Be My Valentine – homemade, paper valentines

February 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

Remember making Valentines at the kitchen table from paper, ribbon and the odds and ends, your mom collected?  Here’s an easy, homemade kid’s craft that will help you to create some special Valentine memories with your child!

From The More the Merrier: Craft Book for Groups


    Download Candy Cone Pattern HERE   


How Old is Old?

November 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

It is thought that the oldest human being lived to be one hundred and twenty-two years old. That seems like a long time, until we consider the age of planet Earth.  Humans, even the old ones, were here for less than the blink of an eye on the planetary timeline!

Even, Mother Earth herself is a youngster in relation to the other planets in our solar system. And our solar system … just a baby in a sky full of stars whose age challenges our calculating capabilities!

So what IS really old? 

Wisteria needs to find out!

In Wisteria’s Show and Tell Spectacular: Older than the Dinosaurs,Wisteria, the self-proclaimed Queen of Show and Tell must bring in something really old for this week’s assignment.

She begins her search in the kitchen, but all she finds is an old petrified bagel, some moldy cheese and a few wilted daises.

Next she tries her bedroom but nothing there is even as old as she. Frustrated, her mother suggests they take a walk in the park.  There she meets her neighbors who look like they’re pretty old.

“Hi!” said Wisteria, “I need some help with Show and Tell.  Are any of you really old?”

“We’re older than you, but we’re not really old if you’re thinking in terms of the dinosaurs,” Mrs. Miller replied.  “I’m almost seventy, but my father calls that young.  He’s ninety-two.”

“And I’m just in my eighties,” said Mr. Mac, “so you can leave me be.  I’ve heard about those Show and Tell spectacles at your school.”

“Oh, don’t be such a crab,” said his wife, Mrs. Mac.

“Wisteria, I think I can help.  My job as a geologist is to find things that are very, very old, even older than the dinosaurs.”

“Older than the dinosaurs?  Wow!  How far would we have to go?”

“Just to your backyard.  I’ll meet you there at three.”

With Mrs. Mac’s help, Wisteria was ready for another one of her famous Show and Tell Spectaculars!

Share the fun, learn about what’s older than the dinsaurs on our Fun Stuff page.

The Hippotherapy Horse

September 15, 2012 § 3 Comments

For me the word hippotherapy conjures up a cartoon image of a hippopotamus sprawled out on a psychiatrist’s sofa.  But in fact it has nothing to do with hippos. It’s derived from the Greek hippos (horse), and literally refers to treatment or therapy aided by a horse.

Hippotherapy rose to prominence in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the 1960s, as an adjunct to traditional physical therapy. A specially trained horse and horse handler applied the practices of physiotherapy to the horse’s gait, tempo and cadence. These movements were carefully modulated to induce neuromuscular changes in the patient (rider).

Today hippotherapy is used to treat patients with a broad range of neurological and other disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome, spinal cord injury, and behavioral disorders.

If you have ever witnessed equine-assisted activities first hand, you know that there is a special bond formed – an exchange of trust and caring between the rider and the horse. In my opion this bond creates a feeling of emotional wellbeing that is just as important to the patient as the physical aspects of the treatment.

For older horses, these programs can be a kind of emotional rebirth – a second chance to put their years of experience and patience to work in aiding these handicapped riders.

In 2013 Shenanigan Books will release a new title Journey written by sisters, Lisa Chambers and Jennifer Walters, which describe the life of one such horse.

Star was born on a starry night in a country backyard. The little girl who saw him learn to stand would learn to ride, and share with him many happy memories.  But one day the girl wasn’t little anymore.

“I’m going away to school,” she told him, as tears spilled onto his cheek.  But she made him a promise.  “You can’t stay here by yourself.  I’ll find you a new home.”

And so the horse began his long journey to find a new owner–which finally brought him to a hippotherapy riding stable.  There, he gets a new name, Journey, and his purpose in life is renewed.

The book’s illustrator Karelyn Siegler has captured the spirit of Journey in her beautiful watercolor painting!  Here is a sneak peek of Journey’s inspiring story and amazing artwork.

The Real Booster Bogg

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment



Everyone always says that life imitates fiction, but perhaps it was never truer than in the story I’m about to tell. 

Somewhere wandering the streets of the small town of Elephant Butte, New Mexico, a real life dog named Blue Boy is mirroring the adventures of the canine star of The Ballad of Booster Bogg – a book we released just a few months ago.

When Booster’s author, Ellen Jackson, read about Blue in the New York Times, she was amazed by the similarities between the two stories.  Immediately, she sent a copy of her book to Blue’s friend, Janice, mentioned in the Times article.

“I will always cherish it because it will always be a reminder of the love people have shown our Blue boy” Janice responded upon receiving the book.
Although Janice and many other folks in Elephant Butte love Blue, none will say they are his owner.  Which reminds us all, that in both fact and fiction there will always be some dogs who consider owners and leashes to be optional!

There, of course, is where the two tales meet and our friends face a common problem – those laws requiring dogs to have owners and to be walked on a leash.  The ones that turn Blue and Booster into outlaw dogs!

But read on …and you just may find the secret to keeping these lovable wanderers legal:



City Divides and Unites for a Dog Called Blue   By 

A Brand New Rainbow

June 25, 2012 § 4 Comments


From 1983 to 2009 actor LeVar Burton produced and narrated PBS’s popular TV show, Reading Rainbow.

Diehard reading advocates were skeptical at first … because it was, after all,  collaborating with the enemy –TV. Each episode took children on a field trip connecting their adventure with the stories in the books featured. The show’s cool music, craft projects and adventures tricked kids who just wanted to watch television, into reading a book. The show’s popularity grew and its 26-year run was the third longest in PBS history.

When the show ended in 2009, LeVar and his friend, producer Mark Wolfe, began hatching a plan to make Reading Rainbow cool again.  This time, the medium wasn’t a big silver screen with dials and buttons, but the new, digital variety that fit in your lap and worked by touch.  Their creation combined the classic story and field trip elements of the original show with state-of-the-art graphics and interactive technology … making Reading Rainbow into one of the hippest apps available for the Ipad.

I am delighted to announce that Shenanigan Books is one of contributing publishers for Reading Rainbow apps. LeVar has narrated several of our books himself and hand selected the perfect voices used for our books.

As a publisher, parent and a lover of books, I’m aware that some parents still want to select a book from a real bookshelf as opposed to the digital one on their Ipad.  And I say “why not?”  But if your children love all things digital, these new apps just may reel them in … and put reading on their list of cool things to do.

So “Take a look…it’s in a book”… whether that book is digital or in print!

Don’t let the Bedbugs Bite!

May 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

My mother-in-law always believed that the only good bug was a dead bug, so there were always ant traps on her counters and cans of bug spray under her sink. Her war on insects invited numerous pranks, perpetrated by her four bug-loving grandsons. Plastic spiders, gummy worms and chocolate covered ants were planted on her dinner plate on a regular basis.

When I first read the manuscript for our new release Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite, the idea of cohabitation with a bug struck me as something kids would immediately understand, and adults could perhaps learn.
I had after all learned the lesson myself, when I first noticed that my tiny “kitchen counter ants” were springtime-only creatures.  I wondered where they came from–and why they chose to move inside when the weather was getting warmer outside–and spent many years trying to get rid of them.  Then I finally realized that just like any unwanted house guests, if I tolerated them for a few weeks they’d quietly go away.

So put down your bug spray and pick up a copy of  Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite!  Its clever rhymes and comical illustrations will get you thinking bugs really aren’t so bad!


National Postcard Week May 6-12th

April 28, 2012 § 1 Comment

During what promised to be another drab fourth grade English class, I was introduced to rules of formal letter writing.  Using my Schaffer blue ink fountain pen (ball point pens were not allowed in Catholic school) my assignment was to improve my penmanship by writing a letter, following the examples in our textbook.

The letter, addressed to an unknown recipient, Jane Smith, began, “Dear Mrs. Smith, It was a great pleasure to have made your acquaintance last summer.  How is the weather there? We are having a lot of rain here.”

Copying the format of the example letter was excruciatingly boring. But then my teacher made an announcement that changed everything.

“Our next assignment will be to write a letter to a real person.  Each of you will be given the name of a child in Europe.  This child will be your Pen Pal for the rest of the school year.”

Another kid!  Someone who lived on the other side of the world!  And the best part: I ‘d get some cool foreign postage stamps.  No more talking about the weather.  I could ask questions about clothes, movies, sports and of course … boys.

My Pen Pal was a girl from Holland, Alexis Bergen.  Unlike the kids in my class, she was not just improving her penmanship.  She was also learning English.  So for quite a while, our letters were limited to talking about the weather!

When I was finally old enough to see Europe for myself, I discovered, the postcard.  It offered the same joy of receiving and sending mail without the drudgery of filling up an entire letter-sized page with words.

And then there where the pictures…glimpses into places I wanted to go, places I’d been and reminders of some of the happiest days of my life.

Nowadays, my handwritten correspondence is limited to “I’m going to be late, dinner is in the oven”, “Dear FedEx guy, leave the package on the porch” or “Please excuse Harry for being late to school, he….”

Yes, modern day life doesn’t always leave us time to communicate in words that are perfectly composed, carefully thought out and inherently romantic. But even these mundane messages are somehow forgivable when written on an interesting postcard!

So, this week being National Postcard Week, I’m encouraging you to send a postcard to a friend, either a traditional printed postcard or an electronic postcard.

CHICK HERE to send an electronic postcard from “52 Weeks of Peace.”

CLICK HERE to order “52 Weeks of Peace” postcard book.  

Everyone loves to get mail!

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