Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review for The Case of the Purple Diamonds by H.K. Gilbert and Misty Taggart

The Case of the Purple Diamonds (Barkley, Secret Service Dog 1)

The Case of the Purple Diamonds (Barkley Secret Service Dog 1) by H.K. Gilbert, Misty Taggart & Tim Davis
TAG Publishing LLC
May 23, 2011
Ages 9-12
88 Pages
ISBN-10: 1934606073
ISBN-13: 978-1934606070
Children’s Chapter Book        
H.K. Gilbert-Creator of Barkley, Secret Service Dog, has always dreamed of writing children's books. This children's book was inspired by her beautiful daughter. Watching her face filled with excitement as they read bedtime stories together inspired her to not only write books for children but to share the importance of parent and child interaction. Gilbert believes that when parents take an extra five to ten minutes a day to sit down with their child and read to them will not only teach them valuable skills but create a strong bond between parent and child.
   The Case of the Purple Diamonds is a fun romp in the life of a secret service dog whose goal is to help protect the White House.

Barkley is an adorable, no-nonsense Basset Hound whose owner is Agent Knox. Barkley secretly helps his owner protect the White House from intruders. He has some great gadgets kept in his collar that provides him with whatever he needs to help him solve a case—and to help prevent fleas. He even has a computer tucked smartly inside of his collar. It is very high-tec.
As Barkley makes his rounds surveying the White House grounds, he spots a possible intruder hiding in some bushes. As he sniffs closer, he learns the man’s name is Smedley Von Smellerhausen, who is pretending to have a press pass from the country of Pajoon.  Something was definitely amiss as he overheard Smedley talk about purple diamonds from Pajoon being hidden in the White House. Barkley Secret Service Dog was on the case.
Still early in the case Barkley meets Gabby, Tessa’s (the head housekeepers) granddaughter, who now lives in the White House. Not wanting to associate with her, and tired of her childish banter, he reveals to her that he can speak and that he is after Smedley. Gabby and Barkley become fast friends and agree to join forces to help stop Smedley from getting the purple diamonds that were hidden somewhere in the White House.
Between interesting disguises, and awesome gadgets, will Barkley and Gabby stop Smedley from finding the diamonds before he can use them for his evil plan?

This was a delightfully funny 88-page chapter book that children from the ages of 9-12 will enjoy. The text is simple and interesting enough for younger children to begin reading as well, though they will run across some challenging words here and there. Older children will love the adventure and the interesting facts provided in the text.

Children, who love mysteries and are interested in history and the White House, will really enjoy Barkley and the information the story reveals about the rooms, the grounds, the presidents and so on. All information is relayed as a part of the story so children will be learning and not even realizing it. Gabby and Barkley make a great team and the reader will be able to see how they can help each other. For being the first case, this story was well developed and takes a different twist to the everyday mystery. Children will eagerly await the next book in the series.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review for Hot Tickets by Tracy Marchini

Hot Ticket: Hot Ticket Trilogy (Volume 1)

Hot Ticket: Hot Ticket Trilogy (Volume 1) by Tracy Marchini
Squirrel Books
July 1, 2011
Middle School Ages
170 Pages
ISBN-10: 1616331569
ISBN-13: 978-1616331566
Children’s Picture Book         

Tracy Marchini is a freelance writer and editorial consultant. Before launching her own editorial service, she worked at a literary agency, as a children's book reviewer, a newspaper correspondent and a freelance copywriter. She may also be known as the worst kickball player to ever grace her schoolyard.

More information about her and her critique services can be found at

Hot Ticket is a fun story that children in middle school can relate too, yet has interesting twists and turns.
Juliet Robinson is just a regular girl trying to survive middle school. There’s not much she feels she does right. She tries to stay out of trouble but finds herself, more often than not, sitting down by the principal’s office. It wasn’t her fault she “accidentally” punched the most popular girl in school in the face, was it?

John Jay Junior High or most commonly called, Triple J, was a unique middle school because the students were enthralled with hot tickets since the beginning of the school year. Hot tickets could be awarded for doing something cool, saying something funny, or sometimes even just wearing something the ticket dispenser liked. There were also shame tickets. These tickets were given out if someone did something shameful, like punch the most popular girl in school in the face. A student would get recognized for this behavior also.
The problem was that Juliet had never received a hot ticket or a shame ticket throughout her 6th grade career. She found this very upsetting. Her friends around her even received them, but no matter what Juliet did, right or wrong, she never received one. This led her, along with her friends Lucy, Steve, and Madeline, to form a group to discover who the ticket dispenser was. You see, these tickets were handed out randomly, though no one really knew who delivered them. Students found them on their desks, in their lockers—wherever. When a student received one, they showed them around school suddenly getting more attention and feeling just a little bit more important.

Juliet wanted to be popular and well thought of. Her goal was to discover who the ticket dispenser was, and in return, the school would love her for it, treating her with the respect and attention she deserved. Juliet had become so obsessed with the task of finding out who the ticket dispenser was, that she began to miss the bigger picture. Will Juliet be able to discover who the ticket dispenser was? And if she did, would she be happy with the results, or surprised that she had taken out a rewarding system that recognized people who would have normally been overlooked?
This story touches on many topics. No matter what school a child goes to, there will always be children who think they are better in some way than somebody else. There are those popular people and the not so popular. But who decides this ritual, and is it always right? This story, in some ways, breaks down that barrier and exposes the insecurities of those popular people. Every child should be treated with an equal amount of respect, regardless of what they do or where they are from. In this case, Juliet realized that she had to earn the masses respect, and she did that in an unexpected way.

In this 170-page chapter book, children will be able to relate, in many ways, to the feelings and trials that many of the characters go through in middle school. Confidence and belief in one’s own abilities will help guide them in finding their own strengths and to not worry about what other people think. Children will be eagerly awaiting the next volume in this series to see where Juliet Robinson will take them next.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Book Review for Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep by Kathy Stemke

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep

Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep by Kathy Stemke, Illustrated by Jack Foster
Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
May 1, 2011
Ages 3-7
20 Pages
ISBN-10: 1616331569
ISBN-13: 978-1616331566
Children’s Picture Book          

Kathy Stemke has a passion for writing, the arts and all things creative. She has Bachelor degrees from Southern Connecticut State University and Covenant Life Seminary, as well as graduate coursework from New York Institute of Technology and Columbia University. Hanging her hat in the North Georgia Mountains, she has been a teacher, tutor, and writer for many years.

As a freelance writer and ghostwriter, Kathy has published hundreds of articles in directories, websites and magazines. She is a contributing editor for The National Writing for Children's Center and a reviewer for Sylvan Dell Publishing. As a retired teacher, Kathy has several activities published with Gryphon House Publishing. Kathy is also part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U.

Zachary has a new sister, Layla, who gets a lot of attention because she’s a baby. His mother frequently asks him for help. So, what he does is puts on a special pair of black-framed glasses that, in his imagination, turns him into a super hero so he can grab the diapers his mother needs. Then his sister is all taken care of.

Zachary then gets to read to his sister to help her sleep. That was easy, but when he takes her for a walk afterwards, disaster strikes as the wind blows Layla’s blanket off. Well, being a super hero, Zachary Lasso’s the wind so it can’t cause anymore mischief.

Then a thrush falls to the ground out of its nest. Layla is amazed when her brother puts the bird back into its nest again, safe and sound. One after another, events happen that disturb Layla’s sleep and scares her, and each time Zachary flies to the rescue solving the problem.

When the day is done Zachary discovers something about himself. Will his revelation give him strength to conquer life’s many challenges?

This story is filled with consonant blends hidden in a delightful story for young children who are just beginning to read. This 20 page picture book shows children that having a younger sibling can be fun and not an inconvenience. The illustrations are bold and bright which will catch even the youngest child’s attention.

What parents will love the most is the great activities in the back of the book to help children focus on consonant blend sounds. The author has created songs, games, and worksheets to keep learning fun and to help with blends that children will be learning about in school. These activities reinforce the words that will make learning blends easier to do. The activities can be played over and over again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mineral Mischief Receives Book Award

I have some great news. Mineral Mischief has just won an award by Creative Child Magazine.

The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut & Biscuit Bill Case #2: Mineral Mischief,
(Kids Books category) 

I am so excited. If you have children in 2nd-3rd grade and up into middle school. Check out some of my books in the Crypto-Capers and Joe-Joe Nut Series. They are all educational and interactive mysteries. More info on the books can be found on my website at 


Book Review for Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty Pants by Elise Primavera

Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants

Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants by Elise Primavera, Illustrated by Diane Goode
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
July 19, 2011
Ages 4-8
40 Pages
ISBN-10: 1442406003
ISBN-13: 978-1442406001
Children’s Picture Book    

Elise Primavera has been writing and illustrating children's books for more than 25 years. She has received numerous awards for her work, and in 2004 she was asked to illustrate the Christmas Brochure for the White House. Her bestselling book Auntie Claus has sold over half a million copies. Ms. Primavera wrote her first novel, the popular Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls, in 2006. Her latest book, Libby of Hi Hopes, is an illustrated novel due to arrive in 2012. 

Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants is a fun tale about how ambition, hard work, and a sprinkling of a dedicated teacher can whip up a combination that inspires children into finding the best in themselves. 
Louise is a little girl who wants the best and biggest of everything so she can show the world that she is someone of importance. After spending some time with her sister, Penelope, in her room, Louise could see a difference in her. Penelope wasn’t admiring herself in the mirror like she usually did, but was working hard on her computer. Penelope told her younger sister that she was studying so she could get straight A’s in school. Well, this inspired the little diva to wants to get straight A’s, too.
The problem is that Louise has a misconception about what getting straight A’s will do for her. She thinks her grades will make her popular. She even goes so far as to think that she will be promoted and can skip ahead a few grades.
The teacher Louise is supposed to have is Mrs. Pearl. Louise has a misconception about her, too. Louise thinks getting A’s from her will be easy. She realizes too late that she is mistaken. Mrs. Pearl is tough and pushes her students to do their best. Doing mediocre work is not, apparently, going to be good enough. That’s exactly what Louise does most of the time: just mediocre work, but Mrs. Pearl pushes her harder because she can see Louise’s potential. Louise just thinks Mrs. Pearl is mean and she doesn’t much like her.
Dreading her future, Louise arrives at school the next day only to be greeted by Miss Sprinkles, the substitute teacher. Louise is sure that she can get an A out of her, and she does, which makes her feel like a big cheese. The problem is that Miss Sprinkles gives everybody A’s. That special feeling she is looking for by getting an A, doesn’t feel so special after all. Will Louise ever appreciate her dedicated teacher, Mrs. Pearl? Or will she forever just do mediocre work and never realize her full potential?

Young girls from the ages of 4–8 who relish in the Fancy Nancy series are going to enjoy this 40-page picture book. It’s cute and entertaining and fits right in with the many little girls out there who think they are big cheeses.

Parents will either enjoy the sassy, smart-mouthed, attitudinal main character, or will be appalled by her behavior. Either way, the story leaves the reader with a good message: Always do your best and then push yourself to do even better—and never settle.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Book Review For Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures by Clayton Paul Thomas

Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures: A Parent's Guide to Parenting in the 21st Century

Written by: Clayton Paul Thomas
ISBN Number: 978-1-257-05609-5
Publication Date: April 2011

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Twitter URL:!/Claylauren2001
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Author Bio:

Clayton Paul Thomas has worked with kids for about 16 years from three different settings. The first was at St. Joseph Children’s Home. This was a place abused kids went after being permanently separated from their parents. Most of his parenting skills were developed here. The kids Clayton worked with ranged from ages 3 to 15.

 Afterwards, Clayton became an elementary public school teacher. He taught for 7 1/2 years from 1st through 4th grade. Finally, Clayton has two boys (Cameron age 7 and Luke age 3). He has been married for 9 years to his beautiful wife Lauren. Though his parenting skills were learned at St. Joseph, his wife’s has been the inspiration to writing the book and sharing insights with all of you. To her, Clayton is eternally thankful.


Tantrums, Troubles and Treasures is a book for parents in the 21st century who want to look at parenting from a different point of view.

All moms and dads from every walk of life can agree that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. Each person wants to be a good parent, and there are times when each of us are looking for guidance. Whether it be from our own parents or from friends, we have all come to realize that there is no such thing as being the perfect parent. Everyone is learning and doing their best. Every once in awhile there is a book out there that can help make us see parenting in a different light. Tantrums, Troubles and Treasures, is certainly that eye opener.

This is a book that Clayton Paul Thomas has created that uses his life experiences to help other parents. He talks about The Art of Presence, Confidence and Inquisitiveness, Education, Patience, Discipline, and many other topics that parents face on a constant basis. He often starts each section with a story that relates to the topic, then moves into examples, situations, and suggestions. It doesn't matter if a child is a parents 1st or 8th, all parent's will find themselves nodding their heads going, "Yes, I've been there!" and all parent's will be able to reflect on what they have done right, as well as what they have done wrong.

The author does not preach his teachings, but merely gives advice in hoping that an example that he has given, or a story that he has told, will somehow hit home to his readers and in that way have the reader look at their problem from a different angle to find the solution. What parent's will remember is that we, as parent's, are our children's best examples. Children will emulate what they see and what they hear. So be the best role model possible. Children should be learning about life from their  parent's, not their friends.

Parents will find helpful the assignments at the end of every section or chapter. The assignments, again, makes parents look at their past situations and causes them to reflect, they in turn, find themselves thinking with more clarity then they were in the moment.

Parents will enjoy this 162 page parenting guide and look at parenting from a different point of view. Whether you are an experienced parent or not, every parent will be able to find something in the book that will benefit them.

Book Giveaway Rules:

One entry for each comment left per author virtual blog tour stop. (Must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.)
Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner.
Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing DOT com.

Ask a question – get a bonus entry per author virtual blog tour stop.

Book Giveaway ends July 31, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

Book Review For Brush Barry Brush by Linda Valderrama

Brush Barry Brush by Linda Valderrama R.D. H
Illustrations by: Sudi Memarzadeh
Publisher: Shirley’s Girl Publications
ISBN Number: 978-0-578-06605-9
Publication Date: 1/2011
Pages: 32

Linda Valderrama R.D.H. has over 25 years experience as a dental hygienist. She has treated patients from ages two to one hundred years old and has successfully developed preventative oral hygiene programs tailored to individual needs. Linda is a strong believer that good oral hygiene leads to overall health and well being and that good daily habits must be acquired early in life. Her book helps parents to work with their children to achieve this goal. She is working towards developing programs for schools, assisted living facilities and healthcare institutions to enable them to offer more effective oral hygiene programs.
Linda is a member of the American Dental Hygienists Association, the California Dental Hygienists Association and the San Diego Dental Hygienists Society. Her book “Brush Barry Brush” is to help parents and young children work together to achieve the simple but very important goal that every time you eat, you should brush your teeth.

Brush Barry Brush


Brush Barry Brush is a good way to encourage children to consistently brush their teeth.

This story is simply told for those younger children who are 4-8 years of age. From the very beginning a child eats a piece of food and right afterwards, brushes their teeth. Each child eats food that interests them and matches their particualr tastes. Penelope eats pasta, Ben eats broccoli, so on and so forth. Each food starts with the same letter of the child's name. Some foods are healthy, some are not, which could lead to discussion about appropriate snacking and nutrition. After several children were discussed eating a piece of food, they brush their teeth. Each example has the same result--the children brush their teeth each time they eat either a meal or a snack. Then there was a boy named Barry who forgot to brush his teeth after eating blueberries. His teeth had become stained and turned blue. Will Barry brushing his teeth clean those stains away?

The message of this book is clear. Brush your teeth each time you eat! This is a great story that emphasizes to children the importance of brushing their teeth often and daily.

This reviewer can see, however, where some older children might lose interest in the story because of it's simplicity and constant repetitiveness. The illustrations show children eating and brushing their teeth, mostly at home, but in other places as well. The pages contain a constant relaying message, saying the same words repeatedly, which sinks the message in for the younger children, but will not stimulate older children. Older children will want to know more, but no other information is explained in the book, only the message of, "Brush your teeth each time you eat!" Having more thourough information in the back of the book would have tied everything together for the reader giving them more information, satisfying the desires and needs for varying age groups.

The author delivers a fantastic message. Parents need to emphasize to their children the importance of brushing their teeth. A great addition to this story would be for every parent to have their child talk with their dentist or dental hygienist about healthy teeth and having a healthy mouth overall. Parents should have their child brush for at least two minutes, this should have been emphasized, and if they should floss or not. This story is meant to scratch the surface on having good oral hygiene. It does not go in depth, which will make the message easier for younger children to understand. The illustrations are bright and expressive, driving the message of the story home.

The author adds a great chart in the back of the book for children to use when keeping track of how many times they brush their teeth. She provides a month full of stickers to use, which results in a child brushing their teeth about 4-5 times a day.  Overall, this story expresses a great message and is a good beginning to understanding and having good oral hygiene.

Book Giveaway Rules:

One entry for each comment left per author virtual blog tour stop. (Must leave a real comment about the author, tour or book. Saying “this is cool” or “I love your book” will not count.) Make sure to include your safe email so we can contact you if you are the winner. Example: vsgrenier AT storiesforchildrenpublishing

Ask a question – get a bonus entry per author virtual blog tour stop.

Book Giveaway ends July 31, 2011

Please visit the author on her next stop today at

Roth’s Inspiring Books & Products - Interview

Tomorrows stop:

July 12th

Maria’s Space – Book Spotlight & Giveaway

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Review for A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan

A Girl and Her Gator

A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan, Illustrated by Tom Murphy
Arcade Publishing (June 7th, 2011)
Ages 4-8

32 Pages

ISBN# 978-1611450323
Children’s Picture Book   
This is Sean Bryan’s second children’s book. His first, A Boy and His Bunny, is also an exploration of the “kid-with-animal-on-head” theme, which, Sean hopes will explode into an entire literary genre. He’s a creative director at a New York advertising agency.

A Girl and Her Gator is a fun tale that will delight young children and make them giggle as their imaginations soar with the possibilities presented in the story.
Claire wakes up one morning with a gator on her head. When she politely asks the gator, Pierre, what he’s doing, he says that he would just like to hang out for a while. Claire is unsure if she wants to walk around with a gator on her head all day—I mean, what would people think and what would she be able to do?

Happy that Claire’s considering letting him stay on her head, Pierre begins to give her suggestions of all the things she could do with a gator up there: She could go to the fair or scare her brother. She could go get an ├ęclaire—as long as she shares it with him, of course.

But then came another dilemma—what would she wear with a gator on her head? Well, Pierre has a solution for that problem, too: She can dress as a pirate or maybe evening wear? After awhile Claire enjoys all the possibilities, but what will her friends think when she goes off to ballet with a gator on her head? What disaster will befall the duo?

Children ages of 4–8 are going to enjoy this 32-page picture book. It’s truly entertaining. They will laugh as they read about all the possibilities of what Claire and Pierre can do together. The message: It’s okay to be different—in fact, it might even be more fun. Children should revel in what makes them who they are, and be proud of it, not worrying about ridicule or what other people may think. This is truly a delightful story that will put smiles on everyone’s face.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Travers City Cherry Festival Big Book Signing Event!

I'm going to be in Traverse City Michigan for the Cherry Festival this weekend. This is such a big event every year. On Sunday July 3rd in downtown Traverse, I will be there from 10-7pm signing and discussing all of my children's books. It's going to be a great weekend. There will be tons of arts and crafts items to fit everyone's liking. Hope to see you there!