Monday, September 14, 2009

A Book Review About A Story For Middle Grade Children Concerning Self Discovery And Acceptance.

I had the pleasure of reading The Peril of the Sinister Scientist by Janet Ann Collins and interviewing her about it. I hope you enjoy!

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist is a suspenseful story about a boy named Joshua Davidson, who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist, Sindoni, who had worked on that experiment, was stalking him. Knowing only a little about his mothers past, Joshua runs from the man and in the process tries to discover who he really is. Growing up without a father in his life, left a lot of unanswered questions, and Joshua needed answers. The more his imagination spun, the more his identity changed from Supreme Being to criminal.

Though he was not alone in his adventure, his true friends gave him inspiration and hope. In the end, Joshua realizes many things. One, nothing is ever what it seems. We can never assume we know all the answers. Two, believe in the goodness in yourself to always do the right thing, even if you are afraid to do it. Courage and your heart will always guide you.
Janet did a wonderful job creating a story that children in middle school can relate to. The situations at home and in school bring up some real challenges that children face, some on a daily basis. The story was suspenseful and interesting, making the reader wonder what would happen next and if there would be a happy ending for Joshua and his mother. There are many lessons that can be learned from this story.

There is a saying that I feel hits home to everyone during one point or another in their lives. I have been there and experienced this as well. Life will throw you curves. There will be a time when life will get the best of you and unexpected things happen. You will have fallen. These things are not meant to destroy us, but make us stronger, even though at the time we feel like we are at our lowest point. When this happens, keep this in mind. We will not be remembered by how we fall, but how we rise up after we have fallen. It is this, and only this, that will define us. That is real strength, and real courage.

Joining us today is Janet Ann Collins, author of The Peril of the Sinister Scientist. We’re going to talk to Janet about her new chapter book.

Welcome, Janet. It’s great to have you with us.

Thank you for having me. It’s nice to be here.

Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

I am a retired teacher, a public speaker, mother of a grown daughter, a former foster parent of kids with special needs and I’m now a grandparent. My husband and I live in the beautiful foothills of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.

How did your writing career begin?

I always wanted to be an author of books for children but one of my college professors told me I’d never make it because I “had no creativity.” I believed him and gave up the idea of getting published.

About twenty years later I remembered I’d been trying to write everything in his class according to the thesis sentence outline required to pass the college entrance exams. Of course my writing had been uncreative! I wrote down a story I’d often told my kids, sent it out, and it was published right away.

Then I started getting rejection slips and realized I had a lot to learn, so I read books, went to conferences, etc. and kept trying. Since then I’ve written regular feature articles for a newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area and have had things published in many other periodicals.

Tell us about The Peril of the Sinister Scientist.

It’s about Joshua, who thinks he was cloned from the blood on the Shroud of Turin because a scientist who had worked on that experiment is stalking him. Joshua tries figure out who he really is while coping with Middle School and trying to escape from the Sinister Scientist, who seems to follow him everywhere.

What age group is this series for?

It’s for kids from eight to thirteen years old.

This book is a chapter book. What inspired you to write it?

I got the original idea back when the “What Would Jesus Do?” movement was popular. I had been a substitute teacher in Middle Schools and wondered how Jesus would act as a student there. Other things that influenced the plot were my experience with kids who had special needs and my own experience growing up without a father after mine died of Polio.

In what forms is your book available? Is it available in e-book, hard cover or traditional paperback, or all?

It is available in paperback and is also an e-book, which can be read on Kindle and other devices. Other formats may become available in the future.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us about them.

I have a picture book coming out in October about Nicholas, who discovers the adventure of doing secret good deeds and eventually becomes known as Santa Claus. I believe it will be published with the title, Secret Service Saint. I wrote it to help kids learn the truth about Santa Claus in an enjoyable way. Since we’re having a recession and many parents can’t afford expensive gifts for their children this year I hope the book will also help kids realize Christmas is more about giving than getting.

I also have another book under contract and have written some that haven’t found publishers yet.

For homeschool parents, such as myself, we are always looking for the best curriculums, workbooks, supplements and subjects to best teach our children. How can parents use the questions in the back of The Peril of the Sinister Scientist to help with better understanding of the book?

Those questions can be used as discussion starters or as writing assignments. It’s legally okay for people who buy the book to copy and print them out for that purpose. They’re not only intended to help kids understand the book, but also to encourage them to think and learn about other things such as what it means to say God loves us.

I have read that you have been involved with children who have special needs. Can you tell us more about this?

Actually I’m not doing much with children right now, but hope to do more in the future. Among other things I worked in the dormitories at California School for the Deaf for about nine years, raised three deaf foster sons with various disabilities, interpreted church services in American Sign Language, and often worked in Special Education classes while I was a substitute teacher. I was frequently requested for those classes because the classroom aides said most subs would stand around saying things like, “Oh, the poor things” while expecting the aides to do all the work, but I actually taught the students.

I have a blog about special needs,, and some parents have told me my posts have been helpful to them.

How does this relate to your book?

One of the main characters uses a wheelchair. I don’t want to tell you much about her because I might give away some of the plot.

Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?

Yes, my website is and my blog about words, books, and kids is

Where can readers purchase your books and how much do they cost?

The Peril of the Sinister Scientist costs $7.95 and it’s available both online at places like Amazon or Barnes and Noble and in bookstores.

What's next for you? Is there anything else that you are involved in or working on?

Oh, yes. I’m working on two books right now. One is a nonfiction book for adults about how to help people with invisible disabilities and the other is another middle grade fiction book. One of the main characters in that one is deaf. And, of course, I have zillions of ideas bubbling in my brain waiting for me to write about them.

Has writing always been a passion for you?

Yes, it has. Even back when I didn’t think I could ever get published, I couldn’t help writing.

What are some of your claims to fame?

I mention some of those on my website. As a student I worked part time in a library and got so good at mending books they had me mend an original Gutenberg Bible. I once met Koko, the gorilla who learned Sign Language, and got to talk with her briefly, and I got to perform with the Joffrey ballet even though I don’t know how to dance. I was a supernumerary, which is what they call extras, and only needed to sway with the music and turn around a couple of times, but it was fun. As a writer I think the first claim to fame is most impressive.

Is there anything else that you would like to add or share?

Only that I wish all kids could learn to read and discover the wonders available to them in books.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to our readers today. Good luck in all of your future endeavors. Please check out this book by Janet Collins.

I hope everyone enjoyed this review and interview.

Renee Hand


  1. Thank you for the review, Renee. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  2. What a wonderful interview, Reene and Janet!

    Janet, it made me get to know you a lot more. I wish you the best with your novel!

    Reene, nice blog! I got your message about reviewing my book and will contact you shortly. :-)