Secret Service Saint by Janet Ann Collins


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.

You can read my review by clicking here.

Print ISBN: 978-1-935137-98-6 & ISBN 10: 1-935137-98-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-935137-99-3 & ISBN 10: 1-935137-99-9

Purchase at:

Guardian Angel Publishing


Barnes and Noble


Visit the author online at and her blog at


Top 10 Picture Books of 2011

This took longer than expected. As I mentioned in my last post, selections this year were hard. In addition, I discovered I needed to segregate picture books for little kids (babies, toddlers, preschoolers) from those for school-age children. While some books could overlap between the two age groups, there was no way for me to compile a fair list if I lumped them all into one group. For books where I couldn’t find an age listing, I put them where I felt they fit best. I’ll start off with my Top 10 for the youngest category and then list the Top 10 in the older category.

Top 10 Picture Books for Preschoolers and under

  • Ricky’s Christmas Tree by Guido van Genechten
  • A Cat’s Alphabet Book by Sally O. Lee
  • My Daddy by Guido van Genechten
  • Going to the Beach with Lily and Milo and Going to the Zoo with Lily and Milo by Pauline Oud (I reviewed these together, so I am counting them as one.)
  • One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano
  • Oops! by Leo Timmers
  • 1-2-3- Count with Me and A is for Apple by Georgie Burkett (Again, I reviewed these together and count them as one.)
  • Ricky is Brave by Guido van Genechten
  • Thankyouplease by Pierre Winters and Barbara Ortelli
  • Ian’s New Potty by Pauline Oud

There are repeat names on this list, but I felt these authors and publishers truly knew how to create books attractive to this market.

Top 10 Books of 2011 for Ages 3 and up

  • A Dog is A Dog by Stephen Shaskan
  • My Mom Has X-Ray Vision by Angela McAllister
  • Will & Kate: A Love Story by Ink Robin
  • Sea Monster’s First Day by Kate Messner
  • The Butt Book by Artie Bennett
  • Not Fat Because I Wanna Be by LaNiyah Bailey
  • The Dancing Clock by Steve Metzger
  • Humbug, A Christmas Carol by Lee Baker
  • My Name is Not Alexander by Jennifer Fosberry
  • Fifo “50 States” by Hayley Rose

Honorable Mentions

  • A Christmas Secret by Candace Hall
  • Frederico, The Mouse Violinist by Mayra Calvani
  • The Ice Cream King by Steve Metzger
  • Marta’s Gargantuan Wings by J. Aday Kennedy
  • Every-Day Dress-Up by Selina Alko
  • Freckleface Strawberry Best Friends Forever by Julianne Moore
  • Limelight Larry by Leigh Hodgkinson
  • Don’t Worry Douglas! by David Melling
  • Cinderfella and the Furry Godmother by Dixie Phillips
  • Tumbleweed Christmas by Beverly Stowe McClure
  • Secret Service Saint by Janet Ann Collins
  • Seven Miles to Freedom by Janet Halfmann 

Secret Service Saint by Janet Ann Collins

 The legend of St. Nicholas comes alive in this touching story by Janet Ann Collins. Loosely based upon the legend we all know of the gift-giving Greek Bishop, Nikolaos of Myra, in Secret Service Saint, Nicholas is seen as being keen on adventure. When he is shipwrecked and forced to swim ashore, he finds the people happy to see him. They had been praying God would send someone to lead their church. They make him a special red robe and hat, so everyone will know how important he is. After a time, Nicholas feels his life no longer is filled with adventure. When God gives him a secret charge, Nicholas finds a way to help the people and satisfy his need for adventure too.

I have to admit, I’ve never read much about the saint who Santa Claus is based upon. It’s odd considering I was brought up Catholic, where saints are revered, but Secret Service Saint made me want to perform some additional research into what I could find. For kids, this is a charming story of how a man is changed by God’s will for his life. Told using words and actions young people can understand, they will easily be able to grasp the message of servanthood and true discipleship behind the story.

Talented artist, Eugene Ruble, provided the illustrations for this book. It was his work on Secret Service Saint that led me to feel he would be perfect to bring my book, Little Shepherd, to life. The illustrations for this book are mostly black and white, but some of the people and other special items are colored in with pencil to give an old world feel to the story. It works beautifully.

I’m glad I purchased a copy of this book from Guardian Angel Publishing earlier this year. You’ll love the message this book teaches and your kids will enjoy talking about Saint Nicholas in a new way.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
  • ISBN-10:1935137980
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935137986
  • SRP:  $9.95

Signs of Trouble by Janet Ann Collins

Amy and Kim get separated from their Special Education class while on a field trip to the mall. Can what they’ve learned at school help them reunite with their group?

In this entertaining and educational story of two lost girls, children’s author Janet Ann Collins helps children remember the important rules if they ever get lost:

  • Stay where you are and your group will come find you.
  • Beware of strangers.
  • In an emergency, dial 9-1-1.
  • It’s okay to talk to those who are supposed to help you, like police officers.

Jack Foster’s artwork is the perfect complement to this story. His vivid characters and their surroundings truly bring this story to life in a visual way.

Kids from all walks of life can stand to hear these rules over and again.  Also included are fun activities, games, and discussion questions. I applaud Collins for writing such a wonderful book that will help keep kids safe. I’ll be sharing it with my children soon.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc
  • ISBN-10: 1616331119
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616331115
  • SRP:  $10.95

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    The Peril of the Sinister Scientist by Janet Ann Collins

    The Peril of the Sinister ScientistWhat would you do if you thought you were cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin and the scientist who performed the experiment twelve years ago was pursuing you?

    Joshua Davidson has never known his father. He’s always lived with his mother Maria and she never spoke of his father. When Maria spies a man from her past, she blurts out that the man might want Joshua because he was part of an experiment, but doesn’t have time to explain the rest of the story. Joshua’s active imagination goes into high gear and he begins to believe that he is a clone from the blood on the Shroud of Turin. As Joshua continues searching for his true identity, the man from his mother’s past appears to be stalking him. Will Joshua find out who he really is? And if he does, will it change his life forever?

    In this chapter book for tweens, Janet Ann Collins weaves an imaginative and engaging story around a well-known artifact and comes up with a winner. The Peril of the Sinister Scientist brings the reader through Joshua’s journey of discovering his true identity while trying to avoid what the boy sees as imminent danger. Suddenly Joshua finds himself doing things that he never has before.

    While The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is fast-paced and mysterious, there are also moments where Joshua, as narrator, allows the reader to connect with him and the difficulties of not knowing who you are or in being uncertain what you should do next. This book also explores the various relationships Joshua has with others and how those people help him through his journey.

    The Peril of the Sinister Scientist by Janet Ann Collins is an exciting adventure that many readers will enjoy. It also includes a set of discussion questions at the end, making it a good book club choice.

    Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Publisher:  Guardian Angel Publishers
    • Print Paperback ISBN 13: 978-1-935137-79-5 & ISBN 10: 1935137794
    • eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-935137-80-1 & ISBN 10: 1935137808
    • SRP:  $7.95 for PRINT, other prices available at the Guardian Angel website.

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    The Kids Book Connection Got Tagged!!!

    hove_outsideA talented author named Linda Thieman over at the Katie & Kimble blog tagged us today! That means that I have to play tag by answering a few little interview questions! Then I have to blog tag someone else! So, here are my answers and here are the bloggers I am tagging! I guess I’m it!  By the way, we reviewed the first two Katie & Kimble books here, so take a look at what they’re all about (Book 1 and Book 2).

    1. Which words do you use too much in your writing?

    If I could just stop using “just” when I’m writing I would just be thrilled.

    2. Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?

    Tags such as “she said”, “he replied” and “she asked”.  Arg, give me an action tag for crying out loud!  Kids are smarter than we give them credit for.  Unless we’re talking books for children under the age of three, they’ll figure it out.

    3. What are your other favorite blogs?

    There are “just” so many!  🙂 I’ll have to limit myself to three.

    Hook Kids on Reading by my friend and fellow G.A.P. author Margot Finke.  If you have a reluctant reader or know one, you need to check out this blog!

    Just a Mom’s Take on Things by Deb Steenhagen.  In addition to being an excellent virtual blog tour host for Pump Up Your Book Promotion, Deb reviews books and runs numerous contests and giveaways at her blog.  You have to stop by there because it’s an amazing place!

    The Crypto-Capers Review by Renee Hand.  Renee is one of my former clients, whose Crypto-Capers books we’ve also reviewed here.   This is an engaging and fun interactive children’s detective series where readers solve cryptograms to help the detectives solve the crimes.  Renee has spent the summer visiting libraries, reviewing children’s books, and creating Book 3 in the Crypto-Capers series, which is coming out soon.  You’ll want to stay plugged in to her blog so you don’t miss the new release!

    4. Name a favorite word:

    “Plethora”, meaning to be full or to have an abundance of.  I have a plethora of decorations for Christmas because it is my favorite holiday.

    5. And a word you’re not so keen on:

     “Union”, when it is coupled with the word “credit”, as in a credit union.  I cannnot say these two words together.  I worked at two different credit unions when I was in my 20’s, and I was never able to speak these two words clearly when answering the phone.

    A credit union is a financial institution where all the members  are shareholders who have voting power.

    6. What would you like to improve about your writing and/or blog?

    I would actually like to have more time for more own writing and to research interesting things to add here.

    7. What’s your writing ambition?

    To use the gifts God gave me to bring enjoyment to readers.

    I now blog tag the following blogs / bloggers:

    LadyD Books by piano teacher and book blogger Diane Rogers

    On Words by children’s author Janet Ann Collins

    Reviews by Donna from children’s and inspirational author Donna Shepherd

    Rooter and Snuffle by children’s author Shari Lyle-Soffe


    * The picture is of Hove Library in the U.K. where one of my fellow Little House on the Prairie chums works.