Monday, November 23, 2015

HOLIDAY Round-Up w/ GIVEAWAY & CONTEST #MMBBR #RachelRosenstein #XmasEnvy #ReadandBelieve

Well the Holidays are coming!!!  
Only 30 days until Christmas!!!
Are you ready?  
I am so ready and I have some amazing books 
and gift ideas for this holiday season! 

Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein by Amanda Peet and Andrea Troyer

 NOTE: All samples and prizing are provided by Penguin Random House

Actress Amanda Peet brings us a hilarious holiday drama in a story that every Jewish family will relate to and appreciate.
Rachel Rosenstein wonders why Santa Claus never visits her house. But this year is going to be different--even though her family is Jewish and doesn't observe Christmas. With hilarious and heartwarming mishaps, Rachel visits Santa at the mall with her special request, writes a letter to Santa explaining her cause, and clandestinely decorates the house on Christmas Eve (right down to latkes for the reindeer). And while Rachel may wrestle with her culture, customs, and love of sparkly Christmas ornaments, she also comes away with a brighter understanding of her own identity and of the gift of friends and family.

I adored this book!  I think is is a great book to share with children who celebrate Hanukkah, but still wish that Santa would pay them a visit.  It is also about accepting others for their beliefs and differences and embracing your own traditions and observations of the holiday season.  This story is charming and heartwarming, witty and sweet.  5 stars

Amanda Peet is an actress and playwright. Her first play, "The Commons of Pensacola," starring Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker, opened to critical acclaim in 2014 at Manhattan Theater Club. A native of New York, Peet graduated from Columbia University with a degree in American History. She has appeared in numerous films, including "Please Give," "Syriana," "Something's Gotta Give," and "The Whole Nine Yards." She also starred in the TV series "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," and the Broadway revival of Neil Simon's "Barefoot in the Park." Peet stars in a new comedy series, "Togetherness" for HBO, debuting in fall 2014.
Andrea Troyer grew up in Minnesota and received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two young boys.

Christine Davenier is the illustrator of many children's books, including Julie Andrews's "The Very Fairy Princess" series. She lives in Paris, France.

Learn more at
#RachelRosenstein #XmasEnvy


Come together with friends celebrating different holidays! One winner will receive 2 copies of Dear Santa, Love, Rachel Rosenstein, one to keep, and one to share. US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway


1986 Caldecott Medal Winner

A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . . 

Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish. 

For millions of readers worldwide, this mysterious journey to the North Pole has become a beloved classic. In this 30th anniversary edition, the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg is revealed in a never-before-seen fashion, with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. Includes author’s note, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and golden "All Aboard" ornament. 

 I talk to my boys about tradition all the time.  I feel like it is what makes up the best family memories!  I think that THE POLAR EXPRESS needs to be part of all families (who celebrate Christmas) Christmas tradition.  I intend to start this year!  We always watched the movie of THE POLAR EXPRESS but now I want to add in reading the book together the night before Christmas!   This book is a classic.  It is beautiful and a must to read with a warm cup of hot chocolate!  Now the book comes with a beautiful new jacket design and interior layout, a  gorgeous ornament and a downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson!  What a joy this book is the the holiday tradition and spirit in all of us!  5 stars! 

Here are some amazing things that are being done with the release of the 30th Anniversary Edition of the Polar Express! 
1.   We’ll be donating thousands of copies of The Polar Express to Christmas in the City, a nonprofit organization that helps families in need. Every time the hashtag #ReadandBelieve is used on any social media platform, we’ll donate a copy of the book – so please spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest and anywhere else you’re posting! Visit our Pinterest page for all the details at

2.  CONTEST:  We’re giving away an all-expenses paid trip for one lucky family of four to ride The Polar Express™ Train Ride in Durango, Colorado. The prize includes airfare, hotel, ski tickets, and the Polar Express train tickets. For information on the sweepstakes (running Oct. 15 through Dec. 31, 2015) and the train rides, visit

3.   Visit to discover and share holiday traditions, and to view an interactive countdown calendar with The Polar Express activities, recipes, games and more!


This series of books are AWESOME!!!  They are JAM packed with information!  They are intended for children who are just starting to read and as the series progresses they get a bit more challenging! I love this!  I love that the young reader is progressing in the series as their skills progress.  I also love the vibrant pictures, quizzes and fact cards!  There are so many places to stop and talk about what was read or what is seen on the page! This allow for plenty of opportunities for engagement, which is key for a life long love of reading!  My youngest son has struggled to learn to read and these books have piked is interest and provided some wonderful reading moments and snuggles.  My older son has also found this series to be captivating!  He is a fact lover and these book provide endless opportunities to learn fun facts about numerous topics!  

Level 1:  Early Adventures
Animal Habitats
Outer Space
Safari Animals

Level 2:  Seriously Amazing
Nighttime Animals
Sea Life
Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures
Solar Systems
Baby Animals
Human Body

Level 3:  World of Wonder
Wild Weather
Rain Forest Animals
The United States
The Planets
Ancient Egypt

Level $:  Endless Explorations
Space Exploration
Natural Disasters
World Wonders
Ocean Habitats
The Science and History of Flight 

The boys and I are loving making our way through these amazing books together.  We are loving learning, making memories and creating a household of life long readers!   This is a series that needs to be in all children's home library!  Or donate it to the classroom!  But get these books in the hand of young readers!

5 stars for the series!!!


Developed in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and esteemed childhood literacy expert Dr. Adria Klein, the Smithsonian Readers series is designed to encourage reading comprehension with high-interest topics and build reading skills with a carefully designed leveling structure. Level 1 focuses on familiar content and simple text to promote engagement and success for new readers. Smithsonian Readers: Early Adventures Level 1 contains six 32-page topics for beginning readers: Vehicles, Reptiles, Outer Space, Animal Habitats, Insects, and Safari Animals. The fascinating content is accompanied 36 perforated fact cards to further encourage early adventures in reading.

Level 1: Early Readers
-Basic factual texts with familiar themes and content
-Concepts in text are reinforced by photos
-Includes glossary to reinforce reading comprehension
-Phonic regularity
-Simple sentence structure and repeated sentence patterns
-Easy vocabulary familiar to kindergarteners and first graders

Smithsonian Readers: Seriously Amazing Level 2 provides accessible and engaging content designed to encourage further progress in children’s reading abilities. Developed in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and esteemed childhood literacy expert Dr. Adria Klein, Seriously Amazing Level 2 encourages development in readers with unfamiliar vocabulary terms, new phonic structures, and more variation in sentence patterns. Seriously Amazing Level 2 contains six 32-page topics, chosen for their appeal to developing readers: Nighttime Animals, Sea Life, Dinosaurs, Solar System, Baby Animals, and the Human Body. Thirty-six perforated fact cards extend the learning and reading practice.

Level 2: Developing Readers
-Simple factual texts with mostly familiar themes and content
-Concepts in text are supported by images
-Includes glossary to reinforce reading comprehension
-Repetition of basic sentence structure with variation of placement of subjects, verbs, and adjectives
-Mostly easy vocabulary familiar to kindergarteners and first graders
-Introduction to new phonic structures
-Integration of contractions, possessives, compound sentences, and some three-syllable words

Smithsonian Readers: World of Wonder Level 3 continues children’s journeys to becoming lifelong readers with new and engaging content and more challenging texts. Developed in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and esteemed childhood literacy expert Dr. Adria Klein, World of Wonder Level 3 contains six 32-page topics for engaged readers looking to learn more about the world around them: Ancient Egypt, Wild Weather, Rain Forest Animals, The United States, The Planet, and Sharks. Children can also practice their reading skills and share their newfound knowledge with the included 36 topical fact cards.

Level 3: Engaged Readers
-Interesting factual and informational text that contains new and unfamiliar content
-Includes glossary to reinforce reading comprehension
-Repetition of longer sentence patterns with variation of placement of subjects, verbs, and adjectives
-Most of the vocabulary should be familiar to first graders
-Introduction of more complex spelling patterns and letter-sound relationships
-Photos, illustrations, and diagrams are included for further concept exploration

For fluent readers that have mastered levels 1, 2, and 3, Smithsonian Readers: Endless Explorations Level 4 provides fascinating facts and challenging content that promotes reading success and enjoyment. Developed in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution and esteemed childhood literacy expert Dr. Adria Klein, Smithsonian Readers: Endless Explorations Level 4 contains six 32-page topics for children on their way to becoming expert readers: Predators, Space Exploration, Natural Disasters, World Wonders, Ocean Habitats, and Flight. Bound into the book are 36 perforated fact cards created for fluent readers looking for extra learning opportunities.

Level 4: Fluent Readers
-Variety of factual texts that contain unfamiliar themes and challenging technical content
-Includes glossary and pronunciation guides to
-Contains longer and more complex sentence patterns
-Most of the vocabulary should be familiar to second-graders
-Longer stretches of text and extended descriptions without the support of pictures
-Extended sentences with various structures

How long is the Amazon River? Who was the first president to have a telephone in the White House? With Smithsonian Everything You Need to Know: Grades 4-5, kids will learn exciting and fascinating facts about the U.S. presidents, weather, outer space, and much more. Each of the 275 tabbed fact cards includes colorful photos and illustrations paired with interesting facts. Whether it’s Abraham Lincoln or tornadoes, each fact card presents a new learning moment. Curious kids will learn about the world around them, past and present, in this loaded fact card box.

I could rave for hours on how much I love these fact cards. My boys and I had once bought Chat Packs, which are such fun. But now when we are sitting eating dinner, snuggling before bed and driving in the car we are reading these fun fact cards. I have to be honest when I say that much of the things I am learning are things I had previously not known! I was fascinated learning fun facts on science, the human body, natural wonders of the world, biomes and ecosystems and so much more.  We are still working our way through the fact cards.  I feel like this is what sparks the love of learning, super interesting little tidbits of facts here and there. The boys will actually ask to take out the cards for us to read together. This is also great for conversation starters with your kids. I am in LOVE with these cards! 5 stars

*See my reviews for other Smithsonian EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW card facts sets along with  other great holiday gifts HERE

What is the fastest creature in the world? How do animals communicate? What is the difference between monkeys and apes? Learn the answers to these questions and more in Smithsonian Sticker Creations: Wildlife. This fun and innovative format includes a 64-page activity book, five oversized dimensional stickers, and more than 175 reusable stickers. After reading about their favorite wild animals, kids can pull out the removable frame to create their own animal scene with the deluxe stickers and reusable paper stickers. With interesting information and a new activity on each page, aspiring zoologists will discover the fascinating world of animals in this hands-on adventure.

These books are such fun!!! It helps to bring to the life the world of wildlife! They have amazing 3-D playscene boards (which are super sturdy and so cool looking), amazingly brilliant a realistic stickers, and activities galore. There are puzzles, maps, scenes where you can create fun images, guessing games with matching, mazes and so much more! These are the types of books that are great for road trip, rainy days, birthday gifts and many other special events. My boys really get lost in all these books have to offer and we love reading all the fun facts that each book contains. This is something that kids of various ages will love and cherish. I seriously love them! 5 HUGE stars!

*See my reviews for other Smithsonian Sticker Creations and other great holiday gifts HERE

From the jungle canopy to the flooded forest floor, Smithsonian Magnetic Adventures: Jungle explores the fascinating creatures that live in rain forests around the world. The 64-page book introduces jungle animals and their habitats with intriguing facts and colorful photos. After reading about jaguars, chameleons, monkeys, and much more, kids will open the tin to find two jungle scenes printed inside. One printed interior scene allows kids to create their own jungle scene with the 30 foam magnets and 20 reusable clings, and the printed activity beside it challenges kids to place the animals in the correct layer of the rain forest. Smithsonian Magnetic Adventures: Jungle is perfect for kids who want to play while they learn.

This set is so cool and reminds me of when I was young. I has something like this when I was growing up and I loved watching my boys dive in and create their own worlds inside the jungle.  It was also a blast to hear them taking about the fact and information contained with the guidebook.  The real pictures on the heavy duty magnets made for such fun creating scenes on the sturdy metal jungle.   I loved that this activity encouraged my boys to learn about the correct placement within the jungle for each animal.  It combines learning and fun beautifully.  I also intend to use this in my classroom!  The uses for it are endless!  5 stars of fun!    

Which planet is eight times larger than Earth? How long is a day on Venus? Which planet has seven rings? Kids will learn all of these answers and more in Smithsonian Magnetic Adventures: Solar System. After reading the 64-page book, kids can decorate the magnetic tin’s printed photographic interior with the included 30 foam magnets and 20 reusable clings. The interior features two unique scenes for use with the magnets and reusable clings: a moonscape so kids can create their own lunar landing scene, and an activity where kids can place the planets in the correct order. Starting at the Sun and journeying beyond Neptune, young adventurers will be inspired to blast off into outer space with Smithsonian Magnetic Adventures: Solar System.

This set is so cool and reminds me of when I was young. I has something like this when I was growing up and I loved watching my boys dive in and create their own scene in space.  It was also a blast to hear them taking about the fact and information contained with the guidebook.  The real pictures on the heavy duty magnets made for such fun creating scenes on the sturdy metal jungle.   I loved that this activity encouraged my boys to learn about the correct order of the planets.  It combines learning and fun beautifully.  I also intend to use this in my classroom!  The uses for it are endless!  5 stars of fun!    


Happy Holidays to you and yours!!!!
The Booknerd Team

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