Archive for Books

The Single Best Geography Resource for PreK to Early Elementary


So we’ve had geography on the brain last month, thanks to the Poppins Book Nook.  I’m so loving the accountability to do fun stuff with the kiddos.  I found one of my favorite resources ever for geography for tots to early elementary thanks to Carrie @ Reading to Know.


I happened to catch a sideways mention of a few books she found at a resale shop that she regretted not buying more of from the Disney Small World Library.  Published in 1994 (or thereabouts), the set includes 28 books, from the following countries:

  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Kenya
  • Egypt
  • Canada
  • Ireland
  • Greece
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Japan
  • Peru
  • Spain
  • Norway
  • Great Britain
  • China
  • Israel
  • Brazil
  • Mexico
  • Australia
  • Scotland
  • Russia
  • Argentina
  • Scotland
  • France
  • Denmark


I paid an obscene amount of money for a complete set on eBay without ever having looked at one.  We’ve had great luck with the Walt Disney Fun-to-Learn Library, too.  I had a set as a kid and grabbed the first set I ever found used.  Both girls loved them! When I got the Disney Small World Library, I don’t think they had ever been read.  They were in great shape and these have been just as loved!


Each story is about Mickey & the gang traveling around the world and experiencing the different countries. The final 4 pages tell about several  things the country is well-known for. My daughter had asked if her daddy & I made friends around the world when we traveled.  I wish I could say yes; we will work on doing better next time.  They do a great job of introducing local places, foods, customs & culture with the familiarity of Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald & Goofy.  They don’t even know they are learning and that’s my favorite way to do it!


If you are interested in either set, check eBay.  I’ve found individual books on Amazon or Paperback Swap, but I’d rather get them all (or most) at once.  We’ve loved them both!

What books do you use to teach your little ones without them knowing it?

Jen S.




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No More Perfect Kids {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from a PR company in exchange for an honest review. This post contains affiliate links; thank you for your support!

Pride goeth before a fall, right? I was reading a chapter by chapter summary of No More Perfect Kids on As We Walk Along the Road when I received an email wondering if I would be willing to review it. Well, of course! As a recovering perfectionist, I was curious to see if I had made any progress.

No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids For Who They Are was co-written by Jill Savage and Kathy Koch, PhD and follows on the heels of Jill’s other best-seller No More Perfect Moms. NMPK is one of those books I wish I had more time to read, review and DO. Because really, I think it might be one of those game-changer books, you know? The book was written to identify and remove the need for perfection from our kids. How? By KNOWING your children, knowing what’s REALISTIC, and encouraging them to be themselves.

They cover 9 specific topics in the book from what is perfection & what happens when it collides with parenting and then goes into talking about questions your kids ask without words:

  • Do you like me?
  • Am I important to you?
  • Is it okay that I’m unique?
  • Who am I?
  • Am I a failure?
  • What’s my purpose?
  • Will you help me change?

What’s funny about this, is that I realized I’m pretty cognizant of their differences & personalities as a personality-type junkie :). I know their learning styles and temperament and mine and how they work together. Or not. So when I started, I thought I was doing pretty well as I sped through the first 80 pages or so, having recently “conquered” the do you LIKE me question as a result of reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode and introducing margin into my days.

And then I slowed. And I read. And I reflected. And my husband said, “You’re STILL reading that book?” Because I had been working through it for about 4 weeks which is unheard of for me. A few things which really grabbed me were discussions of childLIKE versus childISH. Ow. And the whole failure stopped me dead for about a week. I expect better from them than I can do. Ouch.

But it wasn’t all ‘bad.’ I found some real hope for inspiring them to greatness in the chapter on purpose and tools to use in the last chapter, helping them to change. I knew that it would be a great book to have and so I bought an extra to share during the book’s launch week. I’m really looking forward to reading How Am I Smart? so I can encourage them better.

Overall, No More Perfect Kids is a great book for all parents; it was written with both in mind. If you feel a disconnect or wonder why in the world God would saddle some poor child with you for a mother, this could help. If you think you are doing pretty well, do your children know all the answers of all those questions above? I mean, really know them? If so, you need to come to my house for a weekend so I can pick your brain! But if you think you could do better, No More Perfect Kids is an awesome book to help you love AND like, the kids you have, not the ones in your head.

Jen S.




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Maybelle in Stitches {Book Review}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ever wondered about dog food before canned dog food was invented? Me neither. But now I do. It’s funny how a book can prompt odd questions. It’s not something I expected from Maybelle in Stitches.

Maybelle in Stitches has nothing to do with dog food actually. It’s the story of a woman whose husband is in WWII. Like many women, she works in the factory welding & building ships for the war. She lives with her mother and a male roommate until her mother dies. Later, she receives word that her hubby is MIA. As she clears out her mothers things to make way for some roommates, she finds a crazy quilt started.

Her best friend convinces her to finish it as a way to get through her days without worrying about her husband. Despite her lack of (any) domestic skills, several women help her work on the quilt and this is their story.

Maybelle in Stitches is an interesting book in terms of setting. I’ve read WWII books before, but they had never concentrated so much on aspects of home life. AUTHOR went into great detail about roommates, the practical aspects of rationing and how scarce things were. That’s where the whole dog food thing came into play. Every time she described meals, she also mentioned what the dog ate. I think a character sideways mentions that they should make dog food in a can. Future story perhaps?

This was also a unique story in that Maybelle is a domestic failure. I could be Maybelle, except I like to cook. There are rumblings of woman’s lib (outside jobs, no kids), which was a little unusual for that period, though not entirely or the 60′s couldn’t have happened :).

On the whole, I would say Maybelle in Stitches was an okay book. It ended a little abruptly for me and while it was a fun journey, there wasn’t a ton in the way of plot line or emotional struggles. It was very much about setting and waiting for the hubby. The characters didn’t have a ton of depth, but they were nice enough. I just wasn’t able to get that excited about it.

*   *   *

Don’t miss the newest Quilts of Love book, Maybelle in Stitches, by Joyce Magnin. Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it.

Joyce is celebrating the release with a $200 Modcloth giveaway. Enter today for a chance to spruce up your spring wardrobe!


One winner will receive:

  • A $200 gift card
  • Scraps of Evidence by Barbara Cameron
  • A Sky Without Stars by Linda S. Clare
  • Maybelle in Stitches by Joyce Magnin

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced on April 21st on the Quilts of Love blog!


Spread the word—tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER.


Good luck!

Jen S.


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{CLOSED} The Story of Jesus Review & Giveaway {Tommy Mommy}

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This post contains affiliate links -- thanks for your support!


For this month’s selection from the Tommy Mommy program at Thomas Nelson books, I was sent a copy of The Story of Jesus. Intended for children ages 0-3, this padded board book with a handle is a tiny book that packs a big punch. It tells the complete story of Jesus from birth to resurrection. If you liked The Story of Christmas, you will love this one, too.

The Story of Jesus is told in rhyming couplets and they did a great job with the rhymes. I hate poetry that is clumsy to read; this is easy & enjoyable to read out loud. The illustrations look like they were made with in a scrapbook type method, giving them a neat 3 dimensional-ish look. The pictures were bright & colorful.

Best though, was the story itself. In 20 short pages, the author does a fabulous job of hitting all the high points of Jesus’s life, including his death and resurrection, on a level appropriate for tiny children. My 3.5 year old brings me the book occasionally and my 9 month old carries it around a lot. When he pauses on a page, I read it to him. Over time, he will have gotten the whole story of Jesus in spurts of a small rhyme :).

If you are interested in winning a copy of The Story of Jesus for a child in your life, use the widget below.

NOTE!!!!!! Please follow the directions–you need to ANSWER the question, not just comment that you want to win. I I hate having to disqualify people who aren’t following the rules or didn’t do what they said they would do :(.

Thanks for your attention on this.


Good luck!!

Jen S.


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The Queen’s Handmaid {Book Review}

Disclaimer: This book was received from a PR company in exchange for an honest review.



One of my favorite things about historical fiction is learning in a way that I don’t feel like I’m learning. I recently received a copy of The Queen’s Handmaid for review and was delighted that I was able to read a lot over the weekend. I hate having to wait for a pocket of time when I’m reading a good book.

The Queen’s Handmaid is a sort-of Biblical fiction novel. I say sort of, because it involves people in the Bible and elements of it, but the main plot & character are not real. The story starts in Cleopatra’s palace as she meets with Herod, who is unimpressed with her. Noticing that Herod seems to be impressed with her, and that Cleopatra dislikes her & is threatened by her beauty, she threatens to send her to Herod’s. A series of events occur that have Cleopatra out for her head and she clings to the hope that Herod may actually have use for her as a lady’s maid for his wife.

Before she flees, her mentor is killed, but not before making her a guardian of some secret scrolls about the Messiah that need to be returned to Jerusalem. The Queen’s Handmaid is the story of the servant girls journey to complete her mission while at the mercy of the political maneuverings of Herod, Marc Antony, Cleopatra, Octavius Caesar and the Hebrew Royal Family that Herod married into.

The Queen’s Handmaid was a positively fascinating book! I love history but don’t make the time to study it on my own. Historical fiction fills in a lot of gaps for me in that regard. One thing that I really enjoyed about the historical aspects of this novel was the section in the back where she led you through her thought-process in creating the story. It made it super easy to see where & how she took artistic license. I love that! She did a ton of research on the political climate which was awesome. I feel like I got a good history lesson, too.

I loved reading about the setting and the contrasts of all the different cultures–Greek, Roman, Egyptian & Hebrew–that clashed rather frequently. The manipulation & power struggles were not unique to this time period, but it somewhat explains Herod’s state of mind during the trials of Jesus. It’s interesting to contemplate. Tracy Higley did a great job with the description of the characters; I loved them all, and the struggles were believable. I also appreciated that she used God’s promises in an awesome and very Old Testament way. They were well placed. I wondered briefly how she would accomplish her goal and was caught totally off guard at the plot twist near the end regarding her family. The end was not as surprising because I had briefly wondered about it earlier but was swept up in the action of the book.

If you like biblical fiction, or want to learn more about Cleopatra, Marc Antony & crew, The Queen’s Handmaid is a fabulous read! It is one of those books that takes some time compared to its size, but every twist and turn is enjoyable. I highly recommend this book!

* * * * *

 Tracy L. Higley is celebrating the release of The Queen’s Handmaid with a fun giveaway.

Retailers + Resources gave it this glowing review: “Rich in historic detail, Higley’s vivid writing brings to life the plots and intrigues that swirled through the ancient world as alliances were built and broken on the calculated schemes of power-mad monarchs.” 

  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 19th. Winner will be announced April 21st on Tracy’s blog.


Don’t miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Tracy’s blog on April 21st to see if you won.


Good luck!

Jen S.

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