Independent and Self-Published Features: Featuring Aminata Jalloh, J. R. Becker, and Max Rambaldi

*Highlighting up and coming illustrators and authors from independent publishing houses and self-publishers*

Please reach out to MaiStoryBook through Instagram, FB, or by commenting on my blog, and *share or tag* books, authors, or illustrators who would fit into this category of independent/self publishing! I’m excited for the wonders we will find!

 Now without further ado~

This week’s  books featuring the *bonds that connect us and bring us together*:

The Biggest Little Brother by Aminata Jalloh, Illustrated by Kim Sponaugle

Published by CreateSpace: a self-publishing company that offers easily accessible tools, quality printing, booksellers, eBook distribution, and marketing strategies so that you can generate more opportunities than you imagined.

Families come in many different shapes and sizes~ and especially for immigrant families, family structure often follows a non-traditional pattern.  Children growing up in first-generation homes experience a diverse array of family dynamics, as families are separated and reunited as they create new homes.  Here is a book for children, beautifully written and illustrated, to explore these complexities of immigration, family change, and sibling relationships. Often, siblings prepare for the arrival of a new baby ~ the role of big brother or sister riding along a tide of pride and responsibility. However, what is it like when a new *older* sibling arrives in the family? Switching from a big-sibling role to the middle-sibling may not be the easiest adjustment, at least, its definitely not for Sowa. Sowa is used to be the oldest child, helping his parents and taking care of his little sister, Naiya. But when his older brother, Hindo, arrives from Sierra Leone to live with them in Atlanta, Georgia, Sowa grapples with~ what does it mean to no longer be the *big brother?* Follow along this tale to discover how young Sowa navigates this family change~ and comes to accept and love his growing family.

From exploring sibling relationships to international families and immigration, *The Biggest Little Brother* elicits experiences that all young readers can relate to. This book is a great representation of diverse families, portraying people of color and highlighting the culture of a family from Sierra Leone. Plus, for immigrant families with ties to their homeland, and families that are waiting for loved ones to keep their family growing in their new home, this book acknowledges and shares their experiences, allowing young children to recognize themselves and see their own lives reflected in literature and stories. Also, the bright, colorful illustrations  bring to life the love and joy of family reunification and family growth ~ helping to create a captivating read!

A bit more about the Author: Aminata Jalloh

Aminata Jalloh is a first-generation Sierra Leonean–American. Born in Washington, DC, Aminata fell in love with storytelling and words as her parents and relatives would gather over the weekends and tell stories of “back home.” However, Aminata  would realize that her own family’s experiences were never highlighted in children’s books she encountered at school. When Aminata began teaching, she found that there continued to be a significant gap in children’s literature reflecting muli-culutral and diverse perspectives and experiences. This inspired her desire to write children’s stories that allowed more children to see their experiences reflected in literature. Learn more bout this author by checking out her website: www.readersinspired.com. Plus, follow her on Instagram @readersinspired.

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

Annabelle & Aiden: Worlds Within Us by J. R. Becker, Illustrated by Max Rambaldi

Published by Imaginarium Press: publishing pro-science children’s book series  dedicated to inspiring a new generation of scientists, thinkers, and all-around adventurers

As a teacher-to-be-in-training, I’m always looking for ways to tie children’s books to classroom content. I’m lucky to be in an education studies department that advocates for reading children’s books in the classroom, and gives us copious lists of books to integrate into the maths and sciences. So~ when I happen a book that does all of that for me ~ it definitely lands a spot on *Mai* bookshelf. Just as MaiStoryBook is dedicated to inspiring a new generation of readers, *Annabelle and Aiden* is a children’s book series dedicated to inspiring a new generation of scientists, discovers, and explorers. These books masterfully unite science and philosophy with children’s prose and spectacular illustrations to weave tales of curiosity and wonder. In this book, join Annabelle and Aiden on their grandest adventure yet~ across the galaxies and back in time to discover the very beginning of our universe. *How did the universe form?* Prepare for a delve into big bangs and swirls of stardust~ you’re about to witness world’s creation!

Not only does the delightful rhyme of the text engage young readers, but the illustrious pictures spanning the whole spread of the page transport you right into Annabelle and Aiden’s universe. The mixed media illustrations are also riddled with facts and musing about the earth~ adding layers of educational elements to an already science-packed book. This series of books is able to take complex ideas and scientific terms, and break them down~ simplifying them for young minds to grasp and wonder about. No child is too young to be curious about the universe. Want to inspire your young scientists at home~ to stroke their curiosity and spark their big questions~ then welcome Annabelle and Aiden to your next read aloud story time. It’s definitely on my classroom reading list!

A bit more about the Author: J. R. Becker

J. R. Becker lives in New Jersey with his wife and two children, Annabelle and Aiden. He has a B.A. in Philosophy and a Juris Doctorate from Emory University School of Law.  When he’s not practicing entertainment law, J. R. enjoys playing drums, exploring the great outdoors, and reading and listening to all of the science and philosophy books and podcasts he possibly can. J. R. is constantly pondering the bigger questions and dreaming up ideas for future children stories. After publishing his first  novel The Spider & the Ant, Joseph was inspired to found the Annabelle & Aiden series to foster curiosity and scientific awareness in the next generation. To learn more, follow the series on Instagram: @annabelleandaiden , and check out their website: www.annabelleandaiden.com.

A bit more about the Illustrator: Max Rambaldi

You may recognize this illustrator’s name~ she also illustrated *I Didn’t Ask to Be Creative* , last week’s self-published feature. Max lives just outside Venice, Italy. She creates both physical and digital art, and dabbles in multiple styles of drawing and artwork. Max’s passions, other than art, include cats, Game of Thrones, and Linsey Stirling. Learn more about Max by checking out her site: www.maxrambaldi.com, and follow her on Instagram @maxrambaldi.

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

*~Support these independent/self-published authors and illustrators and check out what they’ve been writing and creating.  Please share any books, authors, or illustrators that fit into this category by tagging me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary,  posting on MaiStoryBook’s FaceBook page, or commenting on the blog below! I’m always looking for new treasures to read, support, and share with all of you!~*

*Plus, checkout out a *bilinugal* interactive  read aloud of one of my current inspiring read alouds  here. *

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: La Princesa and the Pea + Princess and the Pea *Marble Run* Craft

Introducing this bilingual, Peruvian-themed tale of Love featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“La Princesa and the Pea” by Susan Middleton Elya and Juana Martinez-Neal

Book Synopsis and Review

Are you familiar with the tale of the Princess and the Pea?? Young princess, suspicious queen, itty bitty pea, a mountain of mattresses…Well if you have, then prepare for a fun, Latino twist on the classic fairytale ~and if you havn’t heard of this story, then you are in for a treat! In this delightful bilingual retelling, Spanish and English words are intertwined throughout the text. When el Príncipe sees the love of his life for the very first time, he knows she is the one he will marry. However, his mama, la reina, is scheming a secret plan to test if this la niña is truly the one for her son. But, could it be that the prince just might have a sneaky plan of his own…

The beauty of bilingual books is in their bridging of languages.  Especially for children learning a new language, the mix of languages helps them access text and content~ enabling them to draw upon both of their sources of language knowledge. And for monolingual readers, bilingual books introduce them to new vocabulary and the concept of different languages and ways of communicating. Plus the  illustrations in bilingual picture books help little ones to decode meaning from words they are unfamiliar with helping them associate images with text. And this book has such colorful, bright pictures~ that are actually representatvive of the vibratn art and culture of Peru, a country in South America! Be prepared to *fall in love* with this sweet little tale of romance and enchantment.

Vocabulary List

*Included in the front of the book is a glossary of English translations and pronunciations of the Spanish words in the text*

  1. Hassle (p. 6) a bother or causing too much trouble
  2. Lofty (p. 10) very big
  3. Lilt (p. 18) cheerful, happy tone
  4. Trudged (p. 21) walk slowly with heavy steps
  5. Detect (p. 24) discover or notice

Themes/Main ideas

  1. Read the original fairytale version and compare and contrast similarities differences. You can make a venn diagram, or simply flip through the book and engage in conversation~
  2. Introduce aspects of culture and art in Peru ~ point out the different patterns on the clothing ~ review the Spanish words with your child.

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading, interactive Read Aloud of “La Princesa and the Pea” – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Youtube Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Follow: MaiStoryBook on Vimeo for additional read aloud videos!

Princess and the *Pea-Marble* Run Activity

There’s nothing more satisfying, or sensually pleasing, than falling into bed after a long day of work *or fun!* ~ snuggling under layers of soft quilts and silky sheets, your head caressed by a fluffy cloud of a pillow, the warmth of a loved one *or a stuffie* wrapped in your arms *or you warm in their arms,* the tender mold of the mattress arching with the curve of your body as you settle in for a good night’s sleep~ and the blanket of nighttime darkness rolling over your eyes like waves lulling you to sleep. *Yawn!* Ahhh, it makes me want to drift off to dreamland just thinking about it. Bedtime routines, especially with little ones, can be quite extensive ~ think the glass of water or warm milk at just the right temperature, the bedtime story *not just once, but at least 5 times*, the careful, routine tucking into bed in the *exact right way*, the frantic search for the favorite stuffie before the child vaults out of bed and undoes all of the *tucking in*, and at last, the best part of all, the good night hug and kiss, and *sweet dreams* wishes for all. Now imagine, a bed 20 mattresses tall? That must be some bedtime routine~ Although, all peas and pitchforks aside, it must be rather comfy. Well, for this week’s craft, inspired by our story, prepare to make a 20 mattress board-bed of your very own ~ peas in all ~ to create an all-time favorite~ La Princesa and the Pea themed *Marble Run!*

Materials

  • Shoebox lid
  • 1 piece of colored paper that fits to cover the inside of the lid
  • 19 strips of paper to make the 20 mattresses ( 1 mattress coming from the background paper on the lid)
  • Bottle glue
  • Glue gun
  • Peas / marble
  • Strips of cardboard: 7-10 pieces
  • Scissors

Directions

  • Glue the larger piece of paper, the same size as the lid, to the inside of the lid.
  • Leave a strip of the background paper bare and showing at the bottom, for mattress #1, and then drizzle the rest of the paper with glue
  • Use the bottle-glue to glue on the 19 other strips of colored paper for the 19 other mattresses. The mattresses should reach to the top of the lid.

  • Take the cardboard strips and cut them into different lengths to create the maze barriers.
  • Arrange the strip in any maze configuration you’d like (see the photos for example)
  • Use the hot glue gun to glue the cardboard strips by their edge so that they are standing up on their side.

  • Allow to dry. Meanwhile, open the can of peas (or take out your marble).
  • Drop peas at the top of the maze and tilt the lid to navigate the peas to the bottom of the bed.

Enjoy your Princess and the *Pea-Marble* Run Activity!

  • Send one, two, or even three+ peas through the maze at once and race to see which one reaches the bottom first.
  • Try different pathways to the bottom of the maze.
  • Share the craft with friends and family members and use it as a prompt to retell and share the story.

*~Overall, have fun creating your own *Princess and the “Pea-Marble” Run* Activity, and I hope you and your little ones enjoy this whimsical activity board! Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your own *Princess and the “Pea-Marble” Runs*  and your own reading adventures! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

Independent and Self-Published Features: Featuring Sigrid Rodli and Dontavious Pittman

*Highlighting up and coming illustrators and authors from independent publishing houses and self-publishers*

Please reach out to MaiStoryBook through Instagram, FB, or by commenting on my blog, and *share or tag* books, authors, or illustrators who would fit into this category of independent/self publishing! I’m excited for the wonders we will find!

 Now without further ado~

This week’s featured books of courage and creativity:

Coral and the MONSTER by Sigrid Rodli

Published by blurb: Self-publishing and marketing platform. Helps  design, publish, promote, and sell professional-quality printed books and ebooks

Welcome to this adorable little fantasy forest~ where you picnic with foxes and have tea and cake with *monsters.* In this frolicking tale of friendship, meet Coral and her best friend Kitty the cat. They did *everything* together. Until one day, Kitty was missing~ and in her place were… Monster Footprints! Join Brave little Coral as she packs up her knapsack with all of the essentials~ sandwiches and sweets, of course~ and ventures into the forest to save her favorite friend. Beautifully drawn woodland creatures join Coral on her journey, warning her to stay away from the land beyond the blue pond… the dark stormy forest where the *monster* lives. But Coral will do anything and go anywhere to find her best friend~ wouldn’t you?? *Plus, who says monsters have to be scary??

 

This delightful story will charm readers with its simple, sweet storyline and colorful cast of characters. Artist Sigrid Rodli has a whimsical style~ creating illustrations full of patterns and swirls ~ drawing the reader into an enchanted forest. See the girl’s dress glisten with sparkles, and every bristle of the fox’s fur as it glides along side his new companion. Sigrid Rodli has weaved together a tale of friendship~ you can always count on true friends to be by your side. When your friends have your back, monsters are no longer scary and even the grimmest of meetings can end in an afternoon tea party.

 

A bit more about the Author: Sigrid Rodli

Sigrid Rodli is an artist and illustrator from Norway. She was commissioned to create this book for a little girl she knew. Due to popular interest in the book, she has now made it available  for purchase so that everyone may enjoy the sweet tale. She enjoys coloring, painting, sewing, and running. Check out more of her gorgeous artwork and learn more about her by following Sigrid on Instagram: @sigridrodli. 

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

I Didn’t Ask to be Creative by Dontavious Pittman, Illustrated by Max Rambaldi

Published by Cardboard Clouds LLC: Self-published

When you have children~ it’s like you get to experience the whole world for the very first time all over again. Holidays become the most exciting days on the planet, and *birthdays* might as well be holidays. Festivities go overboard and you once again feel that rush of excited anticipation, to a whole new extent, as the countdown to that special day draws nearer. *Anything to see that smile on that face*~ Every new sound is the best thing they’ve ever heard, and every new sight is a miracle in their eyes. You can’t help but to see the world through their lens of awe and fascination. Children~ the best reminders of the wonders of life, and the best inspiration for letting down your guard and setting your imagination loose, wild, and free to dream up the grandest dreams of all they *and you* can be! In this beautiful story *I Didn’t Ask to be Creative* young Kyle is just that for his mom, her inspiration to explore her own creativity and love for art~ Kyle’s rampant creativity and love for the innovative and imaginative spark his mom’s dreams alive~ so that both of them, together, can embrace the world with all it has to offer, and share all they have to offer in return!

 

This heart-warming tale is sure to inspire creativity in all its readers, as well as spark the bond between parent and child, as both are reminded of the life they share and build together. In this family-centered story, witness the relationship between mother and son grow stronger with every turn of the page as the boundaries that divide child and adult are blurred. We are all dreamers and creators, and creativity feeds off creativity. Children can be just as much an inspiration to adults, as they are to them. Plus, the full-spread illustrations cover the pages in vibrant color, drawing you into Kyle’s own dream world and into this tale of love, imagination, and family.

A bit more about the Author: Dontavious Pittman

Dontavious Pittman AKA “Annoying Dreamer”, was born in Tampa, FL. He has always been passionate about creating things. His love for mathematics and problem solving skills lead to a path of design. Dontavious studied Architecture at both Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and Florida International University. Published in 2017, “I Didn’t Ask To Be Creative” is his first book. Dontavious plans for it to be the first of many stories depicting family relationships in society today. To learn more, check out his site: www.cardboardclouds.com, and follow his book on Instagram: @cardboardclouds.

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

*~Support these independent/self-published authors and illustrators and check out what they’ve been writing and creating.  Please share any books, authors, or illustrators that fit into this category by tagging me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary,  posting on MaiStoryBook’s FaceBook page, or commenting on the blog below! I’m always looking for new treasures to read, support, and share with all of you!~*

*Plus, checkout out an interactive  read aloud of one of my current inspiring read alouds  here. *

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: Last Stop on Market Street + Finding Beautiful Craft

Introducing this diverse, intergenerational tale featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson

Book Synopsis and Review

Welcome to the hustling, bustling life of the city. CJ and his grandma have just finished church, and are on their way to the bus stop for their weekly routine. As rain begins to patter down, speckling CJ’s shirt with miniature dew drops, CJ grumpily inquires about their lack of a car, as well as about the sodden nature of the rainy day. As his glum line of questioning continues, each inquiry is met by an encouraging and revealing answer from his grandma. As the pair boards the bus, greeting their bus driver friend and the crowd of characters on the bus, CJ’s grandma continues to help CJ experience the beauty around him ~ and not just by seeing with his eyes, but by using his ears, nose, touch, and taste to also *see* the world around him. As their final destination is revealed at the end of the story, readers are shown the kindness and value of helping others who have even less than you do. Furthermore, the beautifully illustrated urban setting, along with the broad cast of characters, truly reveals the beauty and diversity of life.

This month, our read alouds have focused on the theme of finding the magic and splendor in everything and everyone around you, including *yourself,* and this story continues to exemplify this theme. Read and listen along with MaiStoryBook to join a grandma and her grandchild as she helps him see the beauty in their weekly routine and in the world around them. “Last Stop on Market Street” won the 2016 Newberry Medal, awarded to the author of the best contribution to children’s literature for that year, so you are in for a treat! Hop aboard this busy bus ride through the bustling city, to find the magic at the “Last Stop on Market Street.”

Vocabulary List

  • Freckled (p. 2) spotted
  • Patter (p. 5) make a light tapping sound
  • Lurched (p. 11) an unsteady, bumpy movement
  • Glanced (p. 19) look quickly
  • Arcing (p. 23) stretching across in a curved shape

Themes/Main ideas

  1. You can experience the world through your sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Use all of your senses to find the magic in your surroundings.
  2. The journey is just as important as the destination. Focus and truly *be* in the moment to experience life to its fullest.

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading, interactive Read Aloud of “Last Stop on Market Street” – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Youtube Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Follow: MaiStoryBook on Vimeo for additional read aloud videos!

*Finding Beautiful* Craft

One of my new year resolutions this year is to take the time to *pause*~ to take a step back from the busy scheduling and hectic days~ and find happiness in the moment ~ to truly experience the present ~  to stop planning ahead or thinking about the next assignment and long list of to-do’s crowding my planner ~ and to truly *be* with the family and friends around me, to give 100% of me to what I’m doing and who I’m with. I’m not much one for meditating, but I do want to practice using *all* of my senses to experience the world~ to not just glaze over the scenery with my eyes, but to open my ears and actively listen, to breathe in the scents around me, or to focus on taste and slowly savor each bite of a favorite or brand new dish. It must be true that when you open your mind, and your heart, and take the time to fully, actively participate in *life*, you can and will find the beauty in everything around you. In “Last Stop on Market Street, ” CJ’s grandma had this special gift to find the magic wherever she was. My favorite scene is when she points out to CJ the glowing rainbow arcing across the sky and over an urban city landscape. In this week’s craft, we will be remembering this possibility of finding beauty, by creating our own gorgeous city landscape skylines. Be prepared for an afternoon of magic seeking and creating~*

Materials

  • 1 sheet of 8″x 10″ white watercolor or thicker paper
  • 1 sheet of 8″ x 10″ black construction paper
  • Set of watercolors or paints
  • Puffy Paint
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Glitter or sequins
  • Paintbrush
  • Cup for water to rinse brush
  • Paper towel to dry brush
  • Paper plate for paint

Directions

* Similar to last week’s craft ~ Be creative! You can make your city sky look however you like! Add color and patterns and glitters wherever and however you would like onto your watercolor paper. The below directions are just suggestions.

  • Starting with your watercolor paper laid out horizontally, squeeze out the paints you want to use, dip the brush in water to loosen the paint, and then use a myriad of colors to cover the entire sheet of paper.  I recommend using lighter colors first so you can paint darker colors over them *lighter colors won’t show up over darker colors*
  • Use the puffy paint to add patterns and swirls in the sky, or even a rainbow!
  • While the paint is till wet, sprinkle glitter or sequins to add shimmer.

  • For the city~ use a pencil to trace a city skyline on the horizontal side of the black piece of construction. All of the buildings should be connected at the bottom. Use a variety of different heights and widths for the buildings to add variety.
  • Cut out the skyline. Cut out windows from the buildings so some of the background sky can shine through.
  • Glue the city to the bottom horizontal side of the sky background.
  • Add any additional patterns or colors to the window openings, or the sky around the buildings!

Enjoy your Finding Beautiful Craft!

  • Use the craft to help you share this story, and explain the important part in the book where CJ’s grandma helps him find the beauty in the sky.
  • Hang your cityscape craft up in the house to remind your family and your little one to look for the beauty all around us everyday and in every place we go.
  • Hopefully it inspire you to take another Nature Walk to discover more of the beauty right outdoors!

*~Overall, have fun creating your own *Finding Beautiful Craft*, and I hope you and your little ones enjoy this magical cityscape art piece! Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your own *Finding Beautiful Crafts*  and your own reading adventures! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

Independent and Self-Published Features: Featuring Beatrice Gentry and Keith Bosco

*Highlighting up and coming illustrators and authors from independent publishing houses and self-publishers*

Please reach out to MaiStoryBook through Instagram, FB, or by commenting on my blog, and *share or tag* books, authors, or illustrators who would fit into this category of independent/self publishing! I’m excited for the wonders we will find!

Now without further ado~

This week’s featured books of *mystery-solving self-discovery*:

Flemming Go! by Beatrice Gentry

Published by Paragon Publishing: Publishing books that encourage learning and play

*Who am I?* It’s a question we all ask sometime in our lives~ we seek to find our own identity, and our place in the world. For Flamingo, born into a family of tortoises when his egg rolled into their nest, finding just who he is is challenging when all he’s ever known are the small green reptiles with shells on their back and scales on their limbs. Plus, the other jungle animals don’t seem to want to help, or even like him, when all they shout to him is, “Flemming, Go!” He must be a Flemming, and they want him to go…Or so he thinks. Could it be instead that the animals are all ecstatic to see a beautiful creature, a “Flamingo!”  Not knowing who he is or where he really comes from, our friend mistakes their raucous cheer for harshness, and continues to wander aimlessly, until out on the beach he sees someone tall and pink, looking just like him…

This charming read aloud plays on phonics to create a clever story twist. Children will giggle over the dramatic irony of Flamingo’s misunderstanding. However, young ones can also empathize with the idea of trying to fit in, being lost, and looking for your family. An accessible read aloud for young children to discuss finding one’s own identity and what that means, *Flemming Go!* will take little one’s on a journey through the jungle, to the vast, clear beaches where acceptance and belonging lie.

A bit more about the Author: Beatrice Gentry

Beatrice Gentry was born in Trier, Germany, where she grew up and discovered her passion for fine art. In 2001, Beatrice graduated from Fashion School in Stuttgart, Germany, and hosted a few art and photography exhibitions. In her early adult life, Beatrice worked for a fashion studio in Paris as a textile designer. Beatrice is a mother to two bilingual children, both of whom inspired her to create her first illustrated children’s book, “Piep,” the story of a half pig and half sheep that discusses diversity and tolerance. “Flemming Go!” is her second illustrated children’s book. To learn more, follow her on Facebook , and on Instagram @beatrice.gentry. 

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

The Sloppy Okapi by Keith Bosco and Illustrated by Taylor Patterson

Published by Yellow Light Publishing: Self-published

*The bigger the mess, the more fun was had!* Or so went my excuse when the floor of my room was lost beneath a litter of toys and mountain of books. Blankets would droop and splay from a stack of chairs and boxes, shoved haphazardly into the corner of my room~ a fort from past adventures. Shoes were scattered and outfits lay strewn across the bed. Looking for that one favorite toy, or special pair of socks? My parents weren’t about to find them anytime soon~ can you relate??? Charlie the okapi *aka a forest-giraffe or zebra-giraffe* sure can! Charlie dreams of being a detective, but part of the job is wearing the proper attire, and if Charlie can’t find his badge, hat, or magnifying glass in his *sloppy* room, can he really be a detective?? If only his room were neater, he may be able to find his special gear…

But~ no fear! Because, as the wise toucan in the story points out, being *sloppy* is a choice, and you can choose to be neat. Being messy is not *who you are,* you have the power to change your behaviors. And if you have the choice and power to help make your dreams come true~ choose to take it! Join Charlie as he learns the importance of being neat, and the excitement of pursuing his dreams. Little one’s will learn that their faults or weaknesses don’t determine who they are~ rather, it’s their efforts to improve and be the best they can be that make a different. Plus, be prepared for the most gorgeous illustrations~ illustrator Taylor Patterson creates a dream-like , magical world with her use of soft, airy colors and bright, shining backgrounds. Swirls of lavenders, purples, and blues, with white light shining through from beyond create picturesque landscapes and backdrops. Be prepared to be swooped into this dreamy, magical world of Charlie, *The Sloppy Okapi.*

A bit more about the Author: Keith Bosco

Keith Bosco is an author, musician, songwriter, husband, and father of four, with a Human Services Background. Born and raised in Delaware, Keith grew up with a passion for songwriting and performing.  Before leaving his job to pursue his dream of publishing his own children’s illustrated book, Keith was the Assistant Director of a non-profit that helped individuals with disabilities obtain and maintain employment. Keith and his family packed up there home and have been traveling in an RV to promote his book “The Sloppy Okapi,” which is published through his own publishing company, Yellow Light Publishing.  T learn more, check out his website: www.thesloppyokapi.com , and follow him on Instagram @thesloppyokapi. 

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

*~Support these independent/self-published authors and illustrators and check out what they’ve been writing and creating.  Please share any books, authors, or illustrators that fit into this category by tagging me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary,  posting on MaiStoryBook’s FaceBook page, or commenting on the blog below! I’m always looking for new treasures to read, support, and share with all of you!~*

*Plus, checkout out an interactive  read aloud of one of my current inspiring read alouds  here. *

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: Rot, The Cutest in the World + Potato Pal Craft

Introducing the *cutest book in the world* featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“Rot: The Cutest in the World” by Ben Clanton

Book Synopsis and Review

*Mutant Potatoes + Rot = …Cute????* Don’t let your eyes deceive you, *cuteness* is all relative in this adorable reading adventure! Meet Rot, a mutant potato who loves mud, checkers, eating, and *contests!* So when he sees the *cutest in the world contest* of course he has to enter! But can a mutant potato compete against a cuddly kitten, a teenie-weenie jellyfish, and an adorable baby bunny??? Join Rot as he discovers the secret to becoming the best *cutest* possible version of yourself you can be!

One popular, and very important, theme that is often portrayed in children’s books is to be proud of who you are. We all come in different, sizes, shapes, and colors, and we all have different personalities and traits that make us unique. This book “Rot,” shows us, in the *cutest* way possible, that we are most beautiful when we believe in ourselves. The fun alliterations and dialogue, colorful cast of characters, and humorous illustrations make this book an instant hit with the little ones ~ there will be guaranteed laughter and giggles!  So get ready for the cutest book in the world!

Vocabulary List

  • Mutant (p. 1) like a monster
  • Contestants (p. 7) someone who enters a contest
  • Bewitching (p. 9) making someone happy
  • Indigestion (p. 13) when your stomach hurts because you ate too much food and your tummy can’t break it down
  • Unibrow (p. 36) when your eyebrows meet in the middle so that it looks like you only have one long eyebrow *instead of 2 separate ones

Themes/Main ideas

  • You are Unique: We are all different and that is what makes us special.
  • Believe in Yourself: Don’t let what other people think about you bother you. Believe in yourself and you will always have the courage to do what you need to do.

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading, interactive Read Aloud of “Rot: The Cutest in the World” – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Youtube Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Follow: MaiStoryBook on Vimeo for additional read aloud videos!

Potato Pals Craft

Ever played with Mr. Potato head as a kid?? Wasn’t he just the *cutest*? Well, Rot certainly is! With his earnest behavior and oblivious willingness to charm, he exudes cuteness. No wonder he won the *Cutest in the world* contest! As a child, I was definitely competitive. Ever played the board game *Sorry?* It isn’t called “the game of sweet revenge” for nothing! Monopoly was always a race to make the most money as fast as possible, and I was determined to find a strategy to win *Go Fish.* While I most likely would have stayed away from a *cuteness* contest~ not my kind of thing~ I can relate with Rot’s love for the thrill of the game! And once you begin, of course you want to try and be the best that you can. But as Rot learned, being the best self you can be, with no frills or concoctions, is sometimes all it takes to win *at the game of life.* So, if you’d like to bring a little competition to this week’s craft~ let’s see, who can make the *cutest* potato pal! Round up a family member(s) to be your judge, and create a parade of potato pals to participate in your very own *Cutest in the World* competition! Prepare for an afternoon of crazy colors and *cuteness* overload!

Materials 

  • Potato (or chunk of modeling clay)
  • Paint (various colors)
  • Paintbrush
  • Cup of water (for rinsing brush)
  • Glitter
  • Puffy paint
  • Optional Decorations: Paper cutouts, googley eyes,  glitter glue, sequins

Direction

* Be creative! You can make your potato pal look however you imagine! Add decorations and parts in whichever order strikes you. The below directions are just suggestions.  (I recommend using the paint as glue)

  • Starting with the eyes, use white paint to draw eye circles. Paint on different sized eyeballs for creative effect. While the paint is still wet, stick on the googley eyes.
  • Paint on the mouth with a color of your choosing. Use the puffy paint to draw teeth and outline the lips.

  • Paint on a nose and whiskers with any color!
  • Add a unibrow with puffy paint.
  • Paint a patch of paint on the top of the head and sprinkle glitter on for shiny *hair*
  • Paint a patch of paint on the bottom and stick on paper shapes.
  • Use the paints and puffy paint to add any additional decorations!

Enjoy Your Potato Pal Craft!

  • Share your Potato Pal with family and friends and use it as a prop to help retell the story
  • Create several Potato Pals and host your very own *cutest in the world* contest
  • Keep your Potato Pal to remind you to believe in yourself and be proud of who you are!

*~Overall, have fun creating your own *Potato Pal Craft*, and I hope you and your little ones enjoy this *cutest craft in the world*! Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your own *Potato Pal Crafts*  and your own reading adventures! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

Independent and Self-Published Features: Featuring V.F. Gallagher and Elsie Guerrero

*Highlighting up and coming illustrators and authors from independent publishing houses and self-publishers*

Please reach out to MaiStoryBook through Instagram, FB, or by commenting on my blog, and *share or tag* books, authors, or illustrators who would fit into this category of independent/self publishing! I’m excited for the wonders we will find!

Now without further ado~

This week’s featured books of *the unexpected, acceptance, and appreciation*:

The Teddy Bear 5: The Grumbly Rumbly Tummy by V.F. Gallagher

Published by Nielsen UK ISBN: Self-published

Ever wonder, what do your stuffies do when you aren’t there? While you are playing outside, or away at school~how are they spending the sunshine-y day? For any little one with a teddy bear best friend, or an inseparable stuffie bestie, the idea of what these beloved cuddle buddies are up to when no one is around is a major topic of imagination and consideration. *Reminiscent of the classic Toy Story~ where toys come to life as soon as you shut the door* “The Teddy Bear 5” introduces a new gang of 5 adventurous stuffed animal friends and the shenanigans they concoct while no one is around. Fall in love with Leo the Lion, Blue Rabbit, Smartie the pony, Doggy, and Marshall Bear, as you spend *a day in the life of a stuffie.* In this first adventure of a magical set of books, Doggy is hungry~ and it is up to him and his friends to find the perfect snack to satisfy his *grumbly, rumbly tummy.* ~ and quickly, before anyone comes home~

This imaginative adventure uses photograph illustrations of the actual stuffies exploring their surroundings and home environment. The use of realistic photos brings to life the  magical idea that your little one’s toys really do come to life when no one is around. *The proof is on the pages~* Children will see their toys in a whole new light, and will be delighted to imagine and brainstorm what their own toys are up to when they are away. With your child’s own stuffies, and a camera in hand, you can even work together to create your very own stuffed animal adventure! Overall, this touching tale of friendship opens up a whole new realm of imagination ~*

A bit more about the Author: V.F. Gallagher

Gallagher is a mother of one, located in Dubai. She created this book as a form of creative therapy to battle postnatal depression. The characters in the book are actually her son’s own teddy bears. Gallagher would make up stories for her son with his teddies, telling him what adventures they were up to while he was away. Her son loved this tories so much, she decided to make their adventures into a book that they could read and enjoy together. To learn more about what these cuddly characters are up to, follow *The Teddy Bear 5* on Instagram: @the_teddy_bear_5

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

The Beauty in Me by Elsie Guerrero

Published by Yorkshire Publishing:  After reviewing your submission and platform and accepting your book, Yorkshire Publishing will offer one of the following publishing agreements: traditional publishing, co-publishing, author assisted self-publishing

Every child learns and experiences the world in different ways ~ some more differently than others. With the diverse range of learning and life experiences all children today face, it is important to raise awareness of learning disabilities and different life experiences ~ with the ultimate goal of inclusion. *The Beauty in Me* works to promote awareness of autism, a developmental disorder that impairs a child’s ability to communicate, maintain and from social relationships, and can lead to a range of self-stimulating, repetitive behaviors. By introducing a class of individual, young students, each with autism, this book serves to inform adults and children about the traits that children with autism may exhibit ~ while at the same time, emphasizing that having autism is not a  deficit~ each child has their own diverse range of strengths and behaviors.

*The Beauty in Me* is also a bilingual book, including both English and Spanish text, making its content even more accessible to a wider range of audiences. Each spread of pages introduces a new child, explaining both a behavior the child may exhibit representative of autism, and a trait or interest of the child that makes them more relatable to others. Overall, through this book, the author aims to portray a more positive perspective of autism.

~Plus: Check out this additional title by Elsie Guerrero *Dancing Luna* ~promoting awareness of dyslexia through the experiences of Luna, a young girl who uses her love for dance to help her learn to read

A bit more about the Author: Elsie Guerrero

Elsie Guerrero is an author, mentor, and advocate. Her goal is to educate the community about disability and immigration. Guerrero’s work experience working with children living with disabilities inspired her to share their stories by spreading awareness of the different types of disabilities, and by promoting inclusion for everyone. Through  her books, Guerrero aims to convey that every person should be treated equally and works to expose the challenges that immigrant children and children with disabilities may face.  To learn more, check out  her website:  www.elsieguerrero.com ,  and follow her on Instagram: @elsie_guerrero

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

*~Support these independent/self-published authors and illustrators and check out what they’ve been writing and creating.  Please share any books, authors, or illustrators that fit into this category by tagging me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary,  posting on MaiStoryBook’s FaceBook page, or commenting on the blog below! I’m always looking for new treasures to read, support, and share with all of you!~*

*Plus, checkout out an interactive  read aloud of one of my current inspiring read alouds  here. *

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*

MaiStoryBook Library: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day + New Year Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

Introducing this *First Friday of 2018* magical~imagination read aloud featured in this week’s MaiStoryBook Library Collection:

“On a Magical Do-Nothing Day” by Beatrice Alemagna

Book Synopsis and Review

It’s raining and gloomy outside~ and all this little girl wants to do is lounge around indoors and play her game *aka defeat the Martians.* However, when Mom reprimands her for having another *do-nothing* day, and confiscates her electronic, handheld game, the little girl sneaks it back and then slinks outside. When she accidentally drops her precious  game into an icy pond, she sulks that nothing can be fun without her game…that is~  until a parade of glowing snails creep by~ guiding our young heroine into the magical world of nature and Earth around her. With no screen to distract her, this little girl will begin to see her world in a whole new way.

Fall in love with this magical story about the wonders of the world around you. Technology and ipads and phones can be fun, but sometimes if you stare at the screen too much, you miss all of the amazing, exciting things all around you. This story brings to life the adventures that can happen when you take a break from screentime, and highlights how stepping outside can lead to a whole new universe to explore. Beatrice Alemagna creates brilliant illustrations that will lure you into the story realm, so that you too become lost in this beautiful tale of unplugged exploration. I love this book for encouraging children and family to put away the screens, and rediscover the adventure that awaits just right outside the door. It’s the perfect message to start off the new year~ and could make for a great new years resolution as well~ less screen time and more time to read and play outside! Check out this book and *interactive read aloud* to find out just what can happen *On a Magical Do-Nothing Day.*

Vocabulary List

  • Pond (p. 11) a small body of water
  • Hurricane (p. 16) a storm with very strong winds and a lot of rain
  • Antennae (p. 18) long, thin parts that poke out from an insects head, usually used to help the insect see or smell
  • Damp (p. 20) a little wet
  • Strainer (p. 24) a bowl that has holes in it

Themes/Main ideas

  • Unplugged Childhood: Take a break from the screens for an opportunity to discover the wonders of the world right outside your door!
  • Break from Boredom: With a little imagination and the great outdoors, the possibilities of adventure are endless!

YouTube Video: Guided Shared-Reading Read Aloud Example

Example of a shared-reading, interactive Read Aloud of “On a Magical Do-Nothing Day” – how to subtly introduce the vocabulary list words within the text, ask guided questions, and spark conversation!

*~Check it Out~*

Subscribe: MaiStoryBook Youtube Channel for additional read aloud videos!

Follow: MaiStoryBook on Vimeo for additional read aloud videos!

New Year Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt Activity

It’s the beginning of a Brand New Year~ the time for reminiscing on the past year and creating resolutions for the new one. I have several resolutions for this year~ and other than continuing to bring read aloud adventures to you every Friday~ one of my goals is to spend more time being *present,* to enjoy and cherish the moments I’m living in~ meaning *in part* putting down and away the technology and electronics, and being mindful of my own thoughts  and/or being truly present with loved ones, family, and friends. I am a huge advocate for an *unplugged childhood,* keeping children away from screen time as much as possible. While I do create interactive read aloud youtube videos that children engage with over screen time, I make sure to engage the child in conversation throughout the videos so that they aren’t just passively staring at the screen. Research shows that for read alouds, especially for young children, it isn’t beneficial for them to just hear the book being read *aka a typical, straight-through video/recording read aloud of a book.* Rather, it is the conversation that occurs during a reading that enhances children’s comprehension skills, book knowledge, and vocabulary use and development. But~ since watching an *interactive* read aloud video is only the second best things for a child to do~the ultimate activity for children is to explore the physical world around them. For this week’s activity, we have a *New Year Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt* ~ the perfect opportunity to put down the screens, and to explore the outside world with your little one! Be prepared for an afternoon of exploration of the amazing place and space around you that you call *home.*

Materials 

  • Scavenger sheet print out (find it here)
  • Markers
  • Walking shoes!
  • Small bag to carry found items *optional*

Directions

  • Print out the Scavenger Hunt Sheets (2 pages)
  • Preview the sheets so you and your child know what to look out for while walking  *snails, mushrooms, birds, puddles, etc.*
  • Grab a couple markers to take with you on your nature walk.

  • Take a little baggie with you to hold any items you and your little one collect along the way.
  • Put on your walking shoes and head outside to discover the magical world around you!

  • Fill in the scavenger hunt sheet as you find/complete each activity~ either having your little one draw or write *or you can write for them* to record their observations.

 

Enjoy Your Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt

  • Enjoy your time outside!
  • Add additional activities to the scavenger hunt, or create a new list for a second nature walk!
  • Use the record sheet as a guide to share with other family members or friends all of your discoveries on your nature walk
  • At home, draw a picture/illustration of your nature walk adventure~ illustrate your favorite part of the walk

*~Overall, have fun adventuring on your own *New Year Nature Walk Scavenger Hunt*, and I hope you and your little ones enjoy the magical outdoors! Please comment below  – tag me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary  – or post on FaceBook to share your photos of your own *Nature Walk Scavenger Hunts*  and your own reading adventures! I’d love to hear from you!~*

*Check Back on Next Friday for our New Reading Adventure*

*~Until next time, Happy Reading~*

Independent and Self-Published Features: Featuring Kimberly Heil, Christa M. Miller, and Roman & Michelle Ami-Cortez

We’re kicking off the new year by celebrating our *Independent/Self-published friends* with this very first post of 2018!

*Highlighting up and coming illustrators and authors from independent publishing houses and self-publishers*

Please reach out to MaiStoryBook through Instagram, FB, or by commenting on my blog, and *share or tag* books, authors, or illustrators who would fit into this category of independent/self publishing! I’m excited for the wonders we will find!

Now without further ado~

This week’s *inspirational animal adventure* roundup of the new year:

Gifts of Spirit: Animals and Their Natural Gifts by Kimberly Heil

Published by CreateSpace: Amazon self-publishing company that provides tools, quality printing, booksellers, eBook distribution, and marketing strategies

Many cultures believe in spirit animals~ animals that embody and exemplify our own personal values and traits~ that guide us along our journey through life. This book brings to life the spirits of these animals, sharing with you their own special talents and gifts that these creatures manifest throughout their own lives. The perfect book to start off the new year~ this interactive storybook includes guiding questions on each page for each animal, encouraging you and your little one to reflect on your own personal values and *gifts of spirit* ~ whether they may be compassion and communication like the grand elephant, or patience and listening like the wise owl, or maybe even playfulness and grace like the lynx. This book promotes readers to engage in conversation about each other’s strengths, what you can do to further embody different values, and to learn more bout each other through meaningful discussion and quality time.

Furthermore, author and illustrator Kimberly Heil’s hand-painted illustrations of the animals increase the wonder and awe that encompass these wild beings in nature. While exploring the different natural gifts of animals, be prepared to be captivated by the splashes of color and strokes of texture that swirl together to evoke the spirit and strength of the animal within. Overall, use the spirit animals in this book to guide your little one on their own life journeys~ to be loyal and love unconditionally like the dog, to balance your life like the spider, and always reach for the stars like the giraffe.

A bit more about the Author and Illustrator: Kimberly Heil

Kimberly grew up viewing the world as a magical place. She is an observer, watching and listening to the beautiful world around her, and has the gift of understanding others’ feelings. She grew up with a love for art and creating. Kimberly Heil has a Masters of Art Therapy and graduated with an award-winning thesis. This book *Gifts of Spirit* won the *Purple Dragonfly Award*, awarded to excellent children’s books. Kimberly hopes to help other’s through their life journey through art, exploration, play, and healing. To learn more, visit her site: www.kimberlyheil.com, and follow Kimberly Heil in Instagram: @artistkimberlyheil.

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

Raccoon Rescue by Christa M. Miller and Illustrated by Christian Barratt

Published by Aulexic: small publishing house specializing in books for children with language and literacy difficulties such as dyslexia and autism

The power of pictures  to guide and enhance the reading experience is not *and should not* be constricted to children’s books~ upper elementary chapter books *well any chapter book in general* benefit from the addition of illustrations~ especially to help young readers form pictures in their mind, and to support and encourage their comprehension. In *Raccoon Rescue,* the illustrations are spaced every 4-5 pages, enhancing this wildlife read that shares another important theme to bring into the *new year*~ *the importance of human and wildlife humane coexistence. A riveting read about a young family of raccoons and their encounters with a human family encroaching on their wildlife home~ this book introduces children to the dangers of human overpopulation, and the human encroachment into wildlife habitats that often lead to negative and harmful interactions. Through *Raccoon Rescue* children learn about the small steps they themselves can take towards wildlife conservation and peaceful coexistence.

*Teacher Alert* This upper-elementary illustrated children’s book is geared towards 2nd-3rd grade readers, and even includes discussion and comprehension questions listed under the corresponding grade-level Common Core ELA standards. Perfect for educators and a classroom guided reading, the book also provides additional extension activities at the end to promote further investigation and research into wildlife rescue and efforts in the child’s own community. *Plus* the book is published in *dyslexic friendly typeface* (aka sans-serif type face), a type of type face with simpler letter design and less line width variation that can make letter distinction clearer. Check out this educational, engrossing read that is sure to turn any student and child into a wildlife activist and conscious nature-lover!

A bit more about the Author: Christa M. Miller

Christa M. Miller lives in Greenville, SC. A writer for over 15+ years, she loves to blend genres, and has written a variety of genres ranging from crime fiction, to horror, to children’s fiction. When she isn’t writing, she serves as a volunteer at a local wildlife rescue center, explores rivers, swamps, and salt marshes with her two sons, and loves relaxing on her hammock with a good book and cold beverage in hand. You can learn more about this author at: christammiller.com  and follow her on Instagram: @christammiller.

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

Don’t Be Blue Daisy Blue by Roman Cortez and Michelle Ami-Cortez

Published by BookBaby: A self-publishing company providing friendly customer service, knowledgeable publishing specialists, and quality book printing.

*Puppy Love* ~ some of the best kind of love there is! This new year, let’s make a resolution to continue to spend quality family time together, and to remember that each of us is special our own way. Our differences make us unique ~ and if we believe in ourselves, we’ll never *Be Blue.* Take it from Gogo and Daisy Blue, two Boston Terrier sisters with big hearts, who face adventure to take care of each other and bring each other happiness. When Daisy Blue realizes one day that she has no tail, Gogo sets off throughout the countryside to find her sister a new tail~ to turn her *blue mood* into a ray of sunshine and joy. In the end, what she finds and offers Daisy Blue is even better and more special than a tail ~

The bright and bold, solid-colored pages create a lively story, bursting with energy and color as readers follow Gogo on her quest for Daisy Blue’s tail. Along the way, Gogo meets a variety of countryside creatures, each with their own different physical traits that make them unique. The illustrations depict these colorful animals with dashes of color, capturing children’s attention and drawing in their eyes. Be prepared to fall in love with these two terrier sisters, as they learn that each other’s love and support is the most important of all! Plus, you can follow the real Gogo and Daisy Blue on Instagram to keep up with these sisters’ adventures @gogodaisyblue!

A bit more about the Author: Roman Cortez

Roman Cortez is a Los Angeles-based Creative Director. He is skilled in video directing, writing, producing, product design, photography and illustration. He has used his talents and expertise to work with Mattel, Disney, Loot Crate, Jakks Pacific, and Fandango. He is known for his easygoing and fun-loving personality.  Learn more at store.romancortez.com , and follow the Gogo and Daisy Blue on Instagram: @gogodaisyblue. 

Check here to find this book for your own home library!

*****

*~Support these independent/self-published authors and illustrators and check out what they’ve been writing and creating.  Please share any books, authors, or illustrators that fit into this category by tagging me on Instagram @MaiStoryBookLibrary,  posting on MaiStoryBook’s FaceBook page, or commenting on the blog below! I’m always looking for new treasures to read, support, and share with all of you!~*

*Plus, checkout out an interactive  read aloud of a winter wonderland tale   here.*

*~Until Next Time, Happy Reading~*