Monday, September 24, 2018

Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause

Title: Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause
Author: Peggy Race
Illustrator/Editor: Mike Motz
Publication Date: July 31, 2018



(Reviewed by Elaine Kaye and Chrys Fey)

I love that the author is truly committed to the cause of helping animals by donating a portion of each book’s profits to animal rescues, shelters, and organizations. And I have to say she has an impressive background as well.

Depute Paws is an adorable dog with an important message. Deputy Paws was born in a mill under filthy conditions, kept in a cage where shots cost too much, food and water were scarce, and there was no grass to run on. But…he was adopted after being rescued by National Mill Dog Rescue! Now, he enjoys all the things all dogs should have.

I liked that a page that showed the conditions of a mill with dark, gloomy illustrations was directly opposite a more uplifting page with bright illustrations that showed how much better Deputy Paws’ life is now since adoption.

“I’m one of those puppies
who was born in a mill.
There are many more like me
that need your help still.”

This book raises a great conversation and can push many kids to activism, to stand up for animal rights. Parents and kids can make a difference together by approaching pet stores and asking Senators and congresspeople to shut down mills, two of the tactics Deputy Paws outlines to help puppies in mills.

“Learn all that you can
before you walk through the door.
It’s the mill dogs who suffer
when you buy from the store.”

I think many kids and even parents will wonder about the animals in pet stores and what will happen to them if they aren’t bought. We need to understand that pets in stores got out of the mills, which is a step up, though living in a pet store isn’t much better. We also need to understand the process of buying a single dog or cat from a pet store (because they need a good home, too) will result in the store replacing that animal with another from a mill, thus continuing the cycle.

But what will happen if no one buys these pets? This is important for us to know. Dogs and cats that get older and are not sold will eventually go to rescue groups/shelters (hopefully not pounds). So, then these animals will be up for adoption. This wasn’t explained in the story and I feel it should have been.

There’s a line in the story that says, “Don’t buy your next pets without seeing the mothers.” But I don’t think this is possible if an animal was born in a mill and rescued from one or put in a shelter after not being sold at a pet store.

A lot of the story was about pet stores being bad, but not all pet stores are bad, which I feel needs to be said, too. According to more than 2,300 pet stores nationwide have signed an HSUS pledge not to sell puppies, showing other pet stores you can be successful without supporting puppy mills.

At the end of the book, we get a a few more details about mills and how breeding dogs are kept in cages their whole lives, and what happens to puppies after they are born in a mill.

What’s so great about this book is the call for action (though I do feel what I highlighted above should've been included to prevent questions/confusion).

Reading Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause to your kids is a good first step, but we have to continue to find ways to support Deputy’s cause, as he shares in the story.

Although with a powerful message, it’s done in a gentle way with a cute character, great illustrations, and clever rhymes.

RECOMMENDED for all children 6+.

Perfect book for classrooms and libraries.

Sammy can't have a dog, so he adopted a dog puppet. :)


Peggy Race, is a Wisconsin-based children’s book author, literary memoir writer, and avid dog lover with a vision to create a better world for our canine companions.

To date, she has completed various dog handling workshops, was an intern in Dog Town at Best Friends Animal Society and has spent her time volunteering for numerous other esteemed organizations. Peggy has dabbled in dog sports, competing in agility and taking nosework classes.

Currently, Peggy serves as a volunteer for Bailing Out Benji, an organization which raises awareness of and educates about puppy mills and their connection to pet stores.

Peggy shares her home with three fun-loving dogs. Desiree, a rescue from Hurricane Katrina, Faith, a ball herding border collie and Deputy, a cocker spaniel mix; the inspiration behind “Deputy Paws and the Puppy Mill Cause.”

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust #DiverseKidLit

Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust
By Michelle Bisson
Illustrated by El Prima Ramon

The illustrations have a simple, classic feel to them, almost sophisticated with their neutral grays, browns, and blues and a touch of soft, salmon-pink here and there for a bit of color.
This book has a powerfully message right at the beginning: 
“Everyone always says how brave I was to travel through Europe on my own in the middle of World War 11. I didn’t think I was brave. I was Jewish, so I had no choice.”
Hedy’s cousin, who stayed with them in Budapest, willingly boards a train for deportation. She says she wants to be with her parents and brother no matter what happens. Her finals words were: “I am only sorry I didn’t get more out of life while I could.” This statement shows the horror of this time.
“Marika understood she was going to die.”
After this, Hedy’s family knew they were no longer safe.
“If the Nazis were coming for one Jew, it was only a matter of time before they came for us all.”
They set plans to travel to the United States. First, they have to get to Portugal to board a ship, but a problem arises when only three tickers are acquired. Someone would have to stay behind and wait. That person is Hedy.
When it’s time for her to leave, she’s in Nazi territory alone.

Before their flight to the United States, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, initiating the US’s entrance into the war. The tragic turn of events ruins their plan to travel by an American passenger ship to New York.
They have set backs and a bit of luck that sees them on a boat sailing refugees to Cuba, Chile, and New York. While on board, tragedy strikes, reminding everyone the cost of war.

Parts of this story is gloomy for a picture book, as any story would be when talking about the Holocaust, but it’s a good story for kids learning about the Holocaust in school. It’s another perspective.


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Anne Frank #DiverseKidLit

Anne Frank
Written by Josephine Poole
Illustrated by Angela Barrett

For kids too young to read The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, this is a great way to introduce them to Anne and her story and spark interest in learning about Anne’s life and hopefully want to read her words one day.

This story is an excellent way to start the conversation about what happened in Germany and to Jews when Adolf Hitler rules.

“Mostly Anne felt on top of the world. But sometimes she was afraid. There was a good reason for this: Adolf Hitler ruled Germany then, and he had vowed to get rid of Jews. Frank was a German Jew.”

A short history is given to explain how Germany had changed because of the first World War and how Germans looked for someone to blame. Because Hitler hated Jews, he claimed they were to blame for all of Germany’s troubles.
Frightened, Jews left Germany. Anne’s father, Mr. Frank worked in the Netherlands and found an apartment in Amsterdam.

The author paints a clear picture of Anne for young readers, saying Anne was naughty in class by telling jokes and making funny faces so everyone, even the teachers, laughed.

Soon, German soldiers marched through Amsterdam, and Jews were ordered to wear “a big yellow start with Joed printed on it.”

Anne’s father, a clever man, began moving furniture and installing a toilet and sink in the abandoned upstairs rooms in the building where he worked—an annex.
When Anne’s sister, Margot, was 16, she was sent an order to report for labor service working for Germans. This was the moment her father knew it was time to disappear. Anne packed the diary she’d been given on her last birthday.

A woman named Miep, who worked with Mr. Frank, led them into the secret annex. From then on, they muse hide, silently, with a second family. Soon, 8 people were hiding in the cramped space.

We get glimpses into what Anne endured during the day and at night while hiding mere feet from the real world for two years.

Somehow, on August 4, 1944, the Franks are found out, and everyone in the annex are taken away. In the chaos, Anne’s diary was scattered across the floor. Miep collected the papers and hid it, hoping to one day give it back to Anne, but only Mr. Frank returned.

This children’s story has the same sad ending as The Diary of a Young Girl, as it should because it’s a true story, but it could be hard for kids to digest. I, for one, as an adult, still have a hard time knowing Anne (and her sister) died of typhus in a concentration camp.

“Anne Frank was no more than a girl, and her short life had come to an end. But her story was just the beginning.”

I truly believe all young adults and older adults should read The Diary of a Young Girl. And now I believe children and parents should read this started story packed with history and memories of a brave girl.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Doctor Mom Blog Hop + Picture Book Release

Thank you to everyone participating in the blog hop! 

Prompt: Share a favorite memory you have of your mom. 
Or just share a picture of your mom that you cherish. 
Or you can do both!

The only picture I have of my mom and me.

Growing up in a northern state everyone had to deal with long winters, but Mom also had to deal with us three kids home for days because of a blizzard. Things got boring fast if the snow was too deep or if it was too cold to slide down the snow banks. Of course, there was coloring, puzzles, or games, and we even put on plays for our parents. I remember one play we did called Stone Soup.

Then Mom had the best idea. She invented “Family Night,” which was held every Friday evening when the dishes were done and the newspaper was read. One of the five in our family hosted the event, picking out a board or card game to play and serving a dessert or snack. When it was my turn, I thought about it all week. Sometimes Mom helped me plan a fabulous snack. Naturally, everyone was glad when it was Mom’s Friday. She came up with the best dessert. Dad’s favorite was root beer floats, but Mom topped that with individual banana splits served in clear, crystal “banana split” dishes filled with a fat banana, three scoops of ice cream, whipped cream or chocolate syrup, and a cherry on top. The works!

When my kids were little, I took my mom’s idea and created “party,” a nightly event for my kids to enjoy snacks and soda while watching TV before bed. And my kids, all grown now, still talk about their memories of having their “party” before bedtime.

I still have one of those crystal dishes from the Family Nights from my childhood. Now, I usually fill it with pickles, radishes, or cherry tomatoes for dinner. I guess I should make myself a banana split it in honor of Mom. 😊

Title: Doctor Mom
Author: Elaine Kaye
Genre: Picture Story Book
Ages: 5-8 years

BLURB: It’s Saturday, and Gregory Green can’t wait to have fun with his dad on the riding lawnmower, but something is wrong. Sammy, his teddy bear and best friend, won’t get out of bed. Gregory is worried when he sees Sammy’s left leg is torn. This is a case for Doctor Mom! Can they fix Sammy? And just how did Sammy get hurt in the first place?


"Doctor Mom is an adorable story that shows how Moms can fix anything—even a torn limb on a beloved teddy bear! Children will enjoy the lovable little bear who needs a stitch or two and his boy who plays dress-up as a doctor." – Wanda Luthman, award-winning author of Little Birdie Grows Up

“A sweet and heartfelt tale kids can easily identify with, and all of that with a wonderful touch of magic.” – Tonja Drecker, reviewer at Bookworm for Kids


Monday, May 14, 2018

Franky the Finicky Flamingo by Wanda Luthman

Franky the Finicky Flamingo
Written by: Wanda Luthman
Illustrations by: Mara Reitsma

Overview: A cute rhyming story about a hungry flamingo who learns what other birds eat only to find out he has his own special food, one that helps him "stay in the pink."

Review: Franky is a pink flamingo who wears a black bowtie. You gotta love a flamingo in a bowtie! Franky is a finicky eater. He doesn't like his food and is called "a finicky dude." He doesn't think his own food is special, so he tries what other birds eat (worms, nuts, etc). What I really enjoyed, and I believe children who love animals (especially birds) will enjoy, are the details about what different species of birds eat.

But something horrible happens during Franky's taste-testing...his pink feathers begin to fade! Soon, he finds out the secret to his bright color is food meant for flamingos.

We're not told what type of food Franky eats at the beginning of the story, but I assume it was what flamingos usually eat. In the beginning, he doesn't like this food, but by the end, he finds it yummy and great because it's pink. I couldn't help but think that if you don't like a certain type of food, you're unlikely to start liking it after finding out about its health benefits. But I think the point is that Franky needed to try other birds' "cuisines" to develop an appreciation for the food he's supposed to eat.

This is a cute story that teaches about birds' diets and shows kids the importance of a proper diet. If you have a finicky eater, introduce him or her to Franky!

RECOMMENDED for bird-loving children and finicky eaters.


About the Author: 

Award-winning children's author, Wanda Luthman, utilizes her expertise in both mental health and guidance counseling to infuse each of her stories with social/emotional messages such as forgiveness, perseverance, self-acceptance, and love conquering evil while still entertaining children with magical adventure stories. She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral, the Florida Writers Association, Space Coast Authors, and Brevard Authors Forum. She lives in sunny Florida with her incredibly understanding and supportive husband of 23 years, their two adorable yorkies, and 15 rescue feral cats (all fixed responsibly and still residing outside and on her porch in their colony)! She loves the outdoors and finds it a great source of inspiration whether she is riding her bike, swimming, or walking.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nile Crossing #DiverseKidlit

Nile Crossing
By Katy Beebe
Illustrated by Sally Wern Comport

The first thing I noticed were the large, full-page illustrations with colors, shading, and texture that bring Egypt to life.

The prose is written in a way that is poetic, thoughtful, and can further entice a reader’s imagination.
“We wake in the still darkness of a day unlike all others.I roll up my mat, and my heartswoops like a falcon in this new day,the first day of school.”
Children get to learn about Ancient Egypt culture with little details that help to paint a picture of Egyptian life, including what a scarab is and a mention of Thoth, the god of the moon. These things, as well as a few others, are highlighted in the glossary for further study.

The descriptions of the Nile are beautiful.
“It greets us with the whisper of reeds,The lap of water at the river bank,The muttering of geese as they mumbled in their sleep.”

Khepri and his father cross the Nile on their way to school. Although this story is set in Ancient Egypt, all kids getting ready for their first day of school or going to a new school for the first time will be able to relate to Khepri and his nerves, as well as his bravery.

When the story ends, there’s more of a story to follow titled “Writing in Ancient Egypt” where we get to read about Kehpri using his brand-new pens gifted by his father. We even learn about the paper they used back then as well as what Kephri has to do to prepare his pens and write for the first time.

There’s also a section at the end titled “School in Ancient Egypt” that explains how royal sons went to school and young girls did not get a formal education, but some evidence shows a few boys from ordinary families (like Khapri) and a few girls did learn to read and write. This will be an awakening for children as they begin to learn to read and write themselves.


Friday, March 30, 2018

A is for Alpine: An Alphabet Book for Little Hikers

A is for Alpine: An Alphabet Book for Little Hikers 
by Rebecca Douglass
and Dave Dempsey

A is for Alpine: An Alphabet Book for Little Hikers is just that. This is a simple book for young kids who are interested in the outdoors and camping and are learning their ABCs and word associations.

You'll want to bring this ABC book outside with your kids, or just to your backyard, so while you read each page you can point out more outdoorsy things can start with each letter, turning this into an activity book.

At first, I wished there was a bit more than just one small sentence for each letter/page, but the simplicity is part of the charm, along with the images. The images are real photos taken by the author of her children when they were between the ages of about five and eleven. The photos of nature were taken by Dave Dempsey.

At the end of the book it explains how the author got the idea to first create this book and why she decided to publish it.
"B is for boys on a Backpacking adventure."
I imagine many young kids will want to go backpacking after reading this. Even if its just for a short hike and nature hunt.

RECOMMENDED for nature-loving kids ages 3 - 5.

Sammy Approved!

About the Author:

Rebecca Douglass grew up in Idaho, Arizona, and Washington states, and now lives near San Francisco. Her passions include backpacking, hiking, books, and running and biking. She works at the library, volunteers in the schools, and is having a great time writing for kids and adults of all ages.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Creepy Pair of Underwear / Review

Creepy Pair of Underwear!

Written by Aaron Reynolds

Illustrated by Peter Brown

An enjoyable story that tickles your funny bone. With a humorous storyline, this story teaches children how fear can crop up anything or anywhere and that fear is not a bad thing.

Jasper's mom brings him to the store to buy him plain white underwear, but then Jaspers sees...CREEPY UNDERWEAR that glows in the dark. 

He claims he's a big bunny now, so his mom buys him one pair. That night, he puts on his new underwear and goes to bed, but they're so bright and eerily green that he can't go to sleep. He takes it off and puts on his plain whites. That's when things get really creepy. This scary underwear has a mind of its own and clearly doesn't want to go away. Just when they're gone for good, he realizes he likes the green glow at night. Without it, it's too dark!

The illustrations are amazing. The underwear really does seem to glow, adding to the entire experience.

This story will have you and your kids laughing out loud. 

All kids go through that stage of needing to buy "big kid" underwear and being afraid of the dark, and this tale combines both of those in a cute way.


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Juliane's Story #DiverseKidLit

Juliane's Story: A Real-Life Account of Her Journey from Zimbabwe

Written by Andy Glynne

Illustrated by Karl Hammond

(Based on the BAFTA winning animations)

Juliane lived on a farm in Zimbabwe. She was only three and a half when her mom left for her own safety. Church people took Juliane in and raised her.

"I had to learn to be my own mother and father."

But she believed, deep down, her mom was looking for her.

"In the orphanage, there were about 30 children trying to eat from one plate."

Reading about what life was like in the orphanage is heartbreaking. For kids, especially for many kids in America, it'll show them that they have things and privileges that other kids around the world don't have--a full plate of food and clean drinking water. There are things many children take for granted in this generation of iPhones, video games, and YouTube.

"I survived by drinking water, but it wasn't clean."

One day, all the orphan are put on a truck. Juliane's the smallest and the last to get on the truck. All of a sudden, a woman is chasing at it--her mom! They're reunited and leave Zimbabwe, but Juliane struggles to adapt to her new life in her new host country.

She experiences severe panic attacks, something not many kids understand, so this is a great teaching moment for parents to see if their children have ever experienced anxiety.

This is a picture book with few words, but the illustrations are stunning. There are also several lessons for kids today between these pages, such as acceptance.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Green Pea and Potato Soup / Souper Blog Hop

A big thanks to my daughter, Chrys Fey, for hosting this blog hop for me and to EVERYONE who is participating today or just hopping around, gathering recipes.

Twenty years ago, I penned a children's story about a little boy who loves pea soup so much that he ate a few bowls before naptime. It was so good that Gregory dreamt about swimming in a lake made of pea soup. While he swam, he ate all the soup he wanted. When he woke up from his nap, he was green! Even his teddy bear, Sammy, was green. His mother's remedy to get rid of his green was to make tomato soup. And Gregory and Sammy wondered how'd they look all red.

Original illustration of them swimming in pea soup!

That was the original story. I read it to my children and to the children at the elementary schools I worked for.

The idea for this story was inspired by my son Danny, who loved my homemade split pea soup, and his Cabbage Patch Doll...Sammy! In my story, my son's beloved doll became a teddy bear. But when I read my stories to classes in the media center as a librarian assistant, I would act out the stories with the real Sammy. He was a huge hit!

Last year, I rewrote the story for today's generation of kids. And now Pea Soup Disaster is available in print! This time, Gregory eats pea soup for lunch at school and his classmates make fun of how it looks. Ew. Bugs! Just imagine what happens when he turns green in front of them!

In honor of Gregory and Sammy, I am sharing a Green Pea and Potato Soup recipe.

But don't eat too much or you may turn green, too. Hehehe.

Original illustration of Gregory and Sammy
trying to wash away their green.

Green Pea and Potato Soup

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
2 cups of beef broth
2 cans of Campbell's Condensed Green Pea Soup
2 medium-size potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
Dash of black pepper

1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Pour in beef broth and bring to a boil.

3. Add the two cans of Campbell's Condensed Green Pea Soup.

4. Add the diced potato, dried sage, and black pepper.

5. Lower heat to a gentle bubble, cover, and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

6. Cool and pig out!

**Don't forget to share some with your favorite teddy bear or stuffed animal! ;)

And here it is...

BLURB: Gregory Green loves his mom’s pea soup, but when he eats it at school, all of his friends make fun of how it looks. He doesn’t think it looks like bugs, and it tastes good! Then at recess, his friends run from him, screaming, “He’s a monster!” Gregory doesn’t know why his friends are being mean until he sees his skin is green. The teasing gets worse until an unlikely friend comes to the rescue—his teddy bear, Sammy. Sammy usually only comes to life for Gregory and his family, but Sammy has an important lesson to teach Gregory and his classmates.


Praise for Pea Soup Disaster:

“Bullying is not fun and, with colorful illustration and interesting characters, the author handles the topic in a simple manner, giving a clear message about how the color of one's skin is not important. It is a perfect book for children starting school or joining a new school midway as it will give them the confidence and courage to stand up to bullies in case they run into them.” - Readers' Favorite (5-Star Review)

“A charming and imaginative tale that can help children cope with being bullied.” – Sherry Ellis, author of That Mama is a Grouch

“A beautiful story about a bowl of pea soup and a teddy bear with a secret that shows the kids at school bullying is never fun.” – Beverly Stowe McClure, award-winning author of A Family for Leona

Visit the other Souper Blog Hop participants:

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Turtle is a Boy's Best Friend / Slice of Life

My first Slice of Life post!

Last week, my eleven-year-old grandson's turtle died.

I had found his turtle six years ago on my screened-in porch when I shook out a blanket. And out plopped a turtle about the size of a quarter.

Baby Patio

How did it get there? I would leave the screen door cracked open for a stray mommy cat who would seek shelter for her and her babies at night. I suspect she brought this itty bitty turtle onto my porch.

We named her Patio.

We had her for a year before she got too big, so we gave her a new home with my eldest daughter. Sometime later, Patio found her forever home with my grandkids, and my oldest grandson claimed her as his. My grandsons have a few other turtles and love them all so much. So much, in fact, that the illustrations for my picture book Slow Poke are of my grandsons and their turtles.

Patio portrayed a male turtle named Samson.

Illustration from Slow Poke. Patio is on the right.

My grandson came home from school last Wednesday to find his buddy had passed away. They noticed she had started to show signs of illness two nights prior and ordered medicine, but she wouldn't hold out for it, which would arrive the next day.

My grandson buried Patio in their yard. He tied two pieces from a palm branch together into a cross to mark her grave and wrapped his favorite red and black earbuds around its base. Next to the cross, he set a large, empty container of turtle food in the dirt. And he added a few painted stones he collected from #BrevardRocks, a movement in our county that involves people painting and hiding rocks everywhere and anywhere for others to find.

He drew a picture of Patio that said, "R.I.P. Patio. We love you very, very much." He taped this drawing on the wall then set their other three turtles in front of it as if they were paying their respects. He took a picture of this to have forever on his phone.

They say a dog is a man's best friend, but maybe a turtle is a boy's best friend. Or at least that was the case for this little boy.