The Fanciful World of Steampotville: A Book Review

As you might imagine, we read a lot of children's books. A lot. So it's pretty difficult to show us something we haven't seen before. I think Steve Ouch's Steampotville may have come close. This book has become an internet sensation, selling hundreds of copies almost completely through word-of-mouth online. Ouch wrote, illustrated, and published SteamPotVille himself. I've read this book to my son several times since we received our copy a few weeks ago and he absolutely loves it. And what's not to like? The swirling pictures, highly-costumed pet and colorful characters are a toddler's delight. But here's a quick admission?: I'm not entirely sure what this book is about.

One day the cow was "moo-ing" in the pasture and the cat was "meowing" indoors, but one strange dream later everything went topsy-turvy with all of the town's animals behaving out of character. Do we ever find out who did it? Or why? Or if it was all part of the dream? Will there be a sequel? I. Just. Don't. Know. But it's rip-rollicking fun as we're literally turned sideways and upside down through the pages of this glorious and glossy adventure. And that was what was most important to my son. He had a literally fantastic time in Steampotville.
So while it's true I don't really know what to make of Steve Ouch's debut book, my almost 3-year-old totally gets it. The illustrations are amazing and, let's face it, there's something brilliant about art that goes over the parent's head. I may not know precisely what I'm recommending, but I recommend it. The book will be officially released in brick-and-mortar stores in spring of 2010. But SteamPotVille
may also be ordered from for $13.99.

Sweet Beauty's "Sweet Baby"

-by Erica
Some of our favorite products to review on Beautiful Brown Babies are bath-and-body items. In my own family, I've tried to avoid commercial baby/toddler products but I've also held onto a few mainstream faves. So when I was recently given a chance to try out a couple of eco-friendly Sweet Beauty Spa's "Sweet Baby" products, I jumped at it. And I'm really glad I did, for a few reasons.

Baby Cleanse

As always, I checked out the ingredients before using the two new products on my 2 year old. Not quite a baby, he has sensitive toddler skin and we generally stick to gentle bath and body products. So I loved seeing simple familiar ingredients in the "Baby Cleanse", like organic castile soap, coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, vitamin E, and Glycerin.

Pouring a little of the Baby Cleanse on a towel at bath-time, I caught the faintest scent of sweet orange. Extremely light and not at all overwhelming. As I soaped-up my little one, I noticed that the product didn't make a lot of bubbles, but did have a nice foam. (You're totally used to this if you've spent any time avoiding SLS and other detergent agents.) Now here's what I liked the most: When I lifted my son out of the bath and dried him off, his skin was nicely moisturized because - ta da!- the cleanser was mild enough that it hadn't stripped his skin of its natural defenses. That, I like. Even so, we moved on to product number 2.

Baby Massage Oil

As you might expect, the Baby Massage Oil had a very softening effect. I rubbed it into my son's limbs and found that it didn't sit on the skin, but was easily absorbed. I really enjoy being able to moisturize the kiddo at night so I don't have to do it as I'm scrambling to get out of the house the next morning. The main ingredients in the Baby Massage Oil are sweet cherry oil, babassu seed oil, cocoa butter and natural extracts. Again, there was only the faint scent of the oils natural ingredients.

This entire line is free of artificial fragrances, parabens, and nuts. So it's specially formed for babies and children, whose little systems are especially sensitive to allergens. But here's my confession: Since we've first tried the products, I have to admit I've been using them on myself. I don't know if that's recommended or not, but I think Baby Cleanse makes a really gentle, non-drying face wash for mommies! In any case, if you're the least bit interested in natural skincare or going green, Sweet Beauty is a line to check out. The Baby Cleanse in particular is now one of my top-five baby/toddler products. I recommend it far and above anything you'd find in the grocery store. And that's the truth.

Thursday Throwback: Stevie Wonder on Sesame Street

In one of the most famous Sesame Street clips ever (and MY absolute favorite) Stevie Wonder sings his hit "Superstition" in 1972. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

Ziggy Marley Doubles The Fun

We like to think we're on the cutting edge of music that parents and kids can truly enjoy together. We've done it all- indie, kindie, kid hop, toddler rock, you name it. But we're actually behind on Ziggy Marley's latest creations. Months ago, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that the four-time Grammy winner was working on his first children's album. Since then, he has released a second album for the tykes.

Family Time
is a very lively recording of sing-alongs, narrated stories, and kid-friendly jams. Children 10 and under will love it. It also features appearances by musicians Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Toots Hibbert, and Paul Simon.

Ziggy released the second album B Is for Bob
last month. It's a re-imagining of several of his father's (Bob Marley's) classic tunes. The material was arranged to be geared for little ones, but with just enough pluck for adults.

Here's Ziggy Marley at this year's Easter Egg Roll at the White House:
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