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Book Reviews

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review: The King Cake Baby by Keila Dawson, illustrated by Vernon Smith

    Perfect for Mardi Gras, this new twist on the Gingerbread man is a fun romp through the French Quarter of New Orleans and beyond. There’s no fox, so does the baby get away? Or who will be clever enough to catch the King Cake Baby?

    “No, mon ami!” You can’t catch me! I’m the King Cake Baby!”

    A fun read for any age the book comes complete with an easy King Cake recipe. Start a new family tradition. King Cakes are made for Epiphany (January 6) but also for Mardi Gras which is coming up in February.

    Here’s the classroom activity guide for Pre-K-3rd grades.

    · THE KING CAKE BABY study guide

    How to host a King Cake Party and bake an Easy Peasy King Cake!


    Free music, math, and movement activity; sing it to the tune of 5 Little Monkeys.

    · 5 LITTLE KING CAKE BABIES Action song

    Amazon link:

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review: The Great Holiday Cookie Swap by Melanie Kyer, Illustrated by Joe Kulka

    Enjoy traveling the world through cookies with this new holiday book. It's a little seasonal fun no matter what holidays you celebrate…or even if you just enjoy the treats. It’s a battle to be top cookie. Is there such a thing? Find out. The recipes are included in the book so you can pick you favorites to make with your child. The Great Holiday Cookie Swap shares baking traditions of many cultures and festivals around the world.

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review: Winter Is Coming By Tony Johnson, illustrated by Jim La Marche

    This beautifully illustrated book celebrates the change in the seasons though quiet observation of the natural world. As we travel through the fall season, a young girl with binoculars and a sketchbook watches the world around her. We see chipmunks, deer, a lynx, bears, foxes, through her eyes and her sketches. Winter Is Coming is a gentle celebration of the great outdoors.

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review: Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature by Marcie Flinchum Atkins

    Finally, the book preschool teachers and parents have been waiting for. Each year as fall rolls around, so do the questions: What is hibernation? Where do the ladybugs go in the fall?

    I’m used to answering the questions, but this book does a beautiful job of explaining dormancy in nature with clear simple language and captivating photographs.

    Author Marcie Flinchum Atkins knows her subject and her audience. This children’s author has a background as a school librarian and teacher. Check out more of her books at

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review: Pokko And the Drum, by Matthew Forsythe

    Pokko's parents make mistakes from time to time, like giving her a drum. The drum is loud and disrupts the household...but was it a mistake? When Pokko takes the drum outside she finds friends, musicians, and learns that music has the power to create change! Pokko and the Drum is a fun read and the illustrations are glorious:)

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review:  Jabari Jumps, By Gaia Cornwall

    A great book for anytime of year, but if you've just spent some time at the pool, lake, or ocean it's a perfect read. Remember your first jump or dive into water - that's a big moment. Jabari Jumps brings that moment to life for one boy, but this story is so much more for children. 

    Children face new challenges everyday and it can be scary even when you feel prepared. Jabari Jumps is a fun read, but also a great way to open up conversations about what it takes to try something new! 

  • The Preschool Parent Book Review: Busy-Eyed Day, by Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon

    A fun fresh look at a day outside. As a preschool teacher I found this book was especially good to read outside with the children. Then we used our busy eyes to find interesting things all around us.

    The illustrations kept the children's attention and provided nuanced detail without being overly busy, so children could clearly follow the characters - not true for many preschool books. As much as I love the current trend of multi-level books (which please children and adults), this book is right on target for the preschool audience and an excellent way to start exploring the great outdoors including your local park.

  • Preschool Parent Book Review: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk 
    by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

    Reviewer: Preschool parent, Ellie Thomas

    This parenting book is packed full of wisdom that helps parents engage their children in a positive process of behavior change. Among the many skills discussed, parents are given specific strategies and language for teaching their children about their own feelings and needs as well as communicating the  parents' expectations.  Increasing children's awareness in these concrete ways can minimize strife and the need for punishment. Children gain autonomy and empowerment so that parents can have a more positive and trusting relationship with their children.

    I highly recommend this book and think that the key to its lasting results is practicing the skills in a chapter before you move on to the next.

  • Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

    The Mother Bruce series books are witty, and just plain fun to read. The books are written with humor for children of any age and adults. I’m always careful about children’s books that spend too much time on making the parents laugh, but I think Ryan Higgins does a nice job of providing humor for everyone without taking away from the stories. To be honest these books are really about the wonderful art, which is whimsical and detailed. They are also about family. 

    In the series a crabby old bear named Bruce becomes the unexpected caretaker of four goslings. He learns the messy, wonderful truths of caring for others. Bruce stays true to his grumpy character through the series: Mother Bruce, Hotel Bruce, and Bruce’s Big Move.  If you’re a lover of Calvin and Hobbs' “Calvin Ball” you are sure to enjoy “Frying Pan Ball” You can find detailed (?) directions for the game at the end of Bruce’s Big Move. Read and enjoy!

  • Today’s Preschool Parent Book Review is on The Parent’s Survival Guide to Daycare Infections, edited by local UVa pediatrician, Leigh B. Grossman, MD

    I often recommend concerned parents go to the CDC or Mayo Clinic website for the most up to date information, that said, this is an extremely helpful resource book for parents. It covers the ins and outs of childhood diseases so you can know when to relax and when to take action.

    It can be frustrating to deal with infections as your child goes off to daycare or preschool, but most of these are viruses that build up your child’s immune system and are relatively benign (although no one feels that way when the whole family is sick for the 3rd time this year). It’s important to know what’s normal and what infections or symptoms could be a serious problem.

    There is a particularly helpful table on communicable diseases as well as full chapters on many diseases so you can have a full understanding of how a disease is caught, the incubation period, symptoms, what to do, and when should your child return to preschool or daycare.

    The Parent’s Survival Guide to Daycare Infections is a handy resource book for any parent to have at home.

  • Today's Book Review for The Preschool Parent Primer is by Carolyn Schuyler, LCSW, and Executive Director of Wildrock, a  nature playscape in Crozet, VA.

    As the director of Wildrock, a nature playscape and discovery center that has many preschool visitors, I am delighted to have Pam Evans’ book, The Preschool Parent Primer as an essential resource to share with parents. Full of stories and practical skills to implement, I can think of no better resource to support parents in effectively caring for preschoolers. Pam is a master teacher beloved in our community for her wise, compassionate care of children and her ability to support and nurture parents. Her knowledge and expertise is distilled in The Preschool Parent Primer, making it a go-to resource for parents wanting to better understand and care for their children. She understands the challenges parents face and frames mistakes as opportunities. Throughout the pages of this book is Pam’s clear respect for the young child’s emerging competence and strategies for supporting children in making good decisions to meet their needs. Each chapter focuses on core concepts of concern for parents, from how to choose a preschool and how to pick activities that promote healthy child development. As an added bonus, the book is full of useful recommended resources and activities. The Preschool Parent Primer is a true gift to parents and children, and will no doubt be passed from one family to the next as an essential parenting guide.

  • Today we review Elsa Beskow's classic, "Peter's Old House." While story comes out of the twentieth century, it not only still holds up, but in typical Elsa Beskow style, the children in this book show independence, wisdom, and capability.

    Our story starts with Peter, an old sailor who knows many languages and knows how to fix everything. He  lives in a small town and gladly comes to the aid of anyone who needs help, whether it's fixing a clock or a child's hurt leg. He also makes beautiful toy sail boats for the children of the town. Peter helps everyone, but no one ever thinks to pay him.

    An official comes to town and declares that Peter's house (which is in a bad way) must be fixed or it will be torn down. The children come together with a plan to aid Peter. There is a lot to talk about in this book, from travel and languages, building and home repair, and helping those around us. We love a story where the children take the lead in solving problems.