Art Parts by Kim Bogren Owen– A Book Review

Art Parts by Kim Bogren Owen– A Book Review

We were lucky enough to receive the book Art Parts: A Child’s Introduction to the Elements of Art, plus a couple of the companion journals from author Kim Bogren Owen. So since we’ve got some free time this summer, we turned on some Kids Bop music and decided to have some #SummerReading fun with this book.

The cool thing about this book is that not only do the readers get to learn about art, they get to practice it at the same time, which makes it real interactive. Here’s how we decided to go through it one afternoon.

The book is really nice and hardback with glossy pages, so even though it allows the child to draw in the book, the book lover in me wouldn’t allow me to let them do that, so I was super grateful that we had the journals, which have the same sketch pages as the book does.

Here’s the book and the journal

I read it to them first, but they got real antsy and ready to get down to drawing, so luckily the book is short and we went right to the journals. (If I had it to do over, I probably wouldn’t it have read it first, we would’ve done the journal and the book at the same time.)

So my kiddos got to demonstrate that they understood each element, things like shapes, lines, and color, and then (this is the part they really enjoyed) they got to create their own picture using that element.

The way the book is set up with the examples of each element, it worked out well for both of my kids, who have different strengths. My daughter, who is an art lover, did a really good job coming up with her own creative ways to use each element. My son on the other hand, didn’t feel like he could draw anything without looking at the examples. If I didn’t have those, he may have gotten too frustrated to continue.

We didn’t complete all the pages of the journal, but I told them they could keep them and finish whenever they wanted to, which they were excited about. The directions in the journal are simple enough that my 6 and 8 year old will be able to read them on their own. Below are some examples of the artwork my kids created.

Thanks to Art Parts, we really enjoyed some quality time together reading, drawing, and creating masterpieces. You can learn more information about author Kim Bogren Owen, including where to purchase her books at here.



A quote–some advice

A quote–some advice


You know, even though I feel like I’m making great progress #RaisingReaders, there are still times, especially during the summer, that I want to pull my hair out. As a result, I think this quote by Doris Lessing may be some advice that I may be employing in the near future for some motivation.

#SoloBook by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess–A Review

#SoloBook by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess–A Review

I’ve been a fan of Kwame Alexander since I closed the cover of The Crossover a few years ago.  I couldn’t wait to find some child to give the book to, and I’ve been handing it out ever since, including giving all outgoing 5th graders a copy of The Crossover to read over the summer. I’ve also gotten familiar with Mr. Alexander’s other works, including Booked and Surf’s Up (which is a wonderful picture book). So when I saw the opportunity to be a part of the launch team for he and Mary Rand Hess’ new book Solo, I knew I had to apply.  A chance to read a new book AND share my admiration for Kwame Alexander with others? I’m in!

Solo, a book written in poetic verse, is about a young boy named Blade, the son of a rock star who loves to play guitar and is getting ready to graduate from high school. He thinks he has it together as much as any teenager can, he’s got a girlfriend he adores, a wealthy lifestyle, and college plans. Unfortunately, his plans go awry very quickly and very dramatically.  So, some soul searching ends up sending Blade to Ghana, where he attempts to put pieces of his life back together.

My review of this book–I loved the poetic style. I always use that as a selling point when recommending to students, particularly reluctant readers, but I’ve grown to believe that it takes a special, specific talent to be able to tell a story well through poetry instead of normal dialogue. It allows for memorable language and quotes, many of which I wanted to highlight or circle while reading.

Also, as the authors state, this book was a love letter to rock n roll. A cool feature of this book was that they have different songs throughout the book and give a little history behind each one. There are even playlists to go along with the book.


I had strong feelings about many of the characters in the book, and for me that is also a good sign. Some I strongly disliked, others I was rooting for the whole time. Its the kind of story that makes you want to keep turning the page to see what’s going to happen or yell at the pages because you’re frustrated with the characters. The characters and the setting were both atypical, which made for an interesting mind movie for me while reading.

Recommended for: Alexander and Hess both said that the youngest reader for this book is 8th grade, which I completely agree with. In addition, I think this would be another great one for reluctant readers, especially music lovers. So even though I won’t be reading this book with my babies for quite some time, I still recommend this book to those of you have older kiddos. The book is officially released on August 1st, 2017, and you can go to: for more information.




Blue Sky White Stars–A Book Review

Blue Sky White Stars–A Book Review

I’ll be honest, I don’t usually have a specific bedtime read for my babies for the 4th of July like I do for other holidays. However, thanks to the Twitterverse and my addiction to books, I discovered I already had purchased the perfect book earlier this summer– Blue Sky White Stars, written by Sarvinder Naberhaus and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

Now, I realize you’re probably thinking, if its so perfect for Independence Day, why is she telling me about it now, after July 4th? Well, although the book is perfect for the 4th, it is not exclusive to that holiday.  Trust me, it’s not like you would be reading The Polar Express in June.

Blue Sky White Stars is a poetic tribute to the American flag and can be read at any time of year. It does not have many words in the book at all, but the words that are written by Sarvinder Naberhaus are powerful. Speaking of powerful, the illustrations in this book are AMAZING. I’ve been a fan of Kadir Nelson’s work for a long time (see: Henry’s Freedom Box or Abe’s Honest Words), but I was still in awe over these pictures. Both of my children were in amazed as well, so even though it took mere seconds to read the words on each page, we stared at the illustrations quite a bit longer.  Here are two illustrations from the book:

This one, also on the cover, was the favorite of my kids. They loved that you could see the fireworks in their eyes.
Although they were all great, this was my favorite.


Blue Sky White Stars is a great short read that can spark some great conversations with your children about the flag, America, and the power of wonderful illustrations. Although this time we did not have a lot of conversations about the words, this is definitely a book I look forward to rereading with my children as they get older!