#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Picturing America: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Art: Hudson Talbott

SYNOPSIS: The story of an immigrant from England who arrived in America 200 years ago and – through his passion for art, landscape, and the Hudson River Valley and the Catskills – came to define America’s visual identity and set in motion an artistic legacy that continues to impact art and culture to this day. A major international exhibition of Cole’s work, organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is now on view at the National Gallery, London.

Thomas Cole pictured for the world an America that would become known as “America the Beautiful.” Until then, there was not a clear succinct image of our country. In the process, he became a pioneering advocate for environmentalism, raising the alarm over industrial destruction of our landscape long before there was an environmental movement.

Hudson Talbott has written and/or illustrated more than 25 books, including Newbury Honor Book Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, ALA Notable Book Leonardo’s Horse by Jean Fritz, and We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, adapted into an animated film by Steven Spielberg, starring the voices of John Goodman, Jay Leno, and Martin Short, among others.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hudson Talbott is a resident of the Hudson Valley and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site in Catskill, NY. In many ways, Picturing America is a companion book to Talbott’s River of Dreams: The Story of the Hudson River, which was named the New York State Children’s Book of the Year in 2009.

MY THOUGHTS: There is so much to love about this book! For homeschoolers, this book touches on multiple classes. Art (of Course), geography, & history are all part of Thomas Cole’s story. Students will also experience a biography about an immigrant who worked hard for his success. Those who are looking to get into a career in art or excel in the subject will find Mr. Cole’s story inspiring and worth their time.

Younger students will marvel at the stunning pictures. Mr. Cole was beyond talented. His vision of American is one worth imitating. He found it beautiful and desired for the landscape to remain rural. This is the perfect resource to discuss the Industrial Revolution, immigration, and art history.

Brick-and-mortar students will definitely benefit from having a seldom discussed artist’s biography. It would be a unique book report and/or history project. Even parents/guardians will love this book. From the pictures to the story itself, this book is phenomenal and gets 5 stars from me.

*I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

**Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

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#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Creative Adventures in Cursive: Rachelle Doorley

SYNOPSIS: Who knew handwriting could be so cool? Write with glue, string, markers, paint, and icing and develop a signature cursive style with TinkerLab’s Rachelle Doorley in Creative Adventures in Cursive!

Where has this book been all my life? From the moment I opened the first pages and saw the cursive warm-up doodles, I wanted to be a kid again.
Barbara Rucci, Art Educator, Founder of Art Bar, and Author of Art Workshop for Children: How to Foster Original Thinking with more than 25 Process Art Experiences

Creative Adventures in Cursive gives kids of all ages ideas for practicing writing skills, then guides them into cursive creativity. Doorley has concocted 22 fun and colorful ways to use script to make posters, present school projects, design monograms, create greeting cards, decorate book bags and t-shirts, ice cookies and cakes — writing in script with everything, including fabric markers, pastry tubes, string and yarn, and of course brushes, pens, and crayons. And as educators will attest, writing in cursive provides cognitive benefits in spelling, memory, reading comprehension, language skills, and overall academic confidence. Practicing cursive carries similar benefits when drawing; once you learn the basic shapes, you can play with it by creating your own personal style. Cursive is a wonderful means of self-expression and an essential form of communication—don’t let it be forgotten!

This guide to joyful handwriting takes the curse out of cursive and reconnects young writers’ hands with their eyes and minds. […] The nearly lost art of handwriting is recovered here with countless activities and exercises designed to excite and engage young learners.
Steve Seidel, Director of the Arts in Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education

About the Author:

Rachelle Doorley is an arts educator, community builder, and founder of the popular creativity blog TinkerLab. She is also the author of TinkerLab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors, published by Roost in 2014. Rachelle studied costume design at the University of California, Los Angeles, and worked on Hollywood films before finding her true calling as an arts educator. After teaching elementary and middle school art, she earned a master’s in arts education from Harvard, and then oversaw museum-based and education programs in Massachussets and California. Rachelle lives with her family in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area, where she teaches art, visual thinking, and creativity. She enjoys her sketchbooks, taking her kids on adventures, good friends, kawaii drawings, breakfast, hand-drawn letters, hikes in the woods, and ocean air.

MY THOUGHTS: Cursive writing is fast becoming an art like calligraphy. Most curriculums, that I am aware of anyway, aren’t including it. But, honestly, it is a beautiful form of writing. I love the idea of utilizing it to make special creations. Sending greeting cards is also becoming a lost form of communication so I love the included activity of making cards featuring cursive.

This is the ideal, rainy/snowy day book of activities. Any one of the designs can be altered to accommodate even the littlest hands and who doesn’t love homemade gifts? If you are looking for ways to incorporate cursive writing or fun, mess-free art classes into your homeschool day, gift yourself a copy of this book. These are also ideal, inexpensive Sunday School/VBS projects. Suggest a copy to your Children’s Minister, too.

I highly recommend it for its fresh ideas and ease of use. 5 stars.

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Mason Jar Science: Jonathan Adolph

I RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE.

SYNOPSIS:
Overflowing with 40 dynamic, slimy, and super-cool experiments, this fun guide encourages budding Einsteins ages 8-12 to use a mason jar to explore the wonders of chemistry, botany, biology, physics, and earth science. Mason jars are the perfect containers for all kinds of experiments, and unlike expensive and fragile beakers and cylinders, they are affordable and durable. With a jar as a little lab, readers will learn how to create miniature clouds, tiny tornados, lava lamps, squishy, colorful slime, and much more!
From the kitchen counter to the classroom or science fair, Mason Jar Science will pique a child’s love for scientific exploration and uncover­ing the mysteries of the world — no lab coat required!
MY THOUGHTS: Fantastic! That’s the best way to intro this book- it’s fantastic! If you’re a homeschool parent who has trouble with either a reluctant learner or with coming up with fresh ideas, you’re problem is solved. Even students who dislike the subject of science will love doing these experiments. I’ve yet to meet a kid- boy or girl- who didn’t like things that were ‘squishy’ or ‘slimy’. Let’s be honest: kids love anything messy.

As a mom, what I love most about this book is the wide variety it brings to the classroom. There are so many genres of science covered here. Not to mention 40 experiments! That’s a whole lot of learning in one book! Inexpensive tools, captivating lessons, and non-stop learning- what more could you ask for in a science book? To me, it’s a must-have in your homeschool classroom.

If you’re an educator at a brick-and-mortar school and teaching the 8-12 year old range, then you can absolutely benefit from this book, too. Let’s get kids excited about learning. I have to give this one 5 stars!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Adolph developed hundreds of “stealth learning” games and kitchen-science activities in his 20-year career as editor of the award-winning FamilyFun magazine. He specializes in making technical information fun for kids and is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts. He lives with his family in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Mason Jar Science
136 pages; 7″ x 10″
Full-color; photographs and illustrations throughout
$14.95 hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-61212-986-0
Available May 2018
*PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHOR/PUBLISHER

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Totally Awesome Tie-Dye: Fun-to-Make Fabric Dyeing Projects for All Ages: Suzanne McNeill


SYNOPSIS:Looking for a fun event idea this summer? Consider throwing a tie-dye party! Tie-dying is a wonderful way to create dramatic fashion statements without using too many materials or spending a lot of time. “No group is too large for tie-dying,” says author and expert crafter Suzanne McNeill. “It’s a great activity for family reunions, scouting events, parties, and fundraisers.”

Nicknamed “The Trendsetter of the arts and crafts industry,” McNeill is the author of the new book Totally Awesome Tie-Dye: Fun-to-Make Fabric Dyeing Projects for All Ages (Design Originals, May 2018). Filled with stylish projects, McNeill shows step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish ice dyeing, crumple dyeing, resist dyeing, and Shibori—shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. Everything you can imagine about the art of tie-dying is covered in Totally Awesome Tie-Dye, even tips for tie-dying with children.

McNeill also shares how to tie-dye several items of clothing in her tie-dye manifesto, including fashion designs for t-shirts, dresses, socks, caps, scarves, and even embellishments for home décor. The goal of McNeill’s book is to make this entertaining craft fun for all ages. “The joy of creating art is for everybody,” she says. “I hope to inspire people to discover their own creativity.”
Suzanne McNeill is the author of more than 200 craft & hobby books, including Joy of Zentangle®, The Beauty of Zentangle®, the 11-volume Zentangle® series, and Zen Mandalas. Suzanne founded the leading publisher of Zentangle® books, Design Originals (an imprint of Fox Chapel Publishing). She was voted Designer of the Year and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Craft & Hobby Association. Suzanne has been called “the trendsetter” of the arts and crafts industry.

MY THOUGHTS: I remember the first time I ever tie-dyed back when I was in 4-H. We had such fun and the possibilities for creativity are incredible. It was a real sense of nostalgia to open this book. I’m all for any kids’ activity that doesn’t involve electronics and this is the perfect example of an idea that gets kids using their brains. For a very small, monetary investment, kids will have all day (or weekend) fun making wearable tie-dyes.

This is also a great idea book for VBS, daycares, you name it! Suzanne McNeill has provided a new take on a classic. Her ideas for uses in tie-dye are brilliant. The possibilities really are endless and a way to get your kiddos outdoors (for less mess!) this summer. 5 stars to Suzanne McNeill and her awesome imagination.
I RECEIVED THE AFOREMENTIONED TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS BELONG SOLELY TO THE AUTHOR/PUBLISHER.

Book Spotlight: Proggy Menagerie: Hayley Smith


Synopsis:Learn the basics of the Proggy technique with step-by-step photo guides, then set your creativity free with the easy-to-follow patterns. In Proggy Menagerie, designer and author Hayley Smith provides a collection of adorable three-dimensional rag-rug projects that can be adapted for use as children’s toys, pet toys, or home accessories. The technique is easy to master—simply cut your fabric into strips and push it through the holes in some Hessian backing—and has been a traditional way of creating mats for centuries. This technique, known as “progging” in northeast England, is familiar the world over. Proggy Menagerie puts a refreshing modern twist on the technique, moving it beyond the usual two-dimensional rug format, with instructions for making twenty fun and funky three-dimensional stuffed animals. With a few adaptations to the backing, filling, and eye materials, the projects can be safely used as soft toys for children, chew toys for pets, or be used as doorstops and draft blockers around your home. Designs include:

Woodland creatures
Farmyard favorites
Perfect pets
Feathered friends
Water babies

About the Author
Hayley Smith creates all the products, designs, and patterns for her successful craft business, Craft Yourself Silly. Her Proggy kits, supplies, and tools are stocked by retailers throughout the United States. The author lives by the sea in northeast England.

My Thoughts: If the term ‘progging’ is new to you, you’re not alone. It was new to me, too. However, the look & feel of the technique reminded me a lot of the latch hook kits my sister used to do. What I love about the book is the easy way the author describes the how-to’s. Once the basics are mastered, the sky’s the limit in what can be made. These projects are perfect for groups that have a little time on their hands (Girl Scouts, seniors projects, etc.) In fact, I’d highly recommend giving them a try as a missions project for your Church to send along to humanitarian organizations. I wish I still had better motor skills in order to make these myself. I give the book 5 stars for originality and ease of use.

On Sale: October 3, 2017
ISBN: 9781680993370
Price: $14.99

*Pic & Synopsis belong solely to the author & publisher

**I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Book Spotlight: Christmas Papercrafting: Holiday Cards, Gift Tags, and More

With the Holiday season right around the corner, turn the attention away from electronics and back to basic, fun with papercrafting. ‘Christmas Papercrafting: Holiday Cards, Gift Tags, and More’ features 112 pages of every paper craft you can imagine! Featuring designs and projects from artists Thaneeya McArdle, Robin Pickens, Angelea Van Dam, Valentina Harper, and Valerie McKeehan, you’ll have no trouble creating your most beautiful Christmas yet!

If you aren’t familiar with papercrafting, think greeting cars, bookmarks, scrapbooking, etc. With the rising cost and lessening quality to boxed greeting cards, making your own, personalized cards may just be the way to go. I was thrilled with the beautiful, high-quality designs in this book. The cards are easily removed from the book and are pre-colored for convenience. Add your own personal touches and you’re good-to-go.

Another thing that definitely caught my attention were the bookmarks. As a former, longtime Sunday School teacher, I recognized these as the perfect, time-sensitive craft for all ages. Kids love bookmarks, especially ones that they’ve created themselves. If you are an educator in homeschool or brick and mortar schools and need some fresh ideas for this year’s season, try papercrafting. With an MSRP of $19.99, the book will pay for itself in the time and money you’ll save trying to come up with seasonal activities. Also included are gift tags and frameable art.

I love the originality of the crafts and appreciate how many crafts they’ve included in the book. It’s being offered for a very economical price considering all it provides. You can find out more along with additional titles from the publisher, Fox Chapel Publishing, via: http://www.foxchapelpublishing.com. I highly recommend picking up copy.

*I received the aforementioned product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.