Introducing Super Sporty by Ellie Firestone. Booke Review.

This is an action-packed story interspersed with odd unnecessary moments, such as the first page and a half wherein the Sporty and Harley ride the elevator and have breakfast. It is the kind of tale that an unsophisticated reader might enjoy especially if they like space monsters, horses and superheroes. It is quite similar to the stories my junior grade students used to write for me.

The reader must have wide-open acceptance to the unexpected and the unpredictable. First of all, the horses talk and behave like humans, which is fine. Then suddenly the horses have hidden wings and fly. Okay. Then the new horses are actually disguised aliens. Then the good horses can shoot beams of light from their hooves (that is actually a force field) and from the other hoof, a pair of wings (to attach to the injured horse). It is hard to build suspense when there seems to be no limit to the abilities of the superhero. The reader has absolutely no doubt that the horses will defeat the aliens and prevent the invasion.

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with this book is the illustrations. I don’t mean to be cruel but they honestly seem like a child drew them. The horses are barely recognizable and there are visible marker lines. It would be better to take the illustrations out and put in a couple of photographs of horses Photoshopped to look like basketball players or pay someone to draw a few good pictures.


This book has potential and will probably be enjoyed by some readers but it needs editing and entirely new illustration.

I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack

 Click here to buy Ah Ha!

There are only two there are only two phrases repeatedly used in this clever book, “Ah ha!” and “Aahh!” but plot and emotion are clearly shown through the illustrations.

Frog is just trying to relax in the pond. A boy tries to catch him with a jar, and the turtle, alligator, and flamingo try to eat the frog. Every time he escapes some dire fortune, he finds himself in another life or death situation. The story goes full cycle. When the boy catches the frog in a jar at the beginning, the dog accidentally releases the frog. At the end of the story the frog is cornered by the three animal predators until the boy catches him in the jar again. As the boy carries him away, the frog utters a new phrase, “Ha ha!” The reader assumes that the frog’s situation is almost as bad as being eaten by the predators until the clever frog pushes the lid off the jar and escapes.

Young readers will find this book both suspenseful and humorous. Adults will appreciate the clever chain of events and the inventive use of vocabulary, or lack thereof. It is a book that must be read aloud with great expression. Both phrases, “Aahh!” and “Ah ha!” have different meaning, depending on the context.

Illustrations are double-page, full-color, and expressive. The cheeky personality of the frog comes through loud and clear as does his terror at almost being eaten.

While this is, at first glance, a light-hearted and clever chain of unlikely events, the book does bring home the message that surviving as a little frog is challenging and requires both wit and courage. It encourages discussion on the morality of capturing live creatures for amusement, courage and determination, the food chain, and the importance of never giving up. For an adult, this book is a gentle reminder that life is short and unpredictable. Live in the moment; take the opportunity when it is available to lie back and say, “Aahh!”


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Watch Out for the Jumping Cactus! Not Kidding: Illustrator Guy Porfirio Three Random Questions Interview

Guy Porfirio has illustrated over 18 picture books. Grandpa’s Little One was #3 on the New York Times Best Selling Children’s Books, and Junk Man’s Daughter was featured in the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year list in 2007. His latest release is Jump.


Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Guy. Is your newest book, Jump, the first one that you have also authored? It’s about a cactus, correct? Could you tell us how you came to choose this character and a little about the story?

Guy Porfirio: Yes, I have illustrated many picture books, but “Jump!” is my first as Author/Illustrator.

The story for Jump originally came to me while visiting relatives in Tucson Arizona when I was 12 years old. Having grown up in Chicago, the idea of cactus was as foreign to me as thin crust pizza. Be that as it may, I was willing to accept both ideas with an open mind. That is, until we took a family hike through the desert where my aunt turned to me and said, “Watch out for the jumping cactus.” What? At that point I was ready to be airlifted out. I remember thinking, I didn’t sign up for this. No one told me that there would be deadly cactus parts flying through the air. Whose idea was this anyway? The worst a plant could do in Chicago is give me poison ivy. Let’s go home, I’ll take my chances.

Years later, and now living in Tucson, I decided to take a walk through the desert to mull over several story ideas I had been considering. I made it back to my studio unscathed — but not alone. A small cholla, aka, jumping cactus, had somehow stuck to my shoe and followed me home. My aunt’s words came flooding back. It occurred to me as I studied the stowaway, perhaps jumping cactus is just misunderstood. Everyone knows nothing ever happens in the desert. What if jumping cacti are just plain bored? What if they just want a change of scenery? What if they just need a vacation once and a while? …Light bulb! New story idea!

I named the main character Barb for obvious reasons. Barb is a clever cactus with a great sense of adventure and plenty of spine. All she wants is an adventure. But, in the desert, nothing ever happens, and nothing every changes. Barb sees an opportunity. She holds her breath, takes the leap of a lifetime, and never looks back… until she realizes that having a great adventure is not that great if there is no one to share it with. Which is when things really get interesting.


 Click here to buy Jump!

Ferrante: That’s hilarious. Tell us a little about your writing process from the perspective of an illustrator.

Porfirio: Through my years of illustrating books I’ve trained myself to look for the less obvious – to put an unexpected spin on things. Whatever the most interesting aspect of a character or a scene may be, it’s even better when it comes from a surprising point of view. When I see a thing, or have a thought that strikes me in a funny way (and just about everything does – just ask my family), I sort of come up with a quick back-story complete with dialog snippets and voices to go along with them. If they crack me up, I’ll share them with my wife. I figure if I can make her laugh I just may have something.

Then, I start making lists. I write down everything I can think of that pertains to the character, its situation, its goal, why it can’t reach its goal, and how it reaches its goal anyway — you know the drill. Then, I start sketching scenes. When I get stuck sketching, I switch to writing. When I get stuck writing, I switch back to sketching. If all else fails, I take a long walk.

Ferrante: Grandpa’s Little One, written by Billy Crystal and illustrated by you, was #3 on the New York Times Best Selling Children’s Books, a phenomenal accomplishment. Did you collaborate?

Porfirio: Collaborating with Billy Crystal was quite an amazing experience. Billy was very easy to work with. I learned a lot about the creative process though our collaboration. We communicated through emails and phone conversations. I’d send him sketches and we’d discuss them over the phone, batting new ideas around till the story was working just right. I was able to meet Billy in Phoenix while he was doing his 700 Sundays show tour. I’m proud to say that I actually made him laugh a couple of times through the process, a true badge of honor.


 Click here to buy Grandpa’s Little One

Ferrante: You have illustrated several books for Harper Collins but you have worked for other publishers as well. How does this come about?

Porfirio: I’ve had publishers call me seemingly out-of-the-blue, or as a result of my agent’s work, or, having one of my promotional post cards come across their desk at just the right moment. The trick is to get your work out where it can be seen. Maintain a website, send out promotional materials, be on social media. Just keep putting out your best work on a regular basis and people will notice.

Ferrante: Good advice. Do you set aside time to free draw daily?

Porfirio: Always, no matter what I’m working on. It’s very important to make deadlines, but it’s also important to keep the creative river flowing. I think there is a real need to keep a sense of wonder and possibility while working on anything creative. The obvious answers to concept and composition will always be at the shallow end of the creative ocean. You’ve got to swim out a ways to get the good stuff. Sketching and drawing unrelated pieces helps the process along. Being creative feeds on being creative.

Ferrante: You illustrated Junk Man’s Daughter, released in 2007 and written by Sonia Levitin. It was chosen as one of Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. Could you tell us about the book and this award?

Porfirio: Junk Man’s Daughter is the story of Hanna and her family emigrating from Germany, because, as Papa explained, “In America, there are streets of gold!” Papa couldn’t find work in America, and the family’s hopes and dreams vanished. Until Hanna saw something winking out of the snow, which turned out to be bottle caps, milk bottles, soda bottles, bent nails, and tin cans — the beginnings of a thriving junk business.

Both sets of my grandparents lived similar stories to this. Understanding and identifying with this project came pretty easy for me. I worked hard to imbue the artwork with a sense of era and hardship.  The book has done very well.

The Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the year includes more than 600 titles chosen by the Children’s Book Committee as the best of the best published in any given year. Committee members consider literary quality and excellence of presentation as well as the potential emotional impact of the books on young readers. Other criteria include credibility of characterization and plot, authenticity of time and place, age suitability, positive treatment of ethnic and religious differences, and the absence of stereotypes.


 Click here to buy Junkman’s Daughter (Tales of Young Americans)

Ferrante: Which book was the most challenging to illustrate?

Porfirio: Actually, my first book dummy was the most challenging book project I’ve ever worked on, period! I had such a hard time getting used to working within the 32 page, 16 spread format. Planning the scenes. Deciding what to illustrate and what to leave out. How to introduce characters, how to lead the viewer’s eye. I actually tried to give the project back at one point. Thank goodness I was working with an editor who understood what I was going through more than I understood storytelling. My editor listened to me, then said, “I know you’ll get this, and once you do, you’ll never forget it.” And I never have.

Ferrante: Wonderful. Which book did you have the most fun illustrating?

Porfirio: Well, first of all, I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve illustrated, but Jump! tops them all. Having complete creative control over story and imagery is a dream come true!

Ferrante: I can see that and it’s probably good that it wasn’t your first book as well. What advice would you give a beginning illustrator that you wish someone had told you?

Porfirio: I wish someone had told me not to spend time comparing my artwork to artists’ work I admire. Other than being spurred on and inspired artistically, comparing one’s artwork to that of another artist’s work is a complete waste of time. Don’t ever suppress your own uniqueness by trying to be like someone else.

Ferrante: As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” Is there anything else you would like to share?

Porfirio: I’d just like to say how important to have fun while you’re working. Having fun doing something keeps the creative sparks flying. If I’m not having fun, I find a way to make it fun. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing focus. But, if all else fails, I opt for a diversion: A walk, a movie, lunch, or, a good night’s sleep.

three random questions


Ferrante: If you could bring back any deceased superstar for one final performance in their respective fields, whom would you choose?

Porfirio: That’s easy!  N.C. Wyeth, just so I could watch him paint one more cover from start to finish.

Ferrante: Cool. In your opinion, what is the most beautiful man-made object in the world?

Porfirio: I think the X-Wing Starfighter from StarWars comes pretty close to perfection. But, if I have to choose from earthbound man-made tangible objects I’d have to go with the 2016 Jaguar F-Type V6. I’m not really a car guy, but I think I could get the hang of it with one of those parked in my driveway.

Ferrante: I’ll bet you could. If your name were given as the description for any one word in the dictionary, behind what word would people find your name?

Porfirio: Storyteller. 

Ferrante: Apt choice. Thank you for sharing your funny and fascinating stories with us today.

Jump book trailer

Web site





Rio Chico Books for Children


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The book Barb was reviewed on this blog on February 24, 2017.

Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.

Fun Video for Families – Never Send Callie

I found a picture book I had written as an example to my class when my students were working on their own picture books. I wrote and illustrated it about 25 years ago. The story was solid so I decided to make it into the video. Some of the pictures needed to be redone and I had to add more, however the originals were done with pastels and pencil crayons. It was a new experience for me using that Photoshop pen – a triangular pastel pencil. Anyway, I think it turned out pretty well. Just in time for Mother’s Day. Enjoy.

New Family Video: Callie has one simple errand, to buy a loaf of bread. But with so many distractions and a vivid imagination, this seems impossible. Is her mother’s patience going to run out? What will they have for lunch if Callie doesn’t deliver? A funny story about a forgetful child.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Good Night, Already! By Jory John and Benji Davies.

 Click here to buy Goodnight Already!

This is not another frustrated complaint by a parent who cannot get a child to go to sleep. It is the opposite, in fact. Bear wants to sleep. For months. But duck is wide awake and wants company. Every time bear starts to fall asleep, duck wakes him up. Duck has numerous ideas about what they could do together but all bear wants to do is sleep. Finally bear cracks and screams at duck, “I said good night already!” Duck leaves and while reading in his armchair, falls asleep. Bear (possibly due to the adrenaline running through his system) is now wide awake.

This is an hilarious book. The expressions on such simple characters convey their personalities perfectly. Duck’s shenanigans will make a child laugh out loud. This book is sure to tweak some memories of similar situations wherein the child and someone else had different sleep needs.

Although the storyline is simple  and predictable, it is told with such comic genius and illustrated so delightfully that it carries you gleefully along. A perfect book for happy chuckles.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Once Upon a Potty written and illustrated by Alona Frankel. Book Review.

 Click here to buy Once Upon a Potty — Boy

Well, this is a twist on “Once Upon.” This simple little book is told through the viewpoint of Joshua was mother. It begins with a picture of the mother holding the hand of a naked little boy. Although it is healthy for a child to see the little boy’s penis and anus when talking about bodily functions, calling them a pee-pee for making wee-wee and a little hole for making poo-poo may not be the preferred vocabulary for many parents.

Joshua receives a potty from his grandmother. (Boy, that grandmother sure knows how to thrill a kid.) He tries to use it, but fails. He makes wee-wee and poo-poo on the floor. He continues to mess his diaper. Finally he sits on the potty and refuses to get up until he finally uses it correctly. He carries the potty to his mother who flushes the contents down the toilet. From that point on, he uses the potty consistently.

While not exactly a suspenseful thriller, the book holds a child’s attention because of the naked illustrations.

The mother’s calm reaction to Joshua’s accidents can be re-assuring to a child. The fact that Joshua sits for an extremely long time before succeeding can prepare a child for the necessity of patience.

This book is also available is a girl’s version. I can’t imagine what she calls a vulva.

 Click here to buy Once Upon a Potty — Girl


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

A Childhood Toy Never Forgotten: Author Gina Lobiondo Three Random Questions Interview

Gina LoBiondo has published two award-winning picture books. She is presently working on her first novel.


Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Gina. Pegasus was your first published book. You hired an illustrator to create 25 black and white illustrations to keep down the cost of the book. In 2011,you changed it. Why?

Gina LoBiondo: Hi, Bonnie, first thanks for having me here!  Yes, the original illustrator did the artwork in black and white.  I have several editions of Johanna Spyri’s HEIDI, which have black and white illustrations, so the decision to do Pegasus that way was mine.  I thought the artwork was adorable but no one else seemed to like it!  I had several judges at book award competitions that really criticized it so I made the decision to redo the artwork in full colour.  In addition to that, I also changed the size of the book from the original 6×9 to the current size of 8×10.  After I made the change the book started to sell and win awards so I guess I made the right choice.  I think the most difficult part of creating the book was that neither Stephanie nor I knew about saving the artwork at 300 dpi.  Once she gets the time, we plan to redo the illustrations and I’m going to add to the book, with sections similar to what I did with Button Nose the Sad Little Bear.


Click here to by Pegasus — A Dragon’s Tale

Ferrante: Pegasus won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award in the Category of Children’s Interest. Please tell us about this award and how your book was chosen. Why do you think it has so much appeal?

LoBiondo: Well, according to the website, the Pinnacle Awards are chosen based on book content, quality, writing style, presentation and cover designPegasus is the story of two young bear cubs who find and raise a baby dragon and follows the friendship of the three characters.  Since I’ve been writing for so long I’ve pretty much got the quality, style and presentation down pat.  As for the cover, I designed it myself, as I’ve done with all my books.  I think the story is so appealing because it touches on something that many children’s books today don’t – real friendship and the bonding of the three characters.

Button Nose the Sad Little Bear is based on a toy you had as a child and found again on eBay as an adult. Why did this bear appeal to you so much? Why do you think it connects so much with children today?

LoBiondo: You know, Bonnie, it was just one of those things where this little bear was just so appealing to me.  I think it was his sad little face that must have touched my young heart ‘cause I hugged him and cuddled him all the time.  Even today I still love him to pieces and was so thrilled when I found him on eBay. I also had a medium sized bear and a very large bear that I called his mommy and daddy, but I wasn’t attached to them like I was to him. I really don’t know if kids today have that kind of bear – Knickerbocker went out of business years ago!  I love the Build-A-Bears and even got one for myself after giving several as presents, but all their bears are smiling and I don’t know what else is out there.  I think the more sensitive kids like me are missing out.


Click here to buy Button Nose the Sad Little Bear

Ferrante: Did you approach your second picture book differently than your first?

LoBiondo: Actually, yes I did.  I had already learned about saving in 300 dpi, so I made sure when Brittany had her artwork scanned she did it that way.  Then, I added more reviews at the beginning and then the photo gallery and other books section at the end in order to expand the book.  With Pegasus being only 34 pages, I had a hard time finding a printer who would print the info on the spine.  Many bookstores refused to carry it because it lacked the spine info.  I use CreateSpace to print Pegasus and they won’t print the spine info on books less than I believe either 120 or 130 pages.  Fortunately, I use Lightning Source to print Button Nose and they will print spine info at 48 pages. With the added information, Button Nose came out to 54 pages.

Ferrante: Both your picture books have received a large number of awards. Do you feel the effort and expense of entering these award opportunities is worth the increase in sales of your books? Or are you looking at the long tail?

LoBiondo: I’m still weighing the awards – I have spent quite a bit entering the competitions but, sadly, I don’t think they’ve really made much of a difference in sales, at least for the short term.  Since Pegasus has been out for 5 years, I’ve sold more books and have sold some of Button Nose, but not nearly as many and sales seem to be stalled on both books.  I’m hoping that will change closer to the holidays.

As for the competitions, I do enjoy entering them and especially winning.  I actually created one label to put in the corner of the books that says “Multi Book Award Winner” instead of putting award labels all over the cover.  I think the single sticker looks much more professional.

Ferrante: I understand your next book will be a novel based on the Cinderella story. Could you tell us a little bit about it?

LoBiondo: Yes, the title will be Cinderella – A Love Story and it’s my own retelling of the classic faerie tale.  It was always my favourite story as a child – I had a beautiful book illustrated by Catherine Barnes that I read a gazillion times – so it was only natural that one day I’d write my own.  I originally wrote this story as a full-length, 2-act stage play – I had taken a theatre course in my last year of high school and loved it so I decided I’d try my hand at it.  By that time, I had already been writing for 6 years.  My version is the traditional tale but with a twist that no other version has that really makes it unique.  It doesn’t happen until chapter 8 so you have to just keep reading.

Ferrante: You have posted chapter 1 of your Cinderella novel on Create Space asking for feedback. Have you received many responses? Have they been helpful?

LoBiondo: Sorry to say I’ve only received 7 responses – they’ve all been good, though, except for one guy who complained.  He said the story was so familiar he didn’t feel the need to read any further.  However, when I was trying to find an agent years ago, I had one tell me “Taking on faerie tale icons is a tall order and you’ve done a good job.”  So that was encouraging.  Everyone who has read this book has given it positive reviews so I think it will do well.  My only problem now is the one I’ve had for years, that being I can’t find the right illustrator.  It’s kind of frustrating ‘cause I really want to get this book out!!!!!

Ferrante: I think 7 responses is worthwhile. It isn’t that easy to find feedback on a work in progress.

three random questions


Ferrante: If you could at this very moment to take a ride on anything in the world, what would you most want to ride?

LoBiondo: My bicycle!  I used to ride all the time before I got my driver’s license; when I was a teenager there were still Blue Laws on Sunday, where all the stores were closed.  So my brother and I would ride up to our local shopping centre and just ride from one end to the other as fast as we could!  It was awesome and boy, do I ever miss doing that!!!!!

Ferrante: What is one major problem, either in your own nation or throughout the world, that you honestly feel we will have pretty well solved within 20 years?

LoBiondo: I’m hoping for a cure for either Alzheimer’s, diabetes or ALS.  I lost relatives to all three so it would be awesome if they could all be part of history during that time.

Ferrante: What is one vacation destination that many of the people think is just fabulous, but which you personally have no desire to ever visit or (revisit)?

LoBiondo: I would have to say Mexico or South America, and this is in no way saying anything against the people there.  They’re just not places I’d have any interest in visiting and I, personally, can’t see the appeal.

Ferrante: I enjoyed seeing the Mayan ruins in Mexico and I love the food. I guess it all depends on what appeals to you.

Thank you for talking with me today. Good luck with Cinderella.

Book Trailers  for Pegasus  for Button Nose

Pegasus, A Dragon’s Tale was reviewed on this blog January 16, 2017.

Dueling Parasols & Steampunk Mysteries: Author Jayne Barnard – Three Random Questions Interview

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.

Annalise’s Up and Down Day by Denise L. Jenne. Illustrated by Julie Lannone.

 Click here to buy Annalise’s Up and Down Day

My first impression of this book was that it was awkward to read to my granddaughter. It opens like calendar with the binding at the top of the page. But once we mastered the style, we were able to follow the story line. I think this was done so that the illustrator could have a landscape format.

Annalise is preschool girl who spends her day exploring up and down. The sun is up and the moon is down. The strawberries are down, the apples are up. Some concepts were less straightforward and needed explanation, such as, “Sit down. Eat up.” and “Guitar up. Getting down.”

The relationship between Annalise and her parents is warm and engaging. She lives a stimulated life with a good balance of indoor and outdoor play. One thing is for certain, Annalise is a busy little girl. Her exuberance is contagious. Children can relate to her simple, happy adventures.

Annalise seems to be a tiny child on her father’s lap but she appears to be huge climbing up the ladder on the slide. The book’s protagonist and concept seems suited for toddlers, however 24 pages of this repetition is a bit much for a child that age.

Further on the pen and watercolor illustrations, I felt they lacked depth and were sometimes so cluttered they obscured the focus. Annalise’s expressions, however, were excellent. Julie Innone graduated with an Art Education Degree and may need more time for her illustrative style to mature. I also think the split page pictures were confusing and perhaps using a traditionally bound book and having the “up” on the left and the “down” on the right would have been simpler for a child to follow. The pages with such things as, “Easel up. Paints down.” in a single picture, are easier for a preschooler to understand.

All in all, this would be fun to read to your child and then follow with some up-and-down activities of his or her own.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Can I Bring a Giraffe on the Plane? By Lesley-Anne Caporelli. Edited by Amy E. Vaughn. Book Review

Click here to purchase Can I Bring a Giraffe on the Plane?

This 8 x 10 picture book is suitable for children aged one to beginning reader. It starts with Rajesh traveling by plane to visit his grandparents. His parents say he can bring one friend. “Which friend should Rajesh bring?”

The story proceeds through a list of animals proposed as possible traveling companions. “Can I bring a giraffe on the plane?” “No, Rajesh, you cannot bring a giraffe on the plane.” It continues with lion, dolphin, mouse, horse, and finally, bear. Rajesh is surprised when a new response comes, “Why yes, Rajesh, you can bring a bear on the plane!” The last page reads, “Bears are always allowed on planes!” The associated picture shows four children accompanied by their teddy bears.

This book is perfect for beginning readers as the pattern of question and answer is worded the same and repeated five times. The sixth time, the question is answered differently. My three-year-old granddaughter quickly mastered reading the text. Although the child is not actually reading, the behaviour of following the print from left to right and remembering what is on each page by referring to the illustration sets the foundation for actual reading later on. As well, the name of the animal is set in a different font. Observant children will quickly decipher the named animal in response to the picture. Word recognition will eventually follow.

The pictures are bright and simple, the kind one would find on a nursery room wall. The characters are expressive in their responses to what is happening. The lion seems a little odd as he appears to have hooves instead of paws.

There are humorous moments in the book as Rajesh imagines the reaction to specific animals. People are frightened of the lion. The plane would have to be flooded and the passengers would need to wear snorkels for the dolphin. The mouse would make the stewardess scream. The horse would take a lot of space but be well loved. Bees would follow the bear with a jar of honey.

Short and simple but engaging, this is sure to become a favorite for preschoolers who want to be able to read on their own.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

A copy of this book was generously donated by the author to my Little Free Library.

Powerful Art – The Girl Who Saved Yesterday by Julius Lester. Illustrated by Carl Angel. Book Review.

 Click on the cover to buy the book.

It was the illustrator, Carl Angel, who asked me to review this book. So I will start with the illustrations. They are double-page spread paintings that are worthy of an art museum. Dynamic, expressive, and insightful, they pull you into the page.

The story takes place in Africa. The trees, that have taken the little girl in and raised her, remind me a little of the Ents in Tolkien’s book. These ones, however, are more exotic and spiritual. The monkey, parrot, villagers, elephant, and the lion are vivid and realistic.

The heroine, Silence, is a beautiful young woman whose task is to save the village that abandoned her. You can almost feel the texture of her hair.

When she braves the mountain, going against the village rules, we have no doubt that she will succeed in her quest. Her long strides up the mountain, scythe in hand, show us Silence’s determination and fearlessness. When she speaks to the trees, she has almost achieved the status of goddess in her pose and sense of command. But then, Carl Angel softens her appearance when she uncovers the markers of the forgotten ancestors. At first she is shocked, then again Silence is determined to change things, and finally joyous.

Every detail in the pages of illustration contribute to this story. The girl, loved and raised by the trees, wears a dress patterned in leaves and an armband made of twigs. The sky changes to reflect what is happening in the story. The text is a fable, almost legendary, and Carl Angel’s illustrations frame it perfectly.

A little on the story… The villagers have forgotten their ancestors. Because of this, frightening things have been happening. Once the grave markers are found and the ancestors are honored, both night and day become times of peace and harmony.

The story ends with Silence returning to the trees that loved and cared for her. Although the villagers want to thank her and ask for her forgiveness, she does not return. She already knows her place in the universe.

There is much to discuss about both text and illustrations. An unusual, exceptional book.


I was given a copy of this book for my Little Free Library in exchange for a book review.

The illustrator, Carl Angel, was interviewed on my blog February 22, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages