Saying Yes In My Mess

Today is a BIG day. My friend, Kristen over at We Are THAT Family is launching her new book, Rhinestone Jesus – Saying YES to God when sparkly, safe faith is no longer enough.

“In high school, Kristen wore a big, sparkly rhinestone “Jesus” pin every day and carried her Bible wherever she went. But she didn’t realize her faith, though sincere, was shallow: much like her artificial accessory, it would one day tarnish, no longer a true reflection of who she was.

Real life and motherhood catapulted Kristen into places and situations she’d never imagined. There came a day when she stood in the slums of Africa, poised on the brink of a risk bigger than any she’d ever taken. And she knew she didn’t stand a chance – unless she was ready to put aside the rhinestones and get branded by the real thing.

Rhinestone Jesus is the spiritual adventure story of one woman who went from living a safe, “good-girl” faith that didn’t cost much, to realizing that God was daring her to say YES to a deeper, more authentic way.”

Through stories about life as a high school student, her (sometimes difficult) marriage, the hum-drum mundane days of motherhood, and a blogger, Kristen takes us on her journey. As a Compassion International Blogger, Kristen was invited to travel to Kenya where her heart and life was forever changed. After returning home feeling empty and broken, Kristen woke up from the American Dream, and said YES to an unbelievable God-sized dream called Mercy House.

I love that Kristen keeps it real in Rhinestone Jesus. She is quick to admit that her family is far from perfect – even talking about days filled with puke, poop, drama, and bad attitudes (which makes her seem like my BFF) but even through the crazy – in the middle of her messy life as wife and mother, she slowly discovers that God doesn’t require us to get our act together before revealing His God-sized dream, rather He is just waiting for us to say YES IN OUR MESS, wherever we are. Right now.

As a result of her YES – through obedience and love – her family continually strives to glorify the Lord in all that they do. At the end of each chapter, Welch offers reflections and personal challenges for readers – ideas for nurturing our families, serving as a family, and being centered on Christ in all things. She encourages Christians to seek the Lord, and say YES to whatever He is calling them to do, no matter how big, small or messy it may seem.

Rhinestone Jesus has left me wondering what I should be doing. I’m not sure what my YES looks like, and chances are your YES will look different from my YES. But this I know: One small yes can lead to BIG things. God isn’t waiting on us to get our marriage in order, our kids to be perfect, or to keep a neater house. He is simply waiting for us to say YES to Him, right in the middle of the mound of laundry, the toothpaste covered bathroom sink and the LEGO covered floor.

YES.

In the middle of our mess.

It’s that easy.

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And speaking of easy… You can win a copy of Rhinestone Jesus by simply leaving a comment on this post. Two winners will be chosen by Random Dot Org on Monday, May 5th at 9:00 PM EST.

About the Author” Kristen Welch writes the parenting blog, We are THAT Family (you know the ones). She is an (in)courage writer, a Compassion International blogger, and a regular featured contributor to LifeWay’s HomeLife and ParentLife magazines. In 2010, Kristen founded Mercy House, a nonprofit maternity home in Kenya, Africa, which rescues young pregnant girls from extreme poverty. Mercy House is almost entirely funded by readers of her blog. Read Kristen’s blot at We Are THAT Family dot com.

In the interest of full disclosure: Tyndale House Publishers provided two copies of Rhinestone Jesus for me to give away to my readers. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

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And the winners are:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

8

Timestamp: 2014-05-06 04:49:35 UTC

The first winner is Commenter #8 –  Jennifer S. who commented on May 1, 2014 @ 9:55 am.

 

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

10

Timestamp: 2014-05-06 04:51:48 UTC

The second winner is Commenter #10 – Traci who commented on May 2, 2014 @ 5:15 pm.

Congratulations, ladies. I’ll be in contact via e-mail.

 

The Smartest Kid

Ask any parent about their child, and they would probably tell you that theirs is smartest, cutest kids on the planet. We all love sharing things about our kids – from pictures to funny things they do.

In my case though, I have the TWO smartest, cutest kids on the planet. (But that’s another post for another day.)

My wise eight-year-old told me a few weeks back that VY Canis majoris is the biggest star in the universe, and it is brighter than the sun. (And just to prove to you that he is wise, his mother had to Google the whole VY Canis majoris thing, because she had never heard of it!)

My wise ten-year-old shares his wisdom with me daily. Often times I have to wonder where I was when I should have learned the fact that he is sharing with me. I was probably too busy talking sharing wise words with others in school.

The Campbell’s Soup Company “discovered” the Wisest Kid in the Whole World. He is an eight-year-old boy (my Alex is also eight!) who has the collective wisdom of kids everywhere and is the ultimate authority on what makes kids happy. (Legos and video games make my kids happy!) He knows all the secrets to kid contentment, and Campbell’s is inviting parents all over the world to share your kid’s wisest words. The idea behind the new campaign is to remind us that kids actually have a great deal of wise things to share about a lot of different things. (And in my case, those wise things are often facts about number two. Yes, boys are a JOY.) Recently, I prepared brussel sprouts for dinner. They were not impressed. Nor were they happy.

Through their recipe destination www.campbellskitchen.com, Campbell’s gives you a fresh way to delight your family (new, kid-friendly recipes like Mini Chicken Pot Pies, and fun ways for your kids to eat tomato soup or chicken noodle soup). They are quick, easy and best of all, your kids will love them.

And, even if you’re not in the mood to try a new recipe *ahem* Campbell’s soup is a great meal all by itself. (Of course if you know us, you know we also include a grilled cheese sandwich with our soup around here.) My favorite Campbell’s soup has always been vegetable. And my wise kids enjoy it too!

How is a kid in your life like the world’s wisest kid?

Minted Giveaway

*THIS IS A SPONSORED POST*

One of the perks of having a blog (besides getting corporate attention for complaints) is that occasionally I receive offers to review some great products. I especially appreciate offers to review any kind of product I can personalize – like the ones featured on www.minted.com. The only problem is, it takes me a sweet forever to make choices, because I get all excited whenever I am faced with fonts, and fancy paper and deciding between formal, fancy and funny. I spent a good hour (no kidding!) looking at wedding invitations at Minted, which is crazy because, well, I’m already happily married. But it sure is fun to look.

Minted is a community of thousands of independent designers & an online boutique that sells their designs. There is something for everyone – including holiday cards, art prints, thank-you cards, wedding invitations, party decor & MUCH, MUCH, more.

Here are some of my favorite wedding invitations.

If its birthday invitations you’re looking for, they have them. HUNDREDS of them! If it’s graduation cards or thank-you cards you’re looking for, they have those, too! You can see even more of their fun designs on Pinterest, or one of their inspiration boards.

I am pleased to announce that the kind folks at Minted.com are offering one lucky reader $50 towards any product on their website www.minted.com. To enter, simply leave a comment sharing what you would purchase if you win this giveaway. Do you need wedding invitations? Grad announcements? Or do you want to save it for the holidays?

For additional entries, like Minted or From Inmates to Playdates on Facebook, then come back to the comments and let me know. Random dot org will choose a winner on June 1, 2013.

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In the interest of full disclosure: I was given a $75.00 credit to use on the Minted site. As always, the opinions expressed within this post are my own.

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EDITED TO INCLUDE WINNER

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

16

Timestamp: 2013-06-04 03:06:50 UTC

Congratulations to Commenter #16 – Hannah.

The Little House That Stood (A Giveaway)

One of the perks of having a blog (besides getting corporate attention for complaints) is that occasionally I receive offers to review some great products.

Today, I am reviewing the new VeggieTales DVD The Little House That Stood.

In this newly released DVD, Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber join forces to help children learn about making good choices, and I appreciate that this is a life lesson that will benefit children (and adults!) of all ages. The Little House That Stood is a parable (an Earthly story with a Heavenly meaning) of the wise and foolish builders.

The first part of the movie is a “remake” of the children’s classic – The Three Little Pigs.

When The Three Pigs roll into Cabbageville (I love it!) looking to build some new houses, they meet one builder with a plan and two without a clue!  Larry builds with hay, Mr. Lunt builds with bricks, but only Bob builds his houses on a firm foundation – following the wise plans from the “Master Builder’s Handbook!” Will the Little Piggies make the right choices when it comes to building their houses – and their lives – on solid ground? Find out in this parable that shows kids that when they follow God’s blueprints, they can stand strong when the storms come.
I love that the main theme of this segment reminds us that it’s always better to make a good choice rather than a fast, easy one.
Have you ever wondered what happened before Humpty cracked? The bonus story The Good Egg of Gooseville reveals what happened before Humpty cracked?
In this cute bonus story, “Humpty (Bob the Tomato) is the mayor of Gooseville, a quiet little town filled with a bunch of lively characters!  From Jack & Jill’s missing crayons, to the Three Bears’ lawn problems, all the way to Little Bo Peep’s lost sheep, Mayor Humpty is literally driven up the wall with this pickled pack of problems! Now far away from the gripes and complaints of his neighbors, Humpty declares “with all these neighbors in need, I’m better helping just me!” Will all the town’s heroines and all the town’s men help bring Humpty to his senses again?
The Little House That Stood puts a new spin on some classic fairy tales we’ve all heard from a very early age. This 49-minute DVD is great for children of all ages as our favorite Veggie Tales characters make us laugh while reinforcing moral values. But are you ready for the best part?
The best part is that I have a copy of The Little House That Stood to give away!
To win: Simply leave a comment telling me your favorite vegetable.
Random.org will choose a winner on Monday, March 11th. I will notify the winner by e-mail, so make sure to type it in carefully.
Easy enough?
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In the interest of full disclosure: Grace Hill Media provided a copy of The Little House That Stood to facilitate this review. As always, the opinions expressed within are my own. Additionally, Grace Hill Media is also providing a copy to one lucky reader.
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Updated:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

4

Timestamp: 2013-03-12 01:02:47 UTC

The lucky winner is Angie who commented on March 8, 2013 at 7:45 AM. Congrats, Angie!!!

Math Blaster – A Review

Recently, I received an e-mail asking if my boys (and I) would possibly want to check out the new features on the Math Blaster site. They were eager to get started because they really enjoyed the site the last time they were provided with a membership.

Math Blaster is a fun arcade-style video game that incorporates math into its space-themed site. The site “Provides “Blasters” with a fun way to learn essential math skills. In a nut-shell, Math Blaster is a futuristic online adventure site that is filled with wacky aliens, gadgets, and lots of math.”

According to the Math Blaster Site:

Once your kids are logged in and on board the spaceship to Math Blaster, they are able to design their own Blaster Cadet, a personalized avatar that will run, jump and blast through the Math Blaster spaceship. Using the Molecular Modulator, kids have their choice of different hair styles, faces, eyes, and even species for their Blaster Cadet! As kids progress through the game and tackle the math training activities, they will earn merits and achievements. When they earn merits, kids will climb the ranks in the Intergalactic Space Patrol (ISP), and their Blaster uniform will be upgraded for all of Math Blaster to see!

I have always been impressed that the site is suitable for both of my boys, in spite of their three-year age difference. I think this is largely due to the fact that the site has a nice variety of math subjects with different levels of difficulty. Both were able to quickly navigate the site and they really enjoyed creating their own avatars, or in this case Blaster Cadets to play with. Stevie, my ten-year-old (whose blaster cadet is named Jason StoneLaser) enjoys playing hide and seek with his Mutt – Cyber Xenon. His favorite thing about the site is “The robot who gives interesting information about different topics (how much the earth weighs, each fingerprint it different, Venus is the only planet that rotates clock-wise, etc.) when you click on him.” Alex’s (age seven) blaster cadet is named Sean SilverFireball and his MUTT is named Speedy Crater. Alex’s favorite part of the site is “The red alert door that requires you to shoot asteroids and soccer balls and cheese.”

*Knowledge Adventure’s Math Blaster is proof that video games can be educational and fun! As a parent, I love that. The site has this to say about Knowledge Adventure:

Knowledge Adventure is the creator of award-winning educational products like JumpStart and Math Blaster and is trusted by over 20 million parents. You can find our virtual worlds online at www.MathBlaster.com and www.JumpStart.com. In the Math Blaster galaxy, kids can explore a futuristic world, voyage to strange new planets and discover wacky alien races, all while practicing their math skills. At JumpStart.com, kids can explore magical worlds, discover and unlock games, videos, and story books that teach everything from math to reading.

Since they last visited Math Blaster, the boys were excited about some of the new features on the Math Blaster site.

  • In HyperBlast, players can hop on a hypercycle and blast through aliens while solving math problems.
  • The Monster Mutt Pod allows you to decorate, feed and play with your Mutt in its own room.
  • The Nebula Knockout allows your pet to train and then battle other Mutts.

Another cool feature of the Math Blaster site, is the Math Blaster Blog which is a great resource for parents (and kids, too!) because it is chock-full of math and science information, including family fun, current events, learning tips and science facts. I also “liked” Math Blaster on Facebook so I can keep up with new site features, games and stories.

 

Math Blaster is a hit around here. My boys and I appreciate the opportunity to play around on the site.

In the interest of full disclosure: I was given a three-month membership to Math Blaster in exchange for this honest review. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

For A Special Boy Or Ghoul In Your Life – Hotel Transylvania Giveaway

I plan to take the boys to see Hotel Transylvania this weekend. I have heard from several people that this animated comedy is really funny, and really, how could it not be with a cast that includes Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade, Andy Samberg, and Fran Drescher.

Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s (Adam Sandler) lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of the world’s most famous monsters–Frankenstein and his bride, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more–to celebrate his daughter Mavis’s 118th birthday. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem–but his world could come crashing down when one ordinary guy stumbles on the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis.

Hotel Transylvania (Even monsters need a vacation) is now playing in theaters. From Inmates To Playdates, Inc., in partnership with Grace Hill Media is giving you a chance to win a special prize pack for a special child in your life. Prize pack includes a book cover, activity guide, erasers and a tee-shirt.

To enter (if you dare!), simply leave a comment on this post telling me the name of a special boy or ghoul that would love this prize pack.

Contest will close on Monday, October 8th at 10 PM EST. A winner will be chosen by Random dot org. I’ll notify the winner by e-mail and announce it here on the blog.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I was not compensated in any way for this post. As always the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Congrats to Commentor #2 – Tim who commented on Oct. 4th at 11:59 PM.

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

2

Timestamp: 2012-10-09 04:13:11 UTC

Eye Have A Great Deal For You

If my memory (and the search box over there on the right) serves me right, I have talked about mascara twice on this blog.

The first time I mentioned mascara, I had actually purchased a different mascara from what I normally use and stated – FOR THE RECORD – that I would stick with my favorite, big orange tube of lash-blast mascara, also known as CoverGirl LashBlast from now on. Did you know that if you apply LashBlast slowly and wiggle it side-to-side on each lash, your eye-lashes will POP!

But I digress.

The second time I mentioned my favorite mascara here on the blog, I was actually giving a tube (along with my other favorite things) away.

That should tell you that I really, REALLY like it. For that reason, I jumped on-board when BlogHer and P&G (you know, the same P&G that sponsors the whole Olympic P&G thank you mom campaign – I get teary eyed every single time!) sent an e-mail asking if I’d like to partner with them in a new venture. Proctor and Gamble (the makers of LashBlast and lots of other great products!) are giving mom-bloggers like me an opportunity to pass along an awesome deal to my readers while in turn earning a commission on anything purchased through the link featured below.

Some popular P&G products include: Olay, Febreze, Crest, Tide, Pampers, Head and Shoulders, Cover Girl, Oral-B, Swiffer, Gillette, Duracell, and Downy, but believe me there are LOTS more!

As an added bonus, P&G is offering 10% off ALL items now through August 31, 2012, with free shipping for any purchase over $25. This is a great time to take advantage of this special offer because as a proud sponsor of the Olympics, P&G is offering several Olympic-themed bundles (complete with free products) and deals right now.

If you’d like to partner with me (you help me make a SKY payment, I help make your eye-lashes POP!) simply click on the box and shop! Feel free to share this deal with your friends and family, just make sure you direct them back to this post. Oh, and if you visit the P&G estore, I’d love to hear what you think about it.


CoverGirl LashBlast 24HR Mascara

Your Boy

This parenthood thing is a trip.

Would y’all agree?

As the mother of two boys, it is non-stop action at our house 24/7. There is always some sort of competition, and almost always it’s one that involves somebody running through the house.

It’s exasperating.

But I know there will come a day when I’ll give anything to have them running through the house just one more time.

When I recently received an e-mail from my friends at the media collective asking if I’d like to review Vicki Courtney’s book, Your Boy – Raising a Godly Son in an Ungodly World, I was like, where do I sign up? Lord knows I need all the help I can get. I say it all the time… I am the most over-protective mother I know. Still, my boys are the ones who swallow pennies, inject themselves with an EpiPen (right under my nose, mind you!), and pass out in the middle of the street after a bike wreck.

Like I said. I need help.

In her book Your Boy, Vicky Courtney uses Biblical illustrations (Daniel, David, and Gideon just to name a few) to develop guidelines for raising boys to becoming Godly men. She shares many experiences of her own motherhood journey with sons, Ryan and Hayden, as well as experiences from her years of ministering to youth and young adults.

Your Boy is an easy read, filled with humorous tales that reminded me that I am not alone in this thing. With chapters covering instant messaging, chat-rooms, hormones, pornography and marriage, (you know, the heavy stuff!)  Courtney leaves no stone unturned. As the mother of a nine-year old and six-year old, I would like to think it will be a few years before I have to worry too much about these, but with current trends and society’s standards (and talks with other moms!), I realize it’s never too early to start praying about these things. I appreciated Courtney’s candor and honesty about her years in the battlefield (as I like to call it!) as she explains what mothers can do to raise godly sons despite the negative worldly influences.

And Lord help us, there are so many.

Some of the things I took away from Your Boy.

  • Little League Mom: “You’ve seen her in action. Maybe you’ve even been her. She’s every coach’s nightmare, especially if, heaven forbid, the coach fails to notice her son’s athletic abilities. She’s the mom who fights her son’s battles, many of which she starts herself… Whether it is academic, athletic, or recreational, we want our boys to be treated fairly. We will not serve our sons’ best interest in the end by taking up their every battle.”
  • A Nice Guy’s Dating Rules: “While dads play a big role in modeling noble behavior to their sons, moms should never minimize the critical role they play. Don’t wait until your sons is about to enter into his first dating relationship and then give him a crash course in acceptable dating behavior.”
  • “As mothers, we have been given a task to grow the next generation of godly men, and I believe it is one of the highest callings in a mother’s life. We have been given a brief eighteen years to make a godly impact on our sons…. Let us remember that our sons, while they will always be “our boys,” belong first and foremost to Him.

If you are the mother of a son, especially one in the tween or teen years, then you know that you are in a war for his mind, body, and soul. I strongly recommend this book to help you along your way.

Vicki Courtney is a trusted speaker and best-selling author. Known and respected as a “mom in the trenches,” Vicki has shared her youth culture wisdom , CNN, FOX News, and Focus on the Family. She and her husband have three children and live in Austin, Texas. Her books, Your Boy and Your Girl can be purchased at Vicki Courtney [dot] com.

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In the interest of full disclosure: I was provided a copy of Your Boy and Your Girl to facilitate this review. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Letting Go of Perfect

At the end of her book, Letting Go of Perfect, Amy Spiegel poses the question, “How do I let go of my idea of perfect in order to grasp the perfection of God?” This great book (especially great for those of us with crazy perfection OCD!) addresses the expectations we have on ourselves (Heaven, help us!)  and how to walk with God (and beside of others) in a more authentic way. One of my favorite things about Letting Go of Perfect is that it is perfect for all women, no matter what stage of life they find themselves in.

Spiegel reminds us that just because a woman appears to have it all together, there’s a pretty good chance her minivan would tell a different story.

Instead of putting unreasonable expectations in our daily life (perfect kids, picture-perfect home, perfect hair), Spiegel suggests we take a long look in the mirror, and look to God to be our guiding source, not society.

Now, there’s an idea!

Letting Go of Perfect is an easy and fun read. Amy Spiegel is down-to-earth and real. I have no doubt that Amy and I would be fast friends in real life. (She has a love of lists!) I have long considered myself a perfectionist, but after reading Letting Go of Perfect, I now see the danger of trying to live that out in my daily life.

Some of my favorite quotes from Angie’s book include:

  • The next time you are heading out the door, pause at the mirror and make sure that what you see reflects your purpose and values.
  • Coming out and admitting our faults and weaknesses can be a great comfort to those with similar struggles.
  • When it comes to setting expectations for ourselves, how do we walk the fine line between being motivated and being legalistic?
  • It’s sad that so much of the chaos of our lives is created not by the basic demands of our primary responsibilities, but our refusal to stand against the cultural dictates that demand that every moment of our lives be filled with activity.

Is today’s perfect Christian woman a perfectly ridiculous concept?

Have you ever felt as though you didn’t recognize yourself in the mirror and yet you’re frantically trying to keep that image together? Felt bound by the dreams you had for life that you now realize have forced other expectations on you? Or maybe you’ve laughed at one of those insanely ridiculous moments in the day when absolutely everything goes wrong and no matter what you do, the grand purpose seems elusive.

Let’s be honest. We all have a standard in our head that we believe is the perfect Christian woman, wife, and/or mother. Yet, have you ever really examined what that standard is? Yes, God absolutely has standards for what those roles are to be, but is He our source, or is it the peer-pressure-don’t- be-the-odd-one-out-on-Sunday-morning drive to fit in that is driving us away from authenticity and raw faith to outward performance?

Amy Spiegel knows this struggle well and notes, “so many of the women I know seem to feel the same tension in their own lives, teetering on the edge, praying someone will be there to catch them if they fall.” There is a grand purpose to where you are today.

Join Amy in Letting Go of Perfect, to look at what it means to truly know the woman in the mirror as well as the God who created, redeems, and equips her.

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In the interest of full disclosure, The Media Collective provided a complementary copy of Letting Go of Perfect to facilitate this review. As always, the opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Big Book Of What?

My boys love to read. They also love to ask questions. So, when I received an e-mail asking if I’d like to review TIME’s Big Book Of What? for the blog, I promptly replied, “YES! Sign me up!”

I just knew that Stevie would love this book, (filled with 801 facts) and I was right!

Time Home Entertainment Inc. and the editors of TIME For Kids bring children and adults a book that contains hundreds of answers to questions kids commonly ask about the world around them, but adults can’t always answer. The BIG Book of What? is available as of June 5, 2012 and will be available at www.timeforkids.com/bigbookofwhat and retailers across the US and Canada.

The 192-page book, packed with more than 250 colorful photos and diagrams, bring words to life, informing and engaging young readers. TIME For Kids high quality visuals, as well as clear, concise and child-friendly explanations, help kids ages 8 and up discover answers to questions covering various topics spanning twelve chapters. Topics and questions, such as:

  • Animals – What is an Aye-Aye?
  • Space – What is the Biggest Known Star in the Universe?
  • The Human Body – What Is the Funny Bone?
  • Weather & Climate – What Is A Dust Devil?
  • Food – What Is An Ackee?
  • Survival – What is the Deepest a Person Has Dived?
  • Sports – What is a Pommel Horse?
  • History – What Is Ellis Island?
  • Holidays & Festivals – What is Mardi Gras?
  • Mysteries – What Were the Cottingley Fairies?
  • Inventions – What is Kevlar?
  • The Future – What Will Space Travel Be Like?

We are proud to introduce the fourth book in our successful series, Big Book of What?, said Bob Der, Editorial Director, TIME For Kids. The book furthers our goal of enabling kids to answer some of the many questions they ask, while presenting them in a way that is fun and educational for the whole family.

Stevie read this book all the way through in just a couple of days. He enjoys facts of all kinds and so this book was perfect for him!

[In the interest of full disclosure, Goodman Media International provided a copy of Big Book of What? to facilitate this review. As always, the opinions expressed in this review are my own.]