Mango, Abuela, and Me

An endearing tale from an award-winning duo that speaks loud and clear about learning new things and the love that bonds family members.

Mia’s abuela leaves her sunny house with parrots and palm trees to live with Mia and her parents in the city. The night she arrives, Mia tries to share her favorite book with Abuela before they go to sleep and discovers that she can’t read the words inside. So while they cook, Mia helps Abuela learn English and Mia learns some Spanish too, but it’s still hard for Abuela to learn the words she needs to tell Mia all her stories. Then Mia sees a parrot in the pet-shop window and has the perfect idea for how to help them all communicate a little better.

Appropriate for children ages five through eight, Mango, Abuela, and Me is written by the award-winning Meg Medina, who has authored several books for young readers, including the highly acclaimed YA novel, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass and the picture book Tía Isa Wants a Car, for which she received an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award. Now living in Richmond, Virginia, Meg grew up in Queens, New York.

061516_CRT_MangoAbuelaAndMe_insideimage“I turned to writing because my family wouldn’t stop talking. Ever,” Meg says. “I’m part of a very ordinary Cuban family, which is to say, a meddling clan of aunts, uncles, and grandparents who are tireless storytellers. Stories are such a powerful way to remember and make sense of what happens to you in life—and plenty had happened to them by the time they arrived in the U.S. during the early 1960s. My parents left in the middle of a revolution in their country, and they arrived the way many immigrants do: with empty pockets, no language, and in shock. But they also knew the power of stories. Families need their own tales to survive hard times, and those stories are a rope that can attach even the youngest children to their roots. Stories help you learn all the things that really matter to the people who are trying to help you grow up.”

The book is illustrated by Angela Dominguez who lives in San Francisco and teaches art at the Academy of Art University.

061516_CRT_MangoAbuelaAndMe_CoverPura Belpré Author & Illustrator Awards

Both Meg and Angela are honored with the 2016 Pura Belpré Author and Illustrator Honor Book Award, named after the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. Established in 1996, the awards are presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.


The Incomparable Sally Huss

“Happy children make a better world. I write children’s books to help brighten the lives of children and add a little dollop of wisdom in the process.”

-Sally Huss

Children need core values, good habits, handy skills and a good sense of humor to keep them moving forward in a happy, healthy and productive manner. So says Sally Huss – imaginative artist, insightful writer and a friend of mine. Sally’s 80+ children’s books are stories full of fun rhymes and truly adorable illustrations that teach kids (and adults, too!) meaningful social and emotional skills. Plus, she adds to her children’s book collection all the time (sign up here for a free download).


Fab Review – “…Kids like their crazy outfits … and their clothes combinations are no nuttier than llamas who like to wear pajamas… This is another lovely book of cute rhymes and adorable fanciful drawings that delight the imagination.”

-Healthy Living

Growing up in Bakersfield, California, Sally started painting at 10 years old. She studied art Occidental College before graduating with a degree in Fine Art from USC. Along the way, Sally followed her dream of playing tennis – first as a U.S. and Wimbledon Junior Champion, then a semi-finalist in the Women’s division at Wimbledon. Now a top senior player, Sally is a member of the Kern County Sports Hall of Fame (1977) and the Occidental College’s Athletic Hall of Fame. (2015).


Fab Review- “How clever is this? Through a delightful adventure to the moon, the author explains not only how moon cheese is made, but how The Man in The Moon lights up the sky by doing his work happily, thus inspiring the visitors to do the same. We loved this book and I know we will read it often.”

– Jill McDonald

060816_CRT_SallyHussAfter Sally married Marv Huss -the love of her life and a top executive with Hallmark- she created several lines of greeting cards, clothing and ceramics, plus baby bibs, wallpaper for children, and more. Sally also writes and illustrates a King Features’ syndicated, inspirational panel for newspapers called Happy Musings. In the 80’s, the two developed Sally Huss Galleries across the country. “I continue to paint commission works for homes, offices and hotels and offer many of my prints on Fine Art America,” Sally says. “These include gift prints, prints for children’s rooms and large contemporary landscapes.”

Sally’s art, her children’s books and her writings always put a smile on my face …

and I bet they’ll do the same for you and your kids. You can also find all of Sally’s books on Amazon.


Good Night Yoga

Do you know the President’s Council has added the practice of yoga to the fitness activities in the annual President’s Challenge?

Sounds True is an independent multimedia publishing company that embraces the world’s major spiritual traditions, as well as the arts and humanities, with a library of more than 1,500 titles including children’s books.

Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story 

“I wrote this book because after years of teaching children’s yoga, I wanted a way for my students to (literally) take it home,” says author Mariam Gates. With a master’s in education from Harvard University and has more than 20 years’ experience working with children, Mariam’s renowned Kid Power Yoga™ program combines her love of yoga with teaching to help children access their inner gifts. “This book became a way to hand children the tools to create their own practice and for parents, caregivers, and teachers to share in that experience.”

For parents and caregivers looking for a fun and effective new routine for bedtime, Good Night Yoga is full-color book beautifully illustrated by Sarah Jane Hinder that tells the story of the natural world as it closes down for the night, while teaching children a simple flow of yoga postures inspired by their favorite characters from nature.

“There is a power in being able to pause and take a deep breath in and a long breath out. As I teach kids and train teachers around the country, I am amazed by how this simple tool of slowing things down through breath and movement can be so essential to how we experience a moment, a day, and our lives. This book is my way of bringing that practice to life.”

As a parent, part of Mariam’s purpose for writing this book is to create more ritual around bedtime, especially for her daughter, who needed a longer lead-in to sleep. The simple flow of the story gives kids a way to relax mentally and physically “let go” of the day.

Good Night Yoga is a complete guide to a simple sequence that is both fun and ultimately relaxing. Each pose has both visual and written cues as a support, and Mariam includes a spread where the entire flow is shown so you and your child can see “where you’re going.”


Mariam and her artist partner Sarah Jane follow Good Night Yoga with Good Morning Yoga, a practice for kids and parents to greet the morning with joy and embark on their daily adventures with intention and confidence.




Young inventor combines science, fun and “messy” play with her new toy company.

Briana Gardell is a 23-year-old Lehigh University graduate inventor and CEO of Mezzimatic, her new company behind the patent-pending Goblies -one of the toy sensations that launched at the New York Toy Fair 2016. In fact, CNBC named Goblies one of the hottest toys at the fair!


What Are Goblies?

Goblies are walnut sized-balls that can be thrown like water balloons – paintball with a colorful splat. “The idea for Goblies was inspired by a homework assignment in my technical entrepreneurship program asking us to combine manufacturing processes with our own creative direction,” Briana says. “The result is Goblies. I’m excited to officially establish Goblies as a new brand in the toy industry.”


After a successful Kickstarter in 2015, and a Eureka! Venture Series award, Briana readied Goblies for market, registering for her patent and exhibiting her toys at the Mini Maker Faire hosted by Barnes and Noble before officially introducing Goblies to the industry. She recently launched her toys on Maker Shed and at the Da Vinci Science Center.

“As a judge in the 2014 Eureka! Competition run by Lehigh’s Baker Institute for Entrepreneurship, I was instantly impressed with Briana and her Goblies,” Alita Friedman, toy industry veteran and CEO of Alita’s Brand Bar, says. “She had conceived an innovative and playful new S.T.E.M platform and won the Grand Prize in our competition. I look forward to watching her ongoing success.”

By combining chemistry with creativity, Goblies showcases the best of S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education activity kits. Currently available in both a starter kit and refill packs, Goblies include ingredients that allow kids (of all ages) to create squishy throw-able balls in an infinite number of colors. The final product is a wet powder that is not sticky and can be cleaned out of most items. Learn more about the science of Goblies right here.

Meanwhile, Briana has her eye on the future with plans to produce ready-made Goblies for instant fun and is also interested in licensing her new brand to established toy companies.

Congrats, Briana!


The Little Linguist’s Alphabet by LoveYourLingo

Beautiful, multilingual products to inspire little linguists to love their languages.

“I’m Mom to bilingual girls who speak English and French, and I have created a special alphabet to help make life easier for multilingual children, so they continue to love and speak their languages,” Úna McCarthy-Fakhry tells me nearly two years ago, just after she launches a crowdfunding campaign to get her creative endeavor off the ground. This January, with the help of 203 Kickstarter backers, the production of The Little Linguist’s Alphabet is a reality. Available as a poster, mini card or ebook, Úna’s multilingual alphabet is illustrated with 26 objects that all start with the same letter as their translations in English, Français, Español, Português, Deutsch, Nederlands and Italiano (coming soon). For example, D is always for Dinosaur and P is always for Princess, no matter which combination of these languages your little linguist speaks.

012716_CRT_LoveYourLingo_04“The people who backed me came from all over the world, from Costa Rica to Japan, from the USA to New Zealand,” Úna says. “They have kept me going when things got difficult, and have been forever patient and supportive at every stage. I genuinely feel I now have 203 new friendships and want to thank each and every one of them for helping me make this a reality.”

As a result, Úna founded LoveYourLingo to make multilingual products that help little linguists thrive. The entire idea grew out of necessity as her own children began to discover the alphabet. Úna and her family currently live in Melbourne, where they share Australian, Irish, French and Lebanese roots. This OPOL (one parent, one language) family has Papa speaking French exclusively, while Úna’s main language is English. She has observed her daughters’ puzzled expressions while trying to identify which letter is which. “It is ‘p pour parapluie’ with her French Papa, but on the English alphabet on our wall, it is ‘u for umbrella’,” she says. “As we also knew many other little linguists facing a similar challenge, the idea just would not leave me alone.”


The sweet illustrations for, who also created the adorable little linguist Anna. “I have lots of plans for Anna, so if you have a curious little linguist who would like a little friend…watch this space (i.e., LoveYourLingo).”

Úna says she is constantly amazed by her little girls as they show her just how natural it is to speak more than one language. “I have also witnessed challenges they met along the way and feel that a positive language experience, in the delicate early years, can be crucial in determining whether a child continues to speak their languages or not.”


One of my own regrets in life is speaking only one language (English). Even though I graduated high school with years of French and Spanish under my belt, I still carry a dictionary when traveling. As a child, I never learned Polish, my relatives’ native tongue. Keeping the multilingual fire alive in young children is definitely the key to raising little linguists at home. Thanks, Úna!


Hoot Company Inspires Imagination Through Play

Get to know the new Hoot Company at this week’s Atlanta International Gift Show.


The folks at Hoot Company® believe childhood should be a hoot (very cute) – and offers unique, high-quality toys and books that focus on fun and imagination. Columbus, Ohio-based parents and entrepreneurs Kerri and David Love have created this new toy company to follow their passion for igniting their own young children’s imaginations – and now they’re excited to be introducing their two-year-old company to the children’s gift industry at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market. Visit them in Bldg. 3, Fl. 3, Booth #404.

Introducing Lovelets Plush Animals & Princess Kitty Butterfly – the First Toy Collection & Children’s Book

Hoot Company is entering the toy and gift markets with two initial brands that demonstrate the company’s commitment to fun and imagination: Lovelets® plush animal friends and Princess Kitty Butterfly®, an illustrated, read-along book and accompanying plush animal.

“We’re thrilled to introduce our company to those in the market looking for high-quality toys and books that inspire children’s imaginations. As parents ourselves, we believe children learn best through play and have made it our mission to create a family of toys that foster open-ended play.”


Lovelets® plush animals are one of two exclusive Hoot Company toy brands launching in Atlanta. The Lovelets collection features six super soft, 13.5-inch plush animal characters, each with a unique feature – arms that reach out as if to say, “Let’s Hug!”

“Lovelets ‘hugging arms’ encourage the positive and powerful act of hugging, which builds trust and a sense of safety, and also elevates mood and happiness. Not only do these adorable animals provide children hugs when they may need extra comfort on daily adventures, but they empower children to nurture others with hugs in return.”


Hoot Company is also introducing an illustrated, read-aloud picture book entitled, Princess Kitty Butterfly, about a chubby cat who dreams of becoming a butterfly. Readers follow Princess Kitty on an adventure and learn themes of self-confidence, perseverance and imagination. The book is available as a stand-alone item and also available as a gift set with an 8-inch plush toy.

“‘Princess Kitty Butterfly’ teaches young readers that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. As with all Hoot Company toys and books, we hope it will inspire children’s imaginations and foster positive emotional growth through fun and play.”


After the Loves recognized many toys in the market today are void of imagination, diversity and positive emotional messaging, they set out on a mission to bring toys to the market that spark imaginations and encourage open-ended play. Hoot Company is an entirely new kind of toy company formed a wholesale distributor. Toys, games and books will be available through independent, specialty, children’s gift and online retailers, as well as bookstores.


Sing Your Name WV

West Virginia-based Sing Your Name creates a variety of gifts for children that are personalized with music. Special music. Singing-Your-Child’s-Name kind of music. The kind of gifts that make children smile and feel very special.

“My daughter Allysa and I have been partners in this venture for a little over a year,” Rebecca Kesling tells me. Rebecca launched the company after she gave her grandson, Anders, a little green puppy that sang and spoke his name for Christmas.

“He carried his little green puppy around by the neck everywhere he went, and at night, the little green puppy cuddled with him in his bed,” Allysa says. “Seeing his eyes light up at the sound of his name got his Grammy’s gears turning.”


The Company That Makes Children Smile

The folks at Sing Your Name West Virginia believe children should be nurtured as very special individuals. “Every child feels special when his or her name is associated with a cherished gift from someone who loves them enough to choose a gift that sings out their name. It makes them giggle, it makes them happy, it makes them smile.” It makes adults smile, too.

102815_CRTPost_music_for_mePersonalized music CDs, movie DVDs, alarm clocks, Plush Create-A-Critters, name poems, growth charts, Tiny Twins dolls and more. Ideal for birthdays and special occasions, with personalized songs they can sing along to, they can learn their ABCs and numbers from; make your child the star of a Storybook CD; create a plush toy and add a song, a sound or a scent. Personalized lullabies for babies, birthday songs, even songs to learn a morning get dressed routine. Tiny Twins are perfect for personalizing your work desk, cell phone, car’s rear view mirror or the top of a wedding cake. Creations are limited to nothing but your imagination.

102815_CRTPost_SingYourName_clockVisit the company on Facebook, Twitter or Website and sign up to receive newsletters with discount savings.


Kaskey Kids

Toys kids love to play with and parents like to top the birthday cake with.

The Kaskey Kids toy company produces high-quality sports action figures for imaginary play. Kaskey combines kids’ love of action figures and sports, designing their “Guys” with one goal in mind… to encourage countless hours of imaginary play in sports loving children.

Kaskey has done their homework.  When kids engage in “open-ended” play with no defined expectations or fixed rules, their social, emotional and cognitive development benefit, according to research studies.


“Knowing that my toys are chosen, loved and played with, even with all the high tech electronic options out there, is very satisfying.”

-Christy Kaskey

In 2002, Christy Kaskey, designed the perfect toy for her sports loving kids, inspired by the appeal of classic action figures such as Army Men, Super Heroes and Cowboys ‘n Indians and the modern value these toys have of open-ended, child-driven, fun and imaginary play. Now the company has Football, Hockey, Soccer, Baseball and College Sports Action Figures, Soccer Girls Action Figures, Go Go Sports Dolls and more.


Each toy in the Kaskey Kids line is recognized in the toy industry for the creative and imaginative play they inspire, including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award, Learning Express Best Toy Award, National Parenting Award and Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award, among others.

After more than a decade in business, a trend that Christy hopes will continue is the gender neutral way many of her customers view her toys. “We knew Soccer Girls would be a hit for 3-8 year old girls, but I have been thrilled to hear that so many fathers are spending time with their daughters using Football Guys, Hockey Guys and Baseball Guys,” she says. “Playing with our toys is a great way for a parent to pass on the love of a sport and in some cases explain the rules.”


Plus, Kasey Kids toys have also inspired parents to liven up kids’ birthday parties and celebrations with the “Guys” as well. And the festivities don’t have to be just for kids: InStyle Magazine has featured Kaskey Kids action figures in several articles, including one about a centerpiece for a Super Bowl celebration!


What Do You Do With an Idea?

Hope for anyone, at any age, who’s ever had an idea that seemed a little too big, too odd or too difficult.

Written by Kobi Yamada with illustrations by Mae Besom, What Do You Do With an Idea? is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps to bring it into the world. As the child’s confidence grows, so does the idea itself. And then, one day, something amazing happens* …

Bookseller Barnes & Noble proclaims it as one of the best books of 2014 for kids, and the 36-page tale is perfect for children ages four to eight years … yet it also touches everyone who is young at heart. “From that first puzzled inkling, the little boy realizes that the idea was following him like a small egg waiting to be hatched. Finally, it does … and reminds us what we do with an idea: You change the world.” From the booksellers’ review.

050615_CRTPost_WhatDoYouDoWithAnIdea_inside“It’s a story to inspire you to welcome that idea, to give it some space to grow, and to see what happens next,” Kobi says. “Because your idea isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it’s just getting started.”

Kobi Yamada is president and CEO of Seattle, WA-based Compendium Incorporated, “a company of amazing people doing amazing things,” producing extraordinary gifts that inspire, educate, motivate and celebrate the world we live in. Gift books, journals, greeting cards, boxed notes, pop-up cards and guest books for just about everyone. Wholesale available.

*Listen to the entire story as it’s read aloud by the fine folks at ArtistEducation.


Happy Birthday, Raggedy Ann!

“Fairyland must be filled with rag dolls, soft loppy rag dolls who go through all the beautiful adventures found there nestling in the crook of a dimpled arm.”

-Raggedy Ann doll creator Johnny Gruelle

Plush toy, gift and doll manufacturer Aurora World Inc.® is celebrating Raggedy Ann’s 100th birthday! The company just introduced brand new, “Stars and Stripes” special edition Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy rag dolls to the market that feature an all-American, red, white and blue theme, exclusive 100th year embroidery and commemorative hangtags on every doll.

Raggedy Ann’s Betsy Ross-inspired white shawl collar, printed dress with navy and white stars and elastic cap are reminiscent of the bygone era while Raggedy Andy’s Uncle Sam-inspired outfit features a matching printed jacket top, red twill bow-tie and pants, and his classic matching sailor hat.

021815_CRT_RaggedyAnnClassic“The Stars and Stripes dolls celebrate the goodwill, kindness and compassion that the Raggedy Ann doll creator Johnny Gruelle envisioned for the people of our nation,” says Michael Kessler, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Aurora.

The Stars and Stripes dolls, complete with their signature red yard hair, are available in large sizes and feature custom cotton, embroidered fabrics, finely detailed faces with button eyes and exclusive outfits highlighting the birthday of Raggedy Ann – perfect for collectors.

Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls are part of Aurora’s ever-expanding soft doll category featuring dozens of award-winning doll designs including the Sea Sparkles™ mermaid collection, fashionable Sweet Lollies™, new Cutie Curls™, ballerinas and activity dolls for toddlers. As part of the birthday celebration, the company gave away a three-foot Raggedy Ann doll at the recent Toy Fair New York in February. “Stars and Stripes” special edition Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy rag dolls are available now in stores everywhere.