Sunday, October 25, 2020

The World Needs More Purple People

This summer I attended a virtual event – BabyBoom and I received a big box of samples. In the box were two beautiful books published by Random House and today I am sharing my opinion about the World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart. 

First let me say that I am certainly not the only one who enjoyed this book . It is a #1 New York Times Best Seller and with over 4000 reviews on Amazon it is rated five stars. That’s a wow in case you didn’t know it.  
One of my favorite things about this book is that grandparents are well featured – and not just as tottering old people.
The other illustrations highlight fun and inclusiveness throughout the book.

The book is a joyful, colorful well illustrated romp about the things that make us better humans. This illustration at the end of the book that wraps up the messages also is a great “word description" that accompany the great illustrations.

Final comment - If your grandchild's favorite color is purple, this book is a must!

You can order this book at Amazon here: 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Halloween in Pandemic Times

Just like celebrating everything else this year, Halloween will be quite different than usual. This is the first big holiday that is very kid centric and there is a wide variety of opinions on what is okay. In many areas trick or treating and parties are completely out. There are still some "normal" things happening but under the "new normal" rules. All of this is tough for parents to navigate - and also for grandparents. Here's the first rule - support whatever plan the parents plan to follow and see where you can fit in. 

Maybe pumpkin picking with a hayride didn't work out this year so take a look at some of the other opportunities. There are parades, Jack-O-Lantern and other Halloween drive by opportunities. There are some 25% full hayrides and reservation only corn mazes. Our local nursery always has a small live farm animal area this time of year and young grandchildren can take a nearby short, uncrowded visit. This year our town is having a home Halloween decoration contest and this will provide a fun at home Halloween activity. The good thing about all of these activities is that they are outdoors. If you are able to quarantine with your grandchildren consider baking something special to celebrate Halloween - candy apples or pumpkin cookies sound like a good Halloween treat.

What about trick or treating. That is certainly more complicated and will vary depending on where you live. In our town we can have it, but no common bowls and you must have social distancing. I am thinking about setting out a table at the end of our driveway with small individual bags pre-filled. I know there will be less kids than the huge number our block usually attracts. I don't know what any of our neighbors plan to do and I am undecided. One thing is for sure - it is not too early to think about it. 

None of my grandchildren will be trick or treating but they all have costumes ready to go. There will be Halloween pictures! The little ones will go on a plastic egg filled Halloween hunt in their backyard. My older grandson can expect to find a bag behind each of five doors. Three of them will have his favorite candy and two of them will have a small non-candy gift. I have books - one a traditional one I have read with my older grandson for several years and one I am ready to pass along to my young grandchildren. I am lucky enough to be able to see my grandchildren during the pandemic and have had some school assistance responsibilities too. 

Normally I follow the Teal Pumpkin plan and offer some nonfood options. If I do trick or treating, there will be nonfood options on my table. Playdoh, stickers and Halloween pencils will be choices. But they will be in separate clear bags. 

What are your plans? Please let us know.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

100 Ways to Be Thankful Plus a Giveaway


I am delighted to recommend 100 Ways to be Thankful by Lisa Gerry.  This National Geographic for Kids publication is aimed at middle school age kids. 

I like this book on many levels. November is a perfect time to think and talk about being thankful.  This can be hard to do with middle school age kids but this book presents the topic in a way that will connect with them. There are literally 100 great ideas on ways to be thankful and each one is presented in a crisp, colorful summary.  The best way to show you what I mean is with pictures of some of the pages.


Some of the ideas deal with attributes like curiosity, and imagination.  






Some honor interests in subjects like science and art. 




  

Some encourage kids to appreciate family and friends.








My favorites ideas are those that encourage actions like volunteering, introducing yourself to new kids, and practicing random acts of kindness.

Like many middle school age boys, reading is not a favorite pastime for my grandson.  One of the many things I like about 100 Ways to be Thankful is that each idea has a brief summary and it doesn’t require a lot of reading to “get it.”  This may be an excellent resource for writing a required paper too.

I am very happy to be able to offer a copy of this book as a giveaway compliments of National Geographic.  Also you can order a copy at Amazon  - it is quite a bargain!  Just click on the icon below to go directly to Amazon.






Giveaway Details


One lucky winner will receive a copy of 100 Ways to Be Thankful.

It is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email me with your email address at  marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.
Two ways to win:
Leave a comment here on the blog
and/or
Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page - click here
You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: November 17, 2019 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only.
Full Disclosure:  This review is my own objective opinion.  I did not get paid to write this review.  I did receive a copy of the book in order to complete the review.


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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Grandma's Holiday Gift Guide for Babies and Toddlers plus a Giveaway



There are lots of holiday toy guides this time of year but mine is unique.  This is a guide from a grandmother’s perspective

I saw all of the items on this list at Toy Fair NY.  None of these reviews are based on receiving a free sample or compensation.   I recommend only all high quality items that I think your grandchildren will enjoy. Yes, some have educational and developmental value but will children enjoy them is the main criteria for making my list. 

And… there are some that you will enjoy playing with the grandkids.  This is how items make it on my lists. Oh and the bonus - none of the items on this list are budget busters - almost all of them are under $20.

All of these pictures were taken by me at Toy Fair – none are stock photos.  That is why they are less than perfect with other stuff in the background, but they show the real deal.

My first list is for infants and toddlers.  The bonus is that one of these items is a giveaway.  See the details to enter the giveaway.  The giveaway is easy to enter and not complicated - I promise. Check back soon for two more posts for older kids.

All of these items are available on Amazon for easy shopping.  See the links at the end of the post.


First Words Tot Tower by eeboo   - The Giveaway Feature

The First Words Tot Tower is the giveaway compliments of eeboo.  See the details to enter at the end of the post.


Some toys are timeless and are enjoyed generation after generation.  These sturdy tower nesting blocks are a classic toddler toy.  I remember them being a favorite for my kids.  The graphics are bold and colorful.  This low tech simple toy is full of learning opportunities for a toddler and most importantly will be enjoyed – really important to grandparents.  And if you still able and willing to get down on the floor Grandma, it is fun to play with your grandchild.  Kids enjoy playing with it as they grow and can reach higher and higher to complete the tower.  

Books for children at every age are favorite gifts for me. Check out the board books by eeboo also shown here in this picture taken at Toy Fair NY.  They feature bright colors and simple themes. 

The eeboo booth is always one of my favorites to visit at Toy Fair.

Plush Princess Noa Snuggler by Douglas



All babies like to grab onto little snugglers and if you are shopping for a newborn you can’t go wrong with choosing one.  I particularly like this one because babies like to grab onto the satin finish which this one has and the character doubles as a doll rather than an animal. Babies seem to get more than their share of stuffed animals.  And so,  this one is a little different – and oh so cute and cuddly.

Best Friends Bert and Ernie by Gund


This pair are only 4 inches tall each so they are the right size for very young children. They can easily be held by a baby or toddler. Also, they don’t have removable eyes and so they are safe for babies and toddlers to play with. Bought together they are a bargain for name brand characters and Gund always has quality made products.

Animal High Rise by HABA



This 15 piece building toy has a little twist.  Each block has unique edges so it will take a toddler a while to figure it out.  When completed it forms an “animal high rise with colorful animals peering out the windows.  HABA is well known for these creative building sets for toddlers.  This may not be the last one you buy.

Snug Up Dolls by HABA



The snug up dolls come in different sizes – 8 inch to 12.5 inches so make sure you are aware of this before ordering online.  These soft dolls are washable and feature embroidered facial features.  The outfits are removeable but the shoes are on the fabric.  There are quite a few of these dolls available at Amazon so check them all out.  They have different expressions and hair color and there are a some boy models too.  As always, HABA makes a quality product.


Woodland Friends Puzzles by Orange Tree Toys


These sweet wooden puzzles featuring a rabbit, an owl and a fox are each only three pieces so they make a perfect first puzzle.  The toddler can begin with just three pieces for one puzzle and then you can set out the nine pieces to make three puzzles.  My guess is that many of the toddlers you know have rabbit, owl and fox stuffed animals and so don’t be surprised if they are present when these puzzles are put together.

Toy Story Train by DUPLO
















This 21 piece Toy Story train featuring Buzz Lightyear and Woody will be a hit with toddlers whether or not they are Toy Story fans. But with Toy Story 4 now available it is sure to be a winner. If there are older children in the house then this may be a magnet to play with a younger sibling.  This colorful set is easy to put together and what toddler doesn’t love trains.  Oh, and for those of us who are a certain age, Christmas and trains go together.



Giveaway Information
One winner will receive a First Words Tot Tower by eeboo.

The hallmark of The Grandma Chronicles giveaways is that it is easy to enter and there are two ways. Both ways count as an entry so you get two entries if you do both.  I need to be able to contact you if you win. If you enter -  email your email address to marion@grandmachronicles.com.  I will not use your email address for anything except to notify you if you win.  Grandmother’s Honor.

Two ways to win:

Leave a comment here on the blog
and/or
Like The Grandma Chronicles facebook page  - click here.

You can have two entries by doing both.  Deadline to enter: Thursday, November 14, 2019 at midnight. This item can be sent to US addresses only.



Full Disclosure:  The reviews in this article are my own objective opinion.  I did not get paid to write these reviews, I did not receive free samples nor do I have a sponsorship/ambassador relationship with any of these companies.

All of the items in this holiday guide can conveniently be ordered from Amazon.  Just click on the icon below to go to Amazon.



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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

When Pencil Met Eraser - A Good Back to School Book

When Pencil Met Eraser 
Story by Karen Kilpatrick and Luis O. Ramos, Jr.
Illustrated by German Blanco


When Pencil Met Eraser

It is Back to School season and this book seems like the perfect fit for it.  When Pencil Met Eraser is a delightful picture book that is probably best enjoyed by children ages 3 - 7.  There aren't a lot of words but it has delightful pencil drawings, humor and an excellent message that is embedded in the story of  how teamwork leads to a win-win.  Based on my experience with reading at bedtime with my kids long ago, this book has that feel of one that will be requested that you read over and over and will essentially be memorized.

As I read the book myself I realized that I was smiling at the illustrations.  The black and white pencil drawings with the yellow pencil and pink eraser are real attention getters.

Here is one of my favorite two page spreads...



And this page is said to be A-MAZE-ING!



When Pencil Met Eraser is available on Amazon and I recommend it.  It is quite a good read.  What is best - the adult reading it will enjoy it too and not fall asleep while reading.



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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Remembering Woodstock - Here's a Guitar for the Young Grandkids

Even if you didn't attend, are you remembering Woodstock today on the 50th anniversary of this musically historical event.  Here is a commemorative item for children which grandparents can share their memory with.  I took this picture at Toy Fair NY in February with the intention of sharing it today.  So glad I remembered.

The Flower Power Guitar by Hape


The Flower Power Guitar by Hape



This 26 inch - top to bottom - guitar is designed for 3 to 6 year olds.  It was designed by Hape to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.  Note the flowers, the peace and love themes, and the vivid color popular in the late sixties.

It is available at Amazon.



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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Books for Graduates - Kindergarten to College

It is graduation season and that means finding the right gift for the occasion.  Here are a few books that will make the perfect graduation gift.  Check out my recommendations - something for Kindergarten graduates and college graduates too.


Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss




This book has been the classic gift for graduation whether it be Kindergarten or College since it was first published in 1990.  It is also a retirement gift favorite.  Along with the famous Dr. Seuss rhyme and silly illustrations it extols the joys of what lies ahead.  A must read for life transitions to lift your spirits and face the road ahead with positive vibes.


The Night Before Kindergarten Graduation by Natasha Wing  Illustrated by Amy Wummer

This is a newly published book which describes the preparations the night before Kindergarten graduation.  It is patterned in rhyme after Clement Moore's famous Twas the Night before Christmas.  It is a perfect book for children who are approaching kindergarten graduation.  And for someone who will be starting Kindergarten there is also The Night Before Kindergarten.

The Freshman Survival Guide: Soulful Advice for Studying, Socializing, and Everything In-Between by Nora Bradbury-Haehl and Bill McGarvey



This is an excellent graduation gift for someone graduating from high school.  It provides excellent advice on all the things that freshmen need to navigate as they start their college life.  The best part is the quotes by other students so the graduates get to see what people who speak their own language have to say.


Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg

This is an excellent book for college graduates as they begin their journey in the workforce. Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook and other experts provide advice about resumes, interviewing, negotiating salary and "owning who you are."  Great resource for people starting out on their careers.

She Believed She Could So She Did (mini book) by Kathy Weller


This mini book is a sweet token gift or and added item in a gift basket with miscellaneous items.  It is filled with inspirational quotes.  Perfect for a young woman graduating from high school or college.  woman graduating from high school or college.

All of these books are modestly priced and available at Amazon.  Click on the icon below to go to Amazon.

 


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Monday, April 8, 2019

Four Toy Trends in 2019



Every year after I attend Toy Fair NY people ask me what are the trends for this year.  Here is my take on the trends for 2019.  After the summary I will provide some examples.

1.   Sequins! Sequins Everywhere – Every company making plush is featuring flappable sequins and even Crayola has a sequins craft set.

2.   Collectibles continue to rule – Toy companies love this idea – why sell one of something when you can sell 24 or more of them. Oh and kids love this stuff.

3.   STEM ideas continue to be incorporated into many toys and many toys that really have no stem value are being labeled stem.

4.   Dolls – I saw fewer dolls on display this year. I think there may be a conscious effort to reduce emphasis on dolls for girls.  But I still love the dolls….

Check out the Amazon links at the end for some "trendy" Easter basket ideas.


Sequins

Ty product line display with sequins.
Ty had a series of fashion shows featuring their sequins product line and 
they always drew a crowd.

I was surprised to see that almost every company featuring plush had some items loaded with sequins. This isn't the kind that unravels easily creating a big mess.  This is durably constructed "flappable" sequins. At first I didn’t take pictures because I wasn’t interested in them but finally I realized I had to because this would be such a big thing this year.  Personally, I like the idea of a plush toy that can be thrown in the wash or put in a small child’s mouth.  But guess what?  Older kids like plush too and they are very attracted to the sequins.  The biggest purveyor of sequins is TY.  Yes, the maker of the Beanie Babies.  Well they aren’t just about that anymore.  The sequins items included headwear, footwear, backpacks and more.  In fact, Ty had overflow crowds at their fashion shows with kids all decked out in this stuff.  Here is a display picture and a fashion show picture at the TY booth.

Collectibles
Kids love collectibles and so do toy companies. Toy Fair had lots of collectible lines on display.  Some of my favorite collectibles are made by Moose.


Whether or not the kids in your life collected Pikmi Pops they are sure to hear about and want the new Pikmi Pops DoughMi.  These smelly, yummy looking doughnut shapes open and out pops a cute, soft, dough like plush toy.  The come in three sizes plus a surprise pack that has an additional surprise in the doughnut hole.  This sure looked like Grandma gift stuff to me.  Girls and boys will both be interested in the new Pikmi Pop DoughMis.

Lots more on collectibles in posts to come later.

Stem Toys
I totally support the concept of toys with STEM learning.  In case you didn’t know , I have a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering. Toy companies love this idea too.  They will label anything they can by any stretch of the imagination as STEM. For infants – it has numbers – it is a stem toy.  There some really excellent STEM toys in the mix but you can’t just go by the label.  Thames & Kosmos, known for chemistry sets have some fantastic sets including ones featuring modern science topics such as robotics and solar energy.  


Learning Resources Beaker Creatures line will be lots of fun while learning a little chemistry.  The live demos at Toy Fair were a big hit.

This Space Circuits set from Educational Insights is a great way to teach a child electricity concepts.  It reminds me of the circuit my electrical engineer husband made on a piece of wood with our kids – back in the pre-stem dark ages.

Dolls
It just seems like less dolls this year – still plenty but not what is the big featured items.  I still love them at will write about them in a future post.

I will be writing more throughout the year about all these topics so subscribe to the blog now.  What kinds of toys are you interested in?  Leave a comment.



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