Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gatsby's Grand Adventure by Barbara Cairns is Back Featuring Auguste Renoir's The Apple Seller

If you thought you knew everything there was to know about Auguste Renoir's famous painting The Apple Seller, think again!  Author Barbara Cairns has filled in the picture so to speak with new information. 

 Her new book Gatsby’s Grand Adventures Book 2 Auguste Renoir’s “The Apple Seller (Guardian Angel Publishing) puts a whole new spin on Renoir's luscious work of art.

Cairns gives us a charming art history lesson with a little dollop of magic and help from Gatsby the art galley cat whose greatest joy is jumping into paintings after the museum closes.  This time, however, he may have met his match with Jasper, the dog who lives in the painting.

Barbara Cairns

A bit of caution, though.  In this tale, one must take heed at the sun's rising!  When rays of sunshine appear in the shop, everything stands statue still, including the painting's characters who previously were cavorting all over the canvas. Only Gatsby is free to move, so what will happen now?  Will he be able to return to the painting when night falls and try to rearrange Renoir's brush strokes?  Any child and his/her adult will want to know the outcome, guaranteed.

Ms. Cairns, with the help of well known illustrator, Eugene Rubble, has created an imaginative and playful story that Monsieur Renoir would smile at, I have no doubt!

A bit of confection for children and adults, this book is sure to bring smiles and squeals to the listener and perhaps, the reader.  This book is the second in the Gatsby series, the first called Gatsby's Great Adventure, Book 1, Winslow Homer's "Snap the Whip." 

Each book features a different artist's work.  Also included within the pages is a biography of the artist and several corresponding websites. 

Barbara be reached at:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Snowy Day--A Children’s Book With Black Protagonist on Exhibit

During the height of the civil rights movement, a sweet and gentle book about a black boy in a red snowsuit crunching through the snow, helped break down racial barriers. That book is now the subject of an upcoming exhibit.

Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved 1962 book, “The Snowy Day,” is credited as the first mass-market children’s storybook to feature a black protagonist — a preschooler named Peter who is joyfully exploring the snow-covered sidewalks in his New York City neighborhood.

The National Museum of American Jewish History is presenting a retrospective, “The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats,” from July 19 to Oct. 20. The exhibit includes more than 70 original works, ranging from preliminary sketches to final paintings and collages.

In this Friday, July 19, 2013 photo, visitors look at books at The Snowy Day and The Art Of Ezra Jack Keats exhibition at the National Museum of American Jewish History, in Philadelphia. The exhibit opened July 19. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
 AP Photo/Matt Rourke
“We wanted to marry the strength of the show as an art exhibition with the significance of the book in children’s literature,” museum curator Josh Perelman said. “We really wanted the exhibit spaces to feel alive … to feel like being in a children’s book.”

The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Keats was born Jacob Ezra Katz in New York City’s Brooklyn borough in 1916 and grew up in poverty. Artistically gifted but unable to attend art school, he started out working as a sign painter, comic book background illustrator and Works Progress Administration muralist before creating children’s books.

“Keats drew a considerable amount on the fact that he experienced prejudice in his own life and he had a sensitivity to what it felt like to be marginalized,” Perelman said. “He also had a worldview that embraced extending that sensitivity toward other people who may feel marginalized as well.”

Peter’s world was also a reflection of Keats’ own environment, Perelman said, “the city streets where he felt comfortable, where he called home and that happened to be inhabited by working-class and poor folks and by African-American folks.”
“That’s who he felt should be in his books.
This isn’t ‘Eloise, he said, referring to the children’s book character who lives in Manhattan’s posh Plaza Hotel with her nanny. “It’s a very different New York City.

Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1963, “The Snowy Day” has been published in at least 10 languages. It is on the Library of Congress’ list of “Books That Shaped America” and is rated by teacher and librarian groups as one of the all-time top children’s books.

Ezra Jack Keats
“If you look at children’s literature previous to ‘The Snowy Day,’ there are very few positive examples of publications for African-American children,” Perelman said, “and there’s a whole lot of very derogatory, stereotypical and outright racist material.”

Keats, who died in 1983, illustrated more than 85 books. In six more books after “The Snowy Day,” readers followed Peter growing up from a kindergarten-age boy to an adolescent. His race was never mentioned.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lyrical Children's Book, Kangaroo Clues by Margot Finke

Who sewed the pouch on the Kangaroo
And placed her Joey in there, too?
Was it a Dreamtime spirit-man
Who made up creatures from a plan?

These lovely and lyrical words begin the very special children's book, Kangaroo Clues, by Margot Finke.  The glorious illustrations were done by Mustafa Delio─člu.  The book was published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

The book is told through Australian Aboriginal eyes and tells the story of the Dreamtime, where all things come from and where they go back to when their time on earth is finished.

Aboriginal spirits made all things,
Like kangaroos and birds with wings.
But I’ve a tale that’s just for you.
It tells the secret of Old Man Roo


The book conveys a tale of bravery on the kangaroo's part.  Is it true, or is it fable?  No matter.  The story is what counts. The imagery.  The mysticism.  The beauty.  And the dreamlike quality of of the allegory itself.


Perhaps spirits gave Kangaroo some smarts,
Allowing him to lose dogs in watery parts.
I’m told it’s true, so you have a choice—
To believe or not in the Dreamtime’s voice.

This joyous book contains explanatory notes on each page, so the reader is always informed on the text.

Margot Finke is a master story teller, and this time she has outdone herself in the sumptuous work that would be a gorgeous gift for adults as well as for children. And in Margot's Australian words, Well done, Mate!

You may get your hands on Kangaroo Clues and/or more of Margot's wonderful books at:

Barnes and Nobel (no cover yet) :

Sunday, July 21, 2013

You Can't Take the Dinosaur Home With You by Mary Esparza-Vela

On a distant planet, far, far away, lived three young space tots named Kyzzie, the older sister, Sweetz, her middle brother, and Hunee, the baby.

So begins the new children's picture book You Can't Take the Dinosaur Home by Mary Esparza-Vela. The book is published by Guardian Angel Publishing. 

 Even on a different planet in an unknown galaxy, parental and sibling problems are surprisingly the same as here on earth.

Sister and brother are plagued by their baby brother, but he "gave them a hard time.  He liked to wander off on his own and throw temper tantrums when he didn’t get his way."

 If this sounds familiar to you, it's not surprising. Little ones being what they are, cause the same problems whichever planet they inhabit!

To compound things, enter a dinosaur. All manner of problems occur, with baby brother right in the middle of it. 

A darling story, this would be terrific for all your junior space cadets out there.  It is a whimsical tale of life set in outer space but with all the elements of home and family.  

The characters are offered as dolls as well, a great addition to your kids' space needs!

Author Mary Esparza-Vela lives in San Antonio.    Her dream has always been to write for children. She has several books published with Guardian Angel Publishing.  Other writing credits include articles published in Catholic newspapers and a winning entry in a Writer's Digest Competition.  Mary has won a Reader's Favorite Award for Dinosaur.  

**And here is an update!  Mary has just been told by Creative Child Magazine that Dinosaur has won a 2013 Book of the Year Award!  Hearty Congratulations!  More reason for you to run and pick up a copy of You Can't Take the Dinosaur Home With You!
Mary's website is:

The site lists her available books.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

SOUTH Africa is the 2013 Kids' Lit Quiz World Champion

How about this for African power?  The 2013 International  Kids'Lit Quiz was won by 12-year-olds Shreeya Khoosal and Katie Duvenage, and 13-year-olds Jessica Wise and Julia Kinghorn, all of Roedean Junior School, in Johannesburg on July 4.

Shreeya Khoosal loves escaping in the pages of the books she reads
Image by: SUPPLIED
The quiz was held at Durban Girl's College. The quartet of students beat children from New Zealand, Australia, the US, the UK and Canada to take the R6000 prize.

The Kids' Lit Quiz was started in New Zealand in 1991 by Wayne Mills, a lecturer in children's literature at the University of Auckland. It quizzes youngsters on any book in the children's literature genre.

The six teams were asked seven questions in 10 categories, including dystopian novels, folk tales and mythology.

Quiz Master Mills said:

I can see that people here are also blown away by these kids' intellectual prowess. They are well-read and their knowledge extends even to Japanese folk tales, and to literature before their time.

Roedean Junior School librarian Gill Murdoch was surprised that the girls had correctly answered questions they had not covered in their coaching. "That shows how well-read they are. This competition is brilliant because it promotes reading.

"'We hope to win again next year," she said.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Did Certain Books Creep You Out When You Were a Kid?

Did you have any books that scared you as a kid? I have to admit that I did not.  But here is an interesting video by video blogger Vsauce.  It's called “Why Are Things Creepy?,” exploring the nuances and science of scariness.  Along the way, he cites the great Stephen King and shares a few scary books.

Please see the video at the bottom of this post.

What does it take to make a book scary? Vampires, ghosts, serial killers, zombies, mean parents, all of the above?  Your turn.  Talk to the readers and to me in the comment section. 

Below, is a list of books that scared Vsauce as a kid. Please add your suggestions in the comments section.

Some Books That Scared Us When We Were Kids

1. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
2. The Works of Edgar Allan Poe (read the complete eBook for free)
3. It by Stephen King
4. Fear Street by R.L. Stine
5. Remember Me by Christopher Pike

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ava'sSecret Tea Party-A Beautiful, Delicious, Enchanting Book!

Sometimes at night when stars shine bright,
Visitors come to call.
Snuggled in bed and sound asleep,
Ava never sees them at all.

This lovely verse begins the magical children's book Ava's Secret Tea Party, written in true rhyme by Donna Shepherd and brimming with sumptuous illustrations by renowned illustrator, Bella Sinclair. 

This book, as many of Donna's other books, was published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

Ava longs to meet the night time visitors who come and go so secretly and who children never see.  She devises a plan by which she may be able to meet her favorites at a tea party she wants to give. 

Ava leaves a note with an invitation included for Sandman, because he visits her every night. Included in her invitation list are Sandman, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and Santa. What kind of invitation is it? And does her plan work? Will she meet them as she wishes to do?

One must read the charming book to find the answers, but I can assure you the news is all good!

Donna's talent shines through in this marvelous book. The story is enchanting and will warm every little girl's heart.  Bella Sinclair's illustrations enhance the story to make a joyous experience for the child and her adult reader as well.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Magical Musical for Kids from Tesh and Klein-Higger!

Enter a street full of kids, singing socks, a couple of history lessons, and drop-dead cute lyrics, and you have Land of Lost Socks, a new musical.  The words are by Jane Tesh, and Music and Lyrics are by Joni Klein-Higger.

picturePublished by Guardian Angel Publishing, everything you ever lost will be found right there.  Oh, yes.  Everything.  From keys to lost kites, those babies are in the group.  Interspersed with some great one-liners that grandpa and the kids today will get and chuckle at, are Ms. Klien-Higger's lyrics.  It's enough to make you laugh out loud.  An example:


Joni Klein-Higger is a children’s book author, songwriter and musical theater playwright. She is the author of A Rainbow Of Friendship (Guardian Angel Publishing) and Ten Tzedakah Pennies (Hachai).

Joni's songs have been recorded by various artists and have been featured in motion pictures. Her children’s songs and musicals can be frequently heard ringing throughout the
halls of preschools, elementary schools and middle schoolsacross the country.

While this musical is marvelous for schools, clubs, and other venues for children, I heartily recommend this clever and witty children's musical to you and your young ones as well. It's fun and full of life!  Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Guardian Angel Kids eZine for July, 2013

Have a look at what's on offer from Guardian Angel Publishing--Free!

This month's Guardian Angel Kids eZine- 
a free online magazine for Kids
JULY 2013
"Ice Cream"

Book Feature
by Susan J. Berger
artist Kim Sponaugle

Ice Cream by Lisa Hart
It Never Stops by Jacklyn Yuhanick
An Ice Cream Smile by Felicity Nisbet
The Presidential Sweet by Catherine May Webb
Ten Tips on Treats by Shari L Klase
Make Your Own Ice Cream Delights! by Jennifer A. Buchet

Sunday, July 7, 2013

US Ranked 23rd in the World Spent for Reading

new infographic outlines how many hours people around the globe spend reading books, and the United States is ranked 23rd on the list.

Below, are listed the top 30 countries–sorting them by mean hours spent reading. Russia Beyond the Headlines created the infographic using data from the World Culture Score index, a list compiled in 2005.  Have a look:

Consumers in India are most likely to spend time reading, at an average of 10.7 hours per week, followed by consumers in Thailand and China (at 9.4 hours and 8 hours per week respectively). At 3.1, 4.1 and 5 hours respectively, individuals in Korea, Japan and Taiwan fall to the bottom of the reading list.
What can we do in the U.S. to improve this, according to your humble blogger, deplorable statistic?  We can read to our children.  That is the solution.  So many kids in this country suffer from a deficit of parental and/or caregiver involvement in their reading health.

We need to read to them.  We need to model good reading habits ourselves.  We need to make an interest in reading front and center in our lives.  It rubs off!  

This is not a good statistic for the U.S.  And we can change it, if not for ourselves, certainly then for our children.

Hours Spent Reading Around the Globe

1. India 10.7
2. Thailand 9.4
3. China 8.0
4. Philippines 7.6
5. Egypt 7.5
6. Czech Republic 7.4
7. Russia 7.1
8. Sweden 6.9
9. France 6.9
10. Hungary 6.8
11. Saudi Arabia 6.8
12. Hong Kong 6.7
13. Poland 6.5
14. Venezuela 6.4
15. South Africa 6.3
16. Australia 6.3
17. Indonesia 6.0
18. Argentina 5.9
19. Turkey 5.9
20. Spain 5.8
21. Canada 5.8
22. Germany 5.7
23. USA 5.7
24. Italy 5.6
25. Mexico 5.5
26. U.K. 5.3
27. Brazil 5.2
28. Taiwan 5.0
29. Japan 4.1
30. Korea 3.1

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Award Winner, Ted Dawe's Book, Banned in New Zealand

In keeping with my previous post, Children's Books Banned from Bookshelves as Late as 1990,  I thought this news from the world of children's literature was decidedly worth a follow-up:

Ted Dawe's young adult novel Into the River won the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year award and was also the winner of the Young Adult Fiction category.  And yet, it is banned by many bookstores and schools. 

Into the River by Ted Dawe (Source: Breakfast)
But a judge is defending an award-winning children's book, which has been taken off the shelves in some bookstores, saying the book's descriptions of sex acts, drug-taking and coarse language help to tell the real story.

Some bookstores are refusing to sell the book and organizers of the awards have sent out a "explicit content" warning stickers to all booksellers.
The novel has stirred up controversy but chief judge of the Children's Book Awards Bernard Beckett has brushed it off, adding:

 It was a "magnificent" and "important" book...and feels more real than any teen novel I have read in New Zealand."

"I want people to read this book. It's about a young Maori boy, grew up on the East Coast, who moves up to Auckland on a scholarship.  He's a boy with potential, he's smart, he's got the world ahead of him and then that gap between two worlds is too big he ends up in a boarding school where he can't find a place to stand.  It's exactly that story about what happens to these kids who fall through the gaps and what the implications are for them."

Ted Dawe
But its "unnecessarily graphic" content, coarse language including the c-word, drug and sex references has provoked response.  Family First's Bob McCoskrie said Mr Dawe and judges were out to "pollute the moral innocence of kids" and even adults would find it offensive.

Beckett contends the story could not have been told without the coarse language, drug and sex references.:

"In the same way that Macbeth can't be told without a murder, you can tell a different story, but the story you can't tell is the cost of this lifestyle and what happens to these kids."

You decide.  Have a look at Into the River, and assess it for yourself.  The only caveat, as far as your humble blogger is concerned, is that New Zealand is a democracy of the first water and, as such, book banning should be scrutinized at the very least.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Children's Books Banned from Bookshelves as Late as 1990

I certainly have warm and fuzzy memories of reading of the adventures of Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood as a child.  But did you know this lovely piece of literary prose was banned because the animals spoke?  What could the reason be?

Tall tales: Winnie the Pooh is accused of alluding to Nazism and being ungodly for allowing animals to talk It was accused of alluding to Nazism and being ungodly because of talking animals. Certain institutions in Turkey and the UK have banned  because the character of Piglet could offend Muslims.

The much-loved book by A.A. Milne is among several popular children's books and a dictionary that have been banned in the U.S. over the years for being anti-Christian, too sexual or damaging to industry. 
Dear diary: Anne Frank's descriptions of going through puberty led to calls for the book to be banned Important works of literature such as The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank, praised for its insight into the impact of the Second World War on children, was banned by a Virginia school over the 'sexual content and homosexual themes' when the definitive edition was released in 2010.

Other schools tried to ban it from reading lists because it was too depressing and last month a Michigan mother complained about its 'pornographic tendencies' over passages where Anne describes going through puberty.

TreeTwo books - Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree and Dr Seuss's The Lorax - were both criticized for damaging the foresting industry.  A Colorado library barred the Giving Tree for being sexist in 1988 and in 1989 a Californian school district banned The Lorax incase it put children off a career in the logging industry.

One of the most popular Dr Seuss books, Green Eggs and Ham, was not allowed in parts of California because of suggestions of 'homosexual seduction', according to
Harriet Buzzfeed. 

Both were viewed as encouraging children to be disrespectful for children. Harriet the Spy was accused of teaching 'children to lie, spy, talk back and curse,' and Katherine Peterson's novel Bridge to Terabithia was described as 'an elaborate fantasy world that might lead to confusion'.

In several southern states, classics such as Where the Wild Things Are was banned in the 1960s for promoting the supernatural.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was considered 'ungodly' in Chicago and was criticized for depicting women in strong leadership roles. 

Shelved: Where the Wild Things Are was banned in many Southern states for its supernatural plot
The Winnie the Pooh concerns even led to a 14-year-old girl in California being suspended from school for wearing Tigger socks after the school banned students from wearing clothes with the characters on, according to Banned Books.

And, as a wrap on this topic today, California banned the 10th edition of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in 2010 because it included a definition for 'oral sex'.