Etsy Artist Interview and Giveaway: Katie Buller from SoSoHippo {Contest Closed}


Congratulations to Linda R. She’s the winner of our SoSoHippo Giveaway. Stay tuned for more contests and giveaways!

I’d like you to meet my friend, Katie Buller.

Katie is one talented chica. Plus, in the words of my 10-year old, “She’s nice, and she always smiles.”

Katie once whipped up my child’s talent show costume from a 7-year old’s notebook sketch . Another time, she created elaborate Baroque-era costumes for our elementary school’s spring musical. These were gowns complete with corsets, bows, petticoats, and caps for the girls and flared coats, lace ruffles and silky cravats for the boys.

These are the things she does in her spare time. Clearly, she is a “giver” of magnificent proportions, and now she wants to give away one of the designs in her etsy shop (SoSoHippo) on Momscape. Yay!

More specifically, Katie is giving away one of her monster sweatshirts, like this one for girls:

Or this one for boys:

The winner gets to pick the style and size they like best from the available selections in her shop. (Prize value : $75)

I’ll give you the details on our etsy giveaway in a bit. First, let’s get to know Katie:

Etsy Artist Interview

Katie Buller of SoSoHippoTell us a little about yourself.
I am a mother of 10 year old twins, highlight of my existence, married to my husband of 15 years who makes me laugh and whose first big gift to me when we were dating was a Bernina sewing machine (what’s not to love!?)

I can barely figure out anything on the computer or cook a meal but I can whip up a pretty amazing wedding gown in 2 days if need be. I started sewing when I was 11.  I would cut up old pillowcases and towels (indulgent Mom) and hand sew them into dolls and clothes. They were very rudimentary but I thought they were incredible!  I completely fell in love with costumes later that year when I watched Gone with the Wind and My Fair Lady with my Mom.

As luck would have it, we even moved into a new house soon after that had an old pair of velvet drapes in the living room windows which my Mom let me cut up and sew into my first costumes (I imagined myself as Scarlett O’Hara doing the same thing!)

What 3 words best describe you?
Fun, smiley, a bit obsessive  (my son’s description but i think it fits)

Tell us about your etsy shop?
SoSoHippo is filled with wonderfully fun things, which celebrate color, texture, imagination, humor and playfulness in items such as furry monster sweatshirts, adorable colorful stuffed animals, playful clothing, extravagant costumes (these are awaiting photographs but will be posted soon for the halloween season) and who knows what’s coming next.  I sew every spare moment and have about 4-5 years worth of ideas waiting for their turn to be created.  I started the shop as an outlet for all these things I’m dying to make after having spent my sewing time over the years making prom dresses, wedding gowns, home decor, doing alterations and most recently costuming shows locally.  I am mostly self-taught after a summer of lessons from my Aunt Georgeann, who is a full time costume designer.

What 3 words best describe your etsy shop?
Colorful, playful, fun

Tell us how you came up with the name SoSoHippo?
I came up with name of the shop quite by chance after reading the Etsy tutorial about coming up with a memorable name for your shop.  I was in the midst of making a collection of stuffed animals after multiple requests from my children and their friends. I looked around Etsy and found that some of my favorite names of shops didn’t make all that much sense but were fun and memorable so I went with the name that seemed most fun.

When did you start your shop? How did you get started?
I started my shop in February this year after encouragement from friends.  Etsy is an incredible marketplace: it’s secure, easy to use, and packed with truly original things you won’t find anywhere else.  It’s a great alternative for finding things that are made right here with passion and care rather than mass-produced across the world.

What is your top selling item?
My top selling item is the monster sweatshirt, especially locally, because they are soooo cool in person.  Once the kids see them, they fall in love and want one too.  I’ve been able to have some kids by the studio to “design their own” which they really love. They pick their sweatshirt, then their monster, then their fur. It’s so fun!

Tell us about your creative process. (ie. When are you most productive? What (or who) inspires you? How do you keep yourself inspired?)
I tend to notice things I like around me all the time and wonder how I could make something fun with the idea.  This fall, when I was in Mountain Wave getting snowbaords for my kids, I was struck by all the supercool graphics on all the boards and decided to make the stuffed animal collection that was fun like those snowboards.  And I’m always asking the kids and their friends what they like. The overwhelming response usually involves COLOR. Kids love it! Most kids have a favorite color, so they love to have special things that capture that.  I’m also a fabric junkie.  I LOOOOOVVVVEEEEE fabric, color and texture!  My favorite bargain fabric is from great thrift stores in their bedding and drapery sections (I know!! once again, the draperies!!) but they are especially good for costumes.  Mostly though, I order and buy fabric like everyone else and I can spend 8 hours in a fabric store with no trouble at all.

What advice do you have for other Etsy sellers?
I’m just starting out so I don’t feel like I have a lot of sound advice except to encourage everyone to pursue their passions and don’t be afraid to hand over some old pillowcases and towels to your kids to pursue theirs!


Now, here’s how to register to win! There are multiple ways to enter, but you must comment below after you’ve done these items because that’s how we’ll choose a winner (at random).You needn’t leave a separate comment for each thing. Just tell me which of the items you did in a single comment.


1. Visit SoSoHippo and tell us in the comments section below what your favorite item(s) are in the shop: 1 entry

2. Heart SoSoHippo on etsy: 1 entry (To heart an item or shop you must be signed in to your Etsy account. Then click the link that says Add this to favorites (in the right sidebar on a shop or item page.)

3. Blog about this giveaway on your own blog: 1 entry

4. Subscribe to Momscape’s RSS feed: 1 entry

5. Follow Momscape on Twitter: 1 entry

6. Post this giveaway on a giveaway site. 1 entry

7. Like Momscape on Facebook: 1 entry

8. Tweet about this contest with hashtag “#momscape” : 1 entry
( You can even RT this one: New #Momscape #Giveaway: Win a Kids’ Monster Hoodie from SoSoHippo! )

One winner will be drawn on July 13, 2011 using and will have 48 hours to respond to email notification, after which a new winner will be drawn. This giveaway is sponsored by and will be shipped by SoSoHippo. *No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest open to US Residents only, 18 and over. Official contest rules are here.


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Summer Reading List for Moms

On our facebook page, Lisa asked if we have a Summer Reading List for Moms, so I wanted to share the titles I’ve been loving in the last month or two. These really have nothing to do with parenting but they’re great for a wee escape.

Check these out and then add your own summer favorites in the comments section:

Bossypants (Unabridged)
Bossypants (Unabridged)
I’ve linked here to the audiobook version because it’s read by Tina Fey, which makes for an even funnier book. I listen to this on my longer hikes and, at times, it makes me laugh out loud in such sudden, wild bursts that I look like a lonely crazy lady chortling to herself in the forest.
Here’s more about this title from (Audible coupons are here.)
Price: $21.36
“Once in a generation a woman comes along who changes everything. Tina Fey is not that woman, but she met that woman once and acted weird around her. Before 30 Rock, Mean Girls, and ‘Sarah Palin’, Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true. At last, Tina Fey’s story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately halfhearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon – from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence. Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we’ve all suspected: you’re no one until someone calls you bossy.”

To Kill a Mockingbird
Summer is a great time to visit a classic, and this is – in my opinion – one of the best books ever written. I try to read it in every decade of my life, and I always find a little something new. This time, I related so much to Atticus when it used to be all about Scout.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Price: $12.79 at

A good historical fiction novel is bliss, and this one centers on a period of time I’ve always wanted to know more about. I loved it from the first page to the last.

The True Memoirs of Little K
The True Memoirs of Little K
Price: $11.98
Exiled in Paris, tiny, one-hundred-year-old Mathilde Kschessinska sits down to write her memoirs before all that she believes to be true is forgotten. A lifetime ago, she was the vain, ambitious, impossibly charming prima ballerina assoluta of the tsar’s Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. Now, as she looks back on her tumultuous life, she can still recall every slight she ever suffered, every conquest she ever made. Kschessinka’s riveting storytelling soon thrusts us into a world lost to time: that great intersection of the Russian court and the Russian theater. Before the revolution, Kschessinska dominated that world as the greatest dancer of her age. At seventeen, her crisp, scything technique made her a star. So did her romance with the tsarevich Nicholas Romanov, soon to be Nicholas II. It was customary for grand dukes and sons of tsars to draw their mistresses from the ranks of the ballet, but it was not customary for them to fall in love. The affair could not endure: when Nicholas ascended to the throne as tsar, he was forced to give up his mistress, and Kschessinska turned for consolation to his cousins, two grand dukes with whom she formed an infamous menage a trois. But when Nicholas’s marriage to Alexandra wavered after she produced girl after girl, he came once again to visit his Little K. As the tsar’s empire-one that once made up a third of the world-began its fatal crumble, Kschessinka’s devotion to the imperial family would be tested in ways she could never have foreseen. In Adrienne Sharp’s magnificently imagined novel, the last days of the three-hundred-year-old Romanov empire are relived. Through Kschessinska’s memories of her own triumphs and defeats, we witness the stories that changed history: the seething beginnings of revolution, the blindness of the doomed court, the end of a grand, decadent way of life that belonged to the nineteenth century. Based on fact, The True Memoirs of Little K is historical fiction as it’s meant to be written: passionately eventful, crammed with authentic detail, and alive with emotions that resonate still.

I also love Ernest Hemingway. The following three books are fun to read together because they cover the same period in time: The Paris Wife is a fictional account of Hemingway’s early professional life from the point of view of his first wife. The Sun Also Rises is Hemingway’s fictional piece of the same time period. A Moveable Feast is the posthumous memoir of this same period. If you’re interested in how real life becomes fiction in an artist’s life, this is a fascinating trio of books.

The Paris Wife
The Paris Wife
Price: $12.98
Readers of Ernest Hemingway biographies, his The Sun Also Rises and posthumous memoir A Moveable Feast know at least the outlines of the novelist’s relationship with his first wife Hadley Richardson. This rich novel fleshes out that connection, evoking the full rise, throb, and fall of the couple’s relationship. As author Paula McClain tells their story, she immerses readers in the jubilation and excesses of Jazz Age, offering us telling glimpses into the lives of the Hemingway’s volatile artistic circle. A truly accomplished historical novel; strongly affirmative early reader reports.

The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises
Price: $8.97
A brilliant profile of the Lost Generation, Hemingway’s first bestseller captures life among the expatriates on Paris’s Left Bank during the 1920s, the brutality of bullfighting in Spain, and the moral and spiritual dissolution of a generation. Reprint.

A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast
Price: $9.36
If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”- ERNEST HEMINGWAY TO A FRIEND, 1950Published posthumously in 1964, A Moveable Feast remains one of Ernest Hemingway’s most beloved works. It is his classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s, filled with irreverent portraits of other expatriate luminaries such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein; tender memories of his first wife, Hadley; and insightful recollections of his own early experiments with his craft. It is a literary feast, brilliantly evoking the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the youthful spirit, unbridled creativity, and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized. Ernest Hemingway did more to change the style of English prose than any other writer in the twentieth century, and for his efforts he was.

This is an eclectic list if ever there was one. What titles are on your summer reading list?


Summer Drink Recipes

Yesterday, we talked about Good Summer Food, and how to get the best nutrition with a variety of summer food choices. Today, we’re bringing you some delicious summer drink recipes and ideas to help you cool off and stay hydrated.

Most of these summer drink recipes has some nutritional value. You may feel like you are just getting a burst of refreshment but your daily intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber and vitamins will  increase as well.

Summer Drink Recipes


* One cup of fresh strawberries

* One medium banana

* One cup of plain yogurt or fat free frozen strawberry yogurt

* Half a cup of apple juice

* Ice cubes

* Honey or agave nectar (as needed)

Cut up strawberries and bananas for easier mixing. Add them to a blender along with the cup of yogurt and the fruit juice. Blend until mixed. Add ice cubes for thickness.

If the flavor is not sweet enough for you, try a natural sweetener before you reach for sugar. Some ideas are maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Drizzle it into your glass. Add some fresh strawberry pieces and a sprig of mint for a garnish. Mint adds a fresh taste to clean your palate after drinking your smoothie.

Vegetable smoothies

Before you wrinkle your nose, know that many veggies have a natural sweetness that people don’t recognize because they eat them after they have been heavily processed. Vegetable smoothies are created using a combination of fresh vegetables along with an optional piece of fruit.

The trick to blending hard veggies is to dice the vegetables well before adding them to the blender. If you have an inexpensive blender from the store, you may need to upgrade to one with more speed and more powerful blades.

Some vegetables work better than others. Some popular choices for smoothies include spinach, greens, carrots, broccoli and avocados. In addition, nuts can be added for a dose of good fat and lots of protein and fiber. Your final combination will be full of fiber, vitamins and minerals that the body needs – all wrapped in a glass of refreshing liquid.
Here is a sample vegetable smoothie recipe:

Blueberry-Carrot Smoothie

* One cup of fresh blueberries

* Fresh carrot juice (it tastes better if you juice them yourself) or pureed carrots

* Half a cup of milk (soymilk, low fat milk) or one cup of yogurt

* Pureed spinach leaves

* Flaxseeds

* Sweetener, if needed (agave nectar, honey)

Clean and cut up vegetables. Add your liquid base – carrot juice and milk or yogurt. Remove spines on greens and rough outer skin from carrots. Puree carrots and spinach until smooth. Mix in blueberries. Finally, add some ground flaxseed for a bit of omega-3 fatty acids in your drink.

If the smoothie is too loose, add some ice cubes. Nuts will also help to thicken the smoothie. Adjust the sweetness with honey, agave nectar or maple syrup.

Ingredients for smoothies can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated. When you are ready for a cool delight, simply put the fruits and/or vegetables of your choice into a blender and mix.

Flavored Water

The body needs to replenish fluids lost during workouts and normal daily activity, especially during the summer. Drinking water provides hydration without any of the calories. But, it can get kind of boring to drink plain water each day.

There are ways that you can flavor water so that it has a cool kick to it that everyone will enjoy.

First, consider using flavored ice cubes. Just add your favorite lemonade or fruit juice to an ice tray. Add one or two cubes to a glass of water for a trickle of taste as you drink.

Another way to freshen a glass of plain water is to add slices of fruit or vegetables to a pitcher. (Infusion pitchers are a great way to do this. We love ours.)

Prodyne 2.5-qt. Fruit Infusion Pitcher
Prodyne 2.5-qt. Fruit Infusion Pitcher
Price: $24.95
Enjoy refreshing lemon water, raspberry iced tea and more. Crystal clear acrylic pitcher has removable fruit infusion rod that screws into the lid. Open slots in rod allow liquid and fruit to mix naturally. Refill the pitcher without replacing the fruit. From ( coupons are here.)

Iced Teas

Many people drink sweetened iced tea in the summertime. It sure is tasty, it’s loaded with sugar, which gives you lots of empty extra calories. Try some herbal iced teas and natural sweeteners.

Here’s a recipe to try:

Apple Spiced-Peach Tea

* Apple Spice flavored tea bag

* One sliced peach

* Hot water

* Natural sweeteners (honey or agave nectar)

Boil five quarts of water. Add two apple spice tea bags and peach slices and allow tea to steep. For taste, add a natural sweetener while tea is still warm so it will mix well. Bring to room temperature; remove tea bag and chill in the refrigerator.

Try to choose decaffeinated teas in your favorite flavor. Combine them with water and sweetener alone or add your favorite fruit to permeate the tea in the pitcher.


Iced Coffee

If you enjoy good coffee in the morning, you can also have it throughout the day but in a cooler form. Turn left-over coffee into a chilled coffee drink any time of the day.

It’s simple. Mix a cup of cold coffee (preferably decaf) with half a cup of low-fat milk or soy milk. For a little kick, add a touch of espresso powder. Mix well and pour over ice.

Sparkling Drinks

Many of the above drink suggestions can perform double duty. They can be transformed into sparkling drinks in an instant. Something about the feel of bubbles tingling in your mouth makes you feel refreshed.

Here are a few ideas to sparkle your regular drinks:

- Add half a cup of sparkling water to half a cup of your favorite iced tea or lemonade

- Add half a cup of seltzer water to half a cup of 100 percent fruit juice

- Combine sparkling water with a handful of fresh berries and flavored ice cubes

Here is a collection of Summer Drink and Summer Cocktail Recipes:

The Best Summer Drinks: 500 Incredible Appetizer Recipes
The Best Summer Drinks: 500 Incredible Cocktail and Appetizer Recipes
Price: $4.98
Perfect summer promo or cash-wrap title, from the ultimate authority on bartending, Bartender Magazine. From Bartender Magazine, the number one publication for the bartending trade and the most respected name in bartending, comes The Best Summer Drinks, the perfect recipe guide for the hottest drink time of year. Written by the ultimate authority on bartending, this book contains 500 summer cocktail and appetizer recipes submitted by the world’s best bartenders, including: Summer Breeze Fourth of July Blue Lemonade South Wind Sun StrokedPerfect for impulse purchase at cash-wrap areas, The Best Summer Drinks is sure to find its way into the pocket of anyone who loves libations.



Good Summer Food

Summer is a great time to pare down your daily diet so you’re getting what you need to stay active, refreshed and cool all at the same time.

Here are some tips to getting the best nutrition with a variety of summer food choices.

Tip #1 – Stay hydrated
The summer sun can drain your energy after a full day outdoors. To combat water lost, it is essential to take in enough water each day. Tomorrow, we’ll bring you a few recipes and ideas to help you jazz up plain water, without adding sugar. Subscribe to Momscape’s RSS feed so you don’t miss tips or updates.

Tip #2- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
Fresh foods contain a higher percentage of nutrients. There are a number of fruits that have a high water content. Consuming them increases your fluid intake without really trying. Vegetables that are in season during the summer contain a lot of fiber. Fiber is filling and helps maintain blood sugar levels.

Tip #3 – Eat enough protein
Protein is a building block of healthy muscle tissue. Eating a little at each meal helps with that sweet craving. Find it in nuts and other plant sources if you want a break from animal protein. Another good choice is fish and seafood.

Tip #4 – Consume foods high in potassium
Many of us are deficient in this electrolyte. If you feel cramping in your legs while you are running, lack of potassium could be the culprit. Without it, you may experience confusion, fatigue, cramping and even heart problems. Begin your healthier intake of potassium today with foods such as bananas, cantaloupe and green leafy vegetables.

Tip #5 – Incorporate cooler summer foods
Have you ever had a cool glass of water after a hard day of physical activity? The coolness trickles down your insides like water over rocks. The same can happen when you eat meals consisting of fresh and raw foods.

Tip #6 – Eat smaller portions
Eating a large meal can put us in a “tryptophan coma.” Instead of feeling refueled you are sluggish and tired for hours. Nibbling on smaller portions throughout the day not only keeps the metabolism stoked but also keeps you feeling full. There is less chance of overeating when you are satisfied.
Summertime doesn’t just involve changing your clothing but changing the way that you fuel your body. If you want to feel recharged even in the heat, feed your body well.

In our next couple of posts, we’ll bring you recipes and ideas for summer drinks and summer snacks: two things that everyone seems to enjoy even more in the busy, warmer months.

In the meantime, here are some recipe books and recipes for delicious summer food:

Under the Olive Tree: Italian Summer Food
Under the Olive Tree: Italian Summer Food
Price: $22.53
Saluting family, life, and food, this inspirational journey follows the memories, sights, smells, and tastes of the author’s hometown in Lugano and Costa Smeralda, Italy. With stunning photographs providing the backdrop, readers soak up the essence of the region surrounding Lugano-an elegant city clinging to the edges of a Swiss lake near the northern Italian border-and the sapphire seas of Costa Smeralda in Sadegna, Italy. Culture seekers and lovers of fine cuisine will enjoy mouth-watering regional recipes, from salami and mountain cheeses with red wine hailing from the southern Swiss valleys, to the Sardinian fare of pasta cushions filled with potato and wild mint. Dessert recipes are also featured, including the Semifreddo Di Miele Amaro, a soft ice cream from the harbors of the Mediterranean.

The Summer Shack Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Shore Food
The Summer Shack Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Shore Food
Price: $16.44
With Lobsters at Home, Jasper White’s Cooking from New England, 50 Chowders, and this book, Summer Shack restaurant impresario Jasper White seems to be building his own seafood cookbook section. The Summer Shack Cookbook might its piece de resistance. This 500-plus-page shore food cookbook provides over 200 seafood recipes, plus a tantalizing supplement of all-American classics like Fried Chicken and Strawberry Pie. It’s a summer vacation in itself.

Crocs for Kids – New Clogs Change Color in the Sun

Crocs are my kids’ go-to shoes in the summertime. My daughter desperately needs a new pair so we were browsing the Crocs website and found some that are extra fun: They change color in the sun.

They’re called Crocs Chameleons Translucent Clogs and they transform from one color to another almost instantly when exposed to sunlight, so your kids can watch them change color before their eyes.

The White clog changes to Pink Lemonade. (These are the shoes I just ordered for Calliope.)  The Celery Clog changes to Sea Blue. The Yellow clog changes to Lime Green.

Just like the kids’ Cayman sandals, these clogs have ventilation holes so your kids’ feet can breathe (and so water can drain away.) The Croslite foot bed responds to your child’s body heat to give a form-to-the-foot fit. Circulation nubs on the foot bed provide a massage-like feel. And the strap can be worn on the back for a snug fit, or sling it forward for a slip on shoe.

Plus, the Chameleons Clogs have holes on top as well as on the strap to accommodate Jibbitz. (Until June 30th, you can get a free Jibbitz with your order of Chameleons. No coupon code required. Details are on the crocs site.)

The only place I could find these shoes online was on the Crocs website. Sitewide coupon codes are fairly rare at, but the site does offer free shipping on $69 or more.

Here’s the selection of the kids’ Chameleon Clogs from today:

Free Amazon Kindle from

The Summer Sale is offering either 30% off bookings, a $25 gas card, or a free Amazon Kindle.

Two of our most favorite things: a family getaway and a new book on the Kindle. – which has long been one of Momscape’s favorite sites for travel deals – is encouraging reading this summer by providing suggested reading lists and free Amazon Kindles as part of its summer GIFTAWAY sale.

This summer, Jamaica Tourist Board’s Dian Holland suggests summer reading choices from her personal bookshelf for your beach bag:

For families and parents who still hasn’t planned alone time with a book and some sand, the Summer Sale offers either 30% off bookings, a $25 gas card, or a free Amazon Kindle to read the above books digitally.

Book a trip to Jamaica or to the closest local beach at And learn more about the Summer Giftaway: Save up to 30% + Get Great Gifts!
This promotion is valid on select hotels only. Minimum spend required, while supplies last.
Book by 6/27/11, travel by 7/31/11

Learn more about Amazon Kindle from our Things We Love blog >

See more Coupons and Promotions >

Summer Reading Lists

Summer is a great time to get your kids started on a wonderful book – to ignite or enhance a child’s love for reading. Sylvan Learning has suggested the following summer reading lists for grades K-12 to help you find just the right book for your child’s summer reading adventures.

Summer Reading List – Elementary School


Whose Mouse Are You?
Whose Mouse Are You?
A lonely little mouse has to be resourceful in order to bring his family back together.

Goodnight Moon Classic Library: Contains Goodnight Moon, The Runaway B
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Grade 1:
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears Click, clack, MOO. Click, clack, MOO. Clickety, clack, MOO. But Farmer Brown’s problems really begin when his cows start leaving him notes. Doreen Cronin’s understated text and Betsy Lewin’s expressive illustrations make the most of this hilarious situation. Come join the fun as a bunch of literate cows turn Farmer Brown’s farm upside down.

Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti
Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti
In trying to determine which of his six sons to reward for saving his life, Anansi the Spider is responsible for placing the moon in the sky.

Grade 2:

Mister Seahorse

Mister Seahorse
When Mrs. Seahorse lays her eggs, she does it on Mr. Seahorse’s belly! She knows he will take good care of them. While he swims waiting for the eggs to hatch, he meets some other underwater fathers caring for their babies: Mr. Tilapia, who carries his babies in his mouth; Mr. Kurtus, who keeps his on his head; and Mr. Catfish, who is baby-sitting his young hatchlings. Eric Carle has done it again, with astonishingly beautiful collage illustrations and a story that introduces the very young to the wonders of aquatic life. and some very special daddies. A “hide and seek” feature with acetate overlays adds a colorful surprise.

How Much Is a Million?
How Much Is a Million?
Text and pictures try to make possible the conceptualization of a million, a billion, and a trillion.

Grade 3:

Granny Torrelli Makes Soup
Granny Torrelli Makes Soup, by Sharon Creech
Rosie and her best friend just can’t seem to get along, but Granny Torrelli knows just what to do to make things better. With warm words and secret recipes, she helps Rosie see that nothing can break the bond between two life long pals.

A Beach for the Birds by Bruce McMillan

Grade 4:

Summer Reading Is Killing Me! (The Time Warp Trio Series #7)
Summer Reading Is Killing Me! (The Time Warp Trio Series #7)
At the beginning of summer vacation Joe, Sam, and Fred find themselves trapped inside their summer reading list, involved in a battle between good and evil characters from well-known children’s books.

So You Want to Be President?
So You Want to Be President?
In the time-honored tradition of political commentary, author Judith St. George and Caldecott Medal winner/illustrator David Small celebrate the public and private lives of forty-two Presidents with humor and flair. Imparting much information and many laughs, this rip-roaring look at the men who have all wanted to be President deserves a place on every library and classroom shelf. Awards: Caldecott Medal Book; ALA Notable Book; Earphones Award for Exceptional Audio, AudioFile Magazine.

Grade 5:

As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.

Kitchen Science by Chris Maynard

Summer Reading List Middle School

Grade 6:

The Carnivorous Carnival: Book the Ninth (A Series of Unfortunate Even
The Carnivorous Carnival: Book the Ninth (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
“Dear Listener, The word carnivorous means meat eating and this carnivorous volume contains such a distressing story that consuming any of its contents would be far more stomach-turning than even the most imbalanced meal. It would be best if I didn’t mention any of the unnerving ingredients of this story, particularly, an unruly crowd, a wooden plank, and Chabo the Wolf Baby. I also shouldn’t mention the features of the interactive CD, which include: Perplexing word games, Photos from the Lemony Snicket Archives, and Art from the Brett Helquist gallery. Sadly for me, I continue to research the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, but your time might be filled with something more palatable. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket.”

My Life in Dog Years
My Life in Dog Years
The author describes some of the dogs that have had special places in his life, including his first dog, Snowball, in the Philippines; Dirk, who protected him from bullies; and Cookie, who saved his life.

Grade 7:

A Year Down Yonder
A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
Mary Alice and Grandma Dowdel return for more astonishing, laugh-out-loud adventures when fifteen-year-old Mary Alice moves in with her spicy grandmother for the year. Her extended visit is filled with moonlit schemes, romances both foiled and founded, and a whole parade of fools made to suffer in unusual (and always hilarious) ways. Winner of the Newbery Medal Notable Children’s Recording (American Library Association).

Amistad: A Long Road to Freedom
Amistad: A Long Road to Freedom By Walter Dean Myers

Grade 8:

Ender's Game (Ender Wiggin Series #1)
Ender’s Game (Ender Wiggin Series #1)
The Earth is under attack and the survival of the human species depends on a military genius who can defeat the alien “buggers.” Recruited for military training, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. A reader’s guide is available for this Starscape edition-perfect for readers ten and up-of the beloved science fiction classic by best-selling author Orson Scott Card.

Our Town
Our Town
Featuring a beautiful new cover and author biography, this deeply moving drama of life in a small New Hampshire village won the Pulitzer prize in 1938 and is Wilder’s most renowned and most frequently performed play.

Summer Reading List – High School

Grade 9:

Empire of the Sun
Empire of the Sun by J.G. Ballard
Price: $1.99
Empire of the Sun is the story of a young boy in Shanghai who witnesses the outbreak of World War II and the bombing of Nagasaki.

Silent Spring
Silent Spring
Three reasons to read Silent Spring:
1. This book, first published in 1962, launched the modern environmental movement. It also earned Carson, a modest marine biologist, a slot on Time’s 100 Most Influential People of the Century list.
2. It’s a great read. Calling Silent Spring “well crafted, fearless and succinct,” Peter Matthiessen said of its author: “Even if she had not inspired a generation of activists, Carson would prevail as one of the greatest nature writers in American letters.”
3. Carson’s lucid, almost lyrical expose of the indiscriminate use of pesticides is still relevant.

Grade 10:

Price: $3.99
If any single novel of Kurt Vonnegut’s can represent his unique voice and freewheeling imagination, it is probably the wildly funny and provocative Cat’s Cradle, published in 1963.

Profiles in Courage for Our Time
Profiles in Courage for Our Time
Nearly half a century after then – Senator John F. Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage, the Kennedy family continues to keep alive the tradition of honoring selfless public service with its Profiles in Courage Award. Now in paperback, Profiles in Courage for Our Time pays tribute to 13 such heroes in the same spirit as the original collection. Some of our greatest writers have brought their formidable talents to this celebration of modern political bravery including Michael Beschloss, Anna Quindlen, Bob Woodward, and Marian Wright Edelman. Also included is Caroline Kennedy’s profile of the latest award recipient, Kofi Annan. These are just a few of the luminaries who eloquently and passionately record the experiences of the award winners. This celebration of modern political bravery demonstrates that heroism among today’s elected officials is as possible and inspiring as ever. “The Profiles in Courage Award seeks to honor those whose lives of service prove that politics can be a noble profession. We hope that Americans realize that there are men and women serving at all levels of our government who are legends of our time.” -Caroline Kennedy Caroline Kennedy is the editor of the New York Times best-selling The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and coauthor of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action. She serves as president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and is chief executive of the Office of Strategic Partnerships for New York City Schools.

Grade 11

First published serially in All the Year Round in 1860-61, published as a book in 1861, thisnovel was one of Dickens’ greatest critical and popular successes. It tells of the coming-of-age of Pip (Philip Pirrip), raised in the marshes of Kent by his harsh sister and her good-tempered husband, the blacksmith Joe Gargery. One day the young Pip helps a convict escape. Later sent to live with Miss Havisham, a woman driven half-mad years by being abandoned on her wedding day, he becomes enamored of the orphaned Estella, whom Miss Havisham is teaching to torment men with her beauty. When an anonymous benefactor helps him, Pip assumes it is Miss Havisham. But he is wrong, about that, and a number of other things, and only learns wisdom through loss and pain. An edition of this novel has been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club, together with “A Tale of Two Cities”.

She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer
Charming satire concerns a young lady who poses as a serving girl to win the heart of a young gentleman too shy to court ladies of his own class.

Grade 12:

Gulliver's Travels (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Gulliver’s Travels
Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today’s top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader’s viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences-biographical, historical, and literary-to enrich each reader’s understanding of these enduring works.

Pride and Prejudice (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Pride and Prejudice (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today’s top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader’s viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriateAll editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences-biographical, historical, and literary-to enrich each reader’s understanding of these enduring works.


More Summer Reading Lists & Resources for Parents

Sylvan Learning also offers a free reading incentive program for children in grades K-8 at This program allows your kids to create personalized book lists from more than 7,500 recommended titles, take quizzes on the books they’ve read at school or at home, and earn prizes for comprehension of the books they’ve read.  You can get additional educational resources for children in grades K-12 here:

What are your child’s favorite summer reads?


3rd Grade Games

Today, we started our regular summer routine in which I insist the kids do some reading and math before they go outside to play. While I’m not a homeschooling mom by any stretch of the imagination, I do try to keep a routine during the summer months that includes at least a bit of writing, a pinch of reading and a dash of math.

To that end, my youngest child’s teachers have shared some great educational games and resources over the past year for my soon-to-be 3rd grader, and I wanted to share them with you, too. Most of these resources aren’t exclusively for second/third graders but have different levels for different ages and grades.

Please feel free to add your own favorite educational games and websites in the comments section:

3rd Grade Math Games
Printable math fact tests, organized by grade. Plus generators for math drills, flashcards, time, money, and more. A great resource!

Second and Third Grade Reading & Grammar

Grammar Gorillas

Help with Verbs

Beginning Sentence Building

More Advanced Sentence Building

Related 3rd Grade Game Products

Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Math
Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Math
Set includes preprinted game boards so that you only need to cut and laminate game pieces. Storage is made easy with the re-ealable tote. Each set includes 6 games that meet state, national and provincial standards with grade-level-specific skills. From Office Depot. Office coupons are here.

Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Language Arts
Carson-Dellosa File Folder Games Set, 3rd Grade Language Arts
Set includes preprinted game boards so that you only need to cut and laminate game pieces. Storage is made easy with the re-sealable tote. Each set includes 6 games that meet state, national and provincial standards with grade-level-specific skills. From Office Depot. Office coupons are here.

3rd Grade Math Games & Puzzles
3rd Grade Math Games & Puzzles

Baby Food Recipe – Coconut Curry Sauce Cubes

Here’s a new baby food recipe from Fresh Baby’s Cheryl Tallman: Coconut Curry Sauce Cubes

Yellow Curry Powder is often associated with Indian cooking. It’s a blend of spices, which vary by region, food, and cooking style. Most Indian curry powders contain turmeric, coriander and cumin. At the market, choose a curry powder labeled “mild” for this recipe.

This recipe uses coconut milk which can be found in the Asian section of your supermarket. Coconut milk sometimes separates into a thick layer of white coconut and a watery liquid. Shaking the can before opening can recombine it, but if that doesn’t work, pour the contents of the can into a blender and whirl it, or pour it into a bowl and use a whisk to blend it together.


* 1 (13.5 oz) can Coconut Milk
* ¼ cup Chicken Broth
* ¼ cup Onion, chopped
* 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
* 1 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
* 1-2 Tsp. Curry (mild) Powder
* ¼ tsp. Cinnamon
* 1 Tbsp. Brown Sugar

Place all contents in a blender and process to smooth texture. Pour into a saucepan, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour the sauce into an ice cube tray, cover and freeze until ready to use.

Serving: Remove a sauce cube from the freezer, defrost and combine it with pureed or mashed beans, meats rice or vegetables. When first introducing the sauce, try a small amount and work your way up to more. Here are some delicious combinations for awesome coconut curries:

* Lentils, Carrots and Apples
* Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower and Beef
* Brown Rice, Spinach and Chicken

About the author: Cheryl Tallman is the co-founder of Fresh Baby, creators of the award-winning So Easy Baby Food Kit, and author of the So Easy Baby Food and the new book So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips and Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years. Visit Cheryl online at for more delicious tips.

Products and books by Cheryl Tallman:

Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Kit, 1 kit
Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Kit, 1 kit
Price: $37.99
Designed for babies making the transition from breast or bottle to solid foods (babies about 6 months old), the Fresh Baby So Easy Baby Food Kit takes all of the guesswork out of making baby food. This all-in-one kit includes a cookbook, freezer trays, DVD, and nutrition tips card. The cookbook covers introducing solid food, includes over 40 recipes, hundreds of serving suggestions, and is all organized by age. Freezer trays are designed for storing baby food in pre-portioned one ounce servings to simplify mealtime and reduce waste (2 trays and 2 lids, spill-proof, stackable, dishwasher-safe). The How-to DVD offers step-by-step instruction – from selecting the right produce – to making baby food – to serving it. The nutrition tips card gives you tips on the best sources of nutrients, introducing foods by age, first aid for choking, and more. Colors and styles may vary. Styles are selected at random when shipped.
Available at (All the latest coupon codes are here.)

So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
So Easy Baby Food Basics: Homemade Baby Food in Less Than 30 Minutes Per Week
Price: $7.16

So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years
So Easy Toddler Food: Survival Tips & Simple Recipes for the Toddler Years
Price: $4.69