Miracle in Sumatra: The Story of Gutsy Gus by Jean McNaney

A touching and inspiring story that teaches children a valuable lesson is what you’ll find in Miracle in Sumatra: The Story of Gutsy Gus by Jeanne McNaney.

Gus is a Sumatran orangutan whose parents are captured by trappers while he is off playing with Maya, a human friend he discovered in the forest. Afraid and unsure what to do, Gabriella, protector of the land, appears to Gus and Maya and offers to help them.  But nether Gus, nor Maya, expect what happens next.  Can one brave little girl and a small orangutan really make a difference?

Miracle in Sumatra is an engaging and wonderful way to teach your children about the plight of Sumatran oranguntans and destruction of our natural resources.  In this one book, author and activist, McNaney shows children how even they can make a difference in the world. My daughters, 8 and 6, both loved Gus’s story, and have asked me to read it numerous times.

The illustrations provided by French artist David Cochard are absolutely stunning, especially the drawings of Gabriella. Through his illustrations, Cochard has brought this story to life in vivid detail with so many emotions shown on these characters’ faces and the beautiful landscape captured page after page.

While young readers won’t know they’re learning, parents will certainly be pleased with what they are instilling in their children while sitting down to read Miracle of Sumatra with them.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Ovation Books
  • ISBN-10: 0981453465
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981453460
  • SRP:  $16.95

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    Today’s guest blogger is Kathleen Crawley, author of the fun new children’s book , Colonel Trash Truck.  

    Kids love trucks and are most familiar with the truck that visits their house every week – the garbage truck.  So, there is no better way to teach them to respect the environment than to introduce them to Colonel Trash Truck – a likable, fun-loving hero who is extremely focused about his mission to win the garbage war.  He sees the world and nature as a beautiful gift that we all need to appreciate and protect.  Colonel Trash Truck believes cleaning up trash and recycling is something we all must do and he wants nothing more than to have kids join him in his quest. Now’s the time to become a member of his Clean and Green Team! KARUNCH!


    • THROW TRASH IN THE TRASH CAN!  You may think “duh!” but SO many kids do not put trash in the garbage and drop it on the floor or on the playground or give it to their mom.  She is not a trash can, the floor is not a trash can and neither is the playground.  Sure sometimes there isn’t a garbage can around when you need to throw something away but it is so important to make the extra effort to find one.  Look around the next time you are at a park or the beach and you will be surprised at how much trash is on the ground.  The Colonel needs your help because he can’t do it alone.  The more you toss your trash in the correct place, others will too!
    • MAKE SURE TO RECYCLE!  Sometimes it can be hard to remember to recycle and put items into the correct recycle bin but it is really important when it comes to saving our planet.  Papers and cups can be recycled and used over and over again so that we don’t use up all the trees on our planet.  You would be surprised how many things can turn into something else like an aluminum can can be a soda one day and a baseball bat the next.  If we reuse bottles and papers and cans, we will use less of our natural resources and save our planet from wasting away.  There is no better way to help Colonel Trash Truck in his quest to keep the planet green than to recycle!
    • TURN OFF THE WATER FAUCET WHEN YOU ARE NOT USING IT!  Does the water faucet really need to be on while you brush your teeth?  Do you always remember to turn the faucet all the way off after you are done washing your hands and make sure it isn’t dripping? Colonel Trash Truck knows how important it is to save water because it is used for so many things like growing the food we eat.  Please help him by making sure to conserve water whenever you can and turn off that faucet!

    Kathleen Crawley has been an advertising executive for over fifteen years.  She resides with her husband Ronald Thomson in Redondo Beach, California.  She is a native Californian having graduated from UCLA with a B.A in sociology.  Colonel Trash Truck is her first book.  About writing for children, Kathy says, “I have a number of books I want to write for kids because I think children are fascinating.  They are open, creative, and interested in everything; they bring out the kid in me.” 

    You can visit Kathleen online at www.coloneltrashtruck.com


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    Santa's Hat by Mollie Wilson

    Santa's HatIn the third book of Mollie Wilson’s Rhyme Time series, readers find Santa is helping to take care of our planet and is encouraging everyone to do the same.  Santa fills his sleigh with gifts like frankincense and myrrh and elves load regifts on the sleigh in their efforts to protect mountains and streams, fish and wildlife, and forests and coastlines because the greening of our planet is “high on Santa’s list”.

    I purchased Santa’s Hat at The Big E this year while visiting with one of my author friends.  My five-year-old daughter picked it off the shelf, immediately drawn to the adorable illustrations provided by Toby Mikle.  That is, however, where our love affair with the book ended.  While our family believes in recycling and doing our part to help save the planet, we were disappointed to find the magic of Christmas and even the Three Wise Men used for political propaganda.   Both my girls (the older one is eight) were looking for a more traditional Christmas story, perhaps something on the funny side, based upon the jovial and lighthearted cover art. 

    I’m fairly certain that the Three Wise Men weren’t carrying frankincense and myrrh because of their love of the earth–if my Bible is to be believed at all–and while I’m thrilled that the elves didn’t end up on the unemployment line after they stopped making toys, where exactly are they picking up all these regifts they are loading onto the sleigh?  As a parent I better have a pretty good answer for it to seem believable.

    There is no back cover blurb to indicate what the story is about, and in my rush to get the kids out of there I didn’t do my good job as a parent and consumer and skim the pages well enough or pay attention to the recycling symbol on the front cover.

    While I applaud the author for her passion, and the book is well-written and the prose lyrical, I honestly feel that certain aspects of childhood shouldn’t be toyed with.  The magic of Christmas and the religious symbols of a sacred holiday are two of those things.  My children showed no interest in a book that skewed their idea of Christmas in such a way that they couldn’t even appreciate the message.


    Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: AuthorHouse
  • ISBN-10: 1438925611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438925615
  • SRP:  $13.99

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    Miss L'eau Inspires Little Hands to Do Big Things by T. Katz

    Miss_L'eauTwo young boys in a coastal town discover a secret about their mysterious elementary school teacher, Miss L’eau. James and David had always known there was something unusual about her, but they could never quite put their finger on it. David discovered their first clue had been there all along, in her eyes.

    The boys lived their whole lives near the ocean, but had never thought about how important it was or how vulnerable it might be. Through Miss L’eau, and her unexpected relationship to the sea, they develop a deeper love and understanding of the ocean and become involved with the nearby aquarium to organize an annual seaside clean-up.

    The author of Miss L’eau, T. Katz, wrote an article on how her book inspires young people to get involved.

    Miss L’eau Inspires Little Hands To Do Big Things
    by T. Katz, author of Miss L’eau

    Having been born in Santa Cruz, CA only blocks from the beach, I always said that I had saltwater in my veins and have never liked being too far from the sea. Years ago, I moved to the high desert area of California and would run away to the shore whenever I could. As years passed, I noticed more and more trash on the beaches and knew how it was affecting the world at large. Water covers nearly 75% of earth’s surface and is critical to the balance of the planet, so I wrote Miss L’eau to help kids understand that everyone can pitch in to take care of it, no matter how small their hands are.

    Miss L’eau tells the tale of two kids in a coastal town who discover a secret about their elementary school teacher, which changes their lives forever. The boys had always known there was something unusual about Miss L’eau, but they could never quite put their finger on it. Even though David and James have always lived near the ocean, they never thought about its importance, power and certainly never its vulnerability. Thanks to their teacher and her unexpected relationship to the sea, the boys develop a love and understanding for the great body of water covering most of the earth’s surface.

    While it seems that most kids embrace the idea of taking care of the planet, it has been my experience that they also find the task of cleaning their own room overwhelming. In my children’s chapter book, Miss L’eau I wanted kids to relate to the boys in the story and how they, too felt that organizing a community clean-up might be too much for them. James and David initially ask for help, but come to realize they are more capable than they originally thought they were.

    It is my hope that Miss L’eau inspires kids to want to protect and preserve our oceans and research more about how to do just that. In the book, James tells his teacher his ideas for an annual seaside clean-up and begins to write out a plan to do so (work with a local aquarium, speak to city officials, etc.). The main goal of Miss L’eau is to motivate readers to start thinking about how they might follow the example of the kids in the story and after, they can visit the Miss L’eau webpage for step-by-step instructions on organizing their own clean-up in their community. Parents and educators can utilize an on-line study guide (located at http://www.tkatz.com) to further encourage conversation and help children research more about ocean conservation and preservation.

    Miss L’eau is a fictional story with a factual heart and if one page makes a young reader want to investigate more about protecting and preserving the water surrounding us, then I think a good deed was done.

    T. Katz is the author of the children’s chapter book, Miss L’eau. You can visit her website at www.TKatz.com or her blog at www.TKatz.typepad.com.

    Miss L'eau by T. Katz

    Miss_L'eauMiss L’eau by T. Katz is a delightful chapter book with an excellent message.

    James and David like their teacher, Miss L’eau. She’s a lot like the other teachers at their school, yet, there’s something different about her too. And she has the most amazing eyes. One day, James seeks shelter from a storm in the boys’ secret hiding place by the old lighthouse. James thinks he sees something, but certainly that can’t really be what he saw. Suddenly Miss L’eau is more mysterious than ever. The boys are determined to figure out her secret. They don’t know, however, how much that secret will change their lives..and perhaps, the world.

    In this exciting and fun short chapter book, the story focuses on two young boys and their teacher. While there are other characters popping in from time to time, in true chapter book format the number of characters is limited, allowing young readers to easily grasp everything that is going on.

    The mystery surrounding Miss L’eau and why she is in Grant Harbor keeps readers turning the pages. In a short amount of time, James and David go from giving little consideration to the ocean that they have lived next to all their lives, to strong proponents of protecting the ocean and marine life.

    The soothing cover art works well with the topic of the book, a mixture of darker and paler oceanic blues; though I have to admit that the one big eye in the middle of the cover creeps me out. Perhaps an animated version of an eye or a smaller picture of two eyes might have made it less jarring.

    Miss L’eau will show young readers how easy and fun it can be to take care of the world around them and to encourage others to do the same.

    Rating:   🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Windstorm Creative
  • ISBN-10: 1590924045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590924044
  • SRP:  $9.99 (U.S.)