Exploring education through books, travel, and adventure

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Shutterbug is the Bees Knees

Shutterbug is the Bees Knees

Lights! Camera! Action! Shutterbug is a brand new picture book that will whisk you back in time to the days of old Hollywoodland! Everything about Shutterbug has an old Hollywood feel to it…from the old-fashioned phrases to the black and white illustrations you will feel […]

Book Nerd Mama Challenge

Book Nerd Mama Challenge

Calling all Book Nerds!! Are you a mama who loves to read? Do you adore books, reading, holding books, smelling books, buying books? Well, have I got a fun challenge for you!! My dear friend Arlene and I have started a fun and low-pressure challenge […]

Ring in the New Year with Freedom Soup!

Ring in the New Year with Freedom Soup!

Can you believe we are just days away from ringing in the New Year? I say it every year, but I honestly can’t believe another year has gone by! I have a gorgeous new book to share with you that would make a perfect read for New Years! Freedom Soup is a stunningly beautiful story all about celebrating freedom and the start of a New Year! I know that you and your kids will absolutely love it!

I love learning about different cultures and their traditions and celebrations! Have you ever heard of Freedom Soup? I know I hadn’t until I read this beautiful new book. Freedom Soup is a dish that is made by Haitian families all around the world. It is not only a dish made to ring in the New Year but it is also a celebration of Haitian freedom and independence!

Freedom Soup

Freedom soup is the story of Belle and her grandmother, Ti Gran. It is time for the tradition of making Freedom Soup to be handed down from grandmother to granddaughter. Ti Gran tells Belle the story of Freedom Soup, of her Haitian roots, and of her family history. Together they dance, clap, and cook up the magic that is Freedom Soup.

Author Tami Charles has created such a beautiful story. Her words flow like music…you can almost hear the maracas. It is more than a story about soup…it is a story about family, tradition, and freedom. You can feel the joy that Ti Gran has as she shares her family’s history with her granddaughter. The illustrations by Jacqueline Alcantara are breathtaking. They are the perfect complement to the book. The rich warm colors seem to bring the story to life. Both the artwork and words make you feel like you can almost smell the delicious Freedom Soup!

I absolutely fell in love with this book. The story was so full of family traditions, love, and pride. There is something so special about the passing down of a recipe from one generation to the next. Along with the recipe comes so much history. In the case of Freedom Soup it is not only the history of this family, but it is the history of an entire nation. This is going to be a book that we read again and again. I can’t recommend this one enough. Absolutely wonderful.

For more information about author Tami Charles, you can visit her website here.

For more information about illustrator Jacqueline Alcantara, you can visit her website here.

To order a copy of Freedom Soup for yourself you can click here or on the image below!

Do you have any family traditions for bringing in the New Year? I would love to hear them!

Freedom Soup book cover
Louder Than Words

Louder Than Words

We haven’t even finished with 2019 and I already have a giant list of book recommendations for you! 2020 promises to be an amazing year in the book world! I just had the pleasure of reading an Advanced Readers Copy of Louder Than Words by […]

It’s Okay to be a Unicorn

It’s Okay to be a Unicorn

Have I ever mentioned how much I love picture books? Once or twice? Maybe? Ok…well, I really do love them. A picture book can tell a story, it can make you laugh, it can hit you right in the feels, and it can send a […]

The Other Side of the Wall Book Review and Tea Party!

The Other Side of the Wall Book Review and Tea Party!

I love it when a book inspires creativity! This happens A LOT at our house! So often we will be reading a book and all of a sudden an idea pops up for a craft, art project, or recipe! Well, I have just finished reading The Other Side of the Wall by Amy Ephron and guess what? Inspiration central! We decided it would be so fun to wrap up our reading of the book by having an English tea party! I can’t wait to show you!

The Other Side of the Wall

Before we jump into our English tea party, let’s chat a little about the book! The Other Side of the Wall is the third book in the series by Amy Ephron. The book follows brother and sister, Max and Tess as they spend Christmas break with their Aunt Evie in London. They are staying at the very swanky Sanborn House while they wait for their parents to arrive. Max and Tess soon find themselves mixed up in a mystery of sorts. They meet a boy named Colin, who lives year-round at the hotel. Colin lives in a fancy apartment on the 8th floor of the hotel…which doesn’t sound so strange, except for the fact that the hotel only had 7 floors yesterday. Mysteries keep appearing around every corner, like the strange 1920’s costume party that is happening in Colin’s apartment, the mysterious marble that definitely seems to be more than meets the eye, and the fact that everyone seems to ignore Colin. Max and Tess find themselves with more questions than answers as they try to find the keys to the mysteries before them!

Our Thoughts

We loved this book! I should first add that this is the 3rd book in the series but I didn’t find it at all difficult to follow along with the story having not read the previous two books. I have just checked the first two out of the library though because I really did enjoy the story, the characters, and Ephron’s writing style. If you love a book that is full of mystery and suspense with some holiday atmosphere thrown in then I think you will love this one. It was a quick read because I was very engaged in the story and kept wanting to read more! It is always good to get engrossed in a book that you can’t put down!!

Books and Tea

It didn’t take long for inspiration to strike while reading this book! A book set in England lends itself perfectly to a host little tea party! When we first meet Colin, he is enjoying quite a fancy little tea at the hotel so we thought we would create a tea party of our own! We do poetry teatime a lot here at our house…but it is usually a casual affair! Tea at Sanborn House needs to be fancied up a bit!!

The kiddos got the table set, we made cucumber sandwiches, we made scones, and we had some tea. Now, two out of the three of my kiddos LOVE any excuse to dress up so they, of course, had to get fancy for the occasion. Max even dug out the 3-piece suit that he hasn’t worn since our cruise! He thought the vest was very Colin-ish! I had to agree! I love that they will still indulge their mother in her crazy bookish whims!

Cucumber sandwiches for the win
Cucumber Sandwiches
Pinkies up with tea and a cucumber sandwich
Pinkies Up!
The Other Side of the Wall lends itself perfectly for a posh little tea party!

For More Information

If you would like to order your own copy of The Other Side of the Wall you can follow this link here!

I would like to thank my friends at Penguin Random House for sharing this book with us! We truly enjoyed it and are looking forward to starting from the beginning with The Castle in the Mist!


Author Bio

Amy Ephron (www.amyephron.com) is the author of The Castle in the Mist, her first book for young readers, which was nominated for a SCIBA Award, and of Carnival Magic, a companion book. Amy has also written several adult books, including A Cup of Tea, which was an international bestseller. Her novel One Sunday Morning received the Booklist Best Fiction of the Year and Best Historical Fiction of the Year awards and was a Barnes and Noble Book Club selection. She is a contributor and contributing editor at Vogue and Vogue.com, and her work has appeared in numerous other publications. She was also the executive producer of Warner Brothers’ A Little Princess. Amy lives in Los Angeles with her husband; between them, they have five children. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @amyephron.

Three Cheers for Olive Ewe!

Three Cheers for Olive Ewe!

You may have guessed by now that I really LOVE picture books…like, a lot! They are one of my favorite types of books to read and I absolutely LOVE sharing new picture books with you! Well, today I have a new book that I think […]

This Is BABY- Another Picture Book Hit From Jimmy Fallon!

This Is BABY- Another Picture Book Hit From Jimmy Fallon!

Picture books are my go-to gift for nearly every occasion! There is something so special about giving someone a book! My favorite time to give books are at baby showers or to celebrate the arrival of a new baby! Books are such an incredible gift […]

Hands-On Fun with STEM Lessons & Challenges from Evan-Moor

Hands-On Fun with STEM Lessons & Challenges from Evan-Moor

I will be the first to admit that STEM is not my favorite area to teach. If you were to ask me which subjects I do not excel at, I would tell you, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math…STEM! Give me all the books, grammar, art, and writing…I love it! However, these kiddos of mine…LOVE STEM! I am going to assume that this is a prime example of their engineer fathers’ DNA peeking its head through! So, for me to be able to find a book that can walk them through hands-on experiments with little help from me…I am thrilled. STEM Lessons & Challenges from Evan-Moor is just that book…and I want to give you a peek inside!

Evan- Moor’s STEM Lessons & Challenges Grade 6

STEM Lessons & Challenges is so much more than a workbook. Sure it looks like a workbook on the outside, but inside it is packed to the gills with hands-on experiments that your kids will love! There aren’t too many workbooks on the market that aim to get the kids out of the book and working with their hands! This one does it beautifully and with minimal prep time from Mama…which is a win in my book!

A Peek Inside

STEM Lessons & Challenges is organized into 15 engaging units that focus on the areas of Life, Earth, and Physical Sciences. Each of the 15 units is geared around a specific hands-on activity that the students are going to design, prototype, test, and then refine.

Each unit features the following pages:

  • Teacher Overview– This is a great overview that helps me to understand what the project is all about, what the task at hand is, and what I need to do to get us ready!
  • Science Concept and Visual Literacy– these pages are wonderful. These build the foundation of information to help the kids understand what we are going to be learning about and why.
  • STEM Challenge– This introduces the specific task and provides a large space for brainstorming.
  • Suggested Materials List– a break down of the items needed for the challenge
  • Think About the Design Process– This helps students understand the design process of planning, creating, testing, and evaluating.
  • Design Process and Redesign Worksheets– these sheets allow the students to fill in the information about their own design process for the experiment.

In the Grade 6 book, students will have the chance to do experiments such as creating a solar oven, making a submarine, creating a projector, making a sound-proof box and so much more! The projects are amazing and they are so user-friendly that this STEM fearful Mama doesn’t feel overwhelmed at all!!! I love the variety of science areas that are being covered as well. Also, not only are the students learning about different areas of STEM, but they are learning the scientific process and problem-solving!

For More Information

I did a full flip through of STEM Lessons & Challenges Grades 4 and 6 on my IGTV channel! You can find that by clicking here!

You can also head over to the Evan-Moor website for a flip through and to see all of their amazing titles!

STEM Lessons & Challenges is available in grades 1-6! You can also grab Smart Start STEM for your younger kiddos…it is available in grades Pre-K through 1!

STEM Lessons & Challenges is also available through your TeacherFileBox subscription!! If you haven’t heard about this amazing subscription you can read my full review here! We are on our second year of TeacherFileBox and it has been a lifesaver…and money saver!!

Halloween Morning Basket Fun and a FREEBIE!

Halloween Morning Basket Fun and a FREEBIE!

I am a Halloween slacker! It has never been my favorite holiday! Christmas is my jam…I go all-out! But this year, I want to add a little Halloween fun to our homeschool day! I have decided to put together a fun and easy Halloween Morning […]


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