Saturday, August 30, 2014

My Bibi Always Remembers Book Tour

I am so excited to share with you a beautiful book that my family adores. 

My Bibi Always Remembers
by Toni Buzzeo illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
On Sale September 2nd

We are fortunate enough to be part of a close, loving family. I am so very lucky to still have all four of my grandparents living and a part of my life. Having them love, nurture, and support me for so many years has been a tremendous gift. And now I am lucky enough to watch that love trickle down the generational line to the beautiful relationships between my parents and my children.

Bibi and Tembo represent something bigger than just words. Their love is felt through this story and it's beautiful illustrations. This is a wonderful book for children and grandparents to share and treasure!

I was lucky enough to be able to ask the author and illustrator some questions about this new book. See what they have to say and feel how much of their heart and souls have gone into making a book for families to share.

Questions for the Author:
What inspired you to write My Bibi Always Remembers?
Nearly two decades ago, my family was lucky enough to take a once-in-a-lifetime safari to Kenya. It was something my husband Ken and I had long dreamed of doing and our then 12-year-old son Topher was game to accompany us, so off we went for three and a half weeks with two very experienced tour guides and ten other fellow travelers to
A safari!



Imagine seeing giraffes, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, zebra, baboons, hippos, rhinos, wildebeest, cape buffalo, antelope, warthogs, and elephants—so many elephants—living in their natural habitat. I was so taken with the elephant families, especially the grandmother elephants leading their families and the tiny baby elephants surrounded and protected by their families. Two years ago, I had to go back to visit those same elephants again in Amboseli National Park in Kenya.



My Bibi Always Remembers is the third in a collection of East African animal family stories. I wrote the first, Stay Close to Mama, about a baby giraffe—Twiga--and his mama and the second, Just Like My Papa,  about a lion cub—Kito--and his papa. And as I was writing those books, I knew I was moving toward the most personal story of the three, My Bibi Always Remembers, the story of a grandmother elephant and her grandbaby elephant--Tembo.




What is your connection with Bibi and Tembo?
My Bibi Always Remembers is, in many ways, the story of my grandmother Mae Mackey and me. I had the wonderful luxury of living, along with my parents, with my grandparents for the first two years of my life. After that, we lived less than five miles from my grandparents for the next four years. During those early years of my life I formed an intense and lasting bond with my Grandma Mae. More than anyone else in my life, she was the one I looked to for guidance, for comfort, for unconditional love—and for fun!



We did so many things together, Grandma Mae and I. She had a blue willow china tea set, so we had tea parties. She had black cap raspberries along the back fence, so we went on berry picking expeditions. She had a dog, Ginger, who had a whole family of puppies, so we played with them. And, of course, we read piles and piles and piles of books! In short, we did everything together. As you can guess, then, Grandma Mae is Bibi in My Bibi Always Remembers and I am Tembo, the lucky recipient of a grandmother’s love and protection.

I’m thrilled to tell you that as My Bibi Always Remembers is making its way in the world, I am myself learning to be a Nonna--the very same sort of wonderful grandmother that Grandma Mae was to me and that Bibi is to Tembo—to my own very first grandbaby, Camden James.



What message are you hoping to send to your young readers?
All three of my East African stories carry the same message, and that is: It’s okay to be precisely who you are; it’s okay to be a curious, playful child; no matter what, you will be loved, cherished, and nurtured by the adults in your family.




The world is a complicated and sometimes dangerous place, but it shouldn’t feel so for our little ones. Their world should, instead, be filled with loving adults who nurture in them their curiosity, their playful natures, their wide-eyed wonder at a glorious place full of new and delightful sights and sounds and experiences.

Questions for the Illustrator:
What was your favorite part about illustrating this beautiful book?
My favorite thing about illustrating this wonderful story was the color palette. Since it takes place during a drought, the grass and land had to be subdued colors, like brown and yellow ochre, and of course the elephants are gray. All these muted colors made for a limited palette. At first this was very daunting, but I ended up loving the controlled palette of subtle colors.



Bibi and Tembo's facial expressions are very telling, what messages did you want to send through their faces?
The emotion of my characters is very important to me.  With each scene in a book I’m really thinking about what the emotion would be. I try to convey this emotion through color, body language, and, most importantly, facial expressions. I’m happy to hear you feel the facial expressions are very telling in BIBI, because with this more realistic style it can be challenging to show exactly what the character is feeling.



How long did it take you to illustrate the book and what mediums did you use?
It took approximately six weeks to do all the pencil sketches and color studies.  The final paintings took four months.  I used acrylic paints.


Friday, August 22, 2014

SOFIA THE FIRST: HOLIDAY IN ENCHANCIA

SOFIA THE FIRST: HOLIDAY IN ENCHANCIA
Arrives on Disney DVD Just In Time For The Holidays - November 4, 2014

DVD Contains the adventure + 4 additional episodes and a
FREE Light Up Holiday Ornament packed inside! 



If you have a Sofia fan in the house, like I do, then you will want to keep your eyes peeled for this!
My daughter loves all of the adventures that Sofia, Clover, Amber, and James find themselves on. So 
I can only imagine how much fun they will have this holiday season!

When a snowstorm prevents King Roland from returning home in time for the holidays, Sofia leads her family on a brave expedition to find him. Princess Aurora from Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" makes a special appearance to help Sofia and her animal friends reunite the royal family.

Dinosaur Farm

Dinosaur Farm
By Frann Preston-Gannon


It's hard work being a farmer—and even harder running a DINOSAUR FARM (Sterling Children’s Books, September 2014)!

Children will love spending a day on this vibrant farm, filled with charming prehistoric creatures of every shape and size! They'll follow the farmer from dawn till dusk, through feedings, cleanings, baby hatchings, and finally to a sweet bedtime. Who knew dinosaurs could be so cuddly?

With clever dino-touches throughout and vibrant artwork, Frann Preston-Gannon's picture book will become a perennial favorite!

Frann Preston-Gannon is an illustrator and designer based in south London.  She is the author and illustrator of The Journey Home (Pavilion Press) and How to Lose a Lemur (Sterling).  In 2011, Frann became the first UK recipient of the Sendak Fellowship.  She spent a month living with and learning from the great master of illustration, Maurice Sendak (author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are).

My Thoughts:
My little guy adores dinosaurs! So I knew when I saw this book that he would love it.  This book takes you on a fun adventure around the farm...but this farm is a little different. The animals are a bit.. umm.. larger. They eat a little different. And they require some special care. This farm is like no other!

The pictures and story are so fun! My son loved visiting this farmer on his dinosaur farm. I would definitely recommend this book for any dinosaur loving kids. It makes for the perfect story time.

* I received a copy of this book in order to write an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

How to Make Your Baby an Internet Celebrity

How to Make Your Baby an Internet Celebrity

By Rick Chillot
Photography by Dustin Fernstermacher



Everyone tells you becoming a parent will be tough. But the toughest—and most important—obligation of a loving and responsible parent is: making your baby an Internet celebrity

Times are tough in our twenty-first-century economy. But with How to Make Your Baby an Internet Celebrity: Guiding Your Child to Success and Fulfillment, moms and dads can buckle their kids in and send them speeding down the fast track to success.

Featuring darling photography by Dustin Fenstermacher, photographer of Quirk’s April 2014 hit How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity, Rick Chillot’s tongue-in-cheek handbook will help babies crawl down the path to fame!

The book will hold parents’ hands through the process of identifying their infant’s key star qualities, finding her character type—whether she’s an Action Hero, an Intellectual, a Gourmand, or a Badass—and making and distributing a video to introduce her to the world before it’s too late (aka before she reaches kindergarten).

The pressure to stand out from the crowd is intense, but everyone remembers an Internet star!

My Thoughts:
I'm going to give you a very interesting perspective on this book because of my unique situation. My son is FEATURED IN THIS BOOK! Yes, you read that correctly. The amazingly talented, and very nice, Dustin Fenstermacher, came to my house to photograph my son for this book. And I will tell you that judging by my son;s mood during the shoot I wasn't so sure he was going to make it! But Dustin assured me that he got some good shots. And low and behold.. he made it in... twice!

I had read Dustin's previous book, where he teamed with Patricia Carlin, How to Make Your Cat an Internet Celebrity. I found it to be hysterical and adorable. And that was cats. So imagine the cuteness factor when it comes to babies!

Just to assure you that I am not totally biased with this book... all of the babies are adorable. The little tidbits and tips are just the perfect accompaniment for the photos. So many of the faces caught in this book remind me of moments with my own children. It's just a super fun and super adorable book to help you capture and appreciate all the photogenic moments you will encounter. The comments are all too true!

Oh, and be sure to check out my little superstar on pages 30 and 125.

This book will be available from Quirk Books on September 30th... so go ahead and preorder it today!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Softsoap's Decor Collection

I am thrilled to introduce you to Softsoap’s new premium liquid hand soap line - Softsoap’s D├ęcor Collection! You can treat yourself to an indulgent hand washing experience, with the enticing scents of Peony & Plum, Orchid Petals & Mint Water, and Wild Basil & Lime. At just $2.49 a bottle, you can treat yourself and your family to the entire collection, taking in the scents of summer while expressing your own personal style at home.


Ok, this might sound a little weird... but I have a thing for hand soaps. I love them. I really enjoy picking out scents for each season or holiday and trying to find ones that match my decor and make a statement. So when I was given the chance to check these new beauties out... I was all over it!

Softsoap has been a trusted brand in our home for years. But they are going above and beyond (and into my hand soap loving world) with these new scents and designs. We are still loving every moment of summer that we can soak in, so these scents are going perfectly with my seasonal theme. Not to mention that I have two bathrooms that color coordinate perfectly with these beautiful new designs.

The designs are simple, yet elegant... and the scents are phenomenal. I like my soaps to have enough of a scent that I can enjoy it while washing my hands... but not have it be overwhelming or linger all day. Softsoap has accomplished that with these three scents. Each one is unique and almost relaxing as you inhale.

I am very pleased with the entire collection and have one in each bathroom and the Wild Basil & Lime in my kitchen. My husband has even commented on how nice they look and he seems to really like the Wild Basil & Lime scent. You should definitely look for them at your local retailer!

* I received free samples of these products in order to write an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Toy Story of Terror - Available Today on Blu-ray Combo Pack


Available TODAY on Blu-ray Combo Pack
and Disney Movies Anywhere

TOY STORY OF TERROR arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack and Disney Movies Anywhere on August 19th! Reuniting after the events of the blockbuster smash “Toy Story 3,” Buzz, Woody and the gang join new friend Combat Carl for a spooky tale full of mystery and humor that’s a must-own for “Toy Story” and Disney•Pixar fans this summer! Never-before-seen bonus features include parody vintage toy commercials, deleted scenes, audio commentary and much more!



What starts out as a fun road trip for the Toy Story gang takes an unexpected turn for the worse when the trip detours to a roadside motel. After one of the toys goes missing, the others find themselves caught up in a mysterious sequence of events that must be solved before they all suffer the same fate in this Toy Story OF TERROR!

“Toy Story OF TERROR!” features the voice talents of original “Toy Story” cast members Tom Hanks as “Woody,” Tim Allen as “Buzz Lightyear,” Joan Cusack as “Jessie,” Timothy Dalton as “Mr. Pricklepants,” Don Rickles as “Mr. Potato Head,” Kristen Schaal as “Trixie” and Wallace Shawn as “Rex,” along with series newcomer Carl Weathers as “Combat Carl/Combat Carl Jr.”

My Thoughts:
My daughter and son are probably two of the biggest toy story fans you will meet. When I told them I had a new Toy Story feature for them to watch they gathered up their Woody and Buzz and settled in together (which is awesome in and of itself!).

It's short and full of excitement! I can just picture us making this a Halloween night tradition. After a long night of trick-or-treating, this film will be the perfect wind down needed. While it offers some spooks and thrills, I wouldn't classify it as scary. It's full of laughs and familiar faces. I love that the newest characters from Toy Story 3 were part of this adventure. But I have to say, the new character, Combat Carl, brought a whole new level of excitement to the lovable gang!


This is a really fun little film to share with your kids. I highly recommend any Toy Story lovers check it out!

* I received a free copy of this DVD in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bedknobs and Broomsticks Available NOW

Bedknobs and Broomsticks 
Now Available For the First Time
on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy



Let the enchantment begin! Disney's Academy Award(R)-winning classic, BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS (Best Visual Effects, 1971), soars onto Blu-ray and Digital HD with an all-new digital master. Experience a dazzling blend of live action and wondrous animation from the producer, director and writer of MARY POPPINS, sure to delight the entire family. Disney legends Angela Lansbury (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) and David Tomlinson (MARY POPPINS) star in this beloved film about an apprentice witch who reluctantly takes in three orphan children. Though her first spells create more laughs than magic, Miss Price and the children soon find themselves swept away aboard a fantastic flying bed -- their ticket to fun-filled excitement and adventure. Take the ride of your life with BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS.




My Thoughts:
Bedknobs and Broomsticks is a classic in our family. This movie holds a special place in my heart because of the memories I have of it. Angela Lansbury was one of my grandmother's favorite actresses. When I would visit we would spend hours getting caught up in Murder She Wrote... but the magic would really start when we all settle in to watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks.

The tradition was always the same.... my grandpa would make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. My grandma would get the salad ready and set the table. We would gobble up the food and gather pillows and blankets for our special movie night. So I was thrilled when this movie arrived on my doorstep so that I could share the magic and the memories with my family.

My husband had never seen this movie, so I was the only one who knew what to expect. My husband remarked early on in the film that Angela Lansbury's character was not very likable. It's true, but I think that's the point. You need to get to know her and her secrets. Once she opens up to the children and becomes comfortable you can see so much more charm in her character. And they truly bond through their adventures!

My daughter was enthralled with the witch aspect. She was amazed that by turning a bedknob they could be transported to the most magical and mystical places. She loved the cartoon parts of the film and needed some of the other parts explained a little bit.

This movie brought back so many memories through the characters, the music, and the story. I was so thrilled to be able to share this piece of my childhood with my family. The movie really is filled with so much magic, adventure, and love. It's a wonderful family movie!

* I received a free copy of this DVD in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced in any way.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Frozen Sing-Along Edition - Available on DVD and Digital 11/18


My kids still can't get enough of the fantastic music from Disney's Frozen!
This DVD will be a huge hit this holiday season! 
Look for it on November 18th, 2014.