Tag: PatSays children’s book reviewer

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. https://patriciatimbrook.wordpress.com/2020/06/23/farmapalooza-jill-lords-new-book-is-on-the-loose-a

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.


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.


They Are Out There! And They Are “KID-COOL!”: Book Reviews about THANK YOU, MERCURY; DEAR PLUTO; & THE MOON SHOW


Image result for book cover image of dear pluto carmen gloria       Image result for book cover image of dear pluto carmen gloria      Image result for book cover image of dear pluto carmen gloria


While we may not know that the Greeks called a star, astron, and that the English named it a steorra, most of us are familiar with the word, astronomy, the scientific study of celestial bodies, that class subject learned from our teachers of school days past, right? But, honestly, how much fun was put into that school genre? And FUN? What fun? Some of us older folk may recall a ceiling-hung, kinetic mobile with assorted sizes and colors of balls, each one attached to a thin wire. Interesting as the kinetic planet mobile was, fun did not emanate from any of its parts. But, if you were the blindfolded class genius, who felt each “planet”,  and named all of them correctly, then, maybe you had a level of fun. Today is different. An author-illustrator thought about fun, connected it to astronomy, and dared to publish about, SERIOUSLY.

Carmen Gloria wears a variety of hats, as well as one called children’s writer & illustrator. In her latest astronomy picture book series– THANK YOU, MERCURY!, DEAR PLUTO, and THE MOON SHOW, published by UNCOMMON GRAMMAR– she includes FUN on every page. Her personal style permeates each star, moon, planet, or asteroid through their likable, expression-filled faces, making them “cool” for any young reader/learner’s experience. The text size, the full-color illustrations of galaxies and space, as well as the anthropomorphic spheres, along with the Q & A page that follows the story, all work hand-to-hand (or, moon face-to-moon face, if you will), to create a unique, interesting, and FUN science book that kids (plus adults) will enjoy reading– and one, too, that they will remember, perhaps for an eternity. “Mercury, Pluto, and Moon, you rate a 5-Star Galaxy of delight.”

Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook, PatSays, Children’s Book Reviewer, January 14, 2020.



Day 5 of the Book Giveaway

You can be entered to win this picture book when you go to https://www.patriciatimbrook.wordpress.com, and click to follow my blog. All new bloggers will be listed for this month’s drawing. September 1the winner will be posted on my blog and Facebook page.

Today, August 10, is Day 3–28 more days left in August–to sign up to “follow” my children’s book review blog. When you do, you will be entered in a picture book giveaway. For guidelines (NO FEES) click this link: https://patriciatimbrook.wordpress.com/2019/08/08/new-august-starts-a-free-book-give-away-heres-how-it-works/?preview_id=1346&preview_nonce=ed8d63250f&preview=true

JAN BRETT’S “Family”: Berlioz the Bear, Armadillo and Duck, Chicken Cinderella, and, of course, Hedgie


Hedgie Loves to Read, by Jan Brett, published in 2006 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons (PatSays)

Book Cover of Hedgie Loves to Read    Rating: 5 Stars

Hedgie the Hedgehog series, well known in the world of picture books, may have been among some of the children’s books that were read to you growing up. But, most of us know little about its creator, American author/illustrator, Jan Brett. If you were to internet-search her name, and begin to read her bio, you might be extremely surprised. And amazed. And even astonished. Why? Because the total number of her books sold, now run in the millions–over 42 million! Kids and parents alike have taken to her picture book characters as pandas to bamboo trees–they eat it up, again and again and again. And because of the plethora of her books, selecting only one of her most recognizable books, Hedgie the Hedgehog series, allows a book reviewer to clarify and highlight what makes Brett’s characters so loved and adored, and greatly followed, since 1978.

Around 2000, growing within the dynasty of the trolls, an armadillo, a Christmas reindeer, and others, was born, in Denmark, a small hedgehog that became a first hedgehog book, Hedgie’s Surprise, followed by Hedgie Loves to Read. In the latter, a Scholastic Book Club paperback, Brett using 7 watercolor illustrations, on only 7 pages, simplifies the book’s purpose: Reading is relaxing, interesting, and enjoyable, even to a small hedgehog on a cold and snowy day–and, that, perhaps, that same message can reach a listener’s or reader’s mind. Additionally, in Hedgie Loves to Read (less than 100 words), the author successfully stresses an elementary premise–which is, that reading books turns out to be a really good thing to do. And, if that premise were to remain with a child throughout his or her lifetime, how cool would that be?!  (Mrs. Patricia Ann Timbrook, PatSays, Children’s Book Reviewer)


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? Yes.

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, that the next BABAR book will be a forever book. (PatSays, Children’s book reviewer, 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)