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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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

My Review of Bill Kirk's "Once Upon an Eyeball—How the Nose Knows Roses," illustrated by Eugene Ruble










Once Upon an Eyeball—How the Nose Knows Roses, by Bill Kirk, illustrated by Eugene Ruble, is the tenth and last book in his informative “The Sum of Our Parts” book series on the body. His other books are listed at the end of this review.


In this installment, Bill Kirk first presents what happens when an eyelash falls onto the eyeball. The story event is presented in rhyme, with interesting “Factoids” about the eye and vision—how the eye communicates with the brain. Plus the illustrations on each page show how the body reacts to each stimulus encountered.

Once upon an eyeball,
An eyelash slowly fell.
It drifted down so lightly
That one could hardly tell.

The brain went into action—
Fired signals left and right.
The eyelids started blinking
Then closed themselves up tight.

The rhymes are fun entertainment. The pictures are humorous at times, but clear and exact when scientific information and illustration is required. And the factoids satisfy our need to know in greater detail how the eye tells the brain what it sees and feels. I especially like that the illustrations show girls and boys, men and women.

In the second half of the book, Mr. Kirk (and Mr. Ruble) tell and show what happens when you smell a rose, or other smells. The rhyme asks the question:

When smelling a flower,
If you were a nose,
How would you know
That a rose is a rose?

Then the explanation talks about the process of smelling something—the sweet, the rotten, the awful—then how the brain “catalogs” it for future reference. Years later you’ll be able to recall the memory of the smell and often call up scenes of where and when that smell occurred.

Eugene Ruble’s artwork faithfully depicts what’s happening in the body when seeing and smelling.  He uses a playful pastel color scheme. In keeping with the humorous vein of the rhymes, some artwork is teasing, funny, and cute. The scientific illustrations are clearly presented.

For years, my daughter has played the “Did you know?” game followed by some trivia fact. This would be a good book series for kids who like to sprinkle their conversations with facts about body parts and how they function.
This is an appropriate and appealing body parts book series recommended for teachers, school and city libraries, hospitals, medical and dental offices—and for home libraries of “future” doctors and dentists!

The Sum of Our Parts Book Series is published by www.guardianangelpublishing.com

and available from www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com and other quality online book sellers. Here are the other body parts books in the series:

Product DetailsA Brainy Refrain:  The Sum of Our Part Series, Book 1
Product DetailsNo Bones About It:  The Sum of Our Part Series, Book 2
 Product DetailsCirculation Celebration:  The Sum of Our Part Series, Book 3
 Product DetailsMuscles Make Us Move:  The Sum of Our Parts Series, Book 4
Product DetailsMy Tooth Is Loose:  The Sum of Our Parts Series, Book 5
Product DetailsThe Skin We're In:  The Sum of Our Parts Series, Book 6
Product DetailsThe Ins and Outs of Air:  The Sum of Our Parts Series, Book 7
 Product DetailsGreat Gobs Of Gustation:  The Sum of Our Parts Series, Book 8
Product DetailsTissue Tantra:  The Sum of Our Parts Series, Book 9



Image of Bill KirkFrom Bill Kirk’s Amazon Author Bio:  “Asking children's writer Bill Kirk why he writes his stories in rhyme, he will tell you rhyme gives a story its feel, like working with clay at a wheel. Do you like the sound of iambic beat and the rich texture of rhymes that roll off your tongue? Take one of Bill Kirk's stories home with you. Travel with your children on a rhythmic journey of action and everyday adventure.”

More information on author Bill Kirk is at:  www.billkirkwrites.com



Artist Eugene Ruble holds an Associates Degree in Fine Arts from Forest Park Community College and a degree in Multi-Media and Fine Arts from Washington University in St. Louis. He has creates award-winning, mixed-media sculptures and engravings. Mr. Ruble also illustrates children’s books for Guardian Angel Publishing.

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Tags:  Bill Kirk, Eugene Ruble, Eyes, Nose, Smells, Body Parts, 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Madness - Memorial Day Memories

This is the end of a three day weekend that is going another day for my daughter since her math teacher can't get a flight back for class tomorrow, whoopie for her.  But not so much for me.  She's home with me on "school nights," otherwise she exercises her independence.  It's so hard to let them go.  Nineteen isn't so old.  I remember when she'd snuggle in bed with me after watching a scary movie.
 
This past week was a scary movie in real life for those in the UC Santa Barbara community.  The Bay Area lost a few students in that deadly rampage by a troubled young man out for "retribution."  It's these tragedies that make us cling to our children and not want to let them go, not want them to test their wings and leave the nest.  It's a dangerous world out there.  Those young people who died were just out of an evening, going out to eat, get a coffee, see a movie, hang out with friends.  And then six don't come back alive.


So when a twenty-four hour period goes by and I don't hear from my girl, I worry.  Where is she?  What is she doing?  Is she all right?  Is she safe?  Will she make it home to me?  When bad things happen to good people, to our innocent children, we don't want them to leave home.  We don't want them to be independent, out in the world on their own.  We want them safe - in the nest - home with us.
  
On Memorial Day we remember our loved ones who have passed on.  We remember those who've died defending our nation in time of war.  We remember our loss and our grief.  I challenge you to remember that those who have passed on did live among us.  They had lives:  they were children, parents, sweethearts, students, workers, colleagues, friends.  They laughed and played and loved and lived.  They've left our world, but they remain in our hearts and in our memories.  


Thank you for your service, for your sacrifice, for your love, for your friendship, for your caring.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.
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Tags:  Memorial Day, Memories, loss, grief, pain, suffering, sacrifice, death, madness, life, love, remembrance.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

My Review of "Bedtime Kisses" by Karin Larson Illustrated by Ginger Nielson



Bedtime Kisses, by Karin Larson, illustrated by Ginger Nielson, is a cute counting story especially suited to help little ones get ready for bed. This is an endearing way to help children learn to count to ten while modeling values of love and kindness.  

Bedtime KissesWhile waiting for mommy to come and tuck her into bed, the little girl goes around her room and counts out kisses for each of her stuffed animals and dolly.  The little girl in the story is unnamed—she could be any and every child who wants to be like mommy and give bedtime kisses to all her special toys.



The artwork by Ginger Nielson is dreamy, frothy, and enchanting. The girl’s room is a feast for the eyes. As each special toy is given their kiss and kisses, pink hearts help count out the number of kisses they receive. The little girl and the toys are warmly drawn with sleepy eyes and sweet smiling faces. Everyone is ready to be kissed and tucked into bed. After she kisses all her critter pals, our sleepy-time girl gets her own bedtime kisses from her mommy, and everyone goes happily to sleeptucked in together all warm and cozy.



This is a darling, precious book. Children will enjoy the charming illustrations as they practice counting kisses until they fall asleep. It is a book they will want read again and again.  I see it easily becoming part of their bedtime ritual—a lovely and loving way to learn to count to ten.
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"As a child, I loved nothing more than getting lost in the worlds within the pages of books.  This love of reading inspired me to be a writer, and my goal is to foster this love of books and reading in children today, despite the fast-paced, technological world in which we live.  My experiences as both a mom and a working speech/language pathologist have allowed me to focus on both fiction and non-fiction for children and adults though my true passion is creating a story a child wants to read over and over again."  
More information about author Karin Larson is at her page:  http://www.karinlarson.com.
Karin Larson has a book under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing.


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Information about artist Ginger Nielson is at her page:  http://www.gingernielson.com.



Bedtime Kisses is published by http://4RVpublishingllc.com and is available from quality booksellers like www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.
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Tags:  Bedtime Kisses, little girl, bedtime, night time, bedtime routine, tuck into bed, kindness, loving, getting children to bed, special bedtime routine.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Monday Madness -- Middle School as Preparation for High Schohol

I've been busy  -- how many times have we all used that excuse for not doing what we planned or hoped to do?  Or as an excuse for not doing something that someone else wanted us to do?  For me, I've been busy with an injured cat, writers conferences, book queries, editing and revising, and trying to survive bathroom construction.  Whew, I'm tired just writing about it -- so I am behind on blogging.

Today I want to talk about parenting middle school children.  I say children when the world knows they are entering adolescence and all the pitfalls and perils that accompany puberty.  These kids are growing and changing rapidly.  Their hormones are in turmoil.  They're meeting new friends and possibly losing elementary school friends.  Although most middle schools in my school district shelter their sixth graders, this is the first year they'll be going to other classes for different subjects:  Science and Math, though they may go to Language Arts or Social Studies in different classrooms, as well. This may be the first year they have lockers with combination locks.  This is the first year they'll "dress" for P.E.  Some schools may even have showers for middle school PE classes.  They'll be offered some "elective" or enrichment classes, such as Cooking, Home Economics, Art, Music, Foreign Language, or Shop.  It's a very exciting, confusing, and sometimes rude awakening period for middle school kids.

 
It's a shock to parents as well.  They'll now have to keep track of more than one teacher's assignments, grading methods, schedules, requirements.  Plus, there will be strong discipline given for more serious infractions.  There will be a Principal and Vice Principal.  If PTA wasn't a big deal in elementary, it becomes a much bigger deal in Middle School and then hugely important in High School.  I found that those parents active in the PTA in elementary school were the same ones active in middle and on into high school.  


My words of wisdom:  Be Aware, Be Prepared

Go to Back to School Night.  Meet all your child's teachers.  Get their syllabuses and handouts, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.  Use their online tools.  We had "School-Loop" to check on assignments and grades. Stay "in the Loop."  Don't let your child get behind or be unprepared for quizzes, projects, essays, or tests.  Middle School is the introduction to high school.  Both parents and kids must prepare themselves.


Join the PTA, attend meetings, help with fund raisers - as many as you can.  Get on their mailing list. Volunteer as often as you can. Help in any way you can.  Be present and active.  You and your child will benefit.

  
Suggest your child take up a band instrument or a sport.  Join the dance or theater group, if offered.  all in preparation for High School.  The sooner your child gets involved in these activities, the sooner they can be proficient, competitive, competent.  They'll make more friends, feel more a part of the school, and have to learn to manage their time.  Plus the more involved and active they are, the more they'll have for their High School Resume.  It's not too soon to plan for college applications.  Colleges want well-rounded students with friends and doing other activities besides having high academic scores.  Plan ahead.


Expect the unexpected.  There will be emotional meltdowns -- can't be prevented, but can be expected so you can be supportive and not caught by surprise.  Practice Patience.  They may have friends turn on them.  They may have new friends that you don't know and might not like.  You still have to be there for your child.  Practice being "Non-Judgmental."  There will be "regression" -- back to a time when your kid watched certain movies and TV shows -- they'll watch them again as a release and a comfort mechanism.  You might want to sit and watch these shows with them -- you can both take comfort that home is a safe place to be and Mom and Dad can listen or offer silent and supportive companionship.  


Maintain as many home and family routines as you can.  Shared mealtimes.  Family outings, get togethers, movie nights, game nights, picnics, trips, vacations -- whatever you can manage to keep the family unit strong and intact to face these troubled months (and years).  

             
Enjoy each other.  Find the good in the craziness and chaos.  Have some fun.  Hug and kiss and laugh together.  These times are fleeting and precious.
      

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Tags:  Middle School, High School, Parents, PTA, Clubs, Activities, Support, Activities, Academics, Grades, Help.