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Penelope Anne Cole has taught at every grade level,K to 12 and community college. She enjoys writing children’s stories to be read aloud. “Reading to children is the best way to help them love literature.” When not writing or reviewing children’s books, Ms. Cole enjoys dog walking, reading, gardening, church, and choir activities. Ms. Cole is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, a member of the California Writers Club (Fremont Area Writers and South Bay Writers), and is a Reading Therapist with Read America. Ms. Cole reviews books at

http://pennyreviews-chat.blogspot.com/

See reviews of Ms. Cole's books at

http://reviewsforpenny.blogspot.com/

Her website is www.penelopeannecole.com

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Animal Sound Mix-up by Connie Arnold with artwork by Kit Grady

Animal Sound Mix-up by Connie Arnold, with artwork by Kit Grady, is a delightful rhyming book.  This charming book is certain to please many children, who will laugh and giggle at the animals making such funny sounds.  It’s fun to speak the rhymes and make the animals sound silly.  I can even hear them saying, “Oh no, a bird doesn’t say oink.  A monkey doesn’t say moo.  And whoever heard of a barking horse?”  

Kit Grady’s artwork is perfectly suited to the story.  It is fun and whimsical, as much a treat for all eyes as the rhymes are fun for little ears to hear and repeat.  The animals are clearly having a great time and invite young readers to play along with them.

My daughter and I have always loved rhyming books, with many fond memories of reading the rhymes aloud together.  As soon as you finish the book, your child will want you to read it all over again.  Animal Sound Mix-up is surely such a book.  It is bound to quickly become an oft requested favorite, enjoyed many times over.  Thank you Connie Arnold for this lovely book.

Animal Sound Mix-up is available from Guardian Angel Publishing, also Amazon.com.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Secret Service Saint, by Janet Ann Collins, with artwork by Eugene Ruble

Secret Service Saint by Janet Ann Collins, with artwork by Eugene Ruble, is a wonderfully rich and timely addition to Saint Nicolas lore.  The title will capture the attention of the younger set.  This story takes us back to the time of the early church and shows the reader how God changes us and uses us for good.    

Nicolas wanted an adventurous life, so God gave him that and more.  First, Nicolas had an adventure sailing to a new life.  Then he became an important, wealthy church leader.  Somehow that wasn’t enough.  Nicolas wanted more adventure in his life.  He prayed and God used him to help needy people in secret.  In disguise, Nicolas used his wealth to help poor people.  After he died the secret good deeds stopped.  Then people realized it was Nicolas who had helped them.  People spread stories of his secret gifts and help throughout the world.  Saint Nicolas became our modern day Santa Claus, who gives gifts in celebration of the birth of Jesus.

The artwork by Eugene Ruble adds to the historical feel of the story.  His vivid pictures bring every nuance of the story to life.  The emotions of each character come alive as you turn each page.  You clearly see how the joy of secret giving changed Nicolas.  His smile and twinkling eyes are etched on his features even as his face ages in the story.

This is a lovely book that teaches the true meaning of Christmas to young people today.  It shows children how helping and giving will bring more joy and satisfaction than getting presents.  When we give from the heart, expecting nothing in return, we are doubly rewarded.

Secret Service Saint  is available from Guardian Angel Publishing, also Amazon.com.