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.


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.


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.


Children’s Book Author Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

French author Patrick Modiano has won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Mr. Modiano writes in a variety of genres, including detective mysteries, short, 100-page novels and screenplays. His first novel, “La place de l’étoile,” about Jewish collaborator during WWI, was published in France in 1968.

101414_CRTPost_CatherineCertitude_CoverA Mom and Her Memories. This Nobel Prize winner also writes children’s books! Catherine Certitude, written with collaborator William Rodarmor and illustrated by Jean-Jacques Sempe, was published in 2001, and tells the story of a mom and her memories.

While Catherine watches her own daughter practice dance, she reminiscences about her own childhood. Living in the tenth arrondissement of Paris, Catherine and her father Georges share the simple pleasures of daily life: sitting in the church square, walking to school, going to her ballet class every Thursday afternoon. A happy time in the City of Light.

However, the charming walk down memory lane brings up a lot of mystery:

  • Why did Catherine’s change his name to Certitude?
  • What kind of trouble with the law did his business partner Casterade rescue him from?
  • Exactly what does Georges do, and what kind of deals is he always discussing with men in worn raincoats?
  • Why did Catherine’s mother, herself a ballerina, leave Georges to return to New York?

These are just some of the mysteries Catherine remembers … and hopes to resolve as the story unfolds.

How Roland Rolls

Award-winning actor/artist Jim Carrey is breaking new ground, for himself, his fans –and for a little wave.

Jim Carrey – known for his fabulous portrayals of interesting characters in films such as Man on the Moon, The Truman Show, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective  and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, among others, is self-publishing his first children’s book.

Carrey’s created a charming, fun to read, beautifully illustrated book with Roland the wave as a metaphor for the inter-relatedness of everything in the world.”

~ Jane Fonda

091213_HowRolandRolls_BookcoverOn September 24, How Roland Rolls is available wherever books and e-books are sold, as well as on the How Roland Rolls website. An enhanced e-book will be released at the same time, along with a four-song EP that is available through iTunes. Major booksellers are also embracing the wave, so to speak.

“It’s a story about a wave named Roland who’s afraid that, one day, when he hits the beach, his life will be over,” Jim says. “But when he gets deep, he’s struck by the notion that he’s not just a wave — he’s the whole big, wide ocean! It shows humanity’s interconnectedness through the metaphor of a wave in the ocean.”

The personal story behind the book. “When I was a child,” Carrey shares, “my parents were smokers and I had a deep fear that they would pass … and then what would happen to me? I think that’s a common fear for children – the fear of loss. It’s an early existential crisis, if you will. But when we realize that beneath the surface of things – the activities of our lives — we are all connected, all one energy, that fear of loss gets softened. At times, it disappears entirely. At least that’s been true for me.”

091213_HowRolandRolls_JimCarreyIllustrationAs a parent -and now a grandparent- (Yikes! Where did the time go?!) Mr. Carrey reflects on the time he spent reading to his daughter, Jane. “I believe the closest we get to heaven in this world is when we get completely involved in something we love. One of those moments is when we read to our children. It’s total freedom from self, from our worries and problems. We always feel terrific afterwards, and so do the kids. For them, it’s an experience of focused, enveloping love.”

All in the family. Illustrated by one of Jim’s friends, Rob Nason –who’s also an award-winning illustrator and animator- How Roland Rolls is dedicated to his grandson; the four songs on the EP are performed by Jim and his daughter, Jane; and the book itself is being released by his company, Some Kind of Garden Media.

 Philosophers and scientists struggle to understand cosmic consciousness, but Jim Carrey explains it with elegant simplicity to the child in all of us.”

~ Deepak Chopra

Imagine Childhood

Everything under the sun that encourages the wonder of play -for people of all ages, really.

091013_ImageChildhood_Catalog_natureThe first thing you will notice when you visit Image Childhood is the gorgeous photography.

Browse through this family owned and operated company’s Seasonal Catalogs and you’ll lose yourself in the magic of each season, just looking at all the fun and interesting toys, tools and activities that encourage exploration, creativity and play. Imagine Childhood specializes in high quality, environmentally conscious products that allow children to experience the world through their own senses. And for co-founder Sarah Olmsted and her team, the best way to learn is through interacting with nature and our natural environment.

Part community forum, part storefront, is a place where parents and kids can find their own definition of childhood.

091013_ImageChildhood_BookcoverIn fact, Sarah wrote the book on it. Imagine Childhood: Exploring the World Through Nature, Imagination, and Play- 25 Projects That Spark Curiosity and Adventure, published by Roost Books last fall, is what she calls “a celebration of childhood through the crafts and activities that invite wonder and play.” For Sarah, the 25 projects in the book offer stepping-off points for children to engage with the world. “They’re about the process of getting there,” she says. “They’re about the conversations that happen while making things together. They’re about getting to know the world inch by inch. They’re about exploring imaginary universes and running through real forests. They’re about living in childhood … regardless of your actual age.”

091013_ImageChildhood_Catalog_explorationPure Natural Wonder. Before starting Imagine Childhood five years ago, Sarah developed interactive education exhibits for the Field Museum of Natural History. And she uses this experience in presenting simple, economical projects for children and parents to enjoy together –without all the technological wonders of the modern day. Just the  pure, natural wonder of our surroundings, revved up with a child’s point of view.

091013_ImageChildhood_OakLeafFairyShop the Store. In addition to Sarah’s book, shoppers will find all sorts of treasures at Imagine Childhood, like this Oak Leaf Faerie, handmade on Bryn Du Farm in Colorado and dressed in plant-dyed wool felt, made from the farm’s own sheep! Also very cool: custom skin and eye color available upon request.

Fish Flops

Already snagging national headlines at the tender age of 15, this creative dynamo is 061813_FishFlops_01following her passion all the way to the bank.

You may have seen recent news stories declaring, “Fifteen-year-old Sells Over $1 Million Worth of Flip Flops to Nordstrom.” And you may wonder how it all came to happen. Well, here’s the scoop:

Back when she was just eight years old, Maddie Robinson has an idea. She thinks up a product that combines her love of swimming, fishing and drawing –a fun and unique combo, I’d say.

I’ve always been a flip-flop-kind of kid, so I created a brand of flip flops called FishFlops®. I shared my idea with many of my friends and family, and they all smiled and thought I had something special.”

061813_FishFlops_02Maddie’s FishFlops® footwear are made to mix and match with one or more of her t-shirts and caps, designed in coordinating colors and aquatic characters. The footwear lights up when a child walks, and they’re fun to share with friends, too – “make a friend smile!” Maddie says.

061813_FishFlops_03The Big Ask. All it takes for Maddie’s big break is a letter to Nordstrom about her brand –and a response from the retailer’s buying team to offer Fish Flops in 60 Nordstrom stores. The rest, as they say, is the big headline.

Maddie’s colorful Fish Flops illustrations are also characters the children’s books she writes, ocean adventures Swimming with Spinner, and  FishFlops® – Living Together at Sea by Orkicky. Kids are introduced to the Maddie’s characters as each book unfolds. Maddie is also planning a Fish Flops Virtual World.

Fish Flops sold at Nordstrom online and in stores. Email for more information about apparel and book sales.

  • 061813_FishFlops_06Children’s Retail Today publishes new posts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you want to get the word out about your innovative, imaginative and inspiring products for children, contact me today!

The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me

Mayfield Media launches an Etsy Shop of original fine art and kids lit by Barbara Mayfield.

022313_MayfieldMedia_BarbaraMayfieldBarbara Mayfield is a child’s treasure. A gifted artist, painter, performer and children’s author/illustrator who not only does improv, “the biggest surprise in a life full of surprises has been becoming a professional puppeteer,” she says. Through her company Mayfield Media, Barbara’s work “engages, inspires, encourages and educates audiences through humor, hilarity and riveting stories not to be forgotten” – not the least of which is her award-winning children’s story, The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me.

Reading Mrs. Iptweet gave me the same feeling as having the sweetest, most imaginative grandmother in the world.

-Jillian Brasch, fan

022313_MayfieldMedia_TheMagicalMrsIptweetAndMe_CoverThe first in a series of pre-teen fiction, The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me tells the story of Prudence Fish Hornby, a nine-and-a-half-year-old with a curious name and a broken heart. All of life looks dull and sad and hopeless to Prudy, until a certain artist-gardener-Parade Specialist moves into 406 Durham Street –that would be Mrs. Iptweet. The enchanting, whimsical, funny story is Barbara’s first, which she also illustrated, published by Santa Fe, NM-based Azro Press, and winner of  several industry awards, including the 2009 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Barbara lives in Santa Fe and studied writing with esteemed children’s author and teacher Jennifer Owings Dewey. She’s working on several more Iptweet stories, planning e-books. “Mrs. Iptweet, in Book 2, will be very interested in star-gazing and astronomy,” she tells her Facebook fans.

022013_MayfieldMedia_art_02A graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Barbara recently opened a shop on, where fans can buy her original artwork and her children’s literature.

  • Children’s Retail Today publishes new posts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you want to get the word out about your innovative, imaginative and inspiring products for children, contact me today!

Creative Mom Toys

From trend to craze to legitimate movement, buying local is catching on and fast becoming a preferred way to shop.

Search the words, “shop local” “buy local” and you’ll find quite the populated list of results on your computer screen. The movement has inspired a cottage industry of resources to help you find what you’re shopping for locally, too –from the partner to local campaigns from, and more. And moms have led the cause.

020513_CreativeMomToys_logoIn the spirit of buying local, this week I’m focusing on a few children’s specialty retailers in my own locality.

Creative Mom Toys. Owner Cheri Saburi opened Creative Mom Toys in Renton, WA’s The Landing on Black Friday 2010. Located south of Seattle, the store is a treasure trove of educational and developmental toys for children of all ages, including their parents.

This store is for parents who want to give their kids ‘toys with a purpose.’ Everything has been carefully selected for both its entertainment and fun value. Great toys and online store!

-Thomas K, Renton

020513_CreativeMomToys_interiorEngaging Creativity. Cheri says the mission of Creative Mom Toys is to encourage children to play without the need for modern technology. “We know how hard it is to find rich and engaging products that stimulate, educate and enrich the minds of our children,” she says. Shoppers can find wooden toys, entertaining books and more from top notch companies such as Haba, Melissa and Doug, Automoblox, Manhattan Toy, P’Kolino, Plan Toys, Back Alley Traders, Workman Publishing, Kathe Kruse, Vilac, Seedling, Green Toys, Uncle Goose, Eeboo, Mudpuppy and others. She’s always excited to learn about new products, too -especially from her customers. “Send us an email explaining what you’d be interested in and we will do our best to accommodate your needs.”

020513_CreativeMomToys_redtricycleawardIn 2005, Cheri started her store online while living in Japan –and with its success, opened her first brick-and-mortar storefront based in the U.S. Since then, Creative Mom Toys has received the Parent Best Toy Store Award of 2011 as well as being honored as a finalist in Red Tricycle’s 2012 Totally Awesome Awards for Best Toy Store.

020513_CreativeMomToys_learningCheri’s career specialty is education, having spent time working in several local school districts before taking time to raise her own children. Kids and parents can also enjoy custom birthday parties and other special activities and events held in Creative Mom Toy’s fun and colorful space. Shop for bags and children’s accessories, too.

Creative Mom Toys at The Landing in Renton, 840 N. 10th Pl. Suite A, Renton WA 98057, 206-388-3940

  • Children’s Retail Today publishes new posts on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you want to get the word out about your innovative, imaginative and inspiring products for children, contact me today!