Picture Book Review: “Bubbles and Buddy”

Bubbles and Buddy
Author and Illustrator: Denver Kidd
ISBN: 9780646800257
Publisher: Denver Kidd (2019)
Age Range: 2 and up
Grade Level: Preschool – 6

Amazon Synopsis

We may be different, but we will always be family…Bubbles and Buddy is a story that aims to teach young children that however different we can feel, that we will always be family and we will always love each other. Regardless of any reason; be that appearance, interests or personality for example. The story of Bubbles and Buddy will resonate with younger children. In particular: – Children who have siblings or cousins, – Children who are close in age with their siblings or cousins – Children that may be struggling in their relationships – The story would also be comforting for children in blended and alternative families, foster families and/or adopted children. A fun and loving book about two cheeky kittens.

My Review

Bubbles and Buddy are two adorable kittens.  They are brothers and best friends and playmates and pals. The story emphasizes right off the bat that everyone is different, and that it is okay to be different. Bubbles and Buddy look different, play differently, have individual personalities, they like different things, are afraid of different things and they don’t always get along – but that is okay!  They still love each other, they are still brothers, they still have fun, they still take care of each other and will always be best friends and brothers – no matter what.

It’s so important that we impress upon children the absolute acceptance of being okay with being different.  In a world where we learn to compare ourselves to others very early on, this is a message that is never too early to instill. That “Bubbles and Buddy” does so in a kind and gentle manner is a bonus and a win for the author. It doesn’t rhyme but reads poetically, meaning the author’s words feel like they float across the pages – warm, inviting, unintimidating, accepting. It is a delightful, serene reading experience.

The first word that came to mind when I saw the cover of Bubbles and Buddy was, “SWEET!” The illustrations are simple in nature and so very charming. These two little guys cut straight to my heart with their endearing and magnetic-like sweet faces. I turned through the pages several times just to look at these boys. I couldn’t get enough, and little ones will be easily lured into the story by the soft, subtle hues enhancing each page.

Preschoolers and early readers will especially love the lighthearted and playful personalities of Bubbles and Buddy and will be able to identify with one or both of the kittens in their various likes and dislikes, habits and behaviors. That said, this book is not just for kids! The author pulls the reader into the story – even as an adult my preferences swayed towards one of the kittens in particular because I could easily relate to his tendencies.

I highly recommend “Bubbles and Buddy” to readers of all ages but it is an especially important message for our tiniest tots! It’s an impressive debut by Denver Kidd.

About the Author

Learn more about the author, Denver Kidd, at www.denverkidd.com.

Review Copy

I obtained a PDF copy of this book to review from the author in exchange for an honest review. I’m reading my way through 500 picture books to promote authors from all over the world. Need a picture book review? Contact me!

Picture Book Review: “Giraffe Problems”

“Giraffe Problems” is a treasure of a story featuring Edward, a giraffe with a big problem. Edward doesn’t like his neck – it’s too long, too stretchy, too high and everyone stares at him. His neck makes him feel bad about himself, and that’s not good.

Picture Book Review: “Summer Song: A Day in the Life of a Kid”

“Summer Song” packs a ton of non-stop entertainment into a delightful interactive adventure. The joyful story takes readers through a day of summertime fun, encouraging kids to get outside and explore all the wonderful sights and sounds of summer.

Book Review: “The Magdalene Malediction”

“The Magdalene Malediction” is the final book in the Ordeal by Fire trilogy by F. Scott Kimmich. Historical fiction at its finest, Kimmich takes readers on a treacherous journey at the end of the Albigensian (Cathar) Crusade.

Picture Book Review: “We Go To Bo”

Author: Larry Baum
Illustrator: Joanna Pasek
ISBN: 9781519197962
Publisher: CreateSpace 2015
Age Range: 2-5
Grade Level: Preschool-Kindergarten

Amazon Synopsis

Learning to read is difficult. We need to recognize that certain combinations of letters correspond to certain sounds and meanings. That’s not easy for adults when learning a new language. Imagine how hard that is for children, both because they’re so young and because they never made this mental breakthrough before.

When I taught my kids to read, I tried to make this big leap a little easier by choosing books with the shortest possible words. But every book I found had some long words. I wondered if a book could be written using only short words. How short? 4 letters? No problem. 3 letters. Sure. OK, then, let’s push it further. What about 2 letters? Hmm, that would be a challenge, especially to make a story that’s interesting, with characters, action, and humor. I listed the common 2-letter words: very few verbs, plenty of prepositions. How could I use this odd vocabulary? Bubbles move all sorts of ways, thus they were a great prop to soak up many 2-letter prepositions. I discovered Joanna Pasek’s charming watercolor illustrations online, and we worked together to create WE GO TO BO. We aimed to make the book as easy as possible for beginning readers. We chose large, capital letters to make words clear and obvious. I hope you can use this book to introduce children to the wide world of words.–Larry Baum

My Review

“We Go To Bo” is a charming story about friendship and is a perfect book for beginning readers. Simple in nature, this book uses only two-letter words to tell the story, making it an ideal choice for teaching your little ones how to read. 

Not An Easy Feat

Creating a book using only two-letter words sounds like an easy task, but when you think about it there aren’t very many two-letter words you can string together – to construct a story that makes sense, you really have to get creative.

Writing and Illustrations

I think the author did a nice job given the limitation on the number of words available. The illustrations tie the 2-letter-word story together beautifully, as shown below with Ed and Bo sharing a laugh as one bubble lands on Ma’s head and another in Ed’s mouth!

Overall

Having a story that connects with kids is essential and this playful tale does just that while also providing a comfortable atmosphere with words that won’t intimidate budding young readers. The bold words stand out and the beautiful illustrations are enticing and enrich the story.

The Bo Series

Since releasing “We Go To Bo,” Larry Baum has since written a series of books for beginning readers: a 1-letter word book, a new 2-letter word book and a 3-letter word book to expand upon this concept.  Joanna Pasek has started the illustrations for this new series, and a Kickstarter Campaign is running during June 2019 to help fund the project.  Check it out.

About the Author

Larry Baum grew up in Los Angeles, studied at Harvard College, and earned a PhD in Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego. He worked as a biologist doing research on Alzheimer’s disease and other brain diseases. He lives in Hong Kong, where his children Ryan and Ianna were born in 2003 and 2005.

When they were old enough to start reading, he looked for children’s books with simple words so that learning would be easier. But all the books he found had a mix of short and long words. He wondered whether he could write a children’s book with only short words. Using words no longer than 4 letters would be feasible. What about 3 letters? That should still be doable. Two letters? That would be a big challenge, but he tried and came up with We Go To Bo.

After being too busy with work for several years, he finally decided to hire an illustrator and publish the book himself, making the e-book free and the printed book cheap so that as many children as possible could benefit from it. Joanna Pasek’s charming illustrations caught his eye, and they completed the book in October 2015.

Review Copy

I obtained a digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I’m working my way through 500 picture books. Need a picture book review? Contact me!

“Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal”

WRITING FOR BLISS: A COMPANION JOURNAL
Diana Raab
Loving Healing Press (2019)
ISBN 9781615994274
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (2/19)

“Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal” by Diana Raab is the perfect complement to her book, “Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.” Having read the book, I was eager to dive into the companion journal.

When the author was ten years old, she was given a journal by her mother to help her cope with the death of her grandmother. She has been journaling ever since. Diana Raab views journaling as her spiritual practice, providing a path to identify her priorities, an outlet for self-discovery and examination, and a way to be alone with her thoughts. 

Structured yet free-flowing.

In this companion journal, Raab provides readers with structured space to explore the world of journaling and the benefits it provides with regular practice. As with her book, the companion journal guides the reader through the process of writing for transformation and bliss.  I say structured space but feel I must clarify. The structure is in the way the book is presented, divided into different categories. From self-awareness to recalling memories, examining your life, writing about relationships and difficult subjects, writing using different devices and writing for joy and expression, the topics cover everything you need on your journey.

Remember, it’s a journey.

As this is an actual journal, it is not a book to be read through in a week.  Work at your own pace – unwrap the layers buried within yourself as you are ready.  I had a plan when I first opened the book – which included starting at the beginning and going through the exercises in order to the end. I quickly found there were some areas I was not mentally capable of exploring – yet. To me, that is part of the beauty of self-discovery. It’s not easy – it takes time, a steady practice and a commitment to see it through.

When I let go of my perfectionist tendencies and approached the entries as a tool for growth and not a “writing assignment” it was an entirely different experience. And, though I’m still not writing every day, keeping this journal on my night stand encourages me to pick it up and write whenever I need a moment to collect my thoughts or even just slow down for a bit.

Overall

“Writing for Bliss: A Companion Journal” by Diana Raab will appeal to a wide audience and is a worthy guide for all levels of writers. Whether you are looking of a place to begin your writing journey, are experimenting in different ways of healing, are interested in writing memoir, or an experienced writer wanting to get back to your roots – the thoughtful, inspirational guidance found in these pages will help you achieve your goals.

Review Copy

WRITING FOR BLISS: A COMPANION JOURNAL
Diana Raab
Loving Healing Press (2019)
ISBN 9781615994274
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (2/19) 
Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255

Picture Book Review: “This is a Good Story”

This is a Good Story

Author: Adam Lehrhaupt
Illustrator: Magali Le Huche
ISBN: 978-1481429351
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2017)
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 3

Amazon Synopsis:

From E.B. White Read Aloud author Adam Lehrhaupt comes an inspiring new picture book that takes apart the pieces of a story—hero, heroine, setting, conflict—and asks the reader to put the story back together again.

As a child takes her pencil and begins to draw pictures for a story, the narrator takes her and the reader through a rollicking sequence of events in this classic tale of bad guys and townsfolk and dungeons. With simplicity and flair, Adam tells a story and then a meta-story of the parts of the story at once! A wonderful primer on the parts of a story and an imaginative way to encourage creative thinking, writing, and storytelling.

My Review

This is such a fun book that encourages young readers and future authors to write their own stories!  The author takes all the elements of a story (setting, conflict, plot, etc.) and weaves them into a story about writing a story.  Here’s an example:

“Our Story begins with Hero and Heroine.”

Picture introducing the protagonists in "This is a Good Story"

The elements of the story are boldly displayed and capitalized. Another example:

“They live in a good town, filled with good people,
called our Setting.

As with any Good Story, ours has a
Conflict, a problem that needs fixing.
and it’s a good thing, too, because without
a Conflict there would be no Plot.”

Picture describing the setting of "This is a Good Story."

Whenever there is a problem with the story (which is being written by a little girl), the narrator comes back and encourages little girl to revise her storyline.  For instance, when the little girl creates a wishy-washy antagonist, readers can feel the the narrator almost stopping her in her tracks (notice the look on her face),when he says,

“That’s not an Evil Overlord!
Come on. That’s barely a Creepy Sidekick.”

Picture of the Evil Overlord in "This is a Good Story."

The Illustrations

The pictures are amazing! I love the little girl who is “authoring” the story.  Though the narrator does all the talking, we can see how the little girl is working through the writing of the story through the pictures. Some of the looks she gives the narrator are priceless!

Glossary – An Added Bonus

There is also a one-page glossary in the back highlighting and defining all the elements of a story. This is a great addition kids can use to make sure they have all the elements included in their story.

Overall

Overall I absolutely loved this book. It’s fun, it’s creative and will inspire the imagination of  budding young authors! The age range listed on this book is 4-8 years. I’m thinking kids at the higher end of that range will enjoy it more, though the younger ones will definitely enjoy the lively, fast-action pictures!

About the Author

Adam Lehrhaupt is the award-winning picture book author of Warning: Do Not Open This Book!, Please: Open This Book!, Chicken in Space (A six book HarperCollins series continuing with Chicken in School June 20, 2017), I Will Not Eat You and I Don’t Draw, I Color as well as the upcoming Wordplay (Scholastic, July 2017), This is a Good Story (S&S, September, 2017), Idea Jar (S&S, Spring 2018) and several more he is not yet at liberty to discuss. Among the awards his titles have won are the E.B. White Read-Aloud Honor, the Wanda Gag Read-Aloud Award and the Hudson Readers Thumbs Up Award. His books have also been honored among ALA notable books, Huffington Post notable books, CCBC Choices, Bank Street Choices, Ontario Library Association ‘Best Bets’ and more.

Adam has traveled to six continents, performed on Broadway, and lived on a communal farm. He firmly believes that opening a book is a good thing, even if there are monkeys in it. Adam currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with his wife, two sons, and two bizarre dogs. 

Review Copy

I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library. I’m working my way through 500 picture books. Need a picture book review? Contact me!

“37 Lessons on How to Gain from Loss”

37 LESSONS ON HOW TO GAIN FROM LOSS
Huma Zuellah Ahmed (2019)
ISBN 9789990150452
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (8/18)

“37 Lessons on How to Gain from Loss” by Huma Zuellah Ahmed is a book about personal transformation.  It is also the author’s journey from trial and loss, to living triumphant and free from the pain that held her back.  Using her personal experiences, Ahmed takes the reader through her most devasting trial, the illness and subsequent passing of her mother, and explains the steps she took to find her way to freedom.

“37 Lessons on How to Gain from Loss” is unique in that it is part self-help, part spiritual and part memoir.  As the author takes the reader through the journey of her mother’s illness, it reads like memoir passages, and at the end of these passages Ahmed lists her lesson and the steps to take to achieve the goal of the lesson, incorporating many self-help and spiritual concepts.

Savor the Journey

There is a lot of information in this book, so it’s not one to read through quickly.  I found myself taking notes all along the way, noting the pages and topics I wanted to go back to and revisit in greater detail.  37 different lessons may seem daunting at first, but a lot of the steps blend together in a quite natural procession and some are lessons you may have experienced yourself throughout your own journey. I was comforted to read passages that felt familiar, as if the author knew of my particular struggles.

In fact, the author, who describes herself as a human being, Muslim and Spiritual Self-Discovery and Mindset Coach and Trainer, has a wealth of experience to share that many readers will connect with and feel a “part of” on so many levels.

Mindfulness

Much of the writing resonated with me. The entire book is laced with wisdom such as those following.  Mindfulness is one of the strong themes I identified with most. I’ll list but a few for the purposes of this review.

“Becoming self-aware is the first step to conscious living.” (pg. 30)

“Nothing has the power to hold you in the state of pain except your own self.” (pg. 38)

“Your energy is where your thoughts are.” (pg. 67)

“Objects that are sometimes given far more importance than they deserve.” (pg. 133)

Inspiration – The Same and Different

The author’s journey was driven by her deep spiritual beliefs and that is included in the text as well.  She often quotes the Quran as that is what fuels her passions.  I found the messages inspiring and not so different from what I grew up learning. 

Overall

I highly recommend “37 Lessons on How to Gain from Loss” by Huma Zuellah Ahmed. An open mind and a willingness to do some work, as the author suggests, are all that is needed to start your own journey towards freedom from pain.

Review Copy

37 LESSONS ON HOW TO GAIN FROM LOSS
Huma Zuellah Ahmed (2019)
ISBN 9789990150452
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (8/18)
Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255

Sheri Hoyte Books
8650 Spicewood Springs Road, Suite 145-178 Austin, TX 78759