Book Review: Notes to my Daughter by David A. Dixon

Reading David Dixon’s book Notes to my Daughter was bittersweet. I grew up without a dad.  My dad abandoned me before I was born. Nevertheless, I am happy that there are dads that do take pride in providing for their children.


Dixon dedicates the book to his daughter Kenadi. It takes the reader into an insightful journey of what a genuine father-daughter relationship should look like. Every child deserves the best from his or her parents. Dixon’s words of wisdom to his daughter makes this book a must-read for all dads. The author writes from his heart and offers good common sense advice to his daughter.

There are 15 chapters in the book. Chapters one and 14 are my two favorites. In chapter one, the author encourages his daughter to trust God. This in my opinion is sound, excellent advice.  Dixon is a wise father, because he wants to encourage his daughter to understand putting God first will be the most important thing she can do, and doing so will benefit her greatly.


Chapter 14,  titled “Learn to Forgive,”  starts with a quote that I absolutely love. By Paul Boese, it is very profound:  “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”

This speaks loudly to me. I believe when one continues to hold on to hatred by not forgiving those who have wronged you, you only prolong the hurt and keep the door shut for complete healing. Lucky for me, I learned early on to forgive those that have done me harm. I forgave my father a long time ago.

Instead of wallowing in the negative, I made a concerted effort to channel my energy into doing extremely well in school. In my opinion, lack of forgiveness is like a cancer; if allowed to fester, it will take you out of the game of life.

Notes to my Daughter is a book with life-changing messages for all daughters and dads.  It is a helpful and encouraging guide for a young woman as she embarks on the journey of life.



Book Review: ‘Ava’s Secret Tea Party’ by Donna Shepherd


All I can think after reading Donna Shepherd’s newest book, Ava’s Secret Tea Party, is wow! Little girls from all cultures will enjoy reading this delightful book. I read the book 10 times before writing the review because it is such pure delight.

Little Ava wonders if the three most common magical beings, the Sandman, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus have ever met. She then comes up with a brilliant idea. Through a note to the Sandman, Ava invites the magical beings to a special tea party.

What a magical ride reading this book gave me. It transported me back to when my three children were young. The special times I would snuggle next to them and read over and over again their favorite book.

Ava’s Secret Tea Party has that type of appeal. It will be many a child’s favorite bedtime story.

Everything about Ava’s Secret Tea Party is special. The illustrations are about the best I have ever seen. They are fun, vivid, engaging, and thus drawing the reader’s attention right away.

Ms. Shepherd captures the reader’s attention even more with her writing style. Her rhymes are nothing short of exquisite. Here are some examples that will leave you surely enchanted!
The Tooth Fairy brings Ava shiny coins
For each baby tooth she’ll lose.
How does she know when the teeth fall out?
Does she read the “Tooth Fairy News”?
Come Christmas Eve, long after midnight,
Santa slips in like a mouse.
Even when Ava’s more naughty than nice,
He still brings fun gifts to her house.

Lastly, the author provides recipes for the goodies Ava serves her magical guests at her secret tea party. Additionally there are crafts to help kids decorate for their own tea parties. I encourage you to get a copy of this one of a kind book for the little ones in your life.

To learn more about Donna Shepherd visit her website.

Book Review: Gatsby’s Grand Adventures Book Two by Barbara Cairns

securedownloadEven though I am an adult, I love reading children’s picture books. I especially like books that can teach children about a specific topic. In Gatsby’s Grand Adventures: Book Two, August Renoir’s’ The Apple Seller,’ by Barbara Cairns, children are introduced to a painting of famous artist, Auguste Renoir.

I admire Ms. Cairns for coming up with this ingenious way to help children acquire appreciation for art. The author uses humor, and adventures to capture the mind of children. I love this concept because it is a very effective way to introduce young minds to the abstract world of art education.

Gatsby, the adventurous cat, is very adept at jumping into paintings at night, in the art gallery, where he lives with owner Annabelle. The fun begins when Gatsby must figure out a way to jump out before sunrise or everything in the painting will be changed.

The illustrator, Eugene Ruble, uses pastels to portray the adventures in a unique way. I am also hugely impressed with Ms. Cairns’ play with words in order to bring this story to life. Here’s my favorite passage:

One night, Gatsby crept
downstairs into the gallery. He padded
across the floor and stopped. His big
eyes stared at ‘The Apple Seller’ by
Pierre Auguste Renoir. Maybe those
little girls will play with me. Gatsby’s
tail twitched. His whiskers itched. His
haunches hitched. SNAP!”

Lastly, Ms. Cairns provides the reader with art information and many websites at the end of the book. In my opinion, this is a valuable resource .Teachers and parents can use the information to encourage further study on the topic of art education.


Book Review: The Turtle Who Imagined by Mary Esparza-Vela

Living in a world obsessed with physical looks we all must learn to appreciate who we are as a person. We all fall prey to “what if,” and “if only.”


Mary Esparza-Vela’s book The Turtle Who Imagined takes a look of what happens when we wish we were someone else. It is an ingenious way to teach young children about learning to accept and be content with who they are.

Award-winning author Mary Esparza-Vela shows what happens when a turtle desires to leave his shell and hop like a rabbit, fly like an eagle, jump out and roar like a bear, and play in the mud like a pig. The turtle falls asleep and in his dreams sees himself doing all the things he imagined. Much to the turtle’s dismay, he encounters some unexpected danger. It is then he comes to realize how his protective shell is what helped him escape death. He learns to accept and appreciate who he is.

More and more children are becoming victims of bullying, and as a classroom teacher, I can see how this book can be used to help discuss how each one of us is unique. Being unique should be celebrated and not used to bully and make fun of others. The Turtle Who Imagined is a timely book with a great message.

Young or old can learn this valuable lesson, to know oneself and acknowledge one’s abilities and gifts. Lastly, one should not focus on one’s imperfections but on what makes us unique.

Award-winning artist Kevin Scott Collier helps the story come alive with his vivid illustrations. The Turtle Who Imagined won 2012 Creative Child Magazine book of the year award. I see the book as a great resource for parents, grandparents, and teachers interested in helping children learn about self-acceptance.


To learn more about Mary Esparza-Vela you can visit her website.

Article first published as Book Review: The Turtle Who Imagined by Mary Esparza – Vela on Blogcritics.


Book Review: The Last Page in the Diary by Colleen L. Reece

The Last Page in a Diary is the first historical fiction I have ever read concerning internment camps during World War II. The author chronicles the evils of placing Japanese Americans in camps during World War II. She does an outstanding job relating the story in a simple way that any child reading the story will understand what went on so many years ago.

On page eleven, the author made a profound statement that made me stop to think about the evils of prejudice.

“When there’s prejudice — innocent people often get hurt.” This statement rings so true to me since I have been a victim of racial prejudice, and I know how it can destroy a person, if he or she is not strong. Luckily, Yoshi (Mike) is a remarkable young lady who gets her strength from God, and that strength helps her endure the hatred lashed at her and her family.

A second statement found on page twenty-three that made me stop to think:
“Don’t blame the kids too much. Their parents teach them the hatred and prejudice.” Like the old adage — the apple does not fall far from the tree. People that are prejudiced had to learn it from home. Sad but very true, the only thing one can do is to find a way to not let the hatred turn you into a bitter person.

I also enjoyed the Christian message the author tried to relay to the readers. Yoshi (Mike) learned to give all her cares to God even though kids from her school ridiculed and made her life difficult because she is Japanese American.
Patricia Kelly (Pat) on the other hand blames God for Yoshi’s troubles. She went through a time where she loses trust in God, but in the end comes to see that God is still with her.

I applaud the author for writing such an important book. The only way to avoid the same mistakes of history is for authors to write and keep on writing these stories repeatedly. In my opinion, it is a good idea for today’s children to read about injustices in our past.

Article tags

Read more: