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
See reviews of Ms. Cole's books at
Her website is www.penelopeannecole.com
Monday, March 31, 2014
Yes, the VW Jetta is ready to be sold to make room for the KIA Soul! I hope this is the last time I have to buy a car for my teen. When a car is in the shop every month and your mechanic says sell it, that's what you do.
For the second car, I hope we did enough research and comparison shopping. I hope this one will do better. It's still under warranty, so we will have it looked over by KIA and pray it lives up to it's reputation. My girl is "thrilled" and appreciative. (So far, at least. And yes, she's happily doing all her chores and spending time with me. Gratitude is wonderful!)
We had a little trouble finding the dealership, but the car is what she wanted and it has safety features like a backup camera, traction control, air bags, etc.
No, it didn't come with the hamsters, but that's okay by me. It did come with the lighted speakers -- I hope that doesn't get old!) She has a part-time, seasonal job that will cover her gas, so that's good, too. Now if I can just sell the VW to pay for this one, it will be even better.
So now we can concentrate on the 3rd Quarter of her Freshman year. She passed her classes, so that's all good. Next Quarter she'll have Math, English and Intro to Art (more like Art Appreciation.)
Wishing you all a wonderful week. I still have worries, but at least it won't be about my girl's transportation!
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Publisher, Lynda Burch
Tags: Children's Books, New Releases, Academic Wings, Wings of Faith, Health & Hygiene, Animals &and Pets, Littlest Angels
Saturday, March 29, 2014
The first book, Alfa and Beto: The Biblioburros by Paula Morrow, was a non-fiction story about Luis Soriano, a teacher in Colombia whose missionis bringing books and education to children in the rugged, high mountain areas. These children have little access to education, schools, and libraries. So Mr. Soriano visits 15 different villages bringing books to share the joys of reading, and teach children and adults to read. His two burros carry the books, hence the name "Biblio-Burros."
There are only two rules for children to borrow books from the Biblioburros mobile library:
It's a good story to help inspire reading and volunteerism in children. They can see how important books, libraries, and reading are and how privileged they are to have access to these things in their schools and neighborhood.
The second book, Stay Away from Simon, by Carol Carrick and illustrated by Donald Carrick, is a nice middle grade story about how prejudices about mentally handicapped, "slow" and simple children (and adults) can cause unnecessary stress, fear, and hurt.
Lucy and her younger brother, Josiah, are frightened when they see that Simon, the hulking miller's boy, is following them home from school in a snowstorm. They've heard stories about how Simon "isn't quite right in the head" and is dangerous. They've been told to stay away from him and don't understand why he's following them.
This is a good story to help teach understanding about and compassion for people with mental disabilities. The story is easy to read and the ending is strong and offers a valuable lesson. The illustrations by Donald Carrick are excellent and provide insight into life in a rural town in the early part of the century.
There are many other books by Carol Carrick listed here on Amazon:
The third book is A Bear Named Trouble by Marion Dane Bauer. The story is told in part from the perspective of a young adolescent bear, "Trouble," who's been pushed out into the world by his mother and Jack, the son of a zookeeper, newly relocated to Anchorage Alaska zoo. Both Trouble and Jack have lost their familiar home and find themselves in new territory. Trouble behaves like the wild animal he is and Jack, a curious and imaginative boy, finds as much trouble as does the bear. The is another middle grade book but with strong images and hard life lessons.
Newbery Honor Winner Continues to Challenge Herself--
and Readers--Twenty-Five Years Later
Marion Dane Bauer is the author of more than eighty books for young people, ranging from novelty and picture books through early readers, both fiction and nonfiction, books on writing, and middle-grade and young-adult novels. She has won numerous awards, including several Minnesota Book Awards, a Jane Addams Peace Association Award for RAIN OF FIRE, an American Library Association Newbery Honor Award for ON MY HONOR, a number of state children's choice awards and the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota for the body of her work.
I enjoyed all three books, though they're quite different and the third book had some scenes that were hard to read.
Tags: Children's books, libraries, books, Colombia, Mental handicap, learning difficulties, learning challenges, Trouble, Bear, Alaska, zoo life, dreamer, loss, pain, loneliness
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
I'd first discovered her during my student teaching and especially loved her book Thunder Cake, where the grandmother uses her "thunder cake" recipe to comfort, distract, and teach her granddaughter during a thunderstorm:
"Grandma consoles her frightened granddaughter by telling her that the dark clouds of the impending storm are nothing more than the ingredients for a Thunder Cake."
Other books I read then were Just Plain Fancy, about an Amish girl who's tired of everything being "plain" and longs for something "fancy:
"Naomi Vlecke lives with her farming family in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. The Amish first came to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s, and to this day preserve a religious and "plain" life-style. As part of her household chores, Naomi looks after the chickens with her little sister, Ruth."
I also read Rachenka's Eggs, a wonderful Easter "miracle story:
"Babushka, known for her exquisite hand-painted eggs, finds Rechenka, a wounded goose, and takes her home. When she's ready to try her wings again, Rechenka accidentally breaks all of Babushka's lovingly crafted eggs. But the next morning Babushka awakens to a miraculous surprise."
So I wasn't a stranger to Patricia Polacco's work. It was wonderful to be reacquainted with her books and I happily read a few more:
The Bee Tree, a wonderful story involving much of the village chasing bees!
"When Mary Ellen gets bored with her reading, Grandpa knows a hunt for a bee tree is just what she needs. Half the town joins the exciting chase, but it's not until everyone returns home that Mary Ellen makes a discovery of her own: Sometimes, even the sweetest of things must be worked for."
I read Babuska Baba Yaga, about the longing to be loved and a part of a family: Baba Yaga is a witch famous throughout Russia for eating children, but this Babushka Baba Yaga is a lonely old woman who just wants a grandchild to love.
I read Thank You Mr. Falker, about a wonderful teacher who discovers a secret, a terrible truth, that turns a young girl's life around:
"When Trisha starts school, she can't wait to learn how to read, but the letters just get jumbled up. She hates being different, and begins to believe her classmates when they call her a dummy. Then, in fifth grade, Mr. Falker changes everything. He sees through her sadness to the gifted artist she really is. And when he discovers that she can't read, he helps her prove to herself that she can - and will!"
I also read (and cried over) The Keeping Quilt, a wonderful story about Ms. Polacco's own family heritage:
" We will make a quilt to help us always remember home," Anna's mother said. "It will be like heaving the family in backhome Russia dance around us at night. And so it was. From a basket of old clothes, Anna's babushka, Uncle Vladimir's shirt, Aunt Havalah's nightdress and an apron of Aunt Natasha's become The Keeping Quilt, passed along from mother to daughter for almost a century. For four generations the quilt is a Sabbath tablecloth, a wedding canopy, and a blanket that welcomes babies warmly into the world. In strongly moving pictures that are as heartwarming as they are real, patricia Polacco tells the story of her own family, and the quilt that remains a symbol of their enduring love and faith."
I read My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother, about sibling rivalry and "friendly" competition:
"Tricia can't stand her rotten redheaded older brother Richie, who cain do everything better than she can. So when her grandmother tells her a wish made on a shooting star will come true, she knows exactly what to wish for -- to be able to do something, anything, better than Richie. When a traveling carnival comes to town, Tricia decides what that something will be -- she'll ride the merry-go-round longer than Richie. And that's how she finds out just what wishes -- and rotten redheaded older brothers -- can really do."
These wonderful books had me in tears -- relating to the strong emotions presented, the beautiful family life portrayed, and the moving messages that Ms. Polacco puts in her books. Many of her books are autobiographical, telling the stories of her life, family history, and heritage. She has other books that tell meaningful stories, but I especially love the ones that are personal, about her life and family. I recommend them wholeheartedly and unabashedly (you'll probably find some that touch your hearts as well.)
Here is her website for more information on her books, activities, events, fun stuff, etc.:
From Patricia Polacco's Amazon Page:
"Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers.
"My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"
Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln."
Tags: Patricia Polacco, art, family heritage, personal stories, children's books, Russia, farm life, family life, children, brothers, sisters.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
She wants to be grown up almost as much as she still wants the perks of being "taken care of and guided." She won't admit it, but there's a lot to be said for Mom organizing things, doing the planning and research, picking things up, smoothing things, over, going shopping and yes, even folding laundry! She still needs limits, though she doesn't want them imposed as a dictator. She won't always do as I suggest, but she doesn't want me to stop suggesting. She doesn't want to be set adrift to make her all of her own decisions -- but she does want to make some.
I've also learned that she isn't me, hasn't ever been me, and probably won't be me -- even though everyone says she has my smile! She is her own person. She's charming, outgoing, kind, generous, loyal, caring, sensitive, supportive -- a real people person and an animal lover. Friends and family are constantly congratulating me on how well she's turned out. I'd love to take a modicum of credit for all this, but she's herself and she's still in process of becoming an adult, the young woman she will be.
She also likes to entertain, but in an off beat and casual way, not always center stage. This generation is comfortable taking and posting "selfies" and making and posting videos at the drop of a hat or in the blink of an eye. It's second nature to see themselves and their friends all day every day -- online. And to stay in touch and share via texting, instagram, facebook, whatever is the latest and greatest why to communicate. They sometimes even talk on their hand-held communication devices -- we call them cell phones but they really are for total communication.
I finally see the allure of this instant communication. I don't see how they get anything done in life if they're always online, checking in, texting, sending photos, posting stuff. At any time of the day or night you can go and check up on your family and friends and see what they're doing, where they've been, who they're with, what they're seeing, what they're watching -- even what they're eating. How amazing is that?
Today, it's all a little too fast, too much and makes me want to crawl back in bed for a nap, go work in my garden, play with my pets and slow the world down a bit.
Tags: communication, social media, growing up, patience, adult, pets, naps