April Review of author-illustrator Debi Gliori’s board book, The BOOKWORM


Reviewer: PatSays, Patricia A. Timbrook, Children’s Book Reviewer

Max has a need to own a pet. He begins by asking for the most obvious one: a puppy. But, Mum turns that one down, as well as the next four pets and critters Max requests. Not discouraged, Max decides to find a pet on his own. With several failures, he settles on an average worm found in the yard, that he moves from its outside home to Max’s bedroom. There, he sings and reads to the worm and names it, the “Bookworm”. Throw in a little more imagination from Max, and the Bookworm soon becomes a dragon that flies away. Not discouraged this time either, Max, returns to Mummy’s idea of owning a goldfish as a pet. And, voile! Max can imagine the goldfish is slowly morphing into a shark. Mummy and Daddy never believe the dragon story, of course. But, that’s still okay with Max. In the end, the Dragon “Bookworm,” returns to Max’s room to hear another bedtime story.

Unique in its concept, as well as its play on words—The BOOKWORM—by Debi Gliori, validates her understanding of how the minds of little ones think and imagine. The illustrations in the seventeen-paged board book, include many soft-face characters, and detailed surroundings. The imagined worm-turned-dragon changes from a small, pale earthworm into a big, bright, red dragon. The book, short in text, ( even though there is an ocasional word not for a young child, i.e. “decided”) sells on “believability.” Are Ms. Gliori’s talents of writing and illustrating “all in the wrist”? Or, perhaps, it’s better to declare that hers are, “all in the Mind.”

Rating: 5 stars
Image result for images of the bookworm board book by debi gliori

Remember Kids’ Arch Books?, Well, Joseph’s Still Among Them…


Reviewer: Patricia Ann Timbrook, PatSays

Remember Arch Books? You might, if you were raised in a Christian household or had received them as a gift. I purchased them in the late 90s to read to our grandchildren. From the Arch Book’s website, the picture books number in the hundreds and they are priced modestly. So, collecting them can be inexpensive and fun. Amazingly, their 150 year-old publishing company, Concordia, to date has produced millions of these little books (and a lot of other resources) from both the Old and the New Testaments. If you have not yet discovered these bible story gems for little ones, you still can– online at https://www.cph.org/t-topic-archbooks.aspx,  in a Christian bookstore, or borrow a copy from a Christian school library.

Joseph Forgives His Brothers, a 1996 paperback bible story, by author Robert Baden and illustrator Chris Sharp, is one of many Christian children’s books I had purchased for our grandchildren in the late 90s. Arch Books have stood the test of time and the test of time includes parents, grandparents, or anyone who enjoys reading aloud to children, the accounts from the old and the new testaments in an age-appropriate level.  Arch’s picture book account of what happened when Joseph’s siblings banished him is written with historical accuracy and a rainbow of bright illustrations, that, together, adequately depict appropriate feelings of jealousy and mercy; and acts of God’s protection and care. The theme of forgiveness reflects the love that Jesus has for all of mankind. And, the actions following that forgiveness prove the depth of that Godly trait. In Joseph’s case, not only did he forgive them for their wrongdoing toward him; but, he gave his brothers money, he fed them, and he provided his entire family with a new home. This pictures the grace of God, that “outstretched arm” that gives to man that which is undeserved.

The “Dear Parents” section on the last page of every Arch Book truly complements each book’s theme, with suggestions on how to explore other ways to help children understand family issues, whether they be envy, or selfishness, or jealousy; this page also includes what the bible says regarding the love of Jesus. Joseph Forgives His Brothers, as well as all of the other dozens of Arch Books by Concordia, stay true to their mission: to produce the truth of God’s Word for children.

(PatSays, Children’s Book Reviewer Patricia A. Timbrook 3/25/2019)

Rating: 4 stars


Libros Arco...





A French Tale of the Two Babars: one by Jean de Brunhoff and the other by Laurent de Brunhoff


Title of Book #1: The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant, by artist and author, Jean de Brunhoff, published in France in 1931.

Book Cover of The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant  Book Cover image of The Travels of Babar  Book Cover of Babar Comes to AmericaBook cover of Babar Come to Paris

Is there anyone born in the 21st Century who has not heard of the picture book character, BABAR, (pronounced Babb-bar) the Little Elephant? Possibly so. How about anyone in the 20th Century? Most likely no one. And why is that? To answer that question, you need to go back to the early 1900s, in France, to the family of Jean and Cecile de Brunhoff. For, it’s there, that…

Once upon a time… the Babar story began, in the mind of Mrs. Cecile de Brunhoff, as a bedtime tale for her four-year old son, Matthieu, who was sick. The story was retold to father, Jean, by both Matthieu and his brother, Laurent. Jean began to sketch the “bebe” (or baby) elephant and write the story that was called Historie de Babar, le petit elephant, which was published in 1931, one of the first to be categorized as a picture book. Not long afterwards, Babar the Little Elephant, grew in popularity beyond its own home of France to America. It was translated into English and published in 1933 by Random House. Then Jean wrote and illustrated a second book, The Travels of Babar. The little elephant stories, as well as its author-illustrator, grew in popularity, and other stories about Babar followed. Even today, children, parents, teachers, (plus, many more) still read the same stories, assuming and assigning Babar with a fairy tale ending, that he is living “happily ever after”.  But, that’s not the entire story here (no pun intended) to the longevity of the elephant’s existence. Babar almost “left for Elephant Heaven” in his sixth year (1937), when his creator, Jean, died at the age of 38–an important fact to know when reviewing any of the legendary Babar children’s books. An Eiffel-Tower-full of croissants has been written about this event. What happened after 1937? How did more Babar books continue to be produced?

Did another Babar, a second one, come into existance? Well, yes, and no. Like his talented father, son Laurent took up the “elephant mantel.” He became Babar’s surrogate creator. He learned how to draw the same strokes that his father had drawn; and, he authenticated the character because of having grown up with this elephant in the family household. But, what about the writing styles between father and son? Are there any notable nuances or similarities between the duo talents? There are.

If you were to lay some of the books, side by side, of both Jean and Laurent, you would observe that, like the number of Babar stories, the books, too, grew bigger in size. For instance, The Travels of Babar, (by Jean, the father) measures 8″w x 11″h; while, Babar’s Mystery ( by Laurent, a son), measures about 9″w x 13″h, as well as some others. An exception to that latter size is a board book, B is for BABAR, an Alphabet Book (by Laurent) which measures about 7″ x 7″. In addition to the “tall” books, there are the “wide” books: those that open by its width, not its height, which is determined by the book designer for various reasons. So far, little differences can be found between the father-son, and writer-illustrator books, unless you study the lists of titles. Of course, Laurent wrote dozens more stories than his dad, due to his early death. But, the topics of Laurent’s books take Babar into more situations familiar to children, such as a picnic, a circus, a castle, a kitchen, etc. Laurent’s Babar also ventures into education with the learning-a-language series; and, going to a museum, or a school, or to towns and cities, to continents, and even to the moon.

In the latest book, Babar’s Guide to Paris, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers in 2017, Babar advises his youngest daughter, Isabelle, about what to do and see when she goes to Paris. The reader travels in, around, and throughout Paris via Babar’s eyes, accompanied with the pastel drawings expounding each site.

What could be next for this well-known and beloved 88 year-old elephant? Will he invent something awesome? rocket to Mars? go down a zipwire? Perhaps. And, we can be certain that whatever, wherever, or whenever, the next book, BABAR will always be a forever book. (PatSays, Children’s book reviewer, May 23, 2019, Patricia Ann Timbrook)

Rating: 5 Stars, unlimited.




Who Will You Be? The Littledoobiddles and Doobetterdees, a kids’ book by Michael Daniel, illustrated by Chad Haney


The Littledoobiddles and Doobetterdees Book Cover Image

Published in 1996 by Fairway Press

“It rhymes. It compares. It’s humorous to share.

It pictures us all, in one way or another. And its art makes one wonder, Do I even bother?”  (Children’s Book Reviewer, Patricia Ann Timbrook, PatSays)

It’s not your typical 32-page picture book (even though it has 32 pages). The Littledoobiddles and Doobetterdees settles into a sub-genre of its own–a concept book about choosing between one lifestyle or the other, between setting goals or not setting goals, about what things result in great value, and what things result in little value. The title indicates, too, what the book is about: a Do-Little Person, and a Do-Better Person. The beasty-looking characters that range in colors of blue, to purple, to orange, to pink, and to green, add some humor to the story, move it along, and help to distance the reader. These cartoony illustrations depict many activities from the two types of town folk, those from Littledoo Ville and those from Doobetter Hill. The art, the text, and question at the end of the book, together, produce a positive and powerful message: make wise choices is important. (Patricia Ann Timbrook, children’s book reviewer, May 19, 2019)


THE MAGIC SEED, a Legend of Hope? Review of a Sharon Price Children’s Book


Title: The Magic Seed by Sharon Price, illustrated by Alexandra Artigas Szczedrin, published by PowerPartners, USA, 2002, paperback edition.

THE MAGIC SEED, a Legend of Hope?

Book Cover Image of The Magic Seed

SOMEWHERE in time, in a tribal setting, happy and kind twins Suma and Sulu are being taught about the “Forgetting” and the “Knowing”, the secret talk from their grandmother who is called the “keeper of the tribe.” She has been teaching them other things, too–the ways of their ancestors, so that Suma and Sulu will carry on the same traditions which she has done. However, she begins to doubt that her twin grandchildren truly understand the meaning as she does. This prompts her to leave the village, go and seek help from her ancestors about her concerns for the tribe. During her journey, a monkey drops a purple nut on her head, and dark clouds of the Forgetting overshadow her, a sign that compells her to return back to the village. There, she discovers how strong the Forgetting has become in the lives of Suma and Sulu, even turning them angry, sad, and uncaring. At this point, Grandmother takes her grandchildren on a walk and tells them about her journey, about the purple nut with two seeds inside it. She explains that, “the Creator wanted every animal that he created to have its own special gift, and the same for the first people in the world: to be different, but equal. Within each person he placed the seed of knowledge–a seed that would grow. But, if the person forgets to use his own gift, Forgetting would take over. And the only way back was to be hit on the head by Monkey who lived in the tree that produced the purple nut.” The grandchildren love the story. Grandmother gives Suma and Sulu the two magic seeds from her own purple nut. With encouraging words, she tells them how to make their seeds grow in their hands. Soon, the twins, happy again, set out to look for more magic seeds–a sign to Grandmother that they have now learned how to pass on the Knowing to her people.

If the purpose of the word, Magic, in the book’s title, along with the accompanying book cover illustration is to catch attention, it does so. But, upon examining the book, as a whole, it does not fit into the perameters of a picture book. That is, it is not formatted primarily with lots of illustrations, packaged into 32 pages, and light on text. But, The Magic Seed certainly seems to fit appropriately into the category of a legend–a long account of something. While the story’s length may capture the minds of elementary kids and hold it there, three-to-six-year olds will, most likely, lose interest quickly.

The drawings in The Magic Seed convey a style that is somewhat whimsical, somewhat Manga, and somewhat tropical, with objects heavily outlined. Even though the paperback edition was produced in black and white, this does not weaken the story nor the art. However, what weakens it is the story of Creator, and creation, told by Grandmother to her grandchildren, Suma and Sulu. She credits Creator with beginnings; however, when the animals offer to help Him in the matter of making people unique, the story loses believabililty. Most tribal groups worldwide, through their ancestors, know about a Creator and a catastophic flood. The question, then, is, Why mix a part truth with fiction? If The Magic Seed is to be a secretive account about nuts and seeds, then it needs to flow in that direction. Instead, in The Magic Seed, the reader is steered off the path of Suma and Sulu’s challenging journey–to search for the seeds. Great stories that include God, the Creator, most always include “introduction seeds”–or story “plants” about Him, early on in the tale, not in the middle. Still, like rain to dry ground, a “happy-ever-after” ending in The Magic Seed brings a feeling of goodness and hope.

Rating: 2 Stars

Book Reviewer, PatSays (Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook)


Jim’s LION–A Dream/Reality Children’s Novel

Book cover image of Jim's Lion


Jim’s LION by Russell Hoban in 2001; illustrated by Alexis Deacon, posthumously, in 2014. (Published by Candlewick Press, 2014 as the first U.S. Edition; )

If you were asked to think about it for a moment, you should be able to recall one of Russell Hoban’s books, for they number in the dozens. Okay, all you boomers, how about Frances, the Badger series that hit the children’s picture book scene in the early 60s? Ahh. Yes. Frances! Illustrated by his first wife, Lillian Hoban, Frances the Badger was, and still is, affectionately treasured and cuddled up with, and acclaimed by many as one of the best bedtime books. Apart from Frances, Mr. Hoban also wrote (and in his early years illustrated) many more adult and children’s books and novels, one being Jim’s LION.

Jim’s LION, one of Russell’s last published books, sends the reader on a dream journey that begins in reality: a hospitalized young boy named Jim, is distressed and saddened about his grave illness. An African nurse, Bami, in an effort to encourage, introduces him to a “finder”, a “feel-good” mental place, and a “don’t-run stone”,  the three things he can use when he dreams the dreaded dreams, the ones with all kinds of scary-looking animals. In 2014 the book receives an added dimension, when illustrator Alexis Deacon created over 200 art vignettes for it. The overuse of dull red, blue, and gray illustrations–on many pages without words–allows the reader to enter into Jim’s state of mind: He is surrounded by large animals; He is lost and alone; and a lion is coming for him. It’s during the dreamtime that he calms and overcomes the lion by utilizing the 3 things told him by Bami. It’s during the waking hours that he heals from his illness.

This book departs from Frances the Badger. In fact, Jim’s LION stands apart from all the other Hoban books and novels because of its subject: childhood trauma. The reader does not know what illness Jim has. But, he understands and empathizes with him, because human suffering is universal. Its power pushes against the heart like a heavy wind. Written with elegant and succinct poignancy, Jim’s LION presents the adversity of illness in a beautiful bedside manner.

(Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook, Children’s Book Reviewer)

Rating: 5 Stars



Does Your Child Believe in God? Read the new Christian children’s fictional picture book, WHY GOD?

Why God?  -     By: Dan DeWitt


Title: WHY GOD? Big Answers About God and Why We Believe in Him, by Dan Dewitt, Illustrated by Christine Grove, Published by B&H Publishing in 2019.

Two words–Why God?–asked by millions of adults and by children alike. Asked ages ago and still being asked in the 21st Century. What are the answers? In WHY GOD?, the main character, Thomas, (accompanied by his pet dog, Dorothy) is relaxing in a field where he imagines things by asking himself silly and serious questions. That turns into asking his older sister, Hope. Sometimes, for the big and serious questions, they ask Mom. She helps Thomas (and Hope) answer his own big question, “Why do we believe in God?” by asking a question, “Where did our flowers come from?” From there, she shares that the bible tells us that God made the Earth, the first man and first woman–everything; also, she adds after they disobeyed God, the Earth became sick. She ends by telling them that God is good, to which Thomas and Hope agree. The book ends with the two kids returning to their play world of imaginations.

As rain to soil, artist Christine Grove’s characters, friendly-looking and likeable, help liven the book.  The reader feels the heat from the sun and the cold away from it. Wisely, she includes the family pet dog that subtly shakes a bit of humor onto most of the pages. Using many double-spread page illustrations, several single page spreads, and a few spot ones, overall the art complements the text from start to finish.

This 28-page picture book delves into one of the oldest questions that mankind has asked and continues to ask: Is God real? If so, how can it be proven? Writing from an omniscient viewpoint, Dr. Dewitt addresses the question immediately in the story’s setting by having the main character already in an “imagining” mindset, whom he shifts from thinking about the silly to the serious, to more tough questions. For answers, both Thomas and his sister, Hope, ask their trusted authority figure, Mom, for answers, which she lovingly provides. The story moves from bible facts to bible facts, from upclose real-life settings, to wild and imagined illlustrations. Although the text adequately provides multiple answers to the book’s main question, and that it expounds on only one characteristic of God, His creatorship, an inclusion about His Son, Jesus, could also be a part of the answers to the question.  The author may have chosen to eliminate the introduction of the second part of the trinity for a particular reason, which, in Christian children’s literature, often happens in order to simplify age-level concepts. Included at the end of the book, is a page for discussion, a bible verse about creation, and more questions about God, for parents and kids can discover more about Him and His word. Has anyone thus far has found all the answers to questions concerning God? The bible can answer that one. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. Isaiah 55:8 KJB. And, that, is unquestionable.

Rating:3 stars  Ambassador International button

Focus in on This:”GLASSES, WHO NEEDS ‘EM?” (by Lane Smith), Picture Book Review by PatSays


See this book cover image? Is it out of focus? or smudgey? To find out: Open book. Turn to Page 1. And, begin…  In Glasses, Who Needs ‘Em?, by children’s book author and illustrator Lane Smith, published 1991 by Viking Penguin, an everyday occurance is underway.

The story begins, in first person viewpoint, with a young boy who tells the reader that he has just been told that he needs glasses. However, he doesn’t want glasses. From there, the story grows through wacky illustrations and preposterous imaginings, back and forth between him and the eye doctor. But, not yet ready to give up, the doctor puts eyeglasses on him, to show him what he is NOT seeing. Instant results: Gamechanger! Great, that’s good for a kid, right? But, you may be thinking, This is a kid’s book. Nothing here for us older folks. STOP HERE. Hold on for one Ben- Franklin-Spectacle moment, please.Cannot older folks fall into similar “Eyeglasses-Who-Needs-‘Em?” situations, too? Does stubborness to admit change ever really leave the human spirit? Most likely, it does not. Doesn’t it, like boiling water, rise up inside of us from time to time? And when, someone shows us that the change is for good, and we SEE it is, AND we relent, then, an aha! moment pops. Plus, a good thing is born.

But, let’s look back to that first question about the cover: Does it look out of focus? Artistically smudgey? To most readers, it does. That cover, like nectar to a bee, assists a reader to stop in mid-air; and, he finds himself gazing at the four different, big square drawings, each one depicting eyeglasses on a face. (Food for thought: Can four squares be subliminally referring to the name meanly assigned to eyeglass wearers, “four eyes”? Possibly. Or, perhaps to know for certain, artist Molly Leach, the book cover’s designer, can tell us.) Like a crown on a queen’s head, or the magic wand of a fairy princess, a book cover adorns, presents, intrigues, inspires, embellishes, enchants, and casts a spell. Together, Lane Smith, and wife, Molly Leach, have created magic in their children’s books.

In the late 80s, the eyes of those in the children’s publishing industry opened up wide to Lane Smith; and soon, his unique style of writing and illustrating children’s stories were published into books. His topics and his art, appreciated by parents and loved by kids, range from dicotymous scenarios, as in, Cowboy and Octopus, and Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads, to funny stuff like, Squids Will be Squids, and The Stinky Cheeseman.He has been awarded some of the highest honors any writer in his genre, including the Caldecott Honor, and a Kate Greenaway medalist.

Rating: 5 Stars

Children’s Book Reviewer, Patricia Ann Timbrook  PatSays



SCHOOL MOUSE–a little book that can– Review of Amye Rosenberg’s ’84 board book


Book Cover Image of School Mouse by Amye Roseberg

SCHOOL MOUSE, one of Amye Rosenberg’s early children’s books, introduces its listeners and viewers to an activity-filled pre-school day; and, it also presents children an opportunity to hold a book that fits into their hands, which is, after all, the big purpose of the board book.

The mini-story begins with mouse arriving at school, and continues on with his participating in exercising, playing in a game, painting, learning a new thing, having a snack, hearing stories, and leaving to go home.

Amy Rosenberg: “I was one of those kids who always knew what they wanted to do with their life, I was always drawing. My artwork focuses on the simple pleasures of everyday life that we all experience and enjoy.” Her style of children’s books began in the 80s, and continues until the present time.

SCHOOL MOUSE is a happy-in, and a happy-out, snippeted moment in time, with colorful animals as the main cast of characters. The book’s premise–that life’s little moments of fun and happiness are valued and cherished–is true. It remains so, no matter how young or old we are.

Rating: 5 Stars