Meet the Max of Snacks For Max

When I started the Snacks for Max blog in December of 2011, my son Max was nine months old. I could tell his preferences by whether he screamed or smiled, but I always wanted to know what he was thinking. These days, Max is in second grade, and I get to hear what he’s thinking whether I want to or not!

When Max was little, I read to him every night, but now that he knows how to read (which felt like it happened overnight when he was in Kindergarten; one of the coolest things ever was watching him learn), we take turns reading to each other. His favorite books are mysteries, though he also has a penchant for nonfiction since his Team Read sheets at school let him skip a couple of categories with nonfiction books.

If you’re unfamiliar with Team Read, it’s a program at his elementary school that rewards students for reading, similar to the Book It! and Accelerated Reader programs my schools participated in years ago. For Team Read, students fill out a sheet about each book they read, and the pages add up to advance them through the levels of the program. At our parent teacher conference in the fall, Max’s teacher said she knew that he read a lot at home from talking with him, but he hadn’t been turning in his sheets. He and I spent his fall break filling out sheets for five or six books he had read to me before bed over the previous two months, and when he took them to school, they added up to already push him into not the first or second but the third category of readers!

Here is Max’s review of one of Ron Roy’s A to Z Mysteries:

a to z mysteries deadly dungeon ron royTitle: A to Z Mysteries: The Deadly Dungeon

Author: Ron Roy

Illustrator: Ron Roy

# of Pages: 86

Characters: Dink, Josh, Ruth Rose, Wallis, Walker

Setting: The setting of this story is a castle and the time is a few days.

Summary: They got on a bus so they could visit their friend Wallis and her brother Walker. Walker took them lobstering when they got there. He told them a ghost story. When they got back to the castle, they heard a scream like a ghost. They got hungry so they had a picnic and then they found a trap door. In the trap door they found two parrots. It had to be a poacher, and it was, so they caught him and the parrots went back to where they came from.

I rate this book a 4 because the bad guy pretended to be their friend, but he really isn’t. I like that there is a castle right next to the ocean.

Snacks, Gerber

The series about Dink and his friends is one of my favorites. I would give the series as a whole 5 snacks.

Snacks for Max 5 snacks


An elephant, a pig, and our first (documented) fan fic

Max is three years older than his brother, so when he was first learning to read, his little brother was just starting to sit down and listen to stories. Little brother’s early favorite has been Mo Willems‘ Elephant & Piggie series. At first, I read them both the stories. Then, I would voice Piggie while Max would voice Elephant. We still do that sometimes (over Thanksgiving Mamaw and Papaw voiced the characters), but more often it is big brother reading to little brother, complete with silly voices and expressions.

It. Is. Adorable.

Last year for Christmas, Mason got several Elephant & Piggie books, and we soon had them all memorized. A few favorites are “There is a Bird On Your Head!” and “Let’s Go For a Drive!

I love to encourage reading and a love of books, so one of the car games we play is Story Hot Potato, where each person takes a turn making up a sentence of a story. Max and I started this when he was little and loved Dora. I would make up Dora stories following the Nickelodeon pattern (Hi, I’m Dora! And I’m Boots. We have a problem! Map will help us solve it. Get past three obstacles. We did it! Problem solved!), and he quickly learned to do the same. Sadly, we didn’t capture any of these stories (some were hysterical, and I wish I’d recorded them).

I didn’t realize fan fiction is what we were doing then, and I honestly just realized that’s the term for what we did recently when we wrote our own Elephant & Piggie book in the style of Mo Willems. However, I just saw an actual definition of fan fiction, so I guess that’s what we can call it.

To further our love of Elephant & Piggie, Max thought up this story and wrote the words, and I did my best to illustrate it by copying the characters’ poses in Willems’ different books. Max is quite proud of it. I hope you enjoy it!

elephant and piggie fan fiction

I See A Monster! By Max Shook Illustrated by Jaymie Shook in the style of Mo Willems

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“Where’s Gerald?”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

(Looks left, looks right)

elephant and piggie fan fiction


elephant and piggie fan fiction

“I think…I’m alone. It is getting dark.”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

(Creak) “Gerald?”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“It’s a…A MONSTER!”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“Save me Gerald!”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“What’s wrong, Piggie?”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“There was a monster!” “A monster?”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

Really? thinks Gerald. “A scary monster!”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

(Both see a monster.) “Aggghhh!”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“You were right, Piggie!” “I was.”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“Hi, guys. Did you see my shadow?” “Your shadow?!”

elephant and piggie fan fiction

“Bye bye!” (Plink) (Plonk)

elephant and piggie fan fiction

The end.





Sit still before Mommy screams!

Back in October, Max and I received and reviewed two books in the Mini Myths series by Joan Holub, illustrated by Leslie Patricelli (and gave them both 5 snacks!). One was about Hercules and being gentle, especially with little kids, which is an excellent lesson for a new big brother like Max. The other was about Pandora and being patient, which is an excellent lesson for … pretty much any preschooler, including Max!

We were lucky to recently receive the two new additions to the Mini Myths series from the author in exchange for an honest review: Brush Your Hair, Medusa! and Make a Wish, Midas!

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.10.23 AMMake a Wish, Midas! equates the king of myth with a little boy who can’t get enough of the color yellow. When Mommy picks out a blue shirt and jeans, he finds his own yellow t-shirt and pants. He draws a yellow sun, a yellow house, and even a yellow Mommy! Midas’ best friend is a green dinosaur, which is a problem. He wants to be surrounded by yellow! He figures out a way to turn Dinoboo yellow, but it doesn’t work out how he thought it would, and Midas is sad.

Luckily, Mommy is able to fix Dinoboo, and Midas learns to appreciate what he has rather than wishing for something else. Great lesson in our world full of materialism!

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 9.10.09 AMIn Holub’s other tale, Brush Your Hair, Medusa!, Medusa is a little girl with crazy hair. Her curls stick out in a wild wave around her head, and she puts off using her hairbrush anyway she can. (Can’t really blame her: I wouldn’t want to try to get a brush through those tangles either.)

I struggled with finding a lesson out of this story. I would say that Medusa learned to listen to grownups, but at the end you can tell from her mischievous grin (which is super adorable) that she didn’t plan on letting Dad brush her teeth anymore than she allowed him to brush her hair. What I finally landed on was using Medusa’s experience to explain consequences for not doing what parents ask you to do:

Because Medusa wouldn’t let her daddy brush her hair, they had to cut it off!

Make a Wish, Midas! deserves 5 snacks for the beautiful illustrations that elicit so much emotion from the characters and the lesson to appreciate what you have.

Snacks for Max 5 snacks

Brush Your Hair, Medusa! deserves 4 snacks for the cute depiction of a well-known myth.

Snacks, Gerber

Why literacy is so important (and how you can help)


You can help!

Go to and donate to First Book before Friday at 8 pm EST. We’re in the top left quadrant of the bracket. Follow the directions on the page. Thank you for your support in giving books to low income Indy area kids!

Please share to raise awareness about Team First Book and the Brackets for Good competitive giving challenge.

Saving, spending, giving – for kids!

An author I’ve worked with in the past reached out to me recently about her new children’s book, “Nana’s 3 Jars“, so I was thrilled to accept a copy for review. Carol Round’s previous book I’d worked with her on was “Journaling with Jesus” about prayer journaling for adults. I took part in her challenge – journaling daily during Lent – and saw a huge difference in my thinking as I did so. So, when Carol asked me to read her book with my boys, I was happy to do it!

3 jarsEven before we opened the book, Max was excited. “It’s for 3 year olds!” he said (because of the 3 on the cover). Once we opened it and started reading, he immediately related to the boy and girl in the story who were on their way to Nana’s house to spend the day. Our boys spent two nights with my parents recently and did all sorts of fun things – including playing with all the big kids at church who my parents teach in Sunday school. Max loved it. (Mason is happy anytime people smile at him, talk to him, or hold him, at this point, which means he’s a very happy baby!)

In the story, the sister and brother learn from Nana what it means to set apart money for spending, for saving, and for giving. This financial lesson is one that I’m convinced we all need. I love the idea of teaching it right from the beginning of a child’s understanding about money. One way the children in the story internalize the lesson is by using some of the giving money to buy ingredients and make cookies, which they then take to share with veterans.

One of Max’s favorite things to do is help make dishes in the kitchen. We’ve been on a waffle kick lately, since my waffle maker is so easy to use. He loves pouring in each ingredient, stirring, and watching the ingredients become a meal or a “dessert item” as he calls them. That has to come from the babysitter 🙂 Carol includes a chocolate chip cookies recipe that I’m dying to try!

For the financial lesson and the recipe especially, “Nana’s 3 Jars” deserves 4 snacks:

Snacks, Gerber

What books to buy kids this Christmas

Now that Halloween is over, Christmas takes over. Decorations come out, carols come on, and kids’ list grow and grow. To help with your gift giving, below are links to our 5 snack reviews from the past several months:

These books are great for boys and girls from birth to preschool. Will you promote literacy this holiday season? Let me know what books you give as presents!

Halloweensie Challenge: No Tricks, Just Treats

Susanna Leonard Hill is offering a writing challenge for Halloween, with plenty of treats for several winners. The challenge? Write a story 100 words or less, including the words “pumpkin”, “creak” and “broomstick”. Then paste your blog link in the comments of her post by midnight after you trick or treat this Friday. Read more on her blog.

My entry:

No Tricks, Just Treats

Max loved movies. One day, Max watched a movie about a pumpkin and got an idea.

He tiptoed around the house, collecting what he needed. First, he gathered a piece of orange paper and a hat. Then, he found a broomstick. Last, he grabbed the iPad.

Later, Max displayed his movie. Daddy smiled when the pumpkin dressed as a witch, gasped when a creak frightened her hat off, and chuckled when she lost her broom. Best of all, he hugged Max when another pumpkin helped pick up the hat, find the broom, and offered a Halloween treat.

Max loved movies!

If you participate in the challenge, please leave your story or link in my comments too, so I can be sure to read it. Happy Halloween, friends!

A cupcake a day keeps the whining at bay

Some lessons you just HAVE to teach your kids. Being gentle with babies and small children, waiting for turns quietly rather than screaming and throwing fits, and learning to love reading are three top ones, to me.

Mini-Myths-Holub-1024x789Knowing Max needs to work on these things, I was thrilled to receive for review two board books from Joan Holub’s Mini Myths series, “Be Patient, Pandora!” and “Play Nice, Hercules!”

We started off with Hercules, first because it featured a boy, second because Max loves the Hercules Disney movie, and third because I’ve found myself saying “play nice” quite a bit since May. Luckily my five-month-old is laid-back because his brother likes to play rough. The board book format is perfect because I can read it to both boys at the same time and not worry about the baby ripping or drooling all over the pages; rather, the only problem is the possibility of Max throwing the books at nap time or bedtime because he’s “NOT TIRED” – yeah right – but I digress.

In “Play Nice, Hercules!” the character, just like my toddler, plays a little too rough with his little sibling. Hercules’ father has eyes in the back of his head (or just knows the nature of toddlers) and asks when he walks by, “Are you being nice, Hercules?” This is enough of a reminder to Hercules that he starts to play nicely with his sister without threats from Dad. Perhaps rereading this book a few thousand times will teach Max that lesson!

Next we moved on to “Be Patient, Pandora!” which also fit in well with our household experiences. Little man doesn’t wait well. I’ve been trying to teach him with the mantra “What is being patient? Waiting without whining!”

In the book, the little girl finds a wrapped present that her mom tells her to leave alone. While Pandora keeps herself from straight out opening the box, she gets a little closer to it, nudges it, stands on it, and jumps on it. When she jumps on it, the box opens by itself, and ruined cupcakes fly out. Pandora is worried that her mom won’t love her anymore, but of course Mom banishes that thought quickly. Great lesson, though. Next time Max starts to whine, I just have to remind him that he might ruin the cupcakes!

At the end of each story is a page that summarizes the myth. While it’s a lot of text on one page for my boys right now, I do love the introduction to Greek mythology. It was one of my favorite concepts to learn in elementary school!

Joan Holub’s Mini Myths earn five snacks:

Snacks for Max 5 snacks

Happy working song – for trucks!

Max is always singing. “The ABCs”, “Jesus Loves Me”, “Twinkle Twinkle”, Lee Brice’s “I Don’t Dance”, and Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” are his favorites, but really anything can get him singing. His favorite moments of movies are the end credits, when they play music.

“Let’s get up and dance, Mommy!” he always says. Usually this is at home, though, we did boogie a week ago at the theatre after The BoxTrolls.

Sing Along Construction Song - CoverCombine this love of singing with the kid’s love of Bob the Builder and his team of trucks, and you could say that Max was a bit of a fan when we played “Sing Along Construction Song” and paged through the book. Okay, a huge fan!

Louise Lintvelt’s book follows along a construction crew (the automobiles, not the humans) as they spend a happy day at work. Illustrator Julie Sneeden does a great job of making the trucks look happy and inviting. Sung to “Round the Mulberry Bush”, the story introduces readers to the jobs of each truck, as well as to the idea that work can also be fun. I’d like Max to realize that work is not some sort of death sentence!

I should add that my four-month-old also loves to listen at story time, and – while he usually gets the smiliest baby award anyway – he laughed and smiled the whole way through this sing along.

“Sing Along Construction Song” deserves 5 snacks!

Snacks for Max 5 snacks

Kid Lit Blog Hop #46

Welcome to the 46th Kid Lit Blog Hop where we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children’s books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists. So, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors!

We are pleased to be welcoming a few co-hosts this week: Stanley & Katrina, who have just released their latest book, The Observations of the Obstreperous Animals (Stanley & Katrina Book 2) and Rebecca, the author behind the book blog, A Book Long Enough. Welcome to Stanley & Katrina and Rebecca!

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Kid Lit Blog Hop" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Kid Lit Blog Hop" style="border:none;" /></a></div>


Kid Lit Blog Hop Rules *Please Read*

1. We ask that you kindly follow your hosts. You can follow us any way you choose (Email, GFC, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, etc.), but we’ve added our preferences below. If you could just give us a quick “follow” or “like” that would be much appreciated! Make sure to leave us a message if you are following us (i.e., on Twitter or Facebook or on our websites) and we will be sure to follow you back. Thanks! 🙂


Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews Facebook * Twitter

Jaymie @ Snacks for Max Twitter * Facebook

Katie @ Youth Literature Reviews Twitter * Facebook

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger Twitter * Facebook

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger Twitter * Facebook

Reshama @ Stacking Books Twitter * Facebook

Stacie @ BeachBoundBooks Twitter * Facebook

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom Twitter * Facebook

Maria@ Music Teaching and Parenting Twitter * Facebook


Stanley & Katrina, Pawthors Twitter * Facebook

Rebecca @ A Book Long Enough Pinterest * Facebook

2. Link up any Kid Lit related post. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.

* Don’t link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post.*

* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one. Please link unique posts each time ~ no repeats please. *

* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*

* Feel free to link more than one post.*

3. Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS directly ahead of your own and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you!

4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you’re linking up. If you’d prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links!

5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!

Interested in co-hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop? If you’ve joined us before, you are welcome to join us again! Please email renee @ motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com and put Co-Hosting Blog Hop in the subject line.

Happy Hopping!

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