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Entries in books (6)


Lessons to be Learned in Back to School series of Disney-Hyperion Books

I have been reading to the twins since there were just a few months old. For some reason it always calmed them. It was also something I could easily do with two children on my lap. What I love about children's books is that often, I learn something new.

Recently I had the opportunity to review some really cool children's books that the Disney Book Group put together as part of a Back to School Survival Guide. Here are the three books we reviewed and a little recap of what we all learned.

"Jack's Path of Courage: The life of John F. Kennedy" by Doreen Rappaport

JFK did not become a great president overnight. He was active in extra-curricular activities, he volunteered, he was a war hero, and a published author at a very young age. This book follows John F. Kennedy through his life so we see that sometimes a struggle can make us stronger...and maybe event President of the United States!

"OH NO! (Or How my Science Project Destroyed the World" by Mac Barnett

If the title doesn't grab you, the illustrations by Dan Santat most certainly will. In this story we follow a young girl who is retracing the steps she 'should' have taken when she was building her science maybe she should have given it ears, or the ability to feel pain. At the very least, it's important to have a back-up plan!

"Clementine, Friend of the Week" by Sara Pennypacker

Clementine is picked to be Friend of the Week so it's her turn to enjoy being line leader, collecting milk money, and getting a booklet in which all the other classmates write why they like her. Clemintine wants a booklet filled with compliments like her friend Margaret received. But what starts out as a great week, may turn out to be one of the worst and we learn that being a friend is not as easy as you'd think.

What are your kids reading since heading back to school?


Disclosure: I received review copies of these books from Disney-Hyperion Books. All opinions are my own and this review was not approved prior to posting. Some links are affiliate links.


Book Review: "Hear No Evil" by Matthew Paul Turner offers a fundamentalist spin on music 

I first learned about Matthew Paul Turner from his wife over breakfast at Blissdom '09. Jessica was telling me that he had written about his experience growing up in a strict fundamentalist Christian household and named the book Churched: One Kid's Journey Toward God Despite a Holy Mess .

Some of the stories she told me seemed crazy, until you realize this was his LIFE we were discussing. And, it was, well, funny!

Music is the work of the Devil

It's no surprise that Turner grew up NOT hearing most of the music we knew. Even popular Christian groups were frowned upon in his church. He also grew up in a world where people, even young kids and teens, received direct messages or callings from God to do things. Turner received the message that he was to be the Christian version of Michael Jackson. And when God speaks, his people listen. So what was surprising to me is that his parents let him attend university in Nashville to study music business.

A Mind of His Own

Hear No Evil: My Story of Innocence, Music, and the Holy Ghost is a collection of stories that made me laugh, raise my eyebrows a few times, and think about how music has moved me in life. Turner is open, honest, and in my mind brave to reveal how sheltered he was (the chapter Bubble Boy covers some of it) yet how he found his own beliefs and spirituality through music.

I learned more about the world of Christian music, the issue of singing to spread God's word - or for fame and fortune, and just how controversial Amy Grant really was. Turner's stories and observations give an insider's view of the contemporary Christian music scene filled with humor and an often uncomfortable honesty.

That honesty is what drew me in page after page. Now I can't wait to get my hands on Churched!

To learn more or to purchase this book visit Random House Inc.


Disclosure: I received the review copy of Hear No Evil at no cost from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. All views and opinions with regard to the product or company are my own and are not influenced, nor reviewed by the company prior to posting.


Review: The other Martha Goes to Washington for President's Day

Do you ever wish your pet could talk?

Tell you all about where they explored that day when you weren't with them? Maybe they could even help you get things done around the house (I'm all about a pet who could be useful)?

image of Martha Speaks via Amazon

This was on our minds when we came across the book Martha Speaks at the library last summer. This is the story of a dog who learned to speak after eating a bowl of alphabet soup and the Twofer fell in love with Martha right away (closest thing they'll have to a dog in a loooooong time).

Then one day last fall we saw Martha Speaks on TV! I love the fact that it's on PBS (no annoying commercials) and they love that it's fills them up with big words.

Martha Speaks big words around Washington

A 2-part episode of Martha Speaks airs tomorrow (February 15, 2010) to honor President's Day. Martha is called on by the president to help him find a dog fit for the White House. Martha will introduce words like "neighborhood", "debating", and "volunteer" which don't seem like very big words until you have to explain them to a 6-year old. Then, they are VERY difficult. Don't believe me? Go ahead, try it.

Yes, right now. In the comments leave me an explanation of what those words mean without using other, similarly 'big' words. It's not easy.

More new episodes of Martha Speaks plus books and an iPhone app!

You can bet I'll be recording all the new episodes of Martha Speaks that will air next week (Feb. 15-19) on PBS (check your local station listing for times) for the Twofer.

Also, a new series of Martha Speaks books is now available including picture books, early readers and chapter books. In addition to vocabulary, the books cover topics important to Martha including pet adoption and animal advocacy.

Need vocab on-the-go? Check out the Martha Speaks iPhone app that has 4 games to introuduct vocabulary words on the go.



Want to buy Martha Speaks books? I recommend these:

Disclosure: I received a package of Martha Speaks goodies (plush toy, screener copy, book, stickers) at no cost. My family was already familiar and a fan of Martha Speaks prior to being contacted for this review. Opinions expressed here are mine and were not reviewed nor approved by PBS or prior to posting.


Review: Creature ABC – An ABC Book That Will Look Great on My Coffee Table!

Creature ABC by Andrew Zuckerman NOT a children’s ABC book people.

I don’t know Andrew Zuckerman, but I know when you take such incredible photographs they should not be wasted on a book that will suffer torn pages, grease stains, and more from the hands of curious children. Or should they?


CREATURE ABC is a deluxe alphabet book that features 120 pages of Andrew Zuckerman’s breathtaking wildlife photographs. These photos are up close, and personal.  You can see the elephant’s eyelashes, you get a real sense for the majestic that is The Lion, and you appreciate the strange beauty of a vulture (yes, you read that correctly).

Each page holds another beautiful photos and in a way, I’m glad it’s only an ABC book and not riddles with lots of pointless words (words pointless?!??!)

See for yourself


Creature ABC

And, because this is a review I’ve got some Pros and Cons.

Creature ABC Pros


Kids LOVE looking at the photos over, and over, and over so I’m guessing it will help them learn their ABCs.


It’s a bit heavy so this is not one to toss in the diaper bag to look at during dinner or a doctor’s office.

The hard-cover coffee-table book (aka: deluxe) is a bit pricey ($19.00) for an ABC book.

What do you think of Andrew Zuckerman and Creature ABC?

Take a look and you tell me if this book should be given to children, or preserved for all art-loving adults to enjoy on my coffee table.


Product supplied by Chronical Books


Meet Authors David Shannon and Mo Willems here! (then at the National Book Festival)

I nearly peed my pants when I found out little old me would have the opportunity to interview two of my all-time favorite children's authors, David Shannon (No David!) and Mo Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus). They are just two of the authors scheduled to appear at this weekend's National Book Festival held on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

I knew they both had a sense of humor based on the books they write. So I emailed questions that I thought would be a) unique and b) fun to answer. When I received their responses I was chuckling out loud, and I hope you do to!

David Shannon - the REAL No David!

Image courtesy National Book FestivalTwoferMom: You wrote No David when you were 5. My 6-year-old has been writing books but they are mostly about animals and nature. Should I yell at her more so she has more angst and a better shot at being a well-known and published author?

DS: No, I would buy her some animals and yell at them.

TwoferMom: David always seems surprised to find out he’s in trouble. Is he just pretending?

DS: That's the sad part - he's really trying to be good. He just gets carried away by his own enthusiasm. One thing I heard a lot when I was a kid was, "You weren't thinking, were you, David?!"

TwoferMom: Have you ever had a bad case of stripes or did you ever fake being sick to stay home from school?

DS: I got hives on Halloween one year because I ate my entire bag of loot in one night. I was pretty good at faking illness. I used to hold my forehead next to my reading lamp before telling my mom I didn't feel well. The first thing she always did was feel my forehead to see if I had a fever.

TwoferMom: I know that kids often write to you. Is there a letter that stands out to you and why?

DS: I have a big collection of funny letters. One kid wrote me to explain why he was not going to name his book "Don't Put Your Finger Up Your Bottom" (His dad apparently didn't care for the title). Another told me he loved to draw rodents and sent me a picture of a "Giant Sewer Rat."

Mo Willems - The Pigeon Has a Blog?

Image courtesy National Book Festival

TwoferMom: Where did you get the idea for The Pigeon? (Because my experience has been the aggressive New York pigeons and frankly they just gross me out…but yours is cute.)

MW: Pigeon was born accidentally in Oxford, England where I was trying to write the “Great American Picture Book” (I was in Oxford because I hoped it would make me smarter). None of my projects were any good, so the Pigeon appeared in the margins of the sketches to tell me how bad they were. We’ve had a distrustful, symbiotic relationship ever since.
TwoferMom: Elephant and Piggy make me laugh out loud and I’m not afraid to admit that. Do they represent anyone in your life?

MW: The characters are based on an Elephant and Pig I knew in college.

TwoferMom: How did you get into blogging (or who made you)?

MW: That is a question I ask myself every morning before posting…
I suppose it’s an extension of my Sketchbooks; an opportunity to throw artistic spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks. Then again, it might just be a product of my enlarged ego.


So what would you have asked them?

Well, head down Saturday, September 26th for the  2009 National Book Festival on the National Mall and ask them in person!

Happy reading,