Monday, March 30, 2015

My Review of Eileen Wacker's 'Black Tortoise and the Dynasty Dragon'

In Eileen Wacker’s fifth addition of the Fujimini Adventure Series, the animals of Fujimini Island notice a mysterious Turtle Boat on the shores of the island. The Black Tortoise, one of the Samurai Warriors, is visiting the island with a special mission- but what exactly is his mission? Orange Bunny listens in on a conversation between Black Tortoise and Brown Hamster to try and figure out what is going on. Do you ever listen in on other people’s conversations or spy on others? Orange Bunny overhears that the Black Tortoise is looking for the legendary Dynasty Dragon. Orange Bunny panics and  jumps to conclusions that the Samurai are trying to kidnap the Dynasty Dragon so she launches a special mission to try and save him. Will Orange Bunny and her friends on Fujimini Island save the Dynasty Dragon or has Orange Bunny made a big mistake? 

One of my favorite features of the Fujimini Adventure series, is how in each book Wacker introduces a subtle but important lesson that can be taken away from the reading. Underneath the silliness and fun of each story lies a message that is very relevant to kids and growing up. In Black Tortoise and the Dynasty Dragon, this message is what can happen when you listen in on others’ conversations, spy on people and make assumptions. In addition to the lesson, Wacker also introduces some fun new characters, like the Dynasty Dragon, and some new terminology, like a Turtle Boat. So not only do little readers learn lessons that are relevant to their daily lives, they also learn some new stuff that are a part of other people’s lives and cultures as well. 

The cute and creative story about not making assumptions, working as a team, and the depth of a mother's love has been rated 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

My Review of Eileen Wacker's 'Silent Samurai and the Magnificent Rescue'

After hearing that Samurai are coming to Fujimini Island, Purple Penguin is eager to plan a big welcome party for their guests. He runs to tell all his friends on the Island, but others don’t react the way he thought they would. Not everyone is as excited for the warriors’ arrival as he is- but why? The other animals start to worry, letting what they have heard about samurai warriors form their opinion of their visitors before they have even arrived. Have you ever made assumptions about someone else before you met them? Will the hamsters, pandas, penguins, and bunnies come together and decided to welcome their guests with open arms and friendship or will they stay as far away as possible? 

Eileen Wacker’s third edition of the Fujimini Adventure Series is cute, exciting and introduces some fun new characters. It also exposes kids to some Asian culture and history, like how purple is the color of royalty in Japan. Wacker embeds lessons within all the books of the Fujimini Adventure Series, but this book offers a few lessons that we can all learn from, including reserving our judgements of others based off of things we have heard until we actually get a chance to know them, and making new friends, offering a warm welcome to new people. This book is the perfect way to start a conversation with your kids about meeting new people, being a team player, and helping others out. 

Rated 5 out of 5 stars by Barnes and Noble, the story is available for purchase in hardcover, for your kindle, or for your nook. 

'The Tonight Show' Lip Sync Battles Are Becoming an Epic TV Show

There is no doubt that one of the most popular parts of Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show has been his hilarious lip sync battles with his various celebrity guests. The game works by pitting celebrities against each other to lip sync to two or three songs of their choice making it look as real as possible.

These battles have become so popular, in fact, that The Tonight Show producers, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Merchant, and John Krasinski released a trailer for an entire spin off show dedicated to these epic battles. The trailer is pretty awesome, so I cannot wait to see what the show has in store for us. It is a star studded event that takes his Tonight Show battles to a whole new level, including costumes, lights, surprise guests and more. Watch the trailer below to see what I’m talking about and mark your calendars for April 2nd because I promise you won’t want to miss this! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chinese Families Prepare to Pay Respects to Ancestors During the Qingming Festival

In a few weeks, many Chinese families will begin preparations for the upcoming holiday known as the Qingming Festival. Also called Ancestors’ Day or Tomb Sweeping Day, the traditional Chinese festival happens each year on fifteenth day after the Spring Equinox, which this year makes it April 4th. Qingming Jie literally translates to the “pure brightness festival” or “clear and bright festival”, it is a time where people are encouraged to go outside and enjoy the beginning of the spring weather. The holiday is considered one of the Chinese Twenty-Four-Solar Terms, giving it a very close relationship with greenery, spring, and agriculture. 

Not only is this time a seasonal symbol, the Qingming Festival also represents a day for respecting ancestors and loved ones who have passed. In addition to spending time outside among nature and appreciate its beauty, it is also customary to sweep the tombs of ancestors after a long hard winter. Families will clear away weeds and add fresh soil around the gravestones of passed loved ones to show love and caring. They will then present offerings of wine, paper resembling money, and their favorite food to pay their respects and ensure ancestors are not hungry in the afterlife. 

Another custom held dear to those who celebrate the Qingming Festival is flying kites. On this day, people across China-young and old- gather together to fly handmade kites of all different shapes and sizes. The most beautiful part of kite flying comes when the sun sets. Once the evening comes, it is tradition for people to attach tiny colored lanterns to their kites before flying them, making them look like twinkling stars in the night sky. Cutting the strings of the kites and letting them fly freely is a custom that is believed to bring good luck to the kite owner. 

And of course what would a Chinese holiday be without a traditional holiday food? Dating all the way back to the Zhou Dynasty, over 2,000 years ago, it is custom to prepare and eat sweet green rice balls on this day. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

All Parents With Preschool Aged Children Should Check Out This New Television Show

Based on the books by Jim and Kate McMullan, The Stinky and Dirty Show describes the adventures of two best friends who become unlikely heroes. Stinky is a garbage truck and his new friend Dirty is a backhoe loader, who have to put their heads together to solve a big mess that they have accidentally caused. Learning what to do when things do not go as expected can be a tough lesson, but when the two friends think creatively and practice being resourceful, even the messiest problem gets resolved! The new show has been rated 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon Prime and an 8.8 out of 10 on IMDb. The characters are voiced by Ethan Wacker, who plays Stinky, and Jacob Guenther, playing Dirty. 

This show, which aired January 15th shows huge promise after just the first episode. Made for preschool aged children, it utilizes fun and humor to teach some very important lessons about teamwork and fixing mistakes. After accidentally causing quite a mess, the two new friends get creative and resourceful to fix their mistake. The cute and funny show demonstrates problem solving skills and using what you already have (which in Dirty and Stinky’s case was “trash”) to get something done and save the day!

Click the video below to watch a sneak peek of the show:

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Eileen Wacker Gives Her Take on Kids and Reading in New Article

Author, CEO of ONCEKids publishing, and mother of four, Eileen Wacker, was recently featured on Baltimore’s Child with her candid article about the subject avoided by many parents: their children’s reading skills. The busy working mom sheds light on the truth behind kids and reading; that most parents don’t find themselves with kids who love to read and just can’t wait to turn off the television and pick up a book. From a young age, it is drilled into our minds that good reading skills are vital for any success in school, so when parents find themselves with a child who is not picking up reading easily they panic- but Eileen is stepping up to say not only is that completely normal, but its okay. Nowadays, parents feel immense pressure to have their kids be excellent at everything and always one step ahead of their peers, when the reality is that for most parents that just isn’t the case. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Reaction to Eileen Wacker's "Rainbow Panda and the Firecracker Fiasco"

In Eileen Wacker’s sixth addition of the Fujimini Adventure Series, Rainbow Panda is just itching to cause some trouble as the other Pandas on the island prepare for the New Year’s celebration. While all the Pandas are busy sweeping, cleaning, planting flowers, and writing wishes on ribbons, Rainbow Panda is busy concocting a plan that turns him into a hero. One of the most exciting parts of the New Year celebration is the fireworks display of course, but this year Rainbow Panda wants to put on a fireworks display of his own. To set his plan in motion he tries to get the help of Green Hamster, who is always eager for excitement. Will his explosive plan turn him into the New Years hero he hopes to become or just cause a whole lot of trouble? 

Ms. Wacker does a fantastic job of telling a fun story while incorporating cultural elements that may be unfamiliar to most American children, such as the customs and traditions behind Asian New Year celebrations. Using lessons like teamwork, problem solving, and following rules, the story puts an educational spin on a cute and funny tale of adventure and learning consequences. Rated 4.8 stars on Amazon and 4.4 stars on Good Reads, this story is definitely a crowd pleaser and one of my personal favorites of the Fujimini Adventure Series.

When asked about her motivation and inspiration behind writing the sixth book of the series, author and CEO of ONCEKids publishing, Eileen Wacker, responded; “My motivation for the Rainbow Panda book was to highlight a New Year that is celebrated by half of the world's population. I also wanted to highlight how hard it is for kids to accept rules and people saying 'NO". And to show how sometimes mischievous antics can lead to unanticipated issues. But good teamwork and strong friendships will usually ensure a happy ending. The Rainbow Panda is a rascal and I love him as a character.”