Book Reviews, Kids' Corner, Picture Books

Kids’ Corner: Buy, Borrow, or Pass – Picture Book Reviews (January 2017)


Whew! That is a ridiculously long title!

Welcome to my first installment of a new feature within my Kids’ Corner division of my blog: Buy, Borrow, or Pass.  What is Buy, Borrow, or Pass?  Well my friend, I’m glad you asked!  Basically, I will be writing mini reviews for children’s picture books and at the end of my review, I will state if I think it is worth it to buy the book, if you should borrow the book from the library, or pass on the book all together.  I would like to mention that if I suggest to borrow the book from the library versus purchasing the book, this is not negative.  I only will suggest purchasing a book when I think it is a timeless book that can grow with your child, or that will appeal to multiple ages.  I also offer “sneak peaks” into the books, which gives you a taste of the illustrations these books offer.

For this feature, I am going to try and keep the picture books relatively current, so all the picture books mentioned will be from 2016 or newer.

*Books included in this post are Faraway Fox , Take Heart, My Child: A Mother’s Dream , Ideas Are All Around , Samson in the Snow, & Hoot and Peep


*All titles link to Goodreads & author/illustrator names link to their website
**I have also included links to purchase these books.  I am NOT affiliated with Amazon or The Book Depository

» Faraway Fox by Jolene Thompson (Illustrated by Justin K. Thompson)


Published: September 6, 2016

Theme: Human encroachment into animal habitats

When a fox returns home to where he grew up, he is surprised to find it is not at all like it was when he lived there.  Will fox ever be able to find his family in this strange new place?   I am a big fan of books that are not only entertaining, but are also educational.  Faraway Fox is the perfect tool to teach young children about the effects humans have on animals and their habitats.  I especially appreciated the author’s note at the end that described the inspiration behind the book, as well as what different organizations are doing to try and protect wildlife.  I had never heard of wildlife crossing structures, as there are not many in the United States, so even I learned something new.  It even includes two real life examples of these wildlife crossing structures in the world.


The overall tone of this book isn’t exactly happy, but it does end on a good note.  The illustrations are absolutely stunning!  With all the gorgeous trees with changing leaves, this book definitely gives off a  fall vibe, so this book would be perfect to pick up around autumn time.


Recommended to: animal lovers; fox lovers; those interested in conserving animal habitats; teachers; librarians

Verdict: Borrow

*I would say this book is worth purchasing if you are going to use it in a classroom setting

*You can purchase this book on Amazon and The Book Depository

» Take Heart, My Child: A Mother’s Dream by Ainsley Earhardt (Illustrated by Jaime Kim)


Published: November 15, 2016

Theme: a mother’s love

It literally took me WEEKS to get my hands on a copy of this book.  I had my heart set on buying this one for my daughter for Christmas, but Amazon kept running out of stock.  I checked back regularly and (thankfully) was able to score a copy with 2 weeks to spare.


This book is absolutely breathtaking.  It truly is a piece of art.  Jaime Kim is now one of my favorite illustrators.  Not only is it beautifully illustrated, but the story is very poetic and lyrical.  What a perfect portrayal of a mother’s dream for her child(ren). Take Heart, My Child will tug at your heart strings, so if you are prone to tearing up, make sure to have the tissues ready.  I found myself giving many hugs and kisses while reading this one to my daughter.  Do you know an expecting mother? This book would be the perfect baby shower gift.  (You’re welcome)  This book is a must buy in my opinion.

Recommended to: all mothers

 Verdict: Buy

*Would make the PERFECT baby shower gift!

*You can purchase this book on Amazon and The Book Depository

» Ideas Are All Around by Phillip C. Stead


Published: March 1, 2016

Theme: inspiration

Ideas Are All Around is a book about an author going on a walk to find inspiration for his writing.  While I thought this was a clever concept, I am not sure it was executed particularly well in this book.  The story jumps from idea to idea, without any transition, so it didn’t feel cohesive to me.  One minute we are talking about people in line for a soup kitchen, then the next thing I know we are talking to a neighbor about how war is a shame when everyone could have gone fishing instead?  Actually it all felt very random, but maybe that was the point?  Maybe I just missed the mark on this story.


I thought the way the artwork was presented in this book, with polaroid pictures alongside illustrations, was inventive and clever, however it wasn’t anything memorable or attention grabbing.  As an adult, I can appreciate the understated artwork, however children (in my opinion) need eye catching illustrations to hold their attention.

My daughter lost interest and walked away at one point while I was reading this, which is very rare for her.  I take this as a sign that I wasn’t the only one who had issues connecting with this story.

Verdict: Pass

*You can purchase this book on Amazon and The Book Depository

 » Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead

Published:  September 27, 2016
Themes: helping others; friendship
Samson is a lonely wooly mammoth looking for a friend.  When a red bird asks Samson for a few of his yellow flowers (Samson lives in a dandelion patch), Samson eagerly helps and the bird goes on its way.  When a snow storm hits,  Samson is concerned for the red bird and so begins Samson’s journey.



I love that the main character, Samson, was a wooly mammoth.  Elephants are my favorite animals, so if I can’t have an elephant, a wooly mammoth is the next best thing.  Because Samson is lonely for a friend, he isn’t exactly a cheerful character, but rather gloomy.  Actually, Samson really reminded me a lot of the character Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street.    Overall, this slow paced read has a very melancholy feel to it, even though it ends on a good note.  While I liked the themes of friendship and helping others, it just felt a little bland to me.  There is one point in the book where it looks as if the bird has died (#SpiolerAlert – the bird is fine) and thought it may be a little disturbing to younger children.

I did think the illustrations were well done.  Loved the ones of Samson in the snow.



Verdict: Pass

*You can purchase this book on Amazon or The Book Depository

» Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge


Published: March 1, 2016

Themes: siblings; different ways of doing things

What a sweet story about an older brother who wants to bestow his owly knowledge to his little sister, who turns out of have her own way of doing things.  What an important message: that everyone has their own way of doing things, and that one way is not necessarily right or wrong.  This turned out to be a fun little read that included phrases like “schweepity peep” and “dignity dong.”  I love cutesy phrases in children’s books, not just because they are fun for me to say, but my daughter always finds them hilarious and will try them herself.


Hoot and Peep is the perfect book to curl up with your child on a cold winter night.  With the blue tones and snow flurries throughout the book, the illustrations gave this book a quiet and magical feel.  In contrast, the owls were done in browns, tans, and golds, Hoot and Peep felt warm and real.  No idea if that makes sense to anyone but myself, but whatever.  I actually could not figure out if the white dots throughout the illustrations were supposed to be snow or meanbeams…can I get a fact check here?  I am going with snow.

 Recommended to: owl lovers; siblings who have a hard time getting along

 Verdict:  Borrow

*You can purchase this book on Amazon and The Book Depository


Have you read any of these books to your little ones?

If so, what did you think?

23 thoughts on “Kids’ Corner: Buy, Borrow, or Pass – Picture Book Reviews (January 2017)”

  1. Well I can’t wait to have kids one day if it brings beautiful books like this into my life 🙂 the first one you mentioned about the fox, the colours in that book look stunning. And the Mother book looks absolutely beautiful! Grea segment!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Kirsty! It is so important to read to children. Even if they are old enough to read themselves.

      I love that I have the excuse to read Children’s picture books. There are so many amazing books for children out there. The illustrators have really stepped up their games since I was a kid!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve noticed that about illustrators too from back when I lived at home with my little sisters. I’d read to them as much as I could they loved it because they always saw me reading. Sometimes I’d be on the sofa reading and they’d come sit next to me with a book and pretend to read too (because they were,’t old enough to read yet when I still lived at home) I loved that 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a brilliant series of posts! I am always looking for the next picture book to get my nieces and nephews, but I can’t keep up. This will really help me a ton. I am sad Samson in the Snow didn’t pan out– it looks adorable.
    Out of curiosity, are your “ratings” (buy/borrow/pass) purely your judgement? Or are you also including the opinions of your kids?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I take both into consideration. HOWEVER I also keep in mind that kids (my own daughter especially) can be temperamental, so if she isn’t into a book it may not be an issue with the book itself. I like to take many things into consideration: Would this book be good for a story time, or better for a one-on-one reading? Does it teach an important lesson? Are the illustrations engaging? etc etc.

      Liked by 1 person

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