Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Annual Summer Giveaway Hop!

It's the annual summer giveaway hop!!! Thanks to I am a reader, not a writer, and Mary @ Bookhounds for co-hosting this event. 

This year, The Family-Ship Experience along with Family Reads will join the hop! This is an international giveaway so anyone can enter. However, if the winner resides in the US, they will also receive Family-Ship bookmarks as well!

I have a long list on my tbr list so instead of giving away a book, I will giveaway a $10 dollar gift card to either Amazon or Barnes & Noble that way you can get a book from your own tbr list :D

Rules for joining?

Be a follower (via GFC)
Leave a comment with your email and whether you are int'l or not

Easy Peasy!!! :) 

Now, you want to win some more awesome prizes? Then hop along and visit these other blogs in the Summer Giveaway Hop!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meet the Author Susanna L Hill

Meet children's author, Susanna L Hill. She is the author of 10 books! They include: Punxsutawney Phyllis, Taxi!, No Sword Fighting In The House, Not Yet, Rose, Airplane Flight!, Freight Train Trip!, Can't Sleep Without Sheep, April Fools, Phyllis! and The House That Mack Built. Don't forget to visit her blog too!

What is your favorite book?

Really, this is an impossible question.  I have been a voracious reader ever since I learned how (which was a bit late at 6 1/2 :))  I have favorites from my childhood and favorites as a grown-up.  I have favorite picture books, middle-grades, YAs, and adult books.  But for right this very second, I will choose Bedtime For Frances by Russell Hoban, Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff, and anything by Sarah Dessen :)

What is your favorite color?

I love most colors, so I'd like to pick rainbow, but that would be cheating :)  My favorite color is blue, with yellow and pink close behind.  If you want specifics, let me just pull out my Crayolas.... for blue, cornflower or robin's egg, for yellow, goldenrod or dandelion, and for pink, carnation, cotton candy, and magenta.  I really like the name of jazzberry jam though :)

What is your favorite writing spot?  

When I go on school visits, I always tell this story.  I started writing when I was about four, lying on the kitchen floor with scrap paper and a green crayon, asking my mom how to spell things while she cooked dinner.  Now that I'm grown up and have a house, I have an office of my own.  It has a desk, a printer, writing books and resources of all kinds, but where do you think I work?  Not in my office!  I still work in the kitchen.  I don't lie on the floor anymore, but I sit in the sunny spot at the kitchen table :)

Which of your book characters is your favorite?  

Another tough question!  I love all my book characters.  But I think if I had to pick one I'd pick Phyllis.  She is spunky and fun and has an unshakeable belief in herself which I admire.  (I confess, though, that I am currently writing a character I love as well - whether or not she'll ever see the light of day beyond my computer files remains to be seen :))

What is your favorite childhood memory?  

I am very lucky.  I had a wonderful childhood with so many great memories that I have lots to pick from.  But if I have to choose just one right now, I will say it was when I was about 5.  I had a bad dream that a GIANT bumblebee was coming to sting me.  He was huge - 3 times the size of my head! - and I could see his needle-like stinger coming closer and closer...  I woke up screaming in the dark of night, and it wasn't my mom who came to comfort me as usual.  My dad came in and sat on the edge of my bed.  He asked about the dream and I told him.  Then he rubbed my back and asked me what I wanted for my birthday (which was months away!)  "A pony!" I said straight off, and then went on to list other things, quickly becoming absorbed in what delights I could possibly want.  I fell asleep again, completely happy, comforted by his presence, with my mind full of birthday presents.  I have never forgotten that.  And I used the same method on my own children many, many times :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Say Something by Peggy Moss

Title: Say Something

Author: Peggy Moss

Illustrator: Lea Lyon

Publisher: Tillbury House, Publishers; April 1, 2004

Topic: Bullies, Assertiveness, Respect, School

Age: 5 and up

There is a kid in my school who gets picked on all the time. I think he is sad..... because he keeps his head down when he walks down the hall - and he hardly ever says hello. I don't pick on him. I feel sorry for him.

Summary: A child who never says anything when other children are being teased or bullied finds herself in their position one day when jokes are made at her expense and no one speaks up, not even her friends sitting near by.

At the back of the book there are discussion topics for both children who witness bullying and teasing and for the child being bullied and teased. It also has links for places where children can go to get help.

Check out the publisher's website for before and after discussion points, activities and games that promote anti-bullying and tolerance. It also helps children discuss ways to take a stand against those who bully and stand up for the bullied.

The Safe Schools Coalition website is LOADED with lesson plans that promote tolerance for elementary, middle and high schools.

ADL Curriculum Connections also has wonderful extension activities and discussion to go along with the book.

Why I like this book:
This book really hits home how bullying and teasing hurts kids and how it is able to keep going. Most children feel that if they don't bully or tease and that if they just feel sorry for the victims, then they have done their part. Say Something is a starting board for open discussions on how saying nothing is not the same as standing up for what is right. But say what? Many children are afraid to 'say' something out of fear of becoming the next victim of bullying. However, this story shows a very practical and safe way for children to help someone who is being teased or bullied. I also really like that it is written in first person from the point of view of a child who witnesses teasing and bullying then experiences it. It lends a more authentic voice to the story and character and allows children to better feel and relate to the characters. This is a must read and have in every home and classroom.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ramadan Book Features

Here are some wonderful books about Ramadan for children of all ages. Check out the review pages for educational resources to use with these books.

Check out my review here.

Check out my review here.

Check out my review here.

Teaser Tuesday (5)

Today's teaser is taken from Nabeel Akbar's book, Down the Hill We Go!

Book Description: The snow has fallen and the schools are closed. Jibraeel and Amanah can't wait to get to the park to enjoy all the exciting activities Winter brings! Written in a ryhming format for young Muslim children, Down the Hill We Go is a fun and adventurous book which children will enjoy reading again and again. It will also introduce your children to Islamic phrases such as Inshallah, Alhamdulillah, Subhanallah, etc.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 4: Iftar with the community

Today I was blessed to be able to break fast with the community at the Islamic School of Seattle, the oldest Muslim school in all of Washington! Unfortunately, the school had to close due to low enrollment and financial support. Alhamdulillah it was a nice event and I got to see a really good friend that I have not seen in so long!

Ahdan. Time to break fast.


After prayer, everyone got their food

Lots of sweets :D

Add caption

Masha Allah! Yum!

Meet the Author! Kelly Starling Lyons!

Meet children's author, Kelly Starling Lyons. Her mission is to transform moments, memories and history into stories of discovery. Her books include: One Million Men and Me (Just Us Books), and chapter book, NEATE: Eddie’s Ordeal (Just Us Books), Ellen's Broom (G.P. Putnam’s Sons.) and Tea Cakes for Tosh.

Today she will tell us all about her Fab Five!

Who is your favorite author? 

I love so many authors. It's hard to choose. My favorite author as a child was Madeleine L'Engle. A Wrinkle In Time did it for me. I was hooked. Today, I also count Jacqueline Woodson, Angela Johnson and Eve Bunting among my faves.
What is your favorite color crayon? 

Which of your book characters is your favorite? 

Tosh, the character in my forthcoming picture book Tea Cakes for Tosh (illustrated by E.B. Lewis, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons), holds a special place in my heart. That book was inspired by my relationship with my grandma. There's a lot of me in Tosh.
What is your favorite food? 

Another tough one. I enjoy so many foods.  One of the meals I can eat anytime is curried chicken with rice and peas, plantain and coco bread. I also love blackened or fried catfish, spinach pizza and Thai basil chicken.
Who is your favorite superhero? 

Wonder Woman was who I liked as a kid. I thought her tiara, invisible plane and magic lasso were super cool.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Good Deed Friday: Smile! It is sunnah!

Turn that frown upside down! There are so many reasons to smile! Make your day brighter as well as the person next to you. Spread the joy and smile today!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Author Interview: Asma Zaman

It is a pleasure to introduce a new author to you all, Asma Zaman, author of Grandpa and Grandma Come to Stay. 

Book Description: 
Grandpa and Grandma are coming to stay and Muhammed and Musa are so excited! Mommy and Daddy say the twins must help their grandparents. 
Why would grown-ups need any help? Can Muhammed and Musa really help Grandma and Grandpa?

Welcome Asma, please tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Asma Zaman I’m a London based Law Graduate and currently pursuing theoretical and practical qualifications as a Psychological Counsellor/Psychotherapist. My aspiration of becoming a writer began at a very young age but only became a reality as a consequence of a long term condition I was diagnosed with about 10 years ago.  From not being able to read and write, due to it effecting my neurological system, to now having my work published is a great feeling Alhumdolilah!  Now I actively raise awareness and provide support to fellow sufferers of M.E (Myalgic-Encephalomilitis (an auto-neuro immune condition)) and Fibromyalgia and their carers.

What were your earliest memories of writing?
I remember being one of those geeky children who, instead of going out and playing, would be sitting at their desk writing stories! Believe it or not I still have those stories I wrote all those years ago!!

What was your favorite children’s book growing up?
It had to be any books written by Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton.  My collection has now been passed down to my nieces and nephews and hopefully to generations to come! The older and dustier the book the better I say J

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
I think my love for writing came from reading so many books, and I have to thank my sister for encouraging me to read every night before I went to sleep (although half the time I had one eye open and the other closed!!)  But I have to say certain life changing experiences gave me the incentive to start writing ‘properly’.

What inspired you to write, Grandpa and Grandma Come to Stay?
Having been born and brought up in the west but from an asian background, the importance of helping your elders and showing them utmost respect and love was always instilled in me from a young age.  The same values are now being instilled in my neices and nephews so I really wanted to share these values to forthcoming generations.  And seeing the wonderful relationship my parents have with their grandchildren made me want to dedicate this story to them.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
The most difficult part has to be executing all your ideas down on paper.  Sometimes you have so much to write about and so many new storylines that in the end you’re so exhausted of thinking that nothing actually goes down on paper!! Usually at the end of a ‘writing session’ I have screwed up pieces of paper all around me but I do get there eventually Alhumdolilah!

What has been your most rewarding experience since being published?
Without a shadow of a doubt it has to be the moment when I received my book through the post and shared it with my family.  It’s a true blessing to have been working towards becoming a published writer for years…to then have something to show for it!!

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I study from home so depending on how my health is on the day I try to complete assignments, which can be so hard because you’re the only one that can motivate yourself to actually study! I enjoy cooking, baking, reading but most of all I love spending time with my nieces and nephews. 

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Alhumdolilah! (God be Praised) I haven’t had a bad review yet but if I ever did I think I would take it as ‘productive criticism’…as long as YOU know that you have tried 100% to please your readers the rest truly is in Allah swt hands J
I don’t tend to suffer from ‘writers block’ but I do suffer from ‘writer’s amnesia’!! ;-) On a more serious note I don’t think I know one writer that hasn’t’ suffered from ‘writer’s block’.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I really want the readers to appreciate the precious relationship between children and their elders, whether it is their parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents.  Most of all I want the children to come away learning with a smile!

How can your book be used in the classroom?
The book is a great way to build a solid foundation for young children to learn basic family values; the classroom is a wonderful place to explore these values with fellow peers and friends.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes I am working on several new books at the moment, for both adults and children, which I am really excited about!!  I am working on a collection of novellas and poetry in Urdu (which is my mother tongue) for adults and several more exciting children’s books… SO watch this space!! J

What author inspires you the most and why?
I honestly cannot think any one author who has inspired me.  However, I have met many wonderful people in my life who have inspired me with their strong faith and sheer diligence to survive through various trials and tribulations, we have so much to learn from these individuals!

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding writing schedules, goals, etc.?
I don’t discipline myself as much as I should, but that does have a lot to do with the way my health affects my day to day living, this means whenever I get the urge to write I write (even if it is at 3 in the morning!!).  But regardless of my situation I have never given up on setting goals because I truly believe, whether we succeed or not, we need something to work towards and sometimes it’s not about the destination but the journey we take along the way that holds the biggest reward!

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
The best way any child would learn anything is by exploring!  And it’s important to encourage children to read books that teach them morals and values, and ultimately this would give them confidence to be the best they can be as they get older.  The key is to have fun while you learn!!

What advice you would give to new writers?
As cliché as this may sound…never ever give up!! Writing is a form of expression so there is no end to what you can write about so start by writing about what you believe in and what you have experienced in life because no-one knows that better then you do!! 
Lastly, always keep a note pad and pen handy because you never know what or who will be your inspiration!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: The Busy Tree

Title: The Busy Tree

Author: Jennifer Ward

Illustrator: Lisa Falkenstern

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish Children's Books; September 1, 2009

Topic: Nature, Trees, Forest Animals, Ecosystem

Age: 4 - 8

I am a tree, a busy tree....... come and see.

This rhyming tale describes a busy day in a tree's life. From its roots to its branches and leaves, a variety of wildlife live in and around the tree making it their home.

Curriculum Connection
What Trees Provide
Tree Crafts

Why I like this book:
The illustrations of this book are just amazing! They are done in oil paints and are just breath-taking and very representational of the animals in it. This book would do really well with young readers as it explains the ecosystem of a tree. The text is very simple and done in rhyme as it introduces young minds to the importance of trees and how they affect the lives of all the creatures who live in and around them.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday (4)

Today's teaser is from the chapter book: Jannah Jewels: The Chase in China by Umm Nura

An Ancient Map.

A Golden Clock.

Restoring Peace on Earth.

In the second book of the Jannah Jewels Series, the girls are caught and thrown aboard the ship of Zheng He, the famous Chinese Muslim Admiral.
Caught in a lightning thunderstorm, they must sail in raging waters to retrieve a rare medicine plant.
Can the Jannah Jewels escape the fiery arrows of pirates and make it safely back home?

Suddenly, Khan entered the room. Jaffar quickly folded up the note and placed it into his pocket. 
Father cannot learn that I know about this, thought Jaffar.
"What happened here?" said Khan. 

Jasmin was right behind him, hiding behind his long robes.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Up, Down, and Around

Title: Up, Down, and Around

Author: Katherine Ayres

Illustrator: Nadine Bernard Westcott

Publisher: Candlewick; March 13, 2007

Age: 2 and up (But my one year olds love it!)

Topic: Vegetables, Opoposites, Healthy Foods, Gardening

In the dirt we'll dig a row, drop some seeds and watch them grow.

From seeds dropped into soil to corn bursting from its stalks, everything in this garden is on the move! Join in this rollicking good-time celebration of gardening.

Teacher guide for the book. One Book has a very extensive activity guide for a variety of age levels.
Kid's Wings has some fun activities and web extensions to go with the book.

Why I like this book:
A cute book that shows a garden come to life as children learn about a variety of vegetables, some of which grow above the ground, some underground and others still that grow around and around! Children are taken from the very beginning of planting seeds then watching as the plants grown to the finale, a fun picnic in the garden featuring the vegetables in the book. My toddler classroom really enjoys the book. It helps that I have the BIG book edition where they can see the wonderful details of the plants and bugs :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Old Treasures

As much as I love visiting the bookstore and checking out all the new titles being published left and right, there is nothing better than visiting a library and finding amazing and fun older published books. Even better than that (if that is possible), is finding these little treasures at a book sale or two for dirt cheap!

 A while back I heard about a school that was having a book sale. When the Barnes & Noble located next to my job moved (sniff, I’m still really upset about that) the store donated its entire inventory to the school. Well, the school to raise funds decided to sell the donated items. Naturally, families and students of the school got dibbs on the merchandise before the public. Picture books, MG and YA went really fast! 

The school went through their own library to add some picture books to the tables because they had none by the time they opened their sale to the public. I was a little disappointed (very disappointed actually) but as I rummaged through the pile my disappointment slowly faded away.  For twenty dollars, I walked away with an arm full of old treasures. Most, if not all, of the books were published pre-2000 era. But then life happened. I tucked the books under my desk and forgot about them until my niece's cats started eating at the bag they were in and reminded me I had a treasure trove of 'new' books to read. 

Yesterday I got a chance to go through the bag and check out my goodies. I am really glad I did not just walk out of the book sale as soon as I saw the pathetic picture book table! I sat and went through the books one by one, feeling like the young girl I was in my hometown library devouring all the picture books I could. Each book reminded me why I loved picture books growing up and why I still love them today :D

Oh, and I was extra happy to find Tiger's Quest in the mix of YA books that were left for only $2! I've been wanting it for a while but never wanted to pay the 17+ bucks for it and I could not find it at my library. All in all, I have to say I am one very happy happy camper :D

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Recommended Picture Book: Read for Me, Mama

Title: Read for Me, Mama

Author: Vashanti Rahaman

Illustrator: Lori McElrath-Eslick

Publisher: Boyds Mills Press; Feb 28, 1997

Topic: Reading, Literacy, Mother & Son relationship

Age: 6 - 10

On Thursdays, Joseph and his classmates went down the hall to the library. They sat at special library tables, on special library chairs, and they listened to stories. Joseph loved Thursdays.

Joseph loves to read. He wants nothing more than to have his mother read to him. But she can't. When his mother is finally forced to confront her inability to read, Joseph is right beside her on journey to literacy.

This story is about celebrating reading. Here are some activities that can be used in the classroom to celebrate reading.
Reading together: an activity guide for families.

Why I like this book:
A very sweet tale of a boy who loves to read books and wants more than anything for his mother to read to him. This story tackles the issue of adult literacy in a compassionate, warm and sensitive way. I enjoyed the love and connection between the mother and son. He is so sweet and caring and the mother, despite her busy schedule spends a lot of time with him. I really felt their bond. They are a low income, single parent home and as in many families like this, reading and education is not a priority for the parent. Mama has to work to take care of her child and put food on the table. Which is very unfortunate because not only does the parent miss out, it is devastating for the child's development and ability to learn. I felt really bad for the mother in this book but I also adored how much she loved and cared for her son. So much, that she faced her challenges head on and learned how to read.