Saturday, June 30, 2012

Whispering Wally by Kevin Scott Collier, Author/Artist

Whispering Wally,  written and illustrated by Kevin Scott Collier, is a lovely rhyming book with inspirational messages.  All the sea creatures that meet Wally Whale wonder at his whispering.  His strange behavior makes him hard to get to know.  It also makes others nervous -- they think he doesn’t like them.  They finally confront him and he leaves with deep sadness.

Later the sea creatures find out the reason for Wally’s whispering.  They now understand and are sympathetic.  Wally can finally be accepted in his community.  However, there’s more to the story.  Mother Nature provides an opportunity for Wally to be a hero.  He finds his voice to save the day. 

There are so many lessons here.  How we shouldn’t rush to judgment.  How things aren’t always as they seem.  How people may have good reasons for behavior which seems strange or separates them from others.  How your God-given gifts can be used to help others even if you don’t see it at first.

Kevin’s illustrations put us right there in the sea with all the action.  Each creature’s feelings are clearly shown on its face.  Kids will enjoy the rhyming and the colorful sea creatures.  Parents and teachers will appreciate the lessons this story provides.  Thank you, Kevin, for another fun story book that teaches gently.
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Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 Summer Giveaway from Kevin and Kristen Collier

Today I'm sharing information from Kevin and Kristen Collier's Tangerine Sky Productions (TSP) website:

"2012: The Summer of Giving" Book and Art Giveaway
"In these difficult times many are now facing across the country, TSP is hosting several giveaways during the months of July and August, to encourage others and be a light.  Winners receive an autographed book of their choosing, along with a signed, original character drawing suitable for framing.  Enter via our partner blogs, or tweet or email your book choice and why."

"Meet Kevin and Kristen
Kevin and Kristen Collier began Tangerine Sky Productions in 2005, as a result of collaborating on children's fiction novels.  They married shortly after, and focused their combined talents on creating unique and compelling family media endeavors.  Disturbed by the lack of values and hope in mainstream material for youth in particular, the Colliers have created a gallery of characters, youth fiction novels, children's picture books, and multi-media projects that promote inspirational family themes.  If Kristen and Kevin didn't see it in the market they went out of their way to create it. Strong families begin with inspiration.  The couple live in Grand Haven, Michigan, with their son, Jarod."

For more information about their family-friendly books and projects, and to participate in their "2012 Summer Giveaway," please go to Kevin and Kristen Collier's website:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tales from Kensington Forest by Kevin Scott Collier

I always enjoy Kevin Collier’s faith-based works, and Tales from Kensington Forest is one I’m recommending today.  His animal folk wrestle with the same problems we all have.  The stories are enhanced by Kevin’s artwork which helps us see the characters come alive.
In the first chapter, Pastor Prickly Pete learns his sermons are too long and too frequent.  His congregation wants an Events Coordinator, a school and an outreach center.  They host a bake sale fund raiser, but it ends in disaster.  Fester Fox sinks in quicksand trying to save the cash box.  He’s saved only when he lets it go.  Pastor Pete realizes that folks will volunteer when asked.  It’s a great reminder to all, “Ask and ye shall receive” God’s blessings; help is available to those who need it.

An act of kindness in the second chapter results in another disaster when fire destroys Fester’s den.  He angrily confronts the culprit, Betty Brown Bear.  Then he finds out later she fell asleep baking his favorite birthday pie!  The message here is that a kindness can sometimes go awry, and accidents do happen.  However, when one’s heart is in the right place, understanding and forgiveness will shine through. 

In the third chapter, Fester Fox stays with Pastor Pete while his damaged den is rebuilt by the congregation.  However, Fester becomes too comfortable and over stays his welcome.  Harrington Owl helps Pastor Pete get Fester back into his own home.  Pastor Pete suggests he move in with Fester Fox in his new den.  Fester then realizes he has a fine new home of his own.  Now Pastor Pete can enjoy his home in solitude.  Here we learn that hospitality is valued and friendship worth preserving.  Sometimes we’re stuck in comfortable ruts, and our friends can help us see our way home.  

Thanks again to Kevin Collier for fun stories with inspirational messages.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Chip's Sharing Day by Linda Derkez with art by Phoebe Doehring

Chip’s Sharing Day, by Linda Derkez with art by Phoebe Doehring, is a book that both boys and girls can relate to and enjoy.  His mother tries to teach Chip to be “kind and nice” and share his toys.  Then Cousin Dorcas comes to visit.  Chip is in that “what’s mine is mine” stage.  He isn’t ready to play nicely and share.  Instead, he’s being bratty.  Chip takes back whatever Dorcas tries to play with, and calls her “Dorkie.” 
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It’s a good thing Dorcas isn’t quite as shy and nice as she first appears.  She’s sneaky and beats Chip at his own game.  This is just what he needs, a little friendly comeuppance that wins his respect.  Finally, they can be friends as equals.

Phoebe Doehring’s illustrations clearly show Chip’s feelings.  We see his scowling facial expressions as he resents his cousin at first, and tries to keep her away from “his” things.  In the end, Cousin Dorcas wins him over by tricking him as he might have done to her.  Doehring’s artwork is in the American Folk Art style.  Her engaging pictures add to our enjoyment of the “Aha” ending.

This story helps kids understand how their actions affect others.  It’s one thing to be told to play nice and share, and another to see your behavior reflected in others.  The best situation is when “the playing field is level” and both can tease and play instead of it being one-sided.  Kids learn by observing behavior modeled by others.  Here Chip sees how his bad behavior affected Dorcas when she turns the tables on him.  Parents and teachers will have plenty of fodder for discussing “appropriate behavior” when reading this story.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Cody Knows by Karen Sue Wiesner with Linda Derkez

Cody Knows, by Karen Sue Wiesner with Linda Derkez, illustrated by Candace J. Hardy, is a book that should be given to all parents-to-be and new preschool teachers.  This book tells it like you want it to be, but shows it like it is.  Wiesner and Derkez have perfectly captured life with a toddler, from maddening to heart warming. 
New parents and preschool teachers will relate to this book with a big "Amen."  You can’t turn a page without wondering, what will Cody get in to next?  And how will his frazzled parents cope?  They’ll do what every parent of a toddler does:  watch ‘em like a hawk, pray for patience and strength, and live for the next day, when Cody will learn something new.

Candace J. Hardy’s art illustrates the true essence of parenting.  The parents’ (and grandparent’s) faces are alive with their fears as well as their hopes and dreams.  They rush around trying to stay in step with Cody while he’s gleefully one or two steps ahead of them.  You see their worry and surprise, and also their love and joy.

This book can be a good teaching tool to tell your child what you want them to learn while showing them what you don’t want.  “See what Cody’s doing.  Now look at his Mommy’s and Daddy’s faces.  What do they want Cody to do here?”  I believe if more parents get this book before they become parents, they will be better prepared for everything, instead of hearing, “you have no idea what you’re in for.”  As we all know, parenting isn’t for sissies or cowards.

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