Monday, April 14, 2014

#FeaturedFiverr Spring Break Special!

It's Spring Break! That means that I am off of school for the entire week, and I am *NOT* working on those parent-teacher conference reports until we get back. How does this benefit you? 

Well, I am looking to keep extra busy this week. So, any order placed between now and 11:59 PM on Sunday, April 20th will get one bonus gig extra FOR FREE.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review of 'Sometimes Just One Is Just Right' by Gayle Byrne


A lighthearted story about an only child who learns to appreciate being “just one.”

In this winsome story, a likeable young narrator explores the perks and pitfalls of being an only child. Comparing his situation to that of his cousin, Nico, who has many siblings, the narrator realizes that having a household full of brothers and sisters is not always as fun as it seems. Even though he is the only child at home, he has many family members who love and care for him - and so does his friend Lily, who’s an only child, too! Sometimes, he realizes, being just one is just right.

**My thoughts**

When I was growing up, I was sometimes jealous of my friends who were only children, because they didn't have a younger sister with whom to contend for attention or the surviving Peanuts glass, or the biggest piece of chocolate cake. They also always seemed to have more books and toys than we did, because they didn't have to be divided between two kids who were two different ages. Conversely, sometimes my "only" friends would tell me that they wished they had a sister, like I did, or even a brother. I think that we all realized that there were pros and cons to each of our situations. This book captures that concept. In fact, it really focuses a lot on the benefits of being an only child, while also acknowledging that it is okay to have those feelings of wanting a sibling. My favorite line in the book is, "I figure 'only' doesn't have to mean lonely." (I also like how he is the yummy part of the Mommy and Daddy sandwich.)

A part of me does wish that they had gotten a bit more into his friend's Lily's situation. There is only one mention of her in the book. She seems to be an only child, living with a single mother. The narrator spends so much time comparing his own situation to his cousin Nico's, that it feels like Lily is a bit shafted or almost unnecessary to the story. Other than that little blip that threw me off a tad, I really did like this book. I have some "onlys" in my life who would have appreciated this book when they were younger!

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Buy links

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Review of 'The Man With the Violin' by Kathy Stinson


Who is playing that beautiful music in the subway? And why is nobody listening?

On January 12, 2007, the world-famous violinist Joshua Bell took part in an experiment conducted by the Washington Post. What would happen if Bell played his violin in a subway station? Would anyone stop to listen? Dressed as an ordinary street musician and with his priceless Stradivarius in hand, Bell played for 43 minutes in the L’Enfant Plaza Station in Washington, D.C. Over 1,000 busy commuters rushed past. Only seven stopped to listen for more than a minute. Many children had wanted to stop, but an adult inevitably rushed them along. Inspired by this event, author Kathy Stinson imagines what a child who had wanted to stop might have experienced. From this emerged the lovely story ofThe Man with the Violin.

When young Dylan hears the beautiful music, he tries to get his mother to stop and listen, but like everyone else rushing past, she is focused on catching the train. The strains of the music linger in his head all day long until that evening, when he hears the same music being played on the radio. The announcer reveals who the violinist was and why he was playing in the subway station. As Dylan is swept up again by the gorgeous sound, his mother finally stops and listens too.

Award-winning illustrator Dušan Petričić eagerly embraced the challenge of rendering Stinson’s lyrical text in a way that would capture Dylan’s emotions while interpreting the sounds he heard. With his skillful use of color and imaginative depiction of all the sounds in the subway station, Petričić succeeds in providing the perfect match for the poignant words. Together, Stinson and Petričić have created a picture book classic that reminds us all to open our eyes and ears to discover the beauty around us.

A short biography of Joshua Bell, a recap of the story that inspired this book, and a postscript by Joshua Bell enhance this wonderful tribute to the power of music.

**My thoughts**

The story of Joshua Bell's performance in the subway is one that repeatedly makes it way around Facebook and other social media sites. It is a true story, and one that serves to remind us to take a moment every once in a while, to really appreciate the world around us. Common cliches, such as "Stop and smell the roses" pop into my mind whenever I read about this story. It's something that we often forget to do as adults, as we feel the pressure to move from Point A to Point B, to hurry, hurry, HURRY! 

Children don't operate that way. They are filled with wonder at the world around them, often pausing to take it all in. We used to be that way. And then we were trained to stop being so observant. 

This story serves as a reminder to us to stop and listen to what children have to say when they notice something beautiful. It reminds us to appreciate the finer things in life, such as the beautiful music that Mr. Bell creates with his violin. Within all of the hustle and bustle of our modern lives lies so much beauty that we keep missing.

Of course, this book primarily focuses on the music. This is emphasized in the illustrations. Dylan's world is black and white, except for himself and his mother. As the music envelops him, his world becomes brighter and filled with color, demonstrating how music is so enriching. In addition to the visual representation of the music are a lot of descriptive words about the clanging and noise that is stifling the music and adding to the chaos.

This is a picture book that would be great for older children in musical education or biographical studies. For younger audiences, the story itself will probably go over their heads. I would read it to them, anyway, and play some of Joshua Bell's music while doing so. Or, treat them to a video of one of his performances on YouTube afterwards. You may be surprised at the impact such music will have on them. You may also find yourself being impacted more than you know.

Buy links

I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The review was originally published on Examiner.

Friday, April 11, 2014

'Hugs From Dad' by Kevin Payne


Big hugs, small hugs, even cheeky monkey hugs - Dad's can do them all! A wobbly penguin hug might make you giggle and a tickly octopus hug might make you wriggle but the question is...which is the best hug of all?

A book celebrating all the different hugs a dad shares with his children. Perfect for little ones to share with dads and have fun acting out the story afterwards!

Follow Kevin Payne:

My portfolio can be found at 

On twitter @hugsfromdad

My blog can be found at

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

'The Adventures of Bob (To Doodledip for Soup)' by Ryan Shea


What do you get when a man is invited to a strange purple and green planet by a tiny speed-freak robot, a construction-cone-wearing king, a really bad bowl of soup, and a fat purple servant cat that doesn't listen to anyone? The Adventures of Bob: to Doodledip for Soup! Find out what happens to Bob when he travels to Planet Doodledip for dinner with the King and discovers he is afraid to try the soup.

This review is from: The Adventures of Bob (Kindle Edition)
My Son (Age 7) and Daughter (Age 4) absolutely love this book. The story is funny, exciting, and appeals to their imagination. I often hear them when they play, pretending to take a trip to Doodledip. I find drawings of Bongo in their notebooks. I am excited that this great story is now available for my Kindle. With my Kindle App on my phone, it will always be available to entertain my kiddos.

 Available on Amazon
The softcover version comes with a free audio book download!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tojo and Nelly's Cat Tales

Enter the world of Tojo and Nelly's Cat Tales. These adorable children's stories are inspired by creator and publisher Maria Merett's real life kitties.

Cat lovers of all ages will enjoy this illustrated series of seven books and special holiday edition. Click on a cover to be taken to its Amazon page.

It’s a busy run up to Christmas in Tojo and Nelly’s household. The snow is glistening, the tree is twinkling and poor owner, Ben is whizzing about like a whirlwind! He must finish all his baking for the Christmas Fair and still have time left to practise his marvellous magic act. Tojo and Nelly have been practising too and the whole village is out on the green to see everyone perform. The thing is, Nelly’s not too sure if magic is one of her many talents…

Benson is one of those big, brave, stripy tom cats. Every neighbourhood has one, they like to be their own boss. There are a few phobias though, that even the bravest brutes can’t overcome. On this journey we see Benson conquering his deepest fears, with a little help from Nelly.

Klaus is a guard dog by heart and he just loves to guard his master’s art studio. One thing he likes to make sure of is that no one goes near the new paintings! Tojo and Nelly just happened to be passing and curious, as cats are…

Madame Abigail is so elderly and frail, she seems to be struggling to do the simplest of things! It’s lucky for her that Tojo and Nelly step in, to help her have a most mischievous day. She seems to have the glint back in her eye and a wide furry smile to match.

Tommy and Lilly are the best of cat friends, they live together and go to parties together. They meet fellow fancy dressers Tojo and Nelly too. Friends this close love to dress up together don’t they? Until one day Tommy learns that keeping his best friend happy, may mean a trip out of his comfort zone!

Lucy is one of life’s ‘thinkers’, she loves to analyse everything and just can’t shake the feeling that someone is missing from her life. This story confronts the challenges of loss and reconciliation, in such a sweet and friendly way. Did Tojo mention he had a sister?

Tojo the cat has a lovely life, so why does he feel so lonely? Yet, when he finally gets a new companion – Nelly, he feels anything but lonely! This tale of change, rivalry… and finally friendship, will warm the hearts of those reading or being read to.

Wookie the dog has an identity crisis. He feels he has the suave sensitivity of a cat, but yet he sure does like a good bone. Is it possible he could just be a dog that’s a bit cattish? Maybe he’s just a cat loving dog? Tojo and Nelly won’t care either way, when Wookie saves the day!

Do you like to color? Visit Tojo and Nelly's website to download coloring pages to match up with your favorite characters from the series.

Read the blog for cat care tips and other fun stories, as well as news about upcoming titles.

You can also purchase books through the website.

Friday, April 4, 2014

'Bing & Nero: Boy + Robot = Fun') by I.L. Williams


“The perfect story for everyone who has ever wanted their own robot.”

Share a day with an inventive young boy in a story that celebrates creativity, friendship and fun.

Bing wants a dog. But his mother says a dog is out of the question. What´s a young boy in need of a friend to play with on a boring Saturday morning to do? Why, make his own friend! And what a friend his new creation is!

The product of Bing´s rich imagination and household junk from the basement, Nero is a metallic wonder. From the moment he is switched on, the house is filled with fun! And when they take to the sky for a late afternoon flight, boy and robot are in for a joyous ride that celebrates their friendship. 

This debut book from I.L. Williams gives young readers an opportunity to share an exciting experience many dream of with a young boy in a story that showcases creativity, friendship and fun. An excellent book with vibrant illustrations, for parents and children to enjoy together.

Target age group: 3-7

Available on Amazon
Paperback \ Kindle

Follow on Twitter: bingandnero

Read an interview with the author on Examiner.