Blog – August 2022

End of Summer Blues or Bliss

| Pretty wild, huh? It’s almost a blur since the summer is going so quickly. Does the end of summer bring on a sense of comfort knowing the school year lies ahead or is it more like a slow creep to unwelcomed shorter days? For me, I like seasonal change even if it’s ever so slight. The change is minor in SoCal from one season to the next. I realized there are still quite a few warm days left, but I sense a fictitious finality to the summer when the kiddos start strolling to school.

Not sure if it’s just me but I have never fully understood the vast and varying schedules across the country regarding when the first day of school officially begins. In Cali, it is all over the place. My niece’s school is one such district in Georgia that forms the first week of August, then concludes at May’s end. In New Hampshire as a child, I remember school starting right after Labor Day. We’d attend classes through most of June unless we had fewer Snow Days. In that case, we’d get out earlier than anticipated… what a treat! But August? It is baffling.

No matter the level of willingness to return, when the school bell beckons in each respective region, eager minds will start the learning process again. So, while teachers and homeschoolers scurry around town in preparation to get a handle on their gear and supplies, here’s an oldie but goodie teacher tip. About 1-1/2″ wide tape will do and it’s sure to save some sanity in the case of the missing marker cap at the end of class. What a genius hack! Boom – solved!

Marker Cap Saver – Teacher Tip
MY LIL’ FIRST SCHOOL By Toby A. Williams / ISBN: 978-0-9600499-6-7

Be Brave! The first day of school is an exciting one filled with anxious thoughts and fearful moments. Being inclusive of others, kind, sharing, and keeping a positive attitude throughout the day, helps Brooke Lynn ease into her new environment. Tag along with adorable little Brooke Lynn as she walks through the big front doors of My Lil’ First School. Bonus discussion material included. Hurry, get your copy… there’s the school bell!  Royal Dragonfly Book Award 2020 | Honorable Mention for Picture Books-Age 6 and Older.

Wishing happy educators and students book loads of uplifting discoveries in this year’s session.

Photo Challenge Corner

Theme: So Hot

“MUY CALIENTE!” | Theme: So Hot | Photo by Toby A. Williams | #2022picoftheweek | July 30, 2022

What prompted the shutter click?

One of the cool things about living in SoCal is spotting a small Mercado or local farmer’s roadside stand along any of the dusty back roads. An abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies are proudly displayed on makeshift shelving. Colorful berries, beans, and the like spill over onto the floor (or dirt) creating the proper balance to the family-run rustic experience. It’s just as it should be – inviting, earthy, and fresh! Although most of the produce is familiar to me, occasionally I seek out unusual, foreign, or unique selections for recipe ideas.

Last week, I pulled over on a whim while driving by one of the local Mercados. As I perused the rows of veggies, the unmarked waxen greenies in the photo were perched at the very far end of the pepper aisle. Albeit unlabeled, they are just chili peppers, right?! At first glance, the ripening orange and yellow shades of these tongue-scorching chilis nipped my attention. But then I spotted it! Do you see the little red guy down in the lower right corner tucked below the others trying to be sneaky? It hid underneath for safekeeping as though in waiting for an unsuspecting chili newbie to happen along. And then, aha, gotcha! No matter… these are probably Muy Caliente! SO HOT! btw-My husband enjoys a bit more heat, you know the kind that makes your nose sweat! I like a milder chunky style with lots of lime juice and cilantro.

It’s a hoot trying to use the Themes below; I’m going for a BINGO. If you’d like to follow my photo posts, visit Instagram @thebrookelynnadventures / @tobyawilliams.

#2022picoftheweek / Photo Challenge / Theme Prompts

Note: I am a participant only and not affiliated with this photo challenge created by @ofmariaantonia.

Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.

Simon Sinek

Book Review

Rating: 5 out of 5.

LOLA, the Bracelet of Courage by Sarah Cullen & Carmen Ellis

First things first — this delightful picture book is lovingly dedicated to one brave little girl named Lola who lost her battle with brain cancer in April 2021. The book’s main character honors this youngster’s tenacity, enjoyment of the ocean waves, and spunky spirit of life. What a strong uplifting undercurrent to this tale’s namesake! (gulp)

Inspired by their love of the ocean, two Australian moms, Sarah Cullen and Carmen Ellis (who also happen to be sisters) teamed up a few years ago to create the bestselling, highly-acclaimed PB series, Ocean Tales Children’s Books. As with the entire collection, this clever, well-written rhyming “tail” is sure to find its way into your heart as well. Filled with vibrant and striking illustrations by the award-winning illustrator, Zuzana Svobodova, Lola’s luminescent tail almost appears to be moving! The artistry is stunning and unlike any other — a signature style of Zuzana. Mesmerizing from cover to cover!

My overview of this alluring tale…

Young Lola is an adventurous, brave mermaid, um… that is… once dad gifts her a special seashell bracelet. He mentions it will protect her and fill little Lola with courage whenever she feels overcome with fear. Fierce Lola never takes off her sparkly wristlet – ever!

On one exciting solo excursion, Lola becomes lost far, far away from home, and soon notices she is without her magical bracelet! Where could she have lost her special gift? (gulp) She searches high and low while attempting to swim back to familiar waters, but Lola grows weary and frustrated in the uncomfortable surroundings. Trying her best not to panic, she encounters several strange sea creatures and endless unique underwater delights. When Lola decides to keep moving forward even without her mystical wristband, she hopes she can complete her journey home. But just as the young swimmer gains momentum, her prickly fear trickles back in. Will the tired mermaid find the courage to persevere through unknown underwater terrain? A joyful, invigorating story for little mermaids and minnows alike!

I found myself cheering Lola toward victory with each turn of the page. Snatch a copy of LOLA, the Bracelet of Courage, and discover how Lola maneuvers the twisting and tangled path of uncertainty! Psst – Fun fishy facts are at the deep end of the story.

Note: There are no spoilers and I was not paid to write this review. This is a simple perspective of my reading experience.

End of Summer Bliss | Photo by Bella White on

Let us know your thoughts about the Book Review or any part of this newsletter. We enjoy reading the comments! Thank you for spending this morsel of your day with us. Happy August to all!

Published by Toby A. Williams | Author

Children's Books | MG Fiction | Williams Writes Blog

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