Monday, 25 September 2017

5 Picture Books For Teaching Children About Compassion


As parents, every single one of us wants to raise our tiny humans with a concrete understanding of both empathy and compassion. Here are my five favourite books to help with this enormous task.


Red by Michael Hall - In this book a blue crayon is mislabeled as a red crayon. Everyone tries to get him to be a red crayon, and he tries his hardest to be a red crayon as well, but he is miserable. Eventually he meets a new friend who helps him learn to be true to his inner self. Red is such a beautiful story about acceptance and courage.

Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox by Danielle Daniel - This book is an introduction to Indigenous totem animals. On each page children can identify with the masks of different creatures such as deer, foxes, beavers, etc. I love this book because the short descriptions of the animals act as a guide for young children learning to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein - This is a classic, but if you don't know this story, it's about the relationship between a young boy and a tree. This book is perfect for discussions about the give and take balance in friendships.



Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud - My 4 year-old read this book in his Junior Kindergarten class, and it was a game changer. Both at school and at home we now use the language of "filling someone's bucket" to show kindness or we talk about "dipping into someone's bucket" with a negative action. Readers even learn that it's possible to fill or dip into your own bucket. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? is one of my favourites.

My Friend Maggie by Hannah E. Harrison - This book is about friendship, bullying, and fitting in. Paula and Maggie have been friends forever, but when some students start picking on Maggie, Paula starts to notice all of Maggie's faults as well and stops playing with her. When the mean girls eventually start to pick on Paula, Maggie steps in to defend her friend. My Friend Maggie is a heartfelt story that packs the same emotional punch as The Giving Tree.

xo
Jenn

Monday, 18 September 2017

The Last Mrs. Parrish - Excerpt

I'm so excited to share with you an excerpt from The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine. I loved this book, and you can find my review here. It's a psychological thriller that has a very unique twist on the "manipulative woman trying to improve her status in life" plot line. Get a sneak peek below....

Excerpt - Chapter 1

Amber Patterson was tired of being invisible. She'd been coming to this gym every day for three months - three long months of watching these women of leisure working at the only thing they cared about. They were so self-absorbed; she would have bet her last dollar that not one of them would recognize her on the street even though she was five feet away from them every single day. She was a fixture to them - unimportant, not worthy of being noticed. But she didn't care - not about any of them. There was one reason and one reason alone that she dragged herself here every day, to this machine, at the precise stroke of eight.

She was sick to death of the routine - day after day, working her ass off, waiting for the moment to make her move. From the corner of her eye, she saw the signature gold Nikes step onto the machine next to her. Amber straightened her shoulders and pretended to be immersed in the magazine strategically placed on the rack of her own machine. She turned and gave the exquisite blond woman a shy smile, which garnered a polite nod in her direction. Amber reached for her water bottle, deliberately moving her foot to the edge of the machine, and slipped, knocking the magazine to the floor, where it landed beneath the pedal of her neighbor's equipment.

"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry," she said, reddening.

Before she could step off, the woman stopped her pedaling and retrieved it for her. Amber watched the woman's brow knit together.

"You're reading is magazine?" the woman said, handing it back to her?

"Yes, it's the Cystic Fibrosis Trust's magazine. Comes out twice a year. Do you know it?"

"I do, yes. Are you in the medical field?" the woman asked.

Amber cast her eyes to the floor, then back to the woman. "No, I'm not. My younger sister had CF." She let the words sit in the space between them.

"I'm sorry. That was rude of me. It's none of my business," the woman said, and stepped back onto the elliptical.

Amber shook her head. "No, it's okay. Do you know someone with cystic fibrosis?"

There was pain in the woman's eyes as she stared back at Amber. "My sister. I lost her twenty years ago."

"I'm so sorry. How old was she?"

"Only sixteen. We were two years apart."

"Charlene was just fourteen." Slowing her pace, Amber wiped her eyes with the back of her hand. It took a lot of acting skills to cry about a sister who ever existed. The three sisters she did have were alive and well, although she hadn't spoken to them for two years.

The woman's machine ground to a halt. "Are you okay?" she asked.

Amber sniffed and shrugged. "It's still so hard, even after all these years."

The woman gave her a long look, as if trying to make a decision, then extended her hand.

"I'm Daphne Parrish. What do you say we get out of here and have a nice chat over a cup of coffee?"

"Are you sure? I don't want to interrupt your workout."

Daphne nodded. "Yes, I'd really like to talk to you."

Amber gave her what she hoped looked like a grateful smile and stepped own. "That sounds great." Taking her hand, she said, "I'm Amber Patterson. Pleasure to meet you."

~

Later that evening Amber lay in a bubble bath, sipping a glass of merlot and staring at the photo in Entrepreneur magazine. Smiling, she put it down, closed her eyes, and rested her head on the edge of the tub. She was feeling very satisfied about how well things had gone that day. She'd been prepared for it to drag out even longer, but Daphne made it easy for her. After they dispensed with the small talk over coffee, they'd gotten down to the real reason she'd elicited Daphne's interest.

"It's impossible for someone who hasn't experienced CF to understand," Daphne said, her blue eyes alive with passion. "Julie was never a burden to me, but in high school my friends were always pushing me to leave her behind, not to let her tag along. They didn't understand that I never knew when she's be hospitalized or if she'd even make it out again. Every moment was precious."

Amber leaned forward and did her best to look interested while she calculated the total worth of the diamonds on Daphne's ears, the tennis bracelet on her wrist, and the huge diamond on her tanned and perfectly manicured finger. She must have had at least a hundred grand walking around on her size-four body, and all she could do was whine about her sad childhood. Amber suppressed a yawn and gave Daphne a tight smile.

"I know. I used to stay home from school to be with my sister so that my mom could go to work. She almost lost her job from taking so much time off, and the last thing we could afford was for her to lose our health insurance." She was pleased with how easily the lie came to her lips.

"Oh, that's terrible," Daphne clucked. "That's another reason my foundation is so important to me. We provide financial assistance to families who aren't able to afford the care they need. It's a big part of the mission of Julie's Smile for as long as I can remember."

Amber feigned shock. "Julie's Smile is your foundation? It's the same Julie? I know all about Julie's Smile, been reading about all you do for years. I'm so in awe."

Daphne nodded. "I started it right after grad school. In fact, my husband was my first benefactor." Here she'd smiled, perhaps a bit embarrassed. "That's how we met."

"Aren't you preparing for a big fund-raiser right now?"

"As a matter of fact we are. It's a few months away, but still lots to do. Say...oh, never mind."

"No, what?" Amber pressed.

"Well, I was just going to see if maybe you'd like to help. It would be nice to have someone who understands--"

"I'd love to help in any way," Amber interrupted. "I don't make a lot of money, but I definitely have time to donate. What you're doing is so important. When I think of the difference it makes---" She bit her lip and blinked back tears.

Daphne smiled. "Wonderful." She pulled out a card engraved with her name and address. "Here you are. Committee is meeting at my house Thursday morning at ten. Can you make it?"

Amber had given her a wide smile, still trying to look as though the disease was first in her mind. "I wouldn't miss it."

Copyright HarperCollins 2017

The Last Mrs. Parrish is out October 17th. You can also connect with Liv Constantine (the pen name for sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine) on Facebook, Twitter, and their website.

xo
Jenn




Tuesday, 12 September 2017

It Takes A Tribe by Will Dean - Book Review


In August, I completed my first Tough Mudder Half event. I have completed a few of their, now retired, Mudderella events, but the actual Tough Mudder Half was a whole other ball game. The course was a whole ton harder and a whole lot more fun because of it.

I was on such a high after the event that once I found out CEO and founder Will Dean had a book coming out about the origins of Tough Mudder, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

It Takes a Tribe is as much about the history, path, and growth of Tough Mudder as it is about resilience. About leadership. About dealing with your crap and moving on to what's next.

I love Tough Mudder, so I really enjoyed reading about how Tough Mudder came to be and the journey the company has been on. I especially loved learning the process for creating and testing new obstacles. The list of "crazy obstacle ideas" that they've passed on was fascinating, and I immediately shared them with my Tough Mudder team. We were all grateful those particular ideas didn't make it through the planning phases :)

Dean also talks about being an entrepreneur and the lessons he's learned starting his own business. He's open about his failures and discusses not only how he started his own company, but also how he was able to set the scene for the birth of a tribal culture among the 3 million Tough Mudder participants. Every person who completes a Tough Mudder event becomes part of "Muddernation". Many Tough Mudder obstacles are designed so that they must be completed with a team. Even for the strongest athlete, it would be impossible to complete 100% of Tough Mudder alone. One of the participants is quoted in the book saying, "there is that human touch point. You don't get held up that much in life, but it's an important thing."

Between each chapter are inspirational stories of individuals and teams who have run Tough Mudder for very special reasons. People who have overcome the worst parts of life: cancer, child loss, blindness, and more waking up and saying "I'm going to do something hard today." It is impossible not to be moved by their stories.

I found It Takes a Tribe to be very encouraging and many sentences of my copy are underlined. It's a quick read, and if you are a Tough Mudder fan, a young entrepreneur, or just interested reading more about the importance of persistence, I recommend you pick up a copy of this book. Mainly, Dean wants you to remember that the obstacle is the point. Whether on a Tough Mudder course or somewhere else in your life, the hurdle in front of you is not "not supposed to happen." You will find your way through, and you will come out stronger on the other side.

And to illustrate the point, Tough Mudder snapped this amazing shot of me slaying the Berlin Walls.
"No matter what place you come in ... 
no one is better than your best, and your best will make you better." 
- Sean Corvelle, Tough Mudder MC

It Takes a Tribe is out today. You can connect with Will Dean on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To just check out more about Tough Mudder in general and find events near you, you can visit their website.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received an advance copy of It Takes a Tribe courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada. All thoughts and opinions are genuine and entirely my own. 

Friday, 1 September 2017

I'll Have What She's Having - Book Review + Giveaway

I love a good romantic comedy, and Nora Ephron can really be considered a pioneer in this movie genre. I'll Have What She's Having by journalist Erin Carlson describes how Nora Ephron directed three iconic films that basically gave birth to the modern romantic comedy as we know it.

In the 80s and 90s, Nora Ephron directed When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail. I didn't realize when I watched them years ago that these movies were all connected in a trilogy of sorts, but now it's easy to see how they are linked, especially when it comes to Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

I'll Have What She's Having offers a backstage pass to the film sets of each of these movies and how Nora Ephron pushed to challenge the role of women in film.

This book is perfect for those who love learning the story behind the story. There was lots of information about the making of each film and about Hollywood in general at that time. I particularly enjoyed the fascinating anecdotes that the author learned from her interviews and research. Reading this, you will certainly learn plenty about these Ephron films and many other movies from the 1980s and the 1990s.

At times, I felt like there was almost too much supporting detail, so, for me, this book was best enjoyed a few chapters at a time over the course of a month, rather than a book I'd pick up and read everyday.

True film buffs or anyone who is interested in learning more about the makings of these three films will absolutely find this the perfect read.

If this sounds like it's up your alley, thanks to TLC Book Tours and Hachette Books, I'm giving away one print copy of I'll Have What She's Having over on Instagram. You can enter here.

xo
Jenn

Disclaimer - I received a copy of I'll Have What She's Having courtesy of TLC Book Tours and Hachette Books. All thoughts and opinions are genuine and entirely my own. To hear what other bloggers had to say about this book, you can visit the whole tour here.

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