Uncommon Scents by Elaine B. Robinson

Uncommon Scents


Elaine Beem Robinson, author of Uncommon Scents, does not disappoint; this book is full of her usual “uncommon” rhymes, made-up words, and other fun word usages. She tells us the lion’s lineage is “full of noble familious scions,” but Marvin’s family tree “was limp as phlox is, Not strong and sturdy like the ox’s.” The story of a bullied individual out-witting his tormentors is cleverly told. Marvin is a poor and lowly muskrat but keeps rebuilding his nest by the bank of the lake even though the other animals keep stomping on it and messing it up. Marvin needs a good dose of self esteem.

This lowliest and poorest of animals finally makes a sensible friend. The skunk praises Marvin for his ability to swim and build and suggests Marvin move his home to the island in the lake. As the skunk says:

“It’s just common sense to do What you do best. Though sense isn’t as common As you might have guessed.”

So Marvin rebuilds on the island. No longer will the bullies be able to stomp on Marvin’s nest. This book has an excellent story, message of friendship and perseverance, and expressive illustrations.

There is great humor in the illustrations. I especially like the metaphorical one of Marvin being shown on the bottom of the totem pole, though as he gains confidence, he moves up a little. Elaine mixes natural elements with fantasy ones, as in the picture of Marvin’s new home with cosy furniture and blazing fireplace.

What Elaine says about being poor takes this book beyond a children’s story to a universal truth.

Mrs. Betsy Fieldmouse Borrows an Egg




Mrs. Betsy Fieldmouse Borrows an Egg is my book published by Guardian Angel Publishing. The delightful illustrations by Elexis King show how Mrs. Betsy goes about getting an egg for a birthday cake for her friend, Mrs. Tillie Beaver. This is a wind-up/wind-down story in the vein of Nonny Hogrogian’s One Fine Day. Each of Mrs. Betsy’s neighbors wants to help, but where will they find an egg? The egg finally gets to Mrs. Betsy and she bakes her cake. All the grownups and kids on Buttercup Crescent enjoyed a smidgen of the wonderful cake.


Han and the Mysterious Pearl

Han and the Mysterious Pearl

You’ve probably heard of the fishing cormorants on the Li River in China. I included one in my re-telling of this fable as a sort of Kiplinger “just so” explanation.

HAN AND THE MYSTERIOUS PEARL is my fifth picture book with Guardian Angel Publishing. I am very pleased with the illustrations by Carl Kocich, who also illustrated my friend, Jayne Moraski’s, HOW ALLIGTOR GOT HIS SMILE BACK. These pictures will take you right to Ancient China to meet Han, his mother, and his pet cormorant. Also an enigmatic figure.

The story is about a Chinese boy, Han, who goes on his first solo fishing expedition—with his faithful companion—his cormorant, after his father has died. Han inherited his father’s knife with which he hacks down the bamboo poles to build his own raft. His mother provides him with a simple lunch. But before the day is over, Han has the adventure of his life.

On that first evening, Han spies a glow from a cave on the river, and goes to discover what causes it. There he finds a wonderful pearl. He takes  the pearl, but there will be consequences!

Watch out for those river monsters!

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The book is available at Guardian Angel Publishing:http://guardianangelpublishing.com/han-pearl.htm

as well as Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, and Goodreads.

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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: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/arctic-danger.htm

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 Jayne Moraski’s pb How Alligator Got His Smile Back

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First I want to welcome Jayne Moraski to the the Guardian Angel Publishing Family.

Congratulations, Jayne, on publishing your first picture book.


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What made alligator lose his smile in the first place? For the answer, we must take a look at this “just so” story made up by Jayne Moraski and illustrated by Carl Kocich.

HOW ALLIGATOR GOT HIS SMILE BACK begins in the murky past when Tadpole Frog and Alligator had no feet, only flippers. They lived in the water and Alligator smiled a lot. These two were friends and loved to play together until the Tadpole Frog became too boastful. He thought so highly of himself he didn’t realize Alligator let him win the race. Then eventually, Frog developed legs and hopped onto land, and his pride really took off. He sang, “Frogs are special. We are grand. We live in water and on land.”

This hurt Alligator’s feelings and Alligator cried and cried salty tears. He cried so much he turned the fresh-water swamp salty. The cypress trees had to pull away from the salty water.

Alligator’s friends, the little plover birds, asked the Great Spirit for help. The Great Spirit granted Alligator one wish. Alligator simply wanted to have legs. The wish was granted.

Now Alligator walks on land the same as Frog. And he SMILES! Frog wonders about that smile. And when he sees Alligator smiling that mysterious smile, he stops his loud croaking. There’s no boasting in Alligator’s presence.

The pictures by illustrator Carl Kocich are too pleasant to scare a little child. The early ones of the distant past give a dreamy cast to the atmosphere. And when Alligator cries, the reader feels sympathy for him. The bordering around each page is a bonus that adds to the beauty of the book.

Some of this story is made up, but the book also has interesting facts that make learning about swamps and amphibians (that’s what Frog is) and reptiles (Alligator is one) lots of fun. There are also suggestions for activities in which kids compare and contrast the two species in the book using textual clues. Some students in classrooms have already enjoyed doing the activities.

(A note about “just so” stories. That is the term Rudyard Kipling used when he made up pretend ways that animals changed from some original form to the one we know today. “The Elephant’s Child” or “How the Elephant Got its Trunk” is one of the best. I love this kind of story). Jayne calls her story a modern myth with a science twist.

HOW ALLIGATOR GOT HIS SMILE BACK is published by Guardian Angel Publishing and is available here: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/alligator.htm

go ANGELS           and       go GATORS!



Gatsby’s Grand Adventure, 2, by Barbara Cairns


We enjoyed Gatsby’s first grand adventure so much, I think we should take a look at his second.

If you remember, Gatsby is the cat that lives with Miss Annabelle. He just can’t resist jumping into the paintings in Miss Annabelle’s art gallery. His first adventure was with the boys playing snap the whip in Winslow Homer’s “Snap the Whip.” The second adventure, by Barbara Cairns, is titled Gatsby’s Grand Adventure, 2: August Renoir’s “The Apple Seller.”

Everything would be fine if Gatsby remembered to leave the paintings before daybreak. But sometimes, time gets away from him.

That’s what happened when Gatsby is chased up a tree by the little black dog in Pierre August Renoir’s “The Apple Seller.” The apple seller with her basket of apples, two little girls, and the mother of the two girls, run after the animals, and finally, one of the little girls scoops up the dog. He escapes from her, but in the meantime, Gatsby gets away and returns to the art gallery. UT OH! He left behind a mess!

It takes Gatsby two more nights of jumping into the painting to set things straight.

Eugene Ruble’s illustrations again show Gatsby as the enthusiastic, bouncy ball of grey and white fur. The line drawings filled with watercolor depict the scenery and characters of the story in pleasant pastels with lots of movement and activity. In contrast, the apple seller is dressed in dark colors and the little dog is black. The apples are a delicious red.

It’s a treat to see a small reproduction of Renoir’s “The Apple Seller,” rendered in the artist’s soft, feathery style. The biography of Renoir at the end of the book is an excellent introduction to this great artist.

Mrs. Cairns has promised us more adventures starring the inquisitive cat, Gatsby.

Gatsby Grand Adventures series can be found at Guardian Angel Publishing bookstore, as well as other bookstores.


The Booker Award

Review of Barbara Cairns’ Gatsby’s Grand Adventure

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I’m happy to present a recent addition to the Guardian Angel Publishing family, Barbara Cairns, whose picture book is illustrated by a familiar GAP illustrator, Eugene Ruble.

In Gatsby’s Grand Adventure we get a double helping of artistic fare. No—make that a triple helping. We have Barbara’s colorful, energetic writing, Eugene’s amusing illustrations, and Winslow Homer’s realistic, homey Americana paintings.


Barbara presents the problem right up front. “Gatsby the cat lived in Miss Annabelle’s art gallery. At night, he had the most peculiar habit. He jumped into famous paintings. When he remembered to jump out before sunrise, everything was fine. But sometimes, Gatsby forgot.”

Ut, oh. Did you see the word “WHEN”? I think we have one of those “when”s coming up.

And what more fun painting for Gatsby to jump into than Winslow Homer’s “Crack the Whip”!

In the painting, eight boys are playing crack the whip in front of a small one-room schoolhouse. Homer captures the spirit of fun and freedom of children of the 1870s (check out those clothes).

If you or your child, grandchild, or school class don’t know how to play crack the whip—you must take a look at this painting. Kids used to have hilarious fun without gadgetry—just friends.

Eugene not only had to reproduce Homer’s subjects, but add Cairns’ characters as well. And they are Gatsby the cat, his Mistress Miss Annabelle, and a mouse and a dog. He even goes inside the schoolhouse. And he does it smoothly and convincingly, integrating past and present.

Barbara’s main character, Gatsby, has a penchant for entering the paintings in the gallery. But when he enters “Crack the Whip,” he causes a minor problem. It’s funny the way one problem leads to another until Gatsby finally sets things right.

Gatsby’s now looking forward to more adventures with the new paintings set to arrive soon. But that’s another story.

This entertaining and educational book is available at Guardian Angel Publishing bookstore and other fine book stores . http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/gatsby-snap-the-whip.htm

My review copy was provided by the author. I enjoyed reading it and reviewing it.

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Review of Penelope Anne Cole’s Magical Matthew

It is my pleasure to introduce Penelope Anne Cole and her picture book for kids ages 4-9, Magical Matthew.  This books is published by Guardian Angel Publising





Penelope Anne Cole is an observer. When she noticed a child moving into “double digits,” she wondered how she could put this aging process into a book for children. Magical Matthew is the result. She herself is much like Matthew; she has worked helping people as a Human Resources person and as a teacher. Ms. Cole has a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Jose State University and a Masters in Human Development Education from the University of Maryland.

What kid wouldn’t want to have special powers—like the one Matthew has? Matthew can magically fix things, but he keeps it a secret for a long time. It’s important that whoever learns about the secret can be trusted. Lily, Matthew’s good friend, helps him find things that need to be fixed. When she figures out about the secret power, Matthew shares everything with his grandma. Grandma wonders if Lily can be trusted and Matthew says he thinks she can. But suddenly Matthew no longer has his power. He lost his last baby tooth and this is a signal that he’s getting too old. At first he’s angry, but Grandma convinces him there are other ways to fix things, even though those ways take more effort. He and Lily will continue to do good deeds. But the power to fix things isn’t lost. When you read the book you will see how the spirit of helpfulness lives on!

Kevin Collier’s illustrations show just how excited and astonished Matthew is when he realizes he has this power and later, his disappointment when he outgrows it. It’s very interesting the way Kevin interpreted Penelope’s poem about the way Matthew sees himself. Together, Penelope and Kevin have created characters whom young readers will be happy to know and parents will find trustworthy.

disclaimer: I purchased a copy of Magical Matthew from Guardian Angel Publishing http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/matthew.htm in order to review it. I enjoyed it and think it is a worthwhile book to  add to any child’s collection. The book is also available at Amazon and Barnes and Nobel.

Interview with J. Aday Kennedy

Hello Friends,

You have met some of Jessica Aday Kennedy’s characters in Klutzy Kantor and Marta’s Gargantuan Wings. Now I want to introduce this talented writer to you. J. Aday lives in Texas in the USA, and the clever little song she wrote to accompany Klutzy Kantor, “Go Me!” sounds like something a Texan would write. With her sense of humor and her desire to make life easier for children, she has chose the perfect career. “Go, J. Aday!”

J. Aday and I are both member’s of Lea Schizas’ critique group for children’s writers: The GradingPens.

J. Aday, Do you have a time management system?

I start each day by writing a list of tasks I need to complete. I just check them off as I finish them. I write specific long term & short term goals on a calendar with dates to complete them. I’m horribly scatter brained and will work on a dozen things and not complete even one. I’ve got to make myself “todo” and goal deadlines to get anything accomplished.

Your system must work really well, because I know you get a lot done.

Since your full time job is writing and you don’t have a boss, how do you stay focused and produce work consistently?

I’m my own boss. I’m very demanding {worse than any “real” boss that I’ve ever had}. I give myself a strict writing schedule and set definite goals. When I don’t reach my goals or complete my “todo’s” I kick my own butt [not an easy task for a quadriplegic lol]

Speaking of your being a quadriplegic, I’ve noticed that your typing has gotten much cleaner over the years, and though it might be difficult for you, you always participate vigorously in both the submission and critique segments of our critique group.

What traits do your books share?

Each is geared to attract reluctant readers. They combine humor with a lesson. All of them try to encourage children to find what makes them different, special, and/or talented.

For example, in Klutzy Kantor, Kantor Pegasus is a total klutz. He uses his brain instead of brawn to battle a leprechaun, because he’s very smart. In Marta’s Gargantuan Wings, Marta has huge wings and buck teeth. A bird bullies her, because of her appearance. Her cheeky monkey friend defends her in a comical fashion. Those are the only stories that are published.

They are fun books, beautifully illustrated. And I know you have a few more in the works with Guardian Angel Publishing.

When did you begin writing for publication and what has been the key to your success?

I began to write for publication in early 2006. I started taking one class after another on writing. I’ve taken 17 since 2006. In the early days I wrote inspirational and Christian articles for adults. I read the type of essays and articles I wanted to write. (When I switched gears and started writing for kids I read children’s books).

What is your favorite children’s book from your childhood?
It depends on the age level.  Fudge by Judy Blume for middle grade

Who are your favorite authors?

Avi, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Barbara Park, John Erickson, Max Elliot.

A great list; some of them are my favorites, too.

Who has been influential in your writing and in your desire to become a writer for children?

Lea Schizas oversees several writing groups in her Muse It Up Group and holds the Free Muse Online Writing Conference. These have opened doors for me, taught me the tricks of the trade, and supplied me with a strong support system.

I feel the same way about Lea and the teams she puts together for the Muse Conference. I’ve learned a lot there, and most especially, I’m glad I’ve made friends through the Conference.

Would you like to explain the unusual names of the girls in your family?
My sisters are named Tomorrow, Yestraday, & Taday. My mother was a flower child. Not really. They didn’t have flower children in Texas. My mom heard the name Tamora and liked it. She named my oldest sister Tomorrow. My dad   was a jokester. When my next sister was born he thought it would be  funny to name her Yestraday. It carried on through the rest  of us. My mom’s name is Ada.  Her name is in all of ours, but not Tomorrow’s.

I think I know where you get your terrific sense of humor.

I would like to direct our readers to Guardian Angel Publishing:  http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/default.htm

And your new blog:   http://brainfartexplosion.blogspot.com/

Jessica new blog, Brain Fart Explosion, doesn’t pull any punches. She tells it like it is.

Don’t pay attention to Jessica’s grammar disclaimer. Let’s call them typos.

Marta’s Gargantuan Wings

Put together a flying horse, a no-nonsense monkey, and sweet little baby birds and you have the beginning of a charming picture book. Now add a mean-spirited bird and some problems and you have a book so appealing your little ones won’t want to put it down.

J. Aday Kennedy has a knack for bringing unusual characters to life in fantasies for very young children. (Remember “Klutzy Kantor” the uncoordinated pegasus?) In “Marta’s Gargantuan Wings,” a picture book from Guardian Angel Publishing, with illustrations by Eugene Ruble, we meet another pegasus, this one named Marta.

Like Kantor, Marta has a problem. Her self confidence is almost drummed out of her by the taunts of a churlish blue bird. Aljor teases Marta about her resemblance to a mule and about her out-size wings that seem to be too big for her body. But are they really too big? Will they come in handy in a crisis?

A crisis does arise, and Marta’s friend, the monkey, Stajon, roots for her so she begins to believe in herself and her gargantuan wings. So what if she looks like a polka-dot mule? She has the courage to use her new-found self-confidence to rescue Aljor’s three baby brothers, and oh, yes, Aljor, too.

The story says a lot about friendship. Marta calls Aljor her friend even after he ridicules her, but Stajon is not so sure about that. Stajon emphasizes Marta’s good points, the beauty of her huge wings and encourages her to show him how well she can fly. He sticks by her when the going is rough. Aljor, the not-so-friendly friend, reluctantly apologizes with “encouragement” from Stajon when he realizes he has been wrong.

The illustrations by Eugene Ruble fit the story very well. Mr. Ruble brings out emotions in the facial expressions of the characters; there’s sadness, anger, fear. You’ll laugh at the antics of Stajon and smile at the love/hearts shown Marta by the baby birds. You’ll want to tweak Aljor’s pointy beak for his meanness. Mr. Ruble is to be congratulated on the beautiful eyes on the mule-like face of Marta. Who would have thought?

Here’s the link to Guardian Angel Publishing Bookstore where “Marta’s Gargantuan Wings” is available as PDF e-book, print book, or e-book CD: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/martas-wings.htm

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


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