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How to be a Cool Kind Kid - my review of Tanner Wants to Be COOL


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  All opinions about Cool Kind Kid and this book are my own.

My son is in second grade.  He has always been a cool kid in my eyes.  But now that he's been in school full time for a few years he is starting to wonder for himself what being cool really means.  In a world full of bullying and people who may be less than kind in many situations, defining "cool" to a second grader can be hard.  We have always tried to instill in his little mind that being yourself is what's cool.  But there is definitely more to it than just being yourself.  Being cool has to do with how you treat others.  

I recently started working with Cool Kind Kid to help get the word out about their products that are specifically made to help define "cool".  I was happy to receive the book Tanner Wants to be COOL written by Cool Kind Kid creator Barbara Gilmour and illustrated by James J Dunn to review here on my blog.  

Tanner Wants to be COOL is the first in a series of picture books Barbara developed called You Can be a Cool Kind Kid.  This first book tackles the subject of how to be a caring, kind friend.  It's written in cartoon form with speech bubbles telling Tanner's story of how he figures out how to be a cool kid.  I love the illustrations of children who all looked different working together to help Tanner understand how to be cool by using manners and being kind to others.  Each picture teaches a different lesson while showing that cool is not synonymous with bullying or being mean to others.  

There is also a soundtrack  by Steve Megaw accompanying the book which can be downloaded for free using a special code found within the book.

After reading it myself and really enjoying the message, I thought the only way to get some proper feedback was to have my son read it, too.  He left me this little embellished note when he was done, so it MUST be a good book:


I plan on asking my son's teacher if I can read Tanner Wants to be COOL to the class.  I think it would make a great addition to any classroom, playgroup, or home library.  It's easy to read, has wonderful engaging pictures throughout, and gets right to the point that everyone can be cool.  I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series!

To get your copy of Tanner Want to be COOL for $12.95 including the FREE downloadable soundtrack visit  While you are there, check out all the other great products Cool Kind Kid has to offer!  

Since October is National Bullying Prevention month, Cool Kind Kid is offering 10% off their retail products throughout the month if you use code SAYNO2BULLYING at checkout!


Guide to the Magic Deluxe Autograph & Sticker Book - #Review & #Giveaway!

Disclosure: I was given this book to review at no cost to me.  All opinions are my own.IMG_4895

We just got back from a magical week long vacation at Disney.  But when I say it was magical, I meant it was magical up until Thursday when everyone and their mother was there.  See, once Thursday hit we were there with basically all of New Jersey.  Because along with every other NJ public school, my kids' school was closed for the annual teacher convention.  

Regardless of the heart palpatations I continually had while being in the same spot with the most people I have ever been in the same spot with in my entire life, even Thursday was awesome.  It was awesome because that was the day we were visiting Magic Kingdom.  I was psyched to visit Cinderella's castle and get as many autographs as I possibly could from all the characters!  

Before we left, I was sent a super cute Guide to the Magic Deluxe Autograph & Sticker Book to review while I was at Disney.  I was very excited, because the book is filled with beautiful pages for every signature, plus room for photos and any other info you would want to include.  It also includes a lot of tips for getting the best autographs you possibly can - where to find the characters in each park, what pens to use, how to talk with the Cast Members and more!

Check out some of the pages: 


IMG_4896But guess what happened...

The park was SO crowded, I didn't get even ONE signature.  My beautiful autograph book was left blank.  

While that stinks for me, it completely ROCKS for you because I'm going to give my awesome Guide to the Magic Deluxe Autograph & Sticker book to one of you lucky ducks!  If you're going to Disney anytime soon, it will be a great inclusion for your trip.  

Just comment below telling me what part of Disney makes you smile and you'll be entered to win!

Giveaway ends 12/1/14 at noon EST.  Open to US residents 18 and older only.  


For more info on the Deluxe Autograph & Sticker book (and to get your own for $19.99 + S/H) and about all things Disney, check out

Summer Sleep-Away by Ofer Aronskind - Review and GIVEAWAY

Summer-sleep-away - CoverHave you ever read a book that when it's over and you close the cover, you just smile to yourself?  My daughter and I just finished the book Summer Sleep-Away by Ofer Aronskind and we both had the same reaction when we finished it.

This is the story of 12 year-old Mattie Kleinfield who is going to sleepaway summer camp for the first time.  The story begins highlighting all the insecurities you can imagine a preteen boy would have going to an unknown place without the comfort of knowing a soul on the bus.  But it evolves to prove the saying "The worst summer camps make the best friends".

Summer Sleep-Away reads like you stepped onto the set of the movie Stand By Me or the show The Wonder Years.  It is told in a reflective manner by the author in first person.  I love that it gives an intimate knowledge of his feelings throughout the book about his new friends, his adventures and the camp itself.  There are a few emotional points in the story, but they are handled beautifully with lots of love.

It is hard to determine what books will be appropriate reading for preteen children these days.  Especially when your child is an advanced reader.  Finding the balance between a story that is compelling to read while not being too "young adult" and one that is also at a challenging reading level is never easy.  Summer Sleep-Away was perfect for my 10 year-old daughter who reads at a 7th grade level.  

I would love for you to read Summer Sleep-Away and hear your reaction.  So I have been given the opportunity to give away a book to one lucky reader!  Just enter below using hte Rafflecopter form.  As always, be sure to complete each task that you mark off on the form.  (If you choose to comment, you have to actually comment when clicking the "completed" button.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don't win the giveaway, don't worry!  Y oucan purchase Ofer Aronskind's book Summer Sleep-Away through for $12.56 ($3.99 digital) using this link:


And don't forget to check out the rest of author Ofer Aronskind's work at  

You can also visit his page on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

I hope you enjoy Summer Sleep-Away by Ofer Aronskind as much as my daughter and I did.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Summer Sleep-Away as well as compensation. All opinions in this review are my own.  Also, if you make a purchase using my affiliate link on this page, I may earn a commission to which I will be grateful.  Thank you.


Stop Reacting and Start Responding by Sharon Silver- book review

photo taken from

Disclosure: I received a digital copy of this book for my honest review.  No other compensation has been received.  All opinions are my own.

On most days I wear two hats simultaneously: a Mom hat and an Information Junkie hat.  Sure, there are others, but mostly those two hats get the most use out of all.  So having a parenting book I can reference at any time is important to me.  

When I was asked to review Sharon Silver's book Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 Ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be, I jumped at the chance.  My kids and I have outgrown all the books I have on my shelf (Secrets of the Baby Whisperer doesn't quite cut it when trying to parent a 6 year-old and a 10 year-old), so I have been looking for something new to flip through when I'm at a loss.

Sharon Silver is a  educator with 4 certifications in parent education, facilitating for the Cline/Fay Institute and Redirecting Children’s Behavior programs and creator of the Proactive Parenting Approach which helps parents become more aware of their own parenting techniques.

I read most of the book and was very pleased with Sharon Silver's advice.  The main goal I took away from the book is to pay more attention to the reason why my child is acting a certain way rather than just quelling the situation at the time.  

For example, I recently noticed that my son is quite bossy in certain situations when he is playing with his friends.  Until now, I was at a loss in deciding how to handle it.  Sharon suggests the following in her book:

"Bossiness is a child’s attempt to practice her developing leadership skills, but since she’s young, she does it in an unrefined way. If you can look at her bossiness that way, you may become more inspired to teach her how to be a good leader instead of punishing her for being bossy."

I had not thought of it like that before.  Now I will.  

After flipping through and pausing to read several chapters,  I recommend it to any parent looking for a great reference.  Stop Reacting and Start Responding is set up with short, easy to read chapters that can be read straight through or referenced separately when you want quick answers.  Each chapter also has a "Quick View" section at the end which sums up the chapter for even easier reading.  

You can purchase Stop Reacting and Start Responding through the Proactive Parenting website for $12.95 hardcopy or $9.95 e-book using this link.  I hope you will check it out!


And the mom was happy.

IMG_2866While I was brushing my teeth Friday evening, my son who is 5 years-old came up to me with a book in his arms. "Mom, we never read this one!  Can we read it tonight?"  

I looked at the familiar green cover and couldn't believe I had never read The Giving Tree to him before.  My daughter and I had read it about a trillion times in her 10 years, but my son had been depraved up until then.  "Of course we can read it."  

I was excited for bedtime now.  So once we were all jammied up and snuggled in his bed, I looked at his little face and glanced at his little stuffed llama (Llama Jamma) that he held loosely in his arms.  My son had those bright anticipating eyes he always gets when a new book is about to be read.  

So I started reading.  

As I turned each page, I noticed little tiny sighs coming from my son's mouth.  I heard his breathing change slightly and felt him slinking just the eansiest bit into his pillow.  When the boy cut off the tree's branches to make a house, I could feel my son's arms hold tighter onto Llama Jamma.  And when the boy walked off to make a boat out of the tree's trunk, my son put his hands over his eyes.

I thought stopping then would make it worse, so I read until the end.  

'And the tree was happy.'

He took his hands off his eyes, but then buried his face in his pillow and cried like I never heard him cry before.  When I tried to ask him what was wrong, he buried in deeper.  After 5 full minutes of his inconsolable sadness, he emerged again and didn't want to talk about it.  I obliged and offered to read something else... something funny.  Something to take his mind off the one book that made my beautiful child cry so.  We read another book and he went to sleep as fine as he would be any other night.  

I went downstairs and cried myself.  

See, I had never read The Giving Tree myself until I was a mom.  To me, that book signifies everything wonderful about motherhood.  How we would give everything for our children - even when there is nothing left to give.  And we are happy to do it.  The only thing we ever want in return is to be loved.

But maybe as a child, the book isn't as beautiful as I want it to be.  To a child, it puts all that giving into a different perspective.  It makes it seems wrong to ask for things because when you take too much, you are leaving behind branchless trunks and small stumps of the people you take from. 

But after I stopped crying myself, my son's sadness about the book made me strangely happy.  Before you think of me as a rotten mom who smiles at the thought of her crying son, let me explain by telling the rest of the story:

The next morning, I assumed all was forgotten about the Giving Tree.  I had hidden the book in the far reaches of his bookcase and swore to myself I would never read it to him again unless he asked.  Well, he came came downstairs and said, "Mom, can we please read that book again?  The one with the tree and the boy?"  

I asked him if he was sure, because I knew it made him so sad the night before.

He told me, "Yes, I liked it.  It made me sad, but I really do like it... I want to read it again."

So we read it again.  This time, we stopped at every page and he asked me why the boy would eat all the apples.  Why would he cut down all those branches?  Why would he take her whole trunk?  Why did he keep leaving?

Using his own little brain, he personified the tree.  He made the tree into a woman - a mother.  He turned the book into a story about me and him.  He figured out for himself that it is a true testament to my love for him.  That I would give him everything, even when there is nothing left.

For every sad thing he pointed out, I pointed out the positive.  The boy cut down the branches because the tree wanted to give him a house.  The boy took the trunk because the tree wanted him to build a boat.  The boy left to find happiness, but always returned to where happiness always lives.  

This time after the book was finished, my son was happy.  He looked at me differently.  I know it's silly and probably not true, but I felt his gears click into place.  I felt like he understood.  I am here for him and always will be.  Even when I'm old and stumpy.  

But more-so, I think he understood that asking for things comes with a price for him as well.  Yes, he can ask and I will give.  Yes, I would cut off my arms if he needed me to.  I would.  But he knows that I am a person, too, and that always asking may leave me with less for myself.

As a mom, it is often hard to admit that premise even to myself.  I don't ever want my children to think they can't ask me for something.  But on the same note, if they can do it themselves, they should.  That IS what we are prepping them for, isn't it?  Independence?  

I think that book gave my son his first glimpse at what independence means.  

...And the mom was happy.




The Hip Hop Kids are here! Book review and giveaway


My son is going into kindergarten this year.  He has been in preschool for two years where he has learned quite a lot about the alphabet and is now starting to string letters together to form words.  We can sit and read together for about 10 minutes at a clip.  He gets very happy when he figures out that certain letters in a row spell certain words.  

But then the ten minutes are up and he gets bored.

I am always looking for new books to help keep his attention while teaching him how to read at the same time.  And to be honest, there are only so many books about Skylanders I can take, myself.

Thankfully, I was introduced to a new series call The Hip Hop Kids which incorporates many different skills like rhyming, alphabet knowledge, counting and shape & color recognition.  I was given the first book in the series Rhyming Words with Milo the MC to review with my son.  

Guess who loved it... yep, we both did.

Growing up, I had my fair share of Pumas with fat laces and must have watched Breakin' and Breakin' 2 Electric Boogaloo about a million times each.  This little book brought me back to those days when we would go outside with our oversized "boom boxes" and act like we knew how to bust out a coffee grinder or head spin on some cardboard in the side yard.  Of COURSE we didn't know what the heck we were doing, but it didn't matter.  It was fun ...and so was reading this book with my son. IMG_2538

This first book introduces us to Milo the MC who raps his way through the book to teach readers about rhyming words.  He also introduces the rest of the Hip Hop Kids consisting of Daisy the DJ, Greg the Graffiti Artist and Brenda the Breaker.  Each subsequent book in the series will feature each character and a different learning skill.  My son is looking forward to reading them all!

The writers of the series and founders of The Hip Hop Kids Chris Bivona and Gustavo Angel want YOU to experience the fun, too!  They have offered me 3 copies of Rhyming Words with Milo the MC to giveaway here on my blog.  All you have to do is enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  3 winners will be chosen when the contest ends on 8/28/13.  


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Best of luck to you!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of Rhyming Word with Milo the MC free of charge.  No other compensation was given to me.  All opinions are my own.