Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer Reading: Fun AND Educational! (Review & Giveaway)

             Hey folks! Who says summer reading can't be interesting and educational? I recently had the opportunity to work with a new (to me) publisher, Gibbs Smith, and have some fun nature-related childrens books from their line up to share with you today! Plus, stay till the end for your chance to win copies of both of these books as well!
             If you've been around for awhile, you may have noticed I have an affinity towards childrens nature books. Both of my kids love being outdoors, so it just makes sense that we read a lot of books about critters, flowers, ecosystems, etc. too. With that being said, today's books are a little different from the storybooks I usually review, but I think you will enjoy these as well!

Spring Walk

             Spring Walk, by Virginia Brimhall Snow, is just one in a series of, you guessed it, four books that follow the seasons. (I can't wait to check out the others!) In Spring Walk, the story follows kids and their grandmother as they go for a stroll in spring to see flowers.
             I thought this book weaved educational material (learning different flowers) well with a story to keep kids engaged. It's kind of the best of both worlds! Keeping things fun and interesting is so important when it comes to little ones retaining new information. The story has a nice flow to it as well with it's rhyme scheme. (I always say this helps kids remember new info too!)
             The illustrations, as you can see in the picture above, are quite interesting and nothing like I've ever seen in any other book before. With the vibrant color of the flowers, they almost seem as if they're popping off of the page! I love that they are large and colored, so you and your children can actually tell what to look for on your own flower walks. I always thought black and white field guide-type pictures were a bummer.
             So, the kid verdict? We have read this for our bedtime story and Myka seems to like it. She loves flowers (what little kid doesn't?), so what's not to love, right? She gets to learn some new flowers and I actually came across some I wasn't familiar with either!
             There are some great activities listed after the story as well. (I just love books with more learning and/or hands on activities at the end!) Spring Walk explains how to start an egg carton garden, make a flower bouquet, and more.

Cooking On A Stick

             Do your kids love helping out in the kitchen AND being outdoors? Then they are going to love this book!
             Cooking On A Stick:Campfire Recipes for Kids, is a great little cookbook for camping recipes whether you're a child OR adult! Because let's be honest: Plain old hot dogs can get old real quick when camping, amiright? Here's your solution!
             Before it jumps right in to the recipes, Cooking On A Stick starts off with the basics: how to build a fire, what tools you will need to cook with, fire safety, etc. Initially, you might think all of this information might be overwhelming for kids (depending on their age and whether they've been around campfire cooking before), but the information is actually pretty straight-forward and easy to comprehend. I think it's a great idea that the author included all of this instead of just making this a cookbook: It helps to really get the kids involved in the preparation of their food. (As well as learn some important survival skills!)

             Cooking On A Stick includes main dishes and desserts alike. Many recipes include the main biscuit mix, which is the first recipe listed, though it is used for much more than making traditional biscuits. So don't go thinking these are boring meals!
             I will admit some of the recipes seem intimidating at first, considering you will be making them outdoors and perhaps not have as much space or utensils as home. But, if you prepare as much as you are able ahead of time (mix biscuit mix, chop vegetables, etc.), they're really not that bad. Plus, a lot of them only contain several ingredients, which is my kind of cooking, indoors or out!
             I'm really looking forward to trying some of these recipes out the next time we go camping...Though I should probably try some out at home first. Or, at the very least, practice making a cooking fire. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've only tried making a fire once or twice...And ended up letting my husband finish it. See! This book is handy for adults as well!
             We just went on our first family camping trip recently and, even though we were only there for one full day and part of two others, I was worried about what we were going to eat that the kids would actually eat too! So, I really am very excited to have discovered this book. Not only do I have some fresh ideas now, I'm hoping I can include Myka some in the food prep like I do at home.

             Gibbs Smith offers an interesting assortment of genres, including BabyLit, Childrens, Regional, Cooking, and Outdoors books, to name a few. You can keep up-to-date with them on Facebook and Twitter.
             Don't forget! Enter the giveaway below for a chance to win your own copies of Spring Walk and Cooking On A Stick. The only mandatory entry is your email (for contacting the winner), but remember, the more entries you have, the higher your chances are of winning! Open to U.S. residents only. See terms and conditions below on giveaway form for more information.

Mixed Bag Mama received products in order to facilitate this review. Regardless, all opinions are my own. This giveaway is not associated with any social media platform, including, but not limited to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube. Sponsor is responsible for prize shipment. 
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  1. These look like lovely books. What a great way to teach kids about the names of flowers and to get cooking outside!

  2. What lovely books - I am always excited by new books for the children especially educational ones. #FabFridayPost

  3. How to Play in the Woods looks great!