Monday, July 21, 2014

STEWIE BOOMSTEIN STARTS SCHOOL review and giveaway

Disclaimer:  I was given products in this post for the purpose of review.  I was not paid in anyway to write this review.  All opinions are my own.

This post is part of my Back-To-School guide!  To learn more click the photo below:

STEWIE BOOMSTEIN STARTS SCHOOL review and giveaway

Brandon Jr loves to read.  I kinda figured both my kiddos would enjoy this because I'm a huge reader!  My personal library has over 500 books...  This isn't counting the kids books.  My little guys play preschool at home.  Brandon is trying to help Quinn get ready for his first year of preschool.  I like that my little guys are spending time together.  I also like that its a review for Brandon he thinks he is only teaching Quinn, but its my sneaky way of getting him to remember all the stuff he learned!

Recently I was contacted to review the book Stewie Boomstein starts school.  I knew it would be a huge hit with my boys.  What I didn't know is the book is perfect for any little ones that may be a bit scared to start a new year.



About the book:
Based on on the author's own experience with her own children, and her interviews with child specialists, Stewie Boomstein Starts School is about dealing with the fear of the unknown that many children feel on their first day of school and how parents can help turn this often new and kinda scary time into an exciting journey and familial bonding experience.

Stewie Boomstein Starts School will help children aged 3-6 prepare to enter pre-k or kindergarten. Stewie Boomstein is a loud, comical, and sometimes cranky child, who has a big problem: he had a very bad first day of school! His entire family (including the pets) works together to solve Stewie's problem. The next day, Stewie has a very good day at school. This illustrated book includes an interview with two well-regarded child psychologists who give simple tips and practical advice to parents on smoothing their children's transition into school.
by Christine Bronstein, illustrated by Karen Young
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Nothing But The Truth, LLC (June 30, 2014)
  • Amazon Link

The book is beautifully written and you can tell Christine put a lot of time into trying help kids make this tradition.  As a parent I am sometimes lost on what to say to help my little ones and at times I'm not ashamed to admit I've gotten some of my best advice from books.  Stewie Boomstein Starts School happens to be one of those books. 
Stewie reminded me of my kids.  They tend to be cranky and wary of new things.  It was nice to have a realistic book that could kinda let my boys see that their feelings were normal and that others felt this way too.
Not only does it help my kids, but as a mom the tips were also a huge help to me.  I love how my little guys were able to connect with the main character.  It opened up a huge discussion for us we talked for hours of all the things they were afraid of and I tried to give them reinforcement and explain what school would be like.

And I can't post about this book without mentioning the amazing illustrations!  Karen Young did a great job, as I'm sure you know Quinn can't read yet.  So as his brother would read him the story Quinn would look at the photos.  I loved whenever we turned the page he would get a huge smile on his face and get excited about each photo and would take the time to point them out to Brandon and I.

Through out life my kids will have a lot of "firsts" I have a feeling whenever they are feeling nervous about a new situation that they will think back to this book and it will inspire them to find courage.

I know that childhood books have made me the person I am today.  One of my favorite is "The Little Engine that Could"  Whenever I'm faced with a hard task I swear the words "I Think I can I Think I can" run through my mind!!!  I know with all my heart that Stewie Boomstein is going to have that same effect on people :).  I think he will inspire kids to take their fears and conquer them.  I don't want to spoil the box, but Stewie comes up with a pretty clever idea on how to deal with school.

And I'm super excited to announce that 2 Simply Me readers have the chance to win Stewie BoomStein Starts School!!


You must be 18+ and live in the continental USA

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And I'm excited to also announce I even got to do a fun Q&A with the Author and illustrator!!
AUTHOR CHRISTINE BRONSTEIN:


Starting kindergarten is one of the biggest transitions children face.  It is also a critical moment, which sets the stage for a child’s educational development.  Studies have shown that children who do not have a smooth transition into school are more likely to have poor grades and drop out of school all together.  

  • Was their a little one in your life that was nervous about starting school?

My middle son was born with an above average disregard for authority, and so his adjustment into the school day was not so smooth.  As I met with specialists to help us with this transition, I realized there were many simple steps I could have taken to have made it a better transition for him from the start.  I listed these tips in the back of the book so that other parents can learn from my mistakes.  

One of the specialists recommended bibliotherapy—reading him books about this issue—but I couldn’t find any books that were engaging and also helpful in working through his need to know more about the rules and expectations of school.  So, I started writing stories for him, which led to Stewie Boomstein Starts School.

All three of my kids had different reactions to school, but all had some level of excitement and nervousness.  My daughter is starting kindergarten this fall so I have been implementing the tips from the back of the book for her this summer.  

  • I like that in the book Stewie shares his worries and expresses himself.  I think it made my little guys able to connect with him.  It also made me wondered if there were parts of this book that actually happened?

Almost all of it did happen.  We really wanted to portray realistic characters that are flawed, expressive and still lovable, because that is what being human is all about.  Our family is REALLY LOUD, so the Boomsteins seemed like a good name.  Also, my son did ask his teacher to get him outta here, right before he walked right out of his preschool during naptime.

  • If maybe some of his worries were ones your child expressed to you?

Yes, as a mostly true story, my son’s transition problems came up after he started.  I wish I had prepared him more about the expectations at school ahead of time.  He was excited to go to school like his big brother, but he didn’t have enough information to be equipped to handle the day when school actually started.  

I assumed that because he had a very easy time with learning, starting school would not be a problem for him.  I didn’t know how critically important it was for him to know other things, like what the classroom looked like, who his teacher was, and what his day was going to look like, and so his transition into preschool was very rocky.  

However, when he switched schools for kindergarten, I was equipped with a greater understanding of what his needs were and his transition into kindergarten was very easy.  I know first hand that the tips in the back of the book work because I used them all.

  • This is a 2 part question: If I were to ask you for advice on how to make my little one’s first day as stress-free as possible, what would you tell me?  

Taking your child to visit the classroom and the teacher well before school starts is an action proven to be directly correlated to higher scores at the end of kindergarten.

I would also recommend being involved with the school, making sure you are getting all the information you need, such as summer reading lists and school activities, to help your family become a part of the school community even before school starts.

Making sure the school (and your child’s teacher) has all the information on your child they need from you, doctors, caregivers and pre-schools, will help the school start off the year with a good understanding of your child’s needs.

Also, for families like ours, who are not much for rising early, I would recommend starting a strict morning routine the week before school starts. The first few days the kids are testing the boundaries, but by the end of the week, when we get out the door on time with no meltdowns, we all go out for donuts to celebrate.

  • If my son were to ask you the same question, what would you tell him?  

I would ask him what he thought his school day was going to be like, what he was excited about, and what he was scared about.  

I would ask him these questions because every child has different expectations, needs and fears.  For example, my children have very different personalities.  My oldest needed a teacher who understood his energy level required some adjustments for him throughout the day.

My second son needed to know what was going to happen at school and what the expectations were of him, and my daughter, who starts school this year, has an easygoing personality, but can be very shy if she doesn’t know anyone.  For my daughter, I started having playdates with kids who are going to be in her class so that she goes into school with some familiar faces.  I also sent her to kinder camp where she got to spend a week at her new school doing the kindergarten routine.

  • I asked my 2 little guys if he had any questions they wanted to ask:
        Brandon (who is 6 asked):  Will Stewie have more books?  

Yes!  Stewie Boomstein Gets a Big Boy Bed and Stewie Boomstein Makes a Friend will be coming out soon.

What adventure would Brandon like to read about Stewie and the Boomsteins doing?  We are open for suggestions.  

  • Quinn my brother is starting his first year of preschool.  Do you think it will help if I draw him a photo like Zoom did for Stewie?  My Mom says I can draw a photo of the school since I went there too.  

It would be awesome for your brother to have a picture of what you liked best about your preschool.  

Your mom could also print out a blank What Happens Next Schedule off our website at NothingButTheTruth.com and you and your brother could draw some pictures on the schedule, just like Stewie’s family did with Stewie.

  • Quinn (3) asked if Stewie would be at his preschool and if he had to take naps!!

I love Quinn’s great questions!  Quinn will likely have a loud, silly child in his class who acts out at first. This child may not be named Stewie, but Quinn will have children in his class who are scared and maybe even angry about starting school, just like Stewie.  I wonder what Quinn would say to Stewie or a child like Stewie to help them feel better about school?

And, yes, Stewie did have to take naps in preschool.  He was never big on napping.  He actually HATED naps, but because all kids in his class had naptime, he had to learn to lie on his mat and at least rest quietly, even if he couldn’t fall asleep.  We practiced this at home on the weekends too!  Stewie had to learn how to follow all the rules at school.

ILLUSTRATOR KAREN YOUNG:

  • I love the kids in Stewie's school.  From the photos you can see a lot of their personalities shine through.  Did you have any inspiration for the kids?  
Karen B. Young, Stewie illustrator here.  I’m so happy you love them!

I’m overjoyed knowing that the kid’s expressions came through in a way I hoped they would.  When sketching Stewie Boomstein Starts School, I was 100% inspired by Chris’ son and also by the story.  It was so much fun to draw.

As for the other children in Stewie’s classroom, I revisited my favorite memories in which I met very special children, some of which I went to kindergarten with back in 1976.  The first location of children that inspired me was from my own wonderfully multicultural classroom in a Quaker school called Friends Select School in Philadelphia.  

There was a boy named Jamal who I drew wearing cool glasses. He was another childhood friend I still know to this day.  He is always so suave.

The girl with curly hair is based on my daughter, who is very observant of what’s going on around her. Her eyes are always wondering as she is processing social interactions to see if they are appropriate or not.

The girl of Asian decent was inspired by an amazing 5 year-old I worked with at a children’s hospital twenty years ago.  Despite having a life threatening illness, she was always happy when she was in the unit’s playroom drawing.

Just for fun, so you have a little frame of reference, here is a shot of my amazing Quaker school’s kindergarten class.  I’m in the bottom row, 4th from the left.


  • My kids really liked the little guy with his tongue always out. Brandon wanted to know if he had a name.
As for the boy who always has his tongue sticking out to be silly, he is inspired by the childish, goofy nature that Chris and I found in each other as friends.  He is us as we were writing and drawing this book.  He is comic relief and a representation that it’s ok to get messy with paint all over your face, laugh at your mistakes, and enjoy life. I think Chris and I really share that mentality as Moms.

The fun part about Stewie’s silly friend is that we are currently working on what his name should be, and we are open to suggestions from your kids or blog readers!  Please let us know your ideas.

And soon, the eBook version of Stewie Boomstein Starts School will be introduced, with motion, sounds, and slight animation.  

  • Is there anywhere else we can see your work?  Have you illustrated any other books or do you plan to do any in the future?

I studied art, film, and animation at the Rhode Island School of Design before getting my Masters in Art Therapy with pediatrics.  This is my first children’s book, and I look forward to illustrating all the Stewie Boomstein books.  We hope to put out 2 to 3 books a year.

My biggest joy is to see children look at the facial expressions of the kids I draw, and feel like they can relate, understand, and empathize with the characters.   

I also have a piece of art in a women’s anthology called Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God: 73 Women on Life’s Transitions.  

  • Do you have any advice for little ones about to start school?

Yes!  Chris and I have a blank picture schedule that parents can print out for their kids before school starts.  Kids can draw inside each box the things they will do at school so they have their own “What happens next picture schedule” just Like Stewie made with his family!  There is also a completed one to print out if kids want to see Stewie’s schedule from the book.

Parents can find out from their school or teacher what the day will include.  Parents can email teachers and principals, and find out in advance.  The other option is that kids can bring in their own printed out blank schedule to school and fill it out on the first day of school.  

  • How can art help?
Art is such a valuable expressing process for children.  By simply drawing activities they will be doing in school, there can be a huge reduction in anxiety.  

A child’s sense of control may be greatly expanded through drawing and talking to siblings and parents about expectations, fears and excitement about school.  A sense of control and knowing will assist in a smoother transition process.  If the family asks about their child’s “What happens Next picture schedule”, they are creating a wonderful supportive family experience. And there doesn’t need to be any emphasis on how well a child draws because even scribbles are expressive and therapeutic.

Stewie Boomstein Starts School author Chris Bronstein, illustrator Karen Young, and their children and animals:


9 comments:

  1. I was really nervous when I did the Warrior Dash. I get nervous for my kids when they try something new too.

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  2. This sounds like the perfect book for children about to embark on their first day at school. It is frightening--all new surroundings--no Mom to go running to--it is scary!!

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  3. The first day of school is always an important day for kids even parents, it's a bit nerve racking at time.

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  4. Sounds like a great book my toddler who will be starting preschool this fall and my son who will be starting a new school this year!

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  5. This is great to get the kids ready to start their school lives.. my kids are older now but they used to get anxious to start the new school years also.

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  6. Sounds like a great read! I bet my son will enjoy this book as much as your boys did.

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  7. I'm interviewing for a 1st grade teacher position, so I understand the feeling nervous part!

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  8. I was so nervous when I started boot camp and the military way of life, it really affected my nerves. I always had a tummy that was gurgling!

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  9. My granddaughter is going to be starting school, and I'd like to win for her. For me, I was really nervous just recently when we had a big testing at my work over our skills.
    savewish@yahoo.com

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