Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Cast Hawaiian Newcomer in “Moana”


  My daughter and I have seen previews for the new Disney Animation Studios' movie "Moana" had loved what we saw!  I loved how funny the demi-god Maui is and the animation is gorgeous.  I mean it is set in the Pacific Islands so I guess it would be breathtaking scenery.  It is always fun to hear the backstory of the characters and the actors who play them.  Come meet Hawaiian newcomer Auli'i Cravalho! Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana” has found her voice following a worldwide search to cast the film’s title character. Native Hawaiian newcomer Auli’i Cravalho, 14, joins Dwayne Johnson in the big-screen adventure about a spirited and fearless teenager named Moana (voice of Cravalho) who, with help from demi-god Maui (voice of Johnson), sets out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder. While hundreds of talented people from across the Pacific Islands were … [Read more...]

In the Spotlight :: Author Chris Pedersen


Today I am writing about one of my favorite authors!  We met through the app world  a few years back and Chris is one of those people who really works hard at providing quality storybook apps and books.  She is also a big supporter of other authors and is always willing to help out a fellow author!  She is the author of the popular The Prisoner of Carrot Castle and recently released a new Middle Grade chapter book Ethan Blecher Braves a Bully for children who can read on their own but not quite ready for the larger Middle Grade chapter books.  It is the perfect book for this in-between stage.  She says it is geared for children ages 5-8 years of age and is about a boy, Ethan, who stands up to the local bully.  Bullying is a something that most of us had experienced in some form in grade school and I think it is such an important life lesson to teach our kids how to handle this … [Read more...]

Robot Turtles: The Computer Coding Board Game for Kids

robot turtles

My kids and I are wiggling turtles and beeping a lot around here lately. Nothing you should be worried about though; it’s all part of the board game Robot Turtles. This super-cute game was the most backed board game in Kickstarter history and teaches kids computer coding skills without a computer. How is that possible? Well, it’s easy – the goal is for Turtle Masters (the kids) to move their turtles from their starting position to their jewel. In order to do that they have to write code or, play cards showing directional movement, to get their turtle from Point A to Point B. Start With the Basics The game teaches the foundational skills of movement and code writing, using forward movement and left and right turns. Turtle Masters must pick a card showing the movement they want to make to move their turtle closer to the jewel, then lie their cards in a line as they move through the … [Read more...]

Jimmy Osmond of the Osmond Family and Children’s Author


      When Regnery Kids contacted me about reviewing Jimmy Osmond's children's book Awesome Possum Family Band I jumped at the chance.  I use to watch The Osmonds on TV and loved the Donny & Marie show so much. I was so enthralled with the crew, my mother had a friend who worked with them over at ABC (remember back in the day when there were only 12 stations?) and was able to get a signed photograph of them.  I can still remember how excited I was and the autographed photo was my prized possession for years! Talk about memory lane!  Jimmy is the youngest of the Osmond Family and shares his personal story of finding his special talent to bring to the Osmond Family band. As the youngest, Jimmy reached out to his older siblings to dabble in their special talents, but with no luck in finding his own. With the help and patience of his Mother, Jimmy was able to … [Read more...]

In the Spotlight :: Mary Kole of Kidlit


    A few years ago I was introduced to Mary Kole at a Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators function. She had just graduated from college and was working as an Associate Agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.  Mary spoke to a room of children's writers about the children's book industry and what changes she saw within the industry and what we could do to get our work noticed and published.  She was very dynamic and you could tell she was going places!  Fast forward a couple years, and she now runs a website Kidlit.com that has inspired thousands of aspiring writers with articles on the writing craft and getting published. Writer's Digest named one of the “101 Best Websites for Writers”  every year since its inception in 2009, and her success online led to a book on the art of writing novels for teens: WRITING IRRESISTIBLE KIDLIT, out now from … [Read more...]

The Helpful Honda Guys Celebrate Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week


Teacher Appreciation Week was held during the week of May 5-9th.  I had my daughter bring some flowers and a card as a little token for our thanks! Both her reading teacher and First grade teacher have done a wonderful job in teaching her basic math and reading skills.  What an amazing job they have - to help mold little minds!  I appreciate the hard work teachers do and I love that Honda, specifically the Honda Guys in Blue celebrate and honor outstanding teachers! The SoCal Honda Dealer's Helpful Guys in Blue  surprised winning teachers of the 2014 Helpful Honda Teacher Appreciation Awards last week with their personal wishlist of over $25,000 worth of teaching materials, art supplies, iPads and other technology while in their classrooms or during school assemblies to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week over May 5-9th. The Helpful Honda Guys kicked off their Helpful Teacher … [Read more...]

Hollywood Blockbuster Production Designer James Lewis creates Fun Town


NEW APP FROM HOLLYWOOD BLOCKBUSTER PRODUCTION DESIGNER JAMES LEWIS Touch & Learn, the development studio started by Hollywood Production Designer, James Lewis (credits include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Band of Brothers, Love Actually, Exodus and many more), today officially announced the release of their brand new edutainment app for 2 – 6 year old kids and their parents. In addition to being the Art Director of smash hit Hollywood movies, James Lewis has found time to design and release nine very special apps for his and everyone else’s kids! Latest offering ‘Fun Town’ sees a beautifully animated town  environment   turned   into   a   virtual   children’s   playground.   Kids   can interact with the townsfolk and vehicles, or visit the shops – each its own mini-game with 14 beautifully animated mini-games to discover in total. Learn how to grow your favorite flower … [Read more...]

Get Your School Involved During National Young Readers Week November 11-15th


  Next week is National Young Readers Week from November 11-15th.  Anything that supports a love of reading is always a good thing in my book. What I found intriguing about this week was that it was started by the President of Pizza Hut with the help of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress back in 1989.  The Book It website  states that the reason the President created National Young Readers Week was because his young son was having reading difficulties and was finding it difficult to get through his reading homework.  Boy can I relate to that!  We are experiencing this with our first grader and she is having some problems with phonics.  My husband and I both had some issues when we were in first and second grade as well so I guess it can run in families!  We are in the process of helping her get to where she needs to be so she doesn't get too frustrated. If you … [Read more...]

Spotlight on The Orange County Children’s Book Festival


This coming Sunday the 29th is the Orange County Children's Book Festival and I will be attending in the Author's Booth section dressed in my pirate gear.  This festival holds a special place for me because years ago when we attended with my (then) three year old daughter - Penelope the Purple Pirate was just a dream and I was at the very early stages of writing the story and had yet to meet Paul Johnson, our Illustrator.  I still remember walking through the book festival looking at the authors selling their books and thought to myself that one day I will be here too, selling my book.  I didn't know when (or how) this would happen, but I was determined to make it a reality.  Fast forward four years and this is my third festival where I will showcase Penelope and now Gerry the Giraffe.  My daughter has been there with me the past few years which made it even more special as I was able to … [Read more...]

In the Spotlight :: Robb Monkman of React Mobile


Last month I was contacted by the React Mobile and was so impressed with this app that helps keep our kids (and family members) safe.  Basically, React Mobile is  an app that allows you to use your mobile device as a tool that will alert your pre-established network of emergency contacts with the push of a button. React is a powerful tool that was inspired by React Mobile cofounder, Robb Monkman’s life-altering experience of being held at gunpoint in a home invasion. My mother-in-law and I were talking about how we plan to download this app as well just for a peace of mind for ourselves when we find ourselves walking alone at night.  I had a chance to speak to the Mr. Monkman about the motivation behind creating React Mobile and how it helps keep our kids safe.       1. Tell us what was the motivation behind creating React Mobile. I first realized the … [Read more...]