Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Scholastic Media Introduces 'I SPY Adventure' on VTech's InnoTab Tablets - Perfect for Ages 4-7(Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.


I SPY…a brand-new way for kids and families to experience the fun and learning of the celebrated brand from Scholastic Media!

Earlier this summer, I introduced my girls to the popular I Spy games, when they were included on the KFC family sized buckets.  Both my girls had a blast trying to find the hidden items and circling them when they found them.  They would have a race to see who could locate all the items the fastest, with Savannah usually winning.  Bella would find herself sidetracked as she admired the different colorful photos and objects that were included in each scene.

Knowing how much the girls loved ISpy back then, I was excited to share the new I Spy Adventure game which is now available for use with VTech InnoTab tablets.  

About the Game:

"Compatible with all InnoTab devices, I SPY Adventure brings all the age-appropriate entertainment of I SPY to life in a whole new way, as it launches young players into engaging, brain-building quests and takes them through interactive riddles, puzzles and games.  With I SPY Adventure (SRP $24.99), players embark on exciting learning adventures that challenge them to match, find and sort objects across multiple games, while helping to build their problem-solving, logic, vocabulary and visual discrimination skills."

I make a point to try out games and items before I give them to the girls to make sure that they are age appropriate, will withhold their rough play at times, and make sure that they would provide some sort of educational value to playtime.  Being a fan of puzzles and look and find games since childhood, I became hooked on the I Spy books during my cancer treatment in 2008.  A good friend picked me up a handful of these puzzle adventure books to help with chemo brain and to keep my mind sharp, while also keeping me from thinking about long treatments I was having. I loved being able to spot hidden items, and found myself getting competitive with my dad who was with me during my treatments, as just like my girls, we raced to see who could find all the items first.

After a few minutes of playing this new game, I knew that my girls would have a blast (just like I was having) solving challenging puzzles, including matching, find and sort objects, all while building their problem solving, logic and visual discrimination skills.  And, while I wasn't planning on the girls being sick for the past couple of weeks with a head cold, this game sure did come in handy in keeping them busy and entertaining while camping out on the couch.

"I Spy Adventure" is geared towards children ages 4-7, and would make for a fun independent game or even to play with a friend.  My girls took turns playing the games solo, but would find themselves hovering over the other who was playing and offering up help to solve the different games.  

Savannah's loved solving the riddles in the "Riddle Rush" game, which had her searching for objects in photo-realistic scenes to solve the riddles.  


Bella, on the hand, kept tapping on the "Patterns Quest" game, which was a fast paced game that had her completing patterns.  


The other game options that make up this new VTech InnoTab game are "Oops Hoops" which is a sorting type game and "Adventure Box"in which players unlock a treasure box full of I Spy objects and have to find the matching pairs.



Like I said, the girls (and now I) have been sick for a couple weeks, and were growing restless just laying on the couch and having me read to them, or watching movies.  So, it was a breath of fresh air to receive this game to review, and see their moods perk up, while they put their brains to work.  I loved watching my little puzzle solvers smile and get excited when they solved the different levels -- there are 50 level in all -- each more challenging than the next.

If your kids are fans of the I Spy books, which have sold millions of copies since releasing back in 1991, and you own a VTech InnoTab tablet, then you will want to pick up this new game from Scholastic Media to surprise them with.  This fun game will keep them busy on rainy days, sick days, and even during long car rides, or while waiting for siblings to finish sports games and practices.  I ended up picking up another copy of the game so that each of the girls could play it.  And, we are hoping that this is just the start of many more I Spy games to be offered for the VTech InnoTab.

To learn more about I Spy Adventures from Scholastic Media, click here.  And,with the holidays fast approaching why not keep this game in mind for stocking stuffer or under the tree gift ideas?  However you choose to surprise your child with this fun (and addicting) game, you as a parent will love seeing them have fun while also learning.

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About VTech®
VTech® is a world leader in age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children. As a pioneer in the learning toy category, VTech develops high-quality, innovative educational products that enrich children's development and make learning fun. With a rich, almost 35 year history, VTech has not only established itself as a learning authority but also consistently remains at the forefront of innovation with award-winning products such as the InnoTab® 3S Wi-Fi Learning Tablet, one of the first children’s learning-based tablets with Wi-Fi, MobiGo®, V.Reader® and V.Smile®. The Learning Lodge®, VTech’s comprehensive app store, features a robust library of more than 650 educational and entertaining games, e-Books, music and videos with engaging age-appropriate content across the widest variety of curricula, with content expanding to offer even more titles. The company also has a broad range of award-winning infant and preschool products available in 24 different languages worldwide, with more than 100 new products introduced every year. In order to further strengthen VTech’s position as a learning authority, the company’s Panel of Experts, with esteemed experts in reading, language arts, science, math, and child development, consult on new product introductions and Learning Lodge content.

VTech Electronics North America, LLC is based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. VTech Electronics Limited is headquartered in Hong Kong with distribution globally. VTech is the global leader in electronic learning products from infancy to preschool.

For more information on VTech's additional product lines, visit www.VTechKids.comwww.facebook.com/VTechtoys on Facebook or follow @VTechToys on Twitter.


About Scholastic Media
Scholastic Media, the entertainment and media division of Scholastic, is a leading producer of quality, family-oriented content across multiple platforms, including film, television, video, mobile and web, and a major developer and marketer of children’s brands worldwide. Among its award-winning and top-rated television productions are the animated series WordGirlClifford the Big Red DogThe Magic School Bus, and I SPY as well as the live-action shows Goosebumps and Animorphs. Soup2Nuts, a division of Scholastic Media, serves as its digital animation studio and offers full in-house production services, including the development of original series, writing, recording, music composing, design, storyboards, animation, and post-production. Visit www.scholastic.com for additional information.

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Twelve Dancing Unicorns" Blog Tour -- Featuring a Book Review and Author Q&A

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.


Were you a fan of Grimm's "The 12 Dancing Princesses" growing up?  Is so, then you will like this new release based on 12 unicorns and a heroic little girl.  When I first showed the book to the girls, they were in awe of the cover illustration. They both love horses and unicorns, so were eager to have me read this tale to them.  

That evening at bedtime I chose this as our bedtime book.  When Bella saw me open to the first page, she thought it was too wordy and just wanted me to show off the beautiful illustrations. But, I told her that I had read a few pages early in the day and that this was going to be a wonderful story all about the 12 magical unicorns.  Tell a little one the word "magical" and they are hooked. :-)  Bella couldn't wait for me to start reading to see what was so special about the unicorns.

About the book:

"Once upon a time, a king owned twelve enchanting unicorns that he locked up with golden chains. But every morning, he'd find the beautiful creatures peacefully asleep in their corral—with their chains shattered. Puzzled, he promised a reward to anyone who could reveal the unicorns' secret. With the help of a magic cloak, a little girl sets out to discover the truth . . . and help the special unicorn that she loves the most. This charming variation on “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” stars a delightfully spirited heroine and twelve magical unicorns."

As I was reading the story to them, the girls kept stopping me or asking me to turn the page back so that they could take in the beauty of the illustrations.  I, too, found myself captivated by this book's illustrations as it really brought the story to life.  

Oh, how I wished I was the the little girl, who was in love with the smallest unicorn.  She was so lucky to have been able to ride this special unicorn.

12DancingUnicorns_JustinGerard_1

The story itself is truly entertaining and will have children hooked from the beginning, staying engaged until the very last page, as they learn how the magical unicorns are able to break free from the golden chains the king locks them up with.  Don't worry, I will not spoil the ending for you.  Instead, I will just say that this is a perfect bedtime book for children of all ages, and one adults will enjoy reading and admiring the breathtaking illustrations.  This fairytale talks about courage and love and will warm your heart as you share this story time and again with your child.

And, as a special treat, just for Inspired by Savannah readers, I am excited to share a Q&A with the author, Alissa Heyman, who took time out of her busy schedule to answer my author questions and give more insight into how this new release came about and what she is working on now.  I love being able to share both book reviews and author interviews with you, and hope you enjoy my Q&A with Alissa, and will pick up a copy of her book, which will become a family favorite in your house, especially at bedtime.

Alissa-Heyman-225x300

Before I get into the Author Q&A, I wanted to share a little more about Alissa with you, if you are not familiar with her work.

About the Author:

"Alissa Heyman is a freelance writer who edited The Best Poems of the English Language (Mud Puddle Books). Her poems have appeared in the St. Petersburg Review, Lyric, and Quarto, and she has adapted The Big Book of… series for Sterling Publishing, which includes The Big Book of Horror, The Big Book of Fairies, andT he Big Book of Pirates. Alissa lives in New York City where she also curates the Perfect Sense poetry reading series at the Cornelia Street CafĂ©."

And, now on to the fun part...my interview with the author of "Twelve Dancing Unicorns."  Enjoy!

Question 1:  Tell me about your book. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?

My editor felt that retelling this fairy tale with unicorns instead of princesses would be a fresh and appealing approach and asked me to come up with an idea for an adaptation. I was intrigued by unicorn mythology, especially the lore behind the famous medieval Unicorn Tapestries, which led me to explore the idea of captivity and the role of young maidens in taming these wild creatures. I wanted to have a strong female protagonist who had a special bond with the unicorns.

Question 2:  How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?  

I’ve always loved fantasy, and fairy tales are rich with archetypes that give them a universal resonance, which can be played with, updated, and reshaped.

Question 3:  Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books? 

I have many favorite authors, some of whom are J.K. Rowling, Philip Pullman, Lois Lowry, Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper, and Alan Garner.

Question 4:  What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal? 

My writing days vary as I’m also a freelance editor. I’m not a morning person, so I like to write in the late afternoon or at night and I often go to cafes or coffee houses to do my writing.

Question 5:  What is the hardest part of writing for you? 

Bringing a work to its conclusion. I always see too many possibilities.

Question 6:  What’s the best thing about being an author? 

The best thing about writing is creating something out of your own imagination and becoming completely engrossed in that world.

Question 7:  What are you working on now?  

I’m working on several picture books, a collection of poetry, and a young adult novel.

Question 8:  What advice would you give aspiring writers?  

Write about something you care about, not what you think is going to sell, and read a lot of books in that genre.

Question 9:  What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?  

I’d like to be asked when I got interested in writing. My answer would be that I’ve always been interested in writing. I began writing a novel before I could actually write, dictating it to my cousin and illustrating it. Writing was not something that I decided to do consciously; it just seemed natural to me, like eating peanut butter and jelly!


And, if you love the illustrations in this book just as much as my girls and I do, here is more about the illustrator, Justin Gerard...

"Justin Gerard has done illustration for DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, Disney, HarperCollins, Penguin, Little, Brown, and others. The Society of Illustrators featured his illustration “Beowulf and Grendel” in the 50th Annual of American Illustration, from his IPPY Award-winning book, Beowulf, Book I: Grendel the Ghastly. Justin lives in Greenville, SC."
Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

New from Ripley's Believe It or Not! Annual Series -- "Reality Shock!" -- Now Available to Own (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Prepare for a dose of shock and “awwww” as Ripley Publishing’s new book 
Reality Shock!is now on sale.


"Reality Shock! is the latest addition to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! bestselling annual series. Crystal-clear photography paired with zany stories and amazing facts and figures, which are undeniably true but incredibly hard to believe, will make this book a must-have for every household."

  • Age Range: 10 and up 
  • Series: ANNUAL (Book 11)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ripley Publishing (September 9, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609911091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609911096
  • Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches

With the new school year comes the new Ripley's Believe it or Not books.  I have been a fan of the books for years, as you always learn weird yet interesting things including records people hold.  And, since I started blogging back in 2009, I have been covering the new releases each fall.  So, when I heard that the new "Reality Shock!" book was available, (it hit store shelves on Sept. 9th), I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.

If you like reading interesting and unusual stories and have never read a Ripley's Believe It Or Not book, you should really pick one and flip through the pages reading it.  Whenever I get a new release I find myself getting lost in the pages for hours, as I read through the different interesting stories and look at the unbelievable photos.

Here is more about the book:

"With all new content Reality Shock! is a mix of “can’t bear to look, but can’t look away” stories, people, facts and photos. It’s just the ticket for teens and tweens, whether they’re reluctant readers or constant page-turners.
Reality Shock! delivers strange stories, bizarre bits and twisted tales like only Ripley’s Believe It or Not! can. The content ranges from cute to creepy; what’s “great!” to one reader is just plain “gross!” to another – that’s part of the fun of Reality Shock!
Sections in Reality Shock! include:
  • ANIMALS – meet real-life wolf-man Werner Freund, who lives with a pack of wolves and feeds them directly from his mouth
  • SPORTS – find out why the new British sport of bubble soccer is such a kick
  • BODY – you won’t believe how a 56-year-old grandma can function with 18-inch long fingernails; she hasn’t cut them in 20 years!
  • FEATS – Canadian Lonnie Bissonnette is like no other BASE jumper – he hurls himself off bridges in his wheelchair
  • ART – learn about one photographer’s “Snot Shots” – they certainly are something to sneeze at
  • FOOD – people at one festival dine on octopus – while it’s still alive!
Reality Shock! is the perfect gift for curious minds, thrill seekers, and anyone interested in exploring the world of the extraordinary.
Reality Shock! makes the perfect holiday or birthday gift for any kid. They’ll love pouring over the weird, bizarre and fun stories from around the world – and relish the opportunity to gross out parents and friends. Mom and dad will be happy to see their child with a book that they can’t put down, and will likely be unable to resist the urge to flip through a few pages themselves."
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This is one book that the whole family will enjoy reading, including adults and older children. For families with younger children, Ripley's also offers "Ripley's Fun Facts & Silly Stories THE BIG ONE!", which is perfect for younger audiences who want to read about wacky facts and stories, or bring a usual item to show-and-tell to share a few stories and photos with the class.
With over 250+ pages of unusual and oftentimes weird or wacky facts and stories, you will find yourself having a hard time putting this book down.  Also, you will scratch your head at many of the stories, wondering why people do things that they do, like the guy in the photo below who uses his beard as a bowl and so much more.  I for one could never eat food from a person's beard, or sit and watch someone do this.  
Bowl O’Beard Noodles
6_Bowl O'Beard Noodles
"Isaiah Webb, also known as Mr. Incredibeard has such a long beard that he can mold it into over 28 different designs. Using hairspray, hot curlers and a blowdryer, he has crafted his beard into thick strands that can hold a burger fries and a shake, five solo cups, and can also be molded into interesting geometric designs." *
And, if you are an animal lover, you will get your fix our unique animals like the vampire cat below...
Introducing the Vampire Cat...
2_VampireCat
"Lazarus is an unusual looking feline with a lovable disposition. Born with a cleft palate that makes him look like almost vampiric, this cat is so warm and cuddly that his owner is using him as a therapy cat."*
So, as you can see, this books is not only fun to read but also offers fascinating stories and facts that you will want to share with family and friends, and find yourself talking about.  What are you waiting for?  Add this new annual Ripley's release to your family's book collection, or pick up and leave on the coffee table for family and friends to enjoy.  And, with the holidays fast approaching this and the kid's book would make for great gift ideas for those hard to shop for people on your list. :-)
*Source: Photos and facts taken from the Ripley's Believe It or Not!: Reality Shock! book, http://www.ripleybooks.com/.

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Just in Time for Halloween -- "Good Night, Little Pumpkin" Board Book by Claire Keay -- Review and #Giveaway

Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.



Good Night, Little Pumpkin, Claire Keay


Is your little one getting excited about Halloween yet?  Both of my girls are counting down the days, until they receive their Halloween costumes we ordered to arrive in the mail, and for their Nana and Papa to take them trick-or-treating for the first time, this year.  Last year, my girls were still a little young to understand the whole idea of Halloween.  They had fun playing dress up and knocking on the doors to ask for candy.  But, after 4-5 houses, they were bored and ready to do something else.  This year, however, I expect them to last longer and put a fight when I say that we have visited enough houses.

So, as the girls wait for Halloween to arrive, I have been sharing fun Halloween books and movies with them to get them in the holiday spirit.  One book that has become an instant favorite with them, and one that the girls continue to pull from the bookshelf to have me read time and time again is "Good Night, Little Pumpkin" by Claire Keay.

About the book:

"This die-cut board book features adorable art and combines the popular bedtime theme with holiday placement.
Sleepy little Milo, in his oversized pumpkin costume, is making the rounds at the harvest party with his friends. It’s time to go home, but he wants to enjoy every game at the fall fair before the night is over! Crunching leaves, crisp breezes, mountains of sweets—celebrate the abundance of the harvest season through this bedtime book for children. Charming illustrations and a sweet story are perfect for young hearts.

A great alternative to scary books, this fun harvest-themed book is sure to be a perennial favorite."
Features & Benefits:
  • Die-cut board book is a popular and fun format for little ones
  • Adorable art and a fun, wholesome story will engage children as they wind down for bedtime
  • A strategic combination of the popular bedtime felt need and harvest holiday theme
  • Fall books have become a big time for children’s book sales
  • Fun glitter cover embellishment

This was the first book I have read by the author, and can now say I have another wonderful children's author to add to my watch list for upcoming releases. Not only was the story easy for the girls to understand, but it is a story that they will probably relate to come Halloween. My two pumpkins loved the fall colors and festive illustrations that bring this cute story of a little boy who doesn't want to go to bed, to life.  


They were engaged from start to finish and even giggled as they went from page to page, watching Milo's eyes get heavier and heavier, until he fell asleep.

And, being a board book, this book is perfect for little ones, as you don't have to worry about them ripping a page from the book, and it will withstand rough play and a little chewing from a teething baby. :-)  If you love to share holiday stories with your little ones, and are looking for a cute Halloween story to share at bedtime, why not pick up a copy of "Good Night, Little Pumpkin" today?  

Once you and your child read it, you will find yourself pulling it from the bookshelf time and again to enjoy over and over again.  :-)

--GIVEAWAY--

Want to win a copy of this board book to share with your little one(s)?  Thanks to the kind folks at Tommy Nelson, one lucky reader will do just that.  To enter, please complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure:  I was sent a review copy from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  All views shared are mine and mine alone.

KRISPY KREME & SONY PICTURES CONSUMER PRODUCTS CELEBRATE GHOSTBUSTERS ANNIVERSARY W/ NEW DOUGHNUTS




There’s Something Sweet In the Neighborhood…

KRISPY KREME & SONY PICTURES CONSUMER PRODUCTS CELEBRATE
GHOSTBUSTERS 30TH MILESTONE ANNIVERSARY WITH
GHOSTBUSTERS AND STAY PUFT MARSHMALLOW DOUGHNUTS


"Switch on your proton packs because the boys are back in town!  Krispy Kreme and Sony Pictures Consumer Products have joined together to mark the 30th Anniversary of  the iconic blockbuster motion picture franchise with an exclusive offer of two new marshmallow Kreme™-filled Ghostbuster treats inspired by the supernatural comedy’s sweetest villains.  In conjunction with the release of the Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray release, Krispy Kreme is introducing Ghostbusters and Stay Puft Marshmallow Doughnuts that will be available September 29 through October 31, 2014 at participating Krispy Kreme® US and Canadian locations.


Available at participating US and Canadian locations only. While supplies last. 

Visit KrispyKreme.com for your nearest Krispy Kreme location.

• Ghostbusters Doughnut: A marshmallow Kreme-filled shell topped with white icing, a decorative green “splat” inspired by Slimer, and a Ghostbusters logo sugar piece.

• Stay Puft Marshmallow: A marshmallow Kreme-filled shell topped with white icing, decorated with Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’s familiar face and a sugar piece hat.

The Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray and the Ghostbusters II 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Edition, from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is currently also available in a two-disc anniversary edition Blu-rayTM Digibook including both films, as well as a Limited Edition gift set that includes an exclusive collectible Slimer figurine and the two-disc Digibook. 



This special gift set will only be available for a very limited time, with the collectible Slimer figurine being a true must-have for fans. Both films have been fully restored and remastered in 4K and will be presented in high definition on Blu-ray from those 4K sources.

Both the Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II Blu-rays come loaded with exclusive bonus materials, including revealing conversations with director Ivan Reitman and Dan Aykroyd, as well as never-before-seen deleted scenes from Ghostbusters II and more. The Ghostbusters anniversary edition features the original music video of the Oscar® nominated song “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker Jr., while Ghostbusters II includes the original music video for “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown. In addition, Ghostbusters will contain all previously released legacy content, commentary and an interactive Slimer Mode, offering fans a picture-in-picture graphical viewing experience."
About Krispy Kreme
Krispy Kreme is an international retailer of premium-quality sweet treats, including its signature Original Glazed® doughnut. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, N.C., the Company has offered the highest-quality doughnuts and great-tasting coffee since it was founded in 1937. Krispy Kreme is proud of its Fundraising program, which for decades has helped non-profit organizations raise millions of dollars in needed funds. Today, Krispy Kreme can be found in over 850 locations in more than 20 countries around the world. (NYSE: KKD) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Visit us at www.KrispyKreme.com.
About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to http://www.sonypictures.com.