An Attitude of Gratitude Creates Happiness

The second edition of Rayne Shines is now published. The characters are people instead of frogs and the text has been tightened. Here are the first few pages.

Rayne is bored with life, until a new family moves in next door. Why do they look so happy? Rayne wants to know their secret. Rayne Shines is a humorous and thought-provoking picture book for ages 5-7.

In a subtle and humorous way, the story shows how attitude and perception create either happiness or misery. Rayne learns that gratitude, playfulness, optimism, and simplicity bring joy.

Buy link

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages






The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

You may misinterpret the title of this wonderful picture book. I thought it had to do with intelligence but it actually means stylish or well-dressed. I see others made the same mistake since the title has been changed to “Spiffiest.”

George is a giant who wears the same pair of old brown sandals in the same old patched up gown. We see from the illustrations that the townsfolk are quite blasé about George and other giants. The story begins with George deciding to spruce up. He buys “a smart shirt, a smart belt, a smart pair of trousers, a smart stripy tie, some smart socks with diamonds up the sides, and a pair of smart shiny shoes.” He declares that he is now the smartest giant in town. He leaves his old clothes behind and heads for home.

Here the story unfolds of George’s compassionate heart. He gives a giraffe his necktie to keep his long cold neck warm. As he goes on his way, George sings a happy song about giving away his tie but still being the smartest giant in town. George gives his shirt away to a goat who needs a new sail for his boat. He gives a shoe to a homeless mouse family. He gives a sock to a fox that needs a sleeping bag. He puts his belt across the bog to help the dog travel safely. But then, as George hops, his pants fall down. In the end he returns back to town and puts on his old clothes. All the creatures he helped get together and make a gold paper crown and a thank you card that lists all the generous acts and ends with “the kindest giant in town.”

What a wonderful book to lead into discussion of generosity, compassion, and sharing. This would be a great book to motivate children to participate in charitable events and to give up something so that others might have the necessities of life. It also promotes minimalism and non-attachment.

The illustrations are nicely done. The text is threaded throughout the variety of pictures. Some are double spreads, some full-page, and some two or three small illustrations on the page. They are bright, detailed, and colourful. The paper is glossy and good quality which makes the illustrations pop. Highly recommended.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Other great books by Julia Donaldson. Click on the covers for more information or to purchase the books.

Halloween Costumes – Don’t Touch My Whiskers

Orange and black dots the landscape, natural and retail, as we head into Halloween. Now that my children are old enough to put together their own costumes, or perhaps forgo the whole process, I can afford to be nostalgic about dressing up little ones. Since going house to house is no longer as secure, exciting event I experience as a child, dressing up became the best part.

There was a time when I prepared for Halloween in July. I’ve always loved costumes but felt self-conscious myself. The universe has been generous enough to give me two children, a male and a female upon which to indulge my fantasy. I learned, however, that the universe has also provided them with very early opinions and a strong sense of self. Halloween was spelled “compromise.”

I dressed my daughter as a little devil for her first experience of thrills and chills. Raising an individualistic human being is such a shock for first-time parents, this could have been my Freudian slip. It may have been overkill, though, is the worst Halloween prank she was capable of doing was putting all the pumpkin “guts” back inside the hollow shell.

Her second Halloween, we taught her to distribute candy. Every time the doorbell rang, she screamed, “Kids! Treats!” For weeks the meter reader, salespeople, and soul savers were startled by this greeting often followed by shrieks of disappointment.

She had it figured out the third time around. Being a lover of smurfs and cats, she dressed as Azreal, the orange tabby on the cartoon show. After trick-or-treating at the homes of friends, we tried to bathe her. Between loud meows, she informed us emphatically that we were not to wash off the white face, black nose, and whiskers.

Periodically over the next few days, I dabbed at her face with a wet cloth, whereupon she would shriek angrily and run to the bathroom to make sure the cat face was still there. I hid her from the neighbours, concerned they might consider this neglect. It took three feet of bubbles in the tub to convince her that the kitty was “tired.”

The fourth year I dressed her as Snoopy, complete with face makeup. I guess I’m a slow learner. She refused to speak for the entire evening, expecting us to respond appropriately to bark whimpers. My husband took her to a few neighbours, one being the family with a small black poodle she adored. Every day she passed this place, she would pet the dog on the head and tell him he was pretty. Unfortunately, her costume was a bit too authentic. The poodle decided his home was being invaded by a large, poorly proportioned beagle and went after her. Daddy snatched her away from the jaws of the territorial pet, but was unable to protect her little heart from being broken. She decided Halloween really was a scary holiday.

The year I spent hours making her a tooth fairy costume, complete with embroidered bag on her hip, it snowed enough to allow Santa to ride sleigh down Main Street. The only clue to her identity was the wind mangled silver wings strapped to her snowsuit.

The next year I decided to go with the flow. She dressed as the Snow Queen in Han Christian Anderson’s classic fairytale. She wore a blue gown embroidered with silver snowflakes under her winter clothes, fuzzy white mittens, and a blue tinsel wig. It was another windy night. If I had lost sight of her, all I needed to do was follow the trail of blue tinsel.

My son preferred more traditional costumes, the more macho the better. I’ve never told him that I was tempted on his first Halloween to dress them in a suit and tie with black-rimmed glasses. He was such a plump, wrinkly baby that it would be easy to pass them off as Mr. Maggo. Instead, I dressed him as a smurf. He was about the right size and intelligence.

Although I don’t go into costumes with the same gusto anymore, I appreciate those who do. I love to attend the Halloween parade at school. Students and teachers come up with novel and weird ideas. Last year, one dressed as a black wolf. She wore a sign that said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m a vegetarian.” One student caught a quick glimpse of the sign, turned to his teacher said, “Why would I be afraid of a virgin?”

Beats me. It’s the little black poodles who are scary.

October 17, 1993


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang. Book Review.

This is an unusual book of thanks. It reminds me of a Buddhist gatha where we thank our body for everything it has given and done for us. In this text, the child thanks his feet, hands, knees and elbows, head, five senses, and other parts of his body. He expresses appreciation and wonder at the gifts given to him through his body. For example:

“I smile and talk and sing with my mouth. My lips kiss Mommy and Daddy. My teeth bite crackers. My tongue licks ice cream. My most tastes all my food before it slides down here, into my tummy.”

There’s one exceptionally beautiful moment where, after expressing thanks for all the things he can hear such as honking, singing, barking, laughing, purring, ticking,and rumbling, he hears between the noises… Silence. This illustration is a double spread of a night sky with a crayon outline of the boys face, eyes closed, calm and serene.

The illustrations are large and bright, done with crayon and cut out pieces of felt and graphics.

This book is a excellent reminder to be thankful for the simple things we receive, to express gratitude for our bodies with which we experience the whole universe.

It ends “And right now I also know that I am part of this whole world – this universe! All this is my home. I am ALIVE. And this whole universe is inside… All of me! What a wonder.
What seems at first to be a simple picture book is actually a profound and wise way of looking at the world and oneself. This would be a beautiful nighttime story for a child, a wonderful book to share on Thanksgiving Day, a Sunday school or Dharma school treasure, or even a reminder to adults not to take their lives for granted.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Children’s Choice Book Awards – Are They Worth It?

There are numerous American versions and Canadian versions  of this award. There are also provincial/state versions so you need to individually research.



Children and teens vote for their favorite books.

There are different awards for each province, the one I know best is the Forest of Reading/ Silver Birch Awards in Ontario. 


It is run by the Ontario Library Association. It has expanded into four English and three French categories for grades JK to grade 12 books, fiction and nonfiction. There are also two adult categories. Specific categories must be published within specific dates. “The author must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.  The book must be commercially available in Canada. Unfortunately, self-published and print-on-demand books are not eligible.  Small press books with print of at least 450 are eligible.

The winners are listed on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Owl Kids, and numerous other sites. The Silver Birch Awards, and others, have celebratory events and books are well-publicized.


10,000 children participate and many more are exposed to the books. An official seal is available for winners. Winners may appear on stage at the Forest Festival.


Librarians looks to these lists for purchases. Some school and public libraries buy the entire list of finalists to encourage voting.




Voted on by 12,500 children

Books must be for children in kindergarten to sixth grade

Must be published in the United States

Many similar regional awards 


$300 entry for non-members. Competition is broken into five geographic locations.


The winners are listed on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, publisher’s Weekly, Owl Kids, and numerous other sites. Previous year’s winners are left on the site

Announced at a gala charity event


Stickers must be purchased.


Winners felt there was a small increase in sales.

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.


If you can fit the criteria for these awards, it is a great way to get your books into the hands of  children. These awards are held in high regard and winners are promoted for years.


Mom’s Choice Award

Reader’s Favorite Award

Kindle Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Eating Green by Molly Aloian. Book Review.

 Buy Link Eating Green (Green Scene)

“Eating green means understanding the impact our food choices have on the environment and trying to lessen that impact. To eat green, we must buy food with little or no packaging. We should eat fresh food and local food that is grown or made nearby. Eating green also need avoiding foods that have been sprayed with harmful pesticides.”

Although this picture book is written for children, it is a reminder for people of all ages of the impact of our choices. It discusses necessary and unnecessary packaging and its impact on landfills. It explains the difference between processed foods and fresh foods and their impact on the earth and our bodies. Organic foods are preferred and the harmfulness of pesticides is explained. The reader learns why buying local is a good habit. The accumulation of toxic plastic drinking bottles is examined. The book encourages little-free lunches. It ends with the beautiful double page spread on the importance of family mealtime. Bonus: a simple but healthy pizza recipe at the end of the book. There is also a glossary and an index.

The illustrations in this book are full-color photographs which highlight and elucidate the message. You cannot look at that pile of garbage, mostly plastic, and not feel we need to change. This is an excellent book for families to share.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Recycled Sundays – The Lost and Confused


Maybe it’s because I’ve been lost so frequently myself that I am good at connecting with lost people. Perhaps those of us that have a poor inner compass show a special aura. Instead of a personal magnet steering me in the right direction, it attracts misguided souls to me. I seem to have a talent for discovering lost people in need of assistance.

I can spot them instantly. First, they walk slowly, hesitatingly. Second, they search about with the intensity of mongooses watching for cobras. Third, and this is the dead giveaway, the little ones cry or sniffle and the older ones mutter to themselves. I can’t help it. I inevitably make eye contact.

Often, the hardest part is not getting them where they want to be. It’s understanding what they are saying.

I’m not talking about the individuals lost in the unforgiving northern woods. I discover lost children at crowded events and lost adults on city sidewalks. It’s nothing life-and-death, just enough to throw my schedule into chaos.

The most recent example was when I was running late for a writers’ meeting, again. Usually I am a prompt, dependable person, but recently life has been overwhelming. I have been late for the last two meetings and I was determined that I would be on time this evening.

I arrived a full twenty minutes early. It was a gorgeous evening and I had enjoyed the walk. Rather than waiting in the windowless college, I decided to enjoy a little more air. That’s when I saw the same woman I noticed on the way in.

She was walking slowly, looking questioningly at people, glancing around as though someone had remodelled the campus when her back was turned. I knew that expression. She passed at least a dozen people on the sidewalk plus a field full of soccer players and their audience and headed straight for me. I had made eye contact.

I don’t get it. Do I have an invisible lighthouse beacon where my third eye should be? I could be a Jean the Ripper for all they know. Yet instantly, they’ll put themselves in my hands.

Of course, she was lost. She was looking for Sharkey’s Pub where a volunteer tea was being held. I’ve never been there and most times I can’t find the room I’m looking for, but I usually know where other lost people need to be. I had passed the pub the week before when out bicycling.

By this point, she was too tired and disoriented to be given verbal directions. I had to lead her to the door. Thankfully, the writers’ group was understanding about why I was late for the third month in a row. I was thankful that the woman was empty-handed.

I have found a child with chocolate ice cream dripping down her arms and all over me. I have found a child with filthy hands who insisted on clutching me until his father came in sight. I have found a child with an excited puppy who urinated every time you spoke to it (the puppy, not the child – the child was too busy crying). But, come to think of it, I’ve also found a child who urinated every time he cried as well.

The absolute worst is when the lost person is carrying stuff that they are too tired to carry any longer. Not only must I play pathfinder and counsellor, but pack horse too. The one that almost did me in was two summers ago. In an unprecedented attack of fitness and environmental awareness, I decided to walk from the Thunder Bay Mall back to Northwood where I live. About halfway to the Arthur and Edward Street intersection, I connected with a lady. She met all the qualifications – walking slowly, looking searchingly, and muttering to herself. This was going to be a challenge. She was muttering in another language.

She was in her sixties, wearing a heavy coat, slight moustache covered in sweat, and carrying not one, but two, 4 L jugs of cooking oil. It was about 23°C and rapidly rising. After a bizarre conversation only partly in English – punctuated by large head movements and heavy sighs – I realized she was looking for the Plaza she had previously passed. I took her cooking oil and we began the trek back.

A few blocks later, I too had sweat on my upper lip and everywhere else. I sent up a plea that this lady would soon discover the joy of cooking with Pam. I had started this walk to challenge myself but this was more like a survival hike. Eventually we passed the bus stop where, the lady informed me, she had disembarked. She had turned the wrong way upon exiting. I wondered if she would have walked all the way to Kakabaka Falls if I hadn’t met her.

We made it to the parking lot where she pointed out her son’s restaurant. Oh good, I thought, I can get a cold drink before I keel over. The lady insisted on taking the cooking oil, no easy feat since the muscles in my hands had seized up around the handles. Refreshed, she hustled away, ready to deep fry at any moment.

I like to think she said thank you in her own language, maybe even offered me a drink as I staggered away. My legs felt like rubber. I was muttering to myself when I noticed a younger woman looking at me with concern.

“Fool,” I thought. “Doesn’t she know better than to make eye contact?”

August 22, 1993


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Making a Simple Action Based Copy Cat Book with Your Child

You will need:

  • an example book such as Elephants by Rebecca Heller
  • 8″ by 14″ sheets of paper
  • old magazines, catalogues, tourist pamphlets etc. that contain pictures of people being active
  • child scissors
  • glue
  • fine point marker or pen
  • needle and thread or sewing machine
  • strong tape to reinforce spine
  • optional thicker paper for cover

If possible, read the sample book to your child. Explain that the elephant is doing actions. Talk about actions your child likes to do.

Have the blank book and picture selections ready ahead of time. Have 8-10 pages prepared ( you only need 4-5 plus the cover) . (You know your child’s interest sustainability.) Sew the pages down the middle and fold them to make a book.

Get out magazine pictures you have preselected, outlined, and labelled (about double what you need). Make sure each one has a different action. Discuss the actions with your child.

 She choses her favourites and cuts them out.

She glues one on each face-up page (not the cover).


Print the two (or three) word sentence below each picture. Keep the sentence structure the same. For example:

  • A boy drums.
  • A girl rocks.
  • Girls drive.
  • A cat meows,
  • A minion hugs.
  • A man waters.
  • A girl gardens.
  • A boy looks.
  • A dog barks.
  • A boy reads.
  • A Barbie dances.
  • A girl pushes.
  • Kids build.
  • A boy slides.
  • A girl jumps.
  • A boy crawls.
  • A girl shoots.
  • Cats climb.
  • A girl carries.
  • Boys ride.

An older child might like to draw the pictures. This would stretch the project out for many days. You can print the sentences first.

A child might like to search a safe site for graphics using action words and print the pictures instead.

Make a cover by hand or using a computer before or after the book is completed.

AMBITIOUS?  Personalize it. Print photographs of your child being active instead. They can cut them out and glue them. For example:

  • Kayleigh jumps.
  • Kayleigh slides.
  • Kayleigh laughs.

Echo read the book with your child until she can read it alone. Send her to read it to every human and stuffed toy available.

DON’T BE SURPRISED IF your child insists on different wording or otherwise derails your plans. Go with it. There will be at least one page they can read easily.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Isabella’s Heart by Diane Merrill Wiggington. Book Review.

Isabella’s Heart is the second in the award-winning Jeweled Dagger Series. Like the first book, it is a lighthearted humorous romance that takes place in the 1700s. It contains just enough historical reference to establish time and place and provide an anchor for societal expectations and events. In spite of a few anachronisms, the author succeeds in bringing the reader into this colorful world.

Isabella is the daughter of Angelina, the heroine of the first book, Angelina’s Secret, and has inherited her gutsy, defiant personality. In this story, Isabella sets out to save her twin brother from kidnappers. They share a special psychic connection which allows Isabella to see through the eyes of her brother Charles. Although there is a significant amount of romance, it is a nice variation to see the focus of this story centered on a sibling relationship.

Like her mother, Isabella is no slacker when it comes to combat. She is also insightful, brave, clever, and more than a little reckless. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but this is a fun, swashbuckling, fast-paced adventure with a kick ass heroine. It’s a great beach read or holiday break.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Kindle Book Awards – Are They Worth It?

Site –

Deadline – February to May each year

For Independent and small press authors


There are seven categories:

  1. Mystery/Thriller
  2. Romance
  3. Y/A
  4. Sci-fi/Fantasy
  5. Literary Fiction
  6. Horror/Suspense
  7. Non-Fiction

Each category winner receives $345 and publicity packages.


Submit online.

Entry fee is $29.00.

Books must be 25,000 words.


Winner’s lists from previous years are kept on the website.

Goodreads and Library Thing both feature a list of winners.

$200 in Free Promotion from The Kindle Book Review.

$200 Giveaway compliments of The Kindle Book Review

$120 in Free Promotion from Digital Book Today

$85 Free Promotion from


All Semi-finalsts (a maximum of 20 per category), Top-5 Finalists, and 7 Winners receive a Contest Badge. According to a winner, this was a jpg to display on the book. Stickers must be purchased.

Correction: “Badges have never been for sale, and are always given FREE of charge to all Semi-finalists, Finalists, and Winners. It’s a png, high quality image. If someone wants to pay a 3rd party to create a “Sticker” for their print books, we are more than happy to allow that (as far as trade mark is concerned) but we do not sell them–never have. That’s just an author preference. We are The Kindle Book Review. We only review, and judge “Kindle” books, so providing physical stickers doesn’t fit what we do.”


One winner who responded to my survey said it did not help increase sales.

If you have entered this contest, please leave a comment about your experience.


Unfortunately there are no children or poetry categories.

It is recommended by the Self Publishing Advise Center  (which is rare)

The entry fee is so inexpensive and the prize money is decent, so I think this would be worth entering.


The Award blog articles are based on Survey Monkey responses, emails, and comments I received on social media as well as research and some personal experience.

If you have entered any of the contests I have/will blog about and would like to share your experience, please either:

  • write to me at Be sure to say if you wish to be anonymous.
  • or
  • make a comment the day the blog post is published.

Mom’s Choice Award

Reader’s Favorite Award

The next  award covered will be:

  • October 25 – Children’s Choice Book Awards

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages