Category: childrens books

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.

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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.

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ABC What Can I Be?

ABC What Can I Be? presents a wonderful world full of career possibilities—from Astronomer to Zoo Keeper and everything in between. Representing kids of all kinds, this book shows that there are no limits to what a kid can pursue.

About ABC What Can I Be?

Whether they are fascinated by animals, trains, flowers, teaching, or more, kids can grow up to be whatever they want! ABC What Can I Be? presents an alphabet full of exciting, thoughtful, and wonderful things that children can do.

Pairing a career with each letter of the alphabet, ABC What Can I Be? features colorful illustrations and careers to get kids thinking about all the possibilities for their future. Each page introduces a letter of the alphabet with bright artwork and highlights a career that is fun, challenging, and makes a big impact in its own way. The twenty six careers— including Dentist, Floral Designer, Meteorologist, Robotics Engineer, Train Conductor, and Wildlife Conservationist—are just some of the things that a kid can become! A fun read for the whole family, ABC What Can I Be? is not only perfect for teaching toddlers their ABCs, but also for encouraging them to consider all the careers that they can be when they grow up.

Our Thoughts

ABC What Can I Be? is a beautiful, hard cover book for young children that both inspires and educates.

I loved the bright, bold illustrations paired with amazing career choices (EMT, quantitative analyst, youth director and so much more). We learned about so many inspiring careers in this creative book – I never would have thought about a user experience designer career to encourage for a child. You will enjoy exploring these new careers and even adding in your own ideas. We made a challenge for ourselves to add two new careers for each letter (we did have to google it sometimes). We also loved how the book breaks down gender and social stereotypes – young children regardless of their gender or culture will find themselves in this inclusive book. The book encourages you to find yourself in any role and reminds you that you can truly be whatever you set your mind to.

ABC What Can I Be? is a must have book for children of young ages – it is engaging with its bold, bright illustrations, inclusive and inspiring. We had a fantastic time reading the book aloud and even added in some of our own ideas.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

About the Author

Sugar Snap Studio is led by Jessie Ford, an English illustrator whose colorful view of the world has been brightening people’s lives for the last decade. Her graphic shapes, bold color palette, hand-drawn typography, and textured layers create a handmade effect that has been commissioned by clients such as Harry N. Abrams, Rodale Kids, Volkswagen, Samsonite, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Unilever, and Westin Hotels. Her books include ABC: What Can She Be?, ABC: What Can He Be?, and ABC: What Can I Be?

Jessie Ford is the illustrator behind Sugar Snap Studio. She lives on the south coast in Hove, England. Visit her online at sugarsnapstudio.co.uk. 

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 Day the Hugs Went Away

The Day the Hugs Went Away is a great resource for parents as we try to find new and creative ways to teach our children how to continue nurturing relationships during the ‘new normal’ while following social distancing guidelines.

About The Day the Hugs Went Away

Sharing hugs has always been a special way to express our love with the people we care about. When suddenly in-person contact changes due to events of COVID-19, we all have to find ways to continue to express our feelings until the hugs return.

Our Thoughts

These past few months have been extremely difficult for everyone. I have found that as a parent, I am struggling. I am struggling in knowing how to talk to my children about COVID, about how they are feeling and even managing their fears. Children are facing so many fears and they don’t know how to express themselves. Children love to touch everything in sight, hug their families and have long conversations with those they hold dear. Suddenly, they have been thrown into a world where they are told they can’t hug Grandma and Grandpa, that their hugs and kisses may hurt the ones they love the most (I can’t even begin to imagine how this makes them feel) and they are no longer surrounded by their social circles.

I loved how this book addresses this big topic that so many of us are struggling with – the importance of touch and hugs, and how this is affecting how we express our love to the ones that are the most important to us. It celebrates all those fun ways we used to show affection through hugs – through squeeze you tight hugs, cuddle hugs and more. But what happens when we can’t share hugs anymore? How do we share our love? By getting creative! This book gives children excellent ideas to share their feelings with their loved ones that doesn’t involve direct touch. Some of them may be ideas you have already started – hugs through windows, letters, talking through Facetime but gives you great starting points to start talking about how you can show your feelings.

I loved the way the story flowed, it uses simple sentences that have a strong impact for both children and adults. It turns a scary topic that so many of us are struggling with, into a topic that a child can relate to. It gives us great ideas to cope with the loss of hugs (until they return again!) and allows children the opportunity to come up with their own ideas on how to express their feelings to family and friends. This is a great book for parents and children to talk about COVID, how we are feeling and what we can’t wait to do once the pandemic restrictions have been lifted.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Amazon.

Rating: 5/5

About the Author

Gwyn Drake has spent a lifetime finding ways to creatively communicate personally and professionally. In the midst of COVID-19, she worked with her three young children to write and illustrate their experience of staying connected.

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

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The Whale Child Book Review

“You have family on land as you do in the sea. . . being a caretaker of the earth begins with taking care of the water that all life depends on.”

About The Whale Child

Shiny is a whale child. One day his mother teaches him about the harm the world’s oceans are facing because of ourcarelessness. Shiny agrees to be turned into a boy by the ocean’s water spirit so that he can visit the land and alert people to the dangers.

He meets Alex, a young Coast Salish girl, who learns from him that the living spirit of water exists in everything – glaciers, rivers, oceans, rain, plants, and all living creatures. Together the two travel the world, confronting the realities of a planet threatened by an uncertain future.

Inspired by Shiny, Alex makes the promise to become a teacher for future generations. She realizes that the timeless Indigenous value of environmental stewardship is needed now more than ever and that we must all stand up on behalf of Mother Earth.

Our Thoughts

“The spirit of the ocean moves within every drop of water, traveling the globe within the bubbling, rolling waves, within the seafoam on the still surface and down into the deepest trenches carved in the ocean floor…It has chosen you to share this wisdom with the humans, who will be responsible for what happens to the earth” – The Whale Child

The Whale Child is a powerful, beautifully written story that challenges you to examine your community and the impact that you are having on the environment and our oceans with a message that touches both adults and children.

Shiny is born a very special whale, full of kindness, curiosity and an understanding of the world around him. His Mother teaches him not only how to survive but also the importance of the ocean, and how water is the source of life. He is chosen for a very special mission – to turn into a human boy and remind the humans of the impact they are having on the oceans and the consequences this can bring.

Alex is a bright young girl from the Coast Salish people who are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest Coast. Shiny is her brother from the water and he will guide and teach her to remember all of the things that they may have been forgotten.

“Seeing what is bad will make you realize the good you can do. Take one smart step in the right direction and the next will come much easier” – The Whale Child

Shiny and Alex set off on a special journey to see the impact that humans have had on Alex’s home. We see the impact that plastic, pollution, over harvesting has had on Alex’s home and the bigger picture that this has on our earth. The experience is difficult for Alex (and readers!) but so important, and like Shiny tells us, we need to see the bad in order to see all of the good that we can do. Their journey together is short but makes a great impact on young Alex. She is determined to be a champion of the water and share the knowledge that she was shown.

The Whale Child is beautifully written and powerful, I enjoyed reading the book with my son. The story gives you a greater understanding of the world around us, the importance of our oceans and our place in protecting the waters. The book contains beautiful illustrations at key points during the story that help readers understand the messaging of the story. I loved that the authors included at the end of the story the following resources: glossary, student resources (which included information on the indigenous tribes in this region as well as projects that students can complete to enhance their learning) and classroom discussions. The Whale Child is a powerful, beautiful story that all young children (and adults too) should be encouraged to read and discuss both in the classroom and at home. Our youth play an important role in protecting the environment, and this should be encouraged. A definite must read story for youth and adults.

You can purchase a copy of this book on Penguin, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Rating: 5/5

About the Authors

KEITH T. A. EGAWA is a novelist who focuses on both adult and children’s literature. He is a Washington native and a member of the Lummi Indian Nation. Egawa’s extensive experience in the field of child welfare has provided him with both inspiration and insight into his subject matter.

CHENOA T. Y. EGAWA is Coast Salish of the Lummi and S’Klallam Nations of Washington State. She is a medicine woman, singer, writer, illustrator, photographer, and teacher dedicated to bringing healing to our Mother Earth and to people of all origins. She is a voice to bring Native wisdom and perspectives to the world when these teachings are particularly poignant reminders of our shared responsibility to live with respect for ourselves, one another, and all that gives us life.

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

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