The Blue Hour | Review

I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

The cover and artwork of this children’s book is incredibly appealing. The illustrations initially drew my attention to read and review this book by, Isabelle Simler. I will say, I was unfortunately disappointed in the content and inconsistency of how it was written though. This book has the lovely opportunity through serene colors and tranquil graphics to tell a more in depth story than the reader actually receives.

The lives of the wildlife are described through minimal behavior and I believe Simler misses an opportunity to explain them further. Simler writes, “In that moment, a blue jay raises its crest and lets out a piercing cry.” I would have love to have seen an addition similar to, “in that moment, a blue jay raises its crest and lets out a piercing cry, signaling to all, the most beautiful hour has finally arrived.” As well, Simler writes, “a blue fox slips through the arctic cold.” Yet, how much more appealing to read to a child, “a blue fox slips through the arctic cold, looking forward to the warmth of its den.”

I am generally cut and dry and do not always add much emphasis when I speak to others. However, to draw the attention of a child and encourage them to see the beauty of nature and it’s stillness, I believe more description and depth could be a game changer for Simler and The Blue Hour.

The other inconsistency I noticed is the use of bold words. One page has a bold emphasis on, blue poison dart frogs, then it’s vulterine guineafowl and glass snails (no “blue” included), lastly “the blue hour settles in, and nature becomes still” does not have any type of bold emphasis as it does in the first page. The inconsistencies would not resonate with a child but stand out for me as I read it. I honestly believe the bold emphasis does not add tremendous value and the book would be just as pleasant without the emphasis.

I am grateful to have read the book and do not think it is unworthy by any means. I just see some great opportunities for it to be even better and impact more families! I would rate The Blue Hour:

rating: 2/5

Check out The Blue Hour coming 2/20/17!!!

The Queen of the Frogs | Review

I cannot apologize for the simple fact of deciding to review children’s books because they always seem to capture my attention and expand my imagination! I actually feel that an occasional return to simplicity and child-like experiences allow us to enjoy the finer things in life and reduce the strain of severity with which we try to see the world.

Marco Somà illustrates The Queen of Frogs with elegance and humility. A balance of earth tones and sophistication describe this little community of frogs. The marriage of simplistic illustration with a vintage touch is enough to have us purchase the book, solely for the message brought to life through Marco’s craft. It is almost as if Somà illustrates The Queen of Frogs through a lens of historical morality. We’re reminded of the truth that light brings. After all, darkness disappears once light enters. We have seen truth brought to light throughout history and this story is no different. The reality this community lives in and the rule it lives under are brought to light in a surprising, romantic way.

Davide Cali is a talented and gifted children’s writer with a bright future ahead. The Queen of Frogs was a lovely read initially but with further thought there are some key elements that could be developed further or perhaps differently depending on Cali’s vision for this tale.

  • The first noticeable characteristic is that it is much like an Aesop fable, only without a clear ending moral. While Cali’s vision may not have been to make such a distinction or include a strong lesson, I personally believe this brings hope and guidance to his decided audience. Children are looking for direction, beliefs, and are often confused when not given clarity to that which they seek.
  • As well, the scene of mud balls being thrown at the queen is very disheartening to read and not one I would like to share with a young child. I believe fully in the idea and truth of reconciliation/rehabilitation and do not support a bullying nature. Especially when it is prominent for so many.

With those things said, Cali does teach a valuable lesson to us; a title does not equal influence. Influence is built through developing relationships, positively. We seen that the chosen frog, who becomes queen, did nothing to deserve her title and instead treated others poorly and with contempt. We learn that if we are to have loyal friendships, working relationships, we must cultivate those through trust, communication, and appreciation.

Finally, through the wit of the community the queen’s influence is usurped and balance is restored. The last, beautiful lesson Cali teaches us is this; what we believe may be our reality could be caused by an accidental circumstance and therefore should be handled with gratitude and thankfulness, never knowing when our situation can completely change. Cali ends this story with a beautiful plot twist that I will be sure not to spoil for you but absolutely encourage you to read at its’ upcoming release!

Special thanks to NetGalley and Davide Cali for letting me provide an honest review and to Marco Somà for creating beautifully, elegant illustrations!

rating: 4/5 stars

Check out, The Queen of the Frogs MARCH 20, 2017!

The Right Heart

 

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The greatest adventure we ever go on is the one we never planned.  Most often the road we don’t want to travel on is exactly the road we’re led down. We have wants, needs, and desires but how can they stand up to the power of our Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega? The reality of life going the way we planned is slim and I can tell you the plans we make are vastly inferior to the path God prepared for us. This truth is evident in so many lives. The road I walk is characterized and guided by one important truth, Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less.

The journey to this current place has been marked by sacrifice, uncertainty, joy, pain, frustration, faith, discernment, and most of all patience.

Patience, something I am learning in a new and fresh way, a lifestyle and not just an ability.

Patience is more than the capacity to accept or tolerate trouble/suffering without getting upset. Patience is the pursuit of experiencing peace without having clarity.


 

I wrote the above months ago and left it. Knowing there were words to finish but not fully understanding what they were. As I sit here though, I realize i’ve taken in one of the greatest lessons any of us can learn. God willing, I have learned enough that next time will not be as painful.

Life is always shifting, forever changing, and if we let it, it can be the greatest ride of all time.  All we have to do, is be willing to pay the price of admission. Most of us have felt those pre-ride jitters. Those moments before the ride begins where we immediately think, “Oh no. I’ve made a horrible decision and the only logical response is I have to get off. Right now.” Yet, we stay on, the intensity grows, the sweat continues to pour (if you’re anything like me) and then just like that, we’re flying through unimaginable loops, swirling to and fro, dropping from irresponsible heights. Not knowing if we should open our eyes or close them. Never knowing what part of the ride comes next, only that we understand it’s not over yet. Then, after a thrill, several loops, and a minute and a half, the ride is over.

This is life.

If i’ve learned anything about it, it’s that I never know what to expect. Sometimes I can’t open my eyes for fear of what I’ll see. Sometimes I throw my hands up with jubilance at the joy of flying through whatever it is that’s coming up, because like I just said, I don’t actually ever know what’s happening. If i’m being honest though, I think a bit of that is healthy, understanding that we can’t take life too seriously and we definitely can’t control 100% of it.

There are seasons of obedience, perseverance, planning, organizing, and so much more. There are things we can do to achieve the goals we long to accomplish, and by no means am I insinuating that we should just float through life without care or direction. I only mean, we have to be willing to see the joy through the disappointment. To allow ourselves to experience pain but continue to be a student through it.

That’s why I wrote the section above. I thought I had arrived to a dream come true. The accumulation of hard work and studying was all gathered in one place, in one title, in one community. I have learned how beautifully wrong I was. That’s why I write about having, “The Right Heart”.  We have to be willing to accept the reality of life, good or bad, with a humble heart and teachable spirit. What once may have been, may not be, but that does not define us, it directs us.

I’ve been so encouraged through the hardships, through the failures, through the ever changing dreams God places on my heart because at the end of the day, I realize it’s not about me. It never has been. It never will be. It’s about others. Walking with them through life, encouraging them, challenging them to be all they can be, always.

Let us never lose sight of that. Ever.

Fasten your seatbelt, calm your nerves, close your eyes if you have to, but get on the ride. It’s what you were made for. I believe in you and I believe you’re on the greatest ride.

All my love, always

Maria