Helping Hand Books

As you may be aware The Duchess of York has been in the press recently but that is not what I am writing about today. Today I am writing about her books, specifically the Helping Hand series that she has authored and partnered with illustrator Ian Cunliffe to bring attention to significant issues facing every day kids. The four titles that were sent to me by the publisher ( or as my son tells it ” The UPS man brought me books!” ) deal with bullying, strangers, new sibling and going to school for the first time.   I haven’t been paid or even asked to blog about this, just sent the books to check out free of charge.

Helping Hand Books: Ashley Learns About Strangers is all about wondering off and realizing too late that your parent is no where to be seen.  The book addresses not just the emotions both parent and child experience but also the action a child should take in that situation. Ashley finds the security guard and asks for help, and is reunited with her mom. Something I wish the book included and failed to was telling a child never to leave the store if they are lost. In all the presentations that police have given to children in my years working with them that was always stressed. Never leave the store in an attempt to look for your parent. That said the tips at the back of the book for parents was helpful and even though in my post partum state I started crying thinking about this ever happening I am glad to have this book in my home library.

Helping Hand Books: Emily’s First Day of School is a a timely book for the coming months when many children of varying ages will be entering school for the first time . Although the book doesn’t specifically tell us Emily’s age she seems to be entering kindergarten since there are older children at her school , but this book will work with any child entering school or even going to a new school. I liked the story but it wasn’t anything spectacular, it was very predictable and I was hoping it would be a fresh take on this theme. My son liked it but of the 4 books it’s the only one I have read only twice. My main issues with the book is that while Emily seems to be entering kindergarten the daily activities seem more like preschool. The tips at the back of the book are great , I especially like the one that suggests parents practice routines like independently going to the bathroom, washing hands , putting on their coat etc… However the story doesn’t reflect these practical and useful suggestions, and I wish it did.

Helping Hand Books: Matthew and the Bullies both impressed me and left me wanting a little more. Overall this book does a good job addressing bullying and how it feels and how to deal with it. In it Matthew is bullied by 2 boys in his class and reluctant to tell his teacher or mom about it. That is the part I liked, I think the author did a good job portraying the feelings of a child who is bullied and wants to fix it themselves, feels shame but is also not sure how to fix things.  I also really loved that the bullying affected Matthew by making him afraid to give a presentation to his class, it reminds readers that bullying isn’t just something that happens and stays on the playground.  Where I wanted more was the resolution, it seemed too easy but perhaps that is in order to have children see that adults can and should get involved. My son learned a lot from this book and like the one about strangers I am glad i have it as a resource.


Helping Hand Books: Michael and His New Baby Brother has been read 200 times in the past few days. Okay maybe not 200 but at least 50, no lie. My son loves this book, I am sure because he has been a big brother for a whopping 22 days and can relate intimately to the story. What is interesting about this book is that it doesn’t focus on the pregnancy at all, which most books about new babies do. Instead it’s all about Micheal and his transition, and I like that at the start it even says that he wasn’t too interested in his mom’s bump. I think this would be a great book for families facing a new birth with siblings who are not interested in umbilical cords,the  uterus, and going with mom to the OB. That said my son was way into all aspects of his sister’s arrival and still really enjoyed this book.

Panda Bear Rice Balls

panda snack

I am so blessed , after giving birth I have had so many wonderful friends offer help and guest posts for No Time For Flash Cards. This one is from a dear friend Amanda from ohAmanda and Impress Your Kids , she is sure to impress you with this cute and tasty edible activity!

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Is this the yummiest, cutest and most fun thing you have ever seen?! I saw this idea in a magazine and knew I had to try it. Well, after the panda-monium and panda-venture in the kitchen, I knew I had to share it with you! It’s an easy fun snack (or a full meal when coupled with some stir-fry) that introduces kids to new tastes and flavors, helps them with handling a knife and opens up conversations about pandas, other countries and cooking!

All you need is 1.5 cups of uncooked sticky/sushi rice, some celery stalks and a can of pitted black olives.

sticky rice

Cook the sticky rice according to directions. (We actually made ours with long-grain white rice by adding 3tb of rice vinegar, 1tb of sugar, 1.5tsp of salt after it was cooked)

While you’re waiting for it to cook, set aside a few whole olives for your panda’s ears. Then, give kids a butter knife and let them work on slicing the olives around its’ equator. My 4 year old could get about 3 cuts total on the olive.

panda snack

My almost 2 year old? Well, he tried!

panda food craft

Then take a 1/4c or 1/2c measuring cup and firmly pack rice into it. Turn them over on a plate or waxed paper and carefully remove to leave a mound of rice!

rice for kids

Use your whole olives as the panda’s ears. Then take your slices and use as eyes, an tiny down nose and an upturned smile! Cut a few pieces of celery to resemble bamboo and you’ve got your own panda playmates!

panda snack

My kids loved eating their pandas for dinner (along with soy sauce, broccoli and chicken). While they ate I read them two panda books that I just happened to have in our stash:

rosalie seidler

Panda Cakeby Rosalie Seidler

This is the cutest story about a Mama Panda who is making a special panda cake “that only pandas can make”! She sends her two sons to the market to buy the ingredients. The oldest panda decides to steal the ingredients from his animal friends (cherries from the birds, eggs from the duck, etc.) and then runs off to the fair to spend Mama’s money. While he’s gone, the animals visit Mama and demand their food back. But it’s too late—the panda cake has been baked. So, they all sit down to tea and cake! The animals are happy but when the young panda returns home, he’s sad to see his cake eaten up! This book has sweet illustrations and a fun cadence. It looks like it is out of print but I found it at the thrift store a few weeks ago and couldn’t pass it up!

panda book toddlers

Panda in the Park by Anna Milbourne

This was my daughter’s very first book. It’s an Usborne Look-Through book and tells the story of a panda playing hide-and-seek with his animal friends. It’s perfect for toddlers because of the bright colors, the bold questions and the fun holes and layers on the pages. It’s still one of my favorite books to read!

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Amanda is a former Children’s Pastor turned stay-at-home mom. She blogs her crafty parenting endeavors at Impress Your Kids and her daily life at ohAmanda. She is also a 2010 Disney Mom, a bibliophile and long time lover of purple!

Children’s Beach Books !

by Carrie Anne

Hello summer! With the warmer weather upon us in I find water seems be be a bigger part of our daily lives now. We drink more of it. We play in more of it. We visit and enjoy more of it. Although my family lives in a big city, we’re walking distance to a great lake and we visit it often. The water, whether it’s the lake or ocean or beach, is a great place to explore and cool down and have fun. I’ve compiled a few great water themed books to get your family ready for your next beach or water adventure.
At the Beach
Written and illustrated by Anne and Harlow Rockwell
Published by MacMillan Publishing
(age 3-5)
A little girl visits the beach with her mom. She plays in the sand, hunts for shells, takes a swim before she settles in to a nice beach lunch. A visit to the beach can be a full day and this story gives the reader a great description of what to expect. This is great for young kids who haven’t been to the beach. It explains using a young girl’s point of view what you bring to beach and what you can expect to do once you’re there. The illustrations are muted and warm and fill the page and included our young red-haired beach girl enjoying herself in each one.

Written and illustrated by Holly Keller
Published by Harper Collins
(age 3-5)
Miranda and her mom spend a warm, sunny day at the Beach enjoying the water, the animals and the sand. Miranda experiences the beach with all her senses: feeling the hot sand under her toes and the water swirl around her, hearing the roar of the waves as they wash on the shore and the seagulls squawk in the air above, tasting the salty sand that sticks to her face, seeing the small Hermit crab skuttle across the sand. My kids loved reading this book; it had the ability of transporting them to the beach right from the living room. The illustrations are warm, muted water-colourings that add to the whole beach feel.

Beach
Written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper
Published by Orchard Books
(3-9)
Go to the beach and sit back and just watch the day unfold, that’s what this book is like. It starts off early in the morning, with just the unmarked sand and rolling waves but quickly it fills with people: a woman spreads a towel on the sand, a girl covers her friend in sand, seagulls hover overhead watching. The book is like mini stories all collected in small images. There’s a page that talks about the clouds that roll by and the different shapes they form. Eventually people leave and the beach is quiet again. I love this book. I love the water-colours and how the story builds from a quiet morning to a full beach day back to quiet again. The other thing that is nice about how this story is written, you don’t have to read every single piece. Each little image is a little story unto itself.
Stella, Star of the Sea
Written and illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay
Published by Groundwood Books
(2-4)
Stella and Sam are spending the day at the beach. Stella is older and she’s been to the beach once before and knows all its secrets. Stella enthusiastically takes charge of the surroundings, exploring and enjoying everything the beach has to offer without hesitation: diving in the water, collecting shells, digging a tunnel to China. Sam on the other hand has never been to the beach and approaches things a little cautiously, asking if the water’s cold or if sea monsters live beneath the waves. Questions aside, after he’s been schooled by Stella and sees how much fun she’s having, he too relaxes and joins her in the water. Not only is this a great book about visiting the beach for the first time, Sam asks questions that first time beach goers might ask, but the relationship of big sister, little brother between Stella and Sam is wonderful and feels very natural.
Octopus Oyster Hermit Crab Snail: A Poem of the Sea
Written and illustrated by Sara Anderson
Published by Handprint Books
(6-9)
This wonderful poem takes underneath the cerulean seas to visit angelfish, barnacles, blowfish and more wonderful creatures. The text is large and the rhyme will have kids guessing what comes next. The pages are filled with colourful creatures, created in a style that almost resembles a collage. The creatures references in this book won’t be ones they’ll see at the beach but the whole unknown world beneath the water is fascinating. And they might just discover some creatures they’ve never heard of before. Although the book is rated by the publisher as being for grade school, the short poem, colourful imagery and great fish vocabulary will entrance younger readers too.

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Carrie Anne is a contributing writer on No Time For Flash Cards , she is a mom of 3 , Managing editor of EverythingMom.com and an avid reader. You can catch up with her on her blog  Another Day. Another Thought…Or Two

Books About The USA

Independence Day is just around the corner and it’s been a while since I have reviewed books about the United States. This group of books aren’t specifically for the 4th of July , but I will link to some at the end of the post. These books are about America, about the flag, about the states and are perfect to read all year long.

America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates and illustrated by Chris Gall is a stunning book. The author is the original author of the poem turned song that even this Canadian knew as a child. The illustrator is her great-great grandnephew who pays homage to his family legacy and should feel proud with the results.  Each page illustrates the lyrics beautifully while showcasing different parts of the country, country’s history and simple nostalgia. My son liked it, and particularly loved the page with 9-11 firefighters raising the flag , which brought tears to my eyes.  At the end of the book there are short blurbs about each illustration for further information as well.

ABC USAby Martin Jarrie is another beautiful alphabet book!  Like most alphabet books it devotes a page to each letter with vibrant illustrations . Not everything in this book is by any means unique to the United States but most are. I specifically appreciated the I for Immigrants page, both from a historical and personal perspective, my son loved the J for Jazz and we both loved all the whimsical illustrations. There are a lot of learning opportunities presented as well, school age children could really benefit from it as well the 2 letters that stood out for me for further learning were U for Underground Railroad and V for Valley Forge.  How ever you use this it’s worth a look for certain.

Celebrate the 50 States! by Loreen Leedy is not a story book about the 50 states but really an illustrated short form non fiction book about each and every state.  Each page is broken into columns with 2 states ( all in alphabetical order) with a few historical facts, a basic map of the state and fun facts even parents probably don’t know! I love books like this and wasn’t surprised when my husband picked it up , leafed through it and said ” Hey this is a pretty cool book.”  It is. It is far too detailed to hold a young preschooler’s attention but it a great reference book even for kids as young as 3, just don’t try to read the whole thing in one sitting with such a little one. Older kids will like the trivia question posed for each state and checking their answers at the back of the book.

America: My Land, Your Land, Our Land by W.Nikola-Lisa is a really interesting concept for a book. The book showcases how The United States is made up of drastic opposites. Each page is devoted to two opposing features such as bright and dark, yours and mine, old and young. Then the illustrations reflect these opposites. What makes it so interesting is that there isn’t one illustrator , their are 14!  Each showcasing their view of one of these opposites.  My son enjoyed this book because he is all about seperating and classifying things right now and the text was short and illustrations beautiful. Parents will probably enjoy it on a different level because many of the illustrations hold deeper meanings if you have some more mature knowledge about historical facts.

The National Anthem (True Books, American Symbols) by Patrica Ryin Quiri is a great book for school age children ( 5-10) to learn about how the American flag and anthem came about. I learned a lot from this book and I have a minor in American History! It talks about the evolution from a poem to an anthem, with easy text, great photos and illustrations. I particularly liked seeing the author’s original handwritten poem. It humanizes the song for readers and makes it even more special.

Books About The Potty

It Hurts When I poop

Potty training is no fun, but it doesn’t have to be the biggest challenge in toddlerhood either. All these books are made to help kids and parents make this transition as smoothly as possible. Having taught children who were actively potty training and potty training my son last year, I can tell you this advice. Never push, never punish and never shame. So if your child isn’t open to these books, leave them hanging around and chill, they will be. No one ever goes to college in Buzz Lightyear pull ups!

It Hurts When I Poop!: A Story for Children Who Are Scared to Use the Potty by Howard J. Bennet was a life saver for us. Many kids start holing their poop after one painful one, and that happened here and we went from no issues to fussing, fighting the potty and finally he admitted he was scared it will hurt. Of course holding it made that worse but try to explain that to a frightened toddler. This book was amazing. The story is long, I skipped some text with my son , but read it all for myself since it’s packed with awesome information for parents too! The book explains digestion, why it hurts and how to make it better on a kids level as well as in more detail for parents. I can’t recommend this more for parents who’s children have hit this very common but very distressing problem.

The_Potty_Book_for_girls

The Potty Book for Girls by Alyssa Satin Capucilli is a favorite of my son. He loved this book, and when I got it back out of the library to write this post he immediately wanted me to read it. The text rhymes, the pictures are sweet and honest . I think what my son loves so much is that it shows the challenges, she wets herself, she pees on the floor and her parents are encouraging and positive. There is also a companion book The Potty Book – For Boys which interestingly my son had no interest in reading.

A Potty For Me

A Potty for Me!: A Lift-the-Flap Instruction Manual by Karen Katz is a great introduction to potty training. If your toddler is showing interest but neither you nor they are ready to go head first into underwear yet this lift-the-flap book is a great way to play with the idea and concepts of using a potty.

Have you Seen My Potty?

Have You Seen My Potty? Mij Kelly is such a cute book. A little girl on a farm has lost her potty and goes looking for it , asking all the animals if they have seen it. They don’t know what a potty is but have discovered this awesome poo pot that is keeping their farm so much cleaner since figuring out how to use it. My son laughed hysterically through the funny rhyming text and so did I . Making the potty a fun thing is really beneficial and this book does just that!

Even Firefighters Use The Potty

Even Firefighters Go to the Potty: A Potty Training Lift-the-Flap Story by Wendy  and Naomi Wax is another favorite of my son but I wasn’t as impressed. It’s hard my son loved it and since he loves Firefighters, Policemen etc.. knowing they use the potty too was great motivation for him. My concern was that there were very few women in this book. I think it’s important to show women being astronauts , police officers, and construction workers. The text was funny, the flaps were fun to reveal but I am on the fence, even though my son loved it.