(Yep... affiliate links are included which means, if you buy through me, I get some coffee money ... though not enough for the raisin toast as well. Full disclosure listed below.)
Fiona the Hippo
by Richard Cowdrey
Zonderkidz (August 7, 2018)
Audience: Ages 4 to 8
'On a cold Winter's night, a baby hippo was born.'
It's a great opening line. It just encourages you to turn the page and read more. I can just imagine my grandkids encouraging me, "What happens next, Nan? Read it!" It's the opening page of the picture storybook, Fiona the Hippo, published by ZonderKids.
You know, there's something about a hippo, isn't there, that almost everyone seems to like, especially a baby hippo.
So.. will you and your kids enjoy this book? Is it worth buying and reading to them? I did, and here's what I found. Oh... and Zonderkids have also produced a special bonus. You can find it below.
1. Fiona the Hippo is a real character.
But first.... Fiona the Hippo. One of the appeals of this picture storybook is that Fiona is, in fact, a real baby hippo not just a fictional character created for a children's book. She was born at the Cincinnati Zoo but as a premmie. She arrived 6 weeks early and quickly became an online celebrity. She now has her own Facebook show.
You can read about Fiona in the introduction of this book, Fiona the Hippo, or check out the clip below to find out more about her rough start to life. Show the clip after you've read the story to them.
2. The simple text makes this an easy book to read.
There have been times when I've ordered a picture storybook online only to be disappointed when it arrives. Sometimes, there is just too much text, too much detail for young ones to appreciate. And kids quickly become bored.
A good picture storybook uses engaging language that is age-appropriate. Ideally, there should be only a sentence or two per page. You'll be pleased to know that this book uses simple text really well.
3. The illustrations in this book are, well, just beautiful.
Richard Cowdrey is an New York Times best-selling illustrator. His artwork can be found on advertisements, calendars, book covers and prints. And he also illustrates storybooks. I'm sure you'll love his artwork in this book... it's great.
But there's more to illustrations in a picture storybook than looking attractive. They should extend and enhance the text. The pictures should help to keep the reader's attention but also stimulate their imagination.
I love it when my grandkids listen to the story and then tell me so much more about the story and the feelings of the characters by looking at the illustrations. So I'm looking forward to hearing more about this story through their eyes.
4. Fiona's fun antics will connect with and delight the kids.
She certainly has lots to learn and children will love her tangles with pool noodles and other troubles as she develops the skills a young hippo needs. But, with each challenge she repeats, "I've got this." Maybe your own kids will face their own challenges with this same focus after learning about Fiona.
5. The ending to this story is a happy, positive one.
Fiona realises that there is something that she still needs.. to meet and make friends with others at the zoo. And this, for many kids, can be really daunting so they will enjoy seeing Fiona handle this, too.
Share the endearing story of Fiona the hippo with your kids. I'm sure that they will enjoy it,, and so will you. :) .
Then, download the additional learning resources provided by Zonderkids. You'll find an activity pack for the young ones: make a mask, discover their own Fiona membership card, find a way through the maze and more. For older kids, there is also a curriculum guide with more activities to develop their skills and understand, Find both below.
Just a quick note in closing... there is also a board book version for your toddlers.
Disclosure: At Grandma's Place is committed to high standards of integrity and quality. I do not promote any brand I do not believe meets these standards, and I only promote brands I would purchase myself.
If I don't love it, and don't think you'll love it, it won't appear on my blog.
A challenge to individuals, the church, and the community to focus on the gift rather than the burden.
In Australia, one person in a hundred- or roughly 230,00 people- has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. That's an huge number and constitutes the largest disability group in the Australian NDIS.
But I was blissfully unaware of this startling statistic... until grandson #3 arrived with all the activity and excitement of a new birth in the family.
And he was a cheerful little guy ... he delighted in music and listening to singing .. always ready to wrap his chubby little arms around your neck in a big hug... laughing all the time... still does. I cared for him quite a bit while his parents were working so I got to see a lot of him when he was little.
Murphy loved his cousins and followed them around giggling delightedly when they chased him or bounced with him on the trampoline. His eventual diagnosis with Autism Spectrum Disorder affected his cousins not at all. They copied his 'happy hands' movement when one of them jumped especially high on the trampoline or flipped a somersault and Murphy laughed louder than anyone. The boys explained Murphy's difficulties to their curious gymnastics team members. So the whole team adopted Murphy's 'happy hands' wave during competitions to encourage one another. Cute!
But yes, living with Autism is not cute- it's not all laughter and 'happy hands.' So I was interested to read Ausomely Blessed by Beth Frank.
Actually, the book is more a compilation of stories and articles by numerous friends, family and specialists. All of them have a personal acquaintance with Autism Spectrum and special needs kids. You'll find chapters included like Ausome Opportunities, Ausome Potential, Ausome Friendship, Ausome Influence and more.
Caring for a special needs child can be an isolating existence. Autistic kids respond well to routine and repetition..So it's easier, and less stressful, to stay at home; a simple outing is fraught with the hazard of sensory overload resulting in an embarrassing meltdown. And parents of children with autism, many of whom are non-verbal, just don't have anyone or anywhere they can relax, unwind and talk to about these concerns. Unless you've experienced it yourself it's hard to relate.
Find encouragement for the everyday struggles
Ausomely Blessed provides just that type of encouragement. It doesn't sugar-coat the problems. It describes heart-rendering, relatable and real situations- the sort of situations where other parents can say, "Yes! I know what you mean. I've experienced something similar."
-- 'A diagnosis isn't a mandate to watch life from the sidelines, but a call to a destiny of greatness.' --
Focus on the gift, not the burden
Ausomely Blessed does more than just offer encouragement and support. It's so easy to spend all your time listing the problems and yes, there are many.
But there are also so many positives. God didn't make a mistake when He made these kids and neither was He surprised by the problems. He knows it all. Each child is an individual who is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. Our family would be the poorer without Murphy's laughter and happiness, his excitement to be with friends and family and his hugs. The problems are just one side of the coin and reading this book is a reminder to look for the joy.
-- 'Every individual with special needs has ausome potential.' --
Look for the hidden potential
Ausomely Blessed also takes time to encourage you, as parents, to look beyond the current circumstances. Each child has potential that you can develop. So take time to regularly challenge your child. Jumpstart their imagination. Turn everyday events into learning experiences. Encourage them to dream. Keep it fun... and remember, God loves to open doors.
This small clip was created by SOAR Special Needs Ministry, and mentioned in this book. It's a reminder to look for the hidden potential in everyone and especially those with special needs.
-- "The greatest legacy is not what we leave for people; it's what we leave in people." --
Become agents of change
Community's perception of those with special needs has changed greatly but still more needs to be done to break down barriers and build understanding and acceptance of individuals and families of those with special needs. It's only when special needs kids and their families are included as valuable members of the church and the community that they will bless others as they also are blessed.
Ausomely Blessed encourages you to be an agent of change, to encourage change in the community and in your church. This type of change has already resulted in a heightened understanding of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Change has created an increased understanding that those with autism are often highly intelligent, hard-working and willing to go the extra mile to achieve a desired task outcome. Consequently, many employers realise it makes sound business sense to employ these people.
Change has also resulted in some supermarkets introducing quiet hour each week for those who struggle with sensory overload. So, for an hour, lights are dimmed, registers and scanners are turned down to the lowest levels, trolley collections and PA announcements are avoided and trained members are available to help customers... and more customers support these innovations and shop at these stores.
Maybe the next changes will be initiated by you!
Check out this book and discover how 'ausomely blessed you really are!'
Find it here: Buy from AMAZON Buy from Booktopia
Friends with God Story Bible: Why God loves people like me.
Well, yes.... another Bible Story book and I guess you're thinking... 'Hey, I have a Bible Storybook for my kids or grandkids. Why would I need another one?'
So....do your kids need it? This review will help you decide.
5 Simple reasons you need the Friends with God Story Bible- why God loves people like me
When information about another Bible Storybook slid into my Inbox, I wondered whether I needed it, too. After all, three children and eight grandchildren translates into an already bulging bookshelf. Some we've read and enjoyed. Others have well-worn covers, ragged corners and loose pages.
Those are the ones that we've read and re-read over and over. Their vibrant illustrations have grabbed my kids' (and grandkids') attention and excited their imagination. The pages have held stories of a loving God who knows and deeply cares about each one of those young, captured readers. And the words have continued to live in their young hearts and minds. Yes, some of these Bible storybooks have been special.
So, do I (or you) need this new one? I can certainly understand the question.
But then, what if your kids.........
1. ...could actually feel a part of the story?
Friends with God Story Bible is written in the first person. So your kids will hear the story from the protagonist's point of view, with all the emotions that go with that. It's not just a story. It's a recount and it will resonate with your kids in a meaningful way. They will feel connected, involved.
2. ...could hear personal stories of 54+ friends of God?
This isn't just a handful of stories. It's enough for a whole year of exciting reading if you read and learn about one friend of God each week. And extra devotional material is included to help you extend each story beyond the pages of a book.
3. ...could also play Bible games and discover Bible facts
You'll find that this story Bible has an interactive element built in that works in conjunction with an app- IOS or Android. Throughout the Story Bible are special icons- a smiling face. Your kids will have fun finding them, too. Simply download the free app. Then scan the page with the icon. You'll come face to face with friends of God plus unlock interactive games.
4. ...could collect and share digital cards of the Friends of God
Not only does this connected app share more information and games, it enables your kids to win virtual collectible character cards. They'll learn even more entertaining facts about these Bible characters. They'll feel they really know them. And they can even add their own image to create their very own card.
5. ...could grow in their own friendship with God?
They'll hear and share in the amazing stories when God stepped into the picture and everything changed. As they read this book they 'face lions, cross rivers, slay giants and stare into a glittering desert sky, awed by God making impossible promises come true.' And they'll realise that this same God wants to be friends with them, too.
This Friends with God Story Bible is just so much more than just a book of Bible stories. The vibrant illustrations add their own unique quality to the personal stories of these Bible friends. And, you'll discover fun, devotional ideas with real-life activity ideas to connect with family and friends.
You can choose either a hardcover version of the story Bible or download it as a Kindle version.
You can find it here...
Do you have toddlers, little ones under 5? Do you struggle with sharing the story of God's truth and love with these little ones?
Sure, you can read to them or tell them the stories from the Bible.... and you should. But you know it should be more than that. You know you want to make it real, and regular, and a natural part of life.
(Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deut 11:19)
So.. how do you make it real? How can you share Bible truths in a way that even two and three-year-olds can understand?
The truth is.... you're not the only person concerned about Bible devotions for toddlers. In fact, many parents and grandparents avoid regular family devotion time when their kids are small becuase they just don't know how to do it.
Are you the same?
What if I could tell you how to share Bible truths in such a simple way that even the smallest child will understand?
What if I could show you how you could help kids see God in the small, but important, details of their life?
What if there was a way that you could show your toddlers how God loves them and explain, in real ways, how He cares for them and their troubles?
Easy! It's done for you!
Mary Gross Davis and Rose Publishing have created a series of devotional books for kids of all ages that does all this and more, even for two and three-year-olds.
You'll find 4 parts to each devotion.
1. Each lesson begins with a simple story to read that little ones will enjoy and relate to. It helps them see God as real and personal. Each story is short .... and you'll find it easy to keep the attention of your toddler.
2. There is a simple prayer to encourage your child to talk with God about everything plus a Bible verse.
3. The 'Talk About It' segment provides some simple questions to reinforce understanding and help you child apply the Bible truth to their own life.
4. Last, there are some ideas presented in the 'Try This!' segment. It help you continue to apply the story and Bible truth in a fun way. The suggestion may be to act out something, play a game, look for something special, draw or discuss some aspect of the story.
Take a look at a couple of sample pages below.
I wouldn't like to conclude without mentioning the illustrations by Olga & Aleksey Ivanov. They are lovely- bright and colourful, and they really add interest and appeal to the devotion book.
You'll find God and Me devotional books for Girls and Boys of all ages so check them out.
God and Me! for Little Ones
My First Devotional for Toddler Girls
Author: Mary Gross Davis
Illustrator: Olga & Aleksey Ivanov
Publisher: Rose Publishing
(Copy provided for a honest review.)
Why you rarely see a boy reading and what you can do about it....
"Reading? It's boring, Mum! I just want to go outside and play!"
Ah yes.. I know.. I've been there. I feel your pain.
For a long time, and despite an early introduction to books and reading, my son refused to read fiction or for any book for enjoyment. Well, he did read non-fiction and he said it was enjoyable, but never fiction. So, I guess he was reading. But this is so typical of boys.
Research tells us that, in general, boys:
But don't despair!
Check out the following hints and you may find it difficult to get your son's nose out of a book. I'd also like to introduce you to Charge to Glory, one of the Time Crashes Choose Your Own Ending books by H.Michael Brewer. (Choose your own adventure-style books were a game-changer for my own son!)
Boys crave action and adventure
Most boys have enough problems with just sitting still for any length of time. (They just want to be doing something physical.) So any book they read needs to include the same sort of action and adventure. If they're not actually doing it, at least they want to read about someone else doing it. So, encourage your son or grandson to read a book that you know is filled with action.
Boys like books and heroes that match their image of themselves.
I really don't think that this is any different from anyone else. We all like to imagine ourselves as the hero or heroine so it makes sense to look for books that boys can relate to.
A good book is a rollicking yarn that tweaks his sense of adventure and absorbs him so completely that he battles alongside the hero and rejoices in the final victory as if it was his own. -James Moloney
The length of a book can be daunting.
Especially if boys are not in the habit of reading books, a book with a lot of pages, or with print that is too small, can be daunting. Check that the book has plenty of white space, too, on the pages. If it includes illustrations, maps or diagrams, it's even better as boys are often visual learners. (I know, I know... there are lots of exceptions butdon't take my word for it.)
Be creative in your approach to boys and books
There are creative ways to encourage boys to read more books. First, boys like a role-model so ensure that there are plenty of others, including dad, reading books. Second: try turning reading into an event. Plan an action-filled afternoon. And then, perhaps camp out with toasted marshmallow etc followed by reading a chapter or two from a well-chosen book.
I found it helpful to load up a few bowls with potato chips and snacks and read to my kids, while they enjoyed the snacks.
But make sure you choose a good book.
And a good one to consider isCharge to Glory. It's one of Time Crashers series and it's a choose your own ending. If you're unacquainted with this style of book, it means that, throughout the book, there are pages where the reader must make a choice about how they think the adventure should develop. Depending on their choice, they flip through to a different page for the story to continue. This is great for boys! They are involved in the story development. (It also makes them think that they'll get through the story faster, although I've found that they often go back and choose another ending, too.)
This series involves Ethan Conway and his friends as they travel through time using a time machine to find Ethan's dad who is trapped somewhere in the past. Not only is the plot exciting, but the book includes plenty of other activities to keep the reader focused. The book is filled with exciting illustrations, codes to decipher and puzzles that also encourage the reader to find Bible references and verses. And... the reader gains historical and biblical knowledge and understanding as he works through the consequences of his decisions throughout the book.
So... do you think this book sound exciting enough to hold a reader's attention?
Listen to the introduction to the book and decide yourself!
"Can the boys survive long enough to find Dr Conway? That's in your hands. You are the fourth Time Crasher. If you have the guts, you can join Ethan, Jake, and Spencer as they tumble through the centuries. If you make this trip, you'd better have a quick mind and a brave heart. History is filled with dangers you've never dreamed of. The difference between life and death may depend on a split-second decision. The Time Crashers are counting on you to help make those choices. Will you think things through? Will you follow your feelings? Will you play a hunch? When sabre-toothed tigers are charging or swords are slashing, you'll need every ounce of bravery to choose a path and see it through. It's not too late to turn back!"
TIME CRASHERS: Charge to Glory
One of the Choose Your Own Ending series
Author: Michael Brewer
Publisher: Rose Publishing
(Copy provided for a honest review.)
Read review on GoodReads.
A change of lifestyle can be exciting, but it can also bring adventures, problems and unexpected demands that can stretch you beyond your comfort zone.
That's certainly the scenario presented in 'That's Not Hay in my Hair.'
Yellow taxicabs driven by angry impatient drivers dotted Madison Avenue and the air was filled with a cacophony of blaring horns, shouting pedestrians and the muffled coos of street pigeons."
Jules, her writer mother, and a mixed assortment of pets change the cramped living quarters of a four-room New York apartment, with the accompanying dust, noise and frenetic activity, for a 300-acre ranch in Texas.
It's quite a change in lifestyle for Jules.. exciting, but also a little daunting, especially after a conversation with her school-mates.
What happens if you get bitten by a snake in the middle of the night? I heard you can start having a reaction within thirty minutes."
The challenge of this move increases in difficulty when Jules and her mother realise they will be running the ranch alone.
There's certainly no time to relax.
Jules has plenty to contend with running the ranch and the associated chores, plus an ongoing stream of troubles- snakes, bats, lost and injured animals, caring for cattle and horses, births of longhorn cattle and the difficulties of finding her feet and making new friends at a new school.
The book is written for 8-12 year-olds, and they will probably enjoy the farm life activities and adventures of Jules if they love horses or the outdoors.
But it's slow-moving and the plot is a little thin. The descriptions and expressions were a little trite or cliché. Apparently, it's based on real life experiences but all in all, I struggled to read the book to the end.
I would like to thank ZonderKids- Books for providing me with the opportunity to read, and review,
this book. (Copy provided for honest review through NetGalley.)
That's Not Hay in my Hair
-by Juliette Turner
RRP: $7.05 (Kindle $5.29)
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Key takeaways from this article
Book review: The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon- Wand- Paper- Scissors
Since the overwhelming success of the Harry Potter book and movie series, there have been many children's books mimicking a strong emphasis on magic, wizardry and witchcraft. While the fantasy and adventure of these stories has obvious appeal, some parents are naturally concerned about any ongoing mystical focus.
The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon is not one of those books. In fact, there is a strong thread of faith throughout the stories.
In the town of Sleepy Hollow lives young Harry Moon, a typical boy in most respects, dealing with the typical, and relate-able, problems and concerns of school, friends and family. But Harry is, unfortunately, hair and vertically challenged and he must deal with the ridicule of an aggressive bully named Titus Kligore.
"The worst of it was that Titus was reckless. His hormones were raging. He even had nine chin whiskers when he was in 4th grade. Now, he was wildly out of control. The only thing Titus did have under control was the way he moved. He didn't walk through corridors like other guys- he swaggered."
The book provides many more fun, descriptive passages: 'The shop had cheery, yellow-and-red-striped awnings which shaded two windows. From far away, the awnings looked like eyelids revealing two forbidding eyes. The eyes were unblinking, staring down at Harry as the moved toward the giant face of the magic shop.'
My grandson loved it. "It's cool!.. really fun to read." The fun illustrations are also part of the appeal.
You'll find that Harry is also a budding magician and he decides to enter the middle school Annual Scary Talent Show with the support and assistance of a couple of unlikely friends- a rabbit and his ex-babysitter.
Although magic is often portrayed in other books as the solution to life's problems, Harry's mother (and his rabbit) remind him of the importance of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. There is no place for vengeance in that magic but there is self-control.
The problems for Harry mount and he must ultimately decide to 'Do No Evil.' True Power only comes from heaven above. He learns that, "You will have a magical life. It will also be a life full of trouble. We are told that. That is why there will always be times for heroes."
Read The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon: Wand-Paper-Scissors to find our how Harry becomes the hero he was meant to be.
There are more adventures for Harry Moon plus the opportunity to join the Harry Moon Book club and receive regular new books, ebook versions, audio version, a collectible box, posters, backpack, maps and more.
Key takeaways from this article
BOOK REVIEW: WILD EATS & ADORABLE TREATS
Do you struggle to feed your kids? Are they picky eaters?
If you're one of the many mothers who are overjoyed when your kids eat anything, let alone something healthy, then this book is for you. Or maybe mealtime has become mere drudgery and you want your family to enjoy mealtimes together- something that everyone looks forward to. If so, take a look at this.....
Wild Eats and Adorable Treats removes the mealtime frustration and adds fun to food for kids. It also encourages kids to help out with meal preparation....and we all know that kids are more likely to eat what they cook themselves.
This book will help you create fun memories with your children while you create whimsical treats to eat. And, Jill Mills says, "Kids are only young once and it goes by way too fast." Amen!
"In the end, this book is all about spending time with your kids. It's about creating together, laughing together and making mess together, learning together, making memories, and having lots of kitchen fun with some recipes that your kids will love!"
Each recipe includes a short description, simple ingredients, a great photo and details instructions. You'll also find tips and tricks to help you create something wonderful even if you have to substitute ingredients.
And... as another helpful feature, you can make the meal more enjoyable as you share the animal facts that are listed for each meal treat.
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The comforting words of Psalm 23, the care and protection of our shepherd that we read of in this psalm, have made it one of the most loved chapters of the Bible. And although we often hear it read during times of darkness, sadness and even loss, it's a wonderful psalm for the present- a psalm for living in joy.
And now, you can share this life-changing passage of the Bible with your children in a way that they can understand and enjoy. They, too, can learn about a personal shepherd who loves them, cares for them and is with them always.
I love picture storybooks. C.S.Lewis once wrote that 'a children's book that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's book in the slightest.' But Catherine DeVries has written this picture storybook well. I enjoyed it.
To begin with, there are only a few words/ sentences on each page. Even your most easily distracted child will settle and listen as you read this book.
The setting is a farm... with animals, an instant attraction for kids who love the activities of farm life and hearing about the animals. The story involves readers, too, almost immediately. The grandfather in the story asks the reader's name and includes them in the chores: collecting the eggs, feeding the lambs, counting the sheep.
And then, a storm approaches.
Grandma introduces Psalm 23 and paints God's care in personal terms for young ones.
The illustrations of a picture storybook are an integral part of any book and Ryan Jackson's art is great. It is bright, clear and colourful and presents the message well. I'm really looking forward to sharing this picture storybook with my grandkids. I know my 3, 4 and 5-year-olds will equally love it. ( It would be a wonderful conclusion to a farm visit, too.)
As part of the HeartSmart series, designed to help parents build a strong foundation of faith, there is a link to a custom online song. Share the song with your kids as you read Psalm 23 together.
I'm sure you'll enjoy it... and your kids certainly will.
I would like to thank David C. Cook for providing me with the opportunity to read and review,
and learn and grow, through this book.
Let's Learn About Psalm 23 -by Catherine DeVries
Illustrated by: Ryan Jackson
Publisher: David C. Cook
If you'd like to extend the enjoyment and learning of this story, you might like to consider some of the activities in the following links:
10 fun farm activities - Farm to table fun kids activities - Pinterest board of farm learning
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