Babysitter’s Review: A Puppy, Not a Guppy by Holly Jahangiri

In the first of what will be a series of “Babysitter Approved” book reviews by my newly certified 12 year old babysitter in residence, here is a review of Holly Jahangiri’s new children’s book, A Puppy, Not a Guppy.

As a new babysitter, I’m always looking for ways to entertain the neighborhood kids that I sit for. Across the street are 5 year old twins who I watch sometimes.   A Puppy, Not a Guppy is a very cute book that I’m sure they will love.

The story is about a little girl named Irma who wants a puppy, but her parents won’t let her have one.  Her friend has a bunch of pets including a pregnant guppy.  When he tells her that he will have to flush the baby guppies down the toilet, she feels bad for them and agrees to take them.

At first she thinks they are boring.  They don’t do anything.  But later she discovers they are not as boring as she thought.  She thinks of one of the fish as a slowpoke but with her mom’s help decides to name him Lightning, hoping that he’ll live up to his name.  I don’t want to give too much away but I think kids will be excited to learn that a pet guppy is trainable, if you are very patient!  Parents will be happy because their kids may want a pet that’s easier to take care of.

I think little kids will really like this story because it is cute and funny.  Irma seems like a lot of kids I know.  She’s a little grumpy when her parents won’t let her get a puppy, but she doesn’t throw a tantrum and that’s a good lesson for little kids to learn.  My little sister wants a kitten and my parents won’t get her one, but unlike Irma she HAS thrown a tantrum (more than one).  Maybe guppies would be a good idea for her.  She could name one Kitty, ha ha!

The illustrations in the book are very cute- even kids as old as I am will enjoy them, especially the guppies.  And at the end of the book there are some fun and surprising fish facts- stuff even I didn’t know.

I give this book my official Babysitter Stamp of Approval.  In my professional opinion, this is a book for children of all ages!

Here I am (in the CSI hat) with my sister (in the pink hat) and the neighborhood rugrats:

You can check out other stops on this blog tour at:

Tuesday, December 8th:  Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap

Wednesday, December 9:  Life is But a Dream

The Struggling Blogger dot Com

Thursday, December 10:  Life is But a Dream

Friday, December 11:  Life is But a Dream

Saturday, December 12:  HappyMaking

Born on a Syzygy

Sunday, December 13:  Dr. Dean Pomerleau @ Fish School Blog

The Story of a Writer

Monday, December 14:   Books on the Brain

Tuesday, December 15:  Jena Isle’s Random Thoughts

Wednesday, December 16:  Tour Wrap-up at Imaginary Friends and It’s All a Matter of Perspective

Looking for Book Recommendations for Young Readers

My 9 year old, a reluctant reader, finally found a book she likes- Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech.  She’s finished this one and has picked up Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls, which she says is funny, so we’re on a roll–she also likes all the Goosebumps books.  Can anyone recommend other books for girls this age?  What else can I get for her? Part of her homework is to read for 20 minutes a day.  She grumbles about it, but doesn’t always stop when the timer goes off.

My 10 year old loves to read and frequently falls asleep reading a book. That’s what happened here, while reading to her little sister.  Aren’t they sweet when they’re asleep?

Review: The Barefoot Book of Princesses

I don’t generally review children’s books, but when Melanie from Barefoot Books asked me to take a look at a couple of their titles, I checked out their website.  Filled with award winning books with stories from other cultures and eye-catching art, how could I resist?  

Melanie sent me The Barefoot Book of Princesses retold by Caitlin Matthews, which includes a storytime cd, along with Magic Hoofbeats (with 2 cds), and One, Two, Skip a Few.  I’m only going to talk about the Princess book here, but all the books would make a great gift for a young friend (and if you purchase one through Melanie you can get 10% off!)

My kids are a little too old for these books, especially the counting book, but none of us are too old to appreciate a good story.  I popped the Princesses cd in without a word to the kids, who were bouncing off the walls at the time, and suddenly a hush fell over the room.  “What is this?” my 9 year old demanded.  “Princess stories from all over the world,” I told her.  “Why are you playing it, Mom?  We’re too old for Princesses!,” she said, giving me that I’m-not-a-baby look. “That’s ok, I’m not playing it for you, I’m playing it for me. I’m going to tell people about it on my blog,” I told her. “Oh, ok,” she said.  “What is that book?”  “It goes along with the cd.  Do you want to see it?,” I asked.  “I guess,” she said, trying to pretend she didn’t care.

Well, guess what happened when I tried to turn it off 20 minutes later, in the middle of the 3rd story?  “WAIT!!  Don’t turn it off!  It’s not over!,” cried my preteen girls who are too old for princesses.  “We have to find out if the princess gets her hair back!”  Hmmm.  

This is a really special book.  There are 7 different stories, ranging from The Princess who Lost her Hair, an African folk tale, The Birdcage Husband from Central Asia, and The Horned Snake’s Wife, an Iroquois story.  There are also the classic Princess tales, The Princess and the Pea from Denmark, and the Grimm Brothers’ The Sleeping Beauty.  The gifted illustrator, Olwyn Whelan, did a fabulous job vividly portraying the stories with vibrant colors and beautiful detail.  Margaret Wolfson reads the stories on the cd in a soothing and emotive voice that could lull a little one to sleep if the stories weren’t so full of adventure.

My big girls listened to the entire cd and admitted that they thought it was great.  But don’t tell their friends, because that would be sooooo embarrassing.

Oh, and the Princess gets her hair back.

Kandide and The Secret of the Mists

Our book club has taken an odd turn–

This fall we will read Kandide and the Secret of the Mists, a book meant for 9-12 year old readers (let’s just say we are all a wee bit older than that).  It’s all faeries and magical worlds and enchanting adventure, not my usual interests!  But one of our members is a friend of Diane Zimmerman, the author, and she will be attending our meeting in person.  That’s a rare opportunity and one we did not want to pass up.  Ms. Zimmerman is also a professional magician at the Magic Castle in LA- pretty cool! Several of us (myself included) have children that fall into the 9-12 age range, so we’re going to ask them to read the book along with us and include them in our meeting.

The trailer is quite good!  Check it out:



Click HERE for a Promo Code to save 25% on Kandide!

Has your book club ever read something completely different like this?  If so, how did it go?  

The Sunday Salon: The Weekend in Books

We’re having another scorching hot weekend here in Southern California, but the heat (hovering around 90) wasn’t enough to keep me away from the 13th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA.  The festival is a huge special event that brings writers, publishers, book sellers and readers together.  We visited dozens of booths and it was all very exciting for me.  Authors are like Rock Stars in my world.  Not so much for my kids, though, who did a lot of complaining about the heat while spooning frozen lemonade into their mouths and soaking their feet in the big fountain on the quad.  I should have left the whiners at home!

We talked to Lori Nelson, author of a delightful book for girls called Hillary’s Big Business Adventure , about a 5th grader from Baltimore who has all kinds of entrepreneurial ideas.  This was right up my kids’ alley as they are Lemonade Stand Queens and are always dreaming up new ways to make cash.  My 5th grader actually has brochures and business cards made up for a business idea she has.  The book was written for kids a bit younger than mine, though, so I didn’t buy it, but 4-8 year olds would love it.  The illustrations are outstanding.

We also had a celebrity sighting.  Marilu Henner was at the Borders booth signing her new book Total Health Makeover.  She looked cute in a spring dress and sun hat and laughed when my husband called out, “We loved you on The Apprentice!”

Of the many panels and workshops at the festival there were three I’d hoped to attend, but we got there just in time for the first only to discover it was way on the other side of the sprawling campus.  The other 2 were happening at 2:30 and 4, but by 1pm we were melting in the heat and couldn’t take any more.  We all agreed it was time to leave.

I was excited to find a signed first edition of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin in my mailbox when I got home, sent to me by the author himself!  I look forward to starting it today.  Josh is going to do a guest post for me in the next few days about book clubs, and I’ll be giving away a copy of his book, so keep an eye out for that.  Matrimony is also the May selection for the online book club at Every Day I Write The Book Blog.  You might be able to score a copy of it over there if you hurry!  They are (were?) giving them away to those who want to participate in the discussion.

Last night we had a neighborhood BBQ to attend.  Our friends across the street recently hired an au pair from Brazil to care for their 3 year old twins for the next year. A new Brazilian au pair is a great excuse to party, I always say! 

By the time we came home at 8:30 I was so pooped from being out in the heat all day that I didn’t feel like reading (or maybe it was the massive amounts of bbq’d meat and the 3 beers I consumed that made me feel couch potato-ish).  Luckily Juno arrived in my mailbox from Netflix this weekend, so I popped it into the dvd player, not expecting too much, but I loved it! I laughed, I cried, I marveled at Ellen Page’s talent, her range of emotions, her character’s extensive and colorful vocabulary.  It is smart, funny, touching.  If you haven’t seen it, I insist you go check it out right now!  Or later.  Whatever works.  But do it!  You won’t regret it.

Ok, back to books.  I just gobbled up The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski for my book club.  It’s a breezy whirlwind of a book, quick and light and fun, but also thought provoking.  June Parker gives an acquaintance, Marissa, a ride home one night after a Weight Watchers meeting.  They get in a crash on the freeway and Marissa dies.  Later June comes across a list in Marissa’s purse of 20 things she wanted to do before she turned 25.  There are large and small items on the list, ranging from “kiss a stranger” to “change someone’s life”.  The book is about June’s mission to finish the list for Marissa.  My book club is meeting on May 4th to discuss TNTOML, and the author has graciously agreed to join us by speaker phone.  I’ve asked everyone to bring their own list of 5 things they’d like to do before their next big birthday, but now I’m having trouble coming up with 5 things for my own list!   I keep reminding myself that they don’t need to be profound, just something new, but it’s not easy.  What would be on your list?    

Have a beautiful Sunday!


Guest Blogger: 10 Year Old’s Review of Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

21mytgj3nxl_aa115_.jpgHave you ever thought about keeping a diary?  Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is a really great book.  On the inside, the book looks as if it’s someone’s real writing in a diary or a journal, like they wrote the book with a pen or pencil.  There are illustrations that look like doodles and they are really cool.

Greg is a middle school student, and he’s not in the popular crowd.  He plays a lot of video games and has a friend in the neighborhood that’s kind of a dork.  His mom suggests that he keep a diary.  He insists that it’s a journal, NOT a diary, because diaries are for girls.  Greg has a big brother, Rodrick, who drives him nuts.  Rodrick is in a band called Loaded Diaper, but spelled Loded Diper.  Rodrick is not very smart.  Rodrick plays pranks on Greg.  Greg writes about everything from school to snow.  He and his friend also make funny comic strips.

I liked this book for it’s humor and goofiness.  Boys or girls would like this book because it’s LOL funny.  There is a sequel coming out on February 1st, so if you like this one, you’ll want to get the next one, too.

I would like to thank Book Mama for telling my mom about this book. I loved it!

Guest Blogger: 10 Year Old’s Review of The Doll People by Ann M. Martin


The Doll People by Ann M. Martin is a great book. It is very long but it takes a short time to read, because you get sucked into it. I stayed up late reading it without my mom knowing. I finished it in two days.

The book is about 2 families of dolls, the Dolls and the Funcrafts. They are both living dolls, no really, they are dolls that are alive. They live in dollhouses. If seen alive by human eyes, the dolls would enter permanent doll state, meaning they would turn into regular dolls (not living). It was scary to think that Annabelle Doll, my favorite, was almost seen running by a human!

Aunt Sarah Doll has been missing for over 45 years. No one knows what happened to her until the secret organization SELMP investigates and finds out what happened to her. You won’t believe it. In case you’re wondering, SELMP means Society for Exploration and the Location of Missing Persons. It’s members are Annabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft, who team up to solve mysteries.

I enjoyed the idea of dolls being alive, especially the fragile Doll family, made of fine china. There were many exciting parts. You would like this book if you like adventure, dolls, and sneaking around, because the dolls have to do that a lot. There is a sequel called The Meanest Doll in the World that I cannot WAIT to read.

I highly recommend this book! I think you would like it if you are in 5th grade or older.

Does anybody have good books to recommend for 10 year old girls?

Weekend Update: Spreading Some Cheer


Living in California, it isn’t always easy to get into the holiday spirit. Some days we really have to work at it. Today I put on a cheery red tshirt and flip flops to finish up the last of my shopping. I know what you’re thinking.. flip flops in December? Well, it was 78 degrees outside. “Oh the weather outside is frightful..” somewhere else!

My kids asked if they could do a little caroling Friday night with a few of their friends. My mental knee-jerk reaction was, “No! I don’t have time! I have too much to do! I have to wrap, bake, clean, etc. etc.” But, instead, I surprised myself (and them) and said, “What a great idea! And then we’ll have hot chocolate when we come home!” The excited chatter and smiles I got back were well worth the inconvenience, and my neighbors were very pleasantly surprised to have carollers come to their doors. Even though the kids flubbed the words to Rudolph and Jingle Bells more than once, they were awfully cute (awful and cute?) and got several little treats, including gingerbread men and Hershey’s kisses. One neighbor offered singing lessons, which we politely declined 🙂

(The picture above is courtesy of the hysterical blog Loldogs ‘n’ Cute Puppy Pictures – I Has A Hotdog)

Beastmomma did a fun Pay it Forward post this past week that inspired me to do something nice for some underappreciated people at my daughters’ school (the janitor, the speech teacher, etc.). It was fun sharing with them and spreading a little cheer, but it occurred to me that I really didn’t do the Pay it Forward thing correctly. I never saw that movie, but I guess when you do something nice for someone else, you’re supposed to instruct them to “pay it forward” and continue the chain of kindness by doing something nice for another person. I just passed out homemade peppermint bark, with no instructions but to enjoy it and have a Happy Holiday. So I did it wrong.

To remedy that mistake, I’d like to Pay it Forward by sending the first 3 commenters to this post a little surprise in the mail, just like Beastmomma did (I was the lucky 3rd commenter on her post), and I ask those 3 to please pay it forward to someone else. Let’s keep spreading that holiday cheer.

I borrowed an idea from a fellow blogger, who I would happily credit if only I could remember who it was.. anyway, I thought it was such a nice idea. I filled a big red basket with all the Christmas books we’ve accumulated over the years and set it by the tree. Each night this week, my girls and I have read a couple of books from the basket and enjoyed a snack while admiring the tree. It’s such a simple way to slow down and enjoy the season with my kids. One of our favorite holiday books is How Murray Saved Christmas by Mike Reiss. It’s very witty, it rhymes, and the illustrations are great. We get some major laughs from this book year after year. 51xe4snfv6l_bo2204203200_pisitb-dp-500-arrowtopright45-64_ou01_aa240_sh20_.jpg

It’s so easy to get caught up in the chaos and craziness of the holidays. My kids have long wishlists but I know what they really want most is more time with me. I also know that will not always be the case. My baby turned 9 this week, and my other baby is 10. I’m making an effort this year to really appreciate my children and their sweetness, because before long they will be (gasp) teenagers.

So tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and I get to play Santa. Sadly, it might be the last time, since my kids are questioning and wondering and probably not really believing. They’re growing up fast. I’ll miss their innocence.

Merry Christmas, fellow Santas. Merry Christmas, everyone!