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Results 1 - 25 of 86
1. #661 – Pig and Small by Alex Latimer

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Pig and Small

Written & Illustrated by Alex Latimer
Peachtree Publishers                9/01/2104
978-1-56145-797-7
Age 4 to 8            32 pages
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“Pig and Bug just want to be friends, but their size differences are proving to be a BIG problem. Pig wants to play games—but Bug is too small to keep up. Bug wants to make things for his friend—but Pig is too big to appreciate the craftsmanship! Just as they’ve given up all hope for a friendship, Pig has an idea. Will it work? (Yes, it will.)”

Opening

“Before this morning, Pig’s nose had never squeaked—not even once.”

Review

Poor Pig. His nose squeaked so much he even looked it up in a medical book. Squeaky Nose Syndrome is right after Squeaky Mouth Syndrome and before Squeaky Pants Syndrome. Wait, it isn’t there. There is no Squeaky Nose Syndrome. Pig examines his nose himself and finds the problem, which is not a problem at all, but a tiny bug. Bug is waving his arms—all four of them—trying to get Pig’s attention. Bug wants to be friends.

“Hello,” said Pig.
“Squeak, squeak,” replied Bug.

Pig and Bug start doing things together, but their friendship has problems from the start. What Pig likes to do—play board games, ride bikes, catch—was difficult and sometimes a wee bit dangerous for Bug, and what Bug likes to do—make things for Pig, Hide-N-Seek—was too small or too hard for Pig. They decide to part ways.

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I really like the illustrations by Alex Latimer. He also wrote and illustrated Lion vs. Rabbit (reviewed here), The Boy Who Cried Ninja (reviewed here), and Penguin’s Hidden Talent (sadly, not reviewed here). I love the simple lines and colorful characters that always shine with emotions. He also adds small details that I love and often find amusing. Latimer’s picture books use humor and situations to teach young children without seeming to send a message. In Pig and Small, size makes a difference for BIG Pig and small Bug, so they decide not to be friends. However, this is not the end of Pig and Small.

Pig turns to leave, after he and Bug decided to go their own ways, and the wind, blowing mighty hard, whips a newspaper at Pig, sticking it to his face. Open to the movie section—The Pirate, the Ninja, and the Invisible Dog—Pig realizes there are many things he and Bug can both enjoy. They go see the movie and have a great time. Bug . . . nah, I’ll leave the details between the pages. Do not miss the BIG finale.

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BIG Pig and small Bug decide size does not matter. There are many things the two interesting friends can do together that both enjoy. They enjoyed the movie and talk about it on the way home. There are museums, zoos, plays, and aquariums awaiting them. Size does not matter in friendships. Differences melt away between friends and they find ways to enjoy their time together.

Once again, Latimer’s soft, easy tones guide us to a new understanding of what friendship is about, or rather what it is not about—size. With kids back in school and the holidays approaching (much too fast), children have the opportunity to make many new friends. After reading Pig and Small, they will understand that size does not matter in friendship, or do friends need to have identical likes to get along and be friends. Friendship, as in life, is a compromise and differences should not matter . . . at least not to friends like Pig and Bug.

4

 

PIG AND SMALL. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Alex Latimer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.
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Pick up Pig and Small at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryPeachtree Publishersyour favorite local bookstore.
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Learn more about Pig and Small HERE

WIN PIG AND SMALL from Peachtree Publishers HERE

Meet the author and illustrator, Alex Latimer, at his website:   http://www.alexlatimer.co.za/

Check out what he has to say at his blog:   http://alexlatimer.blogspot.com/

Tweet him at his Twitter:   https://twitter.com/almaxla

Find excellent picture books at the Peachtree Publisher’s website:   http://peachtree-online.com/

Peachtree has a blog with occasional giveaways here:   http://peachtreepub.blogspot.com/

Also by Alex Latimer

The Boy Who Cried Ninja

The Boy Who Cried Ninja

Penguin's Hidden Talent

Penguin’s Hidden Talent

 Lion vs Rabbit

Lion vs Rabbit

Just So Stories

Just So Stories

The Space Race

The Space Race

 The South-African Alphabet  

The South-African Alphabet

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pig and small
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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Picture Book Tagged: acceptance, Alex Latimer, children's book reviews, differences in people, friendships, Peachtree Publishers, picture books, Pig and Small, respect, size doesn't matter

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2. #650 – The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey by Gregory E. Bray & Holly J. Bray-Cook

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The “Tail” of a Boy Named Harvey

Written by Gregory E. Bray
Illustrated by Holly J. Bray-Cook
Published by Gregory E. Bray         6/01/2013
978-1-488271465-4
Age 4 to 8              32 pages
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“Harvey is always playing with his pets, but his pets don’t like the way he plays with them. When the tables have turned, will he enjoy the way he’s played with?”

Opening

“Harvey was an energetic boy. He loved playing sports.”

The Story

Harvey is a typical five-year-old. He is rambunctious, energetic, imaginative, and self-centered. Harvey loves playing with his pets: a dog and a cat (names not given). Being a young boy, he does not think of either pet’s feelings or consider how they might like to play. The pets are like large dolls that breathe. Harvey puts clothes on them, uses the cat as a basketball, and dresses both up in military garb when he wants to play army—sending the cat up into the air so it may return in a parachute. To say Harvey plays rough with his companions is a mild way of describing his actions. Harvey plays like a little boy plays, with energy and enthusiasm.

The poor dog and cat are not happy and try to avoid Harvey at all costs. His parents cannot figure out why the pets react so adversely to their son, until the day mom catches Harvey ready to catch his parachuting kitty.

“She sent him to his room after dinner and he was only allowed to come out for school and meals.”

Harvey’s response to his punishment further shows he has no idea what he did to get into so much trouble.

“Stupid pets!”  [Harvey said, while lying in bed.]

Review

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I really like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. Subconsciously, Harvey understood what he did was wrong. In his dream, he is the “pet” and the pets “own” him. The pets play with Harvey exactly as he played with them—thrown up in the air, dressed up, and abruptly awakened. Harvey hates this “playing.” The army games the pets play with Harvey terrify him enough to jolt him awake. Mom tells him it is only a dream, but Harvey has other thoughts on his mind,

“I’m sorry guys. I didn’t know how bad I treated you. I promise to play nice with you for now on!”

I like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey because animal abuse starts with that first inappropriate action. While most kids do not continue on abusing animals—and later extend the abuse to humans—the sooner they learn to respect their pets, the faster they will learn to respect other people and themselves. Harvey’s self-centeredness, typical for his age, opened up a notch with his revelation. I love that Harvey came to this realization mainly by himself, though he would have gotten there much slower had mom not punished him. This is a perfect example of how kids learn. The author’s inspiration for the book came in part from his son Liam and their cat Harvey. The author got it right.

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Now, what I do not like about The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. I am not a fan of the 8 x 8 format mainly because little hands need the stronger pages of a traditional picture book format. A couple of pages came loose from the binding in my copy. The main problem with the story is the lack of action. The narrator tells us 90 percent or more of what is happening instead of letting the characters do this. The story would be more engaging had this happened. The reader would also be able to add to the story by adopting character voices and further charm their child. Please remember the key maxim: Show not Tell.

The illustrations are good, not traditional looking picture book illustrations, but nicely done. The pets are great at showing their dislike through facial expressions, though my cat would have simply hissed or bit, then run away. When the pets do run away, their fast retreat is nicely illustrated. The illustrator made sure we understood Harvey’s point of view drastically changes when he becomes the pet. The dog and cat (wish they had names) are adorable. Nice job with the little details I love so much.

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I think kids will like The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey. Young kids will appreciate the story and laugh at Harvey’s predicament. Those with pets will quickly learn from Harvey and that is a great thing to happen. Classrooms with a pet would do well to read this story, as would any child soon to get their first pet. The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey is the author’s, and the illustrator’s, first children’s book. They both did a nice job bringing the story of Harvey (the cat or the boy, I am no longer sure which) to life.

THE TAIL OF A BOY NAMED HARVEY. Text copyright © 2013 by Gregory E. Bray. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Holly J. Bray-Cook. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Gregory E. Bray, Sacramento, CA.

For a young lad’s critique, click HERE

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Purchase The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey at Amazon—B&N—CreateSpace—Gregory Bray—your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about The Tail of a Boy Named Harvey HERE

Meet the author, Gregory E. Bray, at his blog:   http://gregoryebrayauthor.blogspot.com/

Meet the illustrator, Holly J. Bray-Cook, at her website:

Gregory E. Bray published through CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

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tail of a boy named harvey

Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

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A Little about Gregory E. Bray

gregory e bray authorx

“Gregory E Bray (1967-present) was born and raised in Sacramento, CA where he still resides He was a film major in college who now works in the IT industry. He has written scripts for corporate videos and shorts and uses humor in everything he writes. He uses his humor in this, his first children’s book, to help get the books message out to children. His inspiration for writing this children’s book comes from his wife Lita, their son Liam and their cat Harvey.”

How to Find Gregory E. Bray

Website:

Blog:   http://gregoryebrayauthor.blogspot.com/

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/gregoryebray

Goodreads Author Page:   https://www.goodreads.com/geb1967

Amazon Author’s Page:    amazon.com/author/gregorybray


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: be kind to pets, cats, children's book reviews, dogs, Gregory E. Bray, Holly J. Bray-Cook, imagination, pets, picture books, relationships, respect

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3. The Crew Goes Coconuts: A Captain No Beard Story: Book 6 | Dedicated Review

Just like all of the Captain No Beard stories, The Crew Goes Coconuts is super kid-­‐ friendly with bright illustrations. It contains all of the familiar and favorite characters of books past, plus the introduction of Matie the goat, and fans of the series will enjoy boarding the Flying Dragon once again with all of their old friends.

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4. Improve organizational well-being and prevent workplace abuse

By Maureen Duffy


What do we mean when talk about workplace health and well-being these days? How well are we doing in achieving it?

Traditionally, the notion of employee health and well-being was about protecting workers from hazards in the workplace and insuring physical safety. From this early focus on the physical safety and health of workers, the concept of workplace health evolved to include the protection and promotion of personal physical health and well-being. Corporate wellness programs emphasizing health promoting behaviors like smoking cessation, weight loss, exercise and nutrition, and management of chronic diseases like diabetes fall into this category.

More recently, the idea of employee health and well-being has evolved to include protection and promotion of the psychological safety of workers, the sustainability of the organization itself, and active participation in health promotion of the local community. The World Health Organization developed a definition of workplace health and well-being that includes all of these dimensions. Grounded in research, it defines a healthy workplace as: “one in which workers and managers collaborate to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well-being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace by considering the following, based on identified needs:

  • health and safety concerns in the physical work environment;
  • health, safety and well-being concerns in the psychosocial work environment, including organization of work and workplace culture;
  • personal health resources in the workplace; and
  • ways of participating in the community to improve the health of workers, their families and other members of the community.”


The World Health Organization’s is not the only definition of workplace health and well-being but it’s a good starting point for conversation.

Who are clinical social workers?" ACSWA. Photo Courtesy of Maureen Duffy.

“Who are clinical social workers?” ACSWA. Photo Courtesy of Maureen Duffy via iStockphoto.

Employee health and well-being, especially psychological and emotional health, could be faring a whole lot better than it is. To start with, the Gallup Organization, in its most recent worldwide survey of employee engagement found that only 29% of North American employees were engaged, and this low number represented the highest rate of engagement among all regions of the world surveyed. That leaves 70% of North American employees unmotivated and disconnected, to some degree or another, from their work and workplaces. Add to widespread lack of engagement the results of the 2014 Workplace Bullying Institute’s US workplace bullying survey indicating that 27% of Americans surveyed had personally experienced repeated mistreatment and abusive conduct at work and an additional 21% reported witnessing it. Especially from the perspective of psychological heath, well-being, and safety, the findings from these two recent surveys paint a gloomy picture and suggest that modern organizational life is in trouble.

A helpful way of improving psychological health, well-being, and safety in the workplace is through the implementation of guiding principles to make the organization more resistant to workplace bullying, mobbing, and abuse. These principles are values-driven, action-oriented, and structure-sensitive.

Guiding Principle #1: Place values like empathy, respect, and ethical communication at the center of organizational life.

  • Empathy is the lens through which co-workers, customers and people served, and complex situations are viewed. What does this situation mean for this person or these people? What is it like to be this co-worker, this manager, this customer, this patient, this student, this teacher, in this situation, and what can this organization do to improve the experiences for each of them? Such deep empathy guides problem assessment and solution-building. The design and innovation company, IDEO is a wonderful example of a company that is built around the value of active empathy.
  • Respect is the value that guides how we treat each other, acknowledge each other’s presence, and recognize each other’s contributions to fulfilling the organizational mission. Practicing respect also allows for embracing diversity and accepting differences. Some work futurists who want to embrace the power of diversity to push innovation and solution-building endorse moving away from consensus models toward dissensus models. In dissensus models, hidden, differing, or even critical perspectives about an organizational situation or challenge are actively sought and gathered. Dissensus models take outlier views into account, thereby including all viewpoints, thus avoiding some of the pitfalls of consensus-building and groupthink. While respect as a value is written into many organizational mission statements and codes of conduct, it is worth remembering what the cybernetician and organizational theorist, Stafford Beer, cautioned; namely, that a work system is what it does (not necessarily what it says it does). Whether respect is actually practiced as a value in an organization shows up in how people both talk about one another and act toward one another.
  • Ethical communication brings together the values of empathy and respect and is the single most important way of aligning these values with behavior to reduce and prevent mobbing, bullying, and other forms of workplace abuse. Ethical communication offers a map for how to talk with others when they are present and how to talk about them when they are not. Ethical communication in the workplace excludes gossip, backstabbing, shunning and ostracizing, applying pejorative labels about the personalities or personal lives of others, and shutting people out of critical information loops necessary to do their jobs. Ethical communication includes transparency and openness among all organizational members irrespective of rank. The late Michael White, a renowned narrative therapist, adhered to a principle of ethical communication in conducting therapy that, if applied within organizations, would go a long way toward reducing workplace abuse, mobbing, and bullying. The principle that White rigorously adhered to was only talking about clients in their absence as he would in their presence—no matter who the third party was or how influential or powerful. Imagine how different and how much psychologically safer organizational life would be if everyone in the organization adopted Michael White’s principle of ethical communication!


Guiding Principle #2: Keep an action orientation toward the mission, tasks, goals, projects, and purpose of the organization.

In other words, this principle is about doing the work of the organization at full throttle every day. The work of the organization is not the perpetuation of the organization despite appearances to the contrary in a number of cases. The work of the organization is to provide goods and services that benefit and please end-users while inspiring those involved in their creation and production. Workers who are inspired, active, and involved are much more likely to work with each other rather than against each other as happens in workplace bullying, mobbing, and abuse.

Guiding Principle #3: Pay attention to structure sensitivity and how the organizational structure impacts the productivity of the organization and well-being of its personnel.

Suggesting that organizations pay attention to their own structures and modify or change them when they no longer seem to serve either the end-users or organizational members might seem like a tall order. But it’s a tall order that’s catching on. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing store with over 1,500 employees, is abandoning hierarchy, bosses, and management as we have come to know it in favor of a non-hierarchical, distributed system of power called Holacracy. Other companies are already using the Holacracy model and still others are utilizing structures that rely on networks and self-organizing systems rather than on bureaucracy and hierarchy. Traditional hierarchical organizational structures rely on outdated methods of control that are authoritarian in nature, even when benignly so, and emphasize obedience, conformity, and punishment. Caring for the psychological health and well-being of employees and, indeed all organizational members, may in the final analysis include serious attention to organizational structure and the possibility of structural change. Such structural sensitivity and change may also be required to rid our workplaces of bullying and mobbing and their destructive effects on the individual and the organization.

The news about organizational life and about emotional and psychological well-being within organizations is not good. Creating organizations that are more humane and that are inviting and exciting places to spend so much of our time is worth our biggest thinking and our willingness to dare to make them better.

Maureen Duffy is a consultant about workplace and school issues, including mobbing and bullying, a family therapist and educator and is the co-author of Overcoming Mobbing: A Recovery Guide for Workplace Aggression and Bullying and Mobbing: Causes, Consequences, and Solutions. Read her previous blog posts.

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5. Ned & Rosco, by Robin Robinson | Dedicated Review

Ned is a book-smart turtle with a very introspective way of thinking. As Rosco cartwheels onto the scene singing a song, Ned’s long awaited moment of serenity is shattered and so begins the story’s true tale of accepting differences and finding a balance between learning and living.

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6. Imploding

The newest offering of the Defective Amish Detective is available now! You can get Vol 6: The Sausage Log Implosion on Kindle here: http://amz.to/11MckpP


I have to say this whole experience has been a lot of fun. When Giovanni approached me about this series, I was a little hesitant. I have always known him to have an outrageous sense of humor and I knew the Amish were handled with a great deal of respect. I did not know how we would blend the two.

What came out of it was a story with lots of heart and its own kind of zaniness. I think we manage to show the proper amount of respect to the Amish. Much of the slapstick falls on the Defective Detective, who is not Amish. What is he? Something of a repentant hitman. Both of our main characters have mysterious pasts that give them unique skills to handle the cozy mysteries we throw at them.

In the end, this series is about friendship and understanding. It is about two men coming from two different worlds and overcoming their differences to work together for the greater good. It is a pleasure to write and I hope you have as much fun reading it!

About The Sausage Log Implosion“Muck is Muck,” Eli the Blacksmith says.How does the Defective Detective go from having a near perfect day to one of the worst? Simple – someone stole his sausage log. Everyone has something in life that makes them happy. For G, it is the culinary delights of the Amish, including whoopie pies and sausage logs. When his favorite market is sold out, G wants to know why. The charming, but innocent, counter girl tells him that the butcher’s meat grinder has been stolen. When something goes awry in Amish Country, G can’t let it go. He joins his stalwart companion Eli and the two of them are on the case. They have two questions to answer. What happened to the meat grinder? And, how much muck is too much muck? This is one explosive implosion!

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7. Lost and Found by Bill Harley

5 Stars
Lost and Found
Bill Harley
Peachtree Publishers
No. Pgs: 32    Ages: 4 - 8
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Peachtree Website: When Justin loses the special hat his grandmother made for him, he looks everywhere he can think of to find it. Everywhere, that is, except the lost and found. Mr. Rumkowsky, the old school custodian, is the keeper of all the lost and found items, and everyone is afraid of him, including Justin.

With his grandmother coming to visit soon, his mom upset, and the hat nowhere in sight, Justin finally musters the courage to enter Mr. Rumkowsky’s domain. There he discovers a whole world of treasures – lost items Justin’s friends (and generations of children before them) have been too afraid to claim. Things keep getting weirder and weirder, until way down at the bottom of Rumkowsky’s giant box Justin unearths something completely unexpected…

∞∞∞∞♦♦∞∞∞∞

Justin has lost his hat, the special hat, the one grandma made him, with the red ball on top that fell off. Now, grandma is coming for a visit and mom is upset that Justin has lost his hat. But Justin has asked all his friends and no one has seen his hat.

“Did you ask Mr. Rumkowsky?”

None of the kids wanted to ask Mr. Rumkowsky if he found anything they had lost. They were each too afraid of Mr. Rumkowsky, who was the old custodian located at the end of the scary hallway, behind the cafeteria. Justin continued to look every place imaginable and a couple more after those. Finally, Justin knew what he had to do. His grandma was coming for a visit and he needs his hat.

Mr. Rumkowsky has been with the school forever and he grumbles and frowns. This makes him look scary and none of the kids wants to find out if they are wrong, because they believe they are right. Justin is at the end of his rope and must now go to the lost and found, which means going to see Mr. Rumkowsky.

I enjoyed Lost and Found. The basement corridor that went past the custodian’s office was terrifying in elementary school, as was the dreaded principal’s office. The authority these imposing adults had over “us” kids was actually terrifying. Like Justin and his friends, we were afraid though we had no real information to make such a decision.  Unlike Justin, none of us was ever brave enough to go down that hall. Justin shows much courage not once, but twice and several times after that. Soon, Justin discovers treasures galore in the lost and found from generations of students, and he finds Mr. Rumkowsky is a good guy.

The illustrations really set the mood for this story. The full spreads are wonderful representations. The custodian’s door has multiple locks that perpetuate this climate of fear. This generational mistrust is easily seen. A closer look at those locks on the custodian’s door shows they are on the inside of the door, as if Mr. Rumkowsky was afraid of what might enter, perhaps a student needing help finding a lost item.

Boys and girls will love Lost and Found, especially if they have a similarly scary person at their school. Librarians and teachers will love this book for its perfect story time quality, the expressive text matched with the dynamic illustrations, that can be seen to several rows back.. Mr. Harley and Mr. Gustavson have produced a picture book that is unique yet captures a common childhood dilemma: the fear of authority.

Interview with Author Bill Harley HERE!

Lost and Found

Author: Bill Harley   website   activity fun!   newsletter
Illustrator: Adam Gustavson   website   facebook
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers   website
Release Date: October 1, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-56145-628-4
Number of Pages: 32
Ages: 4 to 8
Grades: Pre-K to 3
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Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade Tagged: authority figures, children's books, courage, family, fear, fear of authorities, lost and found, middle grade books, relationships, respect

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8. Best Internet: Meet Me in the Stairwell




MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL 
PLEASE READ TO THE VERY END, IT IS BEAUTIFUL!!!

'MEET ME IN THE STAIRWELL'

You say you will never forget where you were when
you heard the news On September 11, 2001.
Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room
with a man who called his wife to say 'Good-Bye.' I
held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the
peace to say, 'Honey, I am not going to make it, but it
is OK..I am ready to go.'

I was with his wife when he called as she fed
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she
tried to understand his words and as she realized
he wasn't coming home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a
woman cried out to Me for help. 'I have been
knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!' I said.
'Of course I will show you the way home - only
believe in Me now.'

I was at the base of the building with the Priest
ministering to the injured and devastated souls.
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He
heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat,
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the
believers there, comforting and assuring them that their
faith has saved them.

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .
I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew
every name - though not all knew Me. Some met Me
for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.
Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the
smoke and flames; 'Come to Me... this way... take
my hand.' Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.
But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You
may not know why, but I do. However, if you were
there in that explosive moment in time, would you have
reached for Me?

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey
for you. But someday your journey will end. And I
will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may
be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are
'ready to go.'

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.
God
During the next 60 seconds, stop whatever you are
doing, and take this opportunity. (Literally it
is only 1 minute.) All you have to do is the
following:

Stop and think and appreciate God's power
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9. Poetry is still Gates retiree's key to reaching kids



If you've ever been to the Rochester Children's Book Festival, you've likely seen Joe"Silly" Sottile (yes, it rhymes!) decked out in his rainbow-colored propeller hat. But the truth is, Sottile wears many hats.

Please click below for the rest of the story:






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10. Ashley Bryan’s Bright and Beautiful Books

Ashley Bryan deserves a special valentine for bringing so much joy to the realm of
children’s literature. From his witty, rhythmic retellings of folktales to his bold and beautiful paintings, woodcuts, and
collages, Bryan has enriched the lives of countless readers around the world. You can meet this beloved author/illustrator by opening Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life’s Song (Atheneum, 2009). This engaging autobiography shines with light, color, and love. Bryan, 87 and still thriving, invites us to hear his story, enlivened with his own poetic, accessible language and with a potpourri of photographs that reveal his childhood world, his family, his artwork, his Bronx neighborhood, his parents’ home back in Antigua, as well as his life on Little Cranberry Island. We get a sense of how he evolved as an artist; one touching painting shows him as a wide-eyed child, book in hand, staring out the window at night. Images of birds — which filled the family’s living room — and the echoes of his mother singing will show up, of course, in Bryan’s books, as shown in the illustrations reproduced in this book. Bryan’s childhood was punctuated by drawing, painting, reciting poetry, and listening to the Bible stories his mother read to him and his siblings. His recalls how they were the first black family to join the pretty St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church — where he would one day design a stained-glass window over the altar, showing a magnificent, dark and honey-hued image of Jesus rising from the tomb. After high school, he went, portfolio in hand, to a prominent art institute. A representative there told him his artwork was the best he had seen and that “it would be a waste to give a scholarship to a colored person.”
Bryan persevered. He was accepted at the Cooper Union School of Art and Engineering, and his world widened. After serving in WWII and graduating from Columbia, he taught art (from prep school to Dartmouth), and eventually made his way to the peak of children’s book illustrators.  This autobiography does not brag about Bryan’s multiple awards; instead, it beams with his humble, respectful and indomitable creative spirit. It invites us all to reach inside and listen to that still, precious voice … and to celebrate life while you can.
Note: Ashley Bryan will speak March 16th at the Virginia Festival of the Book. If you’d like to read more about him, see this fabulous 2009 interview in Horn Book.

Of Ashley Bryan’s nearly three dozen books, which do you like best? One of my favorite read-alouds for children ages 7-9 is Beautiful Blackbird.

In Bryan’s rousing read-aloud version of an Ila folktale from Zambia, all the birds have solid-colored feathers, with no patterns or specks of black. Only Blackbird has black feathers that “gleam all colors in the sun.” Generous Blackbird stirs up a brew in his medicine gourd, and then give

5 Comments on Ashley Bryan’s Bright and Beautiful Books, last added: 2/17/2011
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11. Wanting to Be Liked vs. Being Respected

My little granddaughter is twelve years old right now and entering her teenage years. She already has a group of girl friends that mean the world to her. I remember raising my own girls and learning that when in the full bloom of adolescence, their friends meant more to them than their parents.

I got to thinking about the fact that most people want to be liked … throughout their lifetime. But the intensity of that desire seems to change in a bell-shaped curve during a person’s life span.

Think about kids in nursery school who relate to one another in terms of playing with a toy or fighting over the possession of a toy. They ususally want to have things going their way … at all costs without worrying about how the other might feel about them. Forget about being liked.

As the years pass, they begin to start wanting to be both liked and respected. They want their classmates to think of them as “nice” or “smart” or “good athletes” or “good at the trombone,” etc. etc. In adolescence being liked is linked to being “cute,” “beautiful,” “a hunk,” “popular,” and “part of the in-group.” Being respected has not yet become a big deal. The most brilliant kid in the class could be a “nerd.”

Then in adulthood, being respected is as important as being liked. It involves ones success in whatever career they may have, as a breadwinner or homemaker/stay-at-home-mom. One alone is not enough to achieve happiness. The most brilliant, respected doctor who is disliked by his patients isn’t going to get very far. And the “nicest” guy in the neighborhood who can’t keep a job to support his family also has a problem.

Then there is old age. Of course, if you haven’t enough money to retire and take care of yourself, you aren’t in very good shape, no matter how “nice” you are. But if you are are okay financially, you probably don’t give a hoot if people like you or not. Take a look at all the “grumpy old men” out there who are forgiven their behavior because of their age. Or, the “old biddies” who are accepted as they are.

I guess the lesson learned is that if you are lucky enough to make it into old age, it doesn’t really matter if others like you or not. Hope I get there someday!


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12. Kids Don't Learn Respect . . . Unless You Teach Them

Manners Kids Crayon Pictures, Images and Photos

I remember back then when my brothers and sisters and I were young. We could be a wild bunch at times,the five of us, but that was only allowed inside our own home. When our parents took us to visit we were warned way in advance to quell the rising fear of . . . Oh my God! Ciro and Marian are coming with the five kids!!
One Aunt in particular, my mother's older sister Aunt Mary, was pretty well to do and had a house that looked like a museum. It stayed that way even with her three children living there, thanks to her diligence and fanaticism. There was a long four cushioned sofa against one wall in her living room, just long enough to seat five children and that's where we were forewarned to sit and mind our manners . . . or else! And we did just that until compassion overtook her and she bought us cookies . . . but WATCH the crumbs! Why were we so obediently mild-mannered on family outings, you might ask? Because we knew with certainty that my mother meant business when she said "This is not our house. Do NOT embarrass me!"
When I had my own five children and they were small, I passed on the warning too. Behind the issue of embarrassment was the greater core of Italian-American family life . . . RESPECT! You respect your elders, your parents, your teachers . . . and last but not least . . . YOURSELF. My children knew very clearly what was expected of them from early on. No, they weren't perfect, but they learned respect. I remember my young son Brendan's astonishment when a schoolmate who came to our house one afternoon, walked right up to the refrigerator, opened the door, and grabbed something to eat for himself. Before I could say anything, my seven year old said "What are you doing?" The boy replied nonchalantly, "Getting something to eat, why?" And Brendan sternly said in his little gruff voice, "You better put that back. This isn't your house and you didn't ask!" The boy turned around and saw me standing with my arms folded and sheepishly returned his booty back to the fridge. Then Brendan said, "Mom, I think Adam's hungry." I asked the boy if he'd like something to eat and he shyly shook his head yes and I fixed them both something nice to eat. Adam started smiling again. The next time he came to our home he remembered that we don't starve hungry children here and all he had to do was ask.
Another time, a different friend came over and used the bathroom. When he came out, Brendan was next in line to use it. He walked in and ran right out pulling his friend back into the toilet in a panic. The boy had peed all over the seat and decorated the wall also and just walked out. I heard my son warn him that if his Dad came home and saw that mess he'd be very angry and he won't let you play here again. And then he added, "You have to aim inside the bowl in our house."

It's called . . . Respect. It's called . . . I CARE!

Allowing and encouraging children to grow and explore their world is a task that does not come without responsibility. Respect for oneself and others begins at a very young age, but those values taught and supported through childhood continue throughout one's life. Children need boundaries and when they're in new and unfamiliar places they need to know what these boundaries are. Do unto others as you would have them do to you is a wise lesson to learn early in life.
Children can't grow up alone or in households where no one ever has time for them. They learn respect from their parents first. It all goes back to the beginning. Kids need to play and have fun, to be free and be loved. It's not about restricting their good times. It is about l

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13. Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou

Amazing Peace: A Christmas PoemContinuing our exploration of respect in relation to end-of-year celebrations and inspired by Marjorie’s beautiful post on The Christmas Menorahs, today I highlight Maya Angelou’s Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem (Schwartz & Wade, 2008).

Although written in a Christmas spirit, the poem’s resonance is far more broad, as it encourages one and all to “Come away from rancor. Come the way of friendship.” A sound piece of advice to humanity in this day and age when wars and conflicts still happen in the name of religion.

As seen in the excerpted verses below, her poem is a call for peace and unity:

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Peace.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

These words go straight into the heart, don’t they?

Do you know of other books for children that speak of people from different faiths coming together during the holidays? Would you recommend them? Please do share so we can all learn about how others have “come the way of friendship.”

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14. Religious Diversity in relation to End-of-Year Celebrations

religious_diversityThe new issue of PaperTigers, focusing on Religious Diversity in relation to End-of-Year Celebrations, is now live.

The end of the year, when so many holy and secular days are observed and celebrated, reminds us of the importance of understanding and being respectful of how others in our communities engage with and
express their beliefs. Books play an essential role in helping children learn about differences (for instance, why some people celebrate different holidays, or the same holidays in different ways, while others don’t celebrate anything): but more than anything, books can help them realize that, while our individualities do matter, our common humanity matters even more.

We hope you will enjoy our new features, which focus on celebrating diversity while striving for a more encompassing and tolerant world for all our children, families and communities.

We will also be talking about religious diversity and end-of-year celebrations here on the blog this month, so we hope you will share your favorite books and experiences with us!

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15. Bridges to Obama: Let Freedom Sing

Let Freedom SingAuthor: Vanessa Newton (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Vanessa Newton
Published: 2009 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
ISBN: 9781934706909

Spot-on sixties-style illustrations, simple, springboard text and a soulful, sing along refrain shine a celebratory light on 18 individuals who stood tall and opened doors for generations.

More freedom reading on JOMB:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

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16. Let Your Hair Down: Max Said “Yes!” (The Woodstock Story)

Max Said Author: Abigail Yasgur & Joseph Lipner
Illustrator: Barbara Mendes (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Change The Universe Press
ISBN: 9780615211442

Exuberant, edge-to-edge illustrations and simple rhyme salute a generous dairy farmer who took a chance on four kids, their dream and the prospect of peace.

You can watch Max Yasgur addressing the crowd at Woodstock, 1969, here.

August 15-17 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. How will you celebrate?

Other books mentioned:

More peace and tolerance on JOMB:

Pop over to Jama Rattigan’s Alphabet Soup for today’s full menu of poetry offerings. Poetry Fridays are brought to us by Kelly Herold of Big A, Little A.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

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17. Of Compassion and Captivity: Itsy Bitsy & Teeny Weeny

Author: Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen
Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
Published: 2009 Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN: 9781585364176

Doey eyes, gangly legs and silent, tangible devotion make this true tale of rescue, regret and release a thought provoking look at the value of life and freedom.

Other books mentioned:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

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18. Talent, Teamwork & Triumph: The Dunderheads

The DunderheadsAuthor: Paul Fleischman (on JOMB)
Illustrator: David Roberts (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Candlewick Press (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0763624985

Clean lines, comical details and snappy, generous first person narration sweep us into this suspenseful tale of strategy, solidarity and overlooked superpowers.

Other books mentioned:

More independent thinkers on JOMB:

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

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19. What difference does it make?

My thought on all this politics and financial crisis is that we can make a difference. We MUST make a difference!

What can we do right now to ensure that the youth and children of now are smart enough and prepared enough and willing enough to care about this country like we do and to run it effectively?

Education is the key to our survival. Look around you; look at the average kid walking down the street. Is that who you want running our country in 40 years? Would they even care enough to want to?

By putting more of a focus on the education of this and the next generations we can ensure that our country will be worth the respect of those around us and that we won't have to worry about the next big crisis.

I think that Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump have the right idea. In WHY WE WANT YOU TO BE RICH, they talk a lot about financial education. It is crucial to not only teach kids the basics, but to also teach them about the wonders of respect and accomplishment and self-worth. By giving them a financial education, we can increase the chances of them being successfully independent. Part of that education needs to be the analysis of situations like what we face now in the financial sector. I once heard someone say that Wall Street didn't affect them because they owned no stock. I wonder what they are thinking now.

Kids are leaving schools without the basic skills to do simple math or even to know how to read in many cases. I've seen this. It is frightening.

Is it up to government to fix our education problems? Isn't it up to the people? This is no time for pointing fingers and saying "you did it." It is a time to come together and find a solution to the problem. Don't like the schools your kids go to? Home school, give them the level of education you think they require, but be sure you include the things that are important. WE have to make certain that we all begin and master the basic skills before moving on to the "fun" stuff.

Where is the support for our educators. I do believe that a lot of the problem with education lies with the teachers. It is not their fault! But they are tired. They are overworked, they are underpaid, and they are seriously underappreciated. What incentive do they have to even care? Now, don't get me wrong, they chose their career and they had to know going in that it would have its down side, but overpopulated classrooms, lack of financial support for curriculum materials and basic tools? Was this part of the deal? When was the last time you thanked your child's teacher for their efforts. How many teachers actually feel like anyone cares?

Well, I care. I don't have children, but I am educated enough to know that if we, as a people, don't do something to support education in this country, we are all in a lot of trouble, now, and in the future!

©Karen L. Syed

9 Comments on What difference does it make?, last added: 9/28/2008
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20. Of Flash and Forgiveness: The Worst Best Friend

The Worst Best FriendAuthor: Alexis O’Neill (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Laura Huliska-Beith (on JOMB)
Published: 2008 Scholastic (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0545010233

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Sunny school-yard action, frisky text and heaps of humorous details propel us through bliss, boastfulness, betrayal and back again in this spirited tale of friendship lost and found.

Other books mentioned:

HOTLINE VOICES: An unidentified JOMB listener/author/illustrator recommends Kiss Good Night (by Amy Hest) and Dig Dig Digging (by Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe).

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave us a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

To those of you celebrating Yom Kippur, G’mar Chatimah Tovah.

1 Comments on Of Flash and Forgiveness: The Worst Best Friend, last added: 10/14/2008
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21. Cultivating Hope: Mr. Hiroshi’s Garden

 Mr. Hiroshi's GardenAuthor: Maxine Trottier (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Paul Morin (on JOMB)
Published: 1999 Fitzhenry and Whiteside (on JOMB)
ISBN: 1550051520

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Dazzling light glows against darkening shadow as this warmly told memory of friendship and fortitude peeks into a dim chapter in Canadian history.

Other books mentioned:

For more information about the Japanese Internment of 1942-1945, visit Vanishing British Columbia, Canada: A People’s History, and Canadian Nikkei.

You can read about more of our favourite Canadian, Asian-themed children’s books in this essay by Andrea at Paper Tigers.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

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22. Don’t Dis Diversity: Silly Tilly

Silly TillyAuthor: Eileen Spinelli (on JOMB)
Illustrator: David Slonim (on JOMB)
Published: 2009 Marshall Cavendish (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0761455256

Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Rhyming triplets and edge-to-edge smile-inducing illustrations follow the carefree foolishness of an unconventional goose and remind us to savour the spice of life.

More independent thinkers on JOMB:

Pop over to Under The Covers for today’s full menu of poetry offerings. Poetry Fridays are brought to us by Kelly Herold of Big A, Little A.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

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23. Remembering for Grandma: Mile-High Apple Pie

Mile-High Apple PieAuthor: Laura Langston (on JOMB)
Illustrator: Lindsey Gardiner (on JOMB)
Published: 2004 Random House (on JOMB)
ISBN: 0099443880

Chapters.ca bn.com

Happily sloppy artwork and perfectly picked words and pace present the first-person ponderings of a young girl as her once spunky grandmother slips into forgetfulness in this sweet, sad tale of coping and compassion.

More grandmothers on JOMB:

  • The Grandmother Doll
  • Getting to Know Ruben Plotnick
  • When-I-Was-a-Little-Girl
  • The Gardener
  • The Lotus Seed
  • Snow
  • Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie
  • Treasure For Lunch
  • Falling Angels
  • The Clay Ladies
  • Healing the Wounds of World War II
  • A Gift For Gita
  • Carmine, A Little More Red
  • Petite Rouge, A Cajun Red Riding Hood
  • Grandma’s Feather Bed
  • Bintou’s Braids
  • Seven Brave Women
  • Suki’s Kimono
  • The Not-So-Only Child
  • A Very Unusual Dog
  • Aunt Claire’s Yellow Beehive Hair
  • Mama’s Saris
  • Mr. Hiroshi’s Garden
  • I Am Small
  • Before You Were Here, Mi Amor
  • The Party
  • We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

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    24. Noticing and Nurturing Each Other: How to Heal a Broken Wing

    How to Heal a Broken WingAuthor: Bob Graham (on JOMB)
    Illustrator: Bob Graham
    Published: 2008 Candlewick Press (on JOMB)
    ISBN: 0763639036

    Chapters.ca Amazon.com

    Airy illustrations and sparse poetic prose paint a poignant picture of hope, help and healing in this unspoken invitation to dare to care.

    Other books mentioned:

    Dreams of flying on JOMB:

    Six weeks ago yesterday, in Woodstock, Ontario, eight year old Victoria Stafford  finished her school day … then disappeared.  As the days turned to weeks, Canadians coast to coast came to know Victoria and her family as we watched mother Tara McDonald’s daily efforts to keep the search for her daughter fresh in our minds.  This despite mounting public criticism and suspicion of Tara herself.

    Yesterday, we learned of Tori’s tragic fate … and of her mother’s innocence.

    This episode of Just One More Book! is dedicated to little Tori Stafford, with heartfelt hopes for the healing of those she left behind.

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    25. Left Reeling: You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!

    You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! Author: Jonah Winter (on JOMB)
    Illustrator: André Carrilho (on JOMB)
    Published: 2009 Schwartz & Wade (on JOMB)
    ISBN: 0375837388

    Chapters.ca Amazon.com

    Gilded, stylized illustrations, scads of stats and lilting, laid back narration present an inspiring tale of persistence, power, poise and prevalent potential in this intimate look at the short but striking career of one of baseball’s greats.

    More sports on JOMB:

    HOTLINE VOICES: Radio Producer and Sound Artist Paolo Pietropaolo explains why he loves Fantastic Mr. Fox (by Roald Dahl).

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show

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