Book Review: BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES by Mike Ciccotello

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of a charming and fun-filled picture book in a give-away on the Writing and Illustrating blog run by Kathy Temean:

BEACH TOYS vs SCHOOL SUPPLIES by Mike Ciccotello is that book. Here is my review of this delightful story that bridges the transition from summer to Back-To-School for the youngest kids.

Beach Toys vs. School Supplies

            The contest is on for who can build the best sand castle of all: The beach toys who have done it forever, or the school supplies who have all the proper equipment to measure and make the sand do what it does best. Does bigger mean better?  School supplies think so, but when things don’t work out quite the way they envisioned, will beach toys come to the rescue?

            Engaging illustrations and “punny” word play make the contest fun to watch. The message of friendship, co-operation, and kindness make this a perfect book for the transition from summer to school for the youngest readers.

So, grab your beach toys and school supplies and head on over to the beach for some sand castle building of your own…now is the perfect time.


Perfect Pairing:Ice Cream and Summer by Marilyn Ostermiller

Want a good reason to indulge in ice cream? Here it is: Today, August 19 is Soft Ice Cream Day.  1 Vanilla

Soft and hard ice cream are made with the same ingredients, but soft ice cream has less milk fat and more air, making it more delicate and smoother.

Ice cream magnate Tom Carvel discovered soft ice cream by accident. Carvel was driving his ice cream truck on Memorial Day weekend in 1934, when a flat tire stranded him by the side of a road. He knew his product — and profits —were melting, so as vacationers drove by, he sold them the softened ice cream. They loved it.

Within two years, in the midst of the Great Depression, he had patented a super low-temperature ice cream machine, created a secret formula ice cream and opened an ice cream store on the site where his truck broke down.

Ice cream was especially popular during the Depression. Money was tight, but ice cream cones cost only a nickel.  Then, as now, vanilla, strawberry and chocolate were popular ice cream flavors.

About that time, a candy maker, Joseph Edy, and ice cream maker, William Dreyer, collaborated to add marshmallow bits and walnuts to chocolate ice cream, and named it Rocky Road, a reference to the difficult times.

Also in the 1930s in Sicily, rum-soaked raisins were added to gelato to create another enduring flavor, Rum Raisin. Gelato is similar to soft ice cream, in that it has less milk fat than traditional ice cream.     gelato

Making ice cream is a time-honored family tradition.These books offer instruction and and ideas:

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker, by food writer Robin Donovan. Published by RockRidge Press.

The Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Book: Old-Fashioned All-American Treats for Your Ice Cream Maker

The Perfect Scoop, Revised and Updated: 200 Recipes for Ice Creams, Sorbets, Gelatos, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments by David Leibovitz. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House.  

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream Desserts by Jeni Britton Bauer. Published by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing     

America’s Favorite Ice Cream Flavors

    • Vanilla
    • Chocolate
    • Cookies N’ Cream
    • Mint Chocolate Chip
    • Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
    • Buttered Pecan
    • Cookie Dough
    • Strawberry
    • Moose Tracks
    • Neapolitan

What is your favorite flavor?


Marilyn Ostermiller is a long-time journalist who delights in cooking, baking and trying unusual flavors of ice cream.

Ever Hopeful…Monarch Butterfly Update.

After the horror of losing so many Monarch Butterflies in the chrysalis stage last year due to a fungus that attacked it, I was hopeful that this year we’d have a better outcome. We had 40+ milkweed plants in our garden beds. Butterflies came and laid eggs on many of them. I watched with joyful and cautious breath as caterpillars chomped on the leaves.

monarch caterpillar And then one morning I watched as a butterfly emerged from a chrysalis and landed on a flower, pumping it’s wings as it dried off.  butter


Hooray! It felt so good to see the process working.


Fast forward to two days later when we woke up to see this outside the window, in the same garden bed where the Monarch hatched:

A beautiful spider doing a not-so-beautiful-to-watch thing.

Sigh…nature does what nature does, but it sure is discouraging.

spider butterfly

But, the butterflies are still laying eggs and I just saw another caterpillar this morning.

So…I remain ever hopeful in the quest to help the Monarchs.

PB Review: THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS by Annette Whipple.

I always look forward to a new non-fiction picture book by author Annette Whipple. Her books are not only informative, but entertaining and never fail to teach me something. In this second book in her THE TRUTH ABOUT series (Whooo Knew: The Truth About Owls), Annette tells us some amazing things about dogs.

WOOF:THE TRUTH ABOUT DOGS (Reycraft Books 2021) by Annette Whipple, is a fascinating and close up look at people’s best friend. Interesting facts are told in a question and answer format that will give kids all  they need to know about this popular pet.

Back matter shows readers how to help dogs, how to greet an unknown dog, how to make a dog TUG TOY and more. This is a perfect book for anyone who loves dogs and wants to know more about them. It will make a great addition to a home or classroom library.


To learn more about Annette and her books visit:

Annette Whipple
Scurry! The Truth About Spiders (Reycraft Books, Fall 2021) 
Woof! The Truth About Dogs (Reycraft Books, June 2021)
Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls (Reycraft Books, 2020)
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide (Chicago Review Press, 2020) 
The Story of the Wright Brothers (Rockridge Press, 2020)