Winter Walk

by Virginia Snow

I love the unique illustrations in this beautiful winter book. Line drawings cover the pages with colored images highlighting parts of the woods that kids are learning about. “Grammy”  takes her grandkids on a winter adventure and as they explore the woods, they discover different birds, trees, animals and snowflakes. The book educates kids in a simple, illustrative way and even gives two crafts at the end (paper snowflake and pinecone bird feeder).

Beautiful Moon

by Tonya Bolden

This book has just hit the top of my list for bedtime stories to read with my girls. I LOVE it. It tells the story of a little boy who almost forgot to say his bedtime prayers and then goes through the people and things he prays for. It is a great reminder for both children and adults not only to pray, but the types of things that are important to pray for (like the homeless and the hungry). The boy prays for several “mature” things but also for his teacher to read a book every day at school. It is delightful and sweet and the illustrations are beyond beautiful. Although we are Christians, the book actually doesn’t even mention God or who exactly the boy is praying to so it would be appropriate for different religions.

“Can’t Wait Willow” and “Must Have Marvin”

by Christy Ziglar

These books by the niece of Zig Ziglar are fantastic! They have so many elements children love, including adorable illustrations. In both of these stories, the main characters Willow and Marvin are following their child desires for immediate gratification only to fall disappointed in the end because they didn’t hold out for what they really wanted. They teach a great lesson to children and make them think about the impulses the characters are making with a star that can be found on every page showing an emotion based on the character’s decisions. All families should add these books to their libraries!

Santa’s (Zany, Wacky, Just Not Right!) Night Before Christmas

by DK Simoneau and David Radman

Our family loves Christmas books. We read them year round! When we read this book we all adored it. It is so funny and it’s different from other Santa stories. It takes you through a Christmas eve night where nothing went the way it was supposed to and it all began with Santa having to do his own laundry. It’s a very fun story and all young children who love Santa with enjoy this book.

The Man With the Violin

by Kathy Stinson

I love this book, perhaps because I am a former violinist. While this is clearly a children’s book it is actually a great reminder for adults to slow down and pay attention to the small details that children don’t seem to miss. This story is based on the true story of Joshua Bell, who played his Stradivarius in a D.C. train station and was barely noticed. The boy in the story, Dylan noticed the violinist and was moved. The music stays with Dylan, coloring his drab day and he eventually hears him on the radio later on. It is a moving story and it has nice illustrations. Children probably won’t appreciate the moral of the story as much as adults, but it is still a great one for kids to hear.

50 Below Zero

by Robert Munsch, Michael Martchenko (Illustrator)

This is a silly little story that is a nice short read for young children. Jason’s dad is a sleep walker and ends up in the most unlikely places and on one particular, snowy night, Jason’s father’s sleepwalking wakes Jason up. Jason finds himself chasing his father around the house where he ends up having to bring him inside from the snow. Kids find it funny to see what silly places (and poses) Jason’s father will be in next! It is a simple board book that is perfect for a short, humorous read.

God Gave Us You

god-gave-us-youWe are a Christian family so we LOVE any book that talks about God and his love for us in a way that captivates children. If the story feels personal to your child then it really helps them to understand the message. God Gave Us You delivered all that and more. It is a book that captured our (almost) 4 year-old instantly, by seeing her name on the cover and on every page. It beautifully tells about God’s love for His children and how “God had a plan at the very beginning… He had you in mind, when He set the world spinning.” The book reads easily with catchy rhymes…my favorite!

Each beautiful illustration features the child’s name. They’ll love finding the letters of their name hiding in the leaves of a tree, strutting on the feathers of a peacock and shining brightly in the night sky. Even the front, back and spine of this 8.5″ x 8.5″ hardcover book are personalized. Parents can write a narration for their children as well, making it a great option for a gift or any special occasion. This is defintiely a book to add to your collection for a wonderful reminder of how perfectly created your little one is. $29.95, available at marblespark.com.

Top Tips for Mom Inventors

by Tamara Monosoff

What many multi-tasking moms don’t realize is that they already possess the necessary skills to become successful entrepreneurs.  These essential skills are practiced and strengthened on a daily basis such as; coming up with creative solutions to everyday problems, extraordinary time management (getting kids to school, activities, doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, preparing meals), stamina (staying up all night when the stomach flu hits the household), all while living within a budget.  In fact, these skills are directly transferrable to launching and running a successful business.  When I hear a mother say, “I’m just a mom, I can’t run a business,” nothing could be further from the truth. And, becoming an entrepreneur has benefits such as a flexible schedule and an opportunity to contribute to the family income.

For the past ten years, I have seen thousands of people transform that initial idea into creative, money-generating new products.  And, with the resurgent economy and awesome new resources available for developing, manufacturing, funding, video marketing, selling and distributing products, the opportunity for inventive product entrepreneurs has never been better.

Every entrepreneur’s journey is unique, but like any new endeavor, the most important steps are the first ones.

Below are seven tips to get you started on the right path:

  1. Treat Your Product Idea as a Business from the Start. There is no true short-cut. With an open mind, analyze and understand the design and production costs, market size, selling price, profit potential, and competition BEFORE you spend money bringing your product to market.

  2. To Patent or NOT to Patent? A patent can be a useful tool but it is not a requirement and sometimes a waste of precious resources. Consider taking advantage of a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) first. It is a placeholder that will buy you 12 months of time before you have to officially file a utility patent.

  3. Make it Simple. Many new product ideas include flashy features from electronics to excessive bells and whistles that drive up production costs and the retail price. Creating high-quality products with fewer features–but priced right — can mean more sales and money in your pocket.

  4. Raise Smart Money. Use crowd-funding, microloans, credit lines, and new online options that fit your business. There has never been a better time to fund your business.

  5. Bring Your Product to Life with a Prototype. Start with something basic that will be refined over time. It does not need to be expensive or fancy.

  6. Be Cautious of “Opportunities.” Be careful to scrutinize companies that offer to market or license your product with sweet deals that sound too good to be true. Use the same good practices you would use to select a contractor, plumber, or new nanny.

  7. Celebrate Your Successes…Large and Small. Recognize setbacks for what they are an unavoidable — and sometimes the most valuable — part of the journey. This is an opportunity to build a business and life that you LOVE.

There are many steps along this journey but with the abundance of new resources available you can take your idea and run.  As Julie Martin-Allen, Senior Director of Showcase Events for Sam’s Club said in the foreword of my new book, “My final advice to those readers who aspire to see their products on the shelves of the nation’s top retailers; be courageous and go for it!”

For more resources on funding, manufacturing, publicity and managing your business check out The Mom Inventors Handbook, How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing, Revised and Expanded 2nd Ed (second edition), released on April 1, 2014.

 

Tamara Monosoff is an award-winning inventor, educator, media contributor, speaker and author of six bestselling books; including the new interactive version of The Mom Inventors Handbook, How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing, Revised and Expanded 2nd Ed(second edition). If you need help getting started, Tamara offers Power Mentoring Programs that will rocket you to success! Visit: www.TamaraMonosoff.com.

Perfect Children’s Wall Art…with a Cause

horse girl I am obsessed with children’s illustrations. Obsessed. We have tons of books for our girls and of course my favorite ones have the best illustrations. Every time we read one of those I can’t help but visualize them being on the wall and incorporating them into my decorating. If my favorite artwork was available to purchase you can be certain it would already be consuming the walls in my girls’ rooms.  While there are certainly plenty of options for cute artwork for children’s rooms at your favorite stores, the beauty and unique look of a hand painted book illustration is just better!

I was beyond ecstatic when I found about customizable wall art from award winning children’s book artist Phyllis Harris. One look at her web site and I wanted EVERY. Single. Print. They are adorable, beautiful, sweet, colorful, unique, faith-inspired, whimsical and just perfection!

Jesus_and_boyPhyllis Harris is the award winning illustrator of over 30 Children’s Books including ‘On Christmas Day’ (written by the amazing Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Phyllis) released October, 2012 by Booksamillion. In addition to Picture Books, Phyllis’ illustrations have appeared in numerous children’s magazine publications over the past 15 years (‘Highlights’, ‘High Five Magazine’, ‘Jack & Jill’, ‘Humpty Dumpty’). She is certainly the real deal.

In May, 2012, Phyllis launched PhyllisHarrisDesigns.com, her online Children’s Wall Art store featuring over 60 of her original illustration prints which can each be customized for any child’s room or nursery. Every print can be customized with a child’s hair color, hair style, ethnicity, child’s name and inspirational quote; and is lovingly signed by Phyllis. Oh, and it’s not just prints. They have huge murals too! The prices are very reasonable ($25 for an 8.5×11 print) and well worth it.

dancing in the woodsAt the heart of Phyllis Harris Designs is the mission to give back to children in need; and children battling serious illnesses. Phyllis Harris Designs gives back 5% of every sale to Children’s Mercy to help in their fight to save children’s lives.

I have been spending a lot of time decorating my oldest daughter’s room (now being transformed into to be a shared room for the girls) so when I first was looking through the prints I had her room in mind. And, of course, had at least 10 prints that I wanted. But when I saw ‘Dancing in the Woods’ it had to become my first choice to put in the nursery. The theme of our nursery is “Forest Friends” (Carter’s brand bedding set) and this print pulls the entire room together and makes it feel a little less “right out of the box.” elizas-roomI absolutely adore the way it looks. It is the first thing I look at every time I walk into the room and it honestly just makes me smile. Daily 🙂

More of these prints will be making an appearance in the girls’ shared room very soon!

Phyllis Harris Design’s original and customizable illustration prints can be viewed at phyllisharrisdesigns.com

 

Francis And Eddie

Francis And Eddie caught my attention immediately for the unique and very cool illustrations.  It also appeared different from most of the children’s books that I come across being a non-fiction and historical sports story. Targeted at ages 6-10, it is the true story of 20-year-old unknown amateur golfer Francis Ouimet, his 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery and their astonishing triumph at the 1913 U.S. Open in Brookline, MA.  At its heart, it’s really a book about kids who loved golf and became champions.

Admittedly I am not a golf fan. Actually I am not a sports fan in general. But, I read this book and truly enjoyed it! I love stories where the underdogs win and when it’s a true story it always leaves an impression. I think my favorite part about the story, however, was the respect and adoration the caddie received from Ouimet. I mean, who doesn’t cheer for a sweet young kid with innocence and passion?!

This really is a wonderful story and I imagine that golfers, both young and old, can appreciate all it stands for. Oh, and I can’t forget to emphasize that the illustrations were as neat as I thought they would be. Beautiful depictions of people, combining insane realism with a caricature dynamic.