Tag Archives: playtime

As Maya Grows in the Natural World by Patricia Ambinder (Book Review)

“As Maya Grows in the Natural World” celebrates the joyful play of a young child and her friends as they discover the wonderful sights, sounds, tastes, touches, and textures in the natural world. Catch a falling leaf that waved goodbye to its tree, wiggling fingers in the squishy and lumpy earth, and dancing to the music of branches that sway as the wind plays are just a few of the book’s experiences for nurturing a child’s love and care for the environment.

Fun prompts and cues encourage outdoor exploration, enhanced by the whimsical and stunning illustrations and poetic phrases. Timeless quotations about nature and its profound impact on children are a wellspring of wisdom for adults to reflect on and share with the reader. The red lotus flower seek and find encourages attention to detail and instills a sense of accomplishment that brings a smile.

Feel the presence of nature’s calm and engage a child’s imagination as a listener, reader, and thinker through the book’s enchanting words and colors.

For budding nature explorers, ages 2-6.

Reedsy Discovery Link




I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


The author quotes Qwatsinas – Chief Edward Moody, Nuxalk Nation, saying, “We must protect the world for those who can’t speak for themselves such as the birds, animals, fish, and trees.” As Maya Grows in the Natural World shows readers all the beauty that is around them. Children will walk the beaches, feel the sand between their toes, listen to the waves, and smell the salty water. As they enjoy an exciting day at the park, they’ll see a rainbow light up the sky and hear the city come alive. 

Chirping birds. Purring cats. Colorful butterflies fluttering from flower to flower. A falling leaf that signals the changing of the seasons. Sprouting seeds. Apple picking. Jumping in leaves. Flying kites. Buzzing bees. As Maya Grows in the Natural World was an absolute joy to read. It highlights the fun to be had in nature using a diverse cast of characters and spectacular illustrations. 

As Maya Grows in the Natural World is advertised for children 2-6 years of age. The simplicity of the text and the illustrations fit this age group; however, the poetic phrases distract from the overall story. While the thoughtful insights are lovely, they interfere with the flow of the story and are best suited for older children, not toddlers and young preschoolers. 


This story encourages children to explore nature and help protect it. 

“If you like fruits, plant a tree,

If you like birds, plant a tree,

And if you care for others, plant many trees.”

– Unknown.


How We Learn states: “I will know problem-solving, self-exploration, decision-making, number relationship, structures, complex vocabulary, healthy living, cause and effect, creativity, imaginative thinking, and my natural world when I am big. Because I play outside when I am little.” Playtime has many health benefits: physical, emotional, and mental. It helps set the foundations for social interactions. Children learn cooperation as they learn empathy. This story spotlights these points while showing the importance of cherishing and protecting nature from tiny seeds, dolphins in the seas, our furry friends, and more. 

I recommend the book to elementary school children. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤❤

Reedsy Discovery Link



Meet the Author

A writer of poetry and prose, Patti Ambinder is a passionate advocate for social justice. Drawn to the palette of words and the language of colors, she uses them to seek a deeper understanding of the human experience and its relationship with nature. Patti loves spending time outdoors.

Reedsy Author Link




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The Prize at the Bottom of the Box: A Leighton Sophia Rainbow Bath Time Adventure by Jaybie D. (Book Review)

Join 8-year-old Leighton, full of glee, when her bubbly bath turns into cereal you see.

In the tub, she swims and dives, imagine the adventure that comes alive. The bubbles in the bath, the cereal box so fun, in the “Prize at the Bottom of the Box”, a children’s book for everyone!

Amazon Purchase Link



I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


Kids have vivid imaginations. They can make an ordinary object extraordinary. Kids also love bubbles. They especially love when the tub is overflowing with bubbles. 8-year-old Leighton is no different. In Prize at the Bottom of the Box, Leighton’s bubble bath becomes extra fun when her bathtub turns into a cereal box with rainbow bits and rainbow marshmallows mixed in with the avalanche of bubbles. 

As a child, I would dig to the bottom for the prize in the box. It was the second-best part of opening a box of cereal. The first is the marshmallows. The prizes varied, but typically there was a temporary tattoo, a plastic toy, or a color-changing spoon. My childhood prizes were lame compared to what Leighton was gifted: THREE WISHES. As you can imagine, Leighton’s friends are ecstatic and know precisely what they want. Those wishes will remain a surprise, and so will Leighton’s until you read the book!

Leighton’s treasure hunt will take her on a grand adventure with a doll (Vicky) and a super-sized rubber ducky by her side as they face off against a pink pig who wears pearls and can transform into an evil octopus. The octopus’s sinister smile reminded me of Ursula (The Little Mermaid). 

Have you ever swam in a tub of cereal? I’d be surprised if anyone reading this said yes. But, swimming through cereal poses challenges that Leighton and her friends face and conquer. Besides the thick waters and rocky waves, they had to figure out how to best the octopus. Did they? Oh yeah, but how they beat him plays into the three wishes, so I will keep that a secret. 

Prize at the Bottom of the Box would make a great gift for 5 to 10 years. It was a fun read that your child(ren) will love. 


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link



Meet the Author

It is a privilege to write and illustrate children’s picture books, encouraging them to explore their imagination! It fills my soul.

Reedsy Author Link




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Sunny and the Cats by Victoria Otto (Book Review / Author Interview)

SUNNY AND THE CATS by Victoria Otto
Everyone in meow village and woof village lived happily if they followed one very important rule…

​Dogs were not welcomed in meow village and any cat that stepped into woof village would be chased up a tree! But a special puppy named Sunny wants to become friends with the cats, so he breaks that rule to see if the cats might like to play.

What happened when Sunny went to meow village? Pick up this book to find out!

BAM ~ Walmart

add to goodreads
I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.

My family is cat people. For the last 20+ years, we’ve had 1 to 3 adoptive kitties in our home. So, when I saw this story up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it. My daughter and I loved the cover. The inside was just as remarkable. 

From the initial pages, my daughter was hooked. She loved the name of the villages, meow and woof. She adored the background scenery very much on the story’s first page. We loved the creativity in the shape of the cat store and dog food buildingWe also liked the variety of feline and canine animals. They were all cute. Well done, Teguh Sulistio. We give your illustration TWO PAWS UP! 

The story contents themselves were just as entertaining. My daughter thought Sunny, the special puppy, was very sweet-looking. 

We both thought it was adorable how Victoria Otto labeled cats as clean, quiet, and calm while dogs are loud and smelly and filled with laughter. Out of the cats I’ve adopted, none had liked loud noises. My cats can get rowdy at times, but their energy level is nowhere near a dog’s, especially a puppy. They groom a lot, so the author is correct about their cleanliness. So, in a nutshell, I think Victoria Otto categorized them perfectly. 

Sunny and the Cats by Victoria Otto discussed how making new friends can be hard, but don’t give up trying. Be like Sunny, the playful puppy—try, try again. Also, help those in need because, you never know, the person (or feline) you help today just might be your new friend tomorrow. 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
BAM ~ Walmart

add to goodreads
Author Victoria Otto

Victoria Otto is a children’s book author, born and raised in Metro-Detroit. She has a passion for children’s literature and strives to create picture books that are engaging, educational, and lots of fun for both children and parents to read. Victoria loves to make author visits at schools and organizations. So far, she has been able to read her books to and visit eight hundred children across the United States.



1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I attended an event, and someone recognized me from my children’s books and not my pageant life. At that moment, I realized, “Okay, I guess I’m a writer now.”



2.) Describe your writing space.

It’s either very messy or very clean. There is no in-between. When I start to come up with a story, I first write it on lined paper, then I move to my desk and start typing what I wrote onto my computer. You can always find loose papers scattered in my space.



3.) Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

It depends. My readers, who are my close friends and family I always hear from, and occasionally a parent will email me pictures of their child reading my book, which I absolutely adore. But I would love, love, and love to hear from more of my readers, whether just a simple message or a picture. It brings me so much joy when I can connect with my readers and see how my book has impacted them. 


4.) Describe a typical writing day

Wake up at 6 am, make a cup of a honey lavender latte, and then head to the office to start writing for 3-4 hours.



5.) Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?

Remember that it is okay to take a break, whether you need a short break to gather your thoughts or a long break. There is no timeline for publishing, so go at your own pace.



7.) What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Don’t be afraid to write anything. Try not to get in your head and overthink things because writing is a very subjective sport, one person may love your work, and another person may not like it. Always go with your gut feeling and write about things you genuinely care about. 

​If you would like Victoria to make an author visit at your school or organization, please email her.

connect with the author: twitter ~ instagram


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Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte (Book Review)


A touching picture book about a remarkable childhood bond between a little girl and her magic bicycle, perfect for children ages 4 to 7 and for fans of The Giving Tree.

Inspired by the author’s own childhood adventures, this heartfelt story will take readers on a whimsical journey through Ellery’s childhood with her magical bicycle in tow. Ellery and her bicycle share many wonderful new experiences together; lonely yet curious Ellery finds adventure, love, and friendship, as well as weathering sorrow and loss.

When she grows up, Ellery starts to forget her special bond with the bicycle. Will Ellery remember what’s important before it’s too late and the magical bike is lost forever?

A story of redemption, Ellery’s struggles, hopes, and triumph serve as an uplifting reminder to parents of their childhood bonds. Young readers will grow to love Ellery’s strong, kind, and compassionate spirit, and will see their own cherished bicycle in a new light.

  • A heartfelt and emotionally powerful read-aloud book
  • Books for kids ages 4 and up
  • Picture books for preschool, kindergarten, and elementary students.


Amazon Purchase Link



I received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy Discovery.  I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.


The love of magic and magical books has been around for many years. Children love when inanimate objects come to life. They do this through their imagination all the time. They make teddy bears drink tea. They make toys move and speak. They create a wonderland in their backyard or right inside their home. Therefore, I believe children will love Ellery’s bike and wish their bike would also come to life. You might even catch your child speaking to their own bicycle, which would be adorable. 

Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte is not just all about magic. There was a life lesson weaved in the story. A boy picked on Ellery; she got revenge on him and felt terrible afterward. This section reinforces the old saying two wrongs don’t make a right. When you and your child or students read this section, ask them how Ellery should handle the situation differently? How would they have handled it? 

Ellery’s Magic Bicycle teaches children to forgive, apologize for inappropriate actions, and be open to making new friends in the unlikeliest places with the unlikeliest people. With all the turmoil in the world, I appreciate any story that shows people overcoming differences, becoming nice, and starting new friendships. 

My daughter loved Zoe Saunders’s illustrations. I agree; they were fantastic. She did a marvelous job on all the pages, but especially the page dedicated to Ellery growing up and the bike becoming bigger with her. As a parent, I was happy to see Zoe had Ellery and Charlie wearing a helmet when riding the bike. Even though it’s a special bike and could protect the rider, we must teach kids to be safe. 

I would absolutely recommend this Ellery’s Magic Bicycle by Maria Monte to others.


Amazon’s recommended reading age: 4 – 7 years

Grade level: kindergarten – 3


Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 
Score: ❤❤

Amazon Purchase Link




About the Author

Maria Monte is an experienced communications specialist and has completed an honours degree in English literature. Her spare time is divided between family and caring for her young son. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Maria enjoys mochas and losing herself in wiki rabbit holes.

Reedsy Link


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Bentley’s Best Birthday Ever! by Claire Eckard (Book Review)

Bentley’s Best Birthday Ever!

Bentley is back, and it’s his birthday! Bentley is excited to share his special day with his new friends, but they are nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Bentley meets Bella, a lost dog whose family has recently moved to Bentley’s neighborhood. Tia, Bentley’s Fairy Dogmother, and the Dog Pack have a BIG secret! They are planning a surprise birthday party for Bentley, and when Tia is around there is always some magic. Wait till you see Bentley’s reaction to his surprise party, and especially to the special guest that Tia brings!

This book once again highlights Bentley’s kind nature, and also shows that moving to a new neighborhood can be fun! Beautifully illustrated by Anne York, Bentley fans will not be disappointed as they follow Bentley’s latest adventure. 

Buy the Book:
Claire Eckard
Amazon B&N ~ IndieBound
add to goodreads

I received a complimentary copy of this book from iRead Book Tours. I voluntarily chose to read and post an honest review.
You can tell by the cover that Bentley’s Best Birthday Ever! by Claire Eckard will be a fun read. I loved the expression on Bentley’s face, and the cake looked cute, too, with its dog bone candles and color scheme

Well done, Anne York (the illustrator)!!

The cuteness did not stop with the cover. The entire story and illustrations were adorable. If you’ve read Bentley and the Magic Sticks!, you’ll recognize familiar faces from that story. If you haven’t read it, no worries. You’ll still adore watching Tia, Fairy Dogmother, and many of Bentley’s friends work together to give him the best dog party ever! If you love the color pink, you’ll flip for Anne York’s drawing of Rachel. She’s hard to miss. 😉

Everything about Bentley’s Best Birthday Ever! screams fun. 

There was a couple of sad moments, but, in the end, every dog had a massive smile on their face. 

After the story, there’s a “Bentley’s Fun Page.” It contains “special Bentley words” and “how many” questions. Perfect bonus features for at-home or in-class school setting. 

Great job, Claire Eckard, on creating an incredible story with lovable characters and a sweet plot. 

Heart Rating System:
1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 



Meet the Author:

Author Claire Eckard
Claire Eckard is an animal lover and believes in volunteering to give back to her community, especially to the homeless animals that need to find their forever homes. Her animals often inspire her writing, weaving their way into the stories that she writes, blending reality and fiction to entertain, teach, enlighten, and share the joy that animals bring to our lives! Claire is an author, poet, songwriter, wife, mother and grandmother! She lives in Arizona, splitting her time between her home in Yuma, Arizona and her ranch in the mountains of Prescott. Claire has three dogs, eight horses, and a miniature mule!
connect with the author: 
website ~ facebook ~instagram ~ goodreads ~ bookbub

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