Friday, July 22, 2011

Read, comment, and be entered to WIN this book!

“Where Did My Good Mood Go?” is written by Ava Parnass, a child and family psychotherapist who has been in practice for over 15 years. This book seems to take its cue from some of Jamie Lee Curtis’s children’s books, telling a simple story about a young character’s bad mood in rhyme, with illustrations by Kate Kaminski.

The book describes a day in the life of someone who has lost their “good mood” and how that affects their day and the time they spend with their family and friends. From waking in the morning and searching for that elusive good mood, through a day at school where friends tease and a teacher criticizes, then home again to deal with grown-up questions that make the lead character cranky, the verses accurately describe how a child might feel on one of those days where everything just goes wrong.

Mushy, a “magic book” that lives in the computer of the unhappy main character pops up to help find that mysteriously missing good mood, and with Mushy’s help, the young protagonist discovers that discussing the problems of the day with “Mushy” (and with grown-ups) helps him or her to understand the feelings they’ve been dealing with.

While I initially questioned the wisdom of having a computer lead the way to discussions of feelings, discovering that the next book in line for review features “Mushy” in an expanded role helped me better understand why the character is used in “Where Did My Good Mood Go?” As nannies and parents all know, familiarity is a key concept in children’s literature, and developing a favorite character is the goal of any author of children’s books. Ms. Parness is working on making “Mushy” into a character children love and want to hear about over and over.

One issue I had with the book was the illustrations. I reviewed a .pdf format, so my comments are based on that version. I don’t feel that the illustrations helped carry the story very well. There was no clear lead character that appeared on every page of the story, and I felt that lack of continuity might make the story harder to follow for some children.

The message sent by this book is one of acceptance from adults in a child’s life, regardless of how the child is feeling or acting. Although the illustrations in the .pdf format of the book that I read might make the story harder to follow for readers under 2 or 3 years old, I think the overall tone and accessibility of this story might make it a favorite of the children in your life, especially kids from ages 4 – 8.

For more information about Ms. Parness, Ms. Kaminski, and the other books and songs currently available from them and other writers and artists, please visit 

Please comment below with your name or your blogger ID to be entered to win a copy of “Where Did My Good Mood Go?” Entries will be accepted until July 31, 2011, and the winner will be announced on August 1, 2011. 

ETA: Ms. Parness has let me know that "Mushy" is a book that lives in a computer!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Book Reviews and...Giveaways!

I've been asked to review several children's books that discuss feelings and how we, as nannies and parents, can help kids identify and cope with their feelings. I'll be reviewing a book about every 10 - 14 days, and I'll randomly choose a commenter to receive a copy of the book that I've reviewed.

To enter to win, all you need to do is comment on the review, leaving your name. Easy, isn't it?

The first review will be published tomorrow, so get your commenting fingers ready!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Baby Signs

I've been signing with M., as I mentioned below, since before he could really focus on my hands and what I was doing, so having him sign "milk" back to me at about 7 months of age was exciting, to say the least. We're still working on "more", "all done", and several other signs, but so far he's only mastered "milk", and he uses it for just about everything.

I've signed with my charges since I started caring for my 4th kiddo in 1997. E.'s mom asked me to read the book she'd purchased, and we started signing right away. E. was very even tempered, and wasn't prone to meltdowns if she couldn't be understood. Her little sister O., on the other hand, was...less of a calm and mellow baby. I am convinced signing saved her from exploding in anger on a regular basis. Just knowing she could communicate basic info to me and to her parents helped her so very much!

I also have found that my charges seem to talk early and prolifically, even as they continue to sign when needed. Of course, this is all anecdotal, but I feel strongly that signing helps encourage all levels and forms of communication, regardless of how many signs a child learns. Once they realize they can "talk" to their adults in any way, the joy of back and forth communication encourages them to keep learning how to talk!

I find, actually, that the more "high maintenance" a child is, the faster they learn to sign and the better they are at it at a very young age. And that may be why M. is kind of just easing into the idea. He's so mellow, generally speaking, that he is able to stay calm and happy even if we adults don't understand what he is telling us.

Of course, he is inventing his own sign for "all done" right now. It involves ripping his bib off, scattering food on the floor, and chattering at me until I start cleaning him up. I think we need to work on using MY sign instead!

If you are looking to learn and use baby signs with your charges, I was recently contacted by and their site has a lot of great information available to help you get started or help you expand your and your child's vocabulary!