A simple Christian kids’ book with a message about respecting all life.

The Great Carp Escape

In her very brief debut picture book, Maddock tells a story of two siblings who live by a lake, and their opportunity to help wildlife while learning an important lesson.  

Many different kinds of creatures inhabit the lake near Beth and Paul’s house, including carp, which the two children find ugly. One spring, a small pond forms in a swampy area by a willow tree—an area that the children have avoided out of fear of getting stuck in the mud, and the fact that there might be creepy carp there. As the weather begins to warm up, the water in the little pond begins to grow shallow, and eventually it’s cut off from the rest of the lake. Beth and Paul discover a small group of carp caught in the pond, and even though they’re a little afraid of the fish, their father helps them hatch a plan to release them back into the lake. Soon, the rescue mission becomes a neighborhoodwide endeavor. Afterward, the children have a new appreciation for the creatures they once disliked. Maddock aptly closes the tale by quoting William Henry Monk’s hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” The story is an allegory based on a true story, and as such, it’s simple and straightforward; for example, the illustration of Beth and Paul’s father appears similar to Western depictions of Jesus Christ, and he reminds the kids that even if they find the carp disgusting, they’re still God’s creatures and therefore deserving of respect. The involvement of the entire neighborhood in the rescue mission evokes the Christian focus on community and helping the less fortunate. The digital illustrations by Ouano are bright and cheerful, and his interpretations of wildlife are particularly well-rendered. Although the sweet story’s competent prose makes it easy to follow, it’s a bit short, and the action moves along at a somewhat disjointed pace. Overall, this book is appropriate for very young children who enjoy the outdoors and whose parents would like to enhance their moral teachings.

A simple Christian kids’ book with a message about respecting all life.  

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4866-0508-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Word Alive Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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