Where to Get Children's Books

I thought it would be fun to share where we get our books.  Maybe you will get a few new ideas and maybe you can share your ideas with me.  I'm listing these in order of preference.

Our local library is a great resource for children's books (and audio books, e-books & movies!).  Most (all?) libraries have a website now where you can put items on hold, renew checked books & even pay overdue fees (guilty here).  We find it more fun to go in and choose books on the spot though.  It's a great way to discover new books and old favorites all in one place.  Best of all, library books are free!

Hand Me Downs
Another free resource is friends and family with older children.  We were lucky enough to receive large shopping bags full of books from a good friend whose children are older than ours.  Some of the books were over their age range, but we just held onto them (in some cases, still holding onto them) until they are ready for them.  We've also brought home a few books from Grammy's house, mostly the Bernstein Bears series that Jack loves (he calls them "the dancing bears"), but we really like to leave most of them at Grammy's house for the kids to discover.  Don't forget to share the love, though, and hand down books to younger friends when you're finished with them.  We have quite a few baby/toddler books that we need to hand down and/or donate.

Library Book Sales
Our local library has a book sale at least a couple of times a year.  Children's books generally sell for anywhere between five cents and a dollar.  The books are usually in well-loved condition, but this is a great opportunity to stock up.  There is usually a flier at the front desk when a sale is coming up or you can check the library website under "Events".

Local Used Book Stores
This one is tricky.  Our favorite used book store carries children's books, but generally frowns upon children in the store (I base this on experience, not store policy obviously).  Also, in my experience, prices vary from store to store.  Sometimes we get a great deal, other times we don't.

On-Line Retailers
I buy so many things on-line these days, including books.  I like Amazon's 4-for-3 deals, especially for gifts.  Even better if you can get free shipping.

Brick & Mortar Stores
Are there any local booksellers around anymore?  I've purchased books for the kids at Barnes & Noble on occasion and Target (impulse buys), but I think the last time I bought a book from a local bookshop was when Colin was a baby and I was visiting my hometown.  Sad.

Where do you get your children's books?  Any experience with eBay, Craigslist or Etsy?

Fall Book Series: Dinosaurs' Halloween

Nobody is going to throw something at me for reading a Halloween book in September, right?  Since it's officially Fall (my favorite season), we've dug out all of our Fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving books and are enjoying them despite the 90 degree temperatures outside.

Dinosaurs' Halloween by Liza Donnelly is about a young boy and his dog who dress up like dinosaurs and  meet up with an unexpected friend for a night of trick-or-treating.  They run into some bullies who try to steal their candy and take off their masks, but they get a big surprise when they try to take off one of the masks!

What I love about this book:  The story flows, but is simple.  There's not a lot of text, which is okay because it leaves room for dialogue about what is going on in the story.  Jack's school just did a lesson on bullying so we were able to talk about that and reinforce what he learned and what he would do in a similar situation.

What Jack loves about this book:  Jack liked the story & the twist at the end.  He also loved the last couple of pages, which have pictures & information about real (and made up!) dinosaurs.

What Colin loves about this book:  Colin had zero interest in this book.  I'm sure we'll read it a few more times this season, though, so he may change his mind yet.

This book was published in 1988 and is now out of print.  A quick search proved that it can still be purchased on-line, both in used and new condition.  We picked up this book at a local library book sale for probably ten cents.  The target audience is baby-preschool, but based on our experience it is more appealing to children that are at least age five.

Slow Food Challenge Part Two

Here's the post where I finally make the meal.  :)

I made the Crunchy Chicken Tenders, from page 196 of The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine.  The recipe isn't much different from what you'd expect in a chicken tender recipe, basically cover the chicken in flour, dip in egg & cover with breading.  The difference here is that the egg and the breading mixtures pack an extra nutritional punch.

The egg mixture includes Missy's "Orange Puree", which consists of yam and carrots (this is the puree that Jack couldn't keep his hands off yesterday).  In order to puree the yam & carrots, you first have to boil the heck out of them.  I was worried that would leach out any beneficial nutrients, but the puree was still bright orange when done, so I don't think that's a real concern.  I recommend using the boiling water in the puree rather than fresh water though.  Photos of the puree are in yesterday's preview post here.   I was also concerned that the puree and the egg wouldn't mix together well and actually stick to the chicken, but it did.

The breading was Missy's "Better Breading", which consists of whole wheat bread crumbs, ground slivered almonds and wheat germ.  I couldn't find wheat germ in the store, so I substituted ground flax seed that I already had on-hand.  Here's a pic of (most of) Better Breading:


The chicken tenders turned out beautifully.


Also, in the time it took for the chicken tenders to bake, I whipped up a quick half pint jar of strawberry jam.  I had a container of strawberries that were just about past prime & I didn't want to waste them!


What Jack thought:  Jack loved them!  He even knew the "sneaky" ingredients and it didn't phase him, probably because he loved the orange puree so much yesterday.  He ate two good sized pieces of chicken.

What Colin thought:  Well, Colin only ate half of a piece of chicken.  This is about typical for him though.  At least I know he got a bit of extra nutrition in that half piece than in a questionable store bought or fast food chicken nugget.

What I thought:  I thought the chicken was delicious.  The breading stayed nicely on the chicken pieces and tasted just like regular breading.  I kind of wished I could taste the almonds though.  I think next time I'll won't grind the almond so fine.  I will definitely make this chicken again.

I also like the concept of the book and the book itself.  Like I said yesterday, I want my kids to like fruits & veggies in their raw form, but in the meantime, I don't want mealtime to be a battle.  The purees/mixtures don't seem to take much time to prepare  & they can be stored in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer.  I could easily see myself spending a couple hours on a Saturday making purees for the week.  A couple of recipes that I look forward to trying are Breakfast Cookies (uses ricotta cheese and a whole wheat flour/wheat germ mixture) and Brainy Brownies (uses whole wheat flour/wheat germ mixture, ground rolled oats & raw spinach/blueberries).

If you want to know more about the book, check out their website or pick up the cookbook at your local library.

Natural Network Blog Hop: Slow Food Challenge

Today, September 17, Slow Food USA is inviting you to be a part of their $5 Challenge, and the Natural Network Blog Hop wants to kick it off and invite you to join us! The challenge is to take back the 'value meal' by getting together with family, friends or neighbors to enjoy a meal that costs no more than $5 per person (the cost of the average fast food meal).

Slow Food USA says that slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food, and they're right! If you want to join in, you can sign up for the challenge over at Slow Food USA. If you're a blogger, join us by sharing your favorite slow food meal ideas and linking up with to our Natural Network Blog Hop at the bottom of this post!

Here's where I confess that I didn't make a 'slow food' meal tonight (we had homemade pizza but used pre-made dough, canned tomato paste & pre-shredded cheese).  I went to the market today armed with a list, but somewhere between the house and the market, I lost the list and had to do my best without it.  As such, I forgot some key items for my kickoff $5 challenge meal.  We'll head out again tomorrow & try again.

Tomorrow, I will be reviewing a recipe from the cookbook, The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine.  I recently purchased this book because my youngest has been boycotting most fruits & veggies for a while now.  I'm not a big fan of sneaking nutrients in or tricking the kids into eating healthier, but the reality is that my youngest is likely not eating a very balanced diet right now.  I'll continue to offer fruits & veggies in their whole form and will be ecstatic if he eats them, but I will also give "sneakiness" a try at the same time.

While Colin napped today, Jack helped me make the first puree.  Here are a few photo previews (clickable):


Jack loved the puree by itself.  I let him have one spoon full and then he licked the bowl when I was finished bagging it all for the freezer.  Clearly, he's not the one boycotting the healthy stuff!

Recipe review to follow!  In the meantime, let me know if you plan to join the challenge & what you will make.

UPDATE:  Click Here for recipe review.


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