Saturday, October 30, 2010


Halloween used to be just a fun holiday. Kids could safely trick or treat without adult supervision and almost nobody except little ones believed that witches or ghosts were real.
When Wicca became known as a religion members complained that traditional fairy tales portraying witches as wicked were discriminatory, so public schools stopped sharing them. Does that mean Halloween is a religious holiday? Should public schools stop letting kids celebrate it? If so, what holidays will be left for children to enjoy in school?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Signs of Trouble

I'm so excited! This morning my editor notified me that my newest book is ready to go to the printer.
Although I've already had two books published and my work has appeared in lots of periodicals, I still get excited about seeing something I've written in print for the first time.
The newest book, Signs of Trouble, is about kids who get separated from their Special Education class on a field trip to a shopping mall. It also contains some educational activities that can be used to help children learn about safety rules, creative writing, basic reading skills, and to understand people who are different from themselves.
That last part is very important to me and I hope the book will be helpful to lots of kids.
It will be a while before I actually get copies of the book. When that happens I'll announce it here, although that probably won't be necessary. My shout of joy will probably be heard all over the world. ;-)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Craft Fair

As you read this I'm probably in a booth at a local craft fair (hopefully) selling lots of my books.
Secret Service Saint is a Christmas picture book about Nicholas, who discovers the joy of secret giving and eventually becomes known as Santa Claus. I'm hoping it will help children realize Christmas isn't just about getting presents.
The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is a book for older kids based on the question, what would Jesus do in Middle School. It's about an imaginative kid who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who worked on that experiment twelve years ago is stalking him.
I'll also offer some books I wrote and self-published years ago.
It's too bad my next book, Signs of Trouble, hasn't been published yet. It will be out soon. That book is about kids with learning disabilities who get separated from their class on a field trip and is written at a second grade reading level. It includes some educational activities at the end of the story.
It's always fun to participate in events like this because I get to meet lots of nice people.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


My name is Janet Ann Collins and I'm a bookaholic with no intention of recovering.
I've spent a big part of my life in libraries, and especially enjoy the sections with books for kids. Recently I've been checking out some of the newly acquired books. The librarians say that's fine even though kids can't read the books while I have them because I read and return them quickly. Lots of the new books are excellent and here's one I can't resist telling you about: Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce.
Cosmic is about a boy named Liam who is so tall for his age he's often mistaken for an adult. Like most kids, he loves to play video games. His life is pretty normal, or seems to be until he finds himself involved with evil villains who may destroy everything he cares about. And Liam is the only one who can help. I don't want to give away too much, but can't resist mentioning the realistic and scary scenes in outer space.
The book has a creative and unusual plot, characters I cared about, and is full of action and adventure. I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dallas Woodburn

I can't resist sharing about an amazing young woman. Although only in her early 20s, Dallas Woodburn has accomplished more than many people do in their entire lives.
When she was ten years old, with encouragement from her columnist father, she wrote a book, There's a Huge Pimple on My Nose, and had it printed at Kinkos. It sold so well she went on to have it redone by a publishing company and has sold thousands of copies.
Since then she has won many awards and scholarships, and had her work published in dozens of well-known periodicals. She's a columnist, a public speaker, and all those things hardly make a dent in the list of her accomplishments.
But I'm most impressed by what Dallas Woodburn does to help others, especially kids.
Besides organizing a holiday book drive that has donated thousands of new books to underprivileged kids, she's founder and president of Write On! For Literacy, an organization that helps young people enjoy reading. Here's the website,
Woodburn founded a publishing company, Write On! Books,which publishes work by young writers. That website, features writing contests, book reviews, fun writing prompts, and more. She has also been Program Coordinator for the Young Writers Program of the Santa Barbara Writer's Conference, awards scholarships so kids can attend, and has a summer camp where kids from eight to 18 years old can learn to write.
To learn more about this remarkable person, please visit her blog,
By the way, Kevin McNamee, another author I know will be featured tomorrow on this blog:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Missing in Action

If you read my posts often you know I read a lot of books for kids. Here's one I enjoyed a lot: Missing in Action by Dean Hughes.
This original work of historical fiction that takes place during World War Two and will appeal to boys.
Jay, the main character, is part American Indian and has recently moved to a town near the Japanese internment camp, Topaz. He must cope with memories of his abusive father, who is missing in action, improve his baseball skills, and deal with the usual social problems of a kid in a new community. While trying to fit in and make new friends, he gets to know a young Japanese man who works for his grandfather. When other people in the community discover that Jay associates with a Jap, things become difficult.
Besides being an exciting book with well-drawn characters, the book will help readers think about prejudice in a new way.
I recommend it highly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Green Button

How many times have you been in a checkout line and heard the phrase, "green button?" Even if we pay for our purchases with cash, we probably hear the cashier say it to the people ahead of us in line.
The other day I commented to a checker on the amount of exercise she must get by moving thousands of things from one side of the cash register to the other. "Yes," she replied, "it is a lot of exercise, but not where it's needed."
"Don't you also do a lot of bending and squatting when you do things like stock shelves?" I asked.
She patted her tummy and told me that was the place where she needed the exercise. As I paid for the things I'd bought I suggested that if she did one tummy squeeze every time she said the words, "green button," she'd get plenty of exercise in that part of her anatomy.
While unloading the groceries at home it occurred to me that I could do the same thing. While I don't say, "green button" hundreds of times every working day, I do hear it often and can use it as a reminder to exercise my own abdominal muscles, which certainly need it. And that sort of exercise can easily be done whenever I'm standing in a line, waiting for something to load on my computer, or in any situation where I must wait for something. From now on, I'll try to remember to do that.
I hope my belly button doesn't turn green. ;-)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Good Idea for Kids

When parents can't be with their kids, here's a way they can read them bedtime stories. I think it would be a great resource for parents in the military or grandparents who don't live near their grandkids.

I'm pleased that my publisher is participating in it and, while my books aren't available there yet, they should be soon. Here's the press release about it:

Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. teams with Be There Bedtime Stories’ new technology to bring families together from around the globe.

St. Louis, MO, USA: In a time where families are spread further apart than ever before ‘Be There Bedtime Stories’ is a technology that puts video of a Storyteller onto the page of a children’s book, to be displayed on a computer and read to your children.

“We are very excited with this new adventure,” said GAP President and CEO Lynda Burch. “Our partnership with Be There Bedtime Stories will allow for an unprecedented availability of family sharing reading time with kids and grandkids around the globe. What a wonderful way to “Be There” for your kids whether on assignment out of the country, traveling for work, or just wanting to participate daily in your children’s reading habits; encouraging reading skills that will last a lifetime. It increases literacy awareness and wellness and strengthens family bonds.”

The Sedona International Film Festival, Tuesday night cinema film series displayed the concept, with 5 local leaders, including the Mayor of Sedona. They recorded a bedtime story for presentation that was made to the audience of nearly 500 patrons, right on the big screen of a movie theatre!

For more information on Guardian Angel Publishing or to schedule an interview with the publisher, email Lynda S. Burch at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Animal Sound Mix-up

Another internet friend sent me a PDF of her book to review. I guess the word is getting out that I review books for kids. However even if I know the authors, I try always to be honest.
There are countless books for young children about the sounds animals make. I remember my brother enjoying books like that back in the 1940s and as a mother, preschool teacher, and grandmother I've seen dozens more advising kids that "Cows say 'Moo'" and "Dogs say 'Bow-Wow.' " However I've never seen one like Connie Arnold's Animal Sound Mix-up, which asks children to imagine what would happen if animals made the wrong sounds. Children will probably laugh at the crazy possibilities.
Unlike many rhyming picture books, the rhythm and meter flow naturally and the message that God made animals the way they really are is a positive one.
As you can see from the cover, Illustrator Kit Grady did an excellent job of capturing the amusing feeling of the book.
In my humble opinion, little kids will love this book.
Here are some interesting facts about animal sounds that Connie gave me to share:
Roosters can't crow if they can't fully extend their necks. A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why. A lion's roar can be heard from five miles away. Giraffes have no vocal cords. Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten. Many hamsters only blink one eye at a time. An ostrich's eye is bigger than it's brain. Elephants and camels both have four knees. It is physically impossible for pigs to look up into the sky. Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


You are growing sleeeepy. Very sleeepy. You are in their power. You can't live without those products. They will make you healthy, happy and admired. You neeed them. You must give them your money now!
Okay, so advertising isn't actually hypnotism, but it comes close. Ads are everywhere we go and everywhere we look. TV, the internet, billboards, radio, newspapers, magazines, labels, and many other places bombard us with them at home, at work, and out in public places. The advertisers really do try to sneak their brand names into our subconscious minds and make us believe we can't do without whatever they want to sell us.
And they start targeting babies and young children with commercials and cute insignias long before the little ones can read and don't stop trying to influence people for the rest of their lives. Even though we may think we resist them, they're in our memories. Even the most irritating commercials make us remember and be more likely to buy the products they advertise simply because the names are familiar.
So, how can we resist?
Following a budget and making choices based on what is truly important to us can help a lot.