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

Contact Ms. Cole for School Author Visits, locally in-person, or by SKYPE.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Friday First and Fancies

In setting up my weekly schedule, I intended for Fridays to be Free-days, wherein I would write, shop, run errands, spend time with my pets, and generally just kick back and chill.  Since it's a free day (no tutoring students scheduled), I've signed up to substitute teach.  On any given Friday, there's the possibility of "subbing" each week at a new school. What I enjoy most about subbing is seeing what schools are doing and what books they're reading.

Esperanza Rising
Last week I subbed first at a middle school in Special Education. They were working on Reading Recovery, Algebra concepts, and reading Esperanza Rising, by Pam Munoz Ryan. It's a heart-tugging story for middle graders about a young Mexican immigrant farm worker who needs work to raise money to bring her grandmother from Mexico to California to help her mother, who's extremely ill with Valley Fever.  It's a coming of age story and also a "riches to rags" story of how Esperanza's family goes from wealthy landowners in Mexico to poor immigrant farm workers in California in the 1930's, and how they -- especially Esperanza -- deal with their changed circumstances.   

The title, Esperanza Rising, is a cross language and cross cultural word play.  Esperanza means hope in Spanish and she has hope that she will get the money she needs.  Esperanza is also rising to the challenge of helping her family.  Be forewarned, there is brutality, tragedy, and a sober look into the harsh reality of labor camps.  A very good read for 5th, 6th, and 7th graders, that can also be enjoyed by older readers.



Product DetailsIn my second day of subbing, I was at an Elementary Special Education class and I got to read a couple of books that are perfect to discuss in my Wacky Wednesday post next week.  So please return for There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rose, one of a series of themed books written by Lucille Colandro, and illustrated by Jared Lee.

I enjoyed my two days of subbing, but I got the "new school cold."  Apparently, teacher "folklore" has it that one gets sick each time one goes to a new school.  Since I went to two schools, it was bound to happen.  Either that, or an attack of very bad allergies from the early blossoming trees hereabouts.  While recovering, I wish you all a safe, restful, and pleasant weekend.  Please return for more Monday Madness and angst in parenting an 18 year old.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - More Dr. Seuss

How many of you parents, grandparents, and teachers have committed the beginnings and more  of your favorite Dr. Seuss books to memory?  I love them all, but three of our favorites are:

The Cat in the Hat 
The Cat in the Hat:
"The sun did not shine.
It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house
All that cold, cold wet day.

I sat there with Sally
We sat there, we two.
And I said 'How I wish 
We had something to do!'

                                        Too wet to go out
                                        Too cold to play ball.
                                        So we sat in the house
                                        And did nothing at all."

Green Eggs & Ham (B&N Exclusive Edition) 
Green Eggs and Ham
"Do yo like 
green eggs and ham?
I do not like them
Sam-I-am.
I do not like 
green eggs and ham."

 
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish"One Fish 
Two Fish  
Red Fish 
Blue Fish 
black fish 
blue fish 
old fish 
new fish.  
This one has a little star.  
This one has a little car. 
Say! what a lot of fish there are. . ."

Teachers, children, parents, and grandparents celebrate Dr. Seuss and his books (and children's literature) the first week of March.  Thank you Dr. Seuss for bringing such fun to children's books.  Here is the rest of the Dr. Seuss Biography (continued from Barnes and Noble website.  Please note special insights and tidbits at the end):

Dr. Seuss Biography:

"Geisel was named president of Beginner Books, a new venture of Random House, where he worked with writers and artists like P.D. Eastman (Go Dog Go, Are You My Mother, Red, Stop! Green, Go!), Michael Frith (I'll Teach My Dog 100 Words), Al Perkins (The Nose Book, The Ear Book), and Roy McKie (My Book about Me, Would You Rather be a Bulldog), some of whom collaborated with him on book projects. For books he wrote but didn't illustrate, Geisel used the pen name Theo LeSieg (LeSieg is Geisel spelled backwards).

As Dr. Seuss, he continued to write bestsellers. Some, like Green Eggs and Ham and the tongue-twisting Fox in Socks, were aimed at beginning readers. Others could be read by older children or read aloud by parents, who were often as captivated as their kids by Geisel's wit and imagination. Geisel's visual style appealed to television and film directors, too: The animator Chuck Jones, who had worked with Geisel on a series of Army training films, brought How the Grinch Stole Christmas! to life as a hugely popular animated TV special in 1966. A live-action movie starring Jim Carrey as the Grinch was released in 2000. 

Many Dr. Seuss stories have serious undertones: The Butter Battle Book, for example, parodies the nuclear arms race. But whether he was teaching vocabulary words or values, Geisel never wrote plodding lesson books. All his stories are animated by a lively sense of visual and verbal play. At the time of his death in 1991, his books had sold more than 200 million copies. Bennett Cerf, Geisel's publisher, liked to say that of all the distinguished authors he had worked with, only one was a genius:  Dr. Seuss.
Of Interest:
The Cat in the Hat was written at the urging of editor William Spaulding, who insisted that a book for first-graders should have no more than 225 words. Later, Bennett Cerf bet Geisel $50 that he couldn't write a book with just 50 words. Geisel won the bet with Green Eggs and Ham, though to his recollection, Cerf never paid him the $50.

Geisel faced another challenge in 1974, when his friend Art Buchwald dared him to write a political book. Geisel picked up a copy of Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! and a pen, crossed out each mention of the name 'Marvin K. Mooney,' and replaced it with 'Richard M. Nixon.' Buchwald reprinted the results in his syndicated column. Nine days later, President Nixon announced his resignation.

The American Heritage Dictionary says the word 'nerd' first appeared in print in the Dr. Seuss book If I Ran the Zoo:
'And then, just to show them, I'll sail to Ka-Troo 
And bring back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo 
A Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!'

The word 'grinch,' after the title character in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is defined in Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as a killjoy or spoilsport."

Full name:  Theodor Seuss Geisel ; also:  Theo LeSieg, AKA:  Dr. Seuss
Date of Birth:  March 2, 1904
Place of Birth:  Springfield, Massachusetts
Date of Death:  September 4, 1991
Place of Death:  La Jolla, California



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"My Brother is My Best Friend," by Nicole Weaver, Illustrated by Clara Batton Smith


My Brother is My Best Friend, by Nicole Weaver, with illustrations by Clara Batton Smith, is the second trilingual book in Ms. Weaver’s “Twins:  Best Friends” children’s book series.  Yes, while most of us may struggle with reading, writing, and speaking one language, this series is written in English, Spanish, and French!  Ms. Weaver’s first trilingual book, My Sister is My Best Friend, celebrates the joy of having a twin sister as a best friend.  Now her second book, My Brother is My Best Friend, continues the fun with twin brothers who are best friends.

In this book we see Blake and Drake as they enjoy summer and winter fun together.  In the winter, they love playing outside in the snow with snowmen and snowballs.  Then afterward they enjoy cozy mugs of hot chocolate snuggled warm inside.  In the summer, they climb up in their treehouse, dangle their feet in the pond, and playfully imitate the wildlife they see all around them:  birds, amphibians, and insects.  They do everything together with gusto and joy.

The artwork by Clara Batton Smith totally captures the love and fun shared by these two brothers.  It makes you want to jump into the pages of the book and do just as Blake and Drake do:   run, jump, hop, dip in the pond, “fly,” and experience a joyful shared childhood.  It’s important to me to see how active these boys are, not sitting around playing video games together, but enjoying being out and playing in the great outdoors.  And I like their complimentary colored outfits.

This is a lovely companion to Ms. Weaver’s first book about twin sisters.  Since it’s in trilingual form, teachers and parents wanting to build their students’ vocabulary and develop fluency in a fun way will find both books entertaining and enjoyable, as well as educational.  What a wonderful resource for language learning, to have all three versions on the same page!  These books can be read over and over just for their “feel good” nature, while at the same time reinforcing and building their language skills.  These books are recommended for both boys and girls – see how the other half has a good time.



edited picture of meNicole Weaver is from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She came to the United States when she was ten years old. She is fluent in Creole, French, Spanish and English. She is a veteran teacher of French and Spanish. She is an award-winning trilingual children’s author.  Her second book, titled, My Sister is My Best Friend, won the 2012 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice award and also a CLC Literary Gold Seal of approval 2012, in Female audience category. Follow Ms. Weaver on her blog:



Both Ms. Weaver's "Twin Best Friend" books are published by http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/ - Ebook available at GAP.   
Print copies also available from quality online booksellers, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday Madness - Eighteen Years Old; What Parents Have to Look Forward to

Dear Parents,
My daughter is 18 -- going on 30, as they say.  We have five more treasured months before she turns nineteen (will that be any better?)

To borrow from Dr. Seuss, It all started with . . . turning 18.
 Hmmm, what can one do at age 18?

You can register to vote.  So we hurried on over to the DMV to kill two birds with one stone.  She'd get her 18 year old ID card (to see adult movies), and register to vote.  While waiting there for her photo ID, I suggested (in as casual a fashion as I could muster), "Why don't you re-take your Driving Permit test while we're waiting?"  We had to wait an hour or so, but that gave her time to cram.  This was her 3rd charmed time taking the test, (after passing the online Drivers' Ed course).  She'd failed the permit test twice, second time worse than the first.  While agonizing over trying a third time, her time limit expired.  But this time, she passed!

I knew our summer would be hours and hours, and miles and miles of practice driving to ensure she would be a safe and confident driver, who would ably pass her Road Driving exam.  I also told her, no driving until she completed all her high school coursework and passed her finals -- to ensure she'd graduate from high school.  We pushed it right to the last minute, while waiting for the grade on her on-line course.  But she made it and the last two weeks of high school were mostly spent being a senior, signing yearbooks, and practicing the Graduation Walk!

Next on the list of things you can do as an 18 year old:  get a tattoo.  Of course, I said "No way. Why would you ever want to deface your beautiful body with a tattoo?  That's so, so, trashy.  You know some employers still frown on tattoos."  I sputtered in my losing battle.  "Well, maybe if it's subtle, in good taste, and, hopefully, hidden."  She chose a foot tattoo -- some say they hurt the most.  To which I said "Good, I hope you have a lot of pain."  She suckered me into it with a tattoo that reads, "I love you" in my very own handwriting!  How touching is that!  (Are you choked up -- I was, sort of.)  And she even let me go with her and her friend to hold her hand.


Before graduating, we had to have The Eighteenth Birthday Party.  Now how would this be different from any other teen party?  Well, all of her friends would be 18 and they would all come with their very own lighters. Yes, you can't buy a lighter or cigarettes, until you turn 18.  Nevermind that none of her girlfriends smoke cigarettes -- they all smoke flavored vapor.  Yes, there they sat in the backyard, puffing away on their hookas and vapor pens with flavored vapor.  (I wasn't there the whole time, but I sincerely hope it was only vapor that they smoked, he he.)

That was the first few months of parenting an 18 year old.  Can you feel the underlying fear and angst in this lighthearted memoir?  I really was afraid she wouldn't complete her graduation requirements in time to walk at graduation -- and I'd paid for announcements, cap and gown, and the graduation party, too.  Which is a whole other story of way too much food -- which I gave or threw away -- plus a before and after graduation party -- when one party would have been enough.  I made her go to Grad Night, too, to get her high school mug and pajamas, little knowing it was an agony for her because she'd broken up with her high school sweetheart of three years by then and he was there, too.

Back to the Driving, I was okay with her not having a driver's license at 16, since she needed more life experience and confidence before she was ready.  But then the three months of summertime driving was very frightening -- and yes, I also paid for driving school.  My thoughts and fears:  if that's how she drives under supervision, what will she do on her own?  What about the other crazy drivers we encounter each day, not to mention the drunks and druggies, and the sleep-deprived?  But we made it through the summer of practice driving.  She didn't have her behind the wheel exam appointment until after she started college.  By the time she passed and got her license, I was so done with daily driving her everywhere. 

I'd also said, no car until she got a part time job to pay for it.  She did get a job and they were to give her 15-20 hours a week.  So we went car shopping.  Our mechanic said "No VW's, please -- too hard to work on."  But that's what she wanted.  Got a Jetta and our mechanic checked it out and told us there was an oil gasket leak, but it's not too expensive to fix.  They reduced the price $250 and it cost over $350 to fix it.  Then another $283, and now it's in the shop a third time.  Next time we'll be looking for one with a good safety record, good maintenance record, and good gas mileage.  Oh, and the 15 - 20 hours turned out to be 5 hours per week -- so I've been paying gas, car payment, maintenance, and insurance.  At least I don't have to drive her everywhere -- but then I also don't see her much at all since she got her car.

More Monday Madness, of parenting an 18 year old, to come . . .

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Firsts and Fancies

Since I had my first School Author Visit this week, and this is a Friday First post, I will tell you how it went.

 play learn and grow.jpg
It was also a first time Literacy Night for Montague School, so the Principal had no idea what would happen or how many would show up.  She was a little nervous, but very warm and welcoming, so I was set at ease.  We chatted as I set up my station and watched the kids and parents arrive and settle in.

When Dr. Wernick welcomed the group, and then introduced me, she emphasized how important it is to read to your children every day and how much fun it is to share stories with them.  She held up some of the books she'd brought to share. 

Her teachers set up their Literacy Stations:  some stations with plastic letters to make words and sentences; some with phrases to make sentences.  There were books to read -- one teacher read to a group of kids.  I had my own table set up displaying my award winning books with their stickers, my bronze medal, bookmarks, coloring pages, flyers, and my business cards.  Dr. Wernick had sent a letter home, but since this was a first, it was all new.  About 40 people came, parents with kids, even both parents in some cases.  It was a varied, multi-cultural mix typical of the Bay Area:  White, Asian, Hispanic, and Indian.
reading.jpg
Halfway through the evening the Principal called everyone over to my station to meet me.  I talked briefly about my three books, Magical Matthew, Mágico Mateo (the Spanish Version), and Magical Mea, then read a few pages.  I asked if they had questions and there were a few:

How did I get my ideas?
I told them about my neighbor's autistic son Matthew turning ten -- "double digits" -- being the inspiration for the first book, and how I gave him magical powers.  Then the second book idea about Mea came because I wanted to showcase a "challenging child" -- one who liked to play tricks on people.

How did I find my artist and my publisher?
I related how I found Kevin Scott Collier, my artist, on the internet, and then persuaded him to do my books.  I wanted a likeness of Matthew, but when he said he does more of a cartoon style, I said a blond blue-eyed kid would work just fine -- and it really looks like Matthew did at that age.  Then I told them how Kevin  introduced me to his publisher, Lynda Burch, of Guardian Angel Publishing, who became my publisher, too! (She thought Magical Matthew was a cute story that needed more work, and so I edited it some more!)

How long did it take you to write and publish your books?
I told them that the books wrote themselves very quickly, but required a lot of editing before publishing then waited in the various publisher's "piles"-- waiting for an artist, waiting for artwork, waiting for editing, waiting for proofing, then waiting to be published.  It took about 18 months for the first book and the second book was published seven months after the first.

Product DetailsThen I gave every child 3 coloring pages from Magical Matthew, 2 bookmarks, and my business card.  All the kids loved my business card -- I wonder if they'll all call me?  Some parents also took the flyers (media releases).  And I sold a few books!  What was great about this event was how attentive they all were, smiling and supportive -- laughing at my witty jokes, -- very appreciative.  It was all over in a few minutes, but a good experience so I'm looking forward to many more author school visits!  I will even do Skype visits!



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Here are January 2014 Releases From Guardian Angel Publishing!

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other quality on-line bookstores.  
 
EBook versions available at http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com
Click link to see inside:
 
A Sandy Grave Academic Wings by Donna McDine art by Julie Hammond
What is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?
 
My Brother is My Best Friend: A Trilingual Story  Academic Wings by Nicole Weaver art by Clara Batton Smith
Brothers are very special. Meet two brothers that do everything together. This delightful story transcends all cultural barriers. It will warm the hearts of children from all over the world.
Los hermanos son muy especiales: Conozca a dos hermanos que hacen todo juntos. Esta  bella historia trasciende todas las barreras culturales. Tocará el corazón de todos los niños del  mundo.
Être frère, c’est très spécial.  Voici deux frères qui font tout ensemble. Cette histoire merveilleuse transcende toutes les barrières culturelles.  L’histoire va réchauffer le cœur des enfants dans du monde entier.
 
Under the Full Moon Academic Wings written and illustrated by San Hoy
What do a family of beavers, a young robin, a scare crow, two wolves, a bunch of sledders, a bow and arrow hunter, a builder of sandcastles, and fairies have in common? Their stories and possibly yours are influenced by the full moon. 

 
All in a School Day Journey Littlest Angels by James Byers art by Jack Foster
Everyone daydreams at school, but have you ever taken a daydream journey while at school? A President flying through the air on a bat? A shark getting a tan on the beach? Discover tree-sized sweets and find yourself in a room with the most peculiar doctor and nurse you’ll ever meet. Enjoy the adventure, but be sure to get back before the teacher catches you dreaming.
 
Trial by Walkabout Chapbooks for Tweens by Margot Finke
Sibling rivalry is the engine that pushes Josh Howard and Bindi into a walkabout that almost proves fatal. The Aussie outback is unforgiving, and the tribal Medicine Man is out for blood – Josh’s blood! 
 
 
Tissue Tantra: The Sum of Our Parts Academic Wings by Bill Kirk art by Eugene Ruble
This children’s non-fiction picture book is all about tissues, from skin to bone, to muscle to blood and is a great learning tool to teach the various tissues found in the human body, from the outside in.  
 
 
A Gift for Roo  Academic Wings by Max and Arianna Overton
A seven-year-old girl, living with her father, tries to cope with the loss of her mother and her loneliness. One rainy day, she rescues a small caterpillar and takes it home with her. Roo discovers truths about growing up and loss, coming to realize that all life is a cycle. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wacky Wednesday - Wonderful Words

My first Wacky Wednesday post.  I awoke with an image in mind:

picture an ordinary bathtub, a window over the tub with the curtains softly blowing in the breeze, and several shoes piled in front of the bathtub.  Got that?  Makes you wonder.  Did someone discard their shoes and jump in the tub, or did they leave the shoes, and jump out the window?

Shoes figured prominently in the beginning of Dr. Seuss' Wacky Wednesday:


"It all began
with that shoe on the wall.
A shoe on a wall…?
Shouldn’t be there at all!"
****

We celebrate Dr. Seuss in his March birthday month, but I have the rest of January and all of February to celebrate him.  I'll share some Wacky Wednesday tips that others have shared. And if there's someone who hasn't heard of Dr. Seuss (think multi-cultural, multi-ethnic -- some foreign born/raised friends and their kids haven't discovered him yet), please share his books with them.

Okay, I admit it.  I adopted my daughter just so I could read her children's books!  I didn't grow up with Dr. Seuss books, but thankfully, she did, and loves them to this day.  I grew up with fairy tales and myths and she loves those, too.  We even got Dr. Seuss books for my nephew's boys, too.  Wacky Wednesday ended up tattered from constant readings.

****
 Editorial Review - Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
"Now another generation of kids can enjoy the craziness that happens one Wednesday morning. Each scene shows more wacky things for kids to find and count. In the bathroom there are four—a boy showering with a sock on one foot, a fish in a bottle, an upside down faucet and best of all a palm tree growing out of the toilet. Each scene presents more wacky things until readers reach the number twelve, and then the tale leaps to twenty. At this point Patrolman McGann announces that after counting twenty items and then going to bed, Wacky Wednesday will soon be at an end. The story is of course amusing as are the illustrations. It should be plenty of fun for young kids to find out what is wrong in each of the scenes."

****

Here's some more about Dr. Seuss from his biography on Barnes and Noble:

Meet the Author:  Dr. Seuss


It’s difficult to imagine the children’s book landscape without Dr. Seuss, who is, almost half a century after The Cat in the Hat, the best-recognized children’s book writer in the country. But until Dr. Seuss -- a.k.a. Theodor Seuss Geisel -- reinvented the genre with his colorful and exuberant Sneetches, Grinches, Zaxes, and Zooks, children’s books were often little more than literal-minded lessons and cautionary tales intended to transform young readers into productive citizens.

Now that generations of readers have been reared on The Cat in the Hat and Fox in Socks, it's easy to forget how colorless most children's books were before Dr. Seuss reinvented the genre. When the editorial cartoonist Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1936, the book was turned down by 27 publishers, many of whom said it was "too different." Geisel was about to burn his manuscript when it was rescued and published, under the pen name Dr. Seuss, by a college classmate.

Over the next two decades, Geisel concocted such delightfully loopy tales as The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins and Horton Hears a Who. Most of his books earned excellent reviews, and three received Caldecott Honor Awards. But it was the 1957 publication of The Cat in the Hat that catapulted Geisel to celebrity. 

Rudolf Flesch's book Why Johnny Can't Read, along with a related Life magazine article, had recently charged that children's primers were too pallid and bland to inspire an interest in reading. The Cat in the Hat, written with 220 words from a first-grade vocabulary list, "worked like a karate chop on the weary little world of Dick, Jane and Spot," as Ellen Goodman wrote in The Detroit Free Press. With its vivid illustrations, rhyming text and topsy-turvy plot, Geisel's book for beginning readers was anything but bland. It sold nearly a million copies within three years. (A little more next week.)
*********

We get "wacked out" when we see things that shouldn't be.  Or pleasantly surprised like when we see garbage cans topped with flowers, when we see artwork on power boxes, when we see pleasing images that tickle our fancy and make us want more.

I wish you all a wonderful and wacky week.



Monday, January 20, 2014

Welcoming the New Year

Dear Readers,
Many of you on your blogs, in emails and texts, and with friends and family have settled in to the new year with New Year's resolutions and themes:  to be appreciative, to do better, to make some changes, to be positive, to enjoy life to the fullest, to accomplish more, to smile more.  I'm making some changes, too.

I'm adding some features to my blog.  I'll still write reviews of children's books. I love doing that -- sharing some lovely new books and reminding folks of old favorites. 

Then, as the mother of an eighteen year old, I'll write about the trials and tribulations of that unique role. Monday Madness
will be about sharing my experiences, and those of other parents, with peeks and reality checks into the world of parenting teens that all parents will hopefully reach.
 
Next, I loved the book Wacky Wednesday, and will plan to do something wacky on Wednesdays. Like find some wacky books to review, or post some things about books, writing, or literature that parents and teachers would appreciate. (If you haven't read Wacky Wednesday, by Dr. Seuss, I'll share it soon. )

 

Finally, Friday Firsts and Fancies will be about whatever strikes my fancy.  You may not see it here as a Friday First, but my take on it may give you something to focus on, to fret about, to fuss over, to fume about, to figure out, to flirt with, to fixate on, to feast upon, to favor, to feed on, to fall to, to foresee, or to feel.

And if you're read all this way, I want to share news of my first School Author Visit tomorrow night.  I'm the featured Author at Montague Elementary School's Literacy Night!  I'll share my books and talk about what it's like being an author!  I'll post here how it went.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"Keri is Cute, Cute, Cute," written by Karen Wiesner, with Artwork by Molly M. Courtright



Keri is Cute, Cute, Cute, written by Karen Wiesner and illustrated by Molly M. Courtright, is a sweet book that gets its point across in an appealing manner. Since she was a baby Keri had been told she’s “cute cute cute.” It’s not surprising that cuteness becomes her identity. When you’re little, it’s perfectly okay to be cute. Folks just love to tickle a baby’s chin and tell them how cute and darling they are. No one can get enough of cute babies. However, as we get older, we all want to be known for something besides our looks. And that is what happens to Keri.

One day Keri realizes that being cute isn’t enough. Other kids have talents, interests, and abilities. What are hers? What does she like to do and what can she do – besides be cute? She tries to puzzle this out for herself. Fate or good fortune helps her with this and she discovers she does have a talent and an interest, -- so she claims it as her own.  She’s a bit of a heroine, as well. Yes, you’ll have to get the book to find out exactly what happens! And maybe you’ll have to look up a word as I did.

The whimsical and pert artwork by Molly M. Courtright is done in colorful pastels. The story benefits from the positive smiling faces and upbeat images throughout. In this little book there’s no judgment against being cute as much as recognition that it’s better to be more than one’s looks – to have goals and a purpose in your life.

This is one of those children’s books that you read and say, “Hmmm, why didn’t I write that book?” It resonated personally with me. I have a beautiful daughter who’s always been told how lovely, pretty, and cute she is. Fortunately, she is also kind, a loyal friend, a sweet daughter, and an animal lover, and has many interests other than looking good.

Although our culture values beauty, being beautiful can be a mixed blessing – even a burden for those who don’t have much else going for them. So I’m pleased that Ms. Wiesner wrote this book to remind parents, grandparents, and teachers to be sure to comment on the total package.  It’s important to acknowledge their children’s diverse gifts and talents, not simply their beauty. And this is true for both boys and girls.

Keri is Cute, Cute, Cute is published by www.weecreekpress.com (an imprint of Whiskey Creek Press), and is available from quality online booksellers such as:  www.Amazon.com and www.BarnesandNoble.com
Read about Karen Wiesner’s many other books on her website:  karenwiesner.com.

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 2014 Guardian Angel Kids dZine

Weather Wonders
January 2014 Guardian Angel Kids eZine

Tsunami Fog on the Beach as reported by Gak
A Sudden Storm by Robert Niven 
The Day It Rained Cats and Dogs by Arthur Carey 
Finding Your Place in a Storm by Carol Thompson 
Earth—A Stormy Planet by Irene S. Roth 
Everyone Knows it’s Windy by Mary Sue Roberts 
Down on the Windmill Farm by Mary Sue Roberts