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One Big Canvas Blog Tour: Review and Prize Pack Giveaway

Seeing storytelling as an effective way to get a message through to young children, the REED Foundation initiates the One Big Canvas book series to help promote understanding for individuals with autism. Learn about the first two books in the series and enter to win a wonderful prize pack!

My Review

In book one The Masterpiece, a team of paintbrushes gather together to create a masterpiece on a big canvas. Not all of them can stay focused though. For instance, Estelle can't help rocking back and forth and singing continuously with a single, low note; Byron keeps painting in circles; Lee suddenly loses control and starts screaming and spinning around, scattering paint all over the place. But no one makes a fuss or makes fun of them. Instead, the other members, under the leadership of Reese, come up with creative ways to support the special ones and make sure they feel like part of the team.

The second book The Molding of Clay follows the visit of special guest Clay to the art studio after the masterpiece is completed. Unaware of the unique makeup of the paintbrush team, Clay gets surprised and confused at first by some of the members, such as Paul, who seems unusually disturbed by loud sounds, and Jerry, who tends to repeat everything he knows about what he is passionate about. After being reminded to be kind and considerate, Clay quickly learns to play along nicely with his new friends.

Written in lyrical rhyming verse, both books feature whimsical illustrations characterized by rich vibrant colors, nuanced facial expressions and gestures suggestive of behavioral differences. The paintbrushes are easily distinguished by their differences in color, height, hairstyle, and initials inscribed around their collars. All these intriguing details help young readers follow the stories and feel connected to the characters.

The series does a stellar job of delivering the message about kindness, compassion, acceptance and teamwork. The stories not only help young readers understand that their autistic peers might act differently not because they are being naughty, but also show how we could help them make progress without hurting their feelings. I look forward to seeing more fun stories being added to this thoughtful, educational series.

About the Books

One Big Canvas: The Masterpiece

Written by Jay Miletsky
Illustrated by Luis Peres

Ages 3-9 | 24 Pages
Publisher: New Paige Press | ISBN-13: 978-0578496382

Join a spunky collection of paintbrushes as they set out to create a grand masterpiece.

When some of the brushes don’t cooperate, is it because they are misbehaving…or is there another reason entirely? In this story, young readers are introduced to some of the behavioral differences in their autistic peers.

Without ever mentioning any particular challenge or disability by name, this story helps children recognize and understand what autism is, and impress upon them the importance of showing kindness to those who are different, wrapped into a fun story with lighthearted, engaging characters.

They worked through the day, then stopped and admired,
the wisdom their now-painted canvas inspired:
their painting was perfect, It all meshed just fine,
with its colorful circles, and angry green line.
It was a true masterpiece, not one thing was wrong,
including the hum of their single-note song.

Order a copy on Amazon

One Big Canvas: The Molding of Clay

Written by Jay Miletsky
Illustrated by Luis Peres

Ages 3-9 | 24 Pages
Publisher: New Paige Press | ISBN-13: 978-0578496382

The brushes are back! Join Reese, Estelle and the rest of the gang in the art studio in another adventure as they learn the value of kindness and understanding.

When Clay comes to visit from the other side of the art studio, the brushes are excited to welcome their friend. But when a few of the brushes start acting differently, Clay needs to be reminded that it’s important to be accepting:

“Some brushes are different, so we like to remind,
it’s kind to be caring, so take care to be kind.”

Will Clay leave the brushes in frustration, or will he learn to mold his thinking as he comes to understand and accept that brushes have different abilities and challenges? Without ever mentioning autism or any particular disability, The Molding of Clay helps introduce children to the behavioral differences of their autistic peers, creating an opportunity for discussion. It helps teachers and parents impress upon them the importance of understanding, acceptance and kindness, through a fun, lighthearted story with quirky and colorful characters.

Order a copy on Amazon

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway (10 Winners!)

Sometimes our ability to do certain things is impaired solely by our fear for the possible negative consequences. Is there anything we can do to overcome that kind of fear? Check out Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut illustrated chapter book Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey and enter to win a harcover copy!

My Review

Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey is a delightful and relaxing short story centering around an 8-year-old Filipino American girl named Marisol and her best friend Jada. Marisol treasures the company of Jada for almost everything. But there is one thing she can't do together with Jada. She dare not climb the magnolia tree in her backyard because of her fear of falling. And that really bothers her. Although Jada never gives her any pressure, Marisol finds it hard to resist the temptation to join Jada up in the tree. Finally a new finding by Jada motivates Marisol to take baby steps to conquer her fear. "Hello, Peppina." That's how she greets the tree in both the opening and concluding chapters, but her feelings are never the same.

My favorite things about this book are the adorable characters Marisol and Jada and the admirable friendship between the two. Marisol is shy, sensitive, and afraid of getting hurt physically or emotionally. She is also an active, observant thinker gifted with vivid, and oftentimes hilarious imaginations. She likes to name things that have special meanings for her, including such non-living things as the fridge, the couch, the family car, the dishwasher and her stuffed animals. The names help her personify those objects and even talk to them.

Jada, by comparison, is more outgoing, outspoken, and courageous. She is also kind, considerate, and open-minded. While Marisol and Jada share a lot in common, they respect and appreciate their differences, which is the key to making their friendship last and grow. Besides, they trust each other, confide in each other, and stay honest with each other. Who wouldn't want friends like these?

The cute and childlike illustrations (done by the author) well complement the text by adding funny details to the story. Young readers are inspired to learn to face and overcome their worst fear, and to value family, friends, kindness and acceptance. The careful choice of language makes the book highly accessible to independent readers who start to make the transition from picture books to chapter books. It also works for younger children who love to bond with their parents through reading together.

About the Book

Ages 7-12 | 160 Pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books | ISBN-13: 978-0062970428

Introducing eight-year-old Marisol Rainey—an irresistible new character from Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling Erin Entrada Kelly!

Marisol Rainey’s mother was born in the Philippines. Marisol’s father works and lives part-time on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. And Marisol, who has a big imagination and likes to name inanimate objects, has a tree in her backyard she calls Peppina . . . but she’s way too scared to climb it. This all makes Marisol the only girl in her small Louisiana town with a mother who was born elsewhere and a father who lives elsewhere (most of the time)—the only girl who’s fearful of adventure and fun.

Will Marisol be able to salvage her summer and have fun with Jada, her best friend? Maybe. Will Marisol figure out how to get annoying Evie Smythe to leave her alone? Maybe. Will Marisol ever get to spend enough real time with her father? Maybe. Will Marisol find the courage to climb Peppina? Maybe.

Told in short chapters with illustrations by the author on nearly every page, Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is a must-have for early elementary grade readers. Erin Entrada Kelly celebrates the small but mighty Marisol, the joys of friendship, and the triumph of overcoming your fears in this stunning new novel for readers of Kevin Henkes, Meg Medina, Andrew Clements, Sara Pennypacker, and Kate DiCamillo.

Order a copy: Amazon | Bookshop

Cool Mama Chalcedony Stone Necklace Giveaway {Life's A Beach Giveaway Hop}

Mother's Day is right around the corner. Have you found the perfect gift to show your love for mom? How about a piece of jewelry that is not only beautiful but also represents appreciation for motherhood?

Take a look at this simple yet stylish Cool Mama Chalcedony Stone Necklace from Tough As A Mother, a mom-owned business based in Southern California. It would go well with any outfit, causal or formal, chic or classic. The use of blue chalcedony stone is meant to help the mom wearing the necklace stay cool and calm at all times, even under the pressure of motherhood, and even when things get messy or crazy.

Thanks to its calming effects, the chalcedony stone can help reduce fear, anger and doubt, improve communication, and find balance in life. Each Cool Mama Necklace comes on an 18" 14k gold-filled chain and is packaged in an elegant gift box.

Caroline and Mordecai the Gand Blog Tour: Review and Prize Pack Giveaway

Caroline and Mordecai the Gand is a middle grade fantasy written by USA Today bestelling author and cancer survivor Jeff Gunhus. Read about this unique novella and enter to win a wonderful prize pack!

About the Book:

Book Title: Caroline and Mordecai the Gand by Jeff Gunhus
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 186 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Literary
Publisher: Seven Guns Press
Release date: March 31, 2021
Tour dates: Mar 31 to May 11, 2021
Content Rating: PG: The language is G. There is one scene with the main character punches a bully resulting in a bloody nose. The emotional treatment of grief and the death of a loved one can be somewhat intense. Recovery and closure.

This novella was written by USA Today bestselling author Jeff Gunhus after he received a devastating diagnosis of state 3 cancer. The story is a message to his five children on how to deal with grief and a plea for them to grasp onto joy and love even in the darkest of times.

Caroline loses her spark. It takes a great adventure for her to find it again.

Caroline loses her father in a car accident for which she feels responsible. Consumed by grief, she has a difficult time readjusting to a world that has changed so dramatically for her. On the anniversary of her father’s death, a strange window opens in the middle of the small lake behind her house. She climbs up an old oak to peer inside, but falls out of the tree and discovers that the window also serves as a door into a different world.

Enter Mordecai the Gand, a mysterious traveler who befriends Caroline and promises to help her find a way back home since the window she fell through has disappeared. The two set out on a series of adventures that include visiting a tree village populated by a tribe known for eating travelers, running into a witch under a spell of her own making, hiding in a cave with a dragon encased in a wall of ice (prone to melting by campfire), all the while being pursued by a mysterious entity call the Creach which promises to devour Caroline and trap her in an eternity of despair.

As they navigate these adventures and this new world, Caroline slowly discovers that she is meant to help each of the characters she meets. As she battles internally whether to stay or return home to the sadness and grief waiting for her there, she must regain perspective and open her heart to the act of caring and to the joy of love itself. In the end, she must demonstrate great courage, loyalty, and caring as the plot unfolds, becoming the active hero of her own story.

My Review:

Experiencing the loss of a loved one can be extremely painful for a young girl. Thinking of herself as the one to blame for such a loss would be all the more devastating. Drowning in grief and guilt arising from the loss of her father, young Caroline becomes more cynical, rebellious, irritable and hostile to the world around her. No one seems to be able to understand what she is going through. One month after her dad's funeral, she manages to sneak away from her home and stumbles upon the portal to a magical world, where she meets a mysterious nomad called Mordecai the Gand. A series of unusual adventures start to unfold as Caroline tries to find her way back home with the help of Mordecai the Gand.

The book is an intense, emotional read that is also uplifting and thought-provoking. With extensive and highly engaging descriptions of the protagonist's inner struggle, the story delves into the complexity of grief and the challenges associated with recovery and closure. Its artful mix of reality, fantasy, mystery, and humor encourages the reader to stay positive, to regain inner peace and strength, to find purpose, joy and love in life, and to battle adversities with great courage. It offers a more in-depth view about the underlying causes of bullying. Although written with middle graders in mind, the book is inspiring for older readers as well. Highly recommend!

Order a copy: Amazon | Audible

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