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Monday, May 21, 2018

Winner of Book Give-Away

I am happy to announce that the winner of the book is (drum roll please...)

Megan Crop!  

Congratulations!  I will be in touch with you about the details of receiving your book.

A big thanks to Denette Fretz for allowing me to host, and a big thanks to Zonderkidz for providing the prize.

And thanks to everyone who visited this blog post, I hope you enjoyed finding out more about I Want Your Smile, Crocodile!  It truly is a fantastic book.

Sunday, May 13, 2018


A few months ago I interviewed Denette Fretz about her upcoming book, I Want Your Smile, Crocodile.  I'm happy to announce that her book now available!  Link to buy book on Amazon

I am thrilled to be able to review this book on my blog as part of a four stop blog tour.  (If you missed the first three installments, you will want to go back and read them!  They are linked below, along with my original interview with Denette)

The give-away! 

If you would like to win a copy of Denette's book, simply leave a comment on this entry of my blog.  Post by May 20 at midnight EST, and on May 21, I will randomly select a winner. 

And now for my thoughts about this beautiful book!

This book is full of heart and adorable humor, and is sure to become a family favorite. Yet behind all of its darlingness, it drives home a very important lesson for every reader, from the youngest child, to the oldest adult.  We are designed in God's image, created for a purpose, and that makes us valuable! I love that Denette's book has this underlying seed of truth. 

I know for me, it is easy to look at other people's talents and unique qualities and feel inferior, saying to myself "I wish I was more like _____."  That is the exact struggle of the main character, Jack the meerkat.

The truth is that God does NOT want me to be like _____, he wants me to be ME! Living in the special way that he created me to live, and walking out my purpose on this earth.  I got on a little soapbox there...

Back to the book!

In the book, Jack wishes that he could be... 
  • a crocodile, 
  • an elephant, 
  • a jellyfish, 
  • a chimpanzee, 
  • a porcupine, 
  • and a polar bear, 

...imagining himself with each of their special qualities.  

But, as he begins to "impersonate" each animal, there is always something that just doesn't... quite... work out. (Insert clever humor and delightful illustrations that complete the storyline).

Personally, my favorite instance was when he got a sore bottom from the spine of the porcupine and needed the ice of the polar bear! :)   

There are other instances where the illustrations really "add depth" to the storyline. 
  • For example, the chimpanzees give Jack's swinging "ratings," as in a gymnastics competition. 
  • Jack's crocodile grin scares the crowd, and they flee in fearful desperation. 
  • The zookeeper is not mentioned, but he lovingly follows Jack to bring him home even though along the way he encounters quite a few personal injuries. 
I was absolutely amazed at the clever word play and rhyme. As a writer, I know that this effect is very hard to achieve, and Denette's text packs a punch that fits the spunkiness of the character and the whimsical illustrations! Bravo!!
  • Example: "Give me your swish, Jellyfish. I long to float the seas. I'd dive, I'd play, I'd glide, I'd sway, and twirl your dance with ease."  Fretz's lyrical words "fit" with the natural movements that a jellyfish would make. 
  • She then transitions with, "nix the swish...I'm not a fish. I'm a sky kind of guy."  Her word choice is perfect, and a great introduction to the chimpanzee scene.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and I believe this story will not only connect with kids of all ages, but also with the adults who read it.  

Sneak peek inside: (You just can't help but fall in love with Jack!)

My original interview with Denette Fretz

Blog tour -- Interview with Denette by Glenys Nellist

Blog tour -- Read, Discuss, Do with Rebecca J. Gomez

Blog tour -- 6 extension activities with Laura Sassi

Remember, the give-away! 

If you would like to win a copy of Denette's book, simply leave a comment on this entry of my blog by May 20 at midnight EST, and on May 21, I will randomly select a winner. 

About the author:
Denette Fretz's passion is creating imaginative, engaging stories that help children understand and apply biblical principles.  A veteran elementary educator, Fretz resides in Medford, Oregon with her husband, a sassy cat, and a spastic Jack-A-Bee.

Denette, fantastic job! You have written an amazing book. I can see that it is a reflection of your beautiful heart.  Best wishes to you!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

5 Minute Friday -- INCLUDE

Even though it is late Saturday afternoon, I am still going to write my Five-minute-Friday prompt. I really enjoy seeing where each word takes me as I do the writing exercise for five minutes and then “tweak” my thoughts into a post. 

This week the word is INCLUDE.

This is the opposite of exclude. Seems obvious, right?

Have you ever thought of how good it feels to be included? 

And how bad it feels to be excluded?
  • Friendship groups of all types
  • Work cliques
  • Sports teams
  • Social media networking
  • Neighborhood get-togethers
  • The list goes on and on…

Let me give you an example of a powerful offer that is for all people...

Jesus came to give forgiveness and eternal life to anyone who believes.  
ANYONE! Now that is inclusion!

It doesn’t matter your race, your gender, your shoe size, your talents, your intelligence, your “coolness factor.”  You are included in this offer.  

“For God so loved the word that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life!” John 3:16

The offer of everlasting life is for ALL who believe! There are no strings attached. No special qualifications.   The gospel message is for everyone!

As for me, I gladly receive this offer. I believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sin and for the sin of the world, and I thankfully receive this gift of eternal life.  I am so thankful that I am included!

What about you? What's keeping you from believing in Him?

Friday, May 4, 2018

5 minute Friday -- ADAPT

The first thing that comes to my mind with the word ADAPT is my teaching career.  

Way back when, long, long ago, I graduated from college and became a teacher. After teaching 5 years, I had a baby. I tried teaching AND mommying for a bit, but ended up becoming a stay-at-home for 12 years with my kids. After twelve years as a stay-at-home mom, there was a change in our family's situation. At that point, for a variety of reasons, I decided to go back to the classroom

Once I landed the big job, boy was I in for a surprise. EVERYTHING had changed. 

When I left, I was excited to use a color transparency and a dot matrix printer. When I returned, my old manila file folders that I had kept all of my “great activities” and “useful documents” were laughable.  I HAD SO MUCH TO LEARN!

 I had to ADAPT.  It was necessary. TO SURVIVE!

What was my process?

  • First—I panicked (I’d be lying if I didn’t include this—it happened)
  • But then, I humbled myself, and began to ask questions.
  • I prayed for God's help and asked other people for help.
  • I tried new things.
  • I made mistakes and experienced frustration. 

But I didn’t give up!
  • I pushed through the quitting points and made it to the other side.

And the things I am doing now in the classroom…are pretty cool

Way better than the “back in the day” stuff :) 

What’s the point in telling you all of this?

I'm just wondering if anyone out there might be stuck living out of a manila file folder when God wants to "wow" you with a new thing that seems a little "out-of-your-comfort-zone?" 

If so, maybe this small story of my teaching experience will encourage you to ADAPT.

I'll keep adapting if you will, too! 

P.S. I'd love to hear about how you've had to ADAPT in some way.