Posts Tagged ‘Chinaberry books’

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Karen Knight

Friday, March 27th, 2009


Janet: How long have you been working for Chinaberry?

Karen: I was first hired in April, 2000 to do payroll and some bookkeeping. When I was offered a job elsewhere in 2007, I took it, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that Chinaberry is the place for me. After two months, I returned to open arms. You just can’t leave a place like Chinaberry and be happy.

Janet: How would you describe what you do now?

Karen: I work in three departments: in Human Resources, my primary job is payroll; in the Website Department, I turn the ads on and off as inventory changes, copy ads to different websites, and keep an eye on other websites that have links to our website; and in Accounting, I do sales taxes and anything they need help with.

Janet: What has been your most memorable experience at Chinaberry?

Karen: One of the most memorable experiences was when Chinaberry was threatened by fire. Everyone immediately pulled together to get a rental truck loaded so we could keep the business running if the fire were to reach our building. No one had to ask anyone to help; everyone just pulled together and got busy. The next year the fire was even closer, and in the wee hours of the morning, employees who could get through to the building left their homes to come and make sure things were covered to keep smoke from the merchandise. Together, they stood at the back of the building as the fire approached, hoping it would not hop the roadway below.  No one called and asked anyone to come; they just showed up and got busy doing whatever they could to help. Some employees lost their homes and everything in them. Immediately, the Chinaberry family tried to find out what they could do to help.

I love how employees are quietly watched for their strengths and how management works together to find the perfect fit for employees. Every book and toy is read or tested by employees and their families to make sure it is a fit for Chinaberry kids. We have books you would never find in the mall bookstores.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry books?

Karen: Eat, Drink and Be Chinaberry is a cookbook I’ve given to all my children and friends. The recipes are simply wonderful, but more than that, you can find helpful hints like making your own diaper wipes. With five grandkids in and out of our home, we have used that one more than once. In this time of financial struggle for so many people, there are ways to save money and this is a great one. This cookbook is the favorite one in all our homes.  Also, James Herriot’s Treasury for Children is one that my grandchildren and I love to sit and read together.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products?

Karen: The Marble Whacker is a game we really enjoy playing. It gets really noisy with the sound of the marbles clicking as you hit them, but the laughter is the greatest. Also, the Butter Bell Crock is sitting on my counter all the time and part of setting the table.

Janet: Want to share a little bit about your family and/or hobbies?

Karen: My husband and I have five children and five grandchildren with another on the way. We enjoy our Sunday family dinners, especially since all we have to provide is the house because they all do the cooking!

Watching the kids grow and mature and having the opportunity to play ball and go on family bike rides is the best, but never more fun than camping together. Of course our son-in-law claims he will never camp with us again because every time we’ve gone, we’ve run into a bear or two. The last time we went camping, it took us three hours to get to our campsite, but only 1-1/2 hours to load up and run back to the car after bears were headed toward our tents! We’re going camping locally in two weeks and hope to prove we don’t always have bears around. This time, we’ll be in mountain lion country! (We’ve never seen one there, but keep your fingers crossed!)

Product Photo Review - Dear Zoo

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009
“Our grandson loves his books from Chinaberry. My daughter-in-law took a picture of our son reading Dear Zoo to him. He is totally captivated by it. What a treasure.” — BM, via email

Is there a Chinaberry book, toy, craft, etc. that a child in your life loves? If so, email us with a short review and photo or video.

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Leah King

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Introducing . . . Leah King!

When it comes to wearing many hats, Leah King is . . . well, Queen! Leah first walked through Chinaberry’s doors in 1999 and found her niche in Customer Service. Nearly ten years later, Leah says, “What I truly do is work for our customers. When I’m on the phone, I really want to make sure that they have a pleasant experience. I want to represent Chinaberry and the products we carry in an honest and accurate manner so that customers will enjoy their experiences with the items they order from us.”

Since April 2008, detail-oriented Leah has dedicated much of her time to our new Quality Assurance Department (in addition to continuing to work part-time in Customer Service!).

Not only does she verify safety and compliance information, but also our own product standards. Is the product safe? Non-toxic? Age appropriate? Leah leaves no stone unturned.

As you may remember, the summer and fall of 2007 brought a plethora of toy recalls for lead in paint. In response to these recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 was created. The CPSIA not only  covers toys, but ALL products meant for children 12 and younger, including books, clothing, electronics, housewares, school equipment, and more. Leah has been diligently contacting the manufacturer of every item we carry and following up with them regarding the new guidelines developed by the CPSIA. It has been no small undertaking!

On a lighter note, I asked Leah to tell us her top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products, and she enthusiastically said the Neti Pot and Widu hairbrush. She’s given them both to everyone she knows. (Given the number of people Leah knows, I’m surprised we have any left in stock!)

When asked if she could have dinner with any person in the world (what would an interview be without THAT question?!), who would she choose and why, she said: “There are so many different people I can think of, but I guess it would be Desmond Tutu. For as much as he has fought for, lived through, and witnessed, he never fails to have a smile on his face and joy in his heart. He loves a good joke, too!”

We shudder to think what life would be like here at Chinaberry without Leah, but if she were to choose another profession, she says she’d like to be an environmental and social consultant for businesses to help them operate in a cost-effective yet sustainable and socially responsible manner — either that or be a rock star. That’s our Leah!

Wild and Wintry - Searching for Animals During Wintertime

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

The following excerpt is taken from I Love Dirt by Jennifer Ward.

Cold winters are certainly a bit quieter than the summertime, regarding what’s out and about. It’s a less active time for many species that adapt to cold temperatures by seeking shelter or migrating to warmer climates. However, it’s not a completely vacant time in nature. Many animals remain active throughout the winter, even in the coldest temperatures. You need only look and see.

Have your children search for animals that are present in the wintertime, such as cardinals, owls, deer, squirrels, blue jays, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, bunnies, foxes, and so on. Even though you may not see an animal, chances are you’ll see evidence that it has been around. The lack of foliage on trees makes spying a bit easier, however, and animals leave tracks and trails though the snow. Chances are you’ll have great luck finding wintry wildlife.

Look for evidence with your children, be it in your backyard, at a park, or throughout your neighborhood:

  • Food caches, such as seeds and nuts. Look but don’t touch. Animals hid these food stores specifically to help them survive the winter, when less food is available.
  • Chew marks. Many animals will nibble and eat bark from trees, since leaves are sparse. If you’re near a natural water source, beavers are probably burrowed in their dens, but chances are you can find evidence of their existence from chewed branches and logs.
  • Tunnels and burrows in the snow.
  • Sounds. Can you hear birdcalls? Squirrel chatter? A coyote’s howl?

Keep a journal of your discoveries, and use a sketchbook to render what you see.

Detoxing the Kids’ Rooms: The Dirty List

Monday, January 26th, 2009

The following excerpt is taken from Squeaky Green, the Method Guide to Detoxing Your Home, written by Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry:

The Dirty List: Kids’ Rooms
This is the nasty stuff that you should be eliminating from your life, if you followed all of our tips and suggestions.

  • PVC Plastic Toys
    Toys made from PVC and vinyl contain phthalates that leach into the body through the skin and when placed in the mouth. Solution: ditch any plastic with the number “3″ and be suspicious of any soft plastics. Generally the harder the plastic, the less likely it is to leach. A good test is to smell the plastic; if you can smell plastic it means it is off-gassing and you are breathing it.
  • Diaper and Wipes Bleached with Chlorine
    Diapers and wipes that are bleached with chlorine (which is how that diaper gets white) can rub onto your little one’s skin. Solution: reach for nonbleached or chlorine-free instead.
  • Nonbiodegradable Wipes
    While the eco-diaper dilemma is a tough one, it is easy to switch to biodegradable wipes. Most of the traditional wipe brands are full of plastic filler so they live in landfills for centuries. Solution: befriend biodegradable wipes.
  • Mattress and Bedding Residue and Off-Gas
    Traditional mattresses and bedding can contain synthetic materials that can transfer residue or off-gas while your child sleeps. Solution: demand natural options such as organic for anything that goes into the bed. Same goes for those fluffy stuffed animals.


Mindful Movements - Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) teaches mindfulness, meditation and awareness, gratefulness, and knowing how to live life fully in the present moment. His simple approach works well with both children and adults. This wonderful little book is perfect for families. The illustrations and simple language will appeal to children, yet the movements are profound and deeply effective for all ages, and we can do them the rest of our lives.

In the included DVD (video clip below), the exercises are taught outside beneath a beautiful willow tree by one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s students and then re-led by Thay himself. ”The practice of the Mindful Movements is to bring awareness and enjoyment into our bodies and into the movements we make with our bodies. Mindful Movements are very simple but very deep. They have been taught and practiced in Plum Village (Thay’s retreat center in France) for over two decades.”

I have been doing the Mindful Movements every morning and can feel how much my body, mind, and spirit are benefiting. I especially like the emphasis on breath. ”We often assume breathing is a natural skill. But breathing is a miracle. Being aware of our breath not only helps us manage the difficulties in everyday life, it also helps develop our wisdom and compassion.”

I plan to give this book to all my favorite people. A portion of the proceeds goes to nonprofit projects in Vietnam, and purchasing the book supports Thich Nhat Hanh in continuing to bring his profound gifts to the world.

Enjoy this video clip from Thick Nhat Hanh’s DVD Mindful Movements:

A Place Called Home

Friday, January 9th, 2009

Susan–Thanks for mentioning Chinaberry.com on your blog!

“… And finally, are you familiar with Chinaberry Books? They are fairly new to me, but I’m so happy to have finally discovered them. I received their catalog (free) and reading the description of each one of their books is probably just as lovely as the books themselves!! Old fashioned goodness as it’s best! If you’d like to receive a free catalog just go here.”

We hope you continue to enjoy your catalog and find our blog a friendly place to visit. By the way… I like your tag line:  “A house is built with brick and stone, It’s the love inside that makes a home.”

Visit Susan’s blog

Chinaberry Interviews Author Staton Rabin

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Each of us here at Chinaberry has his/her own personal favorite authors. Staton Rabin is one of my top three. Several years ago, I had the great pleasure of meeting her in person at a Starbucks in NYC when she was in the final phase of writing The Curse of the Romanovs. I had intended to ask her some questions that I could share with our customers, but I became so mesmerized listening to her talk about the Romanov story that I didn’t want to break the spell. That’s the kind of storyteller Rabin is – spellbinding! Now that we’ve got our blog up and running, I decided to email her with a few questions. Perhaps not as much fun as chatting with her in Starbucks, but you can’t beat your computer for convenience. I’m very pleased to introduce to you Staton Rabin!

We’re currently carrying two of her books (which she so generously autographed!): Black Powder and The Curse of the Romanovs.

Janet:  When did you first decide to make a living as a writer?  And, as a child, did you ever dream of becoming a writer? If not, what DID you dream of becoming?

Staton: When I was growing up, writing was the family business — my parents and my older brother were all writers. I suppose if I’d come from a family of plumbers, I would have grown up to be a plumber.  But when I was a kid, what I really dreamed of doing someday was becoming a U.S. Senator — or a magician.  I still know a couple of good “tricks,” but I never did run for the Senate.

Janet:  So many of your books revolve around time travel.  If you could travel back in time, where would you go? (more…)

How a Special Book Helped Our Family

Friday, November 14th, 2008

I wanted to share my story of the impact a Chinaberry book had on my family. (I originally wrote this in autumn 2005–we still love reading this book.) Please share your story of a Chinaberry book that has touched your family’s lives.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

I am a new single-mom who recently adopted twin 3-year-old girls. Due to their background, the newness of our family, and their age, my daughters were having a lot of trouble separating from me when I would take them to preschool, at bedtime, etc. It filled me with sadness when I would see their surprised looks when I came to pick them up from preschool and they would ask me “You came back to get us?” I was looking for books that could help them feel reassured that this Mommy will always love them, take care of them & come back for them.

The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn was the perfect book to help illustrate that point. At every separation (and any other time they wanted), I would give them a kiss on the hand, ask them to put their hand on the side of their face, and repeat “Mommy loves me.” It sounds so simple, yet it really works. Now, several months later, I am happy to say that the girls are still happy to see me after work, but never surprised. The Kissing Hand book and concept have really helped the girls feel/sense my love for them during the school day & even throughout their sleep. (They also like to give me a “kissing hand” so I can remember how much they love me.)