Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas DVD Review and Giveaway: Ice Sculpture Christmas ~ from Hallmark Channel

I spent a very pleasant Sunday afternoon recently watching a new Hallmark Channel original Christmas movie: Ice Sculpture Christmas! This was such a fun movie ... read on to learn more about it and enter to win a DVD copy!

Ice Sculpture Christmas

AS a little girl, Callie Shaw (Rachel Boston) always knew she wanted to be an amazing chef. Now, after three years of culinary school, Callie is working as a dishwasher in her hometown's country club kitchen. Callie finally gets the opportunity to make a name for herself through a Christmas ice-sculpture contest, but she's paired with David Manning, a handsome, wealthy entrepreneur who believes wholeheartedly in Callie's talents but knows nothing about ice sculpture. If David can learn the ropes in time and help Callie believe she has all the right stuff, Callie just might enjoy a Christmas to remember, bringing her closer to a man who truly loves her and achieving her lifelong dream.

Watch the trailer:

My thoughts:
I loved the unique ice sculpture theme of this movie. I actually learned a little something about how ice sculptures are made! And it was fun to see the characters bonding over a shared goal. Callie has dreams of working her way up in the business to become a chef, but when her talents become apparent, another up-and-coming chef at the kitchen is determined to sabotage Callie's efforts to succeed. David has problems of his own because he's been working in his father's business, being groomed to take over one day, but he's not happy with the work and dreams of doing something more meaningful. By helping each other to believe in themselves, Callie and David both realize that following their hearts is best -- both in business and in love. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and will add it to my "favorite Hallmark Channel Christmas movies list"!

I hope you’ll catch the next showing of Ice Sculpture Christmas on the Hallmark Channel or purchase the DVD. When you buy the DVD at Walmart, you get a special bonus: You can instantly download an eCopy and get a Vudu code to give as a gift!


One lucky winner will receive a new DVD copy of Ice Sculpture Christmas starring Rachel Boston. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, December 13, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a complimentary DVD copy of this movie, which I am donating for this giveaway because I watched the movie on TV. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christmas DVD Review and Giveaway: ‘Tis the Season for Love ~ from Hallmark Channel

Have you been enjoying all of the Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel? We always seem to have one showing on TV throughout the day. They’ve really become a big part of our holiday tradition. Even my husband enjoys them, despite their romantic, feel-good themes! We recently saw one that is well worth the mention:

'Tis the Season for Love

Hanna Baker (Sarah Lancaster) left her small town of Kern to seek the stardom that everyone knew was her destiny. Now, ten years later, with none of her dreams coming to fruition and feeling like a failure, Hanna heads back to Kern to cheer herself up with a real, hometown, family Christmas. Once back, Hanna sees that life in Kern has moved on quite nicely without her, and she soon finds herself longing for her past. Everyone seems so content with their lives, and she begins to wonder if leaving was a mistake. Everything changes when a magical Santa gives her the wonderful opportunity to see what her life would’ve been had she never left to pursue her acting dreams. And she is shocked to learn that her alternate reality is nothing like she ever could’ve imagined, opening her eyes to new possibilities, new opportunities and a whole new love she never even considered.

Watch the trailer:

My thoughts:
Often, we are offered more than one path in life, and it’s not easy to decide which one to take. It would certainly be easier if we could see what’s ahead on each path. In the movie, Hanna isn’t given that opportunity either when she has to choose whether to stay in her small town and settle down or to take her chances in New York City to pursue an acting career. She chooses New York, but finds that she’s still not certain she’s made the right decision after ten years. They say you can take the girl out of her hometown but you can’t take the hometown out of the girl, and that’s what happens with Hanna. When she returns to Kern to re-consider her options, she finds that life in her small town feels better than she thought it would. She has a new appreciation for her family and friends, and discovers that smaller ambitions – like directing the children’s play – can make a larger impact on people’s lives. And, of course, it helps that a certain small-town boy is also convinced that Hanna belongs in Kern. We know how the story ends, of course, but it still makes the journey worthwhile as this movie explores themes that are universal and relatable.

I hope you’ll catch the next showing of 'Tis the Season for Love on the Hallmark Channel or purchase the DVD. When you buy the DVD at Walmart, you get a special bonus: You can instantly download an eCopy and get a Vudu code to give as a gift!


One lucky winner will receive a new DVD copy of 'Tis the Season for Love starring Sarah Lancaster. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, December 13, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a complimentary DVD copy of this movie, which I am donating for this giveaway because I watched the movie on TV. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Little Passports' Black Friday Deal: Save 60% On Your First Month! (Good Thru 12/1)

**The links in this post are affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

Little Passports' Black Friday sale is here! No need to head to the stores today! Purchase Little Passports online and give the gift that keeps giving all year long!

From now until Tuesday, December 1stLittle Passports is offering 60% off the first month of any subscription plan plus 10% off any non-subscription items! All you need to do is use code: BLACK60 at check out.

Although this sale needs no further introduction, let me take a moment to introduce you to the Little Passports products.

  • Watch the first ever Little Passports TV Commercial for adorable and honest testimonials from parents and kids! 

  • Please read The Globetrotter’s Gift Guide for a great summary of Little Passports' products, including shop items for under $25! 

  • **This promotion is valid online only at To redeem enter code BLACK60 at checkout. 60% discount is applied to the first month of any subscription plan. 10% discount is applied to all non-subscription items. Offer cannot be combined with any other offers and/or applied retroactively to previously placed orders. Only store items bundled with a subscription can have a delayed holiday start. Offer excludes shipping and taxes. Offer valid from 11/25 at 8:00AM EST to 12/1 at 11:59PM EST.

    Shop Little Passports this Black Friday and give the gift that lasts all year! 

    Friday, November 27, 2015

    Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (November 28, 2015)

    Welcome to the post-Thanksgiving Super Saturday Giveaway Linky! I hope you had a wonderful day with family and friends. The holiday season has official begun! Let's celebrate by entering some giveaways. You just might win some great gifts for the holidays! Check out the prizes up for grabs in the linky below, as well as on my right sidebar. Check back throughout the week as more are added. And if you're hosting a giveaway on your blog, we'd love for you to share it with us in the linky. Happy holidays!

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015

    Christmas Music Review and CD Giveaway: "Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship," by Chris Tomlin

    I love Christmas music and Christian music, and Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, by Chris Tomlin is the perfect combination of both! One of the reasons I love this CD so much is because it's not a re-hash of the same Christmas songs that you hear over and over. Yes, I like the traditional carols -- and there are some beautiful versions here -- but I also like to discover new Christmas songs and gain new favorites. Chris Tomlin's songs really put the listener in touch with God. And they're also easy to sing along with. This CD is aptly named because I absolutely "adore" it!

    1. He Shall Reign Forevermore
    2. Adore
    3. Midnight Clear (Love Song)
    4. Noel featuring Lauren Daigle
    5. Hymn Of Joy
    6. Silent Night featuring Kristyn Getty
    7. What Child Is This? featuring All Sons & Daughters
    8. It's Christmas
    9. A King Like This
    10. Bethlehem
    11. A Christmas Alleluia featuring Lauren Daigle & Leslie Jordan of All Sons & Daughters

    About the artist:
    Chris Tomlin is an American contemporary Christian music artist, worship leader, and songwriter who has sold nearly 30 million records. Some of his most well-known songs are "How Great Is Our God," "Jesus Messiah," "Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone)," "Our God," and "Whom Shall I Fear." His 2013 album Burning Lights debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, only the fourth Christian album ever to open at No. 1. Throughout his career, Chris has been nominated for 32 Dove Awards (6 of them collaborative efforts) and he has won 19 of them.

    ITUNES (Digital Download)


    One lucky winner will receive a copy of the CD, Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, by Chris Tomlin! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, December 4, 2015. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015

    Welcome to Week 4 of "19 Days of Suffrage" with New Videos and More to Celebrate the Movie, "Suffragette"

    Welcome to the final week of the Focus Features special initiative, “19 Days of Suffrage," to celebrate the powerful film Suffragette, as it releases in theaters nationwide through Thanksgiving. These 19 Days are in honor of the 19th Amendment, which granted women in the United States the right to vote in 1919.

    With Thanksgiving this week, this is the perfect time to reflect on things to be thankful for -- our rights and freedoms, our families, those who have fought for us to be where we are today -- but for many, the #fightsnotover. There are still many women around the globe who do not have equal rights.

    In the video below, “Did You Know," you’ll find some examples of these differing women’s rights around the world.

    “Did You Know” Facts Video

    Imagine a world where you couldn't leave your home without a man's permission. For some women, that is their reality. The Suffragettes ignited the fight for women's equality and it's up to us to finish it. See the film, and take action at
    Posted by Suffragette on Wednesday, October 28, 2015

    Now, enjoy this “Sisterhood” Featurette Clip from the Movie, Suffragette

    Finally, check out these “firsts” for women in the fields of entertainment and sports!


    1940 – Hattie McDaniel is the first African American to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (Gone with the Wind).

    1948 – Alice Coachman is the first African-American woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

    1961 – Rita Moreno is the first Latina to win an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress (West Side Story).

    1975 – Junko Tabei is the first woman to reach the summit of Everest on 5/16/75 via the South-East Ridge route.

    1976 – Nadia Comaneci is the first woman to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event in 1976, at age 14.

    1987 – Aretha Franklin was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    1993 – Julie Krone is the first woman to win a Triple Crown race (1993). The American jockey won the Belmont Stakes riding Colonial Affair. In 2003, she also was the first woman to win a Breeders’ Cup race.

    2010 – Kathryn Bigelow was the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director, the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and the Critics' Choice Award for Best Director, all for film The Hurt Locker.

    2014 – Becky Hammon became the first full-time female coach in the NBA – and the first full-time female coach in in any of the four major professional sports in America – as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

    2014 – Ava DuVernay is the first African-American woman to be nominated for Best Director by the Golden Globe Awards for Selma.

    2015 – Jennifer Welter became the first woman hired in the NFL as an assistant coaching intern to coach linebackers and special teams for the Arizona Cardinals during training camp and preseason.

    Holiday Movie Review: "Christmas Trade," a Fun Body Swap Movie for the Whole Family!

    About the movie:
    With the holiday season looming, Mitch is in way over his head, trying to be a dad, please his hard-edged boss enough to make partner, while juggling an impatient girlfriend. His son Robbie has problems of his own. The school bully has made him his latest target, he is trying not to be a total nerd in front of the girl he likes, and he was unwillingly cast as the lead role in the Christmas Pageant. Robbie really wants his dad to go out of his way this year to make Christmas all it's cracked up to be. Mitch and Robbie definitely think the other has it pretty easy -- until they are forced to find out what it's like to spend the holidays, literally in each other's shoes. Starring William Baldwin, Denise Richards and Tom Arnold.

    Watch the trailer here:

    My thoughts:
    We've seen this plot before (Freaky Friday; 13 Going on 30), but it's still fun to see a kid and an adult switch places. Of course, they bumble their way through, but everything turns out okay in the end, and both Robbie and his dad gain a better understanding of each other and appreciate each other more after being in each other's shoes. This movie can be enjoyed by the whole family and will certainly prompt plenty of discussion about who has it tougher -- parents or kids!

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this movie to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

    Monday, November 23, 2015

    A Special Holiday Giveaway from Teddy Bears Personalized (Two Winners)!

    If you're looking for a gift that will thrill anyone on your holiday list, I suggest you head over to Teddy Bears Personalized! Their super-soft plush bears and animals can be customized so that no two are alike. You get to pick the animal you want, along with the sweater or hoodie (in a multitude of colors) engraved with your own personalized message or the name of someone special. I bet you can think of several people who would love to see this adorable bear under the tree!

    Or how about a puppy, a monkey or a bunny?

    The holiday season is fast approaching, and Teddy Bears Personalized is the perfect place to do your gift shopping. A personalized gift shows the person receiving it that you really care because you took the time to design a present that’s just perfect for him or her. These plush animals are great for children, sweethearts, parents, grandparents, best friends, new babies, teachers and just about everyone! Each includes a personalized card, and shipping is free within the United States.

    Visit to start your holiday shopping!


    Two lucky people will each win their choice of a personalized hoodie bear or sweater bear from Teddy Bears Personalized! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents and ends at 11:59 PM EST on December 16, 2015.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: Teddy Bears Personalized has sent me several samples of their products over the years as a thank-you for sharing their products with my readers and to facilitate my honest review.

    Tips for Avoiding a Holiday Disaster on Thanksgiving from This Mama Loves #PinkRelief

    I love Thanksgiving food, but making a big meal and feeding a large group of people is not one of my skill sets. Fortunately, I happen to be married to a terrific cook who handles most of the meal! Regardless of how good the "chef" is in your house, though, there are always times when things don't work out perfectly. The turkey's undercooked; the Jell-O doesn't set; the rolls get burned. It's all part of the fun when it comes to making Thanksgiving dinner. I recently read a post from Brett of This Mama Loves sharing her thoughts on Thanksgiving dinner and how to avoid a holiday disaster. I encourage you to check it out!

    Read it here:
    How to Avoid a Holiday Disaster: Thanksgiving 911

    Disclosure: I’m a Smiley360 blogger and will be receiving Pepto-Bismol product samples to facilitate my honest review and share information with my readers.

    Friday, November 20, 2015

    Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (November 21, 2015)

    Welcome to the Super Saturday Giveaway Linky! This promises to be a busy week with the Thanksgiving holiday, the kids being home from school, spending time with family, etc. But, amidst all the hustle and bustle, I hope you'll take a few moments for yourself to visit some great blogs and enter some giveaways! Check out the awesome prizes up for grabs in the linky below, as well as in my right sidebar. And if you're giving away something wonderful on your blog or website, feel free to share it in the linky and tell your friends and fans about this page. Happy Thanksgiving!

    Christmas Music Review: "Here Comes Christmas!" by Greg Page, Longtime Member of The Wiggles

    I went to the mall today, and it made me so happy to hear Christmas music playing throughout the stores! Holiday songs just make us smile. We think about Christmases past and feel hope for the future. They’re great for the whole family, which is why I was pleased to hear that Greg Page, formerly of The Wiggles, has a new Christmas album for families! With three new original songs, a multitude of classics, and even a sneak peek at songs from Greg’s new album, Here Comes Christmas! is a delightful addition to your family’s holiday festivities.

    With favorites like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" and "The Little Drummer Boy," everyone can sing along. Greg also has a new version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas," with more “kid-friendly” gifts. (After all, does anyone really want “pipers piping”?) Greg’s new original songs are very catchy, too, and will soon become kids’ new Christmas favorites. And I was thrilled to find that Greg did not shy away from the religious songs. From "Silent Night" to "O Come All Ye Faithful," these songs remind us of the real reason for the season.

    I’m excited that Greg Page is entertaining kids and families again through his music. (He had to leave The Wiggles due to a condition of the autonomic nervous system, which is now under control.) Greg really knows the kind of music that kids like, and all of the songs on Here Comes Christmas! are fun and catchy. My kids and I have been listening to them in the car and bopping along on our ride! I hope you’ll pick up a copy of this new CD for the holidays.

    Order through
    Learn more about Greg Page at

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this product to facilitate my honest review.

    Children’s Book Review and Giveaway: "Barney the Farm Dog," by Victor W. Swiderski and Mary Lynn Swiderski

    Barney the Farm Dog was a big St. Bernard with a heart of gold. In this true story, the authors tell children about Barney’s life on a farm. He was very friendly with the other animals and even shared his doghouse with a chicken and a cat! But Barney could be mischievous, too, especially when he ate some leftover wedding cake. Barney wasn’t always bright -– he liked to sit in the road and block the school bus every day until the farmer got him off the road. But he loved everyone, and everyone loved him! This is a very sweet story about a lovable dog.


    Partial proceeds from the sale of Barney the Farm Dog will be donated to the Michigan Multiple Sclerosis Society. Co-author Victor Swiderski died from MS in 2014. I hope you’ll purchase a copy today!


    One lucky winner will receive a paperback copy of Barney the Farm Dog! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, December 4, 2015.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

    Welcome Winter with Softsoap’s Limited Edition Winter Collection Body Washes

    I love the scents of the holidays, and one that I’m particularly fond of is peppermint! So, I was thrilled to see that Softsoap’s newest limited edition body washes include a peppermint scent! In fact, all three of the fragrances in this Winter Collection are delectable. They are:

    Softsoap Peppermint Cream
    The energizing scent of Fresh Mint and moisturizing formula will awaken your senses and keep your skin soft and smooth all winter long.

    Softsoap Frosted Berries
    With Acai Berry Extract, this gel’s moisturizing formula will rehydrate dry winter skin and the aroma of sweet berries will inspire holiday spirit.

    Softsoap Ruby Star
    The moisturizing formula leaves skin soft and smooth, while the festive scent of Sparkling Berry Bubbly leaves you prepared to celebrate.

    I love showering with the Winter Collection. All three scents make me feel pampered and fresh-smelling after use. I love all of Softsoap’s body washes, and these limited edition scents are just perfect for welcoming in the holiday season and putting me in the mood to celebrate. Pick up Softsoap’s Limited Edition Winter Collection Body Washes for the special people in your life. They make great gifts!

    Available for a limited time at Walmart until December 2015 for just $2.99!

    Disclosure: Thanks to Colgate-Palmolive for providing complimentary product samples to facilitate my honest review.

    Thursday, November 19, 2015

    Christmas DVD Giveaway: "Angels Sing," Starring Harry Connick, Jr. and Willie Nelson

    Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing a wonderful holiday movie called Angels Sing, a Lionsgate film starring Harry Connick, Jr., Connie Britton, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson. This beautiful story was inspired by the book, When Angels Sing, by Turk Pipkin. This year, I'm thrilled to be able to offer a copy to one lucky reader! Read on to learn more about this movie, check out my review, and then enter to win the DVD!

    About the movie:
    Harry Connick, Jr., plays the part of Michael Walker, who just wants Christmas to go away because it reminds him of a childhood holiday when his older brother fell through the ice and drowned, a tragic incident for which Michael blames himself. He and his wife, Susan, and 10-year-old son, David, are searching for a house to buy, with no luck, when Michael spies a beautiful home for sale by owner that appears to be way above his price range. Miraculously, the owner, played by Willie Nelson, agrees to sell it to Michael on the condition that he keep the home in its pristine state. Little does Michael know that his home is part of the Live Oak Lane Trail of Lights -- a huge Christmas event where all the homes on his block are spectacularly decorated, and people come from all over the world to see them. Needless to say, Michael is labeled a major Grinch when he refuses to decorate due to his dislike of Christmas festivities. But a tragedy involving his son and father (played by Kris Kristofferson) soon serves to show Michael the error of his ways and brings the Christmas spirit back into his heart.

    My thoughts:
    I just loved Angels Sing! The acting is superb. Harry Connick, Jr., is very convincing as a man who has suffered great tragedy in his life and yet wants to do the right things for the family he loves. Connie Britton plays the loving, supportive wife to perfection, and Chandler Canterbury as their young son does a magnificent job. It is a bit humorous seeing Willie Nelson (not necessarily known for his real-life stellar reputation) cast as a possible angel in the movie. And the music is beautiful, with plenty of new and old holiday songs sung by Willie Nelson, Harry Connick, Jr., and even Lyle Lovett, who has a terrific role as an overly enthusiastic Christmas lover and neighbor. You’ll want to watch through the credits to hear the original Christmas song, “When I’m Home,” written and performed by Harry Connick, Jr., and Willie Nelson.

    Enjoy these scenes from the movie:

    Angels Sing is a Christmas favorite for me. I really hope you’ll pick up a copy to share with your family. It will inspire you to rejoice in the real spirit of the holiday, to embrace the traditions and the joy in spending time with family and friends.


    One lucky winner will receive a DVD copy of Angels Sing! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Friday, December 4, 2015.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this product to facilitate my honest review. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

    Wednesday, November 18, 2015

    The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish: Children's Book Review, Author Interview and Giveaway

    About the book:
    The grumpiest fish in children’s literature is back with another case of “the dreary wearies.” This time, Mr. Fish, star of The New York Times bestselling Pout-Pout Fish series, is down in the dumps over holiday shopping. With a message for readers of all ages, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish finds Mr. Fish so consumed with buying the perfect gift for each of his friends that he forgets the true meaning of the holidays.

    When Mr. Fish—with his signature Pout-Pout Fish frown—comes up empty-handed, Miss Shimmer intervenes with a plan to make homemade gifts. He soon learns that it’s not about busting the budget or gifting the season’s hottest item, but giving from the heart. Together they experience the joy that comes from giving and sharing—the merriest gifts of all.

    Learn more at

    Purchase at:
    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

    My thoughts:
    The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish perfectly captures the quest for the “perfect” presents that seems to consume us every year. And it’s a wonderful reminder that the best gifts aren’t necessarily the most expensive or fancy. They are the gifts that are given with thought and made uniquely for those we love. Both children and adults will enjoy reading this book and sharing in the joy of Christmas: spending time with the special people in our lives.

    An Interview with the Author, Deborah Diesen

    How did you come up with the original Pout-Pout fish book in 2008?
    The story grew out of an actual pout! One day many, many years ago, when my elder son was a preschooler, he was having a very grouchy afternoon. Hoping to amuse him, I made an exaggerated pouty face at him. He smiled and then pouted right back, which got us both laughing. “We look like fish,” I said. “Like pout-pout fish!” As soon as I said that out loud, it became a story idea. I jotted the idea down and I started writing The Pout-Pout Fish that same day. Years later, I started sending the story to publishers, and in 2005 it was accepted at Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers. The book was published in 2008 and began a series of stories, all featuring Mr. Fish, his friends, and their adventures.

    Since the first book, we’ve seen Mr. Fish go to school, learn to smile, face the dark, discover how to dream and play hide-and-seek. What do kids (and their parents) love most about the series?
    I think one of the things that makes Mr. Fish an appealing character for many kids and parents is that kids and parents alike can identify with his experiences. Toddlers sometimes pout; so do adults! Preschoolers have things they’re scared of; so do adults! Kindergarteners get nervous about starting something new; so do adults! Mr. Fish’s experiences provide a way for kids and grown-ups to explore those issues together. In addition, the stories have rhyme, repetition, and wordplay, which are fun in a read-aloud book. And Dan Hanna’s illustrations! They’re fantastic. They truly bring the stories to life.

    What is Mr. Fish up to now? Does he have a case of the “dreary wearies” in the latest book, too?
    Mr. Fish’s newest adventure is called The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish. In it, Mr. Fish is in a bit of a holiday panic, searching for perfect gifts for all of his friends. His shopping trip is unsuccessful, and Mr. Fish is sure that he’s let all of his friends down. But his friend Miss Shimmer reminds him that the best gifts of all come straight from the heart, and she helps him craft simple and meaningful presents to bring to the holiday party. His friends are delighted with their presents, and together everyone celebrates peace, joy, and love – what a very merry gift!

    What do you hope young readers (ages 3-6) will learn from The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish? Is there a message here for grown-ups as well?
    I hope that Mr. Fish’s latest tale will help children to realize that presents don’t need to be expensive or complicated or splashy. Simple, heartfelt presents that connect us to one another are the best gifts of all. A drawing; a craft project; time spent together; even just a smile! These sorts of gifts are the most cherished and the most enduring. It’s a lesson we grown-ups have to re-learn periodically as well.

    Do you have any tips for parents of toddlers about the joy of giving presents, rather than just receiving them, this holiday season?
    Kids love to give presents, and they especially love having an active role in the process of creating the presents. Try a craft idea or project that’s extremely simple and stress-free, and then let your child have at it with a minimum of help. The more messy, lopsided, and imperfect the results the better! Have fun with the process, and as you do you’ll create not just gifts but memories as well.

    How do you and the illustrator, Dan Hanna, work together on the books? (Are there any special stories about the illustrations on Not Very Merry that you can share?)
    I absolutely adore Dan’s art, and I credit it as the reason for the success of the series. We work independently of one another during the creation of the books. I work with our editor on the stories; then, when a story is finished and ready, she passes it along to Dan. Dan moves through the art creation process, from sketches to finished product, working with our editor and with the art director. I do see some of the steps along the way, but during the illustration process the author’s most important task is to stay out of the way! And that’s for the best, because it allows the artist to bring the story to life in the way only an artist can. Dan brings a thousand times more to the illustrations than I could ever begin to imagine – the characters and their expressions; the settings and their details; and all the funny and quirky extras. For instance, in The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, one of the spreads shows a store full of what I describe in the text as shiny trinkets and handy gadgets. Dan took that description and brought it alive by imagining, drawing, and labeling shelf after shelf in the gift shop with hilarious and unique sea gifts. His creativity is amazing. I feel very grateful and happy to get to make books with Dan!

    Any future plans for Mr. Fish? What adventures can we expect to see him in next?
    Mr. Fish has a new mini-adventure coming out later this year called Kiss-Kiss, Pout-Pout Fish. This mini-adventure, like the previous mini-adventures Smile, Pout-Pout Fish and Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish, is a very short board book with just a few words per page, meant for babies and young toddlers. In spring 2016, there will be a touch-and-feel alphabet book and a sticker book. Another mini-adventure, called Trick or Treat, Pout-Pout Fish, will arrive later in 2016. And in 2017, Mr. Fish will be in a new full-length hardcover called The Pout-Pout Fish, Far, Far from Home. He stays pretty busy these days! But he’s enjoying all of his adventures. As am I!

    Visit the author’s website at Meet Deborah Diesen during her 12-city book tour from November 14-21. Dates and locations can be found at


    One lucky winner will receive a hardcover copy of The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, by Deborah Diesen! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents and ends at 11:59 PM EST on November 24, 2015.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book to facilitate my honest review. All opinions are my own. This post contains my Amazon affiliate link.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2015

    Welcome to Week 3 of "19 Days of Suffrage" to Celebrate the Film, "Suffragette"!

    Welcome to Week 3 of the Focus Features special initiative, “19 Days of Suffrage," to celebrate the powerful film Suffragette, as it releases in theaters nationwide through Thanksgiving. These 19 Days are in honor of the 19th Amendment, which granted women in the United States the right to vote in 1919.

    Did you know that the U.S. Department of the Treasury is currently in the process of deciding which inspiring American woman will appear on the $10 bill in 2020? This week we would love for you to think about women through history who have inspired you. Who do you think would be a worthy candidate for #TheNew10? Perhaps you might consider women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony, civil rights activists Rosa Parks & Harriet Tubman, mental health rights activist Dorothea Dix, or disability rights activist Helen Keller. Who else would get your vote? It’s amazing to think that, despite their accomplishments, they #CouldntVote in their lifetimes!

    Enjoy these new clips on themes related to the movie:

    “Maud" Featurette Clip

    “Rebellion" Featurette Clip


    * 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is the first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States. She went on to open the first UK medical school for women in 1874.

    * 1903 – Marie Curie is the first women to win a Nobel Prize, in 1903, and was the first person to win a second Nobel, in 1911.

    * 1925 – Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin demonstrates for the first time from existing evidence on the spectra of stars that stars were made up almost exclusively of hydrogen and helium, one of the most fundamental theories in stellar astrophysics.

    * 1932 – Amelia Earhart is the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

    * 1944 – Maud Menten conducts the first electrophoretic separation of proteins.

    * 1947 – Gerti Cori is the first American woman, third woman overall, to win the Nobel Prize in science for her discovery of the mechanism by which glycogen is transformed in the muscles to form lactic acid, and is later reformed as a way to store energy.

    * 1983 – Sally Ride is the first American woman in space. It was later revealed she was also the first known LGBT astronaut.

    * 1991 – Ellen Ochoa is the first Hispanic female astronaut.

    * 1992 – Mae C. Jemison flew into space aboard the Endeavour, becoming the first African-American woman in space.

    * 2008 – Penny Sackett is the first female Chief Scientist of Australia.

    * 2009 – Ada Yonath is the first Middle Eastern woman to win a Nobel Prize in the sciences for her studies on the structure and function of the ribosome.

    About the Movie, Suffragette:

    Academy Award nominees Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter, and three-time Academy Award winner Meryl Streep, lead the cast of a powerful drama about the women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality in early 20th-century Britain. The stirring story centers on Maud (played by Carey Mulligan), a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she is secretly recruited to join the U.K.’s growing Suffragette movement. Galvanized by the outlaw fugitive Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), Maud becomes an activist for the cause alongside women from all walks of life. When increasingly aggressive police action forces Maud and her dedicated fellow Suffragettes underground, they engage in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with the authorities, who are shocked as the women’s civil disobedience escalates and sparks debate across the nation. Inspired by true events, Suffragette is a moving drama exploring the passion and heartbreak of those who risked all they had for women’s right to vote -- their jobs, their homes, their children, and even their lives.

    Produced by Academy Award nominee Alison Owen and Golden Globe Award nominee Faye Ward, Suffragette is directed by BAFTA Award winner Sarah Gavron from an original screenplay by Emmy Award winner Abi Morgan.

    Follow the film on social media:
    Official Twitter
    Official Facebook
    Official Film Site
    #Suffragette #FightsNotOver

    Disclosure: I received Suffragette promotional items as a thank-you for joining this blog tour.