Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover

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Refugees, Our Part

By Angie Quantrell



I realize this is a hot, politically heavy topic. But I want to skip the controversy and go straight to a response.

Humans. Babies, toddlers, children, teens, adults. Moms, dads, children, grandpas, grammas, aunts, uncles, friends. In other words, people.

An article I wrote about making space for relationships (with refugees and other community members) is in the March issue of Missions Mosaic. You can also read the article online here.

(Search for the article title, “Make It Personal: Build Relationships with Refugees.”)

I’ve been researching the refugee crisis for various writing contracts. And while I am in no way an expert, even I can see that refugees need our help. We can’t all travel to refugee camps and help on site. But we can keep our eyes open and alert to seeing refugees (internationals) in our communities.

What to do then? Gently, kindly extend a hand of friendship. No bulls in a China shop approach. But with a humble heart, coming from a sincere desire to help – reach out. Offer assistance. Open the door. Smile. Let your children play together. Help at the grocery store or post office. Take time to explain something confusing. At the least, make eye contact and say hello. Every little effort is worth the awkwardness and uncertainty we might experience. Think of it as making new friends. There. That helps, doesn’t it?

We can do it. I can do it. Join me?



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Frankenbunny – Picture Book & KID KANDY



Written by Jill Esbaum

Illustrated by Alice Brereton

(Sterling Children’s Books, 2017)


Sibling rivalry, picking on the youngest, evil plans, plans thwarted, scary premise – Jill Esbaum delivers them all in Frankenbunny. Wonderful characters, setting, and interactions. The illustrations perfectly add to and tell the story.

I won a copy of Frankenbunny from Jill Esbaum and Picture Book Builders. I couldn’t be more excited!

The power of suggestion. It really packs a punch, doesn’t it? When big brothers tell Spencer about Frankenbunny, he doesn’t believe them. At first. But after many conversations, Spencer becomes convinced that monsters are real.

Or are they?

You will have to read Frankenbunny to find out the truth of the matter.


Make Your Own Frankenbunny

Supplies: paper scraps, scissors, glue sticks, markers, construction paper

1. On construction paper, draw the scariest Frankenbunny you can!

2. Add clothes, hair, eyes, nose, mouth, fingertips – everything – by cutting up paper scraps and gluing them on.

3. Finish up with markers.

Show off your Frankenbunny! I bet it scares everyone!

P.S. I’d love to see your Frankenbunny! Ask a parent to help you post a picture of your artwork in the comments. Wow! I can’t wait!


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Auto Repeat (I Wish)


Three car seats. Three preschoolers. Three strong-minded individuals. Three precious grands. Three songs.

Over and over. In equal quantities, or else. Even the 1 year-old can tell when it’s time for HER song.

Auto repeat would make life much easier in the car as we commute to preschool, the store, the post office, the library. But no. The Nana Bus has only the old-fashioned CD player. One CD at a time.

Nana has become a master at switching.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, complete with unsynchronized clapping. (Pentatonix)

Bananaphone. With hand motions. (Raffi)

Baby Beluga, formerly known as Baby Beguda and Baby Deguba. (Raffi)

Switch on, clap on, sing on. Repeat.

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Grandmother Thorn – Picture Book & KID KANDY



By Katey Howes

Art by Rebecca Hahn

(Ripple Grove Press, 2017)


Grandmother Thorn gives new meaning to the words OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). She maintains her gardens with an iron will, daring anything to be out of place, grow where it’s not supposed to, or become mussed by irresponsible footprints.

Only one friend, Ojiisan, the man with a dragging foot and droopy shoulder, was allowed to make tracks in her perfectly groomed gravel paths. For they were best friends and enjoyed hot tea, conversation, and tasty sweets.

All was well until one day Ojiisan tasted gorgeous red berries and urged the salesperson to take some to Grandmother Thorn (but DO NOT walk on the path).

As you can imagine, he did not listen and disaster befell the merchant, the garden, and the welfare of Grandmother Thorn.

Or did it?

This beautiful picture book shares the story of letting go and allowing some things to be. And not all weeds are what they appear.

I love this book, both for the story and the tapestry-like illustrations.


Berry Hunt

1. Read GRANDMOTHER THORN. Memorize all the details you can of the weed and its fruit.

2. Does anyone in your family go grocery shopping or visit a farmer’s market? It’s time to go with that person. Go shopping.

3. Search the produce section. Can you find the fruit found in GRANDMOTHER THORN? Maybe your adult shopper will buy some!

4. Perhaps you live in an area where this type of fruit grows. Look around your neighborhood and see if you find the vines. If you time it right, you might even be able to pick some of those tasty fruits!

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The MABEL Gate: In Memory of a Furbaby


Just before Christmas, our family was devastated to discover neighborhood dogs had destroyed our precious love-love (my nickname for her) Mabel. It was pretty awful. We still miss our little gray girl every day.


No more “Which one is this?” from the grands (and everyone else). No more help working on my writing projects. No more kitty tracks on my printed papers. No more head butts and lap cuddles.


Monet, her twin sister, was lost for quite a few weeks and is now just finally starting to come into her own as an ONLY cat. There are times she quite enjoys the attention. The rest of the time she’d rather be out mousing or birding. She was always the more independent wild thing.


To combat future attacks, we put up a gate on our driveway to discourage any other dogs from wandering in to check out what trouble they could get into. As Papa and Hayden finished up the gate, they decided it should be named after Mabel, a tribute to her short, cuddly, furry life.


Perfect! In honor of our Mabes, Mabel, love-love, gray girl, kitty baby. The MABEL gate. Ta-da!

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STORYSTORM 2018 Day 11: Sue Fliess Listens to Her Handyman . . . ?

Sue is perfectly correct. Ideas can come from any person, place, thing, situation, encounter… This creative process is certainly difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night to write down an idea or grasps any bit of paper to jot down the perfect character before the idea is lost. Great post!

Thanks, Sue! Thanks, Tara!

via STORYSTORM 2018 Day 11: Sue Fliess Listens to Her Handyman…?

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STORYSTORM 2018 Day 9: Miranda & Baptiste Paul Use Real Life as Inspiration (with a few caveats)

Miranda and Baptiste Paul share not only inspiration tips, but stories from their lives. Patience and looking back are key points to mining the perfect ideas for picture books. Thanks, Miranda and Baptiste! Great interview of each other!

via STORYSTORM 2018 Day 9: Miranda & Baptiste Paul Use Real Life as Inspiration (with a few caveats)

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5 Minutes


What can I do in 5 minutes?

Undecorate the RV. Seriously!

Make lunch for my honey.

Make the bed (it DOES take that long…just try making a bed in an RV).

Wipe down condensation from the windows. In the RV, this is a thing.

Vaccuum the RV. Yep.

Brush my teeth. It does take a bit.

Write a thank you note.

Put on make-up.

Call my mom (though we often chat longer than 5).

Reserve books at the library.

Snuggle a kitty or a kid.


How about you? What can you do in 5 minutes?

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STORYSTORM 2018 Day 6: Jess Keating Notices the Amazing

Oh, I am amazed! Inspired. Ready to go. We just need to put on our “see the amazing” glasses and start writing down what really piques our interest, our passion. Ideas are  hanging there, right in front of our eyes, ripe and ready for plucking.

Thank you, Jess, for the invigorating post. Ready to go, yes I am. Thank you, Tara, for STORYSTORM!

via STORYSTORM 2018 Day 6: Jess Keating Notices the Amazing


This Is My Dollhouse ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

This is what a homemade doll house looks like.

By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

This Is My Dollhouse

By Giselle Potter

(Schwartz & Wade Books, 2016)

I’ve always loved doll houses, so I was instantly attracted to This Is My Dollhouse.

A young girl uses an old box, craft materials, and toys to create and decorate her own doll house. Her imagination is in full swing as she makes food, clothes, and props for the little family that lives in her dollhouse.

Her friend, Sophie, also has a doll house. It’s a fancy store-bought dollhouse with pretty furniture and a family. When the girl goes to visit Sophie and play with the dollhouse, their imagination is stilted and comes to a stand still.

After seeing Sophie’s doll house, the girl is afraid of showing her own dollhouse to her friend. But one day, when Sophie came to play, Sophie discovered the hidden house and was delighted. Many hours of creative play followed and the girl was once again pleased with her own dollhouse.

I don’t think this book is against store-bought doll houses at all, but rather This Is My Dollhouse celebrates creativity and ingenuity of those who build from scratch.

It was so much fun to see the creativity of the young girl and the way she used her imagination to create scenarios and adventures for her little family. This book will inspire little ones to create from miscellaneous materials found around the house.

This is a little sewing room I made in a wooden box. Can you find the tiny mouse?


Make A Doll House

Materials: box (any size will work), cardboard, paper scraps, fabric scraps, ribbon, markers, scissors, tape, glue, toy figures, wood scraps or blocks

1. Make a doll house. You can use ANY type of container to make a little house. I once made one from a teapot! Cut cardboard and paper to make walls and floors. Ask for help in cutting a door and windows.

2. Use craft scraps and other materials to decorate your house. Add curtains, rugs, furniture, and whatever else you want. Use markers to add color.

3. Make your little family comfortable. Cut blankets, clothes, and other household necessities from your supplies.

4. Give your family (and their pets) names. You are now ready to imagine adventures for them!

P.S. This would be a fun activity to do with a sister, brother, or friend!