Friday, March 30, 2012

Slime and All by Janet Ann Collins, with art by Alexander Morris

Slime and All, by Janet Ann Collins, with artwork by Alexander Morris, is a picture book for early readers.  It has lots of fun and make-believe in the form of a large, talking, spunky worm, named Lump.  When we first meet him, he is unhappy living on a farm.  Lump’s not happy because the other farm animals, the pigs, cows, and horses, all run away from him.  That makes him sad.  He feels like an outsider and all alone in the world. 
Lump decides to leave the farm and grabs a ride on a truck to the city.  There he meets a smart boy named Jake, who informs the scared truck driver that “Worms do not hurt us.”  Lump and Jake continue their adventures in a park.  There Lump, gets some “wetting down” to make the slime he needs to wiggle around.  Lump is afraid the kids in the park won’t like him, but Jake, ever calm and collected, calls them over to meet the big worm.  The kids instantly like Lump and he reciprocates by giving them rides around the park.

The kids enjoy Lump, not because he’s like them, but because he’s different.  Lump is great fun.  He’s out of the ordinary, and he wants to be friends. This is a message that bears repeating as often as possible.  It’s okay to be different.  And it’s okay to meet new and different folks.  You learn more about yourself as you learn about others.  Even more importantly, you learn about friendship.  And that’s one of the best lessons out there. 
The whimsical pictures by Alexander Morris add to the pure enjoyment of this story.  We would have no trouble seeing a giant worm in our minds.  But, by making Lump cute and fun, Alexander Morris has given us another dimension in which to enjoy and appreciate this story.  Thanks to Janet Ann Collins and Alexander Morris for a most delightful and fun family read.  The children will love reading along until they can read it all by themselves, again and again.

Available from Guardian Angel Publishing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Jumbo Shrimp of Dire Straits, by Kristen and Kevin Collier

The Jumbo Shrimp of Dire Straits, by Kristen and Kevin Collier, takes us from the depths of despair in “Dire Straits,” through serious peril at sea, and finally to safety at the Cape of Hope.  Captain Luther of the S.S. Hope B’Gone shrimp boat faces certain disaster if he and his crew can’t increase their shrimp catch.  Tales of a jumbo shrimp lure them out to sea where they come under attack when the huge shrimp destroys the ship and leaves them hopeless. 
All seems lost when Captain Luther asks the Lord to help them.  The Good Lord responds to Captain Luther’s prayers by commanding the jumbo shrimp to rescue Luther and his crew.  They land in Paradise, at the Cape of Hope.  The message is clear:  the Good Lord will save you from the despair of your Dire Straits and deliver you to Paradise through Hope, if you but call upon Him.

This book is filled with verses in rhyme, exciting sea adventures, and powerful images of monster-sized sea creatures to entice young readers.  There are references to David-and-Goliath and Jonah-and-the-Whale for young Bible scholars.  The rescue by the Good Lord, through the jumbo shrimp is the ending that satisfies completely. 

This story shows us our faith in God will see us through hard times, struggles against impossible odds, and bring us safely through our faith and hope to paradise.  Thanks to Kristen and Kevin Collier for this entertaining moral lesson presented in a vivid and exciting story.

Available through Guardian Angel Publishing,

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Turtle Who Imagined by Mary Esparza-Vela, Artwork by Kevin Scott Collier

Either as children or adults, most of us have wondered, “what if ” and “if only.”  Then follows an imagined life or scenario of the way things would be if we could only do them differently.  Imagination is a great way to be someone entirely different or live an alternate life.  Children can do this in a more positive way than adults, since they have fewer regrets and more time to explore infinite possibilities.  In The Turtle Who Imagined, by Mary Esparza-Vela, with art by Kevin Scott Collier, a small turtle does just that. 

Mary Esparza-Vela shows the turtle imagining he can leave his shell and hop like a rabbit, fly like an eagle, jump out and roar like a bear, and play in the mud like a pig.  However, when he falls asleep and dreams he can do as he imagined, he finds his dream self not enjoying the transformation.  When he suddenly awakens to danger, he realizes how important his protective shell is and fully appreciates who he is.
Kevin Scott Collier’s artwork is perfect to help us imagine along with the turtle.  We are sad and frustrated with him, as well as happy when he’s happy.  And in the end, we are content with ourselves just as he is.  Every nuance of his journey of self-discovery and appreciation comes alive through Kevin Collier’s illustrations.

This is an important lesson at any age, to know oneself and acknowledge one’s abilities and gifts.  What you see as your limitations can be the very things that help you succeed as you learn to overcome obstacles and barriers.  We shouldn’t let our imagined imperfections define or limit us.  Rather use them to become our best self.  Thank you to Mary Esparza-Vela and Kevin Scott Collier for this entertaining and self-affirming children’s book.

Available through Guardian Angel Publishing.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Joy the Jellyfish by Kristen Collier, illustrated by Kevin Collier

Have you ever moved to a new place, started a new job, changed schools, and felt friendless, on the outside, alone?  Then you know how Joy the Jellyfish feels.  She’s so small, shy, and transparent she feels no one sees her or knows her.  She just wants a friend.  So she sets off on a journey to find one. 

Joy smiles at the sea creatures she meets, but no one seems to notice her or want to be her friend.  Then she enters icy waters and is befriended by Bella Beluga.  Bella helps Joy see she has to be a friend to have a friend.  She tells Joy “a true friend sees you from the inside out.“  They become friends and Bella guides Joy back to her home in the Great Barrier Reef.  Bella can’t stay, but leaves Joy with the prediction that “new friends await you now that you know the secret to true friendship.”  

Joy the Jellyfish author Kristen Collier has written a story that applies across all ages.  This is a timeless message that we must learn over and over again.  We shouldn’t wait for people to come to us.  To be a friend means to seek out others who may feel left out, alone, or shy.  If we put ourselves out to and for others, we’ll be rewarded with friendship.  Being a friend means being open to others, taking the first step, risking exposure to share the glow of love and friendship like Joy.

Joy the Jellyfish is playfully illustrated by Kevin Collier.  His sea critters are fun to see and quite expressive.  We have no doubt what they are feeling in each picture.  Children, parents, and teachers can easily relate to the sweet message of the book and to the joyful and pleasing images on each page.