Book Review: The Once Brave Boy

I have fond and distinct childhood memories of reading a huge poetry book. Curled up on the couch, I would flip that big book open and dive into whatever poem the page flipped to. I love poetry and how it tells a story in a different form. Introducing poetry to my children is something I have anticipated since the birth of my firstborn. We’ve been able to introduce poetry with the practice of Poetry Tea Time, but I’m always on the hunt for new poetry.

Enter The Once Brave Boy by Briana Gervat. This book follows the story of Andrew and his quest of overcoming fears and being courageous.  As Andrew wrestles with feeling inadequate, his loving parents devise a plan that will empower Andrew to be the brave boy they know him to be. When his loyalty is put to the test; Andrew must decide if he will let his fear hinder him, or if he will push forward.

This unique story is written in a poetic prose.  Reading it to my kids was a delight. My son especially loved the story of the brave boy. I was a little worried that my kids might lose interest in the story, because there are no illustrations. But even though there are no pictures in the book, my kids were held captive during the entire story.

As a parent, I really appreciated Andrew’s parents. In the story, they see Andrew struggling to overcome his fears. Instead of criticizing his struggle, they devise a plan. This plan evokes an opportunity for Andrew to overcome. To confront his fears with courage. While Andrew may not know his parents are pushing him; his parents love him enough to encourage him to move forward. This is a beautiful display of parenting. Reading this aloud to my kids, they only saw Andrew and his courage. But as a parent, I saw Andrew’s parents. While my kids rooted for Andrew to succeed, I was quietly high-fiving his parents for they way they took loving measures to encourage their son.

If you are looking a book that has adventure, poetry, encouraging parents, and a kid who overcomes, be sure to check out The Once Brave Boy.

You can follow author Briana Gervat on her website, Facebook, and Instagram. On Briana’s website, you will see her other works of poetry. Be sure to check her website out!

Book Review: The Inn At the Edge of the World

When I spoke to Jeremy Gritton several months ago about his book, The Inn At The Edge of The World, I knew he had a special book. Jeremy did a Kickstarter campaign for his book; I’ve seen some amazing books come from Kickstarter and Jeremy’s book is no exception. I also knew that my kids would enjoy The Inn At The Edge of The World, because it has a dragon. My kids love dragons. The first time we read this book, we were sitting in the lobby of the doctor’s office. At one point, I glanced up to see other children in the lobby completely enraptured with the story we were reading. In fact, one kid sat frozen – mid lollipop lick – as I read aloud. This is the magic of Jeremy’s book – it draws kids in.

The Inn At The Edge of the World is about a family who decides they need an escape from the boring life they lead in Charcoal City. So, they buy the Inn At The Edge of the World. Their guests are of the fantasy variety. Leprechauns, fairies, witches, dragons, and trolls all visit. The family encounters all sorts of problems and dilemmas. Probably not unlike problems real hotel/motels experience. There are a lot of problems, but the family NEVER gives up. They keep trying. They recover and move on. But along the way, the gray and mundane world of Charcoal City fades and is replaced with a lot of color and magic. I love how innkeepers take on this adventure, because they weren’t satisfied with their boring life. They wanted more. So, they sought out their adventure. This underlining tone of purpose is consistently talk about in the storyline and illustrations.

The illustrations are so fun. I loved the vibrancy of the animation. Each page make you stop and soak in the content. There are so many details to see! The characters are incredibly expressive which only adds to the storyline.

Jeremy Gritton has created a book that is the picture book prelude for Harry Potter and other books within the fantasy genre. This is the first stepping stone. Reading The Inn At the Edge of the World was a joy to read. In fact,  our copy hasn’t made it to the bookshelf yet – my kids have been so enjoying it!! Be sure to grab your copy today!

Book Review: Peanut Butter & Pickles

If your kids are like mine, they eat weird and unusual food combinations. They are picky eaters, so usually, I’m all: WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET YOU TO EAT. (Haha…but really) So if they will eat sprouted bread with peanut butter and marshmallow creme, sign me up. Or if they are nervous to try greek yogurt with a beautifully made strawberry sauce, that’s okay – just a dab will do ya.

With all this food talk, I can think of no better book to add to this conversation than Peanut Butter & Pickles by Philip Pecoraro (illustrated by Nicholas Pecoraro). This hilarious book is all about a father and his kids and their quest to make lunch. I could very much identify with having kids who turn their nose up at turkey sandwiches. As the kids throw out alternative lunch options, well, they really start to add up. The grocery list of foods grows and grows and hilarity ensues.

Nicholas is definitely a budding artist. I really appreciated how consistent his illustrations were on each page. That is NOT an easy task. Nicholas did a phenomenal job matching the expressions to his father’s story. This father-son duo is extremely talented.

I know I mentioned this book is hilarious, but when Philip Pecoraro sent me the book description, I was laughing. That’s a good sign the book will be rib-tickling. When I read it to my kids, they couldn’t stop giggling. Peanut Butter & Pickles is a GREAT read aloud book. It’s equally important for the parent and child to LOVE reading a book and Philip Pecoraro is an amazing storyteller.  The second we finished reading it, they grabbed it from my hands and curled up on the couch to read it again. To me, that is the sign of a great book if my kids grab a book to look at once we are done reading it!

Be sure to follow Peanut Butter and Pickles on their new website, and  Facebook! Also if you purchase Peanut Butter and Pickles here, you can get and extra 30% off using this discount code: 99QL7LUA.


Book Review: Joy & Finley

This Spring Semester, in my children’s homeschool, we are traveling the world. Every few weeks, we will be exploring a different continent. We will be using the five senses (touch, sound, taste, smell, see) as our focus in each continent.

Which leads me to Joy and Finley by Rachel and Keith Ingram. I was really excited when Rachel Ingram approached me about exploring her new book, Joy and Finley, which is based in Italy.  When I received Joy & Finley in the mail, I squealed! It was beautifully wrapped with MAPS! You can head over to to purchase your own copy and it will also arrive wrapped too!



Joy and Finley is the delightful story follows two sisters, Joy and Finley, in their car race adventure through Italy. There are obstacles, villains, Italian words, incredible Italian villages, and of course, PASTA! All heroes have a sidekick and Joy and Finley are no different. We can’t forget to mention their dog, Sir Sam (which may be the best dog name I’ve ever heard). This is a fast-paced story (as all good car races should be), so buckle up and hang on tight.

Strong sibling relationships are so important to us as we raise our kiddos. I particularly enjoyed how in sync Joy and Finley worked together. It was very clear throughout the story, they worked as a team. They were equals in the race.

The illustrations are amazing. Incredibly detailed, you really feel like you are bouncing through the Italian countryside in a vintage motorcar. The characters are expressive and so dynamic. The characters are dressed in 1930s motor car racing garb which just adds a wonderful unique layer to the story. I loved how each twist and turn in the story was perfectly matched in the illustrations. I even spotted several “hidden” details writing this review, so be sure to take your time to fully take in the artwork!

This book takes you on a journey to Italy. When you close the book, I can almost guarantee you will be surprised you are still on your couch. I can also almost guarantee you will be craving spaghetti.

Follow Rachel Ingram on Instagram for news about Joy & Finley, giveaways and more!


Book Review: When I was A Child, I was Always Afraid

A couple of weeks ago, my 18 month old woke up in the middle of the night terrified. He was crying. He was very upset. As we calmed him down, he kept saying, “Dark! Scared!” It was so sad to see him so upset and communicating how he felt.

When I was a Child, I was Always Afraid by Michael Cascio would have been the perfect book to read to my son that night. In fact, the next time, he wakes up in the middle of the night, I will make sure we read this book. This book was a delight to read. This book is all about conquering fears. The story is about a child who is scared of the monsters under the stairwells or under the bed. But as the story unfolds, his dad gently helps the boy conquer his fears.

Author Michael Cascio wrote When I was A Child for his own children. This makes the entire storyline that much more endearing. It truly shows a father’s love for helping his children overcome their fears and teaching them to feel safe and confident.

The illustrations are so beautiful. I loved the layers of watercolors with animated images. The combination is unique, but works so well with this story for making the scary images not seem so intense. The watercolors provide a warmness to the illustrations. I loved the splashes of colors on each page.

This is Michael Cascio’s first book. It was really fun to read, a great read aloud, and the best storyline. I’m very confident this book would help children navigate overcoming their fears. Books are magical like that; they help children explore their fears from the safety of their couch. I especially liked that When I was A Child lets children know they don’t have to conquer their fears alone; their parents are there for them.

Be sure to follow Michael Cascio on Facebook!

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Book Review: My Toddler Life

When I was a kid, I distinctly remember when my parents introduced dial-up internet to our home. HELLO! It was so awesome! So trendy! SO SLOW!  I often wonder what my kids will remember when it comes to technology. I primarily use my phone for taking pictures of my kids. I hope they cherish those photos! I know I cherish them!

In My Toddler Life by Corine Dehghanpisheh, it’s the sweet story of a mom and her child during their day. They paint, they read, they play toys and they spend a lot of time together. And capturing every moment is the momma’ phone.

The illustrations  bright and fun. I love how expressive the child in the story is. I also love that the backgrounds on each page use bright colors. There are a lot of very relatable scenarios in the book too that both child and parent will be able to identify with.

At first I was a little worried that this book would make me feel guilty for  being on my phone. That it would make it look like the parent is glued to their phones. But I was relieved to see that instead of there being guilt, the author really focuses on the moments spent together AND using the phone to capture those moments. There is such a fine line to capturing the memories and being super attached to the phone. Admittedly, I am  guilty of both. Corine does want parents to put their phone down for their kids, but she balances it out really well by acknowledging that we use our phones to snap photos of our kids in action. (And how many of us spend our evenings once the kids are in bed, strolling through our instagram feeds looking at our babies?!?! Oh…just me???)

This is a great book and it is part of a series called #BabyLove (Check out the website!!). Be sure to follow author Corine Dehghanpisheh on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.


Book Review: The Mark of the King

Bethany House Publishers graciously sent me The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green as a gift. As soon as it arrived in my mailbox, I promptly ripped open the package and flew through the first chapter. That is DEFINITELY the sign of a good book!

It is a historical fiction book that follows a female prisoner from Paris France to wild and new frontier of Louisiana. From start to finish, I couldn’t put it down.

The main character is Julianne. She is fierce, loyal, kind, and passionate. She takes on the rugged Louisiana with tenacity. Woven into the storyline are many other characters, but the author does a great job of keeping their voices distinctly unique.

I loved the history in the book. It is very evident that Author Jocelyn Green did detailed research of not just New Orleans, but also the french women prisoners who were forced to move to Louisiana. She also covers the tension between the Native Americans and the French and the British.

I do feel like I should issue a trigger warning: the storyline includes significant inclusion of loss of children and loss of spouse. The story inclusion of loss and grief is a part of the historical relevance of the storyline, but I did want to mention it.
Overall, this was a great read. I hope to read more books by Jocelyn Green.

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Book Review: A Wonderful Day!

This week has been so weird for me. We’ve been getting back into our regular routines post-Holidays. We’ve been decluttering and reorganizing. We also discovered my computer was not repairable, which threw me off as we worked to figure out a plan while scrambling to keep up with my blog.

fullsizerender3In between all that, we read, A Wonderful Day! by Michael Samulak. What a breath of fresh air this book was during a week of uproar. A Wonderful Day! follows a family on their day at the zoo. It’s the perfect book to read before going to the zoo. But it is also the perfect book to read because it focuses on what makes a wonderful day wonderful. We definitely needed that reminder this week! There is a lot of love in this book. You can feel it. The parent in the book calls the child, “love” which is adorable. As parents, we all have little pet names for our children, so it was fun to see a book play up the subtle affection.

The illustrations of A Wonderful Day! are beautiful. The scenery is vivid. The animals are amazing to pause and study. The families in the book are diverse and expressive. This is a wonderful book. The book description calls A Wonderful Day! an early reader book. It is definitely that. This book is perfect for an early reader who is learning to read. It also great for little ones who may be going to the zoo and you want a book to match your day (I can’t be the only one who likes to match up books to our day, right?!?!).

I recently listened to a podcast where an author mentions learning to self-edit book content in order to keep a child’s attention during read aloud time. I was fascinated by this idea. Michael Samulak does this brilliantly in A Wonderful Day!. The page layout and text is perfect to engage with a child and keep a child’s attention.

I was definitely inspired to take my children to the zoo after reading A Wonderful Day!. I really can’t think of a more wonderful activity to do with my kiddos! Grab this book! Your children will so enjoy it.

Book Review: Jorie and the Magic Stones

I’ve recommended a lot of fantasy books this year. While they aren’t typically books I would normally read, I am very glad I have read them. The fantasy genre really feeds into the imaginations of children. There are bad guys and mysteries and puzzles and mythical creatures and special powers all intertwined for some amazing stories and adventures. It can be very empowering for children to read about characters who are faced with incredible dilemmas, but who figure out a way to overcome…sometimes without the help of grown ups.

1In Jorie and The Magic Stones by A.H. Richardson, we meet 9 year old Jorie. She is an orphan who has just moved in with her aunt. (The book begins as Jorie moves in with her aunt). Jorie’s aunt is strict, but not unkind. I like that the reader is given glimpses to the aunt’s softer side. It isn’t long before Jorie uncovers a mysterious clues that indicate her aunt’s backyard is not ordinary, but magical. Jorie’s ability to logically process through any problems she encountered was an unique character trait I enjoyed thoroughly during the book. Jorie also demonstrates loyalty to friends, particularly her neighbor, Rufus. I loved Rufus. He is jolly, adventurous and incredibly brave; another character trait I appreciated reading about. It’s Jorie’s intelligence that leads her on a remarkable journey, but of course, Rufus is with her.

You know I hate spoilers, so I’m not going to share anymore, but I will say that, Jorie’s story doesn’t end! AH Ricardson ends the book with a teaser hinting that Jorie’s adventure isn’t done. I’m SO GLAD because I wanted to know more. The good news that AH Richardson already has a second book in the Jorie series, so once you (or your avid fantasy reader) finish Jorie and the Magic Stones, you can get Jorie and the Gold Key!

If you have some holiday money burning a hole in your pocket, be sure to grab Jorie and the Magic Stones. It’s a good read! And perfect way to welcome Holiday breaks or snow days!

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