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Who Says That, CAT the CAT? (Board book)

Sprout Score

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IMG_20160710_124642546This is the second experience we have had with a Cat the Cat book.  (The other was Who Sleeps, CAT the CAT?)  Both books follow the same design, with the cat, named Cat, speaking to different animals to see what they do.  In this book, Cat finds her (she’s kind of wearing a t-shirt/dress, so I’m guessing Cat is a girl) friends and asks “What’s your sound?”  Cat’s friends all respond with a resounding woof/peep/moo until we meet Bunny, who responds differently than all the rest, leading into a snuggly ending.

Cat the Cat throws me as a reader and therefore confuses my daughters as they listen.  The repetition of the animal having a name that is the same name as their species is, for some reason, hard for me to read smoothly.  It feels awkward and I’m never comfortable with Continue reading

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No one is unaffected

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

In the wake of the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers, I have seen this quote popping up throughout social media.  (Usually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, though I have also seen that challenged).  For the last 24 hours I have been following the news updates, reading emotional, painful posts from friends and strangers alike, and continually coming back to this quote in my mind. It doesn’t sit right with me.

When taken very literally, yes, I am unaffected.  I am a white, middle-class, heterosexual woman who works as a corporate professional and lives in a country where my religion is practiced freely.  I have not been forced to flee from my home.  I do not live in poverty.  I am not hated for the color of my skin or the sex of the person I married.

But this is where that translation ends.  I may not fall into any of the categories that threaten my immediate safety, but I am affected.  Please understand, I do not for one second think that my emotional outrage is on any level of comparison to those who are living in actual fear and danger.  But those people living in actual fear and danger are my Continue reading

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Can we call a bad news time-out?

I know it’s not reality to imagine the world with less bad news.  Even during times when there are fewer media reports of major crises, heartbreaking evil, or severe weather events, I know there are countless instances of bad news happening every minute all over the world.  But right now I feel like there’s a constant barrage of awful on the front page. The deadliest mass shooting in the US at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The Stanford rapist.   The US political race with all of its protests, hatred, and bullying.  The daily reports of death by gunfire in every major city.  The endless story of racial conflict.  The toddler who lost his life to an alligator in Florida.  That’s just to mention a few just stories happening in my own country.  To keep up on current events right now, you almost need a prescription for anxiety meds.

Realistically I understand that this period of time is no worse or better than any other in the past hundred years.  There are different conflicts, different evil, different crises, but there have always been conflicts, evil, and crises.   I understand that as an adult, as a parent, I see the world through different lenses than I did before.  I understand that we know more about everything and we know it instantaneously because of the advent of social media.  I get it.  But I still feel like there is more today than there ever has been.  Reality or not, my heart wants a break.

Can we all just come to an agreement that we acknowledge all the badness that is happening, but we want a tiny break?  Like, maybe an hour where all the news outlets report on the heroes, the silver lining, some light at the end of the tunnel of all these crises.  The examples of people working together and supporting one another.  Individuals putting themselves last so others can come first.  I know that all of that is happening every minute all over the world, too, and I need to hear about it.  I need to know those people, I need to hear those stories.  I need to show the good to my children, so they know that even in a world that feels like it is falling apart at the seams, love is present and love still conquers.  Everyday heroes exist.

Do you agree?  Can you help?  When we post, blog, publish, and report the bad news, let’s also do another one on the positive side.  Share articles that highlight hope.  Tweet about people doing good.  Write stories of light and love.  We will always hear about the awful.  Let’s make news out of the wonderful.

Sprout Score

Ben Loves Bear (Board Book)

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IMG_20160424_145951The story in this book follows Ben and Bear as they go through a typical day together.  Ben appears to be a two or three-year-old, big enough to sleep in a big-kid bed, and Bear is his teddy that never leaves this side.  The illustrations are uncomplicated and focused on only those two characters, showing snapshots of the fun they experience throughout the day.

The language is succinct, with an almost calming cadence as you read through the three to five-word sentences. For me, the reader, it is challenging to embellish.  For my toddlers, Continue reading

Photo via Visualhunt

High-tech convenience is making my life harder

I’m probably somewhere in the middle of the scale of my generation when it comes to using the best/fastest/easiest inventions to make my life better/faster/easier. I refuse to put a DVR player in my minivan, but I do have a cable TV system that I can control with voice commands.  I use an online grocery delivery service, but I won’t buy Lunchables.  I use a coffee mug to drink my coffee instead of disposable cups, but I use K-cups to make that coffee.  I’m as amused and impressed as the next guy when new ideas to improve convenience are marketed to the masses, but I always have a weird twinge of guilt, like I’m cheating by taking the easy way.  I don’t know why that is.

What I do know, though, is that some of the conveniences I regularly enjoy are also finding sneaky ways to make my life harder. Continue reading

Sprout Score

Beach Babies (Board Book)

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Beach Babies, Author Puck

This book is a lively bunch of illustrations of babies and their families having fun at the beach.  There is  a snippet of text to start the dialog as you turn the page, but the main appeal of the book is pointing out all of the different babies and the fun they are having.  The children and adults are diverse and dressed in lots of bright colors.

There are two pages at the end with tips for the reader with questions to ask and things to point out on each page. This is a great idea for a board book.  The first few times I read this with my toddlers I skipped over those pages and they were indifferent to the book.  Once I took the time to read and use the tips, it turned this book into a favorite that needs to be read before bed each night.

The most exciting page for my daughters is the one that has some mischievous babies who have taken off their swimsuits.  They point and laugh and say “butt! butt!”  I guess that kind of humor starts earlier than I realized.

Once I took advantage of the reader tips, this book became a lot more enjoyable for me.  We interact, point and ask questions, and it is great reading time for both parent and kids.

Sprout Score: ★★★★★ 

Reader Score: ★★★★

Author: Puck

Illustrator: Violet Lemay

For Ages: Toddlers and Preschoolers

ISBN: 9781938093234

For more about the authors and Beach Babies, go here.

Sprout Score

Sprout Score Book Reviews

As a book-loving parent, I spend a lot of time reading, reading, and re-reading children’s books to my family.  Since I have three kids, including twins, there is an ever-present array of books scattered throughout my house. They might have a permanent home on a bookshelf, but spend most of their days in use or scattered across the floor, waiting for the next time.  We make regular trips to the library too, so there is also a library heap that stays stacked in the living room to reduce the chances of getting lost. It may change in content and height, but the library heap is a regular part of our decor.

Though I have three kids, my focus for Sprout Score reviews will be the books my twin daughters are reading.  There are a lot more books rotating through this house for them than my school-age son, simply because his days are filled with other activities and his books take more time to read.  So this blog series will be devoted to books for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

These reviews will not only be a simple synopsis of the story. As a parent, I find it very helpful to hear what other parents, and especially other kids, think about the products/books/activities they see and do every day.  So, each review will contain a Sprout Score and a Reader Rating:

Sprout Score

  1. ★ I won’t sit still to read this book
  2. ★★ I’ll sit but I will be bored
  3. ★★★ I’ll sit and be interested
  4. ★★★★ I really like this.  I’ll point and interact.
  5. ★★★★★ I love this!  Again!  Again!

Reader Rating

  1. ★ I’m bored while I read this out loud.
  2. ★★ I’m indifferent while I read out loud, just another book.
  3. ★★★ Good book, I enjoy reading out loud.
  4. ★★★★ I have fun and feel good about reading this out loud.
  5. ★★★★★ A favorite that I love to read to my kids and will remember.

Since this series is all about sharing, I welcome and encourage you to give your rankings in the comments if you have read the book being reviewed with your kids, too.

Let’s Read!