Super Ben's Dirty Hands - A Children's Picture Book Review

Title: Super Ben’s Dirty Hands
Author: Shelley Marshall
Illustrator: Ben Mahan
Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7660-3513-3
Reviewer: Karen Cioffi

What child doesn’t get his or her hands dirty? Well, Super Ben’s Dirty Hands addresses just this issue. Aimed at ages 5-8, and only 24 pages, this wonderfully colorful illustrated picture book will help make children aware of the importance of washing their hands, especially before eating. It also touches on the importance of sneezing into your arm, to help avoid spreading germs.

With colds, viruses and the flu making their rounds regularly, Super Ben’s Dirty Hands is a must have book to help introduce the topic of cleanliness, considerateness,  and staying healthy to young children . . . young children who are constantly touching toys, along with anything, and everything else in their path.

In a fun and engaging story, the little bear Ben, and his friend Molly, have an adventurous outing at the park. When it’s time to eat, Ben’s ready to dig in. But, sensible Molly reminds him of all the things they touched throughout the day. Ben readily agrees, “Let’s wash our hands. We do not want to be super sick heroes.”

With the knowledge that one of the best preventive strategies children and adults can take to prevent the passing of germs is washing your hands, it’s a good idea to instill this practice in little ones as soon as possible. Super Ben’s Dirty Hands will be a useful tool to accomplish this.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact me at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi. Sign up for the newsletter while you're there!

A Review of What is Electricity and Magnetism?

Title: What Is Electricity and Magnetism?
Authors: Richard and Louise Spilsbury
Publisher: Enslow Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 13: 978-0-7660-3096-1
ISBN: 10: 0-7660-3096-2
Reviewer: Karen Cioffi

I love books that teach children about the world around us, and Enslow Publishers’, What Is Electricity and Magnetism? by Richard and Louise Spilsbury, is one such book.

The topics: What is Electricity; Making and Storing Electricity; What is Magnetism; Electromagnetism; and Motors and Generators are explained in easy to understand text. And, each topic has color illustrations that will certainly help with a child’s comprehension.

What is especially useful in What is Electricity and Magnetism? is the Close-Up section in each topic. This section describes in detailed, yet simple language exactly how a particular subject, such as a battery, actually works:

All batteries have three parts: an electrolyte, a negative electrode, and a positive electrode. The electrolyte includes chemicals that can make electricity. The negative electrode is a metal case that surrounds the electrolyte. The negative electrode reacts with the electrolyte to make electrons flow.

The explanation goes on to further enlighten the child. And, along with the text, illustrations provide a visual of what is actually going on. The combination of thorough explanations along with explicit illustrations make for a powerful learning tool.

Along with this, What Is Electricity and Magnetism? features an extensive “hands on” section that provides fascinating and doable experiments. All children within the intended age group will love to explore science by working on projects such as building an electromagnet, building batteries, and creating a lemon cell.

I highly recommend What is Electricity and Magnetism? by Richard and Louise Spilsbury.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. For tips on writing for children OR if you need help with your project, contact me at Writing for Children with Karen Cioffi.

Fie on Ties: Let's Support Publishing and Fellow Authors on Father's Day!

My writing friend Carolyn Howard-Johnson is celebrating Father's Day with poetry this year. This is how:

How about literature for Father’s Day instead of ties or dinner?

We know ties are a cliché and in a few years, Dad won’t remember one Father’s Day dinner from another. Let’s face it, not all literature is created equal, thus some books are just as fleeting, though most would be a step up from a gift certificate and certainly would help support the industry that we believe important for the future.

I’m proposing—selfishly—poetry. Frugally!

First, you may have never given your father, grandfather, or a favorite father figure in your life a book of poetry. Thus, it will be memorable.
A small book of poetry will also be flattering. He will appreciate being treated tenderly. In fact, present a small chapbook with a single rose or gladiolus spray. Who says that only women want romance and tenderness in their lives!

Some of the readers of this blog could easily write a poem—even if they don’t think poetry their forte. Print it out on some lineny paper and present it with any other gift you may be giving.

You might choose to tuck it inside the cover of the Chapbook Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions that Magdalena Ball and I wrote for our Celebration Series of chapbooks. Our idea for this series is to have small books written for those who prefer something a little a little more literary than the typical greeting card, but still accessible for those who didn’t study literature in school. And at an affordable price. With cover art (and sometimes interior art) chosen from among our circle of talented writing and artist friends.

Most of our booklets are $6.95. We now have one for mothers (She Wore Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood,, one that says love (Cherished Pulse: Unconventional Love Poetry), and one for men and fathers (Imagining the Future). We’re working on one for Christmas (not the holidays, but Christmas). It will be called Blooming Red.

Think of your poetry presentation to Dad as a Father’s Day card; it costs little more than a really nice one. Or think of it as a tuck-in gift or a tie-on as part of the wrap. Any poetry book you choose can be made more personal if you tie in a little grosgrain or satin ribbon inside the crease of the book to be used as a bookmark.

And don’t forget the hug.

Here is a sample poem from Imagining the Future : It was originally published by Dash, a literary journal.

Long Before They Shut the Napster Down

my father collected blursounds
get out of town
downloaded into the night soft jazzy
lights, sweet pink smoke
the smell of Jack Daniel's hot
satin doll
to real applause, nothing canned

found in the night a voice
like a staccato bass Wes Bowen
at KSL croons ella and shearing
at midnight to benefit a crowd
of one, alone at the wheel
make believe

marimbas, smooth
lullaby of birdland
sweet humanbaby-whine of clarinets
and a moon
no electronic nothing
humthrum of base, brushswish metal on cymbals

tell you what it's all about
lucky to get it before they shut the music down
smokey joe's
dispenser of joy, free of charge
cut me a rose

Happy Father's Day!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

3 Key Phrases (Keywords) Needed to Create an Effective Website

All writers need a website; it’s just the nature of the writing business these days. But, just throwing a website up won’t cut it. You need to create an effective, engaging and appealing website.

According to a number of marketers, the most essential words on your site are: SIGN UP. These two little words are the building blocks of your empire. They are the link to developing a relationship with the visitors to your site.

With attention spans dwindling and competition increasing, the main goal of your website is to get email addresses that convert into sales. During an initial visit, your visitor may not have the time to spend browsing your site for information to entice him to make the decision to purchase your book or product. This is where those two little words come in; it takes less than a minute to type in a name and email address. And, if you have a FREE GIFT offer for signing up, you’ve made the sign up decision even easier.

While it’s important to offer that Free gift, which is considered an ethical bribe, if it’s of no value to the visitor, he probably won’t bother signing up. So, how do you decide if your gift is valuable enough to grab that email address?

The answer to this question is easy: you know who your target buyers are. Think about it . . . what do they want? What would you want? If your site and product is about writing, guess what…your visitors would probably appreciate an e-book on that topic, maybe a how to write guide. Or, if you’re into marketing…offer an e-book of marketing tips and guidance. If your site is about cooking, offer recipes, or an instructional cooking e-book. The idea is to establish yourself as an expert…as someone your reader wants to learn from. They need to want what you’re offering, whether it’s for instructional value, information, entertainment, or other

So, that’s pretty easy, right? But, a word of caution here: make sure your new subscriber is able to get his free gift. There are a couple of sites I’ve signed up to because I wanted the free offers. When I received the link to the offer, either the link didn’t work, or I couldn’t download the gift. Either way, I unsubscribe to the sites. I have on occasion sent an email to the site owner and ended up receiving the gift, but most often I don’t, and I’m sure others don’t, have the time to do this.

Just a quick note here: you need an opt-in box in order to acquire those email addresses. Services such as Icontact, GetResponse, and ConstantContact offer this service.

The next two words that are essential to every website that is selling a book or other product are, BUY NOW, or some other call-to-action. The call-to-action words or button needs to be visible and near the top of your home page. It should also be throughout your site on the sidebar. It’s been said over and over that only 1% of first time visitors will buy a product. It’s usually after developing a relationship through your newsletter, information, and offers that your potential customer or client will click on the BUY NOW button!

These are just three of a number of items that your website will need, but they are three of the most important.

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children’s author and children’s ghostwriter/ rewriter. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Writers on the Move and author online platform instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

If you need help with your author platform, check out:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform
This 4-week class shows you Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing

And, you can follow Karen at:


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