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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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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