“The story of fry bread is the story of American Indians: embracing community and culture in the face of opposition.” – Kevin Noble Maillard
Told in a lively and powerful verse by debut author Kevin Noble Maillard, Fry Bread is an evocative depiction of a modern Native American family, vibrantly illustrated by Pura Belpre Award winner and Caldecott Honoree Juana Martinez-Neal.
Fry bread is food.
It is warm and delicious, piled high on a plate.
Fry bread is time.
It brings families together for meals and new memories.
Fry bread is nation.
It is shared by many, from coast to coast and beyond.
Fry bread is us.
It is a celebration of old and new, traditional and modern, similarity and difference.
Fry Bread is a unique story and one that we enjoyed reading. We love learning about different cultures and communities. Fry Bread provides us all that and so much more. At the end of the book, the author provides a very detailed note on how fry bread came to be and a bit of history on it. The author also goes into depth on each meaning to each piece such as Fry Bread Is Food which is an example of the ones you will find.
Absolutely loved reading these and it really gave us an inside look as to how this book was inspired and written. This was that extra special touch that truly made me enjoy this book more. However, this part was not as appealing to my daughter which was understandable as it was a lot of reading. I would recommend this piece for the parents to read. There is also the author’s very own Fry Bread recipe! If you love recipes, this is one that should be noted!
The story itself flowed and is worded beautifully. We also loved the illustrations as it brought the story to life. Fry Bread has a lot of heart and the author allowed us into his world in the most amazing way through a children’s book.
Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give it 5 stars out of 5! This book is recommended for children ages three to six. If you would like to purchase this book, please click here.
About the Author
Kevin Noble Maillard is a professor and journalist who lives with his family on the thirteenth floor of a 115-year-old bank in the heart of Manhattan. He is a regular writer for the New York Times and has interviewed politicians, writers, tribal leaders, and even some movie stars. When he was thirteen years old, he won a fishing derby for catching seventy-two fish in two hours. Originally from Oklahoma, he is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekusukey band. To learn more, click here.
About the Illustrator
Juana Martinez-Neal is an illustrator of books for children, including the Pura Belpre Award winner La Princesa and the Pea. She made her authorial debut in 2018 with Alma and How She Got Her Name, which was awarded the Caldecott Honor. Juana was born in Lima, Peru, where she grew up surrounded by amazing meals prepared by her mom and amazing paintings made by her dad and granddad. She now lives, eats, and paints in Scottsdale, Arizona, surrounded by her amazing children. To learn more, click here.
A family is defined as a set of parents living with their children. The definition of family is the group of people who share common ancestors. Those are the definitions you can see in the dictionary but family is really up to personal interpretation.
To me a family is people who love each other unconditionally. It does not matter who makes up your family or how many are in it. At the end of the day, the love that is shared is what should matter most.
Our Family Beginning
Every story has a “Once Upon A Time” and our family story is no different. It all started when a young lady fell in love with a handsome and sweet young man. They dated for seven years before getting married and it was a rollercoaster of a journey but they did it together. To them an ideal family would be to have two children as it only seemed fitting since everyone in the family were only having two children.
Unfortunately, not all families are made quickly or as planned. This is just how life goes. Thinking the struggle was over when they found out they were expecting; however, it was short lived when a miscarriage had occurred. There hopes and dreams of having a family seemed just that…a dream.
A few years after, a pleasant surprise had happen with another positive pregnancy test. But this time, nine months later through a difficult pregnancy, our family grew by one with the energetic little one that we call Nikki.
The adjustment into parenthood is never easy and it took (still is) a lot of tinkering along the way. As we grew with our daughter we started to see that one was plenty for us and our family felt complete. It didn’t always feel that way as we were always questioned as to why not add one more child. At one point we took that to heart and felt maybe we should consider adding one more. We seemed to have allowed that pressure to consume us once again and it was affecting my health. However, I quickly realized that it wasn’t worth all the extra stress and anxiety I was feeling. Of course with any life changing decisions we discuss it as a team as it takes a village to raise a child.
Only Child Syndrome
“Only child syndrome is the myth that only children are lonely, selfish, spoiled, impatient and maladjusted.”
We have heard that and more when raising our daughter. This was a big part of our discussions as we reviewed what would be best for our family. When looking at the definition and seeing my daughter, I couldn’t see it. We don’t see any of those characteristics in Nikki.
Luckily, Nikki isn’t locked in a tower like poor Rapunzel was for many years of her life. 😉 We expose Nikki to everything that life and people have to offer. We set up play dates and have her interact with people all throughout her life. She has many great friendships that she has built already in her five years of life and we nourish her to continue to build these friendships and build new ones. She is also surrounded by so many loving family members that we as adults help her maintain.
On the other side, we also personally know many people who have siblings who don’t even communicate or connect with. Therefore, having a sibling does not mean you have someone with you for life as they may not want to be part of your life. A sibling does not mean a life-long friend.
When you ask anyone that knows Nikki really well, knows that she is not selfish. Of course there can be moments that she may not want to share a favorite toy and that is absolutely normal as she is only five! However, she is very generous and shares with others.
This word in itself stings when I hear, read, or see it! I recall a couple of years back, a family member mentioning to someone I know that Nikki was a spoiled little girl. Of course as a momma bear I was going to call out on that person. But I stepped back and looked at their own family dynamics and knew they were just forecasting their own parenting style onto me. Nikki is very loved and we provide for her the best that we can. We feed her, cloth her and provide her shelter. There are many things that she asks for and she does not get as we can not afford to give her everything that she wants. With age she has learned that we need to be grateful for what we do have and know that we can’t get everything we want. She is our only child so it is natural that it would be easier for us to provide for her a few extras. In the process, we make sure she knows how lucky she is that this can be done. Throughout the year, we do donations to others in order to teach her how important it is to give back. Many times she goes through some of her really good toys and gives it to others who don’t have any. We even give away clothes that no longer fit to a family who is in need. Therefore, please don’t call a child spoiled as it is so hurtful to all.
I am not sure what child is patient with a sibling or not? Nikki can be patient and impatient as it all depends what she is excited for. I know many adults who are impatient as well and they have tons of siblings. Therefore, we knew not to worry and with age Nikki is getting much better in waiting. 😉
Nikki thrives in social settings and is sociable with all. Not to mention her amazing empathy towards others. It is something that even her teachers have noted in her report cards and we couldn’t be prouder. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another and it is one that can be hard for children to exhibit. I have been often asked if Nikki has any older siblings as she is so loving and caring towards others. Everyone is always shocked to hear that Nikki is an only child. I am never shocked as that is how we raised her.
Momma Braga Closing Thoughts
We support the decisions that families make for themselves. Everyone does and chooses what is best for them. My request to everyone as we end the year, is to be more accepting and loving to one another. Let us respect others and just give a listening ear when needed. Remember that whether someone decides to have no children or ten children, we shouldn’t judge or condemn them. The definition of “family” truly depends on how you see your family looking and not what others think it should look like.
After discussing it all and seeing how life is at this point for us…I turned to my husband and said “I am one and done.” He of course agreed and we couldn’t be happier with our family of three.
Thank you to all my amazing readers for all your love and support. This year we have had 30,000 readers and we are truly thankful!!!
“LeapStart 3D is a tool that awards little ones with the gift of reading and we love it!” – Momma Braga
LeapStart® 3D is a complete learning system that magically brings books to life with audio and then enhances the learning with corresponding 3D-like animations.
There is so much to learn with this amazing tool and of course our good friends at LeapFrog are the ones bringing it to us.
Let’s leap right on in and give you some of our highlights and where it lands on the #MelAndNikkiReview.
It’s All In The Details
The fine details is what sets products apart and LeapFrog did not miss a beat with this one.
It features touch-and-talk games, creative challenges, problem-solving puzzles, math mazes and more for children between the ages of two and seven. There is more than 30 activities in every book – amazing! Talk about keeping the little ones entertained and learning all at the same time.
This detail is super adorable and just enhances the learning experience. The 3D-like animations helps kids better understand the learning concepts. It is also a great way to engage the child as the animations are a great addition.
Multiple Book Levels
You have the option of selecting books that fit to your child’s level and what areas you would like them to learn. We absolutely love this option and there are more than 25 different activity books that you can pick from. You can progress from preschool to first grade. *Please note that you do need to connect the system to your computer in order to download the books onto the learning system.
Abundance of Learning
You can expect lots of learning and fun to be had with the LeapStart® 3D. Each book seamlessly blends fun with skills from problem solving to learning to read that are important to a child’s development for a comprehensive introduction to key concepts.
“With LeapStart 3D, children engage with real books packed with activities to build key skills from counting and problem solving to phonics and vocabulary. LeapStart 3D adds a new dimension to learning as children can visualize the meaning of words and learn about shapes and geometry concepts with 3D-like animations.” – Carolyn James, PhD, LeapFrog Literacy Expert
LeapStart® 3D has been an amazing tool in our household as we have been working with it for about a full month. We have seen the growth in Nikki’s reading skills and her love for reading has doubled since we started LeapStart® 3D. We always think that products provide a skill to us; however, we are saying that LeapStart is awarding us with such an amazing skill. To see your child with pure joy in their eyes when they recognize a word and read it out loud…it is priceless and so awarding to hear!
Nikki loves using the pen to go over the words to learn each one. This helped her learn and grasp the sounds of each letter. Then she was able to put all the sounds together to read the words. We still have a lot more practicing to do but she is able to do more now than she ever has before. We feel that we got the best Christmas present ever and that is the gift of reading. We love all the different book options available and with all of Nikki’s favorite characters too! She doesn’t know it yet but for Christmas there are a few more books for her to read under the tree. 😉
LeapFrog truly put in a lot of time and planning to execute LeapStart 3D as it does award children and parents with an amazing tool. It is reassuring to know as a parent that there are products so great that can offer us a helping hand in the development of our children. This is why we give the LeapStart® 3D10 stars out of 5! It is fun, compact, operates on battery power and has loads of learning at the fingertips of your child. It is also very safe to use. We love the use of technology but it is done in a simple way. It isn’t over powering and does not take away from the basics of learning. We highly recommend it! It would make the perfect gift this holiday season or any other time of the year.
Thank you LeapFrog for making this momma feel so much better about her daughter’s learning progress! If you would like to purchase one, click here. We truly do love it!
A million twinkling lights greet you as you enter the Toronto Congress Centre this holiday season as they host Glow Toronto. Noted as a must see event for the whole family this holiday season, we got to experience it first hand and we are excited to share our thoughts, feelings and tips.
“Experience a family-friendly indoor Wonderland as you celebrate the magic of Christmas and help the elves uncover Santa’s lost presents! Enjoy interactive light gardens, illuminated structures, delicious food, festive drinks and daily live entertainment all under the twinkle of a million lights.” – Glow Toronto
Christmas Light Gardens
Walk through the light gardens and take that perfect photo that you are looking for this holiday season. You have so many scenes that you can pick from and you can’t go wrong with what you chose. Everything is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking. The time and effort that was put in does not go unnoticed. Bravo to all who were involved in putting it all together.
There are so many different types of lights to see in the gardens such as the hanging lights which is ideal to take a selfie. There are also the hanging picture frames which we took advantage of too.
My favourite was the LED Swings as it truly brought out the kid in me and I loved every minute of it! We also can’t forget the Light Tunnel which lets you walk through a tunnel of lights. This tunnel is not dark and you can always see the light as you go through. 😉
Tip: Take your time going through each section as there is so much to see. With a little one it might be difficult so we recommend to go at their pace and let them enjoy all that Glow Toronto has to offer. Then either go back to see anything that you had missed or come back as a date night. 😉 We went back as we told Nikki that there was more magic to see. It worked!
Scavenger Hunt: Santa’s Lost Presents
You have been recruited (if you wish) to help save Christmas in this seek-and-find activity.
The mission is to help find all the missing presents. To play, all you need to do is get a play card which is provided when you enter. In the play card you see who has a missing present. Now it is your job to search through the gardens to see where they could be. When you do find one, Santa’s special helpers will be there to stamp the present you find.
Find all the missing presents and not only do you save Christmas but you get a special prize as well.
This was very fun for us and at one point I wasn’t sure who was more excited; the kids or the parents. Either way it is fun for the whole family.
Tip: Have fun! Seeing the glow in your child’s eyes when they have found them all, is all worth it!
Kid Friendly Activities
There is plenty for the kiddies to do at Glow Toronto and it will surely exhaust the most energetic of kids. I know that for a fact as Nikki was completely exhausted by the time she went home (best sleep ever!).
Here is what they offer for the children:
You can climb, slide and create your own adventure in the Magic Castle Playground! It’s indoors so no jackets are required but you do require shoes so please keep them on. 😉
Bounce your way right up to the North Pole on the Bouncy Reindeer. Nikki had a blast with the reindeers and it truly helped shake the energy off.
LED Hopscotch & Swings
Swoop, jump and tap to magically change the colours of the LED swings and hopscotch. It is fun for all ages including us parents!
Glen the Glow-comotive
All aboard! You can enjoy a short ride on the trackless train, Glen the Glow-comotive.
I know that many parents that were at the event thought the train ride was through the whole garden. However, it does not and it is only done in a small section of the venue with a mini garden in-between. This ride is perfect for children ages 12 and under with the company of an adult.
We enjoyed the mini ride. 🙂
What is a Christmas event without the big man?! You can take a holiday photo and whisper your Christmas wish to Santa at Christmas Glow.
You can even write your Santa letters at the event and put it in the mailbox. We didn’t want to pass on that opportunity so Nikki wrote her letter and mailed it off.
Tip: All photos with Santa are by donation and 100% of proceeds support local charities. To learn more about Santa at Glow Toronto, click here.
Glow Vendor Market & Food
The Glow Vendor Market is a great place to find unique gifts for that special someone or even for yourself! The best part of the market is that it features local shops from the community and they are one-of-a-kind handcrafted items that are available.
To learn more about what vendors you can see, click here.
There are a few food vendors available at the event if you are feeling hungry. There are also bars throughout the venue where you can enjoy a holiday drink while walking through the gardens. You can even purchase a Glow cup (for $9) and of course it glows!
Every night you can look forward to local artists and performers playing all your Christmas favourites live on stage. It adds to the magic as you walk through the gardens and enjoy all the festivities.
We all had an amazing time at Glow Toronto and we know that you are your family will enjoy it too! It is an event that I have never been to before and the fact that it is indoors is a huge bonus for us. We didn’t have to rush through and we got to enjoy all the activities without worrying about bad weather.
Glow Toronto is fun for everyone and it brings that Christmas magic that you hope to feel during the holidays. It truly brought out our inner glow and we are even more excited as we countdown to Christmas. It was captivating, breathtaking and full of magic. Moments that we can look back on and say we were there to experience the glow. It was time well spent where we laughed, had fun and created wonderful memories. This is what the holiday season is all about. It reminded me to embrace the joy that the holiday season can bring and enjoy it with those that you love.
A special thank you to Glow Toronto for having us there and to my sister-in-law for all the photos she took. We had so many and it was hard to only pick a few to share. Just imagine all the photos you can take too?! 😉
Make sure to buy your tickets in advance before they all sell out fast. Click here to start. If you are looking for one great event this holiday season to do, then this would be the one. This event is being held from November 28, 2019 to January 4, 2020.
Gobble! Gobble! It’s Thanksgiving under the sea, and Mr. Fish has much to be grateful for. Toddlers will love swimming along with the pout-pout fish as he turns little pouts into big smiles in this original board book.
Be Thankful, Pout-PoutFish is a great book for toddlers and a great introduction to Thanksgiving. The illustrations are vibrant and perfect for the wondering eyes of a toddler. You can’t help but feel grateful while reading along as it touches upon all the great points of the occasion. The rhyming helps to keep the litte ones engaged and it makes it much more fun to read too!
This would make a great addition to your family gathering. Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give it 5 pout-pout out of 5!
If you would like to purchase your own copy, click here.
Kitty does not like Thanksgiving. Kitty LOVES Thanksgiving. Specifically, Kitty loves turkey…and will do anything to get her paws on it. So, Kitty comes up with a plan but in perfect cantankerous cat fashion, can’t quite pull it off and ends up with the turkey (and all the fixins’) on her head. No, Kitty does not like Thanksgiving.
Oh Bad Kitty! We just love the books in the Bad Kitty series and this one is no exception. This book was a great hit in our home and we even read the book to some of Nikki’s cousins who enjoyed it from beginning to end. The storyline is so intriguing for little ones as they anticipate what is going to happen next as Bad Kitty always seems to get into a bit of trouble.
We love the important message that the book highlights which is that if you want something too much, it is best to wait for it. Good things comes to those who wait as they say. Bad Kitty learned the hard way and lost it all at the end. I guess that is what Bad Kitty gets. The bits of humor within the story is so great too.
There is an added extra with this story as it comes with stickers! It sure had the kids eyes light up when they each got a sticker at the end.
Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give it 5 turkeys out of 5!
If you would like to purchase your own copy, click here.
“A Christmas confection from the brilliant creator of the Lost House and The Lost Picnic!”
It’s time to decorate the tree for Christmas — but Grandad can’t find any of his ornaments! The hunt for the missing decorations takes the children up and down in Grandad’s bric-a-brac-filled house and out into a winter wonderland. And when every ornament is on the tree at last, Grandad has a wonderful holiday surprise in store.
The Lost Christmasis a tricky seek-and-find book that embraces the beginning of the Christmas season – decorating! This book is great to get the family all geared up the festivities with the first step to start it all. 🙂
We enjoyed the storyline as decorating is one of our favorite parts of Christmas and we can relate to misplacing some décor as we go along. 😉 The story is just sweet and we love how it shows the bond between grandchild and grandparent. The illustrations are vibrant as neon colors are used to bring the story to life. However, we did find it difficult to find the items on the pages. If you have some great seek-and-find little ones, then this is a great book for them.
Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReciew, we give it 4 ornaments out of 5! We enjoyed it and the seek-and-find concept was neat. Even though we couldn’t find many of the items. I guess we need to practice some more. 😉 There is an added surprise at the end and it is to seek out one more ornament back in the book. Therefore, make sure to go all the way to the end!
If you would like to purchase your own copy, click here.
About the Author
B.B. Cronin, an illustrator originally from Dublin, Ireland, is the author of The Lost House, which received a Gold Medal from the Society of Illustrators, and The Lost Picnic. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and The New York Times, and on the covers of Penguin Classics, among many other publications. He was honored by a one-person show at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin in 1998. He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, with the illustrator Juliette Borda and their two children. He divides his time between his kitchen, living room, and his stuido. To learn more about the author, click here.
“There’s an Elf in Your Book is witty, fun and asks the biggest question on all our minds…Did we make it on the nice list?” – Momma Braga
Ho, ho ho! There’s an elf in this Christmas picture book by bestselling children’s author, YouTube star, and musician Tom Fletcher!
Do you have what it takes to make Santa’s Nice List? An elf is here to test you in Tom Fletcher’s newest participatory read-aloud. Don’t let the elf trick you into being naughty! Just follow his instructions to sing Christmas carol, clap, burp…Hey, wait a second! Children will be delighted to participate in this satisfying holiday tale.
There’s an Elf in Your Bookhad us all participating in story time with this witty tale. Nikki was very excited when she saw it and needed to have it read to her right away. Since I wasn’t available at that very moment, the task was left for daddy dearest to read. 🙂 They both really loved reading it together and even my husband had a great time (that is the best compliment ever!). It became a family favorite instantly as my family was bragging all about it. Therefore, I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to read it too as I needed to join in the fun.
I have to admit that my family was right and their praises of the book were true. It was witty, fun and interactive! Since Nikki was an expert by the time I read it with her, she tried tricking me along with the mischievous elf. However, never fear as Momma Braga passed the test and I did in fact make it to the Nice List. 😉 It is a wonderful and uplifting story for little ones. We loved the story, illustrations and even the tricky elf.
You will have a blast reading this book with your child and just in time to get everyone in the Christmas spirit! Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give it 10 elves out of 5! It had us jingling with laughter.
This book is recommended for children ages three to seven and if you would like to purchase your own copy, click here. You won’t regret it! 😉
About the Author
Tom Fletcher loves Christmas! He’s a successful children’s author for various age groups, a YouTube star, a proud daddy, and a McFly band member. He has also collaborated with Greg Abbott on There’s a Monster in Your Book and There’s a Dragon in Your Book, which Kirkus Reviews called “an energetic and laugh-filled read-aloud.” Tom lives in England with his wife, author Giovanna Fletcher, and their three sons.
About the Illustrator
Greg Abbott is an illustrator and designer who lives in West Sussex, England. In addition to children’s books, he has created art prints, apparel, toys, greeting cards, and other merchandise.
A brand new Crayons’ book from the #1 New York Times best-selling duo Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers, just in time for the holidays.
‘Tis the season for all of us to write our holiday wish lists. But everyone – even the crayons – know the best presents are the ones that you give. In this unique book, readers get to see how Duncan, the crayons, and their families celebrate the holidays. With real, folded letters from the Crayons that you can pull from their envelopes and read, games, punch-out ornaments, a poster, and a pop-up tree, this book is the perfect gift for fans of The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home.
The Crayons’ Christmasbrings Christmas joy with many amazing surprises for young readers. It was one of Nikki’s ultimate favorite parts of the book! Every time we turned the page she would excitedly say, “Wow! Another surprise! I wonder what the crayons are sending this time?!” By having these surprises, it truly brought an interactive component to the story and we absolutely loved it. To us, it was like keeping the story fun going even after the story was done.
Not only does The Crayons’ Christmas bring the interaction out for your little ones but it brings that lovable humor that you can expect from The Crayons’ Series. It had me giggling all the way. 😉 Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give The Crayons’ Christmas 10 crayons out of 5! It brings humor, fun and the Christmas spirit all in one beautifully illustrated children’s book.
“This book is full of Christmas fun!” – Nikki, Age 5
If you would like to purchase your own copy and in time for Christmas, click here.
“Peppa Pig and the Christmas Play will show you the power of a promise in the most adorable way.” – Momma Braga
It’s holiday time, and Peppa Pig and her friends are busy getting ready for the Christmas play. Everyone has a part to play – elves, snowflakes, the tree, the shining star, even the Christmas nurse! Peppa is happy to be the Christmas fairy, but what she really wants is for Santa to come to the show. He said he would when she saw him at grocery store.
With the play about to begin, there’s no sign of the special guest, but Madame Gazelle says the show must go on. Will Peppa take the stage? Will Santa keep his promise?
Peppa Pig and the Christmas Play brings our favorite characters from Peppa Pig for some holiday cheer and fun. We loved the addition of the jolly man himself, Santa! Best of all they learn the power of a promise and that is truly magical!
“Santa never lets anyone down.” – Nikki, Age 5
If you have a Peppa Pig enthusiast in your home, then this is the perfect book for them. You also get a bonus with this book as it includes a coloring poster inside the jacket. So the holiday fun continues with Peppa!
Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview we give it 5 reindeers out of 5!
If you would like to purchase this book, click here.
You’ve got mail! When Maisy invites her friends to a holiday party, she receives several pull-out gifts that she’s happy to share with fans.
The holidays are coming, and Maisy’s friends are thrilled to receive invitations to her party. It will be fun to play games, tell stories, sing carols, and eat treats! Dotty, Eddie, Cyril, Tallulah, and Charley all send thank-you notes to Maisy, each with a little something she might enjoy. And Maisy has something to give to her readers as well! Kids will be excited to reach into the envelope pockets to find:
A simple gingerbread recipe
A book of jokes
A.small advent calendar
And a Christmas card from Maisy!
Maisy’s Christmas Party is absolutely adorable and the perfect addition to a little one this Christmas.
“I love opening the envelopes in the book and see all the surprises.” – Nikki, Age 5
Nikki loved seeing the surprises in each envelope and to be honest, so did I. It reminded me how the littlr things like writing a letter can add to the Christmas spirit. Maisy also gives all the readers a special surprise at the end too! Therefore, make sure to write the child’s name at the end to make it extra special when you are reading it. 😉
Therefore, for this #MelAndNikkiReview, we give Maisy’s Christmas Party 10 Gingerbreads out of 5! It won’t disappoint your little one and remember to enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones.
If you would like to purchase your own, click here.
Until next time…Happy Parenting!
– Momma Braga
*This book was provided in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are our own.