Review of Jill Dana’s HER BROWN HAIR and HER PINK HAIR

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Her Brown Hair

Her Pink Hair

It’s hard not to feel sad when reading these companion books, HER BROWN HAIR and HER PINK HAIR, by writer/illustrator Jill Dana. Until you get to the end.

These two books, HER BROWN HAIR and HER PINK HAIR,  are about Stephanie, a little girl who has cancer. The narrator is a friend who visit Stephanie at home and in the hospital and plays with Stephanie when she is well enough. Other friends visit and bring her books to enjoy.

Stephanie’s illness worsens to the point that her hair falls out after chemo. The narrator explains that her friend goes from having long, curly brown hair, to being bald, to regrowing her hair. To bring some happiness and cheer into Stephanie’s life, her mother dyes her hair PINK.

The unusual aspect of these books is that author/illustrator Jill Dana has illustrated the characters in clay figures. Every page is bright and cheerful, created in vivid colors. The rainbow over the bed in the hospital brings a touch of hope and optimism.

Now, when the narrator thinks of her friend, she closes her eyes and sees a beautiful picture of Stephanie under an arch of flowers against a joyful cloud-studded blue sky.

This touching story has a very personal feel to it. Many children five to nine are mature enough to handle the illness aspect of the book, but it is a decision for the parents to make. They will definately love the illustrations.

Ms. Dana’s background in psychology is evident in her spare prose. She’s talented in several areas: she’s an artist, a sculptress, and a filmmaker.

She would be pleased if you would visit her at

Cogratulations, Jill, on the launch of your first two Guardian Angel books!

The books are available at:


Today begins 2015 PiBoIdMo. Eh?

Today is the first day of PiBoIdMo, 2015. If you’re a picture book writer you probably already know what that stands for: Picture Book Idea Month. Think of a new idea for a picture book every day for thirty days–it’s that easy. This is Tara Lazar’s brain child for people who don’t use the month of November to write a novel in. Or you can do both. This is my first year to join in the challenge. I have started my list–but I ‘m not telling. Maybe some of my ideas will materalize into books.

In the meantime, check out my two latest picture books from Guardian Angel Publishing:



BonBon is a plush toy French Poodle dog. She lives, for the time being, at the Twice-Loved Toy Shop in Paris, France. She longs for a nice child to take her to a loving home. While she practices being patient, she and the other toys look out the window and see the Eiffel Tower. They talk about other beautiful and famous places in Paris. But, oh, no! BonBon is hidden by another toy, a large bear. Will BonBon ever be seen by tourists walking up and down the Champs Elysees Boulevard? A series of fortunate events is about to happen. Eugene Ruble used photographs of the real BonBon to share the pup’s story with readers.


Colby Mouse’s Christmas Gift

Colby Mouse's Christmas Gift

Colby Mouse thinks of a way to take part in the Christmas festivities in the people house where he lives. The little girl, Becky, realizes that the gift left on Santa’s plate is from the clever little mouse.

And here is an announcement from Lynda S. Burch: More new books from Guardian Angel Publishing:

100 Pecans for Tabitha
Academic Wings
Author: Tracey M. Cox; Illustrator: Eugene Ruble
Tabitha is on the search for 100 pecans. Help her count by 5s to reach her goal and have her favorite treats. Recipes and Pecan info included.

America Bless God,  a Children’s Musical
Angelic Harmony
Authors: Dixie Phillips, Sharon Phillips
Light up your 4th of July with this simple easy-to-perform patriotic children’s musical.

Papillon and the Magic Lamp
Chapbooks for Tweens
Author: Osa Kauffman; Illustrator: Aumi Kauffman Perry
A talking butterfly and a boy embark on an adventure in the desert. They encounter a talking camel, a wily salesman, and a magical lamp.

Review of Penelope Anne Cole’s “Magical Max and Magical MIckey”

Magical Max and Magical Mickey

What fun to be part of a magical family!

Magical Matthew is called home from college and questions Magical Mea, who is now in middle school, about the mysterious family meeting. They don’t have long to wait.

In MAGICAL MAX AND MAGICAL MICKEY, Penelope Anne Cole’s chapter book for grades 1-3, Matthew and Mea’s family will soon be enlarged by two: twin boys that is. The older children, whose magic went away after they lost their last baby teeth, Grandma Nonie, and neighbor Lily are wondering if these two babies will also be magical. If so, they won’t mention it to Mom and Dad, just as they never mentioned Mea’s and Matt’s special talents.

Sure enough, when the boys are three years old, their magical abilities start to show up. They quickly build a lounge chair with  plastic blocks so Grandma Nonie has a place to land when she falls. It looks as if they are going to be as helpful as Matt and Mea are in the other books in this Magical series.

But I’m not going to reveal all the secrets in this clever book, illustrated in a realistic way by award winning artist Kevin Scott Collier.

I enjoyed seeing Matthew and Mea growing up;  it’s like watching neighbor children. I think this is probably unique in a series, and a good  idea to keep the readers interested and coming back.

Penelope Anne Cole is the Award Winning Author of Magical Matthew and Magical Mea 
plus Mateo Mágico  (Spanish) and Ten Little Tricksters. Also, Magical Mea Goes to School.

Ms. Cole has used her books to show the story arc in response to literature lessons (main character has a problem or obstacle). How does MC solve problem, get around obstacle in the climax, then what does MC learn, how do they grow, and then their response to the surprise ending.

Attention teachers: Ms Cole does Free Skype Author Visits.

Folks can contact her to order a signed copy using the contact form on her blog or through her website.  Or they can order ebooks and print copies on Amazon.



Review of Clayton Stone, At Your Service by Ena Jones

Ena Johes, Clayton Stone

There’s a new Secret Agent on the block and his name is Clayton Stone. He is the brain child of Ena Jones, an old friend and former critique-group partner of mine. Clayton turns 13 in the first book of this new Middle Grade series, published by Holiday House.

So, let’s do some sleuthing of our own and find out How this star lacrosse player at a posh private school gets to be an agent for the Special Service.

What criminal intrigue does this hero help the Special Service solve?

Where does all this take place?

Why is Clayton, a twelve-year old boy needed?

Who recruits Clayton to help?

Who is in trouble?

And How does Clayton’s grandmother fit into the whole plot?

It appears that someone is robbing wealthy ladies and their daughters who shop at shopping centers and force them to take money from ATMs. But when the latest family to be involved in this nefarious activity is that of a prominent politician (this is Washington, D.C., after all)things escalate. A Senator’s wife and step-daughter are kidnapped.

Clayton is recruited (after a nudge from the President) to help because what is needed is a kid and he fits the bill. It is assumed Clayton will not arouse suspicion as he gathers information. No one meant for him to get so involved. “They want to use me as ‘bait’? To get the mall napper dude?”

Here’s a sampling:

“Chapter Four: Less than twenty-four hours later, I’m in the underwear section at Macy’s. Shopping. Normally, I wouldn’t be caught dead here. Now I might be. Caught dead, that is. I lean over and mutter into my shoe, trying to act like bra-shopping with my fake mom is a regular day in the life of me. ‘Can you hear me? Over.’”

As Clayton spends more and more time in his secret mission, he misses some lacrosse practice and his friends become, not just suspicious, but downright hostile.  He can’t explain. “Real secrets suck.” To complicate matters, the busy-body girl in his class tries to convince Clayton to get involved in campus politics. Then there is the other girl, the one who was kidnapped. There’s a lot going on here.

For instance, there’s the diner his Grandmother owns with the mechanical booth that dumps those in the know into the underground Headquarters.  .  . . A Secret Agent who will risk his life for you would make a great father figure. . . .  I’ll bet you thought Men In Black drove around in inconspicuous cars, not Lamborghinis and BMWs. . . .  Sometimes a Secret Agent must wear a disguise, and Clayton’s involves wearing a wig. “. . . the next team rushes at me with hair clippers and pushes me into my own barber chair. They’re barely finished when another member of the pit crew pounces with shaving cream and a razor while a guy with a Shop-Vac sucks up all my hair from the floor.” . . . .  Why did busy-body girl have to go for pretzels at just the wrong time? . . . You’ll never guess who is the Head of the Special Service.

I recommend this book for both boy and girl middle schoolers who like a bit of danger and adventure in their pleasure reading material.  They will be right at home in the up-to-the-minute lingo and self-confident attitudes. Sample: “Carlos’s (the head cook at the diner) face is set to the serious channel.”

Decoy or not, Clayton is committed to finding and saving the wife and step-daughter of the Senator.


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Review of Two House Lilly by Candace J. Hardy

Two House Lilly

Don’t be fooled by the cover of this book, TWO HOUSE LILLY, written and illustrated by Candace J. Hardy. It isn’t really about witches, although a witch costume plays a prominent part in the story.

Lilly is a nine year old fourth grader whose life has been turned upside down by the divorce of her parents. The story is sad at times, but the age group who will be reading it should be able to handle the honest approach to family problems in this chapbook for tweens published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

Lilly’s dad has remarried. His wife came to the marriage with a set of twins and  a special needs daughter, although she seems quite smart to me. Now Dad and his wife have another child, a baby girl.

Lilly lives with both families. Her calendar is divided between Red Weeks with her father and Blue Weeks with her mother (with every other weekend at Grandma’s).

Lilly’s mom has not remarried. She resents the fact that her husband left her and is vocal about her feelings. She also appears to be drinking a bit too much. Her attitude is making Lilly wish she could live full-time with the dad’s family.

When Lilly discovers that her mom has muscular sclerosis, which sometimes mimics drunkenness, and when Mom gets on medication and becomes a calmer and nicer person, Lilly draws closer to her mom.

Complications set in when 1) Dad’s employer is moving him to another state, 2) a boy who is a bully hurts Lilly and they become enemies, 3) Lilly wants to be the witch in the school presentation of HANSEL AND GRETEL but can’t make the rehearsals, (so will she or won’t she get to play the witch?) and 4) Lilly’s step-mother becomes grouchy knowing she has to leave the town that feels like home to her, and 5) the witch costume gets splashed with bleach.

And there are other complications. Some of the problems are out of Lilly’s hands, but Lilly speaks up about honesty and saves the bully from being expelled by defending him against a wrongful charge.

Now about that witch costume. Need I say, it’s Grandma to the rescue?

This book is well written, with a variety of interesting characters, well-meshed sub-plots, suspense, and humor.

Candace Hardy has a great love for all things vintage and enjoysdoing historical research. During her younger years, she taught in her mother’s piano studio, then became a teacher in the former Hebrew Academy of Toledo and a
special education teacher, teaching hearing impaired children. She lives near Toledo, Ohio with her husband
and their two beautiful dalmations.

TWO HOUSE LILLY, with 25 Chapters and 190 pages, is Candace’s second book with GAP.

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I purchased this book in electronic form from Guardian Angel Publishing Bookstore and have presented an honest opinion.

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Review of Erin Liles picture book, A Friend for Freckles


A Friend for Freckles

Erin Liles  has presented us with an adorable little dog protagonist. Freckles is sweet, kind, helpful, and friendly.  Alexander Morris’s cartoon-like illustrations show him being all of these things to his friends in the Animal Shelter. And each of the friends is depicted with individual traits and personality. The silhouettes of background figures add an interesting layer of artistic technique.

A Friend for Freckles, 1,2

Each animal is on its best behavior in hopes of going to live with a loving family.

ANYONE would find Freckles irresistible. Well, you would think so, at any rate. But there are those who are unable to see beyond the fact that Freckles has only three legs.  Having only three legs doesn’t seem to bother Freckles at all. He is certainly well adjusted. His real problem is that he wants to live in a home, not in a shelter.

Ms. Liles has paired up the traits of the dogs with the wants and needs of the human patrons who come to the shelter looking for a pet. She made sure that Freckles did not go with the wrong family. Such a super-friendly dog as Freckles goes to live with a boy who understands that “perhaps the most important thing of all” is that Freckles is a FRIEND.

A Friend for Freckles is available at   and is recommended for children 4-8.

Erin Beth Liles is a children’s author and mother of two. She loves animals and personally knows a three-legged dog who can do anything!

Visit her at

Alexander Morris graduated from the Illinois Institute of Art-Schaumburg with a Bachelor’s in Media Arts & Animation. He has been an artist since he was a child. Check out the Books and Artists page at Guardian Angel Publishing to see more books he has illustrated.

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logo for website, Elexis King

my newest book, ARCTIC DANGER

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I am pleased to let you know that my second picture book, ARCTIC DANGER, is published by Guardian Angel Publishing. And I want to thank Eugene Ruble for illustrating it.

Arctic Danger, cover

The story is about an Alaskan brother and sister who take a leisurely kayak trip down a stream to the store. They go under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.  Along the way they see lots of wildlife but also encounter dangers. There is additional information at the end of the book about the important and interesting pipeline. I hope you and your children and students will find the story both exciting and informative.

ARCTIC DANGER is recommended for boys and girls ages 6-11.

The book is available at Guardian Angel Publishing:

and Amazon. All reviews on Amazon are welcome.

Visit my website, Words With Wings, to read about how this book came about.

logo for website, Elexis King

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Review of Helping Herbie Hedgehog by Melissa Abramovitz

I just love hedgehogs. They are so cute. And even though they are described as being spiny, they look so much more cuddly than porcupines. That’s why  I’m happy to present to you today Melissa Abramovitz’s chapter book HELPING HERBIE HEDGEGHOG.

Helping Herbie Hedgehog

You are probably wondering what kind of help a little hedgehog needs.

In this clever rhymed picture book, Melissa presents Herbie with a series of choices. The young reader is given the job of helping Herbie choose the right thing. If the wrong thing is selected, Herbie might end up looking foolish. For instance, should he choose a tutu and ballet shoes to go jogging or sweat pants and track shoes? The young reader will know the answer. Herbie might go hungry if he looks for spaghetti hanging from a tree.  And he would surely make a mess if he tried to cook stew on the TV set. “Or is using the stove a better bet?”

Ch. 1 Helping Herbie Hedgehog

The artist, Robert Lee Beers, has illustrated Herbie to look like a cheerful little fellow who is a bit confused, but wants to know what the right thing to do is.

This book is recommended for children 6-8 and as a read aloud for younger children.

A bit of trivia:

The collective noun for a group of hedgehogs is array or prickle.

Each of the chapters, with titles listed below, contains several conundrums for the reader to help Herbie with.

Chapter 1, Places to Go

Chapter 2, Home Helpers

Chapter 3, Shopping for Clothes

Chapter 4, Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Chapter 5, Exercise Time

Chapter 6, Shopping for Food

Chapter 7, Bedtime

Melissa Abramovitz is the author of more than 45 books and hundreds of magazine articles for children, teens, and adults. She specializes in writing educational nonfiction, but enjoys creating all types of fiction and nonfiction that make learning fun. She also enjoys helping other writers achieve their goals with her acclaimed book for writers, A Treasure Trove of Opportunity: How to Write and Sell Articles for Children’s Magazines. Her children’s picture book, ABCs of Health and Safety, was also published by Guardian Angel.

Robert Lee Beers is an award-winning artist and illustrator with an extensive artist portfolio. Besides doing the art for this book, he has authored several fantasy novels. Look for more of his illustrations in Guardian Angel books. He currently resides in Green Valley, Nevada. You can see more of his work at Kids Picture Book


HELPING HERBIE HEDGEHOG is published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Publisher: Lynda S. Burch, from whom I purchased my copy.

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.

Saint Louis, MO 63128 USA

Stories a la Mode:

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Night Whispers by Michelle H. Barnes

The poem I am going to share with you today was written by Michelle H. Barnes, a member of my local SCBWI group in Gainesville. The poem is a tribute to our friend, Jan Gars, the poet veterinarian, who passed away recently.

Michelle often posted Jan’s poems on her blog and she understands his psyche and his style. Jan’s poems were often hilarious, sometimes deeply touching, and not always written for children. He could have us laughing uncontrollably or stunned into silence. It is with sorrow that I say, “Goodbye,” to Jan.

The poem, “Night Whispers,” is written in (almost perfect) Pantoum Form.  The pantoum is a form of poetry that uses repetition of lines to enforce its message and produce a powerful effect.


Michelle H. Barnes

Whispers from the shadowed night

Lonely winds of time and space

One more poem yet to write

Trapped in gravity’s embrace

Lonely winds of time and space

Glowing embers, pulsing light

Trapped in gravity’s embrace

Before the blackness turns to white

Glowing embers, pulsing light

Like eyes behind a clouded face

Before the blackness turns to white

Before you find your resting place

Like eyes behind a clouded face

There’s one more poem yet to write

Before you find your resting place

And whisper from the shadowed night.


Visit Michelle’s blog, Michelle Heidenrich Barnes:

On the blog you will learn more about the pantoum and why Michelle chose this form in which to write her poem. And this will lead you to another writer’s blog—another you will be glad you found.

Introducing Lauri Meyers

I have a new cyber acquaintance I want to introduce you to. Her name is Lauri Meyers.

Lauri is a children’s book writer who is is retraining her brain to be creative after a decade in corporate finance. She blogs about writing for children and her messy children at

Lauri has a charming sense of humor and one that will appeal to the boys on your reading list. You will find good reviews of children’s books at her website.

Thanks, Lauri, for following this blog.

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If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.


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