Juan Has the Jitters

A story about inclusion, diversity, and the power of math to help one boy with autism thrive among his peers.

About Juan Has the Jitters

Juan claps his hands to get his Jitters out. They make his tummy swoosh and swirl. His Jitters happen when there are too many people, too much noise, or too many changes to his day. Juan doesn’t like surprises.

Tomorrow there is an athletic event planned at school, which makes Juan very nervous. But his teacher has the perfect solution: math–Juan’s favorite subject! Counting, sorting, and matching help Juan calm his Jitters. By making math part of the day’s athletic games, and by appointing Juan the official judge, his teacher can make sure that Juan will have fun and feel included. The class is calling it the Mathletic Games!

Our Thoughts

Juan Has the Jitters is a very special, important book for young readers, a book that they may find themselves relating to personally.

Juan is a bright young boy with autism. He loves math but some of the other subjects can make him nervous. One of these things that was making him nervous was an athletic event planned at school. Juan marked it on his calendar but it was causing him such stress in the days leading up to the event. He was experiencing jitters – the jitters affect his stomach and causes buzzing in his ears. Juan uses clapping to help him cope with this stress, which I can relate to – when I get nervous or feel overwhelmed I tap my fingers on tables and my toes on the ground as I find it helps to soothe me. His receptive teacher and kind classmates help him through the day by creating the Mathletic Games! Sorting, matching and racing events were played to ensure that Juan felt included and not overwhelmed at any time.

Juan Has the Jitters is a beautiful book that shows the power of inclusion and compassion. This made a huge impact on Juan and while he started the day clapping because of a few jitters by the end he was clapping in fun. He felt that he belongs, which every child should feel. Juan is a bright young boy who has so much to offer his classmates and this was highlighted in his judging skills and attention to detail throughout the event.

Juan Has the Jitters is a great resource for young children to explain the importance of inclusion, kindness and compassion. We all have differences and these should be celebrated. The illustrations are beautiful and match the theme of inclusiveness. This is a such an important topic for young children and this books open up conversations for you to have with your child.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

ANETA CRUZ is a pre-K teacher and children’s book author. She holds a credential in early childhood special education, a BA in English literature, and an MFA in creative writing. When she’s not reading, writing, or eating Nutella by the spoonful, she teaches her class of preschoolers how to love books (and other things) as much as she does. She divides her time between the Czech Republic and Southern California, where she lives with her husband, two children, and Poe, the cutest ugly dog in the world.

MIKI YAMAMOTO has been drawing since a very early age, Most of her childhood was spent in her room sketching, coloring, and painting to entertain herself. She studied illustration at Cal State University, Long Beach and has worked for Hallmark Cards, Disney, and Amscan Party. Miki has won numerous awards as a children’s book illustrator. She resides in Southern California with her wigglebutt Aussie, Bella.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

The B on Your Thumb: 60 Poems to Boost Reading and Spelling

The B on Your Thumb is a book of 60 hilariously illustrated rhymes and delightful ditties to boost early reading—each poem teaches a specific sound, spelling, or rule.

About The B on Your Thumb: 60 Poems to Boost Reading and Spelling

The B on Your Thumb is a book of 60 illustrated rhymes to boost early reading—each poem teaches a specific sound, spelling, or rule. Using rhythm and wordplay, they promote phonics awareness, thinking skills, and literacy. This book delights young readers with the fun and silliness of the English language.

An introduction instructs grown-ups on how to use the book and extensive activities at the end allow children to build on their learning. Grouped into four categories—sounds, silent letters and secrets, spellings, and words that sound the same—the poems include:

  • See with Two Ees
  • The Story of Q and U
  • The Rain in the Train
  • Ridiculous Ph
  • Enough of Uff
  • Certainly a C
  • The Most ImportANT
  • Which Witch

Our Thoughts

Can we just be honest and say the English language has some of the most hardest rules to follow (silent letters, spellings, words that sound the same). It can be so difficult to explain the reasoning around this to children, because that is just the way it is. This book helps adults and children tackle these rules in a fun way.

This book starts with a very helpful introduction for adults. They teach you how to use this book and how to read it aloud. This made a world of a difference when reading with my child. I loved that they also encouraged you to be creative, read them out of order, and to not overdo it – read just a few rhymes at a time to help your child absorb what they are learning. The note to children made me giggle (please be patient with us adults because we too make mistakes!).

I loved the rhymes, they made it so much easier to be silly and take a somewhat hard topic to teach and make it fun. We even sang a few and had a few good laughs (oi, oi, oi!!). The illustrations are perfect for young readers and match the tone of the book, fun and engaging.

The B on Your Thumb is a fun, engaging book that will make you laugh while learning.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Colette Hiller is a writer, arts producer, and mother of twins. Her arts projects have reached hundreds of thousands of participants—she is the woman who put pianos and ping-pong tables in countless locations across the UK, and is also the mind behind the hit Talking Statues project.

Her children’s rhymes have been featured on BBC Words and Pictures and her children’s LP, Applehead, has been a hit with kids across the world, selling over 50,000 copies. An advocate of early learning, Colette believes that even very young children are receptive to the joy of wordplay (she taught her own twins to read by the time they were three).

Tor Freeman is a London-based illustrator. In 2012 she was awarded the Sendak Fellowship. In 2017 she won the Guardian Graphic Short Story Prize. Her books include the Digby Dog and Olive series.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to facilitate this review, all opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

An Appalachian Summer Book Review

Bestselling author Ann H. Gabhart invites you into the hills of Eastern Kentucky to discover what happens when one young woman steps away from the restrictive past into a beautiful, wide-open future.

About An Appalachian Summer

In 1933 Louisville, Kentucky, even the ongoing economic depression cannot keep Piper Danson’s parents from insisting on a debut party. After all, their fortune came through the market crash intact, and they have picked out the perfect suitor for their daughter. Braxton Crandall can give her the kind of life that she is used to. The only problem? This is not the man, or the life, that she really wants.

When Piper receives the opportunity to volunteer as a horseback Frontier Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer, she jumps at the chance to be something other than a dutiful daughter or a kept wife in a loveless marriage. The work is taxing, the scenery jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and the people she meets along the way open up a whole new world to her. The longer she stays, the more an advantageous marriage slips further from her grasp. But something much more precious–true love–is drawing ever closer.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with the characters, the setting and the plot of this amazing novel. Piper is a young woman determined to find her own way in life, despite her parents attempting to push her into the life that society deems that she should live.

Piper was born into a privileged lifestyle and she comes of age in the backdrop of the Great Depression. Her father has arranged a marriage for her with a suitor that could give her the life that he feels she deserves – a life of wealth and never wanting for anything. But she is so conflicted inside with many different emotions, the man that she has loved her whole life appears to have abandoned her, she feels a need inside of her to do more, to be more than just a wife and Mother. She jumps on the opportunity to volunteer as a Nursing courier in the Appalachian Mountains for the summer before making a final decision on her future. It is in this moment that she takes hold of her destiny.

Piper learns about a whole new world in the mountains, she learns her own strength, her own skills and what she really wants and needs in her life. She finds the strength inside her to chase her dreams (and her heart) regardless of what her parents feel and what society expects from her. She learns she has the strength to help others, as she witnesses the miracles of child birth, caring for others and the animals around her.

An Appalachian Summer is an excellent novel from start to finish. It is full of hope, faith, love and following your dreams. You will love every moment of reading this novel.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Ann H. Gabhart is the bestselling author of several Shaker novels–The RefugeThe OutsiderThe BelieverThe SeekerThe Blessed, and The Gifted–as well as other historical novels, including Angel SisterThese Healing HillsRiver to Redemption, and An Appalachian Summer. She and her husband live on a farm a mile from where she was born in rural Kentucky. Ann enjoys discovering the everyday wonders of nature while hiking in her farm’s fields and woods with her grandchildren and her dogs, Frankie and Marley.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

In the Nick of Time Book Review

iRead Book Tours

A timely tale about a little brown boy who saves Christmas. 

About In the Nick of Time

Nick Saint never really put a lot of thought into his name until one snowy day in December when he accidentally receives a letter meant for Saint Nick. Realizing there is not much time left until Christmas, Nick opens the letter. The unexpected message inside ultimately leads him on a journey of understanding poverty, gratitude, and service to others while discovering the real meaning of the holiday spirit.

Our Thoughts

In the Nick of Time is a beautiful reminder of the importance of Christmas, of helping others, not judging a book by their cover and how we can all make a difference in the lives of others regardless of our age. The book starts off with a special message from Deedee to her son. Deedee had found that too often, so many young children of colour do not see themselves in the stories they read (especially around holidays), and she hopes that this book shows them that they too can be a leader, and save Christmas.

Nick is very much your typical young child – loves his video games and gives very honest answers (I love his Mom’s response to his usage of the word stupid – one of my least favourite words too!). The mailman accidentally drops off a letter meant for Saint Nick (not him, Nick Saint) and this sets him off on a special journey of kindness and understanding. Nick realizes that we don’t always know what is going on in someone else’s life. From the outside, their life may look perfect, they may not look like they are struggling or living in fear of not being able to provide for their family. But as Nick learns, we should never judge a book by their cover and the importance of helping others. Nick goes above and beyond for those in his school as they lead a drive to collect food, toys and even host a job fair.

There are so many important lessons for young children in this book delivered in a way that they can understand. Children can find it hard sometimes to understand that others may not have as much as them or take for granted what they have (not on purpose but just due to their age). I loved how his Mother encouraged him and guided him but ultimately, he made some very important decisions on his own. I loved how Deedee shared the importance of having a young brown male character as the lead and hero in this story. This is an excellent holiday (and year round) story for young children.

Book Trailer

About the Author

Deirdre “Deedee” Cummings believes literacy is a fundamental human right. She is the founder of Make A Way Media, It Pays to Read & the Louisville Book Festival, as well as, an attorney, therapist, and CEO of Abi Behavioral Health in Louisville, Kentucky. Abi is an intensive therapy agency that works to prevent the placement of children in out of home care, such as foster care, hospitalization, and incarceration. Deedee attended Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, one of only two all-female Historically Black Colleges in the country. After graduating from Bennett, she earned a master’s degree and a law degree from the University of Louisville. All of her writing focuses on sharing inspiring messages that remind us all it is never too late to begin again. Deedee encourages the children she works with to write as a way to process emotions, document their journey, and express themselves more clearly. In addition to presenting on multiple topics around the country, Deedee donates hundreds of books and volunteer hours every year to families, children, churches and the local school system. She is excited to announce the launch of her tenth children’s book, This is the Earth. The inspiration for this book came from overwhelming negative media coverage about race relations in our country and across the world. This is the Earth is a book about peace, respect, and diversity inclusion: a message that must be heard and repeated often. She and her husband Anthony live in Louisville with their three children Kayla (an actress in New York), Anthony (a college student and athlete), and Nick (in elementary school).

You can connect with her on her website, Twitter and Facebook.

The Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading

Love and a Little White Lie Book Review

Torn between two worlds incapable of coexisting, can January find the healing that’s eluded her or will her resistance to the truth ruin any chance of happiness?

About Love and a Little White Lie

January Sanders grew up believing karma was more reliable than an imaginary higher power, but after suffering her worst heartbreak in 29 years, she’s open to just about anything, including taking a temporary position at her aunt’s church. Keeping her lack of faith a secret, January is determined to use her photographic memory to help Grace Community’s overworked staff, all while scraping herself off rock bottom.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting the church’s handsome and charming guitarist, who not only is a strong believer, but has also dedicated his life to Christian music. It’s a match set for disaster, and yet January has no ability to stay away, even if it means pretending to have faith in a God she doesn’t believe in.

Only this time, keeping secrets isn’t as easy as she thought it would be. Especially when she’s constantly running into her aunt’s landscape architect, who seems to know everything about her past and present sins and makes no apologies about pushing her to deal with feelings she’d rather keep buried.

Torn between two worlds incapable of coexisting, can January find the healing that’s eluded her or will her resistance to the truth ruin any chance of happiness?

My Thoughts

Love and a Little White Lie is fun, warm novel with loveable (but flawed) characters and a fantastic plot.

January is an incredible young woman, who just doesn’t know it yet. She had a tough childhood, her Mother was angry at life and had several failed marriages. At so many points in her childhood, the father figure in her life walked out on her. It felt that at times, January took on the role of Mother in their relationship, which I can’t even begin to imagine the stress that this would cause. This made a lasting impact on her life and the way that she looks at life and relationships. She turned her back on faith and has a very difficult time trusting in others (especially men – she always believes the worst of them).

One awful, heart breaking break up sends her running to her Aunt, who opens her arms (and home) to her. Her Aunt takes her in, helps her find a job and does her best to help her find her way. The only issue with her job? It is at her Aunt’s parish and January stopped believing a long time ago. She does not share this information with others – out of fear of being let go or perhaps even not being accepted by those around her?

January falls hard for the guitarist that works at the church. But something just made me feel that perhaps it wasn’t love – was it infatuation? Was it a rebound? January never quite felt comfortable sharing with him that she did not share his beliefs, which I found huge. These nagging feelings I had about their relationship came up several times throughout the novel.

My favourite character? Dillon. Dillon works on her Aunt’s property and at first glance seems offish, angry at life but as his story develops, we learn of his pain, his insecurities and his hopes. I kept rooting for him throughout the story, I wanted him to share his feelings which seemed so obvious but to January and Dillon, it was not.

Love and a Little White Lie is a fantastic novel about second chances, believing in yourself, knowing that it is okay to fail and it is okay to hurt but sometimes we need to open our heart (and mind) to those around us and above us. I loved every moment of this novel – a definite must read!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas. Her nine modern and true-to-life contemporary romances include the 2017 RITA Award-winning My Hope Next Door. When not taxiing her three kids to various events, Tammy can be spotted crunching numbers as the financial administrator at her hometown church. Find her online at www.tammylgray.com

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Continue Reading