December, 2010

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GAP Author Watch: Little Shepherd World of Ink Virtual Book Tour 2011

GAP author, Cheryl C. Malandrinos, is following the LITTLE SHEPHERD VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR ’10 up with a new month-long virtual book tour from World of Ink.
January 2011 will be a month full of interviews, guest posts, reviews, and giveaways. Here is her current schedule:
January 3rd
RRRadio-Stories for Children with hosts: VS Grenier, D.M. Cunningham and Tiffany Strelitz Haber.
Live Radio Interview at 11am MST (10am PST, Noon Central and 1pm EST)
Call in number (646) 595-4478

January 4th
Families Matter Blog Interview
January 5th
The Product Review Place – Author Spotlight

January 6th

Book Marketing Network – Guest Post

January 7th

The Writing Mama – Guest Post
January 9th
Utah Children’s Writer Blog – Guest Post

January 10th
One Zillion Books – Review/Giveaway
January 11th
Families Matter Blog – Book Review
January 12th
Roth’s Inspiring Books & Products
January 13th
VBT-Writers On The Move – Guest Post

January 14th

Writing to the Hearts of Children
January 17th
The Maggie Project
January 18th
Stories for Children Magazine FG Interview

January 19th
Home School Blogger – Book Review/Giveaway
January 20th
Putting Words Down on Paper – Review

January 21st
Quadruple Z – Review/Giveaway
January 24th
Bless Their Hearts Mom – Review
January 25th
Sweeps 4 Bloggers – Review
January 26th
Health, Beauty, Children and Family – Review
Stay plugged into her Little Shepherd blog at for more virtual book tour updates. You can friend and follow Cheryl at:!/profile.php?id=1110037692!/ccmalandrinos
or visit her online at

When Rhyming Gets Slumpy by GAP Author Bill Kirk

When Rhyming Gets Slumpy by Bill Kirk

(Published in Absolute Write in May 2005)

Have you ever dealt with
A slump in your brain
That keeps you from writing,
Come sun or come rain?

A Slump so lugubrious,
Nothing will help;
Not chanting or singing,
Not even a yelp;

Not saying words backward
Or running in place;
Not closing your eyes
Or gazing at space.

It won’t even help much
To vacuum the rug;
To sort all your laundry
Or bathe your pet pug.

Though looking to rhymers
 To break your word jam,

Might seem the right thing
When your mind’s on the lam;

At times even tactics
Like these are no use,
To make your words flow–
To break your rhymes loose.

 Then just when you’re ready
To give up the fight,
Your brains get unslumped;
You soon see the light.

Your ears hear the rhythm
Of iambic beat.
Your unrhyming ailment
Is now in retreat.

At last your line endings
Again sound the same.
As if it were magic
You’re back in the game.

So, if you get plagued
By words that don’t match;
You’re laying an egg
And your rhymes just won’t hatch.

Please don’t get all frazzled
And threaten to quit.
Just step back a moment
And let your words sit.

 Remember when rhymes
Are just plain ol’ stuck.
The harder you try
The worse your luck… gets….

Bill Kirk is the author of There’s a Spider in My Sink, No Bones About It, My Grandma’s Kitchen Rules, There’s a Beetle in My Bed, Circulation Celebration, and the mewly released A Midsummer’s Dream. He also has five more children’s books scheduled to be released in 2011.

Bill was born in Germany, has lived on four continents, and has traveled widely in South America, Africa, Asia, Europe and the U.S. He and his wife, Rita, have been married for over 40 years. They have two children and several grandchildren.

You can visit Bill online at

Bestselling GAP Titles at Amazon

Eight-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem. A mysterious old woman in rags gives Melina some curious advice; a violinist Russian hamster, who happens to live under the old woman’s hat, offers her a virtuoso performance; a shooting star fills her with hope on Christmas Eve. Is Melina actually playing better, or has her violin become magic? Who is the old woman in the town square, and why does she wear the same emerald ring as her teacher Andrea?

In the hills outside Bethlehem, Obed guards his first flock of sheep. When the angels appear to tell of the Savior’s birth, he is hesitant to follow the others to see the new King. Can Obed trust that the miracle of the first Christmas will keep his sheep safe until he returns?

With expedited shipping, you can still order these books in time for Christmas from!

Karen Cioffi-Ventrice Reviews Horatio Humble Beats the Big "D" by Margot Finke

Title: Horatio Humble Beats the Big “D”
Author: Margot Finke
Illustrator: Ellen Gurak
Paper ISBN: 13: 978-1-61633-101-6
eBook ISBN: 13: 978-1-61633-102-3
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing

Horatio Humble Beats the Big “D” is a children’s rhyming picture book that tackles dyslexia. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, dyslexia, according to the Mayo Clinic, “is an impairment in your brain’s ability to translate written images received from your eyes into meaningful language.” And, it is the most common learning disability in children.

Margot Finke, in her usual insightful and playful way, shows the academic and emotional affects that dyslexia carries with it. Horatio, like all children with dyslexia, wants to read like his peers, but just can’t. “He wanted to read and dive into books, to snuggle in bed, reading stuff about crooks. But something was wonky within his poor head, so words in his books stayed a mystery instead.”

The author captures the emotional impact a child feels when he can’t read like others, which leads to: the need for special resources, tutoring, low self-esteem, and even anxiety. “Special class is for nitwits,” he whined to his Mom. “Every one of my friends will think that I’m dumb!”

With vivid full page illustrations Finke brings Horatio through the process of “special class” and shows the outcome that can be attained with proper instruction. “Words came unscrambled and flowed smooth and clear. “Hey, I’m reading books!” He yelled with a cheer.”

I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll do so again, I’m a fan of Margot Finke’s work. She has a unique talent for approaching topics that children can use help with, such as moving away from familiar surroundings and friends, as in her book Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind, and now with dyslexia. What’s wonderful about Finke’s books is she addresses these issues with lighthearted rhyming fun.

Horatio Humble Beats the Big “D” is a book every parent of a child who is struggling to read should get. It’s important for children to know they’re not alone in their struggles, and that dyslexia is a problem that CAN be overcome.

Included at the end of the story is a resource page that provides information on dyslexia and also offers links to pertinent articles, along with book suggestions. Listed in the information is the advice that encourages parents of children who have or are suspect of having dyslexia to let their children know it is not a sign of a lack of intelligence. These children should be told that actors/celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, Oprah Winfrey and Magic Johnson overcame dyslexia, as did Bill Gates and Albert Einstein.

According to statistics, one in five students (around 20% of the population) has a language based learning disability. And, less than one-third of the children with reading disabilities receive school services to help with their disability.

Reading Horatio Humble Beats the Big “D” with your dyslexic child is a valuable strategy to help with your child’s self-esteem and motivation.

Reviewed December 7, 2010 by:

Karen Cioffi-Ventrice
Author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, reviewer
Acquisitions Editor Intern with 4RV Publishing
KarenCioffi Writing for Children and More

National Writing Center for Children Reviews Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind by Margot Finke

Reviewed for
National Writing for Children Center
Filed under Book Reviews

Reviewed by Karen Cioffi

Title: Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind
Author: Margot Finke
Illustrator: K. C. Snider

Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
ISBN (Print): 13: 978-1-61633-059-0
ISBN (eBook): 13: 978-1-61633-06

Powell’s Books:
Barnes and Noble:
Guardian Angel Pub:

Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind is a delightful children’s picture book that deals with a “big change” in a little girl’s life. And, with the first line the reader is immediately hooked: “Young Ruthie’s mood changed overnight, her smiles slunk off in gloom.”

What a great introduction to a children’s story. The stage is set, Ruthie’s “smiles slunk off in gloom.” Right there on the first page, in the first sentence, you know Ruthie has a problem . . . a big problem.

Due to a family move, Ruthie had to leave her school, her neighborhood, and worst of all, her friends. Everything she was familiar with was gone. And, like most children, Ruthie was having a very hard time dealing with the situation . . . the loneliness . . . and the adjustment to new surroundings.

Then one day, out of the blue, something changes Ruthie’s mood: “A whimper came, and then one more. Frowns melted into smiles. A Magic Moment, swirling fast, zoomed in and worked its wiles.” This is great writing.

As the title depicts, Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind explores Ruthie’s unhappiness and resulting reactions in a lighthearted and amusing manner. With rhyme and vivid description, Finke brings the reader along on Ruthie’s plight of loneliness, sadness, and anger with a twist of silliness: “Her moods grew big and ugly, like some Hippo’s fat behind!”

In addition to a great story, the book is filled with outstanding full page illustrations that are bold, colorful, and full of life. This combination will have kids wanting to read it over and over. Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind is a book that children will absolutely love, and benefit from. To add to the value of the book, Finke includes a PARENT TEACHER GUIDE. This section offers useful tips and strategies to help children who are facing a “big change.” It also includes three links to websites that provide additional help and resources.

I am a huge fan of Margot Finke’s work, including Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind. With her expertise in rhyme and story telling, she has a knack for cleverly conveying what children may be feeling in a manner that engages, entertains, and is filled with humor. She also has a knack for magically weaving rhyming content into wonderful images that take the reader on an amazing journey.

Karen Cioffi is an author, ghostwriter, freelance writer, and reviewer. She is also the founder and manager of VBT Writers on the Move, and on the team at DKV Writing 4 U. For information about writing and marketing, stop by and sign up for her FREE monthly newsletter – you’ll also get 2 FREE e-books about writing and marketing.

You can visit the National Writing Center for Children at

Bestselling GAP Titles at Amazon

The following Guardian Angel Publishing titles are currently listed as Amazon bestsellers in the Large Print Chrildren’s Books category.

Eight-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem. A mysterious old woman in rags gives Melina some curious advice; a violinist Russian hamster, who happens to live under the old woman’s hat, offers her a virtuoso performance; a shooting star fills her with hope on Christmas Eve. Is Melina actually playing better, or has her violin become magic? Who is the old woman in the town square, and why does she wear the same emerald ring as her teacher Andrea?

In the hills outside Bethlehem, Obed guards his first flock of sheep. When the angels appear to tell of the Savior’s birth, he is hesitant to follow the others to see the new King. Can he trust that the miracles of Christmas will keep his flock safe?

Look for these and other Guardian Angel Publishing titles at our website and at: and other online retailers!

A Swiss Christmas by GAP Author Nancy Stewart

It was Christmas week, and we were in Switzerland. My family and I, along with good friends and a frozen turkey, traveled there for the holidays. We were living in London at the time, so we crossed the English Channel on a car ferry and were on our way to the Swiss countryside.

Our three sons were not so sure about the plan. “Were they getting as many gifts? What kind of Christmas dinner would we have? What about a tree?” I was having many of the same thoughts but kept them to myself.

As we drove higher into the mountains to reach the chalet lent by a friend, small delicate snowflakes danced around our two cars. Shadows deepened, and lights began to glow in houses nestled here and there in the valleys below us. Magical. A very good sign.

With darkness settling around the mountains, we arrived at our chalet. Maybe this adventure would be fine. These words became my mantra.

The next morning, we four parents and five sons explored the tiny village. And there, propped in front of a tiny store, was our Christmas tree! It was short, a little crooked, a bit spare of needles and one of the last ones left. It was beautiful to us.

The nine of us trudged along with our treasured tree and promptly set about decorating it. We popped popcorn and made white garlands with the help of needle and thread. We did the same with cranberries and wound scarlet sashes round the boughs. The boys found pine cones of different sizes and shapes in a sheltered stand of pines near our chalet. These they tucked between branches of our now festive offering to Christmas, and an aroma of pine drifted through the room. James, the youngest boy, fashioned a star out of paper and placed it on top of the tree.

That evening, Christmas Eve, the nine of us again walked to the village. Our feet made satisfying crunching sounds through the crusty snow. The village church was our destination. Candles shone in all the windows, casting shimmering shadows on the icy whiteness. It seemed the whole town had turned out for the midnight service. We were greeted with smiles and greetings of “Willkommen.” We were welcomed by everyone.

Christmas carols, all in German, but so familiar to us in every other way, filled the small church with happiness and joy. The pastor’s message, all in German, made us feel the meaning of Christmas, as if we understood every word.

Next morning, as the boys opened their allotted two gifts apiece, no one complained. Michele and I baked our now thawed turkey and completed all the usual trimmings, minus a pumpkin pie. No one complained. When it was time for all to help clean up from our meal, no one complained. Again, magical.

As I reflect on that Swiss Christmas of more than a decade ago, what made it so extraordinary? Was it Switzerland itself? Was it being with family and wonderful friends? Was it fulfilled expectations?

Yes, of course, it was all of that. And, yet, it was more. It was that intangible thing called hope. It was recognition that we are more than ourselves alone. It was the knowledge that we need one another and are here to help each other and to be selfless when called upon to be so. It was the magic of Christmas that just happened to be in a country called Switzerland.

After having been an elementary school teacher, a management consultant with New Options, Inc. in New York City and a university professor of education, Nancy Stewart now writes children’s books full time. She, her husband and three sons, lived in London for eight years, where she was a consultant to several universities, including Cambridge.

Nancy travels extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. She is the US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education.

Nancy is the author of One Pelican at a Time and two other Bella books: Bella Saves the Beach and Sea Turtle Summer, soon to be published by Guardian Angel Publishers. Nancy will be a presenter at the Illinois Reading Council Conference on March 17, 2011.

She and her family live in St. Louis and Clearwater Beach, Florida.

You can visit Nancy online at

Seasonal Reading from Guardian Angel Publishing

Looking for seasonal titles to share with the young person in your life? Here are some books from Guardian Angel Publishing that might fit the bill.

David makes his way home on Christmas Eve and sees this is no ordinary night. Accompanied by a shimmering star and some tough decisions, David encounters three experiences that will change his view of Christmas forever. Join David on his wondrous journey home.

In the hills outside Bethlehem, Obed guards his first flock of sheep. When the angels appear to tell of the Savior’s birth, he is hesitant to follow the others to see the new King. Can the miracles of Christmas keep Obed’s flock safe until his return?

Aunt Emily made Lucy something special for Christmas – an oversized PURPLE pullover with a PINK gorilla on it! Dressed like a “giant furry grape”, Lucy has a terrible school day full up with sneers and jeers from ‘Cheeky’ Freddie. As an evening packed with surprises unfolds, Lucy discovers that her pullover is, indeed, special.

The annual Christmas decorating contest left no room for Jesus until little Josiah Carr teaches his mommy and daddy the true spirit of Christmas is finding Jesus. This captivating story is guaranteed to warm the coldest heart and become a Christmas favorite for families everywhere.

Melissa is a young girl who moves with her family to Oregon via The Oregon Trail. She has been allowed to bring one prized possession and she struggles to see that the porcelain angel that has topped the family Christmas tree makes the journey safely. This adventure on the Oregon Trail has added educational tools including a map, lists of supplies, info on the trail, links to sites and games about the Oregon trail. Five extra pages of activities.

After a family’s star for their Christmas tree is destroyed they search for another ornament to top the tree. They resurrect the treetop angel carried across The Oregon Trail by a young pioneer and bring the story of The Christmas Angel full circle. (Sequel to The Christmas Angel).

Loosely based on legends about a famous saint, this book tells the story of Nicholas, who discovered the fun of doing secret good deeds. Kids who read or hear the story at any time of the year will be challenged to do the same.

Have you ever wondered what would happen if Christ were kicked out of Christmas? When people decide to celebrate without Christ, they ask him to leave. But with no Christ in Christmas, what miracle will be left to ponder? Find out in this new take on the classic holiday poem.

Look into each holiday and you’ll begin to notice the different shapes that make up objects that relate to each day. See if you can spot the different shapes in each picture. Now look around you. It doesn’t have to be a holiday to shape up into a great day. Uniquely illustrated with cut out art. Teaches shapes, colors and counting. There’s an activity page, too!

This book is a unique dialogue in rhyme between a grandmother and grandson exploring the true meaning of Christmas.

Eight-year old Melina wants to become a good violinist. When she loses confidence, her Rumanian teacher Andrea decides it’s time for a magic dose of self esteem. A mysterious old woman in rags gives Melina some curious advice; a violinist Russian hamster, who happens to live under the old woman’s hat, offers her a virtuoso performance; a shooting star fills her with hope on Christmas Eve. Is Melina actually playing better, or has her violin become magic? Who is the old woman in the town square, and why does she wear the same emerald ring as her teacher Andrea?

All these titles and more are available at the Guardian Angel Publishing website found at Our books are also available at: and other online retailers!

More New Releases from Guardian Angel Publishing!

When Horatio has difficulty reading, his parents meet with the teacher to discover why. Horatio hears the words Dyslexia and Special Ed. “No way! Kids will think I’m dumb.” But go he does, and with amazing results.

Horatio Humble Beats the Big “D” by Margot Finke and illustrated by Ellen Gurak

Purchase a copy here!

Frederico is a tiny mouse with a big dream: he wants to become a violinist. Each day he watches as Stradivari makes his famous violins. Each night, he sneaks into the workshop to play. But the violins are too big! Then, unbeknown to Frederico, Stradivari sees him playing and begins carving a tiny device. Could it be a famous Strad especially for Frederico?

Frederico, the Mouse Violinist by Marya Calvani and illustrated by K.C. Snider

Purchase your copy here!

A green carpet lays where snow once did. Springtime flowers and crawly bugs confuse and delight baby as he explores Mother Nature with Momma for the first time in this delightful nursery rhyme.

First Spring by Margaret Rose and illustrated by Marina Movshina

Purchase your copy here!

Emma comes from three generations of Air Force pilots and misses her father when he travels. Her best friend Adam tries to cheer her up. Emma’s great grandfather, one of the first African American pilots during World War II, shares his life story with Emma and Adam and helps them appreciate the spirit of service.

Chasing the Spirit of Service by Kristen Zajac and illustrated by Julie Tucker

Purchase your copy here!

An ordinary house on an ordinary street but no ordinary cat lives there. Chester is a special cat who watches over his family at night. From dancing crickets to hungry mice, a watchcat’s job is never done on this night of adventure.

Chester, The Watchcat by Jeff Clineff and illustrated by Eugene Ruble

Purchase your copy here!

Imagine, if you will, the aerial dance of fireflies taking flight on a mid-summer’s eve, accompanied by a summertime symphony of frogs and cicadas, harmonizing as darkness falls. The rhythmic sounds of the outdoor concerto build to a crescendo, then fade into the night air until the next midsummer’s dance.

A Midsummer’s Dance by Bill Kirk and illustrated by Clara Batton Smith

Purchase your copy here!

Guardian Angel Publishing titles are also available at: and other online retailers!

New Releases from Guardian Angel Publishing!

Jake, the Hedgehog, is excited—it’s his birthday! But the party isn’t until 6:00 pm, so Jake will have to wait. As readers follow along with Jake’s daily activities—playing outside, reading, taking a bath. They can watch the clock for him, too.

It’s Birthday Time, Jake written and illustrated by Samantha Bell

Purchase here

Ribbert and his family have to find a new home when their old pond begins to dry up. Hop along with them as they explore the world around them, avoid a snake, and see if they can find a new pond that’s deep-deep-and-deeper.

Ribbert’s Way Home by Tracy M. Cox and illustrated by Alexander Morris

Purchase here!

One night at bedtime Teresa discovers Corky, a furry visitor, in her room. Corky is no ordinary monster. In fact he seems just as scared as Teresa. Teresa soon realizes she must help Corky get home. But how can she when she’s afraid of the dark and Corky is afraid of the light?

Teresa’s Shadow by Jennifer Gladen and illustrated by Marina Movshina

Purchase here!

Lily dreams of leaving her dark village and going to the City of Light. But when she learns that the secret to getting there lies in making a great sacrifice, she faces a difficult challenge. Journey with Lily as she meets colorful characters in her quest for the great city.

Lily and the City of Light by Lindsay Bonilla and illustrated by Alexander Morris

Purchase here!

Everyone’s had their feelings hurt, and it makes us want to run away and hide from everyone. Abigail Platt, the girl in this story, had her feelings hurt by someone she loved. But sometimes people don’t mean what we think they do, and we need to ask and find out. That’s part of trying to get along with others. We can learn a lesson from the little girl who had cuspids.

Abigail Platt’s Cuspids by Doc McDuke and illustrated by Michelle Morse  

Purchase here!

Children with learning disabilities get separated from their Special Education class on a field trip and use what they’ve learned to get reunited with them. The included activities can help children learn safety rules, understanding of people with special needs, basic reading skills, and creative writing skills.

Signs of Trouble by Janet Ann Collins and illustrated by Jack Foster

Purchase here!

Guardian Angel  Publishing titles are also available at: and other online retailers!

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