Archive for the ‘ Children’s Books ’ Category

Author Dallas Clayton Writes a Terrific Kid’s Book for Adults: ‘It’s Never Too Late’

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 AdultsThis 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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Cute New Kids’ Book ‘Fairy Birds’ Encourages Kids to Be Giving

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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Raising Environmentally Aware Kids: An Essay by T.A. Barron, Author of ‘Atlantis Rising’

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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National Book Awards Finalists Announced: Great Picks for Your Reading List

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

I love the National Book Awards. They always give me great ideas for what to read next. I’m just bummed that two of my favorite young adult books on the longlist (that was new this year) didn’t make the shortlist! You simply must read Flora and Ulysses to your kids and Two Boys Kissing for you!

In the meantime, check out the NBA picks and stay tuned for the winners which will be announced Nov. 20.



Rachel KushnerThe Flamethrowers (Scribner/Simon & Schuster)
Jhumpa LahiriThe Lowland (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
James McBrideThe Good Lord Bird (Riverhead Books/Penguin Group USA)
Thomas PynchonBleeding Edge (The Penguin Press/Penguin Group USA)
George SaundersTenth of December (Random House)


- Tom DruryPacific (Grove Press)
- Elizabeth GraverThe End of the Point (Harper/HarperCollinsPublishers)
- Anthony MarraA Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth/Random House)
- Alice McDermott, Someone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
- Joan Silber, Fools (W.W. Norton & Company)

Young Adult


Kathi AppeltThe True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Cynthia KadohataThe Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)
Tom McNealFar Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Meg RosoffPicture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA)
Gene Luen YangBoxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)


- Kate DiCamilloFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick Press)
- Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots (Philomel, A division of Penguin Group USA)
- Alaya Dawn JohnsonThe Summer Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
- David LevithanTwo Boys Kissing (Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House)
- Anne UrsuThe Real Boy (Walden Pond Press/an Imprint HarperCollinsPublishers)



Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)
Wendy LowerHitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
George PackerThe Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Alan TaylorThe Internal Enemy: Slavery and War in Virginia, 1772-1832 (W.W. Norton & Company)
Lawrence WrightGoing Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief  (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)


- T.D. AllmanFinding Florida: The True Story of the Sunshine State (Atlantic Monthly Press)
- Gretel EhrlichFacing the Wave: A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami (Pantheon Book/Random House)
- Scott C. JohnsonThe Wolf and the Watchman: A Father, a Son, and the CIA (W.W. Norton & Company)
- James OakesFreedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865
(W.W. Norton & Company)
- Terry TeachoutDuke: A Life of Duke Ellington (Gotham Books)

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Perfect Kids’ Book for Columbus Day (and I Really Enjoyed It, Too)

Monday, October 14th, 2013

I love this new kids’ book that’s perfect for Columbus Day. Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids by Ronald A. Reis doesn’t sugar coat everything that happened. But it marks an important part of our history with fascinating details, fun history and beautiful art and maps.

I’m just saying that this book will get my kids into the spirit of this adventure-inducing day better than me lecturing them about it. It’s also chock-full of crafty activities like Make a Model Canoe and Create Your Own Quadrant.

This book is great for elementary kids, and little ones will enjoy the pictures and activities. I’ll keep it around long after because it’s an excellent resource for middle school Christopher Columbus reports one day.

So check it out on this holiday–it can keep the kids busy on this day off. 

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