Thursday, April 15, 2021

Mindset Matters

Some time ago, a kind soul gave all of the teachers/staff at the private elementary school I work at a copy of MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. I started a while ago but didn't get very far and just found it in my to-read stack the other day, so I re-started again. This book discusses how we can learn to fulfill our potential in various areas, such as parenting, business, school and relationships.

Dweck discusses the power of mindset and motivation from the perspective of two different mindsets: the fixed mindset, those that believe abilities are fixed, and the growth mindset, those who believe abilities can be developed. 

I am not yet very far and am excited to read and learn as I go, but I already find myself identifying a particular way (time will tell!) and highlighting bits of wisdom as I go.

One of the first things that really spoke to me and kicked off the highlighting was the following, "When you're lying on your deathbed, one of the cool things to say is, 'I really explored myself.'"

Wow, yes! I think (for myself anyway) it can be easy to go through life complacent and not really pushing for more...more knowledge, more understanding, more love, whatever the case may be. As I considered this and thought about it from the perspective of my writing life, it really hit home. Being a children's author is a constant state of learning, knowledge and skill development as well as persistence and perseverance. For as Dweck says, "People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower." 

That it does. As well as determination. And grit. And failure. But then you dust yourself off and get back on the saddle, so to speak. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again or so my mom often told me growing up. And Dweck appears to agree..."When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don't define them. And if abilities can be expanded--if change and growth are possible--then there are still many paths to success."

Such is the way of the writing life. Try, fail, try, fail, try some more and, hopefully, succeed. "You have to work hardest for the things you love most." So very true, Ms. Dweck. I know, for me, this has really boiled down to believing in myself and being willing to work hard. Sometimes it works out and sometimes not, but the efforts always pay dividends in one way or another. I will leave you with one final piece of wisdom gained in this most recent reading. 

Dweck says, "...In the growth mindset, you don't always need confidence...even when you think you're not good at something, you can still plunge into it wholeheartedly and stick to don't have to think you're already great at something to want to do it and to enjoy doing it."

This. Is. Big! For so long, I've struggled to put voice to being a children's author unless in the company of other authors who understood all the ups and downs. I felt inferior perhaps for a variety of reasons...I'm not exactly a block buster selling author, many think writing picture books is cute and a piece of cake, etc. It is just often hard to own it without the perceived rewards to support that claim. I'm working on this and will continue to do so, but reading Dweck's words really helped me. When confidence fails, I will live in the enjoyment and embrace the process, wherever it leads. Because I will be enjoying it wholeheartedly.

Clearly, I am enjoying this book and, while I am only on chapter 3, I certainly recommend you check it out!

Wednesday, April 7, 2021


In the spirit of Easter and the Spring season, I would like to share my most recent book review with you.


PUBLISHER:  4RV Publishing, January 2021

AUTHOR:  Vivian Zabel

ILLUSTRATOR:  Jeanne Conway

PAPERBACK ISBN:  978-1-950074-15-0

HARDCOVER ISBN:  978-1-950074-16-7


THE HATCHLING is a heart-warming story of two best friends, Louie Duck and Gus Goose, who go about their days playing, riding waves in the lake and enjoying each other’s company. But soon comes a surprise…Louie is going to be a big brother. How will this new sibling affect Louie and Gus? THE HATCHLING explores the feelings involved in both the sibling relationship and the friendship bond in a heart-warming and relatable way all kids will understand without feeling a lesson is being taught. Ms. Zabel uses active and lively, at times alliterative, language which kids will love. Back matter sections with discussion questions and additional information about ducks compliment the text which kids and adults alike will enjoy. Ms. Conway’s illustrations are bright and fun and bring the characters and story to life. This story is perfect for kids ages 4-9 years of age.


To learn more about Vivian Zabel or the other Louie the Duck stories (WAVE EXCITEMENT, LOUIE FINDS A FRIEND), visit or


For more information about Jeanne Conway, visit


DISCLAIMER:  I received a hard copy of THE HATCHLING free of charge in return for my honest review. This review consists of my honest opinions, not influenced by anyone in any way.

Thursday, April 1, 2021


April is National Poetry Month, so I think it only fitting to kick off the celebration by sharing a press release and my review of The School of Life's upcoming release (new to the US), AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE:  Feelings From A to Z.



Contact: Jessica Jonap at 305 864 5521 or





An Engaging Exploration of Childhood Feelings and Emotional Literacy

Through Enchanting Poetry and Stunning Illustrations






“At a time of huge uncertainty, this is an engaging way to get young children to talk about their emotions.”  

--The Independent (London) in a round up of the best motivational books for children


A stunning book for the whole family to enjoy.”

--Armadillo Children’s Books


"Friendly and accessible… a great starting point for a discussion about emotions"

--Youth Services Book Review

Emotions are like animals:
No two are quite the same.
Some are quiet; some are fierce;
And all are hard to tame.

Inside this book there’s twenty-six

Emotions you might feel

Arranged alphabetically

From anger to zeal.



AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE: Feelings From A to Z (The School of Life Press Hardcover; April 2021; full-page color illustrations; Ages 5+) is a beautifully-illustrated emotional glossary for children, with 26 rhyming poems, arranged alphabetically, that brings feelings to life—Anger, Boredom, Curiosity, Dreaminess, Embarrassment, Fear, Guilt, and more. The poems transform each emotion into a different animal to provide a clear and engaging illustration of its character: how it arises; how it makes us behave and how we can learn to manage its effects. Boasting a rich vocabulary, the poems also give kids a wide variety of options for describing their feelings to others.

Children experience all sorts of emotions: sometimes going through several very different ones before breakfast. Yet they can struggle to put these feelings into words. An inability to understand and communicate their moods can lead to unpredictable behavior, deep frustration and a whole host of difficulties further down the line. Like adults, they need help to recognize and verbalize their feelings. The greater their emotional vocabulary, the more likely they are to grow into happy, healthy and fulfilled adults.  AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE helps children to:


·      Cultivate self-expression and self-reliance

·      Feel seen and heard

·      Increase compassion for themselves and others

·      Understand why identifying and labeling emotions is important

·      Use expressive words in their daily vocabulary

·      Explore complicated feelings in a fun, accessible way


Filled with wise, therapeutic advice, brought to life through musical language and lush illustrations and perfect for reading aloud, AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE is an imaginative, gratifying way of increasing emotional literacy. 

AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE is published by The School of Life, whose recent best-selling titles, Big Ideas for Curious Minds and Happy, Healthy Minds have resonated with readers (kids and adults) worldwide. A global organization helping people lead more fulfilled lives, The School of Life is a rapidly growing brand, with over 6 million YouTube subscribers, 345,900 Facebook followers, 211,000 Instagram followers and 162,900 Twitter followers.  Its publishing arm, The School of Life Press, brings together a compendium of The School of Life's vast body of work, under the direction of its series editor and reigning master of modern-day philosophy, Alain de Botton. Publishing books for children and adults, all of The School of Life titles share a coherent, curated message that speaks with one voice: calm, reassuring, and balanced. The School of Life has published a range of titles, games and resources that connect kids with their passions and engage critical thinking.



The School of Life Press

Hardcover with illustrated color images

Reading age: 5+

ISBN-13 : 978-1912891245


For additional information please visit



I very much enjoyed this book. My review follows:




Title:  AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE:  Feelings From A To Z

Publisher: The School of Life, 2020 (First Published in the USA, 2021)

Hardcover with Illustrated Colored Images (Illustrated by Rachel Saunders)

ISBN-13:  978-1-912891-24-5

Reading Age: 5+


AN EMOTIONAL MENAGERIE:  FEELINGS FROM A TO Z is a motivational, inspiring and educational book that teaches about emotions by helping kids not only understand how they are feeling but also giving them the vocabulary to communicate it to others. 26 rhyming poems pair emotions with animals throughout the alphabet from A (anger) to Z (zeal) and provide terrific advice for kids and adults alike. The poems and messages contained within them are presented in a fun, appealing manner to which kids can easily relate. The animals are a perfect fit for the paired emotions and make it easier for kids to understand the depths of the emotions they experience.


Ms. Saunders illustrations are beautifully vibrant and bring the text and emotions to life. This book is perfect for kids ages 5-6 and above.


For further information, visit, Twitter @TheSchoolOfLife and Instagram @theschooloflifelondon.


DISCLAIMER:  I received a copy of this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review. This review consists of my honest opinions, not influenced by anyone in any way.