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New Children’s Allegory: “HOPE and FRECKLES, Fleeing to a Better Forest”, a PatSays Book Review

Hope and Freckles: Fleeing to a Better Forest

In a new children’s picture book, HOPE and FRECKLES, Fleeing to a Better Forest, published in 2020 by Mascot Books, author Bill Kiley writes about a white-tailed mother deer named Hope, and her fawn, Freckles, who journey from their dangerous home of Olden Forest, to the safety of Big Pine Forest.

While the tale relies heavily on the plight of today’s refugees and asylum seekers fleeing to the United States of America (trauma and conditions that most American-born children and adults will never experience), the illustrations’ likable characters throughout the twenty-seven pages by artist Mary Manning, soften an underlying theme: Scary governments exist in many of today’s third-world nations. Parents and educators may want to read the book for themselves before introducing this kind of plot to children, due to their individual personalities.

HOPE and FRECKLES, Fleeing to a Better Forest, planned as a book series, carves a genre that seems to be one-of-a-kind, a sort of “Political and Educational Children’s Picture Book”, validated as such with its postface page of “Useful Definitions for Young Readers”, “Resources for Parents and Educators”, and “Questions for Discussions”.  Mr. Kiley’s  professionalism, awards, and peace-making career in the USA and abroad, pour authenticity into this book, one that imparts a sense of strong family bonds, bravery, and HOPE.


“Farmapalooza”– Jill Lord’s New Book, Is On the Loose-A!


The Great Farmapalooza

Published by B&H Kids Books, in this latest board book, THE GREAT FARMAPALOOZA, by children’s book author, Jill Roman Lord, she toggles eight critters–six on a farm, one from the pond, and one from the air–that together highlight God’s animal creation.

The animals show happy, grinning, and some, laughing faces, with accompanying actions on the book’s eleven, double-paged illustration spreads, and with eleven flaps to open, all craftily drawn by artist Kelly Breemer. The sing-song text mostly rhymes as A-A, B-C-B; and, occasionally rhymes as A-B, C-B–dependent on how each animal sounds.

The theme flows well and delights the viewer; however, many of the words in this board book stretch above the comprehension level for the very young listener. For instance, the words provides, wallow, sheer, offer up, splendor, celebrate, handsome, and joins should be simplified or replaced for easier understanding. Even so, I applaud the message that always resides within Jill Roman Lord’s children’s books–that God is real. God is Creator, and God is Lord of all.

Book Review by Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook, PatSays children’s book reviewer, June 23, 2020.

What IS a MOTHER’S Love Like? Answers Abound in (in)Courage Community’s Latest Devotional

A PatSays Book Review for LifeWay Publishers


Did you know, Devotional Readers, that DaySpring encompasses more than producing Christian greeting cards and products? It’s true. But, then, maybe you already got there ahead of me on that one. Had I not selected one of DaySpring community’s latest books,  A Mother’s Love, Celebrating Every Kind of Mom, to read and to write this review, I may still be unaware of their “bigger picture”.

So, is this a book review on, one, the love of mothers?; two, a book reviewer’s confession to her latest-in-life discovery?; or three, a Hail-to-DaySpring post? Hopefully, you guessed numbers one and three, because, those are the correct answers.

A MOTHER’S LOVE, Celebrating Every Kind of Mom, a 148- page journal, is compiled of 40 softly drawn illustrations and personal contributions from more than two dozen women writers, whose stories–like mosaic art within mosaic art–form one complete work: voices telling stories about Mom-Hood. It connects to its readers by providing “Reflections”, lined pages with adequate space to pen their own thoughts.

(In)courage Community aims to help the hearts of women through literature like, A MOTHER’S LOVE. Inside its pages, lies one story after another one–some, unique and inspiring; while others, ordinary, necessary, and maybe a little mundane. These revealed experiences come from those who are “Moms”, or have “Mommied” in their own individual ways: sometimes alone, sometimes afraid, and sometimes without hope.  These moms do not seek fame and rewards; nor, does the book contain praises of their great parenting skills, nor of any special “Mommy-Hood Heroics”.  No one “struts her stuff”, and no one speaks of desiring to win an Oscar for her great mommy performances. A MOTHER’S LOVE, Celebrating Every Kind of Mom resounds as one biblical LOVE account that leads to an expected denouement. As a devotional-praise book, A MOTHER’S LOVE offers a “two-edged-sword” theme: on one side it says, “Let’s celebrate a mother’s love; while, on the other side is, “Let’s also celebrate the One who created Moms– God Himself. And, let’s also celebrate His Son, Jesus, Savior and Lord, and the indwelling Holy Spirit–whose Fruit names first, Love, called Agape. Through A MOTHER’S LOVE, Celebrating Every Kind of Mom, (in)courage community offers an opportunity for  women to begin the Agape Love journey, in hopes that these women, too, may and will one day join them and CELEBRATE!

Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook, Children’s Book Reviewer/Christian Boo k Reviewer, May 29,  2020.

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Playtime and Say-time: “BIG and Little ACTIVITY DEVOTIONAL”, a PatSays Kids’ Book Review

Ever seen an upside down, doing-stuff, type of book for children AND adults? You will see this and a few other surprises, in BIG and Little ACTIVITY DEVOTIONAL, written by award-winning author, Rachel Swanson, and illustrated by Jacy (Jackie) Corral. In this second Big and Little book, from B & H Publishing, the writer blends together a unique reading/learning style for a child and an adult to do together–a playtime-, to say-time, to bond-time. This book of seventy-two pages of puzzles, games, and questions, provides hours and hours of things to do. Packaged in this turned-around format allows an adult to sit on one side of the book, in front of the child; and the child, to sit opposite the parent or adult–resulting in easy eye contact.

The multitude of healthy and honest questions provided for the adults to ask, seem to rise above the thinking levels of most kids, the youngsters who might settle into the “coloring book/elementary” chart levels. Exceptionally, some kids will “get it”, and will respond with intelligent answers. Yet, even if the activity book’s users skip over the “reading-questioning-listening” parts, and colored the pages only, the parent/child together situation offers closeness and sharing. With its juxtaposed layout, bible-based information, and a variety of things to do, BIG and Little ACTIVITY DEVOTIONAL can create interesting spaces of time on any boring and rainy afternoon.

A DAY At The ZOO–Aussie Style, A PatSays Children’s Book Review

With more than 10,000 Zoological Gardens worldwide, people enjoy visiting them, over and over again. Often, a trip to a Zoo may be the only time that adults and children can  observe wild animals in a real, and up close setting. For those who have never been to a Zoo, still, videos, YouTube, Iphones, and books qualify for a good second-best.

In fact, recently published, A DAY AT THE ZOO, is another Zoo fiction book for young children, a picture book written by Australians Cassie Roberts and illustrated by Judy Richards, that hales from publisher Adelaide Books. In rhyming sentences, the author tells about William and Rose’s day visit to the zoo–to go and see all the “tricks” that only the zoo animals do. A bold, bright, primary yellow dominates the backgrounds on both sides of the book’s pages, with text on the left and illustrations on the right. Artist Judy Richards’s childlike drawing style makes each animal look friendly, interesting, and fun.

Also, each of the five zoo animals–Cheeky Monkey, Elephant, Giraffe, Zebra, and Tiger- shows off a unique trick for William and Rose. Surprisingly, each animal performs its unusual trick in an unexpected way. The animals ask the children to try the tricks with them, to which the children politely refuse. The story opens with the two main characters, a boy, and a girl; but, as soon as they arrive at the zoo, the animals seem to take over the story, and the situation remains that way until the end. Additionally, another thing occurs in A DAY AT THE ZOO: children and animals speaking to each other. So? You may ask. That’s not unusual, right? No, not unusual at all. But, in writing for children, as in other creative writing genres, are “rules”. And here’s one you may or may not know: Children and animals do NOT talk to each other. Oh, wrong! You may interject. Hold on, and let me explain. In almost any set of rules, exceptions can are made. Do you agree? So, here’s the exception to this one, that Children and animals do NOT talk to each other, UNLESS  the human-to-animal conversations are structured in a believable progression throughout the story. For examples, in WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, the main character, Max, while alone in his bedroom, imagines. His imagination is the catalyst for believability between his world and the world of fantasy critters; and, in ALICE in WONDERLAND, the rabbit hole transports Alice into a place where conversation with imaginary animals is easily acceptable. So, when William and Rose arrive at the zoo, IMMEDIATELY the monkey talks to them, and they, to it. No catalyst there. But, even with the broken writing rule in A DAY AT THE ZOO, children will innocently accept and step into this fantasy of a talking zoo world. They will enjoy looking at the wild animals, at the tiny mice doing their own thing, and at the cake party at the end of the story. But, we adults? Perhaps we are the ones who need the “Max and Alice” ingredients in children’s literature. Who knows?


Are All Tales, Stories? Are All Stories, Tales? A PatSays Children’s Book Review of GREAT GRANDMA’S SHED, Marcum Road Follies by Helen Nickolson

Great Grandma's Shed: Marcum Road Follies by Helen Nickolson: New

Way back there, in your growing up days, did you ever have an elderly relative or family friend (such as, Grandpa Gemballa or Mimi Maserati?; what about a Great Uncle Edsel, or an elderly Miss Audi?) tell you any made-up-on-the-spot stories? Perhaps you did. And perhaps it came in the form of a campfire experience, or around the dinner table, or at bedtime. Storytelling, legends, etc. is nothing new. It’s as old as Adam and Eve. Most of us enjoy being “generational-passer-downers”, in hopes that our younger generation hears about the family history. Storytelling is as natural an act for some people, as snoring is for others. Have you ever noticed that some people are better at telling stories than others?And, some story tellers never need an opening, right? Given a right situation, right moment, and right audience, and they are off! In fact, it is how the children’s book, GREAT GRANDMA’S SHED, Marcum Road Follies, published by Adelaide Books, came to be. Its author, Helen Nickolson, writes this in the introduction page for readers:

“While driving my daughter Katherine to daycare about 28 years ago, I began telling her my ‘dreams’ about Old Red, the kind convertible with magical powers.” 

From her opening sentence until its last paragraph, the writer details her “dreams/follies” using an old convertible as its main character. But, Old Red, remains a mystery until the second page with no picture ; and then, four pages later, Old Red appears through an illustration of “himself” and Great Grandma Erica inside her shed. Out of the book’s 52 pages which are divided into seven chapters and fourteen single-paged, lighthearted illustrations by artist Tanya Maneki, the book turns into “long-tales-with-limited-art format”. This style of writing does not often hold a young child’s attention.

The book’s title, GREAT GRANDMA’S SHED, Marcum Road Follies, implies that the book is about a shed; when, instead, the book is about an old car named, Old Red. The magical powers of the convertible, as well as assigning it with human qualities, does not transition well mentally, even though the adventures reveal writing with humor, real fears, and kids in happy scenarios. Her “dreams”, as author Nickolson labels the book’s contents, provide lengthy tales, which some children may enjoy. But, other children may “balk at all of the talk,” as mentioned before. Why so? Could it be that because “follies” don’t replace stories well?

Put it this way: If powdered cocoa were to replace a Hershey’s® chocolate bar in a S’Mores recipe, would people still love eating one? Obviously not. Both chocolates are in the same food group, the Hershey®’s candy bar tasting sweet, while the other, the cocoa powder, tasting bitter. Even so, cocoa cannot be denied as an important and necessary food source in cooking and baking. Therefore, both kinds of chocolate prove to be essential items; but, both differ in nature and purpose. So, too, are kids’ books. Most writers of children’s literature categorize their own books appropriately, e.g., picture books, YA fiction & nonfiction, fairy tales, and so on. Yet, not every children’s writer has the option available from his publisher to do the categorizing, which means the book might result in being overlooked, reviewed poorly, or DOA.

So, for you reader/storyteller adults–be you a Grandpa Gemballa, a Grandma Maserati, Great Uncle Edsel, or elderly Miss Audi, read the books for yourself first. Then, ask some silly questions:

A. Is it a Hershey®’s Chocolate Bar STORY?

B. A cocoa powder TALE?

C. Or, could it be Cadbury Egg® Legend?

D. Might it be a Whitmer’s Box of Chocolates® Folly?

Then, after you decide, and you’ve read the book aloud to your kids, ask them some silly and chocolaty questions about it. Kids will get it–honestly, they will.

Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook, PatSays Children’s Book Reviewer, March 25, 2020

THE WAY TO THE SAVIOR, A FAMILY EASTER DEVOTIONAL, by Jeff and Abbey Land, a PatSays Children’s Book Review

The Way to the Savior  -     By: Jeff Land, Abbey Land


The word, “way”— like the Grand Canyon’s layers upon layers of rock– is packed full of meanings. In fact, the English and Filipino dictionaries include around 19 descriptions each; in Hebrew, “way”, (or, “DereK HaYashar“), lists thirty some. Here, in their title, THE WAY TO THE SAVIOR, a Family Easter Devotional, authors Jeff and Abbey Land use the same word, way, but preface with that tiny word, THE. These same two words were spoken by JESUS to his disciples in John 14:6a: “I am the way, the truth, and the life;”.

JESUS, too, is always the main character, directly and indirectly, in children’s books published by B&H Kids; and, The Way to the Savior, A Family Easter Devotional, takes no exception:

1. Biblically-based. A 112-page picture book that contains short devotions about hope, love, and thanksgiving, accompanied with bible verses, brief prayers, and understandable examples for young children.

2. Attractively packaged.Formatted into the 40 days of Lent, the six-weeks in March and April of each year prior to Easter when many Christians “give up” something, to remind themselves of JESUS’ sacrifice for sin on the cross of Calvary.

THE WAY TO THE SAVIOR, a Family Easter Devotional, clearly explains the meaning of Easter (or, as many Christians refer to it as, “Resurrection Sunday”); it expands the reading to suggested activities, and includes a few surprise other kinds of to-dos, here and there. Throughout this picture book, artist Diana Lawrence created dozens of illustrations in a familiar technique–“cutouts-and-torn-paper-on-top-of-colorful-backgrounds”– which both complement and express the texts, the scenes, and the people, and all without a single animal anywhere. Her animal-less artwork allows the reader to focus on the most important person, and the most important event in Christianity : JESUS, the SON of GOD and His rising from the dead. THE WAY TO THE SAVIOR A Family Easter Devotional,  freshly reiterates that JESUS is THE Easter; JESUS is THE Resurrection; and JESUS is THE Way.

LITTLE Words Do Matter a LOT in “JUMBO COLORING BOOK”, a PatSays Christian Book Review


Like crackers and soup, kids and coloring go together. The combo repeats itself from one generation to the next. There’s simply something warming about putting colors to paper that never grows old. Every year new coloring books are produced, purchased, and enjoyed by kids worldwide. Twenty twenty is no different.

In the new JUMBO COLORING BOOK– with illustrations based on original art by Holli Conger– a B & H Kids Little Words Matter Series, young children will not only spend many hours coloring; but, they will also see throughout the entire thick book, the A,B,Cs; some simple counting; learn about manners and thankfulness; be introduced to the Son of God, Jesus; and, will hear about God the Father’s love.

JUMBO COLORING BOOK, with almost 400 pages, is loaded with big and simple outlines  of happy people and friendly animals; and asks easy questions. Even in a coloring book, B & H Kids publisher maintains its mission for connecting children with adults: on the last page called, “Parent Connection”, are included the standard “Read, Remember, and Ask Your Toddler” summary.

JUMBO COLORING BOOK is COLOSSAL on compilation, GREAT on variety, and GIGANTIC on fun.

What Things “Wa-Hooed!” on Easter Morning? Find out in this PatSays Review of New Kids’ Book

Image result for book cover image of the crazy easter day by jill roman lord


Some… pitter-pattered, and some, croaked. Some howled and some soared. Some swooped, or cooed, or hopped and bopped, while others did much more.

In a new 2020 board book, published by B & H Kids, titled THE QUIET/CRAZY EASTER DAY, written by Jill Roman Lord and illustrated by Kelly Breemer, children see a world explode into excitement following the resurrection of Jesus, God’s Son. The writer uses many animal sounds, people’s actions, and an angel to express what could have happened on Easter morning; and the illustrator delights the reader with happy characters throughout the 24 pages.

This book definitely offers a creative new look into our Lord’s Resurrection Morning for young children; and is produced in a square, but thick, picture book that will survive readings or chewing for years to come. Although the word “crazy” is in the title below the crossed-out word, “quiet”, (maybe for attention), perhaps a better word like “noisy” might have been used, since children today may interpret crazy to mean weird, or insane. Or maybe, kids won’t ponder it at all. However, The Quiet/Crazy Easter Day truthfully parallels the biblical account of Christ’s rising from the dead. And for that, believers can shout, Aleluya!

Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook, PatSays, children’s book reviewer, February 10,2020.


WHAT’S UP with WORRISOME WEBSTER? “How? Not Me? Oh, NO!”– Children’s Christian Book Review by PatSays



WHAT’S SO WONDERFUL ABOUT WEBSTER?, a 2019 picture book from B & H Kids, written by authors and brothers, Stephen and Alex Kendrick; and illustrated by Daniel Fernandez; takes its reader on a “School Field Day” with fourth grader Webster.

Throughout the 29 pages of conversation (third-person viewpoint), Webster is characterized as the kid who needs encouragement about everything, it seems. But,  when he receives a biblical answer from Dad and Mom, Webster still cannot believe in himself. The book’s full-color illustrations allow kids to identify with today’s school classroom setting, and with a boy like Webster. So, what happens that opens Webster’s eyes to the real truth about himself? Is it through Mia, Caleb, or Hannah? or Ms. Pumpernickle? or Mom and Dad? Webster’s lesson learned isn’t without some disappointment and trepidation. Yet, the end result surprises even Webster himself.

A Parent Connection page follows the story’s end, and helps to round out the book’s theme, taken from the scripture, Psalm 139:14, “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Teaching children that the Creator God formed each one of them with great thought and love, validates in them how special they truly are.