Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Balloons over Broadway

What are your Thanksgiving Day traditions? I know of plenty of people who do the same thing ever year. While cooking, they watch the Macy's Day Parade!  As a young girl, I remember the exceptional floats and best of all, Santa arriving on his sleigh at the end!  I can almost hear the announcer saying: "Santa should be arriving soon!" and the excitement I felt.

Miss Nancy at The Storybook Shoppe recommended Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet to our family for Thanksgiving.  It is the true story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade! From when Tony was a little boy to how he became the puppeteer of the parade, this story follows his interest in marionettes.

The illustrations in this book keep things very interesting.  A mix of hand drawn illustrations, photos, and varying fonts for text, keep this book visually riveting.  It's a collage style that is uncommon and therefore, appealing.  There's even an unexpected twist in the middle, when you turn the books orientation vertically, to see the float.  Melissa Sweet won a Caldecott Honor for her mixed media collage illustrations.

The book is quite involved, though my daughter who is 4 enjoyed it, we recommend it for ages 5+.   We think it's great for anyone with an interest in parades!

Balloons Over Broadway is the perfect gift for Thanksgiving to add to your library at home and we are selling it for 10% off the list price. Buy it here, right on the blog! Just check out with PayPal and we will ship it to your door within days.  This one is a treasured keepsake for the holidays.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Sophie's Squash

As many parents know, the window of opportunity for brain development and optimal time for learning is early on. Which is why early education is so important. My daughter, Molly, at age 4 is like a sponge. She is curious and has a powerful memory.  Sometimes I explain topics that are way beyond her comprehension. She doesn't get it all, but takes away pieces.

This is the case when we read Sophie's Squash, a recommendation from Miss Nancy at The Storybook Shoppe.  We turned the book into a discussion about personification.  (For anyone needing a refresher on third grade English:  personification is a figure of speech in which inanimate objects are given human qualities.)

When Sophie gets a squash at the farmers' market, she turns it into her best friend Bernice. She wraps her squash up in a blanket and rocks it to sleep.  She brings it to the library and to visit her squash friends.  This was our great opportunity to talk about personification!  Since Molly has made things human before with objects that aren't really human.

But when Sophie's parents urge her to do something with her squash (like donate it to a food pantry or eat it before it gets mushy), Sophie can't bear the thought!  Find out what Sophie ends up doing with this squash, this ending is so delightful.  (Hint: there's a garden!)

Of course not every book needs to be a teaching moment.  There are plenty of books that we read purely for entertainment value.  I recently read an interview with J.K. Rowling about her son who is an avid reader. The interviewer asked what the secret is for getting her son to read.  Her response surprised me. She said as a parent, you can't be picky about what you child is reading.  If they want to read comic books, let them.  If they want to read about vampires, let them.  The important thing is that they are reading.

What I truly love about The Storybook Shoppe and their staff is that they always seem to recommend books that educational and entertaining. I don't have to make a choice.  We love how Miss Nancy and her staff have actually read all the books, and how they know which ones will hit home.

Buy Sophie's Squash right here on our blog and save 10% OFF.  It's the perfect book for Fall.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013


When I was 9 years old, my generous parents started looking at sleep away summer camps for me to attend. My father's business partner had attended a great camp, he recommended we contact the director for information.  Mitch Reiter came to our house, set up a slide show, and within 30 seconds he sold me on Camp Towanda.  From soccer to swimming, arts and crafts and evening activities, this eight week sleep away camp had it all and my bags were packed! Sign me up!

There was just one thing.  It's a Jewish Camp.  And I am not Jewish.  Would I have a problem attending? Since we weren't very religious, my parents quite liberal, and I had fallen in love with the camp, this is how it came to be that a Presbyterian from Massachusetts would attend a Jewish camp in The Pocanos, attended mostly by Jewish children and teens from New York and New Jersey. The next five summers, I spent 8 weeks at overnight camp with my Camp Towanda family.  I have some wonderful friends from camp to this day and also unique appreciation for the Jewish faith.

Perhaps this is why I am always mindful during the holidays of those who don't celebrate Christmas.  With Christmas being so commercial these days, if you don't celebrate it, I can imagine as a child you would feel quite alienated. I was delighted to see Miss Nancy's huge selection of Hanukkah books at The Storybook Shoppe.  In fact, she has a whole wall!

She sent us home with a few to read and I fell in love with Hanukkah! by Roni Schotter, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner.  It's a short book geared for pre-schoolers and toddlers that highlights the warmth of the holiday and the strong traditions of Hanukkah.  From the menorah, potato pancakes, dreidel, pot roast and gifts, prayers, and all the love, Hanukkah seems a lot like the holidays I celebrate -- filled with fun, food, and family.  After all, that's what all holidays are about regardless of the faith.

We delighted in this cute toddler, Moe, who in the beginning of the story is unable to say "Hanukkah." By the end, not only does he understand the traditions, but he has a new word, too!  (Can you guess what it is?) The illustrations in this book are wonderful, and perfectly depict the story, helping young listeners understand what you are reading to them.

We think you will love this story and it also makes a great gift.  Buy this wonderful story now, right here on the blog, and support The Storybook Shoppe!  It will be shipped to your door in days.

Regular $12.99
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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Captain Cat

We love it when Miss Nancy and her staff at The Storybook Shoppe introduces us to a completely unexpected treasure!  First, it must be said that I am not fond of cats.  Or I should say that I love all animals and wish cats no harm, but I have always been a dog person and I would never gravitate towards a book about cats.  Of course because it's the exact opposite of how I feel, that makes my daughter enamored with cats.  And is also why I was surprised to really enjoy this story.

Captain Cat by Inga Moore is a charming tale about an explorer who travels off the charted course to a new and mysterious land with loads of cats in his boat.  The island is overridden with rats, quickly extinguished by the new cats from aboard Captain Cat's boat.  When it's time for the Captain to leave, the cats want to stay. They've made quite a home there! 

Even though the cats wish to stay on their own, in exchange for the cats, The Queen of the Island gives Captain Cat some of her treasure. When he returns home, he shows off this treasure to other explorers. Soon, everyone is looking for this majestic land of cats and jewels.    But what does the Queen of the Island give the new explorers when they finally reach ashore?  Kittens.

And Captain Cat realizes he is most happy with his cats, and his cats' cats, and his cats' cats' cats. And so he lives happily ever after on the island with the cats.

The O'Regan's love a good happily ever after!  And I even managed to like this one about an animal I am not partial to.  Perhaps that is what makes reading extra special -- appreciating something unexpected.  We love how with every book that Miss Nancy recommends to us, we are exposing our son and daughter to new subject matters, a wider range of vocabulary, and a sea of imagination.

As Molly drifted off to sleep tonight, I thought to myself:  Is she dreaming of all the places she'll explore one day?

That and, "oh, shoot....what if now she wants a cat?"

Buy this lovely book here, right on the blog, and have it shipped to your door within days!  It makes a nice holiday gift, birthday gift for kids ages 4-7, or a great addition to your at home library for no occasion at all. Thanks for your support of The Storybook Shoppe!

Normally $15.99 
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