September 27, 2015

A Helpful Parenting Guide: Baby Comes Home Book Review

My daughter may be almost 2, but I still remember her days as a newborn—when I wasn’t sure what I was doing, when chaos and exahaustion melded together so seamlessly, when I was lost as a first time mother.

I’ve read up on my typical and my not so typical books, but nothing prepared me for those first few weeks as a mother, or what laid beyond it. That’s why I’m so glad when I discovered Dr. Paul Roumeliotis’s Baby Comes Home book. I wished I’d known about it two years prior because it’s filled withuseful information for the new and experienced mother alike.
Baby Comes Home provides a comprehensive view of you and your baby’s journey from birth up to 18 months. It’s divided into 9 chapters ranging from Injury Prevention, Nutrition, and even Growth and Development. Each chapter is further divided into sections that relate to that particular category. about Think: an encyclopedia or a guidebook for parents. If you have a question, or simply need to know the essentials about your baby, Dr. Paul will give you the necessary answers.

Furthemore, book is organized in such a way that parents can read before the baby is born, or as reference material for those days and nights when you’re at a loss. In fact, I would even equate it to having a physician right at your fingertips. Need information on how much milk to give your baby? There’s a section for that! How about the symptoms for conjunctivitis? Just turn to page 229 for a comprehensive explanation.

Needless to say, this book gives parents answers to their most common questions, but also provides important information we’ve yet to discover about the growth and development of our children
Perhaps what I found most valuable about this book is how the information is delivered. Dr. Paul, though highly credited and well-informed, manages to get his point across without being too pushy or insistent on one method or another. From experience, I’ve often found that parenting books tend to lean from one extreme to another—breast vs. bottle, sleep training vs co-sleeping, etc. So much so, that I found it too constricting as a parent—that if I don’t do what the literature suggests, I’m automatically a bad parent and my daughter will suffer more for it.

This is not the case with Baby Comes Home. As much as possible, Dr. Paul provides parents with a view from both sides. Using his extensive knowledge of child development, he ensures an unbiased analysis of children’s health—one that is beneficial for different types of parents, with different types of children.

I also love the simplicity in his language. Often times, physicians tend to speak so technically that it leads to misunderstandings or just plain dismissal from parents. Baby Comes Home is entirely the opposite. Dr. Paul’s explanations hold both merit and care for his readers (and his readers’ children) with his philosophy both practical and sensible.

Compared to its counterparts, Baby Comes Home also provides a more comprehensive view of parenting. It answers questions not discussed in typical parenting books and furthermore, delves into the life AFTER the baby is born (rather than just focusing on the months leading up to it).

For future parents who want to be prepared, or for those days when you seem to have more questions than you do answers, Dr. Paul’s Baby Comes Home is a worthy investment. It provides parents with a sense of knowledge that is both comforting and informational, but also sensible. It’s definitely a useful tool for any parent’s arsenal of books, tips, and guidelines in raising their children.

September 9, 2015

The Strength of Family and Teamwork: The Inspector Dewey Book Review

It’s no secret that my daughter and I share a love of reading. In fact, one of our favorite things to do together is read after lunch time and before dinner time. And now that my daughter is slowly learning the lay of the world, she’s recognizing images from the vivid pages of her most treasured books. From Santa in the Polar Express to the restless Bunny in Good Night Moon, Little Lady is becoming more aware of those distinct characters in her stories. 

And I suspect, Inspector Dewey will be one she recognizes as well. With its striking illustrations, vivid vocabulary and thrilling plot, the story of this persistent feline and his family’s late night adventure is guaranteed to be a memorable tale to all kids. 
Written by Kristen Heimerl with Irene Bofill as the illustrator, Inspector Dewey is a lovely tale about a group of cats and their owner. The title character, Dewey is both smart and cunning, and his two friends, Thumper and Lily are the perfect compliments to his persistent personality.  Together with their human, Anna,  they embark on a night filled with suspense, excitement and sweet triumph, all to ensure the safety of the neighborhood from a lurking intruder outside their home.

The illustration provides a striking backdrop to this rather thrilling adventure. The vivid hues of purples, blues, and the soft shades of yellows and oranges strike just the perfect combination to bring this lovely Dewey’s story to life. In fact, each page is so beautifully crafted, that my almost 2-year old daughter lingered on each of them as we read, just so she can admire the pictures shown.
With a great balance of subtlety and vibrance, Ms. Bofill was able to capture the wit of Inspector Dewey, the playfulness in Lily, the enthusiasm of Thumper, and the kindness of their owner, Anna in her illustrations, adding another creative layer to this exciting story. 

Perhaps what I found most pleasing about this story is its substance. More often than not, books for children are often too simple, in plot, in vocabulary, and even in characters. In some cases, authors forget that children need to be challenged in those areas as well. Fortunately,  Ms. Heimerl provides that balance between the age-appropriate and the challenging with Inspector Dewey.
For instance, the story presents kids plenty of opportunities to learn new and challenging words, one that they can add to their growing vocabulary. In essence, language not only shows Dewey’s witty personality, but also his detailed perspective on this exhilarating night.  The overall plot and theme of the story is also valuable. Indeed, Heimerl takes her readers through an exciting night as her protagonist tries to stop an impending  threat to his neighborhood, but the story is so much more. In the quest to catch the suspicious man lurking on their streets, Dewey shows the importance of family and team-work; that it’s not only important to protect those you love, but also work together to do so.

It’s no doubt that Inspector Dewey is one for all kids to enjoy. It’s exciting, beautifully illustrated, and contains important lessons from which children can learn.  A perfect combination to an endearing journey of family, trust and excitement, and I highly recommend it.  

          Author website       |        Facebook Authors      |        Inspector Dewey Facebook 

September 8, 2015

Inspiration and Insight from a Children’s Author: An Interview with Kristen Heimerl

Every writer is different. From process to product, our journey within our craft is one-of-a-kind, but as a writer myself, I’ve always been curious as to how our journeys are similar and alike.

That’s why I’m excited to welcome Ms. Kristen Heimerl, author of Inspector Dewey.  She was gracious enough to share with us her inspiration and insight to writing, including her inspiration for her feline protagonist, her thoughts in seeing beauty every where, and her writing habits.
Read on to get a glimpse behind the author and her particular process. 

What inspired you to write Inspector Dewey
A real experience inspired me—in fact, the defining moment is captured in an illustration in Inspector Dewey. I was crawling on the maple floor of my creaky, old home to the telephone in the kitchen. It was 2:00 a.m., a bad guy was on the street outside, and I had left my lights on and my windows open. I needed to call the police—without being witnessed. Urgency and silence were imperative, but my cats, well . . . being cats, had other intentions. Dewey was charging ahead, head low and cantering on the prowl. Lily was on my left, thumping and squiggling, jumping and wriggling—delirious with delight. And Thumper was trotting behind—clip clop, clip clop—his great girth skimming the ground with every step, and doing his gentle, sweet part to keep the family together. I stopped halfway down the hall, took in the hilarity of the moment, and made a mental note to start writing a children’s book the next week. And so I did.

Is there a subject that you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I’ve learned through experience that even seemingly mundane subjects never are. I would not avoid a subject because it lacked appeal on the surface. I would dig and discover something tasty to reveal. I would, however, walk away from any topic that intentionally hurt or marginalized any person or group of persons. I write for joy. The joy business does not include harming others.

Do you have any strange writing habits?
One habit that my cats think is odd is that I read my work out loud. It helps me during the editing process. I ask myself: Is this the best word? Is the cadence strong? Is it fun to read aloud? I especially love the “fun test.” I know that if I start using silly voices, snicker out loud, or ask my cats questions, then I am on to something that makes my heart sing. I figure that if I can make my heart sing, then maybe I can make a child’s heart sing as well. 

Inspector Dewey’s illustrations include a fair amount of blues, but also plenty of yellows. Is there significance to including such a vibrant color to your story?
I love yellow. The most joyous things in life are yellow: sunshine, fuzzy ducklings, banana Popsicles, Busch Gardens’ lemonade in lemon-shaped sippy cups, my childhood bedroom with daffodil and tangerine shag carpeting, and the itty-bitty gold-flecked yellow bikini I wore as a teen. Yellow just plain makes me smile! One day I will have a butter-yellow home with a white wraparound porch and a matching stable nestled among giant jack pines overlooking a lake. It’s no coincidence that yellow is a dominant color in Inspector Dewey!
Aside from writing, what are some of your other passions/hobbies?
I have this problem: I see beauty pretty much everywhere. This has resulted in dozens of collections over the years—from bugs, rocks, stamps, postcards, and dolls to antiques, cookbooks, travel mementos, and picture books.

We live in a beautiful, beautiful world. I try not to miss anything. I’m thankful for Pinterest because now I can “collect” my pretties online. The only physical collection that remains active is my picture book collection. Unlike the rest of my beloved junk, this collection could be useful to others someday—at least, that is my hope.
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