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Children’s Books ’ Category
Friday, December 13th, 2013
Two hardworking, kick-booty moms who live in my town of Montclair, New Jersey, created top-selling ballerina DVDs for little girls called Prima Princessa. Their version of The Nutcracker breaks down the story and features little girls and professionals performing it. It’s no less than spectacular–my two girls and even my boy twirled around to it when they were preschoolers. You might have caught the programs when they aired on public television stations around the world in recent years. They also produced Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
This year, Stephanie and Mary Kate have added a beautiful hardback book called Ballet for Beginners to their line of dance-inspiring products. In Ballet for Beginners, they break down the beautiful moves in photos and descriptions. It’s great for little girls just starting all the way up to teenage girls who would like to have references.
I got in touch with Stephanie and Mary Kate to see what they’ve been up to. Check out their answers below and find out why ballet is good for our kids, how to get little girls started and more!
KK: What ages does your new book, Ballet for Beginners, target?
Stephanie Troeller and Mary Kate Mellow (see left): Our book is designed for preschool children up to teenagers as well as parents looking for an overview of the world of ballet training. Little kids love the book because it is full of fun photos of preschool kids dancing and cartoons of Prima Princessa, our ballerina fairy. Children just starting out in ballet class as well as more serious student get to see great photos of some of the best ballet students in the world demonstrating most of the major steps and positions in ballet.
KK: What tips do you have for moms with small children who would like their kids to love ballet?
ST and MKM: Well we would have to say take your children to see a real ballet or you can have them watch one of our 3 Prima Princessa DVDs: Prima Princessa Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake. Each of these shows features a real ballet on stage performed by top ballet companies. The ballets have been edited in a child-friendly fashion, and they feature narration by our animated ballerina fairy Prima Princessa so children can follow the plot. Interspersed throughout the show are mini-dance breaks where children get to practice the ballet steps the they saw on stage with students from the School of American Ballet, official academy of the New York City Ballet.
We have tons of parents writing to us all the time about how their children love to dress up in their tutus and dance along to Prima Princessa shows. We specifically designed these shows to inspire children to dance.
KK: Is ballet just for little girls?
ST and MKM: Ballet is for everyone! Our shows and book are designed to inspire both future ballet dancers as well as ballet lovers right now! Are shows and book are something families will enjoy watching and reading together.
KK: How is ballet good for our kids?
ST and MKM: Ballet is not only great exercise, but it teaches children how hard work and discipline can pay off. Whether your children sticks with ballet or not, exposing them to ballet at an early age will develop in them an appreciation of the performing arts. In this age of instant gratification with downloadable games, apps, texting and snap chat the experience of watching a ballet performance is completely different. It really gets a child’s brain working in a more in depth fashion where they take the time to absorb and enjoy a classic fairy tale story like The Nutcracker as it unfolds through breathtaking dancing set to Tchaikovsky’s music.
KK: What’s a fun ballet move we can learn right now?
ST and MKM: Well our guess is your kids have probably been doing a bunch of ballet moves without even knowing it. Jumps, Spins, kicks and standing on ones tippy toes are all ballet movements. While our book shows precise ballet steps executed perfectly by the best students in the world, our shows feature preschooler, ballet students, professional ballerina as well as animals and toys doing ballet moves! We are not only showing ballet moves, but the spirit behind each ballet movement. On our website on our Be a Ballerina Page you can watch a video and learn how to do a Bouree.
Click to the Prima Princessa site for holiday games, tutus, DVDs and even this printable magic wand.
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Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Ravina Thakkar, an eighth-grader in Plainfield, IL, has cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening medical condition that affects her lungs and digestive system. She doesn’t define herself that way, though. She thinks of herself as a writer–and a girl who loves to dance and listen to music.
When she became eligible, her social worker helped make her dreams come true through the Make-A-Wish® Illinois foundation.
Ravina wanted to write a book for middle graders, and she did just that yesterday when Sourcebooks released her new title. The publisher gave Ravina the entire author experience–from working with editors and designers to revising the manuscript and weighing in on the cover art.
Ravina’s book is called Adventure of a Lifetime and was written when she was 8-years-old. It’s about a 9-year-old girl named Betty who battles alongside a character from her favorite fiction series as they race from one danger to the next.Adventure of a Lifetime It was released on her 14th birthday. Ravina’s doing a marketing and publicity campaign that includes this Q&A with me: nts and bravery.
KK: How old were you when you wanted to become a writer? What age should we parents start encouraging our little ones who seem interested in it?
RT: (At left.) I was 6 when I decided I wanted to be a writer, I think…or at least, that was when the idea first got in my head. If children show interest in writing, then I would definitely suggest encouraging them early on! My parents’ support is one of the reasons I’m here today.
KK: How does your illness tie into your deep desire to write? How do your experiences affect your writing?
RT: Well, in my case, Cystic Fibrosis affects my lungs more than anything else. I take medication and do three treatments a day to stay healthy, and since those treatments take up much time in my day, they’re usually the time when I sit down to write. However, I don’t think Cystic Fibrosis has really affected my actual writing in anyway though…I’ve never really written about it.
KK: Kids your age are really busy. How did you communicate your passion to your parents, and make sure you had enough time to write, while juggling school, friends and after-school activities?
RT: The time I had during treatments helped a lot. I’m not in many extra-curricular activities anyway, but as school gets harder and harder, there’s less time to write. I’ve been juggling ideas around in my head and jotting them down for a later date, so I can write them out once everything gets less hectic.
KK: What advice do you have for other parents whose kids are interested in writing?
RT: Support them! If they want to, let your children tell you about their stories. Readers make the best writers, so encourage that. However, some kids just like writing as a hobby and that’s fine–never make it into a chore of sorts for them.
KK: If you could meet any writer, who would it be?
RT: Oh, this is funny, considering my first ‘wish’ with the foundation was to meet J.K. Rowling. Sadly, she’s not a participant in the Make A Wish foundation, but I’d still love to meet her! Either her or John Green, most definitely.
KK: If you could write another book, what would it be about?
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RT: I’m not quite sure yet…I’ve kind of gravitated towards realistic fiction instead of adventure fiction, so if I did write something else, it would probably be that genre.
Friday, November 8th, 2013
Author and illustrator Dallas Clayton might be best known for his sweet and inspirational children’s books such as Make Magic! Do Good! and An Awesome Book of Love!
But this playful and creative guy thinks adults need kid’s books, too. I totally agree. Where are our pretty pictures, perfect rhymes and straightforward messages? They are in his latest work called It’s Never Too Late: A Kid’s Book for Adults. This fast and fun read brightened my day–and it only took a few minutes. Dallas shopped this book around to traditional publishers who all turned him down. So he printed it online–and it went nuts. Finally, Penguin snapped it up, and it hit bookshelves yesterday.
Check out this excerpt and some artwork. Then see Dallas talk about his book in the video below:
“Because it’s never too late,
too late to begin,
and today is the day
the world might end.
And today is the day
the world might start,
so live it and love it
with all of your heart.”
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Friday, October 25th, 2013
If you’ve ever wondered where Fairy Godmothers come from, twin sisters Heather Fujikawa and Heidi Andrews are here to answer all of your questions. They’ve created a new children’s book series, Fairy Birds: Fairy Godmothers in Training. The book is adorbs. Your kids will love it, and you will appreciate the message, too. The twins explain it all in their essay below.
Thanks Heather and Heidi!
“What do you do when Nordstrom wants you to expand your fashion accessories brand into a clothing line and MTV calls you to meet for a potential TV opportunity all in one week? You decide to do neither and write a children’s book, of course. Well, that’s what we did anyway.
Over three years ago we made up our minds to create something that could encourage internal beauty instead of external beauty. The question that came to mind was ‘Where do Fairy Godmothers Come From?’ and we decided to answer it in an illustrated children’s book series called Fairy Birds: Fairy Godmothers in Training. Our goal is to teach children about positive attributes like giving, loving, and kindness. That stuff is true beauty.
In our six-book series, little Fairy Birds go to Fairy Godmother School to learn the secrets of how to become a Fairy Godmother. Each time the young Fairy Birds learn a quality of a Fairy Godmother, they grow a colorful feather. Lesson upon lesson, feather after feather, the little Fairy Birds’ wishes come true.
In the first book that just launched, the Fairy Birds go on a soaring adventure to grow their first colorful feather, the pink “Givie” feather that flourishes when they give to others. The book is full of infectious illustrations, delightful color, fashionable characters and a solid message—to just give a little–that we hope captivates children everywhere.
Our goal is to inspire little readers to not only read the message of the book but to run with it. At the end of each one is a package of Givie Heart confetti that the reader can sprinkle every time they give. These Givie Hearts have been seen sprinkled on a homemade card for a parent, sprinkled on a tea party created for a friend and sprinkled as a walking path to help a baby brother learn how to walk. We’ve had plenty of guinea pig readers join in on small acts of kindness from California to Texas and Paris to Italy.
We hope from the first book of the series that children get inspired to give and that they find out just how fun it is to do small acts of kindness in and around their own homes and communities.
Check out our Fairy Birds website to play with interactive ways to give with DIY giving blog posts and short giving videos. Real life Fairy Birds can make a difference. See what we’re talking about. Check out our video after the jump.”
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Friday, October 18th, 2013
New York Times bestselling author of the young adult Merlin series, T.A. Barron, loves the earth–and often writes about it. His new book, Atlantis Rising is the story of the magical island of Atlantis–not its destruction this time, but instead, its creation. This is the first of a trilogy.
As a writer who cares deeply about the environment, Barron wrote the following essay about how to get our kids to care, too.
“We all know the bad news: The planet is seriously suffering from all sorts of environmental abuses. Some people remain stuck in denial. And kids, our last best hope for the future, are being hammered by depressing news and the overwhelming scale of environmental problems – even as they are spending less time out in nature.
In the face of all this, can parents, teachers and others who care about our children do anything? Are there any ways to enlighten as well as empower young people to help protect the air, land, water, and creatures of the Earth?
The answer is Yes.
As a dad, I’ve learned a lot from my kids – starting with how little I really know. But one of the most important things they’ve taught me is that raising environmentally aware young people doesn’t start with learning. No … it starts with loving. Before kids can be expected to understand the facts about our planet, they need to feel an enduring bond with the marvelous places and trees and birds and animals who share that planet with us. We are emotional beings – so we can’t ask kids to protect and steward something they don’t truly love.
That love comes, first, through a child’s experiences in nature. No matter whether that happens in a patch of grass at a city park or somewhere in deeper wilderness – it’s a time of magic.
All kids need is a chance to play in soil or sand or a pile of leaves. To explore a quiet glade (with no electronics to intrude). To discover a mossy stream or a pair of baby raccoons or a piece of petrified wood that’s a million times older than the child herself. My family, for more than 20 years, has watched butterflies emerge from their cocoons each summer – a thrilling experience for everyone.
All these are teachable moments, offering opportunities to learn more about connectedness, natural patterns, transformation, evolution, water sources, or geologic time. But most of all … they are opportunities to wonder, discover, and love.
When that emotional bond is secure, then it’s time to explain the serious environmental challenges we face – with honesty but also a light touch. The goal is to impart understanding, not despair. So talk about the links between the purity of water, the health of frogs, and the survival of humankind. Discuss the essential wisdom of not fouling our nest, preserving the complex web of natural systems that support us all. Finally, look at some photos of the Earth from space – and then consider how unique and precious our lonely planet really is. Add all that together, along with nature’s unending ability to delight and surprise … and you’ll have kids who are truly motivated to help save the Earth.
Now comes the hardest part – maintaining hope. In our troubled times, this is difficult for any caring adult. But it’s even more difficult for young people, who haven’t seen as many winters followed by springtime. The best way to keep kids’ hope alive, I believe, is to convey the idea that every person matters. That every human being – even a child – has the power to make choices that can cumulatively make a difference.
How to do that? Certainly not through lectures or sermons! Instead, just share stories. Whether true tales of remarkable people or fictional tales of unlikely heroes – such stories are lifelines that keep us afloat. They connect us to people who have faced enormous challenges and found the courage to persevere – and sometimes, to triumph.
Hope often eludes us, especially in a world that is sometimes darkened by the clouds of despair. But hope is resilient, like a wildflower in the harshest mountain storm. It can survive, and maybe even flower beautifully.
And if hope survives … so will we.”
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Atlas Rising, environmentalist, kids and environment, Merlin, save the earth, T.A. Barron | Categories:
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