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.


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.

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.

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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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Children’s Picture Books for Women’s History Month

There are lots of wonderful children’s picture books about wonderful women to consider reading during National Women’s History month.  I have chosen just a few which was actually very hard to do.  I made a very long list but in the end these were the ones that came to the top of my list.  Some are about women who young girls will know or have some connection to by what they like themselves.  Some feature current role models.  They reflect some of the diversity of our nation. 

I am a big believer in reading with children and I love well illustrated picture books.  They add so much to the story and give us lasting images that compliment the written word.  These picture books do just that.  They expand our minds as each of these stories should. 

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Perhaps your whole family enjoyed the movie.  The stories of the contributions of Mary Jackson, Christine Darden, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughn to NASA’s early success are complimented by Laura Freeman’s bold illustrations. Adults and children alike will enjoy this remarkable story and the striking illustrations.

Sonia Sotomayor A Judge Grows in the Bronx

This bilingual book tells the story of how Sonia Sotomayor persevered to become the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court justice. Although Sonia came from a poor family, she worked hard and graduated at the top in her class. The lively commentary and warm illustrations make this a very compelling book for young girls. 

Miss Moore Thought Otherwise by Jan Pinborough

American children couldn’t always borrow library books. Well, Anne Carroll Moore thought they should be able to. This is the true story of how Miss Moore created the first children’s room at the New York Public Library, a bright, attractive room decorated with artwork. Here is where children first had their own library cards and could borrow books themselves. If you and your children enjoy the children’s room at your local library you will enjoy this story and the lively illustrations which bring this story to life.

Here Come the Girl Scouts by Shana Corey

This book details the history of the Girl Scouts and the organization’s founder, Juliette Gordon Low. With a passion for adventure and doing service for others Juliette Low founded the Girl Scouts with the belief that girls can do anything. Girls who are in the girl scouts will enjoy this book.

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan
This is a wonderful story for older girls and their Moms and grandmothers to enjoy together.  It is about how two very serious and accomplished women had the equivalent of a Ferris Bueller’s day off.  Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt (you don’t find more serious people than these two) sneak away from a White House dinner party for an aerial adventure.  It is 1933 and aviation is nothing like we know it today! They commandeer a plane and fly from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore! The pencil drawings give this book the feel of a vintage movie.  The book provides an excellent backdrop for a discussion about two important women in history. 

All of these books are readily available online and many are probably in your local library.  Grandparents, Parents, Aunts, Uncles and Friends – Start a tradition a read a good book about women every March….or maybe every month!

Please share with us in the comments your favorite books about women.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

Major Anniversaries for Sesame Street, Barbie and Madeline

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Whenever a favorite character has a big anniversary year, there is sure to be special toy editions to celebrate and they are always showcased at Toy Fair.  Here are some favorites from Toy Fair NY this year.  These are my own photos so they may have other stuff in the background – but hey they are my actual pictures not a perfect but sterile shot.

Sesame Street’s 50th Anniversary celebrated by Gund

Sesame Street is pulling out all the stops to celebrate its 50th anniversary and Gund is joining in the celebration with these items.

Happy Birthday Elmo by Gund
Sesame Street Best Friends by Gund

Barbie’s 60th Anniversary celebrated by Mattel

Barbie turns 60 this year and my she is well preserved – she doesn’t age at all!  This is the 60th Anniversary Collector’s model and for her diamond anniversary she is wearing a “diamond like” sparkly gown.  Her hair is in a beautiful dress up ponytail and her bright red lipstick and earrings complete the look.  The $60 price tag includes a certificate of authenticity.

Barbie 60th Anniversary Collector Model by Mattel
Barbie’s 60th Anniversary celebrated by Ravensburger
I know there are lots of Grandma Barbie fans and for those of you who also love doing jigsaw puzzles this is a must have puzzle.  This 1000 piece puzzle celebrates some of Barbie’s classic collector models.  I will let you know when it is available later this year.

Barbie 1000 piece Puzzle by Ravensburger

Madeline’s 80th Anniversary celebrated by Yottoy

Can you believe that Madeline is 80 years old this year? I remember discovering Madeline in the local library as a child and I loved this book.  So did lots of other little girls as this was a well used book in our library.  Then I bought Madeline books for my daughter and she loved them too.  Yottoy specializes in toys to compliment children’s favorite books.  Madeline, Genevieve (my Mom's middle name) and this cute tea set are perfect gifts to celebrate her 80th year.  The tea set is a little pricey but the cloth tablecloth and napkins with the M monogram....24 pieces in all....lots of imaginative play value.

Madeline and Genevieve by Yottoy
Madeline Tea Set by Yottoy
What are your favorite stories about these characters?  Please share in the comments. Lots more posts about Toy Fair in the coming weeks.  Subscribe to the blog and like The Grandma Chronicles on facebook so you don't miss anything. 

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Monday, January 28, 2019

2019 Newbery and Caldecott Book Winners

Children love books that feature popular characters and that is just fine.  I also like to introduce children to books that are beautiful and books with a story to remember - future classic children's books.  Books that don't get tossed in the giveaway pile but are one of those few special ones that get kept and then read with a future generation.

Which books may fall in that category?  Who better to ask than a very large group of librarians.  Each year the American Library Association selects the Newberry and Caldecott awards.  These books are usually extraordinary.

These awards were announced today at the Annual ALA Conference in Seattle.  Looking for a really good book for a child - you can't do any better than on of these.

The John Newbery Medal is for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
Merci Suárez Changes Gears, written by Meg Medina, is the 2019 Newbery Medal winner. The book is published by Candlewick Press.
Merci and her brother are scholarship middle school students at a private school and they deal with the cultural difference issues along with all the standard middle school issues. The multigenerational family dynamic adds to the story. This book gets great reviews and should be enjoyed by middle school aged kids.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
Hello Lighthouse, illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall, is the 2019 Caldecott Medal winner. The book is published by Little, Brown and Company. 
This is one of those beautiful picture books that people of all ages - from young children to adults - will love to get lost in and let their imagination seize the day.  My favorite kind of book - this one will not be destined for the giveaway pile.  Whether it is a sunny summer day, time for conjuring up dreams at bedtime, or a foggy Saturday afternoon, this will always be the perfect book to cuddle up with. 

Both of these books are available at Amazon.  Click below to check them out.