National Geographic Kids Holiday Giveaway (ends 12/3/16)


Christmas Gifts

Now that the holidays are here, people are scrambling to find the perfect gifts for those on their holiday shopping list.

Something that people might now always consider as a holiday gift are books. Personally, I LOVE books. If someone gifted me a gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble I’d be happy. There are plenty of books that I would love to read.

I think that books make great gifts for children too. Even “reluctant readers” can enjoy a good book that doesn’t necessarily have to be a reading book. There are plenty of books out there that are educational as well as comics and graphic novels.


Are you familiar with books from National Geographic Kid? We own many of their books and I have donated many of them to the classrooms where I’ve worked.

National Geographic Kids teaches kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to succeed and make it a better place. It is the only kids brand with a scientific, education, and conservation organization at its core.

National  Geographic Kids is the #1 publisher of nonfiction books for kids, producing more than 100 titles per year. From board books to leveled readers to almanacs to our wildly popular Weird but True series, we’ve got books for every young reader on your list.

National Geographic Kids sent me a few of their new books to check out for myself. They might be geared towards children, but as an adult I find them very enjoyable. Even I learn A LOT from reading them.

Here are the books that I was sent to review.


5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 3

Find fascinating knowledge nuggets on all kinds of cool topics, from bubble gum and ice cream to the outer space and the North Pole! This book offers hours of unplugged fun for curious kids who love to be the trivia expert in the family. (Ages 8-12)


National Geographic Kids Almanac 2017

Get inspired for the year ahead with the most popular kids’ almanac on the planet! It features 350+ pages of incredible photos, fun facts, news, activities, and features about animals, science, exploration, technology, culture, and more. (Ages 8-12)

The second annual Almanac Newsmaker Challenge invites kids create a time capsule for kids in 2050 that shows what life is like today. Just gather up to 10 “artifacts,” photograph it, and share it on My Shot, the Nat Geo Kids online photo community. Get the details at: natgeokids.com/almanac.


Weird but True 8

Kids love Weird But True! The latest, greatest in this endlessly fascinating series – now with more than 20 titles – is full of 300 all-new wild and wacky facts and pictures. (Ages 8-12)

I’m not exaggerating when I say as an adult, I find these books fascinating. I’ve learned A LOT from these books.

What I love about these books that they are very engaging. They have colorful photos to go along with all the amazing facts. Even if your child is still in the early stages of reading they can still enjoy the great photos found in each of the books.

These are fun books… but at the same time they are educational.

These would make great holiday gifts. As a mom I would certainly gift my children these books.

If you would like to learn more about these and other National Geographic Kids books, visit ShopNG.com/kidsbooks. You can also follow @NGKids and @NatGeoBooks on Twitter and “like” National Geographic Kids and National Geographic Books on Facebook. You can also check out the hashtag #NatGeoKidsBooks on social media.


National Geographic Kids has generously offered to give a lucky reader a copy of each of these books!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on December 3, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via email and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me which of these three books you think would be most interesting and/or who you’ll gift these books to if you are the winner?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received the same prize package in exchange for my participation. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. National Geographic Kids provided the prize and samples. 

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Kid’s Books Explain When Fido Gets Adopted, Sick or Dies



I am a big time animal lover. Our five cats, dog and Goldfish are proof of that. If I could live on a farm or run my own animal sanctuary I would.

I have always had animals in my life. Growing up we had dogs, cats, fish, birds, hamsters and even a horse. We spoiled them like crazy and were devastated and heartbroken when they passed away.

Even today as an “adult” I cried when our Goldfish “Wishie” died last year. That’s right – an adult CRIED over the death of a Goldfish. That’s how I am. I love our pets very much – big or small.

Two of our cats have health issues. Bella has severe asthma and three leaky valves in he heart. Her thyroid is also wonky too. Our other cat, Velcro, is diabetic and requires insulin shots twice a day. The diabetes and his age have caused him to lose his teeth.

Our dog Espn (pronounced Es-pin) is very sick. He is terminally ill with a liver disease called Hepatocutaneous Syndrome. There is no cure for it. He’s slowly dying. We are doing our best to make his last days with us good days. We know that eventually we have to put him to sleep. I am not ready to say “good bye,” but I know that day is fast approaching. He hurts walking up and down stairs and all he does is sleep. He also licks at his skin, causing wounds that get infected, so he has to live with a cone around his neck 24/7.


I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I write about him.

Thankfully my kids are teenagers and can understand things a lot easier. Sometimes it’s difficult for young children to understand things like why animals get sick, need surgery and eventually die.

There is a new line of book that attempt to explain these things in a gentle way to help children understand these situations a bit better. They are part of the Dog Tales Collection. Here is some additional information.

The Dog Tales Collection, written by Patricia Brill, Phd, are an award-winning collection of illustrated books that help open a dialogue between parents and children concerning issues they may have with their pets.  These books help children better understand what happens when their pet or loved one has cancer, under goes surgery, has to stay overnight at the hospital or even dies.

These sensitive and emotionally stirring children’s books are written in such a way to simply but gently discuss the obvious. Patricia Brill is brilliant as is her award-winning children’s book illustrator Curt Walstead, who has also worked on many of today’s popular children’s shows such as Dora the ExplorerDragon Tales,Clifford’s Puppy Days and Baby Looney Tunes.

I was sent a few of the books to review.


Do Bad Dogs Get Cancer?

Turbo the dog is not feeling well. His owner takes him to see the vet. The vet finds that Turbo has cancerous tumors. Turbo is scared and thinks he has cancer because he was a bad dog. He soon learns that cancer can strike any dog and it has nothing to do with being bad.

This book explains in a gentle way what cancer is, what remission is and what the vet had to do to treat Turbo’s cancer.


The Road to Recovery is Paved with Dog Treats

This book follows Turbo leading up to his surgery. He is scared and doesn’t know what is going to happen. Thankfully the other animals at the vet hospital are there to explain everything in detail to Turbo so that he is no longer afraid.

I like how the entire procedure as to what is involved with a pet having surgery is explain in simple, easy to understand detail. This is great for a child who is fearful that something bad will happen to their pet if it requires surgery.


Don’t Say Good Bye, Just say See You

This book was hard to read because our dog is dying. It’s the story of Turbo and his best friend Boxter who has caner that cannot be operated on. Turbo is sad and angry that his friend is going to leave him and go to heaven.

The book is well written, and talk about how the dog will no longer be in pain and can frolic and enjoy being a dog again in heaven. That is what children need to hear and understand, but as an adult who is going through a similar situation right now with her own dog, I had a hard time reading this.


Porsche Bella’s Forever Home

This book doesn’t deal with death or health issues (thankfully). It’s the story of an abandoned puppy and her siblings. They are found by a young boy and adopted out.

The puppy feels scared, alone and confused. Her new siblings share their stories about how they came to live in their “forever home.” The story also goes on to explain that sometimes siblings cannot be together because they get adopted to different homes, but that doesn’t mean that the love is still not there.

This is a great book to share with children when your family adopts a pet, or if you have a situation where you have a pet that has babies and they all have to go to different homes.

The books do a good job at explaining these difficult situations so that children can understand them better and not be afraid. Even as an adult I enjoyed the books.

The illustrations go perfectly with the stories too.

Look for these books where ever books are sold. I have seen them online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Are you dealing with a similar situation right now with your pet? What do you think about these books?



*I received free copies to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 


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Movie Review: Stick Man



Coming to DVD tomorrow (November 8, 2016) is the short, animated film, Stick Man. The film is based upon a book by the same name.

I have never heard of Stick Man until now. The book was published in 2008. Apparently it has a bit of a following. You can find a Stick Man plush on Amazon and craft ideas based on the book on Pinterest.

The book was written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

Stick Man hails from the United Kingdom. I’m not sure how well known it is here in the United States, but after watching the film, I wouldn’t be surprised if Stick Man gets a huge following in the U.S. too.

I was curious about the film, especially watching the trailer. There is even a brief clip from the film available on YouTube. Check it out.


Stick Man is the story about a man made out of a stick. He has a stick wife and three stick children. They live in a tree.

The film starts off with the Stick family celebrating Christmas, which makes it a fitting film for this time of year.

In the spring, Stick Man goes out for a jog before his family wakes up. While out on his jog he encounters a dog who thinks he’s a fetching stick. From there is journey begins. While trying to get home to his family he keeps getting picked up by other creatures – even people – and taken further and further away from his home.

Will Stick Man be able to finally make it home? As you probably guessed it, he does, BUT it’s how he gets home to his family that is very important.

I am IN LOVE with this movie. So much so, I have the book and plush stick in my Amazon shopping cart.


I work with kindergarten children and I want to read them the book (we don’t watch movies at school) and have them make their very own Stick Man out of paper towel rolls. I want the plush Stick Man to help bring the story alive when I read it to the children.

This is a wonderful film. I never expected that I would be so taken by it.

The animation is spectacular. The landscape/scenery animation looks especially realistic. Even the ocean waves look like real water/waves.

I enjoyed all of the characters. I found them to be very charming and adorable.

Some might consider this a Christmas film because it does start and end at Christmas time, and Santa makes an appearance, but I think this film could easily be enjoyed year round.

The film is only 30 minutes long, making it ideal for younger children with shorter attention spans. Young and old alike will be mesmerized by the film from start to finish.

There is a bonus feature, which is basically how the book came to life on film. It’s worth watching.

Truly, I loved this film. If you have the opportunity to pick up a copy of it I would highly recommend it.

Have you ever heard of Stick Man before? Have you read the book?



*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Happy Halloween from Lockwood & Co (giveaway ends 10/26/16)

*Thanks to Disney for sending me the series, and for providing a prize pack for a lucky reader.

halloween night

The Halloween season is all about ghosts, ghouls and things that go “bump in the night.” For me, that is the funniest part of Halloween – getting scared. For others, it’s the candy.

I enjoy everything frightful around Halloween (and beyond) – movies, music (our daughter freaks out when we play the theme to Halloween – LOL), decorations, and more. Even creepy books are fun to read.

There is the perfect Halloween book series you might be interested in. It’s the Lockwood & Co middle-grade series by Jonathan Stroud. His latest book in the series, Creeping Shadows, just hit shelves earlier this month, just in time for Halloween.

Here is a little more information about the book series and why it’s ideal for Halloween (and beyond).

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see—and eradicate—these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

Jonathan Stroud, author of the internationally best-selling Bartimaeus books, continues his hit series of supernatural thrillers about three teen members of a Psychic Detection Agency who are battling an epidemic of ghosts in London. The fourth book in the series, The Creeping Shadows, released September 13, 2016.

I have not personally read any of the books (yet). They do sound like my “cup of tea.”


Book One: The Screaming Staircase 

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren’t exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see—and eradicate—these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall’s legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day?


Book Two: The Whispering Skull

Rivals clash, friendships are tested, and sinister secrets are unsealed as Lockwood & Co. investigate a Victorian occultist in this second spine-chilling, ghost-filled adventure by internationally best-selling author Jonathan Stroud.

In the six months since Anthony, Lucy, and George survived a night in the most haunted house in England, Lockwood & Co. hasn’t made much progress. Quill Kipps and his team of Fittes agents keep swooping in on Lockwood’s investigations. Finally, in a fit of anger, Anthony challenges his rival to a contest: the next time the two agencies compete on a job, the losing side will have to admit defeat in the Times newspaper.

Things look up when a new client, Mr. Saunders, hires Lockwood & Co. to be present at the excavation of Edmund Bickerstaff, a Victorian doctor who reportedly tried to communicate with the dead. Saunders needs the coffin sealed with silver to prevent any supernatural trouble. All goes well—until George’s curiosity attracts a horrible phantom.

Back home at Portland Row, Lockwood accuses George of making too many careless mistakes. Lucy is distracted by urgent whispers coming from the skull in the ghost jar. Then the team is summoned to DEPRAC headquarters. Kipps is there too, much to Lockwood’s annoyance. Bickerstaff’s coffin was raided and a strange glass object buried with the corpse has vanished. Inspector Barnes believes the relic to be highly dangerous, and he wants it found.


Book Three: The Hollow Boy 

Anthony’s dark secret is revealed, Lucy resents a new employee, and the ghost jar continues to mutter in the third book in the series that Kirkus called “rousing adventures for young tomb robbers.”

As a massive outbreak of supernatural Visitors baffles Scotland Yard and causes protests throughout London, Lockwood & Co. continue to demonstrate their effectiveness in exterminating spirits. Anthony Lockwood is dashing, George insightful, and Lucy dynamic, while the skull in the jar utters sardonic advice from the sidelines. There is a new spirit of openness in the team now that Lockwood has shared some of his childhood secrets, and Lucy is feeling more and more as if her true home is at Portland Row. It comes as a great shock, then, when Lockwood and George introduce her to an annoyingly perky and hyper-efficient new assistant, Holly Munro.

Meanwhile, there are reports of many new hauntings, including a house where bloody footprints are appearing, and a department store full of strange sounds and shadowy figures. But ghosts seem to be the least of Lockwood & Co.’s concerns when assassins attack during a carnival in the center of the city. Can the team get past their personal issues to save the day on all fronts, or will bad feelings attract yet more trouble?


Book Four: The Creeping Shadow 

A terrible crime forces Lockwood to turn to Lucy for help, setting them on the trail of dark secrets at the heart of London society. Both professionally and personally, their investigation stirs up forces they may not be able to control. . . .

After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .

They all sound so good!

If you would like to read an excerpt from the newest book: The Creeping Shadow, you can click here to download.

Here is a little more information about the author of this series.

Jonathan Stroud (www.jonathanstroud.com) is the author of three previous books in the Lockwood & Co. series as well as the New York Times best-selling Bartimaeus books, and the stand-alone titles Heroes of the Valley, The Leap, The Last Siege, and Buried Fire. He lives in England with his wife and three children.

If you would like to learn more you can “creep on over” to LockwoodandCo.com. In addition, you can also follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram. You can even add DisneyBooks on Snapchat.

The official hashtag for the books series is #LockwoodandCo.

Disney-Hyperion is kind enough to offer a wonderful prize for a lucky reader. The prize package includes:

  • The Lockwood & Co. series. (4 books)
  •  $50 Visa gift card for your Halloween needs

Thank you Disney-Hyperion!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on October 26, 2016. The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via email and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me why you would like to win this prize package?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I will be receiving the same prize package in exchange for my participation from Disney-Hyperion. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Five Steps to Make Shopping a Breeze



According to a survey by Retailwire.com, one of the top 10 reasons women hate to shop for clothing is: Lack of awareness of what looks good on them. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? What, with so many great styles and options to choose from each season—and new trends popping up every few months.

Perhaps that’s the problem—women feel overwhelmed by all the choices. Shopping becomes a chore and a bore.  We can either respond in one of two ways: we just avoid shopping all together and find we have nothing to wear, or we buy everything in sight. And our closets simply explode—becoming bigger and bigger, not better and better.  Neither seems a sensible option.

In Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look, an entire chapter is devoted to shopping. We refer to it as creating your personal collection.

Shopping should be likened to an interviewing process, where you are the boss. You have certain criteria, and if the interviewee doesn’t meet that criterion, the potential candidate is eliminated right away. When there are only a few hopefuls left, you ultimately get to choose the best candidate (garment) for the job.


You can bypass about 95% of the clothing in a store through a simple process of elimination. But there is one caveat. You must know yourself: your best colors, the best styles for your body type, and most importantly, what it is you want to communicate through your appearance for the life you are living TODAY.

Here’s how it works. When you get to the store:

  1. Locate your size. (Sizes can vary. Don’t get stuck on a number).
  2. Eliminate all colors that are not flattering.
  3. Eliminate all prints/patterns that are not flattering.
  4. Eliminate all styles that are not flattering (for your body type).
  5. Eliminate anything that doesn’t fit your lifestyle and/or the event you are shopping for.

What’s left? Probably only a handful of garments. And those garments are precisely the items that should look most complementary on you. Go try them on. Don’t waste time on the rejects.

Once you discard the negatives, only the positives remain, and you get to choose. Don’t like any of them? Move on to the next rack or store.

Before you know it, you’ll find that you not only have a collection of garments you love and that go with you, but also a closet full of clothes that go with each other.

The key is knowing yourself and what looks great on you. The better you know yourself, the less shopping mistakes you’ll make, the more time (and money) you’ll save, and the more confident you’ll feel knowing you made the best possible choice for you. That’s quintessential style!

Multi-coloured wardrobe showcase, closeup

Authors Bio’s:

About Janna Beatty

Janna Beatty, owner of one of Texas’ premier makeover studios, is co-author of the book Quintessential Style: Cultivate and Communicate Your Signature Look (www.Qstylethebook.com). She has studied in New York and Paris with some of the most respected advisers in the fashion and beauty industry. A successful business owner for more than 30 years, Beatty speaks to corporations, professional organizations, and women’s groups. She also has been a guest on radio, podcasts, and television.

About Sharon White

Sharon White is an award-winning author who lives and writes in Central Texas. She has written for New York Daily News, Huffington Post, Fashion Bible and other online and print magazines. She publishes a popular lifestyle blog (qstylethebook.com) based on her book, Quintessential Style. 


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Happy Birthday Curious George!



I’d love to give a special birthday “shout out” to Curious George. He’s 75 years old TODAY! He doesn’t look that old, that is for sure.

I cannot believe that Curious George has been around for that long. I grew up reading his books. I also read his books to my own children, who are now teenagers.

I remember when I was a very young girl the time my mom gave me a book she picked up from a garage sale. It was a book about a monkey. For the life of me I can’t remember the title. I can visualize it, and I have tried to Google it over the years, but I simply cannot find it.

I loved that book. It was one of my favorite books. Sadly, I lost the book at school and it was never found. No one brought it to the lost and found either. I was crushed. I loved that book.

My mom didn’t know what to do. She thought if she bought me another book about a monkey that maybe I’d forget about that other book. The book she bought me to replace my lost book was a Curious George book. It looked like the one (pictured below).

Curious George

I THINK this was the first Curious George book published.

From the first time I read this book I became an instant fan of the adorable, mischievous monkey.

I’ve always been an animal lover, so it made sense that I would enjoy stories about an adorable monkey. Back then I even wished I owned a stuffed Curious George (I don’t think a plush was available way back then). I did have some plush monkeys that I pretended to be Curious George, including a classic sock monkey.

I had several Curious George books growing up. I don’t know what happened to them. I guess my mom donated them when I got older. Sigh…

When my daughter was a toddler I picked up a few Curious George books to read to her.

I LOVE this book! It's filled with great word of wisdom.

I LOVE this book! It’s filled with great word of wisdom.

What I love about Curious George is that he hasn’t changed much over the years. His looks only changed a little bit. He still looks a lot like the original Curious George from the books I grew up with. The stories are still just as wonderful and entertaining as they were when I was little.

When my son was born I read the books to him as well. I even kept them, but currently they are buried in my father’s basement along with other things from my kid’s childhoods.

I am hoping that one day my children read the Curious George books to their children someday (my future grandchildren). Curious George is a timeless classic that can be enjoyed today or even 100 years from now.

To this day I still enjoy reading Curious George books – even ones I have read over and over again.

I love that there is a Curious George series on television (PBS). It’s great that Curious George is being appreciated and loved by a whole new generation.


I even FINALLY have my very own Curious George plush toy – just like what I wanted when I was a child. Better late than never. LOL!

I even have a wonderful set of Curious George books that I keep on our family bookcase that I hope to read to the kids I work with (I’m a teacher’s assistant for a Kindergarten class) as well as my future grandchildren.

These days there are so many fun Curious books and toys readily available. That is because everyone loves this sweet little monkey and friends.

Do you have a favorite Curious George memory? What about a favorite Curious George book? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

In addition, feel free to wish Curious George a “Happy Birthday” on social media. Please use the hashtag #GetCurious.



*I received some free goodies in exchange for my participation. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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