Month: October 2019

Raise Well Rounded, Independent Children with Helpful Books from Raincoast Books

Raincoast Books

There are many important life skills that as parents we need to teach our children – from money management to manners to cooking to grooming and the list goes on and on. It can actually be a bit overwhelming at times – this is a huge immense responsibility that we have and where do we start? How do we make some of these topics fun so that kids want to listen and learn. I think that this is the most important part – we don’t want to bore them so that they don’t listen or act out on purpose. So where do we start? The following three books are excellent ways to start getting your child interested in baking, cooking and being good citizens.

The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs

The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs is perfect for kids who want to bake for themselves, their friends, or their family.

In addition to the best, delicious recipes, chapters include how-to information, detailed technique guidance, step-by-step photos, and information on the science behind what makes your baked goods taste so great.

Tested for quality, taste, ease, availability of ingredients, each recipe will be suited perfectly for your emerging young baker. Photos and testimonials from kid test cooks will encourage young chefs that they truly are learning from the best.

This baking book is for the child who enjoys being in the kitchen and wants to continue to grow those skills. You will find recipes for beginners, moderate and more experienced bakers in this book and recipes ranging from muffins to breads to pizza to cookies to bars and desserts (yummy!). Each recipe is extremely easy to follow and clearly outlines the total time it will require to bake the item (very important) to a full list of ingredients and equipment required (nothing worse then having the wrong equipment on hand) and easy to follow step by step instructions. Each recipe includes beautiful large photographs that give you an idea of what the final product will look like along with a few funny notes and tidbits. Each recipe also has a testimonial from a child speaking to the taste of each item (which means the world to kids – they like to know what other kids felt too). I even learned a few new recipes – like an olive oil cake! I had never even heard of this one before and this was one of the first items we had to try, and it was well worth it.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

Connoisseur Kids

From Jennifer Scott -author of the New York Times bestselling Madame Chic series and founder of the Daily Connoisseur blog – comes a book on manners and being a good global citizen, Connoisseur Kids.

Parents and younger children work together to read about a wide range of topics including: communication, table manners, tidiness, thinking of others, grooming, and health. Activities, learning games, fill-in-the-blanks, letter-writing exercises, recipes, and some fun songs and rhymes help kids learn concepts and practice good behaviors. This is a timely guide for raising well-mannered, neat, and gracious children for parents, grandparents, and children of reading age.

A connoisseur is an expert judge in a specific field. This book aims to helps kids become experts in the art of living. Something that we can all appreciate and that some adults may need to work on refreshing their skills (I am huge on manners and almost always find it shocking when people forget to say simple things like excuse me, please and thank you). This book can be read together (parents and child), parent reads it alone to bring the ideas forward or if your child is old enough, let them enjoy the book all on their own.

This book has six chapters: Communication, Table Manners, Tidiness, Thinking of Others, Hygiene & Grooming and Health. Communication covers topics such as eye contact, posture and speaking clearly. Table manners covers topics such as setting the table, sitting at the table. Tidiness covers your child’s room and shared space. Thinking of Others covers topics such as sportmanship, pets, other people. Hygiene covers popular topics like hair, skin and teeth. Health covers important topics such as eating well, water intake and sweets.

Each topic has a clear explanation about what the topic is and the overall importance. It is written in a way that is easy for children of all ages to understand and relate to. We may have a general idea of why we should do or eat things but sometimes children may not understand this and need a little more guidance. I loved that each topic was then followed up with an activity, assignment, game or even a recipe. It really helps children put into practice what they have just learned (and to be honest most of us learn by doing not just by reading, especially younger children). This is an excellent resource for adults and children to help them learn how to be successful in life.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids

What makes good food taste good? A team of tastes and flavors of course! And that is what we find in The Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids.

Fun illustrations and characters bring the kitchen to life. Join Pierre Lamielle on a kitchen adventure as he introduces you to the Munchy Munchy Gang. They are a team of characters that are here to educate kids on the art of cooking and the range of flavors they will encounter. Learn how to make over 28 different recipes, including ketchup, pancakes, and other kid favorites with simple instructions and illustrations for every step of the way. Pierre’s characters make complex cooking theories, like balancing the five tastes, accessible to kids of all ages.

This is a fun book that kids will enjoy reading and putting into practice. The book is hard covered but with a spiral notebook feel on the inside (similar to the recipe books I was familiar with when I was a child). The book starts off with an excellent section on the dangers of the kitchen – from sharp objects to burns to germs. It explains, using a combination of pictures and words, what to watch out for, what can happen and how to handle each situation. We then dive into our characters, Sal, Pepper, Ragu, Ziti, Sage, Rose, Bean (my personal favourite being Ziti – the picky eater!). The recipes themselves are told almost in a comic strip style, which at times I felt it was a bit hard to follow but it suited the style and tone of the book. It is not just a recipe book but a story with fun characters that make it a lot more personal and full of great advice for young children (like keep a bag of the baked breakfast cookies in the freezer for mornings when you sleep in!). This is an adorable, unique book for young readers to learn the basics and grow their skills in the kitchen. This is for young readers and bakers that want to have a little bit of fun in the kitchen.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

The Giveaway!

Ready to prepare your child to tackle all those important life skills? Raincoast Books is giving away a prize package, that includes the above three books, with a total value of $90. This giveaway is open to residents of Canada (Excluding Quebec), 18 years of age and older. Good luck!

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Disclosure: I received the above mentioned books in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Spooktober with DK Canada: Fairy Tales, Myth and Magical Beasts

DK Canada

October is the month of magic, myth, scary stories and tall tales. It is also my favourite time of the year! I love learning about myths, legends and fairy tales. I enjoy sharing this passion with my children and I know that they love hearing these stories as well.

DK Canada has two fantastic books that you can fall in love with this month that will delight, engage and and teach: Children’s Book of Mythical Beasts & Magical Monsters and A First Book of Fairy Tales and Myths.

Children’s Book of Mythical Beasts and Magical Monsters

Discover the adventures of heroes and monsters that exist in the world of mythical and magical creatures.

Stories have been told on every continent since the dawn of time. Some have lasted for thousands of years, becoming what we know today as myths. These fantastical tales educate by creating amazing worlds and inhabiting them with wondrous feats of heroics and dastardly deeds of evil.

Mythical Beasts & Magical Monsters gives children the opportunity to discover these stories, and encourages them to understand storytelling from different cultures.

This book takes readers around the world and in time to teach them about myths, legends and folklore. We learn about who the characters are, their story and the adventures they take.

We start off exploring nature and nation – how early people tried to understand themselves, the world around them and how the universe began. One of my favourite stories in this section, was the Japanese myth around the creation of the universe that began with two gods, Izanagi and Izanami. There was even a section on how create sound effects to go along with this story to make it even more engaging for younger readers. In Magic and Mayhem, it examines how people explained the unexplained and tried to understand why good and bad things happened. I loved the section on the crafty tricksters – especially Saci Perere from Brazil who had the power to appear and disappear, leaving many things wrong in his wake. We also learned about Baba Yaga, the Russian Witch, whose name we had heard of in a movie but had never looked up prior to this. Talk about a scary tale! Finally we have Quests and Battles, where they examine the legendary heroes of cultures. The warriors who overcame great obstacles to achieve heroic deeds. You may know some of these names – Berserker, Thor, Odin, Lord Vishnu, Ganesha. They even had a section for warrior heroines (yay!).

This is a beautiful, well organized and illustrated book that will delight readers of all ages. We learn so much more about the popular stories we have heard in passing and in movies along with many new characters. I loved that the book took us on a journey around the world – not favouring one particular region or type of story.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

A First Book of Fairy Tales and Myths

Two beautifully illustrated books about myths and fairy tales combined in one slipcase to make the perfect gift for young children.

This two-volume set is a collection of well-known myths and legends and classic fairy tales from around the world. A First Book of Myths includes classics such as the Fall of Icarus, Andromeda, How Butterflies Began, and the Crocodile and the Baby. Mary Hoffman’s lively narratives and the delightful illustrations capture the worlds full of gods and monsters. In A First Book of Fairy Tales, Mary retells 14 classic children’s fairy tales, including favorites such as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and the Little Mermaid. The charming illustrations bring the best-loved fairy tale characters and events to life.

These two beautiful books come in their own slipcase package and are gorgeous (I almost didn’t want to open them they looked too perfect). One book focuses on fourteen myths and legends and the other on fourteen fairy tales. The fairy tales include: Cinderella, Rapunzel, The Little Mermaid, The Frog Price and Diamonds and Toads to name a few. The myths and legends book included: The Golden Touch, A Newborn Warrior, How Butterflies Began, Rama and Sita plus many more. I was familiar with a few of these titles but some of these were new to me, which is always fantastic.

The stories in both books were easy to read out loud and perfect for young readers to follow along and engage. You can read it one story at a time or several stories together at night before bed. The illustrations are beautifully done and feel warm and welcoming (versus dark and scary like the previous book). We thoroughly enjoyed these two books and strongly feel this would make an excellent gift for young readers any time of the year.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon and Chapters.

About the Author

Author Mary Hoffman is a popular children’s author with more than 90 books to her name. Her unique observations bring vitality and humour to each of her stories, including A First Bible Story BookAmazing GraceA Twist in the Tail, and Song of the Earth.

Disclosure: I received the books above in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Cinderella and the Secret Prince DVD Giveaway

Shout! Kids Factory

On November 5th, a never before told story of Cinderella comes to DVD from Shout!Kids Factory and Gold Valley Films, Cinderella and the Secret Prince.

About Cinderella and the Secret Prince

With the help of good fairy Crystal, Cinderella and her three mouse friends are able to escape the attic they live in and make it to the Royal Ball at the palace. They soon discover a terrible secret. The real Prince has been turned into a mouse by an evil witch! The “Prince” standing in front of everyone at the Ball is an impostor!

Cinderella and her faithful furry friends must embark on an all-new adventure to restore the real Prince to his true form and help him defeat the forces of darkness.

Cinderella and the Secret Prince is voiced by Cassandra Lee Morris (Your Name), Chris Niosi (TOME), R. Martin Klein (Perfect Blue), Tony Azzolino (The Grover Complex), Kirsten Day (Barbie Dreamhouse Adventures), Wendee Lee (Cowboy Beebop: The Movie), Stephen Mendel (Barbie: Dreamtopia), Terrence Stone (Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft), and Stephanie Sanditz (The High Life), directed by Lynne Southerland, and produced by Allen Tsang at Gold Valley Films.

DVD Trailer

Are you ready to see a whole new take on the story of Cinderella?

Then get ready for this modern version of the classic story where Cinderella does all the saving! Huge admiration for the girl power in this movie, love the idea that girls can be the ones saving the prince and that we don’t always need to be the one saved in films.

This is beautifully animated film that runs approximately one hour and a half in length. It is full of personality and fun with a great, brand new spin on a family favourite story. This new version will soon become a family favourite. The DVD would make an excellent addition to a stocking this holiday season if you are looking for stocking gift ideas.

The DVD arrives in stores on November 5th but you can enter now to win your own copy. The giveaway is open to residents of the USA and Canada (excluding Quebec), 18 years of age and older. Good luck!

The Giveaway!

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

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How Languages Saved Me: A Polish Story of Survival

“When I was arrested my whole world crumbled. I knew that leaders of political parties had been arrested, and never heard from again. My only chance at survival was to find a way to escape from the jail.” – Tadeusz Haska

About How Languages Saved Me

Orphaned in Poland at the age of thirteen, Tadeusz “Tad” Haska survived World War II on the run, narrowly evading the Nazis every step of the way. After the war, he daringly escaped jail by the Soviet Secret Police, fled to Sweden and launched an elaborate plan to smuggle his wife in a coffin on an all-male naval ship. Discover how Tad’s knowledge of nine languages helped him survive in the face of unspeakable adversity.

My Thoughts

This powerful story pulled me right in and I could not put this book down. The story that Tadeusz tells (through his Granddaughter) is powerful, heart breaking (but full of promise and hope) and leaves you feeling humbled.

The story is told in such a way that you feel like you are sitting beside him and reliving each moment. Tadeusz had seen things as a child and a youth that no one should ever have to – a lesson to those today about what can happen when people resort to fear and hate. The atrocities that were done in this period are hard to imagine and too often we can forget, which we cannot let happen.

When he lost his parents at a young age, his brother and Tadeusz raised themselves – going to school and supporting themselves financially through tutoring, my heart broke. I can’t even imagine a youth trying to accomplish all of this but these were the values and morals that their parents had instilled in them before their passing. They honoured their parents and kept pushing forward when it may have been easier to give up. Education is one of the most important things in life and sometimes sacrifices must be made, his parents did this for him and his brother when they sold their dairy business to move to another town that had better schooling for them and they never gave up.

When World War II starts, chaos erupts in Tadeusz life. The way the Polish people were treated was heartbreaking – community members murdered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, for being educated, for just being Polish and the list goes on and on. Their homes were taken away and some were forced to live in their own basements while the top was taken over by the Nazis. This began his journey of survival, a story that is hard to even comprehend and that at times left me in tears. Through determination, gut instinct and courage – he makes it through some of the worst years in our history and even immigrates to the USA with his wife to rebuild all that he has lost.

Some of the moments throughout the book, brought back memories of my own Grandfather. It made me think of what he must have gone through in World War II living in Northern Italy, what he had seen and what he did to survive before immigrating to Canada. He never spoke about those times (neither of my Grandparents did) but I can only imagine the pain this leaves (something we saw in the book, when his wife refused to return to Poland).

This is a powerful and important story. It is so important to learn and understand what individuals went through and the impact this had on their lives. It is so important to honour all of the lives lost during this moment in time. I loved how something as simple as a gift and love for languages protected and guided him (it was almost as though his parents teachings on education protected him later in life when they were not there). This is a definite must read.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Tadeusz Haska was born in 1919 in Mikolajki, Poland and died in 2012. Orphaned at the age of 13, he used his knowledge of nine languages to survive World War II. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1949, where he earned his Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley in Linguistics in his ninth language-English. He taught, and served as chairman, in the Polish Department at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA for 35 years. His work was featured on the TV program The Big Picture.

Stefanie Naumann, Tadeusz’s granddaughter, is a Professor of Management in the Eberhardt School of Business at University of the Pacific, where she has taught for 20 years. She earned her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, and has published over 30 journal articles. She is a 20+ year member of the Academy of Management, a lifetime member of the Polish American Genealogical Society of America, and has earned awards for her research, teaching, and service.

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

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The Manager Mom Epidemic: How Moms Got Stuck Doing Everything for Their Families and What They Can Do about It

Are you that Mom that does everything for your family and others? Hands up because this book is for you.

About The Manager Mom Epidemic: How Moms Got Stuck Doing Everything for Their Families and What They Can Do about It

It’s impossible to deny, most moms continue to do way more household work and childcare than most dads. Working full time, raising kids, cooking dinner, making sure every appointment and activity is lined up and that everyone gets there on time… no wonder you’re tired! But despite all the books and articles lamenting the crushing mental load and emotional labor women bear for their families, no one has come up with a plan to actually make things change. Until now.

The Manager Mom Epidemic is the first book that not only acknowledges the fact that moms are burning out, but shows you how to transfer responsibility for daily tasks from yourself to your partner and also (gasp!) your kids. Clinical psychologist and child discipline expert Thomas W. Phelan, PhD explains how we got into this mess in the first place, and how we can get out of it through a calm, systematic approach to teaching our families how to take initiative and contribute in meaningful ways. Dr. Phelan walks you through real-life situations and shows you how to step back from the things that are dragging you down.

Realistic and simple enough to implement in your home right away, The Manager Mom Epidemic provides a roadmap for you to take your life back and proves that the happiest families share the work and the fun equally.

My Thoughts

Have you ever read the title of a book, stopped and thought – oh goodness this is me. Then you read the book description and you start to fill with dread because everything in it describes you to the T and you are almost scared to see what it says. That is what happened for me when I first read about this book.

I work full time and on top of it part time with my blog. On top of this, we have two young children in competitive sports along with all the normal household and day to day activities we all do. I had been handling it well but in the last year, I have found myself losing my patience more at home, feeling burned out and tired of the arguments. I don’t want to have to remind someone to brush their teeth, pick up their clothes, feed the dogs (this just sounds annoying listing all of it!) but I find I do this on a regular basis. I don’t want to be the mean, nagging Mom and I have had enough.

This book helped me walk through why and how I let myself get this way – I like to help my family, I like to make sure they are fed, happy and healthy. But what I didn’t realize that what I was doing was preventing them from learning the responsibility of doing this themselves and putting additional strain on me that didn’t need to be there.

But how did I need to go about stopping what I had already put in motion? And could we even change our behaviours?

This book gave me so much hope and practical help to implement change in our home. I loved the letter from Mom to her family – this was something I could do and it was honest, to the point but still open and friendly. Whenever I approached my family in the past, it would start off nice but it would slowly turn into an argument over who does more. Throughout the book, there were so many tools that parents can implement at home to bring about a positive change. I felt confident that I could implement some of these changes slowly to encourage the behavioural changes I wanted to see in my family (we started with washing our own glasses after we have a drink and not leaving ten glasses for Mom to come home to after work).

What I really loved about this book was that it felt like you were sitting down to a cup of coffee (or glass of wine) with a good friend, venting your frustrations and then coming up with a solution that works for the whole family. You have laughs over some of the shared stories that we can all relate to (the morning nightmares trying to get kids out the door, homework fights, etc..) but then he breaks down those moments to look at how everyone is feeling and how can we change these moments so that everyone is happy (not just Mom). This is an excellent book for all parents (don’t be put off by the title – Dads you should read this too) and even a great book to introduce to parents of young children to adopt changes before they get to this point. A definite must have resource for parents!

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Dr. Thomas W. Phelan is an internationally renowned expert, author, and lecturer on child discipline and Attention Deficit Disorder. A registered Ph.D. clinical psychologist, he appears frequently on radio and TV. Dr. Phelan practices and works in the western suburbs of Chicago.

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

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