Saturday, January 30, 2010

2010 GRAMMY Awards / American Heroes #3: Jonathan Sprout - CD Review

Music fans are excitedly awaiting the 52nd GRAMMY Awards, broadcast on CBS, Sunday night, January 31st. Six albums are up for the Best Musical Album For Children award.
  • American Heroes #3 - Jonathan Sprout
  • Banjo To Beatbox - Cathy & Marcy With Special Guest Christylez Bacon
  • Family Time - Ziggy Marley
  • Great Day - Milkshake
  • Jumpin' & Jammin' - Greg & Steve
  • Pete Seeger Tribute: Ageless Kids' Songs - Buck Howdy

The six Best Spoken Word Album For Children nominees are:
  • Aaaaah! Spooky, Scary Stories & Songs - Buck Howdy
  • Captain Nobody - Dean Pitchford
  • Nelson Mandela's Favorite African Folktales - (Various Artists including Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johannson, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker & others) - Sharon Gelman, Michele McGonigle & Alfre Woodard, producers
  • The Phantom Tollbooth - David Hyde Pierce
  • Scat - Ed Asner
  • Through The Looking-Glass And What Alice Found There - Harlan Ellison

According to Zooglobble blog, these awards will be handed out on Sunday afternoon and you can watch live streaming video at GRAMMY Live. (No prime-time coverage for these children's media awards, the way it sounds.) We're excited to find out which albums will receive a GRAMMY.

The kids and I recently had the chance to listen to American Heroes #3 by Jonathan Sprout. This album by singer-songwriter Jonathan Sprout is the third in an educational series of biographical songs highlighting famous Americans. In American Heroes #3, Sprout focuses on the 10 following remarkable individuals: Milton Hershey, John Muir, Elizabeth Blackwell, Jonas Salk, Jane Addams, George Washington Carver, Wilma Rudolph, Thomas Jefferson, Pocahontas and Cesar Chavez. The CD, released in 2009, has won eight awards and a GRAMMY Nomination.

When I was in eighth grade, my history teacher taught us about the War of 1812 and played a recording of the song, "The Battle of New Orleans." Now I don't remember too many of my history lessons, but I do clearly recall listening to the song in class and thinking it was a fun, catchy and interesting way to learn about history. (The song was originally written by Jimmy Driftwood to teach history to his high school students and Johnny Horton's version hit number one on the charts in 1959.) I can still recite the lyrics to this day, so I am living proof that using music as a device for learning works.

Sprout's songs teach children American history in the same way - through music. He incorporates various musical styles from pop to gospel into his songs and often uses backup singers to highlight key chorus phrases. Sprout's album differs stylistically from other children's albums. His story-songs have an adult contemporary sound. While I'm not sure if this is something parents would normally pop in the player for repetitive play, the album is an excellent supplement for home history studies and useful tool for teachers in school classrooms.

The detailed illustration on the cover shows all the female and male American heroes featured in the album, with a particularly large inset of one of my favorite naturalists, John Muir, "the father of our national parks" (though I wish Sprout would have mentioned Muir's Wisconsin roots in his brief biographical note that accompanies the song "Come Back Home"). The album insert provides brief biographies of each of the heroes. Not surprisingly my daughter took a particular liking to "Chocolate King," a song about Milton Hershey. She likes her chocolate and there's a lot to like about the man himself. He gave away his entire fortune to a school for orphans, and Sprout chose to highlight this act of philanthropy in his "Chocolate King" song. "Peanut Man," the song about George Washington Carver has a catchy refrain, Hey, Mr. Peanut Man. Many schools across the U.S. have been named for César Chávez, so I was especially interested to listen to "Si Se Puede!" (Yes We Can), a song about the legendary labor leader from California. Jonathan Sprout brings history alive in an entertaining and memorable way with this educational American Heroes album.

(CD Source: review copy provided for free for review purposes by Jonathan Sprout and ASAP Productions & Public Relations. All opinions expressed are my own. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Simple Machines Online Game on Museum of Science and Industry Website

I haven't had much time for reviews this past week. Both kids have been sick, and I've also volunteered to help coordinate our elementary school science fair so I've been working on writing up forms and keeping a spreadsheet of participants. Lots of busy work, but I can't wait to see what kind of science experiments and inventions the kids come up with to display.

The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry has a fun, informational website. I recently noticed they added a fun game about simple machines. Kids can help a cute little robot dude named "Twitch" use simple machines to solve problems and collect parts. Kids learn about the following simple machines: inclined plane, lever, wheel and axle, and pulley. My preschool daughter and I played the game together. Young kids will need assistance playing. The graphics in the game are fantastic and the game doesn't take overly long to play. We tried to use the least amount of force possible and scored 267 points. Can anyone beat us?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (1/29/2010)

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I publish "Full to the Brim" every Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!

Fish for more children's book giveaways at Lori Calabrese's Fish for a Free Book linkup each Friday

My book giveaway(s):
It's All Too Much, So Get It Together by Peter Walsh [teen book giveaway] Ends 2/1/10

Other book giveaways:
The Dirty Shirt - Book Giveaway Ends 2/12/10
Pirate Potty & Princess Potty Books + $30 Target Gift Card
Susan Heim - Book Giveaway Ends 2/12/10
Even Firefighters Go to the Potty, signed by coauthor Wendy Wax
Pink Nothings - Book Giveaway Ends 2/10/09
Who Loves the Little Lamb by Lezlie Evans
Katie's Literature Lounge - Book Giveaway Ends 1/31/10
Bubble Trouble by Margaret Mahy
Orlando Sentinel - Book Giveaway Ends 1/25/10
Sandra Boynton's One Shoe Blues
Traveling with Baby - Book Giveaway Ends 1/14/10
Rise and Shine CD and illustrated board book
Momformation - Book Giveaway Ends 1/29/10 (end of the day)
Pinkalicious by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann
Blogging Mama - Book Giveaway Ends 2/2/10
The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas (middle grade)
Five Minutes for Mom - Book Giveaway Ends 2/1/10
The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas (middle grade)
Miss Shari's Story Time - Book Giveaway Ends 2/10/2010
The Tallest of Smalls by Max Lucado
Simply Being Mommy - Book Giveaway Ends 2/6/10
National Geographic Kids 2010 Almanac
Mrs. Magoo Reads - Book Giveaway Ends 2/14/10
Ten YA books (YA/teen)
Energizer Bunny's Mommy Reports - Book Giveaway Ends 2/6/10
Three Cups by Mark St. Germain
Closet of Free Samples - Book Giveaway Ends 2/1/10
Choice of Frecklebox item
Loulou's views - Book Giveaway Ends 2/5/10
The 4 Little Pigs and four piggy banks
Jolly Mom - Book Giveaway Ends 2/10/10
Adventure of Meno books and a Meno children's blanket
Natural Baby Goods - Book Giveaway Ends 2/12/10
Barefoot Books - book of your choice
Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves - Book Giveaway Ends 1/31/10
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss



Other Giveaways:
Pink Nothings Ends 2/16/10
Tidy Books- Children's Bookcase



Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Pampers offering free Cruisers with Dry Max Sample



If you use Pampers diapers (we do occasionally), beginning in March 2010, you'll notice newly designed diapers on the store shelves --- Pampers Swaddlers and Cruisers with Dry Max. Designed to be less bulky and more environmentally friendly, according to the press release, the diaper contains less less material weight than previous designs and will also keep baby dry with its new Dry Max ™ technology. Pampers has partnered with Team USA during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the babies of some of Team USA athletes will wear the new diapers.

For a limited time, starting today January 29th, consumers can request a free sample three-pack of the new Cruisers diaper (sizes 3, 4 or 5) on Pampers.com. If this sample includes a Team USA diaper (they will be randomly inserted in select sample packs), you will win a year's supply of Pampers Cruisers Diapers with Dry Max!

Visit Pampers Village and sign up with P&GbrandSAMPLER to receive your free sample.

Also, I checked the Pampers Gifts to Grow website today. If you have points built up in your account, the current reading/book related rewards include Manhattan Toy Sunny Day Fabric Activity Book, LeapFrog Fridge Phonics Magnetic Alphabet and LeapFrog Tag Junior Book Pal. Plus, it looks like shipping and handling may now be included!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Capitol through glass




Wisconsin State Capitol as viewed from the inside of the Overture Center in Madison, WI.

Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom or Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Go Diego Go!: Lion Cub Rescue - DVD Review (SpongeBob DVD Giveaway)


"Deep inside the jungle where nature's running wild / Coming to the rescue is a very special child / Talking to the animals and swinging from a vine / This rough and tough adventurer is working all the time / Ya viene Diego. Diego. Diego. Go, Diego, Go!"

Lions, lions everywhere! Earlier in the month we reviewed Pinkney's Caldecott medal winning book, The Lion and the Mouse. This week we watched the newest Diego DVD, Lion Cub Rescue.

Released today, January 26th, the Go Diego Go! : Lion Cub Rescue DVD includes four exciting animal rescue adventure episodes. Like in all his shows, Diego, an 8-year-old adventure hero, works to save the animals and offers children advice on how to take care of the environment while also encouraging children use their imagination and participate in the rescue. The four episodes are as follows (95 minutes total length):

"Welcome Home, Lion Cub!" - Diego and baby Jaguar visit the grasslands in Africa and help Lion Cub and the Lion Cub's daddy rescue lion family members while traveling back to the pride for Lion Cub's party. They rescue Baby Lion from a stream's rapid water, free Cousin Lion from a net animal trap and locate Sister Lion hiding in the tall grassy field.
Animal Sound: Roar
Actions: Creeping, Crawling, Freeze, Jump, Claw
Spanish Phrase: "De tal padre, tal higo." (Like father, like son.)
Environmental Advice: Pick up and throw away trash like bottle tops and plastic bags found outside
"Diego's Ringed Seal Rescue" - The Ringed Seals live in a special rescue home in the arctic because their snow caves have melted. Diego and Alicia work together to save Baby Ringed Seal "Susie" from a polar bear and bring her safely back to the Ringed Seal Rescue Center. Along the way, Susie must navigate through an icy path, dive in and out of ice holes and find her way in a snow storm.
Animal Sound: Bark
Actions: Wiggle, Flap Arms
"Diego Reunites Hippopotamus and Oxpecker" - Hippopotamus must relocate from his river home to Hippo Lake and his "symbiotic" friend Oxpecker accompanies him on his journey. Hippo relies on Oxpecker to eat the bugs off his back and keep him clean. When Oxpecker searches for water plants for Hippo to eat, the rushing water pulls him toward a pipe entrance. While Diego and Hippo journey to save Oxpecker, they stomp through tall grass and hippo gets overheated and searches for a water hole to cool off.
Actions: Stomp, Open Mouth Wide
Spanish phrase: "Los mejores amigos son los qué se ayudan!" (Friends who help friends are the best friends of all.)
Environmental advice: Turn off the water when you brush your teeth
"Diego's Orangutan Rescue" - Diego travels to the rain forest Island of Borneo and together with his friend, Burgin, they help out the orangutans. Baby Orangutan floats away down the river in a canoe and Big Sister Orangutan asks Diego for assistance.
Animal Sound: Ooh!
Actions: Swing, Wave Arms, Duck head
Environmental advice: Plant trees and flowers
I like the animated Diego episodes and DVDs because they introduce my children to environmental issues in a child friendly way. The short episodes can be used in conjunction with books and other curriculum to teach kids about different types of animals and their habitats. Kids also learn Spanish words and the shows enourage movement and interaction. Both my children really enjoy singing along to the special songs incorporated in the shows. My daughter's favorite episode on this DVD is the one about the Hippo/Oxpecker. Even I didn't know what a "symbiotic" relationship was prior to watching this episode. You learn something new everyday, even from Diego!

SpongeBob SquarePants: Viking-Sized Adventure DVD also releases today. This is the description according to the fact sheet: "Join SpongeBob and his pals as they go on a Viking-Sized Adventure, weather a storm, fill in for super heroes Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy and meet Mr. Krabs grandpappy the pirate. Guest stars include Dennis Quaid and Ian McShane!" My kids are a little too small to enjoy the humor in this one, so I'm giving away my SpongeBob review copy to a Brimful Curiosities reader.

To enter, leave a comment with the name of your favorite Nickelodeon show or character.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US
• Contest ends on Monday, February 8th, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

(DVD Source: review copies provided for free for review purposes by Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon. All opinions expressed are my own. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dr. Seuss books - the New Kohl's Cares for Kids Merchandise

Remember my recent post about finding a Dr. Seuss 2010 calendar? At first I couldn't figure out the identity of the book featured in the September layout. Turns out it was Dr. Seuss' If I Ran the Circus.

Now here's a coincidence! I just noticed that the new Kohl's Cares for Kids book collection features four Dr. Seuss titles along with corresponding plush characters: If I Ran the Circus, The Lorax, The Foot Book and Oh, the Thinks You Can Think. At only $5 each, we will be adding these titles to our home library collection very soon! And, according to the Kohl's website, "100% of the net profit from the sale of these items will support health and educational opportunities for children nationwide." We do love the Kohl’s Cares for Kids program.

What is your favorite Dr. Seuss book? For me, it is a toss up between Green Eggs and Ham and Horton Hatches the Egg.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Little House on the Prairie - Musical and Books


For a few hours Wednesday night I became immersed in the past, the time of wagons, frontiers, homesteads and new settlements. My husband and I attended an evening performance of Little House on the Prairie: The Musical at the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin, part of a national tour. Before the show, I sat in a buckboard wagon and imagined riding along a rutted dirt path, seeing the grains of the prairie wave back and forth in the wind. Watching the talented cast, I felt a special bond with Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the classic Little House on the Prairie book series.

The musical takes place in the Dakota Territory in the 1880's and covers Laura's late childhood spent near De Smet, S.D. up to her marriage to Almanzo Wilder, basically the stories found in the following books: By the Shores of Silver Lake, The Long Winter, Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years. Just like the books, the musical highlights both the highs and lows of life on the prairie. Though I wish Melissa Gilbert had been able to perform as "Ma" (she apparently was suffering from laryngitis), I still enjoyed all the musical numbers, especially the deeply moving "I'll Be Your Eyes" sung by Laura and Mary that left me in tears. In fact, all the performers sang beautifully and special kudos to all the understudies who played in leading roles: Meredith Inglesby played Ma, Megan Campanile played Laura, and Gayle Samuels played Ms. Brewster/Ms. Wilder. It was a special treat to watch Melissa Gilbert's son, Michael, play two parts--Willie Oleson and a school child from Brewster. Kevin Massey performed as a dashing Almanzo and Nellie (Kate Loprest) was hilarious in her showy wardrobe. The lively, energetic dancing during the curtain called deserved a standing ovation. Too bad more didn't show up to watch the production. I'm still trying to figure out why the show doesn't get better reviews. In my opinion, anyone who is a fan of the books will most likely love this musical version. I know I did. We didn't take my daughter, but I'm sure she would have enjoyed watching the performance, particularly Act I. Grandma may take her when the show stops in Appleton, WI. We saw several little girls dressed in adorable bonnets and pioneer dresses having the time of their lives.



As a lifelong Wisconsin resident, I have always loved the books, especially Little House in the Big Woods. Laura Ingalls Wilder was born near Pepin, Wisconsin and lived there in a log cabin until her family moved on to Kansas and then later the Dakota Territory. I can clearly recall my fourth grade teacher reading aloud the Little House books to my class. Around that same time, my mom sewed a peach colored bonnet for me, and I watched Melissa Gilbert star as Laura Ingalls in the TV series. My family owned a box set of the Garth Williams illustrated books, the Readers Digest powder blue paperback version. I read each and every book in the series as a child.

This past week, we've been reading Little House on the Prairie books. We started with a couple of My First Little House Books. This 14 book series is beautifully illustrated (many of them by Wisconsin artist Renée Graef) and adapted from Wilder's original books. The books stay true to the stories and are the perfect introduction to the Little House series for the younger crowd, ages 3-8.

Our current favorite in the series is Winter Days in the Big Woods (My First Little House Books). The book begins with the sentence, "Once upon a time, a little girl named Laura lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin in a little house made of logs." With Winter approaching, the Ingalls family members begin their preparations for winter. They gather produce from the garden and Pa goes hunting. Once winter arrives the girls keep busy by helping their mother with chores, playing with their paper dolls. The picture book draws directly from stories in Wilder's book, Little House in the Big Woods. Browse inside the book at the HarperCollins website to view the wonderful illustrations.

I purchased a copy of My Book of Little House Paper Dolls: The Big Woods Collection while at the musical. The set includes six paper dolls--Laura, Mary, Ma, Pa, Baby Carrie, and Jack the bulldog plus accessories. My daughter loves dressing her dolls and playing with them using the provided background. They are perfect for imaginative play and actually pretty inexpensive, considering all the detail and number of cutouts. Definitely a worthwhile investment for any child interested in the Little House on the Prairie books. Renée Graef illustrated the paper doll book, so the characters perfectly match those found in the My First Little House Books series.



"They were cozy and comfortable in their little house made of logs, with the snow drifted around it and the wind crying because it could not get in by the fire." - Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder


Since my daughter enjoyed the picture book series, I decided to try reading aloud the original chapter book, Little House in the Big Woods. Thankfully, my mom kept the set from my childhood, so we borrowed all the books from her. Like many, I prefer the editions illustrated by Garth Williams. This chapter book does contain some slightly graphic accounts, including butchering, scary wild animals, whipping of children, a yellow jacket attack and more. As I read the story aloud, I omitted some parts of the story that I thought would bother my preschool-aged daughter. The book set in the early 1870's covers all four seasons, stretching an entire year from late autumn to late summer the next year in the big woods of Wisconsin. Wilder discusses typical family chores like hunting, baking, sewing, washing, nut gathering and making butter and cheese. She tells of a family gathering at Christmas when she receives Charlotte, a rag doll. They spend time at Grandpa's house in the big woods dancing and helping collect maple sap that they later make into syrup and maple sugar. Wilder's provides detailed descriptions and intersperses fun tales told by her "pa" throughout the book. My daughter closely looked at all the black and white illustrations by Williams while I read the text and she periodically stopped me to ask questions. I like that the book introduces her to pioneer times, before cars, running water, and huge mega stores. All the history, humor and hardship that Wilder seamlessly integrates into her books continues to amaze and enlighten me, even as an adult.

Our story + art activity this week was more cooking than crafting. We made pancake men like Laura describes in Little House in the Big Woods. "For Breakfast there were pancakes, and Ma made a pancake man for each one of the children. Ma called each one in turn to bring her plate, and each could stand by the stove and watch, while with the spoonful of batter Ma put on the arms and the legs and the head." And, of course, we ate them with real maple syrup!




Related Links, Activities, Crafts and Guides:

http://littlehousethemusical.com/educational_guide.pdf
http://www.littlehousebooks.com/





Post what you've been reading each week with your kids at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Hope Is the Word hosts a Read Aloud Thursday link-up as well. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links.

Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (1/22/10)

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I publish "Full to the Brim" every Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!

Fish for more children's book giveaways at Lori Calabrese's Fish for a Free Book linkup each Friday

My book giveaway(s):
It's All Too Much, So Get It Together by Peter Walsh [teen book giveaway] Ends 2/1/10

Other book giveaways:
Katie's Nesting Spot - Book Giveaway Ends 2/2/10
Flip Along Fun: Mix Up To Match Up...The Right Answer by Michael J. Dowling, illustrated by Sarah Dowling
Teaching Authors - Book Giveaway Ends 2/1/10
Choice of one of the six Teaching Author books (teachers and homeschoolers only)
The Muse in Music - Book Giveaway Ends 1/29/10
Indie Rock Alphabet Book
Sage and Savvy - Book Giveaway Ends 1/26/09
Planet Meno prize pack which includes a copy each of Big Fun! and Wet Friend! and a custom made Meno or Wishi blanket
Vintage Kids' Books My Kid Loves - Book Giveaway Ends 1/24/10
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
Beck's Three - Book Giveaway Ends 1/25/10
The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name
Book Aunt - Book Giveaway Ends 1/29/10
The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets, an Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones
IE Mommy - Book Giveaway Ends 1/30/10
Set of Let’s Get Ready for Kindergarten and Let’s Get Ready for 1st Grade
by little hands - Book Giveaway Ends 1/22/10 (midnight)
24 page 10x8 book from SouvenarteBooks
Luxury Reading - Book Giveaway Ends 2/6/10
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg (YA)
Minnesota Mama's Must Haves - Book Giveaway Ends 1/30/2010
Set of 3 Cleo books by Caroline Mockford
Library of Clean Reads - Book Giveaway Ends 2/9/10
first three books in 39 Clues Series (Canada Only)
Book Giveaways - Book Giveaway Ends 1/26/10
The Very Special Valentine Book by Christine Tagg, illustrated by Maggie Kneen (HearthSong)

Luxury Reading Comment Challenge - On the 10th of every month, Luxury Reading will give away a book of choice to the most creative/prolific contributor

Other Giveaways:
Imagination Soup Ends 1/30/10
Usborne stencil set
Parent Reviewers Ends 1/26/10
The Human Body DVD
Our Best Bites Ends 1/24/10
Complete set of Wilton's UltraGold Bakeware
Mom Reviews Ends 2/4/10
Winter Beauty Princess Costume or Boys’ Superhero Cape
My SLC Mommy Ends 1/31/10
Boca Beth Beginner set
Mommy2TwoGirls Ends 1/27/10
Classic Wooden ABC Blocks by Uncle Goose [Oompa Toys]
Helping Mommys Win Ends 1/25/10
Train to Build [Oompa Toys]
Second Time Around Ends 1/24/10
Brown kraft or colorable white playhouse


Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's All Too Much - Peter Walsh - DVD Review and Book Giveaway


A few years ago, Peter Walsh, organizational guru extraordinaire, published his New York Times Bestselling book, It's All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff. For all of us living in a world full of clutter, his organizational books provide the inspiration needed to conquer the piles and the mess. Just recently he released a DVD version titled It's All Too Much.

Now I don't plan to ever invite Mr. Walsh to visit my home, and he will never, ever step foot into my basement. I'd be too embarrassed by what he'd find, and I don't think I'd handle the critique very well. I know I have some clutter issues, and, frankly, I find them a tad overwhelming. But what I can handle is watching his shows on TV, reading his books and learning from his helpful tips and advice. This year, I've resolved to put some of the tips to use and bring a little more order to our lives one small step at a time!

In this DVD version, Peter Walsh takes the viewer step-by-step, room-by-room, space-by-space. He addresses the typical problem areas and provides simple solutions to reduce the clutter, even in storage areas and cars. He divides clutter into two types: "memory clutter" and "I might need that one day clutter." (I have both types and do have a hard time letting go of items!) According to him, in order to start the declutter process, first an overall vision for the home is necessary. Understanding function, zones and limits is essential as well as stopping the in-flow of stuff.

Some helpful tips I picked up from the hour-long video:
Kitchen: Create a message board area to help with family communication / Organize all loose recipes into a journal or binder
Master bedroom: This is the one room we neglect the most, but according to Peter, it is the one room that requires the most honor and respect. The space should welcome like a retreat. It is important to keep flat surfaces clear, including the floor and bed.
Closets: We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Regularly clear out unworn clothes and organize shoes.
Bathroom: Keep like things together / Keep a first aid kit in the bathroom so that in case of an emergency, all needed items are conveniently organized.
Office: Use files, clear out paperwork. Create a mail center.
Child's Room: Make sure kids can reach their clothes / Organize Kids’ artwork in a large portfolio or frame on the wall. Scan the artwork and compile in a photobook.

I sat and watched the DVD with my preschool daughter. One is never too young to start learning organizational skills! After watching she said, "I like it when our house is clean. It makes me happy." Can't think of a better motivator than that. Here's to a happier and clutter-free 2010. (By the way, Peter, I can fold a fitted sheet by myself-two hands are enough!)



Related links:
Official Website: http://www.peterwalshdesign.com
Peter Walsh Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PeterWalsh

Teens can learn from Walsh's organizational advice, too. One Brimful Curiosities reader will win a copy of Peter Walsh's organizational book geared toward teens titled It's All Too Much, So Get It Together.

To enter, leave a comment with an organizational tip.
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US and Canada
• Contest ends on Monday, February 1st, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

(DVD Source: review copy provided for free for review purposes by Peter Walsh Design. All opinions expressed are my own. View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Frosted Trees





It's been frosty around here the last couple days. When she saw the trees yesterday morning, my daughter said, "Mommy, look at the white trees. They are so pretty." I agree.

Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom or Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

American Girl - Lanie’s Backyard Photo Contest


Lanie’s Backyard Photo Contest at American Girl encourages children to explore the natural world by snapping photos. Kids ages 8 to 13 years can enter by photographing five nature items from a list provided on the website (possible items include a bird, pinecone, seashell and cactus) in addition to writing to short essay answering the question “I am inspired by nature when”. Prizes include American Girl Lanie dolls and books. Contest period ends March 15, 2010.

Visit http://www.americangirl.com/girloftheyear/2010/photocontest.php for more details.
Official rules at http://www.americangirl.com/girloftheyear/2010/rules.php

Parents and teachers can find curriculum materials and activities in the following pdf:
http://www.americangirl.com/girloftheyear/2010/curriculum.pdf

(Above photo property of Brimful Curiosities. A young hawk on our deck taken last spring.)

The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller - Book Review


"First, I'd need to decide exactly what colors I wanted to use and where I wanted to begin. I walked around the horse and considered my choices. I'd begin with the center of the roses and use the same color on the jester's hat--or perhaps I should begin by shading the nostrils and eyes." - The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller

Carrington Brouwer finds herself in a difficult position. Her father, a skilled but poor painter, dies and leaves her without money or home. When she receives an invitation to live in the home of a close friend, Augusta, (one of her father's former students), she accepts and moves from France to the state of Ohio. Unfortunately, she clashes with Augusta's mother and decides that she must move on, despite the improbability of finding well-paying work as a woman in 1890. Thankfully, fate intervenes. She is given the rare chance to work in Augusta's father's carousel factory as a painter but, as the only female employee, encounters unfair treatment and discrimination. And just as she begins to befriend Josef, the factory manager, she finds herself the main suspect in a jewelry theft. As the struggles in the factory mount and suspicion swirls, she finds strength in the Lord and kindness in unexpected places.

Carousels have this sort of romantic quality and allure. Vintage carousels often show remarkable craftsmanship with their intricate carvings and beautifully painted animals. Circling round and round on a magical journey to the chiming music--there is joy in every carousel ride. My daughter rode on the carousel by herself for the first time this year and couldn't stop smiling. My son, on the other hand, rode with me on a bench and did not especially appreciate the experience. Perhaps he was too young or maybe the motion made him ill, because he couldn't wait for the ride to stop so he could exit as quickly as possible. Still he loved gazing at the animals.

Reading Judith Miller's book The Carousel Painter evoked the same kind of response, at least for me. The cover design is gorgeous and alluring and the story romantic and full of promise, with well thought out characters and a wonderful, historic background. Yet, there were times when I wanted to get off the ride and move on because the mystery seemed a little too clunky and the inspirational parts felt slightly forced. What I found most compelling about this book besides the obvious historical information about carousels was Miller's portrayal of the difficulties and discrimination Carrie encountered as a woman working in an all male workplace.
"Not because it's you, Carrie, but because you are a woman. Some of the men are superstitious about women in the workplace. Some say they are uncomfortable having a woman around -- they must watch every word they say. Others believe men are entitled to factory jobs because they have families to support." [page 118]
Had Miller used this struggle as the center of Carrie's need for spiritual assistance and growth, rather than relying on an anticlimactic mystery, she possibly could have created a powerful and more realistic novel. That said, the well-researched story entertained me and introduced me to the wonderful world of carousel carving. I appreciated the setting, and I'd love the chance to read another historical fiction novel on the fascinating topic! Bethany House books, while typically marketed toward the adult audience, are also appropriate for teens as an alternative to the oftentimes more racy YA genre.

The Carousel Painter by Judith Miller. Bethany House (September 2009); ISBN 9780764202797; 336 pages; Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher

Monday, January 18, 2010

Newbery, Caldecott and more: The Winners - The Lion and the Mouse wins Caldecott!

The American Library Association (ALA) just announced their book picks for children and young adults (ALA Youth Media Awards) this morning. We're so excited! The big cat and the little rodent reign! (See our post from last week about the book here: http://www.brimfulcuriosities.com/2010/01/lion-mouse-by-jerry-pinkney-caldecott.html). Don't forget to "Lion Yourself" at 100 Scope Notes!

The 2010 Caldecott Medal winner is The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

Caldecott Honor books: All the World illustrated by Marla Frazee, written by Liz Garton Scanlon and Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman.

The 2010 Newbery Medal winner is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.

The 2010 Sibert Medal goes to Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone.

The 2010 Coretta Scott King Award winner is Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U. S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.

The 2010 Geisel Award winner is Benny And Penny in The Big No-No written and illustrated by Geoffrey Haye.

The 2010 Michael L. Printz Award (YA) Winner is Going Bovine by Libba Bray.



Find a more complete list of the 2010 award winners and honor books at the ALA site:
http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2010/january2010/ymawrap2010.cfm or check out their twitter feed: @ALAyma and hashtag #alayma


I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney - Book Review

This morning I stumbled across a helpful and uplifting article in the PARADE magazine that comes with our Sunday newspaper. The article, titled "Make Happiness Happen," suggests that making a "positive-attitude adjustment" leads to a more rewarding life. One quote touched me deeply: “The No. 1 predictor for general well-being is not money or prestige but the time we spend with those who are near and dear to us. Enjoying close and intimate relationships with those we care about and who care about us is an absolute prerequisite to happiness. But it’s precisely these relationships that suffer most in our hectic modern life.”

Relationships matter. Developing and building meaningful relationships with families, friends, all those we hold dear, leads to a happier life. Yet, when things go wrong and when times are tough, most of us withdraw rather than reach out. Recently, I read a book called Thanksgiving at the Inn that deals with this very subject.


"Three kinds of people, thought Heath. He wondered which one applied to him--and to Dad. He thought Dad probably imagined himself to be the kind of person who makes things happen, but he wasn't. ... And Heath? Here he was, meeting a bunch of people who'd gone through real tragedy in their lives and come out on top, and all he could do was sit on the sidelines." - Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney
Relationships, family, forgiveness, gratitude, happiness - those themes play a central part in Thanksgiving at the Inn, Tim Whitney's heartwarming story for middle grade and young teen readers. Heath, the main character, clashes daily with his father (Junior), a withdrawn alcoholic and struggling author/carpenter. With no mother in sight, Heath does his best to abide by his father's wishes and rules but ends up getting constantly berated, always running short of his father's expectations. Junior has a hard time relating to his son, haunted by past experiences with his own father, Senior, the patriarch of the family. When Senior dies, both father and young son receive even more unsettling news. In order to inherit the family estate, they must move to back to the homestead in Massachusetts and manage Senior's unusual farmhouse bed and breakfast for three months. Things get even more interesting when they meet the current tenants, a strange group of individuals. As they adjust to the change, another tragedy forces them to consider reconciliation and, ultimately, they both grow, change and learn how to be thankful for what they have.

Whitney's debut novel fills a much needed void. This character building book with wholesome messages is perfect to share with tweens/teens, both boys and girls. Thanksgiving at the Inn would also make an excellent family read-aloud, offering the following compelling discussion topics: alcoholism, autism, death, dyslexia and strained father-son relationships. The characters and plot appeal to both young and old. While it isn't exactly action packed, the coming-of-age story contains several enticing characters including a wise Jamaican man named Winsted and Mustang Sally, a tattoo-covered auto mechanic who also writes and illustrates children's books. I found only a couple minor issues with the book, both due to layout--the narrow margins may turn off some younger readers and the book cover may appeal more to adults than it would kids. Even though Thanksgiving at the Inn does take place at Thanksgiving, this isn't necessarily only a holiday read. The life lessons in the book apply to any time of the year - after all, we should be thankful every single day for what and whom we have in our lives!

Related links:
http://www.thanksgivingattheinn.com
Book Club Discussion Questions

Thanksgiving at the Inn by Tim Whitney. Bancroft Press (October 2009); ISBN 9781890862640; 223 pages; Book Source: Review copy provided by publisher

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Lion Yourself" at 100 Scope Notes

Participate in 100 Scope Notes' "Lion Yourself." I guarantee you'll have a roaring good time. The kids pretended to be the lion and the mouse (my son wanted to look at the lion, and I couldn't convince him to turn the book around to snap a lion picture). We're sending our pictures to Travis for inclusion in his gallery on 100 Scope Notes. Don't forget to check out our review of this book, The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.


ROAR!


SQUEAK!



Full to the Brim - Kid's Book Giveaway List (1/15/2010)

(Until giveaways pick up, Full to the Brim will only post on Fridays. Thanks and happy browsing!)

Please check out my other "Full to the Brim" posts as well. Many contests are still underway. I publish "Full to the Brim" every Monday and Friday. Thanks for visiting my blog and come back soon!

Fish for more children's book giveaways at Lori Calabrese's Fish for a Free Book linkup each Friday

Other book giveaways:
Book Giveaways - Book Giveaway Ends 1/19/10
Miracle in Sumatra by Jeann Mcnaney
Muse Reviews - Book Giveaway Ends 1/20/10
Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
A Book Bloggers Diary - Book Giveaway Ends 1/15/10
Ivy and Bean : Doomed to Dance by Annie Barrows
Mom Talk with 3 Kids and Us - Book Giveaway Ends 1/24/09
National Geographic Kids 2010 Almanac
Playing by the Book - Book Giveaway Ends 1/23/10 (Int'l)
Any book previously reviewed Playing by the book
The Mommy-Files - Book Giveaway Ends 1/23/10
My First Bob Books Set
Thrifty and Chic Mom - Book Giveaway Ends 1/27/10
How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew by Erin Bried
PR Mommy - Book Giveaway Ends 1/27/10
Finn McCool and the Great Fish Book & S is for Shamrock: An Ireland Alphabet Book
La Femme Readers - Book Giveaway Ends 2/15/10
Any book published in 2010 under $25
The Calico Critic - Book Giveaway Ends 1/30/10
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (teen)
Chief Family Officer - Book Giveaway Ends 1/15/2010
The Snowy Day and A Silly Snowy Day
Cavanagh Chronicle - Book Giveaway Ends 1/19/10
5 books from Cheerios, one box of the many varieties of Cheerios cereals and a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble
One Big 'Pyle' of Love - Book Giveaway Ends 1/19/10
Books from Cheerios, one box of the many varieties of Cheerios cereals and a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble
The Not So Blog - Book Giveaway Ends 1/27/10
National Geographic Kids 2010 Almanac
The Dirty Shirt - Book Giveaway Ends 1/26/10
Big Fun! and Wet Friend! by Tony & Angela DiTerlizzi and a custom made Meno (blue) or Wishi (pink) blanket

Other Giveaways:
Book Giveaways Ends 1/26/10
SONY Reader Pocket Edition
Eighty MPR Mom Giveaway Ends 1/28/10
Mastermind game
JamTot Giveaway Ends 1/23/10
PLAYMOBIL ‘Nautical Expedition’ playsets
MuseReviews DVD Giveaway Ends 1/19/10
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World…and More Stories About African American History DVD
Tech Savvy Mama DVD Giveaway Ends 1/23/10
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World DVD
gahome2mom DVD Giveaway Ends 1/18/10
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World DVD
On Our Minds @ Scholastic Giveaway Ends 1/20/10
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World DVD
My Organized Chaos Giveaway Ends 1/19/10
March On! The Day My Brother Martin Changed the World…and More Stories About African American History DVD
A Sea of Books Giveaway Ends 1/29/10
THE CONCISE KING: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Audiobook)
Rising Moon Adventure Giveaway Ends 1/25/10
Sleeping Beauty Felt Set


Have a children's book you are giving away on your blog? Let me know! I'll spread the word here!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney - Caldecott Buzz

Will the big cat and little rodent reign? Time will tell. On January 18th, the American Library Association will announce the winners 2010 ALA Youth Media Awards, Caldecott Medal included. There's one book that has book bloggers and libraries buzzing: The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. Now Mr. Pinkney isn't a stranger to the Caldecott list. He has five Caldecott Honor books to his credit, but, up to this point, no Caldecott Medal.

Here are Pinkney's Caldecott Honor books, as listed on ALA's Caldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present:
2003 Honor: Noah's Ark by Jerry Pinkney
2000 Honor: The Ugly Duckling illustrated by Jerry Pinkney Text: Hans Christian Andersen, adapted by Jerry Pinkney
1995 Honor: John Henry illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; text: Julius Lester
1990 Honor: The Talking Eggs: A Folktale from the American South illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; text: Robert D. San Souci
1989 Honor: Mirandy and Brother Wind illustrated by Jerry Pinkney; text: Patricia C. McKissack

Obviously Pinkney is a very talented illustrator. Unfortunately, we haven't read any of the above titles, but you can bet they are on our TBR list now. However, we did check out a copy of The Lion & the Mouse from our library. Since nearly every kidlit blog I've visited lately has this book at the top of their Caldecott predictions, I thought it was time the kids and I took a look at it.

Seven words. That's right, the book contains minimal text, nearly all animal sounds. Pinkney's highly detailed and beautiful watercolor illustrations tell the classic Aesop's fable in a way far superior than words ever could. He leaves the storytelling to the reader's imagination. When I first looked at The Lion & the Mouse with my kids, we paged through almost silently, taking in the scenery, the characters, the illustrations. My daughter already knew the basic storyline, thanks to Elmo's World. (Kids really can learn from watching Sesame Street.) But my toddler son didn't have any prior background knowledge. His response surprised me. As we reached the page where the lion ends up tangled in the net, he tried to close the book. His concern for the lion was evident, poor little guy. Yes, Pinkney's illustrations are that powerful. After a little coaxing, we reopened the book and continued on to the happy ending. Both kids immediately wanted to read the book again. We've read it several times since and always notice something new - a frog, ants and other wildlife. The wordless format allows the reader to use their own words to tell the story, encouraging the art of storytelling. Yes, from cover to cover, endpapers included, the book is simply stunning.

Upon browsing the list of Caldecott winners/honor books I made an interesting discovery. It seems that cats and mice are popular subjects. Librarians must like the animals. Don't believe me? After performing a quick count, I discovered the following books involving mice and cats (if there are others I have missed, let me know). Goes to show that cats really do rule and mice, not to be outdone, steal the big cheese. I wonder if we'll have another to add to the list after next week?

Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young
Puss in Boots illustrated by Fred Marcellino; text: Charles Perrault, trans. by Malcolm Arthur
The Story of Jumping Mouse: A Native American Legend retold and illustrated by John Steptoe
Mice Twice by Joseph Low
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse by Leo Lionni
Once a Mouse retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown
Anatole and the Cat illustrated by Paul Galdone; text: Eve Titus
Anatole illustrated by Paul Galdone; text: Eve Titus
Lion by William Pène du Bois
Puss in Boots illustrated by Marcia Brown; text: translated from Charles Perrault by Marcia Brown
Dick Whittington and his Cat by Marcia Brown
April's Kittens by Clare Turlay Newberry
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty

The last page of The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney shares this information about the illustrations: "The full-color artwork for this book has been prepared using pencil, watercolor, and colored pencils on paper." This week for our story + art craft we experimented with watercolor, specifically watercolor pencils. My preschool-aged daughter drew her own illustration of the fable using the pencils and blended the colors together with a paintbrush and water.




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The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (September 2009); ISBN 9780316013567; 40 pages; Book Source: Library copy

Other Blog Reviews: Bookie Woogie, thebooknosher, 100 Scope Notes, Kids Lit, Fuse #8.
Author/Illustrator Website - http://www.jerrypinkneystudio.com




Post what you've been reading each week with your kids at Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns. A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Hope Is the Word hosts a Read Aloud Thursday link-up as well. I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links.