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The Great Carp Escape

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

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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From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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From the Who's in Your Book? series

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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