Discover here interesting children's books and fun activities that S-T-R-E-T-C-H your mind. Explore great places for kids to visit. Write and share your own ideas, great books, or subjects you want to know more about with Jewel. Check out Jewel Sample's writing for kids adventures.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jewel of a Book Review of Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer

By Tammi Sauer
ISBN-13: 9781402753664, 2009
Fiction: Juvenile, Picture Book, Talent Show
Publisher: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc.: NY; $14.95
Author site: Tammi Sauer

Sauer and Santat portray memorable characters in an entertaining barnyard production starring Marge and Lola, who hang out together where Elvis Poultry is top bird. The two best friend chicks almost lose their cluck when they read the Barnyard Talent Show poster. The grand prize is two tickets to the final multitalented doodle doo of the season. Lola and Marge set out to snag the prize, but first they have to test their talents and score higher than the other animals in the barnyard.

What I liked best about Chicken Dance was its humor in text and illustrations, which made it easy to keep the attention of a kindergartener and for them to identify with the characters. For instance, when Lola and Marge tried to swim the kindergartener laughed and said they had sunk like the chickens once.

A minor downside to the story is when improper expressions are used in a scene where the chicken friends are called a name, “Drumsticks” and the use of the word “losers.” If the expressions were not used it doesn’t appear to this reviewer to take away from the story.

Chicken Dance is appropriate for the early elementary grade reader. Parents and teachers can glean themes from reading this book for further discussion like friendship, name calling, favorite music, sportsmanship, diversity in abilities, what do farm animals really do or farm animal jokes.

Reviewed by Jewel Sample--Award-winning author of Flying Hugs and Kisses. To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Hungry Critters

Hello writing friends!

Welcome back to the adventures of Jewel of a Book. I hope your summer brought you many things to write about.

School is now in full swing. Vacations have come to a slow grind and your body is almost use to getting up at the crack of dawn to get to school on time. Just as you are about to turn off the news on the television, there is a News Alert. "Rumor has it a group of hungry rodents chewed through a fiber-optic line at the high school. The critters endeavors managed to knockout the complete public school security system, as well as the telephones and internet service."

Write about it!

In real life, things happen when you least expect them! We can take those events and turn them into great stories.

Choose your own setting: school, hospital, bank, museum or parent's work.

Choose the kind of critters that you want in your story (rats, rabbits, squirrels & etc.).

Take a picture or find one in a book of the setting or the animal for your story.

Rumors spread, how does your rumor get everyone's attention?

How do you or your characters react to the rumor?

Does the rumor hold true?

Share your story by placing it in the comments below! Be sure and stop back by to see what others have written.

Happy writing!

Writing prompt by Jewel Sample---award winning author of FLYING HUGS AND KISSES.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CHASING LILACS: Entertainingly Riveting and Unforgettable


By Carla Stewart

ISBN: 9780446556552

Fiction: Young Adult

Publisher: FaithWords; a division of Hachette Book Group:NY

Chasing Lilacs is a fast paced 1950's coming of age story of an early adolescent girl named Sammie Tucker, who is growing up in a Texas Utility Service camp alive with human strengths, weaknesses, and secrets. Sammie is faced with typical adolescent issues of self identity, friendship, religious beliefs and love. which are complicated by her mother's "nerve" condition and sudden death. Sammie's childhood friend is sure an alienating aunt has come to take Sammie's mother's place. Sammie must choose whom to trust with her deepest fears as she walks through her own deep pain and heartfelt injustice, while uncovering bewildering community secrets.

What I really liked about Chasing Lilacs is when I was done reading about Sammie Tucker, I wished I could call the author up on the telephone and talk about the characters as if they were real people. Stewart skillfully entertained and engaged me with each character's personal pain, coping skills and sometimes unpredictable behavior in a community she brilliantly portrays with the belief that it takes a village to raise a child. Just when I thought I had figured out the next twist, Stewart surprised me with the unexpected, which kept me reading until the very end.

Similar to the writings of J.D. Salinger in the Catcher in the Rye, without the profanity, Stewart's themes and symbolism evoked many questions for future discussion. I found myself returning to read certain passages over and over, only to discover another theme or symbol to mull over. A welcomed benefit is the discussion questions at the end, which encouraged me to come up with unlisted questions for further discussion.

Chasing Lilacs is a great read for the high school or college level classroom, as well as the young adult heart.

Reviewed by Jewel Sample--award winning author of FLYING HUGS AND KISSES. To learn more about Jewel Sample visit her at