Book Review: Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore

For this installment of our book review, we take a peek at  the intrepid mouse, Maisy. Fans of Maisy will delight in her newest adventure at the local bookstore, which is very different from her experience at the library, by the way.  With bright colorful illustrations, this sweet little board book is perfectly sized and adorably written for its youngest fans between the ages of 2 – 5 years. Continue reading “Book Review: Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore

Book Review: Kate the Great and the Middle C Music Shop

book review

In this book review installment, we turn to  the first book in the Kate the Great picture book series, written by Wayne Bartholomew and Jaime Garcia.  If the rest of the books in the series are as interesting as this one, these are definitely some books to consider adding to your home library as more books in the series are released.

Continue reading “Book Review: Kate the Great and the Middle C Music Shop

Book Review: Giraffes Can’t Dance

Book Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In this touching and triumphant rhyme of a story, we meet Gerald, a giraffe who sadly believes what the other animals have always told him – that giraffes can’t dance.  His legs are too long, his neck is too skinny, and his knees are too crooked.

“Hey, look at clumsy Gerald,”
the animals all sneered.
“Giraffes can’t dance, you silly fool!
Oh, Gerald, you’re so weird.”

He leaves the Jungle Dance in utter defeat until his path crosses with an insightful little violin-playing cricket who offers a different perspective… and a solution.

“Excuse me!” coughed a cricket
who’d seen Gerald earlier on.
“But sometimes when you’re different
you just need a different song.”

 [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]book review[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The compassionate cricket begins playing his violin and suddenly, Gerald realizes… he is DANCING!  Soon the other animals gather round and witness the incredible transformation.  Animals who before scoffed and taunted are now applauding Gerald as the “best dancer that we’ve ever, ever seen!”  As Gerald finishes his dance with a flourish, he says, “We can all dance… when we find music that we love.”

In other words, we are all unique and have something special we can do – which sometimes is something that others don’t expect or think we can do.  But all we need is a little confidence and encouragement.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]book review[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With vibrant illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees and an engagingly lilting rhyme written by author Giles Andreae, Giraffes Can’t Dance engages the reader from the very first page and then tugs at the heartstrings because of the teasing and bullying that Gerald endures.  It’s available in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook formats. This is a lovely story not only to teach children the power of words, but also other important life lessons like helping others, kindness, resilience, acceptance, empathy, and compassion.


This review was contributed by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program has been making a difference in the lives of upstate South Carolina children and families for nearly 25 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Halloween Book Review: Bats in the Band

Halloween Book Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Bats in the Band, written and illustrated by Brian Lies, is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and is available in digital (free for kindleunlimited members), hardcover, and audio formats.


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Bats and Music – What’s not to Love?

This. Book. Is. Everything. Educational? Check. Fun to read? Check. Beautiful illustrations? Check. A fun story? Check. But it’s so much more. As Mr. Lies says, “Come on – look alive!”

This isn’t just a rhyming children’s book about bats. It’s a book about musical bats! Musical bats of all types…choir bats, a bat string quartet, country singing bats…blues, rock and roll, you name it. There’s even a bat paying bagpipes and a “one-bat” band.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]I[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Here's our one-bat band. Lies does make him look pretty tired while playing all those instruments!
Here’s our one-bat band. Lies does make him look pretty tired while playing all those instruments!

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Coming Together to Make Music

The Bats come from all over to make music in an old barn-like theatre. Vacated by humans, the bats take over late at night. I think my most favorite moment is when the bats are getting their instruments ready for the evening’s festivities.

Not every bat comes prepared, so Lies lovingly illustrates bats making due with various items – a spoon string bass, a comb harp, hairpin drumsticks, and even a straw for who knows what? Only the bat knows. This teaches kids that resourcefulness is a valuable skill to possess, and not just for bats! We in the Kindermusik world know you can make music with ANYTHING![/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Halloween Book Review
Music with spoons and straws, right along guitars and violins!

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Fun to Read, Fun to Listen, Fun to Look!

Lies provides a lyrical, rhyming text accompanied by fun illustrations that make the bats just a little less scary, even if it is Halloween. These flying creatures are often misunderstood, and Lies does much to normalize them! Bats in the Band is part of a series of Bat Books, including Bats at the Ballgame, Bats in the Library, and Bats at the Beach. As you might have guessed, we at Kindermusik are partial to the music-making bats![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Book Review – Fidget Wisely

Fidget Wisely

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Fidget Wisely: 10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness Skills to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still by Kirsten May Keach MA, MFT is available at your favorite local bookstore or online in both digital and paperback editions.


 

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A Wonderful Resource…

Does your child fidget? Perhaps he has a hard time sitting in one place. Let’s face it…we’ve all been there to one degree or another. Kirsten May Keach, a licensed family therapist has written the perfect book to help us help our kids develop mindfulness skills into their day to day lives. In the book’s introduction, Keach tells us the genesis of Fidget Wisely:

I had the privilege of working as a therapist in an elementary school. I very quickly had a full caseload of kids. Children were coming to my office frustrated and anxious… The conversations with teachers and administrators went something like this: “He/she is a smart kid with lots of potential but…he just doesn’t listen” or “She won’t sit still”… The conversations with parents began in a similar way… I call this the “He/she is a great kid, but…story.”

The story began to permeate my days. I was my job to identify and dissolve the “but” standing in the way of these kids and their success. What I found was that for the most part, these kids had poor emotional regulation skills. This means that they had difficulty managing their feelings and emotions.

I began to teach kids emotional regulation skills through mindfulness and yoga activities. I integrated the skills I learned living in a Thai Buddhist Monastery into my work as a therapist. I made all these skills kid-friendly.

The kids loved learning mindfulness skills. To my surprise, they caught on like wildfire.

– Kirsten May Keach, Fidget Wisely

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Unsure What Mindfulness Is? Keach Has you Covered

Before diving into the meat of the book, Keach provides the reader with a very clear definition of what mindfulness is. How can we help our kids attain this skill and state of being if we don’t know what it is? Put simply, mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding experience.”

She elaborates in plain terms, of course. You’ll have to buy the book to learn more![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Simple Flow, Easily Digested

Keach has organized her book into very easily followed instructions so that even the mindfulness newbie can take valuable information. She provides several craft activities, with detailed instructions, followed by information on how that craft can be used to help a child center themselves and find that elusive mindfulness. The first craft is a glitter jar, Keach’s version of a snow globe. Here, we create an object with the sole purpose to be touched, shaken, fidgeted with – but with the end game of providing a point of focus for the child.

Each section is formatted in a way that makes executing the craft or activity simple. For crafts, she provides a supply list and clear steps. There is also always a set of rules, that are both practical and humorous.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Book review
Keach’s instructions for a rice box. Remember, don’t eat the rice!

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Physical Activities

Keach provides many wonderful activities throughout the book, from breathing exercises to basic yoga poses for kids. Tips for teachers, information on set-up, and specific instructions are provided. This compact, affordable book provides several poses that are useful for children.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Book Review
Kirsten May Keach, MA MFT

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Fast Read, Helpful Content

We’re all busy people. This resource – a pragmatic and activity driven approach to helping kids develop mindfulness skills is quickly read and packs a great deal in a small package. Take a look, you won’t be disappointed. Oh! And if you are a kindleunlimited™ member, it’s free![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Children’s Book Review: Music Is…

Children's Book Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With its bright, colorful cover, Music Is…, wonderful board book, grabs your attention even before you even open it and read it. In many ways, it is a simple book with very few words on each page, but it is a wonderful teaching book – the perfect at-home library complement to the concepts children are learning and the musical styles they are being exposed to in Kindermusik class.

Each two-page spread is a contrast, which is perfect because young children learn best in contrasts. So just like Kindermusik introduces contrasting musical concepts and styles in class, Music Is… introduces contrasting concepts, moods, and styles, one concept per page, making it easy for young children to begin to grasp and for older children and adults to enjoy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is lo-fi and high-fi[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It teaches concepts such as…

music is quiet
music is LOUD

music is sad
music is happy

music is lo-fi
music is hi-fi
a capella
instrumental
acoustic
electric

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The really lovely thing is that as the book is teaching music concepts, it is also developing a basic music vocabulary for parents and children alike.  As the story unfolds, it is delightful to see children of all ethnic backgrounds making music and also playing with music.  There are instruments and music makers on every page.

It’s an entertaining read-aloud for younger children and an engaging conversation starter for older children.  For the sake of the non-musical adult, there’s even a basic glossary of musical terms on the very last page.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is one music is many[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The simple story line is enhanced by whimsical and interesting illustrations that explain what music is and explore how music makes us feel. It’s the kind of fun, feel-good story book you don’t mind reading over and over again…which is a good thing since it’s sure to become a family favorite![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At the end, the author brings it all together in this profoundly beautiful conclusion:

music is old
music is new
music is for everyone
music is for you

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music Is… by author Brandon Stosuy and illustrator Amy Martin can be found at your favorite local book seller or online in both physical and digital formats.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, has been a happy advocate for the benefits of music for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Book Review: Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schnachner

Book Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]How could you not love a book with a title character named Skippyjon Jones?! The adventures of Skippyjon Jones are a delightful series of books based on author Judy Schachner’s real-life Siamese cat.

Apparently, Skippyjon Jones is no ordinary pet. Because Skippyjon Jones is certainly no ordinary cat. And that’s precisely what makes the hilarious adventures of Skippyjon Jones so appealing and yet so relatable to adults and kids alike.

“Oh, I’m Skippyjonjones,
With a mind of my own,
And I’ll bounce on my bed for hours.
I know I’m a cat,
But forget about that…”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Book Review[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]The original story in the series, simply entitled Skippyjon Jones, introduces us to this uniquely lovable cat who has exasperated his mother who has to wake up Skippyjon Jones not in his bed, but in a bird nest outside. We immediately know we’re in for a lot of laughs as Mama Junebug Jones fusses at her little darling.

“No self-respecting cat ever slept with a flock of birds,” she scolded. “Or ate worms, or flew, or did his laundry in Mrs. Doohiggy’s birdbath.”

This is one of those rollicking read-aloud’s that draws you in from the very first page, keeps your attention all the way to end, and then makes you want to keep reading the next story in the series![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Skippyjon Jones waking up with the birds[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]From the way the words are laid out on each page to the colorful and whimsical illustrations, this book just makes you feel like becoming Skippyjon Jones as you read. You just can’t resist reading this book with drama, flair, and even adding in a song or two.

Preschoolers and big kids will especially love this story, and the others in the series because of the way the author invites you into Skippyjon Jones’s huge imagination, and the reader is delighted to discover a story within the story.

“With a walk into his closet, his thoughts took him down a lonesome desert road, far, far away in old Mexico…”

Oh, did I mention that the old Mexico part of the story line becomes possible because Skippyjon Jones is banished to his room after the incident with the birds?!

Skippyjon Jones embodies personality with a capital “P” – much like some of our own children. This story is not just fun for kids, it also helps adults discover all that there can be to appreciate and enjoy in a childhood filled with big imagination and creative play. It’s no wonder the book has won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award and why we wholeheartedly give it a two thumbs up.

Skippyjon Jones, written and illustrated by Judy Schachner and published by Puffin Books, may be purchased at your local bookseller or online at Amazon.com in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover formats.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case who has an award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, South Carolina[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]