BOOKS ON MONDAY: The Greatest Place–China’s Forbidden City

By Leslie Lindsay

Holy cool book for kids about China! What a fun, engaging history of the Forbidden City for young readers. I especially loved the softly-hued watercolor and ink illustrations, the cut-outs, fold-out pages, and lift-the-flap details. The middle fold-out map is spectactular with details galore, depicting the inner workings of the Forbidden City from tailor to government building, doctor, and even the “gossip center.”

THIS IS THE GREATEST PLACE: THE FORBIDDEN CITY AND THE WORLD OF SMALL ANIMALS is a beautifully executed storybook with a strong historical-cultural message, bringing daily life, nature, and architecture together for all generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Hands down, IN THE FORBIDDEN CITY by Chiu Kwong-chiu (translated by Ben Wang) is a force to be reckoned with. No where have I come across such a thorough and highly detailed account of the Forbidden City. Serving as the seat of imperial power for over six centuries, the Forbidden City is one of China’s most famous–and engimatic–landmarks.In the Forbidden City

The book is large–and I mean that in size and sheer volume of information revealed. You will walk into the detailed line drawings of the buildings, gardens, courtyards, and more through impressive gate-fold pages with historical and architectual highlights peppered throughout. Whats more–you’ll find a magnafying glass in the back of the book to scrutinize the tiny–and miraculous–details in well, more detail. This is a book you’ll want to spend multiple settings with over the course of time.

Part history, part culture, part architectual studies, one will walk away from this book with a better understanding of Chinese traditional culture and design. A must for every well-stocked classroom or library and for many Chinese-American children, big and small.

For more information, please see:

We All Live in the Forbidden City Exhibit

Design and Cultural Studies Workshop, Hong Kong

Little Steps, for kids

[Special Thanks to PRbytheBook for introducing me to these amazing book. Image source: 10/27/14]


Books on Monday: New BULLY PREVENTION Titles for October

By Leslie Lindsay

October is not just AD/HD Awareness Month, but also BULLY PREVENTION MONTH…so, with that in  mind, I have a couple of new books I’d like to introduce.

Written by a husband-wife team of Family Practice docs (one’s an MD, the other is a phyisician’s assistant), we delve into the fictional world of Danny the Wizard Lizard and Bli the Fly, both of whom are friends, but at the opposite sides of the food spectrum. Because the Dugi’s saw an gap on their young daughter’s bookshelf, they created THE PRINCIPLE GANG series, a collection of six books for children ages 4-11 that bring to life the classic message parents have been conveying to children for centuries–family, friendship, and community.

DON’T JUDGE A LIZARD BY HIS SCALES (book #1 in this series) begins in media res, that is–it starts right in the middle of the action–which is a new twist on children’s literature. Since we tend to talk a lot about how we chose friends, qualities to look for, etc. around our house, this particular book really resonated with my kids. They immediately stopped what they were doing, clamored into my lap (well, my 7 year old, anyway), and listened to the story.

 We meet Bli-the-fly who wants to be friends with a lizard. They seem to have much in commnon–except flies are typically eaten by lizards. The voices of Bli and Danny (the lizard)are immediately innocent and engaging, a big win for my kids.The book reminds me a lot of the popular 1980’s series, THE GET-A-LONG GANG, but with a slightly more up-to-date premise. At the end of the book, you’ll find simple suggestions for expanding the discussion with your kids, as well as some “just for grown-ups” tips and hints. For example:
  • As a parent, it is important to take an active and involved role in your child’s friendships
  • Find out who your child is making friends with and help them chose wisely
  • If you are guilty of casting judgement on your children’s friends based solely on how they look, take step aback and reevaluate the message you send to your children.
  • Start a discussion about friendship, loyalty, integrity.

Book #2 in the Principle series is WIZARD LIZARD RIDES THE SUBWAY. Because Bli the fly and Danny the Lizard have received such positive praise for their efforts to rid the world–school-community of bullies, the school counselor registers the two for a national anti-bullying conference located in New York City. After a trek to the city, the “kids” experience big city sites such as food carts, speeding taxis, skyscrapers, and the subway. At the conference, the two explain their three priniciples for being a friend and have succeeded in obtaining petitions from 132 students to be “bully-free.”

Since the first book has been released, the Dugi’s have launched  a “No Bullies Allowed” campaign for elementary schools. Every school that signsup with will receive a PRINCIPLE GANG No Bullies Starter Pack, which includes an introductory letter, full-color poster for the school library, and a power point presentation for classroom instruction.

Bullying in not just a school problem, but a community-wide issue. Here are some stats to back that up:

  • The average child has viewed 8,000 televised murders and 100,000 acts of violence before finishing elementary school.
  • 160,000 kids stay home everyday due to bullying.
  • 30% of kids who have been bullied claim to have brought a weapon to school.
  • 2 out of every 3 bullied kids become bullies themselves
  • In schools, where a bully prevention program is in place, the incidence is dropped by 50%.

For more information, please see:

The Priniciple Gang for interactive games, information, news, purchase book

LIKE ’em on Facebook!

[Special thanks to the authors and PRbytheBook for this important series. Image source: on 10.8.14, author image retrieved from on 10.8.14]


BOOKS ON MONDAY: Lovely Fall Books for your little ones

By Leslie Lindsay

Okay, so I have a big ol soft spot for basset hounds. Like an abyss. I love the jowly, low-slung hounds like nobody’s business and so when I spied this new companion to the NYT Bestselling LADYBUG GIRL at my local Indie bookseller, I can assure you I nabbed a copy.

In true Soman-Davis fashion, we follow along (well, lumber may be the better word) with Lulu and Bingo (beloved basset) as the family prepares for it’s autumnal festivities picking apples and jumping into to piles of crispy golden leaves. But, Lulu can’t decide what she wants to be for Halloween this year. At her brother’s suggestion, she should go as something different than her “usual,” (aka, Ladybug Girl). She goes through scores of costume changes in effort to find the best fit, but alas cannot decide on anything all that compelling. Finally, end the end Lulu finds that the decision is easy when she stays true to who she is deep down.

For me, it’s the illustrations that make this book. Rich, cozy line and ink and watercolor images make the story come to life. I absolutely adore Bingo, the way the artist is able to fully capture all quirks and indiosyncracies of the basset hound, it’s very fluid, engaging, and authentic.

Find more information on LADYBUG GIRL BOOKS here  [cover image retrieved from on 10.10.14]

FallLeaves_lresClassic, timeless, sublime fall display of the spirit of change that is in the air through the months of September through early December. FALL LEAVES is not just about leaves, but a sort of play on words as the days grow shorter, and the nights longer and fall no doubt–leaves.

FALL LEAVES is very sweet, transcendendalist, and almost mythic in it’s presentation. For young readers and adults, I guarantee you will fall in love with the exquistite illustrations–richly hued watercolors, and perhaps some mixed media with scraps of paper and marbling techinques–as well as the two characters who may very well be brother and sister as they explore the great outdoors, the fall air and time together.

A darling book worth a read this fall.

For more information, please see:

Elly MacKay, illustrator of FALL LEAVES, using her lovely light-box technique.

[images retrieved from on 10.10.14]





Book Review: BOY WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS by Penny Williams

By Leslie Lindsay

Okay, so you got to “meet” Penny Williams yesterday and today…well, you get to learn even more about about her stellar new book, BOY WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS (Grace-Everett Press, 2014). Oh, and today–October 8–just happens to be National Children’s Day.
Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD

As a mom of a daughter with AD/HD, I can say Penny Williams nailed it with this account of her boy’s AD/HD. Definitely a must-have for any well-stocked library on special needs–it speaks to educators, therapists, pediatricians, and so much more.

Wow. If you are looking for a frankly honest account of one momma’s struggle of raising a child with AD/HD, this is the book for you. In fact, I highly recommed it for just about anyone who deals with AD/HD from pediatricians to therapists–you’ll get a first-hand account of what us parents–mothers especially–go through on a day to day basis. Night, too. Because you know, there are times we just can’t sleep for thinking about our precious punkins with a special need. And yes, AD/HD definitely qualifies.

BOY WITHPOUT INSTRUCTIONS is well-written, in fact at times I wasn’t sure if I was reading a novel, memoir, self-help, or parenting book–it certainly encompasses all genres–and for that, it’s compulsively readable.

You’ll hear all about Penny’s struggles with getting a diagnosis, navigating an IEP, school woes, living on a moutain surrounded by bears (no kidding), boiling snow for water when power is lost, and struggles with helicopter parenting. This is momma uncensored. You’ll laugh, you’re not in recognition, you might even shed a tear or two.

Penny has yet another book due in just a month or so…be sure to check this one out, too. WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE NOT EXPECTING AD/HD

THE ADDed Benefits of AD/HD: Meet Penny Williams, AD/HD Veteran

By Leslie Lindsay

Award Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom. A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications, and co-founder of the annual Happy Mama Conference & Retreat, a weekend away for moms of kids with neurobehavioral disorders.

Seriously, what more could you want from a dynamo parent raising a middle-school son with AD/HD? How about another book? That’s right, Penny has another “baby” about to emerge into the world: WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE NOT EXPECTING AD/HD due out in November 2014.

Well, you’re in luck. We have just the thing for you: an interview.

Leslie Lindsay: You’ve been quite the AD/HD Ambassador! Not only do you keep an active blog/website, but you have written three books (one of which is an ebook) on the topic. Can you talk a bit about your fierce devotion to the topic?

Penny Williams: My fierce devotion to ADHD was born out of necessity. My son was not doing well in school. Punishments, no matter how extreme, were not affecting his behavior much. The school wasn’t offering any ideas as to the root of the problems, instead, his kindergarten teacher blamed us for not preparing him for school.

I checked out over a dozen books on school and learning struggles from the library, but didn’t feel any closer to answers. As I waited the three months for my son’s appointment with the behavior specialist, I decided to start blogging about my son’s struggles, hoping others with similar issues would find me and point me toward the answers I was so desperate to find.

Once my son was diagnosed with ADHD (only a few weeks after his sixth birthday in 2008), my blogging focus turned to ADHD, and parents on a similarly challenging journey began to follow and comment. The website ( took on a life of its own and grew to become a major resource for parents of kids with ADHD — a responsibility I hadn’t expected. I committed myself to blogging my experiences and news and information on ADHD regularly.

In 2013, I felt like I owed it to myself and my family to make ADHD move to a supporting role in our lives, and I gave up the website. Six months later, I found myself writing about ADHD feverishly, turning our story into a book, “Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD.” Now I’m right back in the thick of it, writing books on ADHD and blogging about our family again, too. I feel like community is so important for those of us parenting a child with ADHD.

L.L.: AD/HD has become such a hot topic in recent years. In fact, like the subtitle of your book, might AD/HD awareness alternate in “peaks and valleys?”

Penny Williams: ADHD certainly waxes and wanes as a topic of debate. It’s a hot-button issue and many exploit that for media exposure. Recently, when the CDC numbers came out that ADHD diagnoses are on the rise, and that 10,000 preschool children were on stimulants (check that stat), the media ran away with it.

I think ADHD symptoms wax and wane too. My son has periods where he does well and then periods where it all seems to be troublesome all at once.

L.L.: There are a lot of folks out there who would (and do) criticize the diagnosis of AD/HD, suggesting it’s not “real,” or that these kids are just “typically energetic,” or perhaps the worst of all—it’s poor parenting. As a former child/adolescent psych R.N., I know this isn’t true. Yet, folks will scoff when we say our child has AD/HD or needs to be on meds to control it. In what ways can we kindly—and diplomatically—set the record straight?

Penny Williams: I don’t know how to kindly set this straight. It’s my experience that people will believe what they want to, no matter what facts I present to them. In all honesty, I feel the urge to be very unkind to those who spout off about ADHD being bad parenting, too much TV or video games, or (my favorite) a diagnosis made up by big pharma to reap big profits. The fact is, you really don’t understand ADHD until you experience it and educate yourself on it. Before my son was diagnosed with ADHD, his dad and I believed that ADHD medication was essentially doping a spirited child into submission. We know nothing but public opinion until we take the initiative to seek the truth. Those who don’t have ADHD in their lives really have no motivation to seek the truth.

L.L.: I understand your son has made the transition to middle school this fall. Wow, what a change! We’ve got new school stuff going on, plus the dynamics of adolescence (read: puberty) going on. How can we all work together as parents, kids, and educators to make this as smooth a transition as possible? And what might you have liked to have known *before* he headed off to middle school?  

Penny Williams: Oh boy! Middle school! I had dreaded this time since my son was first diagnosed. Success in middle school requires exemplary executive functioning skills. What do most kids with ADHD struggle the most with? Executive functioning skills. The new demands of middle school are the exact skills our kids struggle with most — a recipe for disaster. Add hormonal changes into the mix (and kids who talk about sex freely, even though your kid is too immature to yet understand it), and it’s enough to make this momma run away screaming.

The best plan for this transition is to meet with the school ahead of time. My son started a brand new charter school for sixth grade, so we didn’t have the opportunity to meet teachers or even walk the halls of the school before the first day. I recommend the opposite, but I also knew this expeditionary learning environment would be good for my son, once they work through the initial growing pains of being a brand new school.

L.L.: How might parents balance the time and effort that goes into raising a child with AD/HD with that of other siblings?

Penny Williams: This is a touchy subject in our house, as I’m sure it is in many of yours. Realistically, a traditional “balance” isn’t possible. When raising a child with ADHD and a neurotypical child, the child with ADHD requires more attention. That’s just the cold hard truth. And getting siblings to understand wants and needs, and that equality and fairness are not one in the same is like trying to scale an icy mountain in high heels — it’s just about futile.

Instead of striving toward “balance,” make sure that you give your neurotypical child focused time just for them. I make sure to take my daughter out for chocolate, shopping by ourselves, or even for a walk by ourselves. She often comes to the grocery with me now to get time to ourselves. This has made a huge difference in our relationship (she once told our counselor that she was certain we were going to build an alter to her brother), and her understanding and compassion for her brother, and what I go through being his parent.

L.L.: One last piece of advice? Something I didn’t ask but should have?

Penny Williams: Momma self-care is crucial. The oxygen mask theory applies — you must take care of yourself first in order to do your best for others. Raising a child with ADHD, or any disability, is enormously stressful. Moms need respite and calm. Moms need to feel good about themselves, as that reflects on their interactions with others.

Self-care can be as simple as locking yourself in your room for 10 minutes of quiet each day, or exercising daily. Getting together with other moms who understand your parenting challenges is key too. Yes, our kids are our priority, but not at the expense of ourselves.

BOY WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, select bookstores, and via Ms. Williams’s website. Please consider writing a review on GoodReads, too!


Award-Winning Blogger. Freelance Writer. Author. Warrior Mom.

 A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, and a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny and get updates about Ricochet at

[cover and author images graciously provided by the author. Middle school image from www.ps87.info348 on 10.06.14 and world ADHD from on 10.6.14]