Tag Archives: children’s book author

Spaceball: A Fantastic Soccer Journey Through Space and Time by Matthew Bennett Young Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Matthew Bennett Young takes readers on a cosmic journey to explore our universe and brings the passion for soccer and locations throughout the UK that many young readers will enjoy in his children’s book, “Spaceball: A Fantastic Soccer Journey Through Space and Time”. 

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The Synopsis

Do you Love Soccer? Do you also dream of scoring the Greatest Goal in The History of Everything? Find out how it’s done in this thrilling soccer space adventure.

The soccer ball in this story leaves Earth with a mighty strike of the boot and rockets past every planet. Each planet has a landmark of a famous soccer city in the UK. See if you can work out which city and soccer club it is!

The collage illustrations in this picture book are fun and vibrant and really make the story come alive. It genuinely seems as if you are travelling along with the soccer ball through space. Children will learn about the planets in our solar system in a fun and exhilarating way, travelling faster than the speed of soccer!

Let your imagination travel to new soccer frontiers on this magical fantasy adventure. Follow the journey of the world’s most adventurous soccer ball as it travels through our solar system and finally lands….where?

Buy the book today and get the world’s most fantastic soccer surprise!

Suitable for fans of all ages 

The Review

This was such a fun and unique approach to the children’s book genre. The author was able to find a creative way of blending children’s interest in three very different subjects, (soccer, space, and iconic UK locations), and make a cohesive story that felt vibrant and inviting to young readers. The imagery that the author used, a creative collage-inspired approach, allowed the reader to feel more connected to the narrative as if this was something they themselves could have participated in. 

Yet it was the attention to detail the author used that made this such a unique and educational story. From the intimate look at our own solar system and how each planet functioned, to the deep-rooted and specific cultural meanings behind some of the UK locations and events mentioned by the author, this book gave readers much to learn and consider, as well as a good dose of humor and wit that will keep them invested until the book’s end.

The Verdict

Creative, heartfelt, and entertaining, author Matthew Bennett Young’s “Spaceball: A Fantastic Soccer Journey Through Space and Time” is a must-read children’s book. The humorous dialogue between the father and his son in this story, as well as the rich educational value in multiple fields of children’s education the author taps into, made this such an enjoyable read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Matthew has been writing stories since his childhood in England. His children’s stories can be recognized by a “naïve” style, written as much from a child’s view of the world as possible, but in a way that is also intended to appeal to adults. He tries to write to disrupt associations and challenge assumptions that are commonly made around us. Matthew was appointed a Writer in Schools by the Ministry of Culture and Communications in Quebec and through this program delivers literary workshops to children in the Montreal area. He has taught at school, college and university level in Sweden and Canada and has been invited to give readings and teach workshops at schools, museums and literary festivals in New York, Berlin, London and Gothenburg. Matthew currently teaches in Montreal.

He enjoys growing food, cooking, doing yoga and walking on the chalky downs of North Dorset when he can.

https://www.onewildword.org/

Charlie and the Tire Swing by Diann Floyd Boehm Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young boy learns from his grandfather the strength and science that it takes to grow a tree, and in the process one’s family, in author Diann Floyd Boehm’s “Charlie and the Tire Swing”.

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The Synopsis

Charlie and the Tire Swing is a beautiful intergenerational story told from the perspective of Charlie and his Grandpa Jack. Over a cup of hot chocolate, Charlie’s grandfather tells the story of how he planted an acorn with his own grandfather, Charlie’s Great-Great Grandpa George, and how he tenderly cared for it and watched it grow, from one season to the next. He shares how, over the years, as the acorn grew into a might oak tree, how each generation enjoyed the shade of the tree, climbing it, reading under it, and gathering together as a family around it. It’s a story of growing strong family ties, of sharing stories from generation to generation, and of appreciating nature and the simple things in life, like swinging on a tire swing. The learning opportunities range from the science of growing things, to interpersonal relations, the health benefits of outdoor activity, and innovation, problem solving, and creative play.

The Review

This was such a beautiful and well-written story. The multi-generational aspect of the narrative gave readers the opportunity to connect with their family on a whole other level, from parents and their children to grandparents and their grandchildren alike. The warmth of the illustrations and the ambiguity of the characters themselves allowed the reader to put themselves into the shoes of these characters, exploring the strength of family roots on a whole other level. 

The powerful themes of this narrative were so well displayed in this children’s book. The idea of family roots and the importance of being patient were the most widely felt in this book, and the powerful lessons were well supported by the colorful illustrations and connection that readers felt with the cast of characters.

The Verdict

Thoughtful, heartwarming, and entertaining, author Diann Floyd Boehm’s “Charlie and the Tire Swing” is a must-read children’s book. The heartfelt delivery of these themes and the emotional connection the author created between readers and the characters as they explored the past, present, and future of this family allowed for a rich and impactful story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy on October 8th, 2022!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Diann Floyd Boehm is an award-winning, international author, community volunteer, humanitarian, and former classroom teacher. She is passionate about storytelling and has nine published books for children and one young adult historical fiction. In addition, Diann is a co-host for four shows on USA Global TV, including The Corner Book Store. Diann is married, a mother of three, and has one grandchild. Diann loves to inspire readers of all ages to Embrace Imagination! You can learn more about the author and her books at ocpublishing.ca/diann-floyd-boehm.html or diannfloydboehm.com.

Judy Gaudet studied technical and medical illustration hoping to combine her career in microbiology with her lifelong love of art. Judy lives in southern Maine where she finds inspiration for her work in the landscapes, wildlife and historic sites that surround her home.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDLN5DfdCVzOu9pIphQ2-4Q

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The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, And One Promise: An International Adoption Story by Julie Gianelloni Connor Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Author Julie Gianelloni Connor takes parents and children alike through an emotional journey to understand the process of adopting a child from another country in the children’s book “The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise: An International Adoption Story”. 

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The Synopsis

The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise is a children’s book designed to be read by parents to a child adopted from a foreign country. The story is first recounted from the perspective of the parents in the USA, who are very sad not to be able to have a child. The perspective then switches to that of the biological mother, who realizes that she does not have the wherewithal to raise a child. She makes the difficult decision to give up her baby. Next readers learn about a foreign adoption agency, to which the biological mother surrenders her child. The adoption agency identifies foster parents to take care of the baby temporarily. The foster parents give the baby a temporary name. The parents in the USA begin researching international adoption possibilities and connect with the foreign adoption agency. The parents begin the adoption process and have to go to a school to learn how to be adoptive parents. When the foreign adoption agency matches the USA parents with the baby, the USA parents fly to the foreign country, where they meet the baby and the foster parents at the adoption agency. They find out that the temporary name given to the baby by his foster parents is one of the names they have selected for the baby. Their last requirement in the foreign country is to secure a visa for the baby from the U.S. Embassy. With the baby’s visa in hand, the parents and baby return to the United States, where they are joyously greeted by their dog, their friends, and the baby’s new grandparents. When the parents tuck their baby in at night, they tell him his story–that he has three families, two countries, and a promise for the future to visit the country of his birth when he is older.

The Review

This was such a heartwarming, emotional, and educational read. The author did a wonderful job of showcasing the adoption process from all aspects and perspectives of those involved. The warmth of the imagery was well balanced by the emotional core of the main character’s journeys together as they seek to complete their family and find a home for this child.

The themes and experiences the author captured were the heart of this children’s book. The strength and unity that comes from parenthood, the true definition of family, and the impact that childhood can have on a child were perfectly captured in this short yet powerful story. The way the author showcased the adoptive parents and their journey, as well as the decision that the birth parents had to make and the almost ambiguous setting and character traits allowed the reader to insert themselves and their own journey into this narrative seamlessly, making this a beautiful narrative. 

The Verdict

Emotional, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Julie Gianelloni Connor’s “The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise” is a must-read children’s book and story on adoption. The story allows adopted children and parents of adoptive children alike to feel seen, as well as those who make the painful decision to give up their children to give them a chance at a better life. The book brings children and parents together beautifully, and the rich imagery and heartfelt story choices allow for a brilliant narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Julie Gianelloni Connor started out thinking she would be a writer, detoured into the U.S. Foreign Service, and after retirement returned to a writing career. She is the owner and editor of Bayou City Press in Houston, TX, which focuses on writing about travel, Houston, history, and international affairs.

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Julie finished prep school at The Dana Hall School in Wellesley, Massachusetts, before heading to Houston for Rice University. Her undergraduate B.A. in English and history was followed by an M.A. in creative writing from the University of Houston. She also studied journalism at Louisiana State University, during which time she interned at the “Baton Rouge Morning Advocate.”

Among her jobs in her 20s, Julie taught English as a Foreign Language in Lisbon (Portugal), Barcelona (Spain), and Wimberly (England); was a Teaching Fellow at the University of Houston; and worked in the private sector for a law firm and an audio company.

In 1981 Julie began her diplomatic career with the U.S. Information Agency, principally working overseas at embassies on press, cultural, and exchange issues. In 1999 USIA was absorbed into the U.S. Department of State, and Julie continued her diplomatic career there until her retirement. During a 33-year career, Julie rose to the senior Foreign Service while serving overseas nine different times in seven different countries: Israel (twice), Paraguay, Guatemala, Indonesia, Colombia (twice), Malaysia, and Chile. She worked in fields as diverse as anti-narcotics, nuclear nonproliferation, and women’s issues.

Julie received an M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, DC., in 1995, and served as the Diplomat-in-Residence at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin from 2012-2014.

She was the recipient of numerous awards from USIA and the Department of State, including four Superior Honor Awards and USIA’s Equal Employment Opportunity Award. She was a co-founder and the first president of Executive Women at State (EW@S), an organization begun to promote the advancement of career women at the Department of State.

Julie writes travel columns for the Bayou City Press website and has published two books so far: “Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It’s the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike” and “The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise: An International Adoption Story.” Both of her books have won multiple awards.

Julie has one son and two cats. She is active in the Houston writing and publishing community.

A Big Blue Boat by Susea Spray (Illustrated by Lesley Cybulka) Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young girl explores the sea in author Susea Spray’s brand new children’s picture book, “A Big Blue Boat”, illustrated by Lesley Cybulka.

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The Synopsis

The seas are calm and the winds gently blowing, when a Big Blue Boat and her Captain head out for a day’s sail. As the winds strengthen, and the sea starts to rollick and frolic, will our Big Blue Boat and her Captain make it safely back to shore?

Parents looking for picture books about boats or picture books about sailing will fall in love with A Big Blue Boat. It’s one of the best sailing stories of 2021. Especially, if you’re looking for picture books about sailing for girls. Written for early readers and pre-schoolers, it’ll have them learning to sail in no time.

Children will love joining in with the rhythm and rhyme in this cumulative story about a boat, a girl and the rollicking frolicking sea.

A boat.

A big blue boat.

A big blue boat with billowing sails.

A big blue boat with billowing sails and …

In the tradition of There Once Was A Lady Who Swallowed a Fly and One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus TreeThe Big Blue Boat takes readers on an ever-growing rhyming song in this beautiful yarn about boats for early readers.

The Big Blue Boat also features a female captain, making it a great option for those looking for books about sailing for girls as well as picture books about boats. All families interested in sailing and boats will love Susea Spray’s fun-filled adventure. After all, who better to write boat stories for girls, than an author living on a boat?

Beloved by educators, The Big Blue Boat reinforces key early learning skills. “From a teacher’s perspective, and thinking about literacy skills, the repetition is really great, as it helps children access reading of some key words along with the adult reader.” Dr Kathryn Macfarlane (teacher and children’s author)

Buy The Big Blue Boat to set sail on a magical journey today!

The Review

This was a fun and spectacular read. The author did such an incredible job of crafting a narrative for children that was both entertaining and educational. The contrast of the warmth of the boat and captain in the imagery to the coolness of the ocean and environment itself in the illustrations really did a great job of drawing the reader into the narrative further.

Yet it was the author’s writing style that really captured my attention. The simple yet powerful story of adventure that came to life on the pages as a young girl became the captain of her own boat, sailing on the high seas and exploring the oceans was inspiring to read. The use of repetition, rhythm and even glossary terms for the educational purposes of learning about boating and the ocean as a whole was perfectly layered into the overall narrative. 

The Verdict

Fun, light-hearted, and engaging, author Susea Spray’s “A Big Blue Boat” is a must-read children’s story and picture book. The memorable educational moments from this read and the attention-grabbing and beautiful artwork work well together to create an entertaining and heartfelt read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

As a child, Susea was always engrossed in a book. It really wasn’t surprising when she chose lower primary for her career.

A retired classroom teacher who majored in English and Children’s Literature, Susea spent 23 years making literacy learning fun for her young students. Her favourite time of day was sitting down with a story or two and immersing her young students in the world of books. Susea later trained and worked as a Reading Recovery teacher.

A new passion was found as she entered that special world, working with struggling readers on an individual basis. Watching those children blossom as readers – and in confidence – made her heart soar.

Susea had always written in one form or another. A decade ago, she and her husband commenced on an around the world sailing odyssey. Their travels were recorded on their sailing blog.

Over the decades, Susea had always desired to enter the world of writing for the young. As she recorded the sailing journey, notes and ideas for children’s picture books were taking form. At long last she had found her passion and a voice – the stories were bursting at the seams!

Susea was now able to share her love of language, sailing and sea with young and old through the eyes of a Big Blue Boat and her Captain. Realistic sailing stories for the young, particularly girls, were born.

A Big Blue Boat, her first book, was launched in March 2022. A 2022 Literary Titan Award winner and 2021 Page Turner Awards finalist, it is a cumulative story about a boat, a girl and the rollicking frolicking sea.

Two sequels are now with her friend, and Artist, Lesley Cybulka for illustrating and several new stories are underway.

In her spare time, Susea also loves to research, cook, photograph, quilt, embroider, walk, and work on her sailing blog.

Teacher’s Resource Pack Available For Purchase: A Big Blue Boat Teacher Resource Pack

https://www.instagram.com/suseaspray

https://www.facebook.com/SuseaSpray

Toby, Toby, Worry Free by Lucinda Grapenthin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young octopus must traverse the fears and worries of how his peers view him as his mother encourages him to learn to ride his bike in author Lucinda Grapenthin’s “Toby, Toby, Worry Free”.

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The Synopsis

When Toby is faced with learning to ride his bike so he can play with his friends, he begins to worry and worry and worry. 

“What if I fall?” “What if other kids laugh at me?” “What if I can’t ride my bike?!” 

Mommy pauses, attuning to his behavior. She accepts his emotions and calmly engages with him, encouraging his discovery of positive steps to solve this dilemma. 

Toby learns a better way to manage his feelings by using his can-do thoughts. Now, he can have fun! 

The Review

The balance of whimsical and wonder-like illustrations with the heartfelt and emotional storytelling and an underlying tone of confronting fears and stress in childhood made this book shine so brightly. The fast pace and steady rhythm of the narrative itself made for an easy read, perfect for children and the time they share with their parents when reading.

The character growth and theme of this narrative both fueled the heart of this children’s book. The heartfelt bond between Toby and his mother was emotional and did a great job of kindling the emotional depth of the reader with their child (or vice versa). The theme of confronting one’s fears, letting go of negative thoughts, and accepting that the fears exist while still pushing forward and acknowledging the ability to overcome those fears are all fantastic messages to impart to children as they grow up.

The Verdict

Captivating, heartfelt, and engaging, author Lucinda Grapenthin’s “Toby, Toby, Worry-Free” is a must-read children’s book. The wonderful imagery and thoughtful approach to the story’s theme made this a book any parent would be happy to read with their kid. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lucinda Taylor Grapenthin, PhD, is a Licensed Psychologist in private practice and Assistant Professor at Brenau University, also serving as Clinic Director for the Brenau Center for Counseling and Psychological Services and Director of the Brenau University Play Therapy Training Institute. Dr. Grapenthin has over 20 years’ experience working with children and families as the founder of the Family and Child Development Center. She also presents at academic conferences and professional institutions on topics related to mental health disorders, such as trauma and attachment, as well as play therapy and parenting. 

Dr. Cindy lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Richard, and golden retriever, Currier. Their adult children, Alex, Kristi, and Trevor, float in and out of their home, adding delightful chaos.

http://familypsychologynorthatlanta.com/

About the Illustrator

Kevin Gosselin is influenced by sci-fi and fantasy art, comic books, anime, the masters and too many contemporary artists to fully list. Amongst the most influential are Richard McDonald, Frazetta, Darrel K. Sweet, Thomas Eakins, Norman Rockwell, and J.W. Waterhouse.

Kevin lives in Lake Stevens, Washington with his wife Jennifer and their two daughters Alex and Emma, as well as dogs Ollie and Maple.

Embaby Elio by Christina Oberon Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Author Christina Oberon takes readers on an emotional and fun children’s story journey into the magical process of the birth of a child from in vitro fertilization in the story “Embaby Elio”.

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The Synopsis

Elio was created in a different way than most babies. He is determined to grow from an embryo into the baby of mommy and daddy’s dreams. How will he get from their dreams into their arms? Come join Elio on his bumpy adventure to meet his mommy and daddy!

The Review

This was such a special and inviting children’s story for both parents and children alike! Having representation within our children’s literary world is so important, and having a story that children born as a result of in vitro fertilization and for parents who went through the process as well is such a heartwarming and powerful message to send. 

The artwork was very warm and inviting, and paired really well with the story the author had crafted for this story. The narrative was easy to follow and did an incredible job of presenting such a serious and important topic in a way that children would be able to comprehend while also maintaining a sense of magic and wonder that would entertain both children and their parents alike. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, engaging, and thoughtful, author Christina Oberon’s “Embaby Elio” is a must-read children’s story. The perfect way of introducing the conversation of in vitro fertilization to children curious about their origins and how they came to be in this world, the story is filled with heart and creativity and should be added to any and all parent’s roster of children’s books. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Christina Oberon grew up in Hawaii with a large family of ten siblings. When she relocated to Southern California, she met and fell in love with her husband, Kevin. They experienced nearly four years of infertility before conceiving their son, Kai, via in vitro fertilization. Kai was born in 2018. He is a wonderful blessing and reminder of Christina and Kevin’s faith and hope for a family of their own. Christina enjoys raising her son, traveling with her family, reading, writing, hiking, and taking photographs.

https://www.instagram.com/xtina.o_

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19504810.Christina_Oberon

https://linktr.ee/ChristinaO

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Teddy Loses His Ears by Christine Milkovic Krauss (Illustration by Cierra Van Nes) Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young kitten suffers an injury and learns to find acceptance in author Christine Milkovic Krauss’s “Teddy Loses His Ears”.

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The Synopsis

Teddy is a rescue cat who lost his ears from frostbite. Teddy has inspired a series of stories with his true-life adventures that share relatable messages of kindness and acceptance. Teddy hopes that his stories will raise awareness to the organizations that saved his life, and thousands of other animals’ lives every year.

The Review

This was such a heartwarming and memorable children’s book. Illustrator Cierra Van Nes does an amazing job of conveying the emotions and heart of this narrative through warm character artwork and cold yet inviting wintery settings. The story reads smoothly and adds a great sense of bonding between parents and their children as they read this book together. 

The overall theme and message of the story are so heartfelt and emotional to read. The loss of Teddy’s ears showcases to children the need to love and accept those who may appear to be different from us because no matter what they are still the same people we’ve always known and cared for. As someone who is disabled physically and as someone who has had an injured pet in the past (a black lab with a permanently injured leg), it was fantastic to see such representation and a positive message conveyed in a beautiful way.

The Verdict

Memorable, heartening, and entertaining to read, author Christine Milkovic Krauss’s “Teddy Loses His Ears” is a must-read children’s book. A story of hope, of love, and of acceptance, the bond between parent and their child, as well as a pet and their families, is so expertly woven together and creates an overall beautiful reading experience that cannot be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

I am a full time essential services worker and mom of two primary school-aged children. My kids enjoy choosing books from the school library and I’m always genuinely impressed with the messages of acceptance and kindness in the stories they select for us to read together. During the pandemic, we had to get creative to keep our home an exciting and positive space that we all wanted to spend a lot of time at! Our entire family loves animals, so we decided to foster a litter of kittens over the Christmas Holidays. They brought so much joy into our lives, that we planned to continue to foster animals as much as possible! Then we saw Teddy. Teddy just belonged with our family and we knew it the moment we met him. Since that day, he has made our family feel complete. His uniqueness and character has inspired a series of stories that we hope to share with other avid child readers that love animals!

Batman and Robin and Howard by Jeffrey Brown Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young boys find themselves becoming fast rivals after one joins a new school, and they compete to be the most athletic and most educated student in the class. Little does Howard know that the boy he’s competing against is Damian Wayne, son of Batman and known as the costumed hero Robin, in author Jeffrey Brown’s “Batman and Robin and Howard”. 

The Synopsis

Sidelined by a crime-fighting field trip gone wrong, Damian Wayne must refocus his attention on his life as an average student and learning how to be a team player–especially when he meets his match in his new rival, Howard.

To Damian Wayne, there is nothing more important than protecting the streets of Gotham City as Robin. But when he makes a critical mistake while out on patrol, Damian finds himself benched. And what’s more, Damian’s dad, Bruce Wayne–a.k.a. Batman–decides that starting over in a new school will be just the distraction Damian needs from his superhero routine.

Certain that Gotham Metro Academy has nothing to teach him, Damian is completely unprepared for the challenge he finds in Howard–the smartest and most athletic kid in school. The boys’ rivalry is instantaneous and fierce…and both are sure only one of them can be the best in their class.

What follows is a funny story of rivalry, friendship, and mystery from bestselling author and illustrator Jeffrey Brown.

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The Review

This was such a fun and humorous dive into the life of Damian Wayne. From the fumbling father/son relationship he has with Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, to the competitive nature and lone-wolf style mindset he has carried into every facet of his life, and even the detective mindset that he inherited from his father as he is forced to step up to help solve the mystery crimes surrounding soccer teams at schools. The inclusion of Batman lore and mythos into the children’s book narrative and style (as well as incredible children’s artwork), made this story feel equally balanced and engaging for both DC Fans and children’s book readers alike. 

The balance with this humor and lore came with the educational and moral lessons that the story brought upon young readers. From showing how we often don’t get along with those who mirror our worst impulses and instincts, to finding common ground with frenemies and becoming friends instead, to finding balance and letting go a bit of the control we have over our lives, these themes and messages found in the relationship developed between Damian and Howard were amazing to watch unfold and would keep readers enthralled with the growing narrative. 

The Verdict

A thoughtful, entertaining, and brilliant children’s read, author Jeffrey Brown’s “Batman and Robin and Howard”, the latest children’s book in association with DC Comics, is a must-read children’s book of 2021! A gripping and educational read, the book is filled with personal and warm imagery and does a great job of developing their characters so that readers are not only entertained but see themselves in the characters as well. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jeffrey Brown was born in 1975 in Grand Rapids, Michigan and grew up reading comic books with dreams of someday drawing them, only to abandon them and focus on becoming a ‘fine artist.’ While earning his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Brown abandoned painting and began drawing comics with his first autobiographical book ‘Clumsy’ in 2001. Since then he’s drawn a dozen books for publishers including TopShelf, Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, McSweeney’s and Chronicle Books. Simon & Schuster published his latest graphic memoir ‘Funny Misshapen Body.’ In addition to directing an animated video for the band Death Cab For Cutie, Brown has had his work featured on NPR’s ‘This American Life’ His art has been shown at galleries in New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Paris. Jeffrey’s work has also appeared in the Best American Comics series and received the Ignatz Award in 2003 for ‘Outstanding Minicomic.’

He currently lives in Chicago with his wife Jennifer and their son Oscar.

The Adventures of Max and Levi: The Alpha League Series by Portia Smith and Michael Johnson Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two young boys discover the power of friendship, understanding, and hope in the face of bullying in authors Portia Smith and Michael Johnson’s “The Adventures of Max and Levi”, the first in the Alpha League series.

The Synopsis

The heroic “The Alpha League” book series follows five unlikely kids who become friends and heroes in their community. In the first book of the series, “The Adventures of Max and Levi,” Max learns an intriguing technique to handle a bully in school. This book will help kids build the confidence they need to deal with bullies and encourages children to react when they see their friends being bullied.

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The Review

A fantastic and creative read for children and parents alike! The authors did a brilliant job of crafting a relatable and educational read. The characters Max and Levi felt like characters that children would be able to relate to, and the theme of friendship and overcoming bullying were well illustrated in the narrative.

Although a quick read, this children’s book felt like a great balance of theme and artwork that spoke to the reader. The way the book illustrated a cast of characters that were primarily people of color was great to see, as it allowed a wider audience to relate to children around the world, and emphasized the theme of standing up to bullying a great deal. 

The Verdict

A heartfelt, expertly crafted, and engaging children’s story, authors Portia Smith and Michael Johnson’s “The Adventures of Max and Levi” is a must-read children’s book and a great start to the authors Alpha League series. The inspiring messages and warmth found in the characters and the artwork will create a bonding experience with parents and their children and is not to be missed. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this book today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Michael Johnson is an author, artist, public service worker, and devoted father. Michael was born and raised in Fort Valley, GA. Michael is a graduate of Peach County High School, where he accelerated in honors literature. Michael attended Fort Valley State University, where he would continue to write and tutor other students on writing essays. Michael never considered writing professionally until 2020, when he teamed up with his friend and now business partner Portia Smith to form PSMJ books.  The pair recognized the need for relatable literature for minority kids and wrote The Adventures of Max and Levi, the first installment of the Alpha League book series. When Michael is not writing books, he’s writing and producing songs. Michael is the Ceo of Iyah Wise Music LLC, which he founded in 2020.

Website: https://psmjmichaeljohnson.square.site/