Blog Archives

Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes

Oink and Gobble have very little in common, but that doesn’t stop them from being the best of friends. No matter what others on the farm may say about either of them, they manage to ignore it and live happy-go-lucky lives. When Oink’s cupcakes go missing, the two best friends set out on a mission to find the culprit. With Gobble’s love for logic and Oink’s overactive imagination, the pair is bound to solve the mystery–with some light-hearted moments along the way.

Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Mohammad Shayan, is a children’s book filled with humorous moments between farm animals and best friends on their way to solving a mystery. Bright and colorful illustrations clearly convey the story line and further add to the plot. Included is a page with the names of each farm animal complete with labels.

I enjoyed this book, but I felt like the story line belongs in a book for children ages 2 to about 6 while the verbiage and some of the exchanges between characters I think might be above the heads of most children in that age group. I enjoyed the asides and the humor injected into the dialogue but found it more appropriate for older readers. I would recommend the plot of the story for young children, but the narrative is much more fitting for young adult readers.

Well-written and superbly illustrated this book will bring a smile to readers’ faces. I think this book is best read with parents or teachers as it presents many learning opportunities. Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes is a fun and funny picture book.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07YN4W37Q

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ELI: More Than Just a Kitten with Ambitions to Go on a Mission

Eli: More Than Just a Kitten with Ambition to Go on a Mission by [Sherralee Tinney]

Eli is so many things. It’s funny, heart warming, passionate, creative and engaging. It’s a fiction story written with great depth. Animal books are always fun to read and the author gives life to a cat-dog relationship. I was expecting an adventure story but was pleasantly surprised to find that there’s more action that any reader will enjoy. Eli is an ambitious kitten that is born into a family of loving parents. This daring kitten is tasked with a dangerous mission and Eli is destined to fulfill it in one piece. It’s a dangerous road to take but work must be done. A supportive family is a pillar and source of hope and strength for Eli, his brother and sister are a motivation to him. Written with great compassion, this book is insightful with the writers voice being fluid, captivating and real.

Eli by Sherralee Tinney is a innovative work of art where every detail is laid out with a purpose. The author’s prose flows seamlessly with this book and relays a rich humanity in the animals. I think this is a great children’s book with a unique twist that shows that animals are strong and determined and have a desire to protect. I think this book will inspire creativity in children and express upon young readers the importance of respecting even the smallest things. Eli overcomes a great many obstacles and it’s relatable with real life challenges, therefore learning to solve a problem, or eliminate it is a good lesson, not giving up along the way. A child will look up to the strength a parent shows, as Eli’s father is strong even when injured, so does a child sees his/her own parents.

This is not your usual cat and dog story, Sherralee Tinney showcases her creativity, which captures the essentials of the human soul. Boys and girls will like this book, it willl also teach them that getting out of their comfort zone can allow them to do great things. For an adult reader this is a quick read, but this shouldn’t be too long for children as well. Children are naturally animal lovers, and a kid would easily relate to an animal story of heroism and be motivated. Sherralee Tinney has captured the hearts of animal lovers in a fun and refreshing story and I’m sure every reader will have at least one ‘aww’ moment as they read. Eli is an inspirational book that I heartily recommend.

Pages: 296 | ASIN: B0793Q9L6K

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BUTTERBALL Gets Lost

BUTTERBALL Gets Lost (Butterball the Poodle Book 2) by [Julia Seaborn]

Butterball Gets Lost by Julia Seaborn is a children’s picture book about a poodle named Butterball, with illustrations by Toby Mikle. After Butterball is left home alone when her owner goes shopping she digs under the fence and goes exploring. Butterball then sees an interesting hole and looks inside where she gets stuck. This is when the cute little bunny named Binky helps set her free. After Binky helps her get free, Butterball continues on and meets JillaRoo, a kangaroo. Later, Butterball ends up at the circus and realizes she doesn’t know the way home. Will someone be able to help her find her way home?

Butterball Gets Lost is able to capture the feel of adventure and exploration in a short picture book. The artwork was beautiful, with a soft color pallete and simple art, it easily captures your attention and inspires the imagination. I liked the illustrations, especially the colorful lizards and other animals that Butterball meets along the way. These creatures were all emotive and usually happy. This book teaches young readers about animals and counting while entertaining children with a fun story. The questions at the end of the story help children practice counting and assess comprehension. I appreciated the Fun Facts at the end of the book which provides more information about owls, although this section might require a slightly more advanced reading level than the story.

Butterball Gets Lost is the second book in the Butterball the Poodle series. This is a fantastic continuation in Jualia Seaborn’s children’s literature series. Beginning readers will be entertained and educated all in one book.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B08863JHJW

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Humorous and Fun

Norman Whaler Author Interview

Norman Whaler Author Interview

Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black brings two strange men to the farm and peaks the curiosity of the two farm friends. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this kids book?

All the Oink and Gobble books are are short reads and meant to be humorous and fun and to put a smile on everyone’s face! The Men in Black are popular and familiar to kids and adults alike, but are still are a mystery to be solved!

This is book two in the Oink and Gobble series. What were some new themes you wanted to introduce in this book and what were some ideas you wanted to continue from the first book?

Oink is adventurous and interested in all the strange mysteries of the world, yet has a tendency to jump to conclusions with few facts. Gobble is focused on facts first and tries to bring logic to the investigations the two inevitably start. Though they look at things quite differently, they are best of friends!

What kind of mischief will Oink and Gobble get into in book three and when will it be available?

Without saying too much, Oink once again will jump to conclusions about a mystery of the world, and Gobble will try to bring reason to Oink’s thinking. I hope everyone will enjoy it! Should be out by July 2019.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' (Oink and Gobble Book Series 1) by [Whaler, Norman]Oink and Gobble were best friends and, with all the other animals on the farm, had a BIG secret they could never, ever let any humans know! But, did Oink let the cat out of the bag?

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Not Enforcing Sameness

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

Rachael Higgins Author Interview

The Silver Tabby is a wonderfully illustrated children’s book about a kitten that struggles to fit in with the other cats. What was your inspiration behind this kids book?

The Silver Tabby was initially written as a high school English assignment. At the time, the class was studying the topic of myths and fairytales, and how the stories portrayed a message or lesson to pass on to the next generation. The assignment task was to write and illustrate a story that embedded a lesson relevant to our societal paradigm. In completing the assignment, I wanted to pass on the message that differences can be beneficial, and that no-one should be judged based on their appearance of being different. I was inspired by authors such as Beatrix Potter and A. A. Milne, with their use of animal characters to portray their stories. Having a love of animals myself, I wanted to use animals in my story to spread a message of hope, kindness, and reconciliation. I also followed the commonly heard writer’s advice of “write what you know” and incorporated some of my own experiences of being considered different, spending time alone; as a result, then receiving acceptance.

Over the years, since the original high school assignment, The Silver Tabby has been redrafted and revamped, but the inspiration and passion in telling the story have remained the same. I believe that passing on the message of accepting others for who they truly are, and not enforcing sameness, is an essential lesson to teach our future generations.

Are you a cat person or a dog person (I’m guessing a cat person)? Do you have any pets that this story was based on?

I would say that I am an animal person in general, not specific to being a cat person or a dog person. However, I have had both animals as pets in the past as well as guinea pigs, and most recently, rats. I’m the type of person who will go for a walk and rescue a lost or injured animal or will visit an animal shelter and want to adopt all the animals to make sure they have a happy, loving, and safe home.

When I originally started writing The Silver Tabby, I had a short-hair silver tabby cat named Silver who the main character of the book is based on. The real Silver was born from my families’ then neighbour’s cat, who had chosen the enclosed area where our hot water tank was stored, below our Queenslander-style home, as a warm, safe place to birth her litter of kittens. The kittens were a mix of tortoiseshells, ginger tabbies, and black furred kittens; Silver was the only silver tabby. Our neighbours called Silver’s mother, Mama Cat. Mama Cat would lead the kittens between our house and the neighbour’s; Silver would venture away from the litter and come inside our house and make herself comfortable while I read. I think Silver really ended up adopting me rather than the other way round.

I loved the illustrations in this book. What was the collaboration like between you and the illustrator Grace Elliott?

Grace is fantastic to work with; I would recommend any author seeking an illustrator for their children’s book to look Grace up on Instagram. Initially, I showed Grace a draft of the text and concept of illustrations that I had drawn years ago for the high school assignment; and later digitally remastered for a later draft. Then Grace worked her magic on the artwork for The Silver Tabby. I feel I made the right decision collaborating with Grace, rather than illustrating the story myself. Grace’s artwork compliments the text and sets the scenes of the story, bringing the characters to life, in a way that I couldn’t have done myself.

As an artist, Grace was willing to accept feedback and advice from other artists, as we amended drafts, and she shared my vision as the author for how the book might look as a finished product. Most of our collaboration was done online, as I spent a lot of the last year moving intercity and overseas, Grace was very patient and understanding throughout every pause and readjustment that was made during the production of The Silver Tabby. I am very grateful to have had Grace onboard for the project, and would gladly work with Grace again.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have a couple of concepts that I am working on at the moment. Another illustrated book that poetically portrays the epic clash between Heaven and Hell. I expect this book will be available within the next year or two. The other concept is a romantic story of undetermined length, and availability, at this stage; although I anticipate the story to evolve into a novella if not a novel.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Silver Tabby by [Higgins, Rachael]

The Silver Tabby is about a kitten named Silver who struggles with being different from the other kittens in her litter.

Then one day, Silver manages to become the same as the other kittens. Excited to meet a new friend, all the kittens play happily together. But, Silver’s disguise does not last long.

When the other kittens discover their new friend is Silver, will she still be accepted?

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Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog

Hurtsy: The Harrowed Hedgehog by [Graves, Cindy]

Hurtysy is dealing with a unique hedgehog problem. Anyone that touches her gets hurt by her quills. And because of this, Hurtsy is sad and feels bad. In this story Hurtsy meets several animals that are hurting one another and Hurtsy wants to show them how to love, but she can’t because of her sharp quills. Hurtsy must use some bravery and ingenuity to solve this prickly problem.

Every page of this wonderful children’s book is artistically drawn and each piece of art is bright and colorful and fits the tone of the story. Throughout the story Hurtsy is followed by a thought bubble which shows her inner feeling; which is often different from what she is showing to others. I thought this was a unique way to show kids how sometimes our external appearance hides our internal emotions. I really like how this book was able to help kids visualize a complex idea like this.

The story is told in rhyme which flows nicely. The words are easy to understand, but this is a book that adults will want to read to kids because of the aforementioned complex emotional ideas delivered in this book. Sometimes it’s not easy to discern the thoughts from the person as Hurtsy interacts with her own thought bubble.

This is a very cute story that delivers an important message in a unique way. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to teach their kids about emotions, talking about them, learning tough lessons, and reconciling differences between people.

Pages: 26 | ASIN: B07D734LK3

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Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’

Oink and Gobble and the 'No One Can Ever Know Secret' (Oink and Gobble Book Series 1) by [Whaler, Norman]

The story Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a children’s book about a group of farm animals trying to keep a secret from the humans living with them. The two main characters, Oink and Gobble, spend all of their time together, and are best friends. When Oink goes to talk to Gobble, she thinks he is joking about the little girl that’s been watching him. He lets Gobble know that the girl may suspect that they can talk. They both get worried that their secret may be revealed.

Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a interesting story! It really grabs the audience’s attention. The book has a great plot that utilizes suspense and humor in exciting ways throughout the story. The characters are lovable and have their own unique personalities! The change in font size definitely made the story more suspenseful, and allows the reader to understand the importance of those words. This story is definitely good for kids that are still beginners at reading. There aren’t any huge words that would be too hard to understand. The art is cute, using bright colors to showcase characters that are really emotive. The pictures make the story even more enjoyable and makes it easy for kids to imagine each scene; as it’s a still image of an animated cartoon. This is a book that is easy for kids to enjoy, and is one that kids would want to read over and over!

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07L5W3SS6

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From The Abyss

From the Abyss by Vantar is a collection of poems that range in length, generally one to two pages long in four-line stanzas. I really appreciated the exceptional way that nature is brought to life in these poems. Sometimes this is in the way a bird or beast is described and others in the way we see a sunflower or how it feels to climb a mountain. These vivid descriptions go beyond the physicality of the object and delve into a feeling or sense of a thing. Along with this, many poems tackle a deeper or perhaps darker view of the world. The poems explore themes of beginnings and endings, of natural cycles of life, of loss, of depth, and of that which is hard to imagine. The poems are a fascinating mix of real and beyond real, bringing a little bit of magic through words into the world of nature. Vantar’s language was exquisite, both easy to read and sparking the imagination. I also like the way he uses references to lure the mind to images without having to explicitly describe them, like giving us the image of a Van Gogh sunflower in order to get to the idea of the sunflower following the sun before starting again.

Within the book, there are over eighty poems each managing to be unique while connected. Vantar accomplishes this through the use of similar themes, sticking to the natural world for the most part, and by repeating keywords from one poem to the next. I found it hard to pick favorites from the book because there were so many stanzas and lines that really sparked my mind but ‘Sunflower,’ ‘Nightingale’s Song,’ ‘The Star Triangle,’ and ‘Zenith’ stuck out to me. The book is filled with so many beautiful poems that it is easy to read through and find several that speak to you. I would say that if you like reading poetry, especially poetry about nature and thought, that this is a must read. The language is intricate and subtle which makes each poem easy to read while still holding a stunning beauty. This is the kind of book that makes a wonderful gift, or a fun book to leave on your coffee table to read a poem or two in the morning to get you thinking about the world.

Pages: 126 | ISBN: 1479776483

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