Did You Know These Ho-HO-Holiday Facts?

Most of us know that Christmas trees originated in Germany and that “White Christmas” is the most popular Christmas song. But here are some facts that might be new to you and your loved ones and perfect for sharing around the holidays.

TINSEL was invented in Nuremberg, Germany in 1610 and originally made of real silver.

Each year the folks from Oslo, Norway donate a Christmas tree to Trafalgar Square in London to thank the British for their help in WWII.

Rudolph the Reindeer was created by the Montgomery Ward department store to market holiday coloring books. The original Rudolph’s nose wasn’t red because that was seen as a sign of alcoholism.

 Celebrating Christmas was banned in England from 1647-1660 by the Puritans. In 1620, the Puritans spent their first Christmas day working. As late a s 1850, the holiday was not legal in New England so stores were open and children were required to attend school.

The Bicycle Playing Card Company manufactured cards in WWII that, when soaked, revealed escape routes for POW’s held in Germany. These decks helped at least 32 people escape from Colditz Castle.

Happy Holidays!



Gifts That Give Back This Holiday Season and Beyond.

While searching for those perfect gifts for everyone on your holiday list, why not try some of the sites listed below. These companies/products “pay it forward” with your purchase and provide a variety of wonderful services for children, animals and the homeless. Gifts that keep on giving.

  1. BOBS from Skechers: I am a HUGE fan of Skechers shoes for the comfort they provide. By buying from the BOBS collection, you help save the lives of SHELTER DOGS AND CATS in the US thanks to their partnership with Best Friends Animal Society. http://www.skechers.com
  2. Cuddle+Kind: Every time you purchase one of these handmade, soft and cuddly dolls you donate TEN MEALS to hungry kids around the world.  http://www.cuddleandkind.com
  3. STATE: With each purchase of a State bag, the company delivers a backpack of school supplies, including socks and snacks, to a local child in need.  http://www.Statebags.com
  4. Help give poverty the Boot with a purchase of a pair of ROMA BOOTS. The company has provided durable, colorful rain boots to needy children in 26 countries including US.  http://www.Romaboots.com
  5. Smile: Did you know 5.1 Billion people in the world own cell phones, but only 4.2 Billion of them own a toothbrush?  For every toothbrush bought from Synced Smiles, the company donates TEN to people in places like Malawi, Ugands, and the Philippines.  http://www.Syncedsmiles.com
  6. Need Socks?: These foot-warmers are one of the most requested items at homeless shelters. When you buy a pair of soft and comfy BOMBAS, the company sends a pair with antimicrobial treatment and reinforced seams to a homeless shelter.  http://www.Bombas.com
  7. This Bar Saves Lives: When you purchase one of these yummy non GMO and gluten-free snacks, a NUTRITION PACKET to help fight malnutrition is sent around the world. http://www.Thisbarsaveslives.com
  8. Need Toilet Paper? Who doesn’t.: When you buy Who Gives A Crap brand toilet tissue and paper towels – made from 100% recycles paper or bamboo, 50% of profits are used to build toilets for people who need them in developing countries.  http://www.Whogivesacrap.org

Does anyone else have a unique gift that pays it forward you’d like to share here? Please leave a comment and I will add it to my list for next year.

May all your gifts make a difference. Happy Holidays!

Easy Holiday Paper Crafts For Kids.

I am in love with the RED TED website! If you haven’t discovered this gem, head on over. There are so many great crafts for kids and adults and many come with step-by-step videos to show you how to make each project. Using any kind of materials imaginable, you and your kids can create so many wonderful gifts to decorate your home or give to family and friends for the holidays.

If you plan of giving some books as gifts this Christmas, why not add a homemade bookmark?  You and the kids can make them following the tutorials on the site.  It’s a simple way for kids to give a gift to classmates,  or as a Scout or Sunday School Project. Here is the link to some of the awesome BOOKMARK PAPER CRAFTS  with a holiday theme:


*Christmas Paper Crafts for Kids*. Everyone has paper, right? Combine paper with basic stationery items such as scissors, pens and glue and you have a fantastic list of fabulous Christmas Crafts and Christmas DIYs for kids and grown ups. Love how versatile Paper Crafts. CUTE Christmas Paper Crafts. #PaperCrafts #PaperChristmasCrafts #Christmascrafts #ChristmasPaperCrafts #Christmas #Christmascraftsforkids #papercraftsforkids

For more ideas on Do-it-yourself projects, check out the book BE A MAKER, by Katey Howes.

Happy crafting!

Need Good Books For Middle Grade and Teens? Check out these award-winning Titles.

Last week I shared some PB’s that would make great holiday gifts. This week I am presenting some award-winning books for the middle grade and YA population.

Pandemic_cover_with_seal SMALLERPANDEMIC by Yvonne Ventresca was written in 2014…long before the current pandemic we are in. A compelling story that is chillingly close to home for the young adult in your life.

The EVOLUTION REVOLUTION  series by Charlotte Bennardo (illustrated by Cathleen Daniels) features a smart squirrel named Jack who learns to use tools, simple machines, and animal know-how to help save his forest kingdom from developers. Perfect for the 7-10 year old set.                                                                                                                                             

ER 1 cover large



Here are two of my own books that may appeal to lovers of historical fiction.

WHEELS OF CHANGE (Creston) takes place in 1908 Washington DC when girls and women had few opportunities outside the strict roles of the era. 12 year old Emily wants to be a blacksmith in her father’s carriage barn; Papa employs an African-American in a segregated city, upsetting some of his neighbors; women are demonstrating for the right to vote, and automobiles are taking over the city. Which changes are ones that Emily, her friend Charlie, and their families can embrace?

The other is WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY (Creston) which is a novel in verse set in 1964. Eleven year old Jack is missing his dad who is MIA in Vietnam. While spending the summer at his grandparents house, he meets Jill whose brother is a constant bullying presence in their lives. When they catch a fish that grants wishes, their summer is turned upside down because every wish they make has a consequence they didn’t expect. Themes of loss, bullying, doing the right thing, not the easy thing.  


For more MG and YA titles check out the KidLit Authors Club, where books rule.  


Author Colleen Kosinski Talks About Her New PB: A HOME AGAIN.

Picture book author/illustrator Colleen Kosinski has a new book out, just in time for the holidays. I asked Colleen where the idea came from and also left my review and the end of the post. Here’s Colleen:.


Q: Why did you decide to write A Home Again?

A: It’s a funny story. All of my children had moved out and my husband and I were talking about downsizing. When my children got wind of our plan, they were not happy. They couldn’t imagine riding by our house and not being able to stop in and visit. My own parents are still in my childhood home, so I never really thought about how I’d feel if I couldn’t visit the house I grew up in. Anyway, we decided to stay in our house.

Q: How did the unique POV come about?

A: As I was thinking about my childrens’ reaction I started thinking how the house would feel if we left. Then something just clicked, and the story was born. As I wrote, I tried to think of the house as a child. How would a child feel if they were suddenly abandoned? Confused? Sad? Angry? I tried to think about how a house could express its emotions.

home again

Q: What simple message do you want readers to remember about A HOME AGAIN?

A: In my story there are two families. The one who moves away, and the new one who makes the house a home again. The second family in my story is a gay family who adopts a baby. It’s not the focus of the story, just another family who loves the house and who the house loves. So, I’d say the message of my book is “Love is love and love makes a home.”

“Love is love and love makes a home.” is a beautiful message for a lovely story. Thank you Colleen, for sharing it with us.

Here is my review for: A HOME AGAIN by Colleen Kosinski, Illustrated by Valeria Docampo

Exquisite illustrations compliment a text that conveys all the special things that make a house a home. Told from the house’s POV, all the feelings that come from being lived in, cared for, and celebrated shine through the house, until its occupants move away. Then feelings turn sad, grey, lonely, as the house sits neglected. Can it ever be a home again?

A gently told story of what it means to treasure and appreciate the place we call home.

“Love is love and love makes a home.”


@Colleen Kosinski http://www.ColleenRowanKosinski.com

Colleen writes picture books and middle grade novels. Her picture books include Lilla’s Sunflowers, A Home Again, and Love Made Me More (2022). Her middle grade novel is titled, A Promise Stitched In Time. For the last year she has been working as an editor at Reedsy.com and teaching classes on picture book writing. She is also involved in her local chapter of the SCBWI, and the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature. Colleen is a graduate of Rutgers University, as are her husband and sons. Her daughter followed the bright lights to work in the film industry in LA. Colleen works from her Cherry Hill, NJ studio with her canine assistant, Sage.

Check out Colleen's new picture book!
A Home Again

and her other titles