Friday, April 30, 2021

Z is for... #atozchallenge

Z is for...Let's find out!

Let’s have some fun! Unscramble these words that start with the letter z:

  1. maoznib
  2. pepriz
  3. mnaiozoa
  4. cihnuczi
  5. tzengis
  6. grneiz
  7. ndoze
  8. imboz
  9. peplsnzei
  10. gzagzideg
  11. liloniearzi
  12. fictionaombiz

We hope you’ve had a great time with the A to Z Challenge! Get ready to write your Reflections about the month. Reflections will be open May 3rd-8th, and then the Road Trip will open on May 10th where you link up to your one favorite post of your own!

Looking forward to seeing you then!

And if you fill out our survey that opens tomorrow, the answer key to today’s puzzle is at the end!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Yes Game #atozchallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter Y

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

The YES game was a challenge given to Shonda Rhimes. The rules are simple: say "yes" to opportunities for a year. Say yes to positive experiences and thoughts.

Can you keep your blog going all year? YES
Can you spend the rest of the year visiting every blog that signed up in April? YES
Can you use what you learned this month to make your blog more appealing? YES
Can you promote your blog by giving readers more of what they want? YES
Can you double-down on more self challenges for your blog this year? YES


(Say it, say it, say it... ๐ŸŽ‰)

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Get a copy of the Master List so you know who is officially participating!
Please come back on SATURDAY for the AFTER SURVEY. ๐Ÿ“‹
And on MONDAY, MAY 3 for the REFLECTIONS sign-up. ๐Ÿ”ฎ
Plus, sign-up for the Roadtrip on MONDAY, MAY 10. ๐Ÿš—

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

X in Noughts and Crosses #atozchallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter X

kikel Christos chi rho tic tac toe noughts and crosses

Noughts and Crosses, or Tic Tac Toe, is a very old game. There is some debate among historians as to when it first began (ancient Egypt or ancient Rome) and what was originally used to make the board and pieces. (It's suggested that it was four sticks, pebbles, and coins.) As it evolved, it became a game of unity between Christian and Jewish children.

The X represented Christianity, as it came from chi. (The Greek letters for Christos, chi (looks like an X) and rho (looks like a P), is an early symbol for Christianity and for Christ Himself. Emperor Constantine is likely responsible for crafting the letters together.) The o or 0 is a kikel, a circle in Yiddish. Many Jewish immigrants used an O rather than an X as their signature in the early days of Ellis Island. The 0 is also known as a nought. The name tic tac toe wasn't given until the 20th century.

The object of the game is to get three of your symbols in a row. Players take turns selecting one of the nine squares. Statistically, the player who goes first has the greatest chance of winning. Marking in a corner first is considered the best move. 

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Well, What Now?

So, we have four days left in this year's A to Z Challenge, and I'm sure some of you are going to ask yourselves "Well, what now?" You've made some serious changes in your blogging lifestyle to get through this month (or not), you've probably made some new blog buddies, you've read some new blogs... and, if you're like me, you feel badly that you didn't do more...

Well, just because April is done and dusted doesn't mean you can't just keep going. To the best of my knowledge, no one's blog shuts down until the next challenge. No one says you can't read some of the blogs you didn't get to read during the month. That's what the Master List is for, so now would be the time, if you haven't done so already, to snag a copy of it.

You might want to go through your comments and make sure you've replied to everyone, and that you've visited everyone who visited you. You might even want to subscribe to their blogs. (By the way, did you know that you can subscribe to Blogger feeds using the Wordpress reader?)

Another thing you might want to do is start giving some thought to possible topics for next year's Challenge (you will be back, I just know it!).

We're going to do the A to Z Road Trip again this year, as always. Signups start May 10!

Hope you've had fun and found some great reading material. See you in the funny papers!

John Holton

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Sunday, April 25, 2021

V is for Variety #atozchallenge

Today your challenge (should you choose to accept it) is to switch it up a little! Variety is good for creativity and good for the soul - especially in times like this when many forms of entertainment are not available, or have migrated online. 

So, change one thing today! Here are some options:

1. Find a Category on the Master List that you usually are not interested in, and visit some blogs!

2. Write a genre you don't usually write!

3. Read a genre you don't usually read!

4. Find a new challenge! (another blogging challenge, a reading challenge, a kindness challenge, etc.)

5. Try a new form of exercise!

6. Eat breakfast for dinner!

We are nearing the end of the A to Z Challenge, but it is not quite over yet. I hope you all are having fun posting and visiting! Don't forget to schedule a Reflections post (Reflections starting May 3rd) so you can tell us about the experience! :)

Saturday, April 24, 2021

U is for Ultimatum #atozchallenge

 U is for Ultimatum

Give yourself an ultimatum (don’t accept them from anyone else!). Use that ultimatum to challenge yourself to do the best you can as we get close to finishing out A to Z! We have one more week. Set your ultimatum to help yourself achieve your goals!

As we end the week, I’m specifically talking to those of you (myself included) who haven’t quite made our goals yet. Give yourself an ultimatum to meet those goals.

Meet that goal OR ____ [fill in the blank]. What happens? Give yourself some consequences. Or better yet, give yourself a reward!

My Ultimatum: 

If I don’t finish my goal, I don’t get to go on a shopping spree at a book store!

Then work toward it. Figure out what’s motivating to you and set your mind to it! With just 5 posts left, we can do it! Don’t give up now.

Friday, April 23, 2021

T is for Takeaways #atozchallenge

T is for Takeaways

As we start to wind down (only six more posts to go!), what Takeaways do you have from this year’s A to Z? Have you challenged yourself in new and interesting ways? Have you done anything you’re particularly proud of? Share with us in the comments what your Takeaways are so far!

Then get ready to share your Reflections in a couple of weeks. Our Reflections officially open on May 3rd, and brainstorming your Takeaways is a good starting point for that. If nothing comes to mind, look back to our bonus challenges and see if you can squeeze one in this final week.

My personal takeaways so far:

- Blogging is so much easier and so much more fun when you share the load. Bringing on a co-blogger in January has been the best decision I ever made, writing-wise.

- A to Z is a lot more fun the years I had pre-scheduled all my posts. I feel like it’s been a struggle to go out looking for new blogs, but I did manage to do that some this month. I’m very much looking forward to May and the Road Trip (which officially opens on May 10th). If you aren’t familiar, the Road Trip is when you post the link to ONE of your A to Z posts that you want people to go back and read. It’s a lot of fun, even if we are going back and reading something from a month prior.

- I need a challenge to achieve my goals. Just having a vague goal isn’t enough of a motivator. During a sprint, I can write so much more than just setting a timer for myself.

- I am a social creature. I am desperate to be back into normal socializing patterns. It’s coming! Sooon!

Okay, so I knew some of these things about myself before, but I bet you didn’t!
Now it’s your turn. Share with us your Takeaways so far!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Solve Word Puzzles #atozchallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter S

Solve Word Puzzles!
This is yet another game you could play on your blog.
Once again, ANSWERS will be posted at: on Sunday!

Here are SIX words with SEVEN letters, each starting with S:

  1. S _ _ _ _ _ _ Hint: ๐Ÿ˜ž๐Ÿ˜ข๐Ÿ˜ญ unhappy
  2. S _ _ _ _ _ _ Hint: An expensive red spice
  3. S _ _ _ _ _ _ Hint: the rescue of a wrecked or disabled ship
  4. S _ _ _ _ _ _ Hint: these have an absorbent, porous body
  5. S _ _ _ _ _ _ Hint: multiply a number by itself
  6. S _ _ _ _ _ _ Hint: ๐Ÿค” what you are when you can't figure this out

Or perhaps you prefer a word search?
You'll seek another set of six words with seven-letters starting with S, plus four words relating to the #atozchallenge.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

#atozchallenge R is for Ring Around the Rosie - guest post by C. Lee McKenzie

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter R

The game called Ring Around the Rosie has a mixed and long history. There are reports of one version appearing as early as the 1300s, other versions came into popular use in the 17 and 1800s. Today, young children still link hands, walk in a circle, and sing the lyrics.

Some believe the “ring around the Rosie” refers to the sores that appeared on plague victims’ skin—the “pocket full of posies” to either the practice of putting flowers inside doctors’ masks to protect them while they treated patients with plague, or gravesite tributes. The repeated “Ashes. Ashes.” was supposed to mimic the sound of sneezing while “We all fall down…” Well, if the game did refer to the Black Death, it’s obvious what that sentence meant.

Ring Around the Rosie

I’d rather just think of it as a fun game that happens to begin with today’s stellar letter R.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Quiz Time!

If you find yourself scrambling for something to write a post about, I have a suggestion: A QUIZ!

"Quiz" probably isn't the word for what I'm thinking of. I've seen it called a meme, a blog hop, even a blog award. Whatever you call it, you ask some questions and invite your readers to answer them, either in the comments or on their own blog with a "ping back" to yours. (Or, if you work with Blogger, a comment on your blog with the address of their answers.)

One I participate in is Share Your World, hosted by Melanie. She gives us four or five discussion questions, which we answer on our own blogs and "ping back" to hers. It's fun to do, and even if the questions are serious, I usually find a way to make my answer humorous, which is not the same as humerus, the bone between your shoulder and your elbow.

Give it a try sometime. I think you'll enjoy it.

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

P is for Perfection (or lack thereof) #atozchallenge

Are you a perfectionist? It can be both a good and a bad thing. Do you struggle with needing everything you do to be absolutely perfect, just so? Is it a driving force in your work, or does it keep you from writing? Do you keep endlessly tweaking your WIP, and not letting anyone read it until you think it's good enough?

If any of these things sound familiar, I have a challenge for you:

DO SOMETHING 'OKAY'. Not perfect. Just okay.

Write something imperfect. Show an unfinished story to a stranger. Publish a blog post that could probably use more editing. Take a leap. Not everything has to be perfect all the time. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. (It really is harder than it sounds.)

And if you are on the reader/commenter side of this thing, here are some things you can do to help:

1. Compliment specific things! It means a whole lot to writers to read compliments that go into detail.

2. Tell people what you want more of. More of that character. More of that kind of story. More of that fantasy world. It is a lot more inspiring than "constructive criticism." 

3. Don't message people with "I found a typo!" Just. Don't.

Happy writing, happy reading, happy blogging! :)

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Off Day Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is an "off day" in the Challenge. Remember, we take Sundays off from publishing A to Z Challenge posts. So tell me, what are your plans for tomorrow?

  • Write and schedule this week's Challenge posts. Many of us completed all our Challenge posts and scheduled them before April started, but many others are writing their posts while the Challenge is ongoing. You might want to use tomorrow to get a few posts written and scheduled.
  • Write and schedule this week's non-Challenge posts. Just because the A to Z Challenge is ongoing doesn't mean that all other blogging activity has to come to a halt. I have several features (Song of the Day, One Liner Wednesday etc.) that I'm continuing this month. How about you?
  • Catch up on your Challenge reading. We get so busy reading and replying to comments on our blogs that we might let our reading and commenting on other blogs fall behind. That's part of what Sunday's for. It's also what the Road Trip is all about. More on that later.
  • Something else (maybe nothing?) Spend time with your family! Watch a ballgame! Do some more work on that novel! Take the whole day off from blogging and the Challenge. It'll all be there on Monday.

Whatever you choose to do tomorrow, enjoy your day! We're past the halfway point. Only two more weeks to go!

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Friday, April 16, 2021

N is for Never Give Up!

N is for Never Give Up!

Think about the challenges you have set for yourself this month. We’re just over the halfway point in the month. Have you given up? Are you still working toward your goal?

If you’re making good progress on your challenges, great! Tell us about it in the comments.

If you’ve given up, think about how you could restart your personal challenge or adapt it to fit in the second half of the month. It’s never too late to get back up and try again!

My first A to Z was abysmal. I think I finished finally in June(?), but I never gave up. I kept going. I started my blog just so I could participate in the A to Z Challenge. That whole year, I had only 155 visitors to my blog. Just five years later, I have had 858 visitors in 2021 SO FAR, and we’re only 1/4 of the way through the year. Posting consistently and visiting other blogs has made all the difference.

But all that time, I never gave up. I kept going. I posted whenever I could. And in the end, it has paid off. The moral of the story is NEVER GIVE UP. Keep trying! And let us know how it’s going for you in the comments.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Magnifying Glass Game #atozchallenge ๐Ÿ”Ž

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter M

๐Ÿ”Ž Magnifying Glass Game:

In this game, you post close-up (magnified ๐Ÿ”) pictures on your blog and visitors guess in the image in the comments.
(You'll also find out how dusty your camera is. Yikes. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ)
ANSWERS will be posted at: on Sunday!

The following all start with the letter M:

(Hint: marine mammal)

(Hint: may attract metal)

(Hint: Meat condiment)

(Hint: ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿง€)

(Hint: Makes ๐Ÿ”ฅ fire)

How many can you guess correctly? 

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

#atozchallenge L is for Ludo ~ Guest post by Jemima Pett

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter L

L is for Ludo

Ludo is a board game derived from the ancient game Pachisi. Most of us have probably played at some time! 2 to 4 players roll a die in turn and move their piece around the board accordingly. You have to get all your pieces home first to win.
I also played it as Kappit - probably a version of the German Coppit.
ludo board
Picture by Micha L Reiser (via Wikipedia)

Ludo as a character

Ludo is the name I gave to the Pirate King in the second of my series The Princelings of the East. He was eventually exiled in that book. I interviewed him in 2012, and realised he would return to cause trouble, which he did, from book eight, The Princelings of the North, to the final one, Princelings Revolution, which came out last October.

This is part of that interview: you can see why I wanted to write more about him… now who asked if I had more spin-offs to write?

Jemima meets Ludo, the Pirate King

I’m sitting with Ludo at a beach table under a cloth awning, drinking the local wine. I ask how the pirating business is going. He glares at me a lot.
“I was the legitimate crown prince of Castle Marsh, going about my business according to the rules laid down by others. They were happy for me to take their produce across the water and bring them the profit, with a little charge for the service. They accused me of smuggling. Then they closed off my source of business and I formed a plan to survive in spite of them. And they called that piracy.”
There was nothing about this that came out in the trial.
“Pah, trial. One step away from a lynching to save certain people’s skins.”
I ask him to name names. He is a big chap, an imposing presence. His tan is an even deeper red than it was when I last saw him, at the trial. His black eyepatch is just as rakish. I’m not sure he actually needs it. He has a very stylish hat with a wide brim, which currently lies on the bench next to him. 
He declines, after consideration, so I ask him how he came to take up sailing. 
“Got in with a sporty crowd who raced small boats, then got onto one of the big ships and loved it. Told grandfather I was going to take a year to sail on these big ships, then come back and be crown prince properly, and he wasn’t bothered, so I did.  Took me six months to get my own ship and crew together, get the business going nicely, earning lots of gold, then someone turned everyone against me.”
“So you think you should still be king of Castle Marsh?”
“Of course I should. Although I’d rather have the ships. Free to roam, no responsibility except to your crew, and they obey you anyway. I’m doing well now, thank you!”
So while he doesn’t want any responsibility for Marsh, he still wants the recognition and the title.  
He doesn’t have any contacts in the realms he wishes to keep up, “although Uncle Vlad is a good sport.” He surprises me by recounting an embarrassing moment; I had expected him to be one of those that didn’t have them.
He’d most like to change the power play in the realms so he can be king again. He does not explain what he means by ‘power play’. The Kings’ Council, which unites the various castles, deems that he could not live in harmony with them. So is he an outsider who sees authority working against him, or is there actually someone in the Council working to undermine the peace? I am unsettled by Ludo’s accusations—or are they merely insinuations? 
I feel increasingly uncomfortable in his presence. The ferry is docking at the quay, so I have an excuse to finish.
We exchange formal thanks for the interview, and I get up, relieved. He has a casual manner that could lull you into thinking he’s a playboy, an anachronism, playing at being a pirate. But he’s not. He’s the real thing, and he’s dangerous.

About Jemima Pett

Jemima writes fantasy and science fiction, and is writing the third in her scifi series during the April AtoZ. Check on her progress at her blog She also has several books of her flash fiction coming out in time for summer. Get Critters and Crises at Amazon now, and pre-order Greed and Retribution, out 6th May.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

What Would You Do For Klondike?

Here's a hint if you're feeling the need to rest: Play a few games of Klondike!

I've found that, when writing ideas stop coming to me, the best thing to do is to give myself something mindless to do. Klondike is perfect for that: it's challenging, yet the type of game that you know almost instinctively how to play. This gives you a chance to let your mind work on something more challenging, like what to write for your next post. For an added boost, put on some instrumental music or white noise to quiet the voices in your head.

Don't have a card deck nearby, or don't have a Solitaire program on your computer? Try World of Solitaire. You can play right in your browser. And if Klondike's not your thing, there are hundreds of other solitaire games you can play there.

Only one thing: don't forget to stop and come back to the writing. Okay? Okay!

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

J is for Journeys #atozchallenge

Alright, so this past year has not been great in terms of travel opportunities. If you are like me, and you like to explore new places, it has been quite exhausting to stay put. Travel is one of the Categories for bloggers in this challenge, and I love reading about people's journeys, experiences, and countries I have never been to.

Since we are still pretty much staying put, today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite online games that revolve around travel:

GeoGuessr. There is a free version and a "pro version", but even the free version is fun. It gives you random street views from around the world, and you have to guess the place where the picture was taken. Anywhere. In the world. It is quite a challenge, but who doesn't love a challenge?

City Guesser. This one gives you videos from cities around the world, and asks you to guess where you are. Honestly, I just like to look at the place, and the people walking around.

The Map Zoom Quiz. This one starts you zoomed in on a city map, and you have to guess the city. You can zoom out to see more, but you lose points. Zooooooom!

What are your favorite places around the world? And your favorite travel blogs? Are you a travel blogger yourself? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, April 9, 2021

I is for Inspiration! #atozchallenge

What inspires you? What makes your mind wander, and wonder, and ask things like "what if...?"

Look for some extra inspiration today! Whether for your blog, or your WIP, or just for fun, here are some sites that will give you a fresh dose of inspiration!

Use this Random Art Generator to find a classic painting, and see if it becomes a story in your head!

Try this Random Landscape Generator, and see if you can imagine what happens there!

Start up the Random Music Generator and see if the music inspires you!

Play around with this amazing Random Folklore Motif Generator, and see if you can make up new tales!

Use this site to get Random Geographic Coordinates, and see what that place inspires in you! (Or learn more about it, if it is new to you!)

Inspiration can come from unexpected places. What inspires YOU in this challenge?

H is for Hustle

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge: Hh

H is for Hustler

When I first mentioned to my co-blogger, Richard, that I was writing a post for H for the A to Z Blog, he suggested H is for Hustler. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to me. It's a word I'm familiar with, certainly, but putting a definition down on paper was difficult. So, I went to for a little help.


1. An enterprising person determine to succeed; go-getter.

2. Slang. A person who employs fraudulent or unscrupulous methods to obtain money; swindler.

3. Informal. An expert gambler or game player who seeks out challengers, especially unsuspecting amateur ones, in order to win money from them.

Ah yes, the last one. That's what made me think of that word in connection with our gambling theme for 2021. But then I had a new, related inspiration, courtesy of the first definition of hustler:


1. To proceed or work rapidly or energetically.

2. To push or force one's way; jostle or shove.

Recently, several of us here at A to Z experienced situations that left us scrambling to get things done on a deadline (including me making this post only a couple days beforehand, when usually I'm done before April starts). It's great to work with a team who can hustle when they need to, and which is not filled with hustlers (definition 3), but rather hustlers (definition 1). The A to Z Team is a great one, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

As we near the end of the first full week, are you hustling to finish your A to Z posts for the month, or are you all scheduled out?

If you're falling behind, don't worry, one more day and then we all get a day off to recuperate go visit other blogs!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Games #atozchallenge

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter G


(For those of you taking part in the scavenger hunt, today is easy! This post is about a game!)

What games can be played on a blog? Here are some ideas:

J's drawing drawize share options

Print Screen button Instead of leaving the drawing on the site, I could take a screenshot and put it on my blog for readers to take a guess. (Print Screen button [Prt Sc], paste into paint, crop, save, upload the image to your blog.)

Truth or Dare -

You could make a post asking readers to comment with various Truths and Dares, and then tackle them as you see fit. Or you could let a website pick for you.

Honestly, ๐Ÿ›๐Ÿœ๐Ÿ๐Ÿž bugs don't bug me. I can't say I have a special affinity for them. But overall, they're just part of nature. I don't enjoy being stung or bit, and certainly am not a fan of mosquitoes. But overall, I don't especially like or dislike bugs in general. I am glad they exist and serve their function. 

J- Jublient 
A- Author
Y- Youthful
D- Determined
E- Erotic
N- Nice

What other games could be played on a blog?


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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

#atozchallenge F for Family-Friendly Fun Game Books

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter F

Guest post from Kathryn Mowers:

Hello everyone! I wanted to share how FABULOUS it is to be a 'book lady'. I get to help match FAMILIES to their FAVORITE books to FIT all of their needs! It is a wonderful way to spread literacy and get more books into the hands of children. I also really enjoyed being able to come up with the list of A to Z books, though it was hard to choose because there are so many FANTASTIC options through Usborne Books & More! I wanted to FEATURE some books with games for you today:

For the youngest gamers, "Usborne FIRST Jigsaws" is a book with eight, 2-piece jigsaw puzzles! Perfect for introducing problem solving and terminology. It comes in FARM animals, animals, and under the sea!

Usborne's "Busy Books" are great for older toddlers! They are FUN, interactive books that teach prepositional words like "around, through, over". Each page FEATURES a track that the wind-up or pull-back toy whizzes around as they explore the book! These come in several themes... bug, car, helicopter, train, bus, plane, race car, and tractor.

Preschoolers love the "Matching Games"! This set has 36 game cards, FOUR boards, and a coordinating book with FACTS and beautiful photos.  They are a great way for young children to develop recognition, memory, and communication skills. They can be used for a matching game and for bingo! This set comes in bugs, dinosaurs, and under the sea.

Getting ready for spring break or summer travel? Usborne's "Travel Games Pad" is great for long journeys or rainy days. These are ideal for school-aged children and FEATURE 200 tear-off sheets for quick games on the go! Time will pass in a FLASH!

For the FUTURE scientists and doctors, "Human Body: Book & Jigsaw Puzzle" is a 100-piece jigsaw of the human body, with a 24-page book that introduces the body systems and FUNCTION Some other options in this series include bugs, dinosaurs, and unicorns.

You can browse these titles and more here:

"Shipping only available to USA and  military bases from the provided Usborne link." - Kathryn Mowers (Consultant for the Dorner family)

Thank you, Kathryn! It's great to know there are games (our 2021 theme) mixed with books that are fun for families and children. Little readers can grow up to become bloggers one day! 

What was your favorite book as a child?

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