My Monday Minis Reviews #41 ~ A Penguin, a Maine Coon Cat, and a wee Kangaroo

Posted: January 18, 2016 in Children's books, Monday's Minis, reviews
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Welcome to My Monday Minis Reviews where I share short reviews of books I’ve read. For today I’ll be sharing two children’s books.


Wally the Warm Weather Penguin

by Stephanie M. Ward



My Review

A penguin who’s always cold? Find out how Wally gets warm.

Wally, an Emperor Penguin from Antarctica, hears about the Galapagos Islands. He knows he can get warm there, so off he goes on a grand adventure.

Wally is such a sweetie. And he makes some quirky new friends in the warm tropics of Galapagos.

The colorful pictures, the cute characters, and the fun facts about the inhabitants of the Galapagos Islands at the end of the book make this one I’d recommend for all parents and children.

The rhymes are fun to read aloud and what could be better than your child learning and laughing at the same time.

“Wally was shocked when he opened his eyes,

and saw a strange penguin half of his size.”

The rhymes roll right off the tongue.

5 Stars



Wally is an Emperor Penguin from Antarctica who isn’t exactly like the other penguins. Wally is always cold. When he learns about the Galapagos Islands, he immediately sets sail in search of warm weather and discovers an amazing world of tap-dancing crabs, racing hundred-year-old tortoises and diving birds with bright blue feet.

Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is a delightful rhyming picture book for children aged 2 – 5. Children love the bright and colorful illustrations of the unique wildlife in the Galapagos Islands while the simple, rhyming text brings these curious animals to life.

Come along with Wally and visit this very special place!

***A portion of proceeds from sales of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is donated to the Galapagos Conservancy ( to support conservation efforts in the area.***


Author Stephanie M. Ward

Stephanie M. Ward is the author of the children’s book, Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin.

Stephanie has been writing in various forms over the last 20 years. She was a contributor to Tana’s Habitat: The Ultimate Guide to Finding and Affording Your First Place and has written articles for a number of travel blogs.

Stephanie’s wanderlust finally got the best of her and she spent a year traveling across all seven continents. It was then that she decided to focus on writing stories for children about amazing places around the world.

Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin is her first children’s book. The paperback edition was released in November 2014.…


The Palace Buzz

A Gracie Book: Volume #2

by Linda Lee Schell



My Review

Gracie, the wee kangaroo, is off on another adventure. And this time she’s bringing her friend, Gibson, a Maine Coon cat. They became close when Gracie’s trip to St. Petersburg, Russia went awry and she ended up on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Their arrival in Russia creates quite the stir when Empress Catherine spies Gibson and takes him home. Now the fun truly begins.

As with the first book, there are plenty of characters to meet. Some nice. Some not so nice. Intrigue abounds. And Gracie and Gibson’s friendship becomes stronger as they claw there way out of some sticky situations.

I enjoyed this book even more than the first one. I’m thinking it’s because I’m familiar with the authors writing and she gives such colorful descriptions of the places you’ll visit. She puts you there.

It’s been fun following Gracie as she travels the universe, making friends, and I can’t help but wonder where she’ll take us next.

Along with the first book, while this is recommended for kids 8 to 12, I’d recommend it for those closer to 12.

4 Stars



Here she goes again! Gracie, a dwarf kangaroo from the thirty-sixth universe, is skipping across the cosmos to her dream destination: St. Petersburg, Russia. She’s traveling with Gibson, a Maine coon cat whose life she saved when he was unceremoniously dumped in front of a Pennsylvania corn field. Expectations and reality quickly collide. What she expected to find was a city of wintery white nights, a city dotted with a hundred islands linked by dozens of imposing bridges, all book-ended by majestic sculptures cast in bronze. She expected to feast her eyes on historic buildings splashed with pink, yellow and blue pastels. Instead, she finds herself back in the 18th century, in Russia’s Imperial Golden Age. This is not the city I expected, she laments as she stands bewildered near the entrance to the city’s center of activity, the perpetually busy post office. Then, when Empress Catherine arrives in her royal carriage and points a bejeweled finger at the ever-so-handsome Gibson, and declares: I want that cat…the fun begins.



I earlier read and reviewed the first book in this series too.

Come Along With Me

A Gracie Book: Volume #1

by Linda Lee Schell



In case you’d like to read my review for the first book, I’m sharing it again.

Gracie is a wee kangaroo from the thirty-sixth universe. And she’s so excited. She’s finally going to visit St. Petersburg, Russia.

When something goes wrong, she winds up on a farm in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Not quite what she planned.

Once you meet Gracie, you’ll see why her travel plans went haywire. She’s a precocious little roo, plus she’s clumsy and absent minded.

She’s also very brave and arrives in time to save a rather bedraggled city cat from the ferocious farm dogs.

From then on, Gracie and the cat, Gibson, are in cahoots. Each trying to help the other. Gracie wants to go home. Gibson is trying to make the best of it and make the farm his new home.

This was very wordy in the beginning. The prose felt strange yet familiar. Then I got it. It felt like in Willa Wonka or Alice in Wonderland. Otherworldly and zany. I began to suspect much of this was coming from Gracie, the kangaroo from somewhere else. She is a bit rattle-brained and silly.

The last third of the book flowed more easily. And the plot came forward. There’s several other animals that help or hinder the two pals, and one little girl who teaches Gibson how to earn his keep.

I’d say because of the sometimes peculiar use of words, this would be better suited to the upper range of young children. But, I may be wrong. Kids now a days learn to read before starting school, so they may follow the context better than I give them credit for. But there is a rather dark scene on the farm, something that even shocked me. This book is suggested for kids 8 to 12 and I’d recommend it to those closer to 12.

As I read this adventure I was sure it would be a 3 star rating. But that last third of the book sucked me in and by the time I reached the end, I wanted more.  I felt that connection to the characters and wanted to know what kind of pickle they would land in next. I don’t give half star ratings and that’s why it went up to 4 stars.

4 Stars


Come Along With Me will transport eight-to twelve-year old children, their parents, and their grandparents to another world when they read Come Along With Me, an adventure about friendship and caring, the unfortunate consequences of jealousy, and the power of hope.

Meet Gracie, a ditzy dwarf kangaroo from the Thirty-sixth Universe–a creature who lives in a perfect realm. Because she is bored, Gracie longs for an adventure to St. Petersburg, Russia, a place she imagines is filled with beauty and enchantment. Much to the tiny ‘roo’s surprise, her ability to transport herself to the land of the czars has failed. She ends up at a dairy farm in St. Clair, Pennsylvania, where she saves the life of Gibson, an abandoned Maine coon cat.

The unlikely pair become fast friends. While Gracie tries to find her way back home, Gibson carves a life for himself on a farm with his newly adopted mistress, the farmer’s young daughter. There’s one hitch: The overworked farmer demands that Gibson earn his keep. Gibson’s task is thwarted somewhat when he experiences strange visions. But are these visions the result of a thrashing he received from the farmer’s two dogs? Or, maybe Gibson sees parallel universes?

As outsiders the little kangaroo and the cat from the city negotiate the perils of farm life. They meet two malicious rats who hate anyone who is happy. The two devoted friends must contend with stampeding cows and a barnyard of critters that have little use for newcomers.

Will Gibson keep his sanity and become the little girl’s pet? Will Gracie ever see the splendor of the Russian Versailles? Will the farmer survive the evil machinations of the rats, Bratwold and Eastman? Drift back to the days of Barbie dolls, hula hoops, and Sputnik to find out.


Author Linda Lee Schell

Linda’s favorite genre is fantasy/adventure, and her goal is to expand the imaginations of children while simultaneously exposing them to a variety of cultures and histories.

Combining childhood innocence with historical verisimilitude and a dash of magical fantasy–that was Linda’s impulse behind writing her first book, Come Along With Me.

Linda was born in Youngstown, Ohio and moved in 1977 to St. Clairsville, Ohio. Her husband of forty-four years and one son now live in Venice, Florida.

Linda is the daughter of an Ohio dairy farmer and an elementary school teacher. Her working years were in a competitive sales and business environment.

Active in Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce, she is a Paul Harris Fellow.

Entering the work force at age sixteen Linda is now retired, and is seriously devoting her attention to writing children’s books.

You can find her on Goodreads HERE.


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  1. They all look real cute. :)

  2. Aw, I love Wally the Penguin’s lil’ story! The picture on the cover is absolutely adorable, and I hope he gets to the Galapogas Islands!

    – Aila @ Happy Indulgence

  3. Taylor Dean says:

    I love clever children’s books. I loved taking my kids to the library when they were young and reading all kinds of creative stories to them. Now I have no excuse!! Kudos to the authors for their wonderful imaginations–and their ability to actually put it all into a book.

  4. They sound and look like such fun reads. Glad to see you enjoyed them. :-)
    sherry @ fundinmental