Ages 3 and up 

This New York Times Best-Seller will have readers young and old asking, is it a duck, or a rabbit?  Find out more and check out this book’s trailer at

The Little Books Boxed Set

The Little Books SetLittle Pea – Little Hoot – Little Oink

By Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Illustrated by Jen Corace

$19.99 – Boxed Boardbooks

Ages 3 and up 

Three adorable characters in three adorable board books. These clever twists on dinnertime, bedtime and clean-up time will delight the little mess-makers.  Find out more at

Creature ABCCreature ABC

By Andrew Zuckerman

$19.99 – Hardcover

All ages

 This deluxe alphabet book features 120 pages of renowned Andrew Zuckerman’s breathtaking wildlife photography. From alligator to zebra.  Order at,book-info/store,kids/products_id,8225/title,Creature-ABC/


Dinosaurs by Dennis Schatz

Vehicles by Ben Grossblatt

Wild Animals by Linda Falken

$29.99 each – Hardcover

Ages 4 and up 

Stereobooks feature built-in stereo speakers, so readers feel surrounded by sound as they listen to the 15 action-packed scenes in each book. Read more at

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The Challenges of Writing for Children by Gina Browning

moonbeam Dreams

Over the summer, we reviewed the book Moonbeam Dreams by Gina Browning.  You’ll find that review here.  We’re thrilled to have Gina back during her virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book Promotion to discuss the challenges of writing for children.

“The Challenges of Writing for Children” by Gina Browning

While I am by no means, an expert, I believe that writing for children is not at all challenging, if you can get in touch with your inner child or at least some of the happiest times in your childhood. This is not easy as we get older and more and more stressed by events in our everyday lives, but if we can just relax and open up, the inspiration can come.

This usually happens for me as I’m in the shower, or just before I drift off to sleep, or during that state that is between wakefulness and sleep; in the wee hours of the morning.  I start pondering the story or poem that I’m working on, and invariably the ideas come to me. Of course, if I don’t jot things down as I’m thinking of them, they’ll soon disappear.

The initial version of my book, Moonbeam Dreams, was a bit of a different story though.  In 1993, I was at my father’s house, recuperating from major surgery, when the poetry and images began flowing freely every time I closed my eyes. I guess the anesthesia helped to remove walls and blockages and essentially opened up the creative process for me again.  I had all sorts of fantasy images and fantastical verse just pouring right out of my head. I couldn’t close my eyes without more and more verses coming to me.

Then the initial story sat on the back-burner for several years while I worked at my jewelry business, worked other jobs, taught several  jewelry classes per year,  raised two kids,  moved internationally several times, etc, etc, but eventually I was able to devote much more  time to the book.  I elaborated on and lengthened most of the verses, worked on the illustrations, tried to keep things creative, funny and interesting, and I added other verses with other weird and wonderful animals, situations, and scenes.

It took quite a long time to find a literary agent and eventually a publisher, but with the internet I was eventually successful. When my book content was edited, the editor voiced concern that some of the words that I used were too advanced for young readers, or that the phrasing was too difficult for young readers to say out loud. But I didn’t want to make it too “elementary.” I wanted it to be just a bit educational and interesting and something that young readers could “grow in to.” I also wanted it to be clever and entertaining for adult readers as well. I think that the alliteration in some verses and the intricate rhyming mechanics and imagery will keep kids and adults, alike, entertained each time they read it. Dr. Seuss was one of my favorite authors when I was a child. Even he used words and phrasing that was sometimes too complicated for a very young reader. But I enjoyed the challenges, and grew into those stories. I’m very hopeful that, soon, many other readers will enjoy my book in the same way.

Gina C. Browning, October 12, 2009

 Gina C. Browning is a creative, independent thinking, married mother of 2 adopted children and has been living her dreams for as long as she can remember. She is Gina Browning photofrom Texas, but due to her husband’s job, moved to Australia with her husband and 17 month old son, Ryan, in 1989. Since then, they have moved internationally (because of her husband’s work) 4 more times, with a few domestic moves thrown in for good measure. In 1997 she and her husband adopted their daughter, Raechel, from China.

Having graduated from North Texas State University in 1979, with a BFA in “Metal craft and Jewellery”, Gina has been a professional jewellery designer/maker for the better part of 30+ years, and has written poetry, on the side, since she was a child.  She is currently living in Australia (for the 3rd time), with her husband and daughter, where her dreams continue to inspire creativity. Her son, now 21 years old, no longer lives at home.

Gina’s book, Moonbeam Dreams, can be found at:

You can visit Gina’s blog stops at during the month of November to find out more about this great book and its talented author.


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Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley

colonel-coverEncourage your kids to become part of Colonel Trash Truck’s Clean and Green Team with this new rhyming book by Kathleen Crawley that teaches kids in a fun way about the importance of recycling.

Colonel Trash Truck travels the streets with his Clean and Green Team to help win the war on garbage.  From leaves to litter, from doo to scum, Colonel Trash wants to keep the world beautiful.  But he needs your help, so save the trees, recycle and reuse whenever possible.

Every parent, grandparent, care giver, Preschool or Kindergarten teacher who wants to encourage young children to “Go Green” will want to pick up a copy of Colonel Trash Truck by Kathleen Crawley.  In this charming and fun rhyming book, Crawley helps youngsters realize they can do their part and it doesn’t have to be hard at all.  Using children’s fascination with large trucks, the author has created a lovable character in Colonel Trash Truck–a lovable character with a mission. 

The adorable and vibrant illustrations provided by Manuel Conde will catch the eyes of young readers and make them want to know more about this big, smart-looking truck.  My favorite character is the litter bug, who you’ll also find gracing the back cover.

While some books for kids  about recycling can be too strong in their message, Crawley weaves her message in a subtle manner with a lyrical prose that will definitely make a big impression on them.

I highly recommend this book and can’t wait until the next ones in this series come out!

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Big Tent Books
  • ISBN-10: 1601310331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601310330
  • SRP:  $14.95
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    Princess Tea by Janeen A. Sarlin with Noelle Shipley

    Princess TeaEvery little princess is going to want you to host a party for her and her friends like the ones you’ll find in Princess Tea: Parties and Treats for Little Girls. 

    Following a touching preface and informative introduction, Princess Tea takes you and your child on a journey around the world with different themed party ideas from China, the South Sea Islands, the Southwest United States, Mexico, France, India, and Africa.  And what tea party planning book would be complete without a trip to Fairyland.

    With decoration ideas and recipes, along with many hints to make things easier, this book will help you create memorable parties for your child and her princess friends. 

    The photography provided by Sheri Giblin is out of this world.  The girls are adorable and the treats all look yummy.  Special kudos go out to the designer for putting together such an attactive and eye-catching book.

    Whether you’re planning a fiesta or a country garden tea party, you’ll want Princess Tea by your side.  No book has ever made me feel like entertaining before, but Princess Tea makes me want to send out invitations tomorrow!

    Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • ISBN-10: 0811861775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811861779
  • SRP: $19.95

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    Snow Valley Heroes by Robert J. McCarty

    a_Snow_Valley_HeroesA story of how dogs came to earth and how they helped save Christmas is what you’ll find in Snow Valley Heroes: A Christmas Tale (Planet of the Doge Volume 3).

    Banished to the Ice Castle, the King of the North seeks revenge.  What better way to get revenge than to ruin Christmas?  When Tip and Top, two of Santa’s elves discover that Dasher and Dancer are missing, the Dog Council calls upon Daisy and Bean to help some of their friends from the Planet of Dogs travel to earth to save Santa’s reindeer.

    There is so much to like about Snow Valley Heroes. Christmas stories are always huge hits in our house because we love the season; but when you combine that with imagination and creativity, those stories are even better.  With the elves, reindeer, the dogs, the evil King of the North and his Royal Guards, and the Tundra Town Traders, McCarty has brought together many captivating elements to create a beautiful story.  The illustrations provided by Stella Mustanoja McCarty are absolutely stunning and add a great deal to an already charming story.

    This series has a ton of potential, but I have to admit that I see this being a story that should be read out loud because it depends heavily upon narration to carry the storyline.  Not surprisingly, these stories were inspired by those the author told to his children and grandchildren, which explains the large amount of narration.  Storytelling and writing a story are different.  Because Snow Valley Heroes uses so much narration to tell the story, even though there are excellent descriptions of the surroundings, character development suffers a bit.  I felt unconnected to the characters throughout the story and by the end I felt I didn’t know much more about them than when I started.

    This challenge aside, dog lovers, children who enjoy fantasy, and anyone who likes to read a fun Christmas story will want to read Snow Valley Heroes.  I am eager to see what Robert McCarty comes up with next for Planet of the Dogs.

    Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Barking Planet Productions
  • ISBN-10: 0978692829
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978692827
  • SRP: $14.95

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