Graphic Violence

There’s no quicker way to lose a teenager’s interest than to bring up the subject of history.

But say the words, “Graphic violence,” and suddenly they’re paying attention again.

History is already filled with violence (seriously, take all the wars out of a history book and you’re left with a thin pamphlet). Now all you have to do is make it graphic, and you have a brilliant way of teaching history to kids.

That’s the aim of a new book by Wayne Vansant, The Graphic History of Gettysburg. It’s an exciting, fast-paced telling of the landmark Civil War battle, told in comic book form.

And, yes, it’s got guns and explosions and blood spraying everywhere. Just enough to keep kids tuned in like it’s an episode of The Walking Dead.

The book describes the period leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg, and includes charts and portraits of all the major players in the battle.

But Vansant wastes little time getting to the heat of the battle. His illustrations put you right in among the troops on both sides. The descriptions and dialogue are simple and straightforward, allowing readers with no prior knowledge of Gettysburg to follow the action and to understand why things happened the way they did.

Gettysburg is widely recognized as the turning point of the Civil War, so it’s vital for kids to learn why and how it happened. With the 150th Anniversary of the battle coming up in July, The Graphic History of Gettysburg is a great introduction to an important time in our nation’s history.

If you have a kid, or an adult, who nods off at the mere mention of history, these kinds of books might just be the spark that gets them interested.

Thanks to the good people at Zenith Press, I have TWO COPIES of The Graphic History of Gettysburg to give away! Simply leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite time period in history, and why. I’ll pick a winner next week!

A Free Lunch at Wendy’s

Take a good long look at that burger.

Now, if you’re a burger kind of person, which I am, you’re probably drooling right about now. Because that’s one good looking sandwich.

When you order the new “W” burger at Wendy’s, it’s not going to look quite as perfect as that photo, but your tastebuds won’t mind.

The good folks at Wendy’s sent me a gift card to try it out. I hadn’t been to Wendy’s in a long time, but I always remembered their food as being a bit fresher and more original than the others. The W burger lived up to that memory.

The W is piled high with fresh lettuce, onions, and pickles, as well as two beef patties. The buttery buns are toasted, and the savory sauce they use has just the right amount of red pepper to give it a little zip.

But the best thing about it is the price. $2.99 is cheaper than most other fast food equivalents, like the Angus Burger at McDonald’s.

If you’d like to try it out yourself, I have a $5 Wendy’s gift card to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment on this post, and in a week’s time you’ll be chowing down on the new W burger for free.

The Best Mad Scientist Book

As a homeschooler, I’m always on the lookout for ways to bring science to life for my kids. They can learn only so much with their nose stuck in a textbook. It often takes the hands-on approach to teach some of the more difficult concepts and to let the kids see for themselves what science can do for them.

I’ve seen plenty of books and videos attempting to make science cool, but the new The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists, by Ken Denmead, is one of the best collections of scientific projects and experiments that I’ve ever read. Denmead is the editor of the amazing GeekDad blog, so he knows what he’s talking about.

With this book, your kids will learn how to extract their own DNA, build a radio out of office supplies, grow sea monsters, and play with plasma.

And it all couldn’t be easier. The instructions, concepts, illustrations, are all explained in an easy-to-understand creative way. Denmead knows how to capture and keep a kid’s imagination by relating the science to what they think is fun. You know, space aliens, lasers, robots, spies. All the important stuff.

My kids actually got excited when they thumbed through this book for the first time. My son immediately wanted to try the alchemy experiment (no, it’s not lead into gold, unfortunately). And my daughter is ready to set fire to some Cheetos.

If you’d like to get your kids excited about science too, this book is the place to start. There’s something in it for everyone in the family. I wouldn’t hesitate to give it to a 3rd grader or a college student, or anyone who wants to find some answers to how the science all around us works.

With Christmas coming up, this book should be at the top of your list of gift ideas. It’s available at every major book seller, including Amazon.

The good folks at Gotham Books have sent me a copy of The Geek Dad Book for Aspiring Mad Scientists to give away to one of my readers.

Just leave a comment on this post, telling me you want it. I’ll pick a winner after the Thanksgiving break.

A Stylish Giveaway

Are you stylish? I’m not.

But if I keep thumbing through this new book from Southern Living magazine, I might suddenly begin exuding the kind of effortless elegance that graces its pages.

Yes, Southern Living magazine has published a book, called Southern Living Style. Only the most comprehensive design book ever for creating the kind of unique living spaces that make you want to love your home and keep it clean even when company isn’t on its way.

And they sent me a copy to give away to one of my readers!

This 288-page hardcover book is beautifully done, with advice on every room and every budget. It’s going to teach you how to be stylish, in that classic Southern way.

If you’d like to win Southern Living Style, just leave a comment telling me how unstylish you are. I’ll pick a winner next week!

Blogging For Peanuts

It’s Mr. Peanut’s birthday!

The famous icon of the Planters Peanuts company is 95 years old today, and to celebrate Planters is letting me give away a basket full of goodies to one of my readers.

You’re going to get an assortment of Planters peanut products, like the new Five Alarm Chili. Also, Honey Roasted, Lightly Salted, Dry Roasted. You’ll also get some cool Planters swag, including t-shirts, water bottles, and notebooks.

Just writing this, I’m getting hungry for some peanut snacks. I’m sure you’ve heard that peanuts have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. They sure beat potato chips, anyway.

So, what do you have to do to win this wonderful Planters Gift Basket?
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The Elephant DVD Giveaway

Having written about Eric Herman a dozen or more times on this blog, it’s not hard to figure out that he’s our favorite children’s singer. My kids have just about outgrown most kids’ music, but they’ll always have a soft spot for Eric Herman songs like “Steve the Superhero,” “Snow Day,” and the classic “The Elephant Song.”

The videos for those tunes, and many more, are featured on Herman’s very first DVD release. It’s called The Elephant DVD, in tribute to the video that has now been watched by nearly 20 million people on YouTube. And it goes on sale next week at Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and many other online and retail outlets.

The DVD includes 10 videos and 15 songs, as well as a ton of bonus material that kids will have fun with. The simple and colorful graphics, memorable music, and hilarious lyrics are going to be huge hits for your kids, whatever their age. Even adults will find themselves drawn to the charm and humor of these songs.

Did I mention that my cat dances on one of the videos? He’s quite good, actually.

I just happen to have 2 Elephant DVDs to give away to some lucky readers. If you’d like to win one, leave a “I want!” comment on this post. It’s that simple.

I’ll pick the winners next week.