Hat by Renée Paule & G.R. Hewitt: Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

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I read The Frightened Little Flower Bud last year by Renée Paule and G.R. Hewitt. It quickly became one of the best and most essential books in my children’s library. Here we are in 2018 and their newest book HAT is now one of my personal favorites and my #1 children’s read of the year. I’m amazed with how educational this book is and the many lessons it teaches.

The book opens with Bertie, an excellent gardener who loves his old brown, floppy hat.

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10 Inspirational Songs – Inspired by author Renée Paule

Renée Paule is one of my favorite authors and I’ve been following her new site @ http://www.reneepaule.com for some time now. I was inspired by a post she recently wrote titled 10 Brilliant Inspirational Songs. I couldn’t help but branch off her idea and post my own favorite inspirational songs as well. What better way to start the month of March! You can check out Renée’s original post above by clicking the link and don’t forget to follow!

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Continue reading “10 Inspirational Songs – Inspired by author Renée Paule”

The Frightened Little Flower Bud by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt – Book Review and Author Interviews

I had the pleasure of reading The Frightened Little Flower Bud last month, a children’s book by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt. Below, you can see my thoughts on the book and also read the interviews with  Renée and Godfrey.

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The Frightened Little Flower Bud

by Renée Paule (Author/Illustrator)G.R. Hewitt(Author/Illustrator)

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Blurb: The story begins with a seed landing in a pretty garden where it begins to grow and eventually forms a little flower bud. But, the little flower bud becomes frightened of things she ‘hears on the wind’; such as the sun that might scorch her petals, the rain that might spoil them, the wind that might blow them away – so the flower doesn’t want to bloom. However, all flowers must bloom, and as the little flower bud opens her petals she overcomes her fears one by one.

The more we think about our fears, the more they overwhelm us. This book teaches children (of all ages) that fear is just a feeling that holds them back from living their lives to the full.

To add to the fun and develop observational skills there’s a ‘Did You See’ activity page at the back with objects from the book that children may not have noticed whilst reading it. There are also some simple questions that can be asked of children, encouraging them to think about what they’ve read. The skill level required is ‘easy’.

My Thoughts:

The story is about a little flower bud who is afraid to bloom because of the rumors she’s heard “on the wind” about how she might be scorched by the sun, drenched by the rain, blown by the wind, and stung by bees. She also worries if she’ll be good enough and asks herself, “Will I be beautiful like the other flowers?” As time moves on and she continues to change, everything that she worried about becomes a thing of the past and she blooms into a beautiful flower until it’s time for her to pass on her seeds for new flowers the following season.

The book’s crucial message couldn’t have come at a better time. In this day and age, our children are becoming more influenced by their peers, the media, and even family. Passing some of our own negative fears and beliefs to our children is also possible as we ourselves, at times, are dealing with our own set of stresses and negative emotions. The story reminds us that we don’t need to harbor these negative thoughts at all. By the time I got to the end of the book, I realized this has to be one of the best children’s books I’ve read with powerful messages for all ages. What were some of the messages we took away from the book? Don’t ever be afraid because of something you hear. No matter what somebody else says, don’t let it get in the way of your goals and live your life to the fullest. Most importantly, be yourself!

The book can be read by children entirely on their own, but really strikes up good conversation and for younger children, I believe it’s best read with an adult. It’s very thought-provoking and children will begin to think about some of their own fears. I think school teachers can incorporate this into their curriculum as well. My children who are ages four, six, nine, and eleven, all enjoyed it and even my 17-year-old enjoyed discussing it with us.

We thoroughly admired the bright, colorful, and detailed illustrations. These illustrations give us a nice sense of nature which is something many of us have lost touch with as our lives have become electronic and sometimes disconnected from Earth. There’s even a section for young readers to go back throughout the book with a ‘look and find’ list of animals and children will learn about a what type of flower the frightened flower bud is.

I appreciated the addition of the authors’ notes in the back of the book where you can read about the authors’ thoughts on the book and also learn a little bit about them. I’m so pleased to have this added to my home library and believe this book should be in every school and library so that all can enjoy it, not just children, as it’s a book for all ages!

My rating for this book is 5*****

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You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon. There are two different spellings. Find the British spelling book HERE and the American spelling HERE.

  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: RPG Publishing; American Spelling edition (September 27, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0993509843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0993509841

A few illustrations from the book:

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Did you enjoy reading as a child? What are some of your childhood favorites?

Renée I never read much as a child – I found the task tedious and preferred to remain with my own thoughts.

Godfrey I enjoyed reading Enid Blyton amongst others. My favourite children’s books have always been ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame and ‘Winnie the Pooh’ by A. A. Milne.


What influenced you to write this book?

Renée Like with most people, the idea just popped into my head and Godfrey and I developed it from there. There are some beautiful places to see in Co. Leitrim and lots of flowers coming and going. The symbology is always clear (life is a cycle).

Godfrey I was invited to co-write and illustrate it – so I thought ‘Why not?’


What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Renée – As you know, I usually write for adults so had to start thinking about how a child would receive this book and whether or not the ‘bees’ or ‘dying’ image would scare them.

After speaking to teachers, we were reminded of the horrors that our children read all the time – such as ‘The Three Little Pigs’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ – so what we were tackling was mild in comparison.

Godfrey– Knowing when it was finished and needed no more tweaking.


How long did it take you to write it?

Renée – It took six months to get it just the way we wanted it – the illustrations are intricate.


What message would you like people to take away from The Frightened Little Flower Bud?

Renée – Never be afraid of anything, particularly your own thoughts.

Godfrey– Things are never as bad as they appear to be.


What do you think makes a great children’s book?

Renée One that can reach them and encourage them to think for themselves – better still, a book that encourages them to think for themselves and leaves them feeling happier than they were before.

Godfrey– One that children can get lost in – the return to reality is a disappointment. One that stays with you all day and you look forward to getting back to reading it. One that leaves you with a great sense of loss when you turn the last page.


Was anything edited out and did you have alternate endings for the book?

Renée – An image of a mole was removed because we wanted to keep the book Irish and there are no moles in Ireland – we replaced it with a rabbit.

Godfrey– There was no possible alternative ending.

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Who designed the illustrations and cover?

Renée – we worked on the illustrations together. Godfrey did most of the landscapes but also helped me with expressions and ideas. We work very well together. Godfrey designed the cover.


Do you have future plans to write more children’s books and can we expect more illustrations?

Renée – Yes … saying no more at this stage. I am, however, also working on another adult’s book so time is precious right now.


Do you have any favorite children’s book authors and do any influence your writing?

Renée – We’re influenced by everything we read whether we want to be or not.

Godfrey– As I said above, I always loved Enid Blyton’s books – also Roald Dahl, Kenneth Grahame, Philip Pullman and others too numerous to mention.


How do you publish and market your books?

Renée – We are taking it into garden centres, schools and book shops – and anywhere else we can think of – and pushing it ourselves. It’s a hard slog and why time is precious right now. This book was rejected by 16 odd publishers and also by distributors, even though they enjoyed reading it. We still have a lot to do.


Do you have any advice for others on publishing and marketing?

Renée – Never give up. Never take ‘No’ for an answer. If you believe in what you’re doing don’t allow others to reject it in your own mind.

Godfrey– I agree with Renée. It’s also important to have your book edited. If you self-publish be prepared to work hard and get your book known – there’s a lot of competition!


Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Renée and Godfrey – Thanks for the chance to talk about our book. We had a lot of fun putting it together.

I’d like to thank Renée and Godfrey for taking the time to complete this Q&A.

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Continue reading “The Frightened Little Flower Bud by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt – Book Review and Author Interviews”

Meet The Reader Series with Starjustin

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others. I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. As I find readers with an interest, I’ll introduce them.

Meet the Reader Series

Today’s reader: Starjustin a.k.a. Mom

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Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

A: One of my fondest memories from my childhood is when my Mom decided to have bookshelves built into the north wall in our living room.  She filled the bookshelf with books and we also had a new World Book set of Encyclopedias we used through our school years.  I loved my ‘Tall Book of Nursery Rhymes’ most of all and remember reading from larger poetry books as I got older.   My Father was quite the reader also, still going for his Masters when we were very young and then on to becoming a teacher and eventually a grade school principal.  So, yes, books were a crucial part of my childhood. 

Q: What are some of your favorite books this year?

A: I am a ‘slow reader’ and have just gotten back into the reading world within the last year or two.  I truly like to take my time reading a book.  I would have to say that ‘The Life We Bury’ by Allen Eskins,  ‘On the Other Hand’ by Renée Paul,  which was actually life-changing for me,  The ‘Walk Series’  by Richard Paul Evens,  and even though ‘The Policewoman’ by Justin Roberts is not my typical genre,  I am very happy to have taken the time to read the book.  

Q:What are your favorite book genres?

A: Dystopian novels,  Self-Help, Memoirs,  Self Awareness,  Children’s,  Short Stories,  and Spirituality.  

Q:What are some of your favorite authors today?

A: Bobby Underwood, Renée Paul,  Richard Paul Evans,  George Orwell,  Liane Moriarty,  Allen Eskins.  There are just too many to list. 

Q: How many books are on your TBR shelf?

A: 414 last time I looked. 😊

Q:What’s an emotional book you’ve read this year or last?  

A: Two books come to mind. #1.  ‘A World Without Color: A True Story Of the Last Three Days With My Cat’ by Bernard Jan( I was teary from beginning to end with this one)

Click the covers to add…

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 #2.  ‘The Policewoman’ by Justin Roberts (an extremely emotional read for me several times during the reading.)

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Q: Is there a book you really didn’t enjoy this year or last?

A: No.  It may take me some time to read certain books however,  there are no books that I’ve read that I’ve not enjoyed in one way or another.

Q: They say to never judge a book by its cover, but just how important is the book cover to you?

A: Seeing a book cover for the first time is ‘Love at First Sight’ for me when it’s one that catches my eye immediately,  even though I know nothing about the contents of the book. However, It doesn’t determine whether of not I’ll read a book.f_lovem_2ec3144.jpg

Q: Do you have a blog? If so, what is the name? If not, have you ever thought about starting one?

A: Easy answer here.  No, I don’t have a blog of my own however, I do enjoy others and find interest in reading blogs.   No, I would never start a blog, only because I’m retired now and enjoy my free time to spend as I wish.  I feel the time I spend reading blogs is enough to keep me very content.  

Q: Have you written anything? If not, have you ever thought about writing your own book?

A: No, other than essays in my school years and of course college papers, etc.   No, I don’t think I would enjoy writing a book due to the hours needed, and the stress involved with printing and publishing.  It would just be too much for me at this point in my life.  

Q: Which do you enjoy more, ebooks or physical books? How about audio books?  

A: 51QEbDDolEL._SX425_.jpgI love my ‘Kindle’ and it’s much easier for me to read e-books than physical books. Don’t get me wrong, I have a bit of collector in my genes, and I love having signed copies from the authors. I love purchasing books so that I own them and can read them over again if I wish. 

Q: Where do the majority of your books come from? (Library, bookstore)

A: The majority of my books and readings, since I own the Kindle, come from Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.  So easy to obtain and purchase and many are free.   I have recently moved to stay with my family and I am learning to use the library system again.  I just picked up ‘Garvey’s Choice‘ by Nikki Grimes from the library r/t a GR recommendation from my granddaughter. ( She even went with me! ❤)

Continue reading “Meet The Reader Series with Starjustin”

Meet The Reader Series with Renée Paule

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for friends on Goodreads that have similar tastes. I like learning about new books and discussing them with others. I decided to experiment with a new idea and thought it would be neat to find readers that I’m friends with on Goodreads and share them with you. Maybe they might be someone you’d like to add too. Every week or so, I’ll introduce a new reader.

Meet the Reader Series

Today’s reader: Renée Paule

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Q: Did you enjoy reading as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?

A: No! I hardly ever read a book and no one read them to me. I started reading when I was around seventeen and only rarely. I got more into books in the early 90s and, more passionately so just after the new millenium when I decided to study English Literature at a London University.

Q: What are some of your favorite books this year?

A: They would have to be ‘The Double’ by Dostoyevsky and ‘The Circle’ by Dave Eggers. ‘The Circle’ because it’s so cleverly true to life and ‘The Double’ because it’s philosophically ingenius.

Click covers to add on Goodreads

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Q: What are your favorite book genres?

A: Mainly books with a philosophical thread running strongly through them – as opposed to a thin thread. In other words, books that look at what it means to be a human being and human behaviour, particularly on a cerebral level.

Q: What are some of your favorite authors today?

A: I tend to prefer authors like George Orwell, G.K. Chesterton, Dostoyevsky, Borges and some of the other greats. More modern authors include Kazuo Ishiguro, Kurt Vonnegut and Philip Pullman.

Q: How many books are on your TBR shelf?.books-300x300.jpg

A: I’ve been reducing my TBR shelf recently by reading a lot and also by removing books that I probably won’t ever get around to reading – I’ve been very strict with this. Today there are 40 books on it and I intend to reduce that further.

Q: What’s an emotional book you’ve read this year or last?

A: I haven’t read any emotional books for many many years – I can’t remember the last one.

Q: Is there a book you really didn’t enjoy this year or last?

A: No. I’m pretty fussy when it comes to what I read so I know I’ll enjoy the books I choose.

Q: What book are you reading now?

A: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

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Q: The saying is to never judge a book by its cover, but just how important is the book cover to you?

A: It isn’t. However, when buying a book online and there are more than one version of it, I tend to choose the cover I prefer.

Q: Do you have a blog? If so, what is the name? If not, have you ever thought about starting one?

A: Yes I do; it’s on my author profile on Goodreads. Click HERE for Renée’ s blog.

Q: Have you written anything? 

A: Yes, I’ve five self-published books out at the moment, a sixth sent to a variety of publishers hoping they will take it on, and a seventh in the pipeline.

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Publishing in Progress

Q: Which do you enjoy more: ebooks, physical books, or audio books?

A: Physical is without a doubt my preference; I don’t like ebooks much. I like the idea of audio books because they can be listened to when driving. However, I have tried a few and find it hard to concentrate on them so get a bit lost and have to keep rewinding.

Q: Where do the majority of your books come from? (Library, bookstore)

A: I tend to buy my books online or borrow them from friends.

 

Continue reading “Meet The Reader Series with Renée Paule”

Just Around the Bend by Renée Paule – Updated

My Review:

22885929.jpgJust Around the Bend by Renée Paule is a book about letting go of the past and living in the now.

I was forewarned ahead of time that Renée Paule’s books make you feel like you’re looking into a mirror. As I continued reading, this became a reality to me and I was pulled into the book and couldn’t put it down. There were many “Aha” moments for me. I also felt a direct connection to some of the author’s experiences and feel I’ve made many mistakes because this is something I haven’t truly gotten over and accepted. It’s amazing these pent up emotions we hold on to inside and don’t even realize it.

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A gif made by Renee Paule

What I loved especially about the book was that the author speaks as if this is something
we are experiencing together by using the word “we.” It’s not like someone telling you what you’re doing wrong, but more of an observation on how we as humans handle our emotions and how we should realize that we’re the ones in control. We’re on a journey together. What are we feeling, why, and how are we supposed to react? This book won’t give you answers or instructions like a self-help book on how you can fix yourself, but will give you the insight and awareness needed to guide you in the right direction to stop this cycle of thinking and behavior.

Here’s something long forgotten by many people in this world-humanity is a team. Whether we like it or not, we work together. On the section titled, “Independence” the author discusses this fact. I recently heard a radio broadcast on NPR regarding the lack of compassion that people have for one another. This is a huge issue, isn’t it? There could be a massive fight going on with someone getting beaten badly somewhere and rather than call 911, people are getting on their cell phones and recording it so they can upload it to YouTube later when they get home, or post it on Facebook. This is horrible. When we start separating ourselves from each other, problems arise. When we stop thinking about humanity and lose compassion for others, we go backwards.

In the section “Humanity is One” the author discusses humans and how we’re wonderfully made. One of my favorite quotes from this section,“The world has many problems and many unhappy people living in it, but we don’t have to be that way to. No matter how miserable we feel we ought to become or how guilty we feel about being happy whilst others are suffering, we won’t make the world a better place to live in. We can only make the world happier by being happier in it; every move counts and the more people make them, the better.-Renée Paule

“We’re humanity and no matter how individual or superior we think we are, we’re part of a greater whole. We can’t find completeness somewhere else any more than an individual part of a one-thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle can. We all belong together and we always will. When we hurt each other what we’re really doing is hurting ourself and damaging the world in which we all must live.” -Renée Paule

“Imagine living in a world where we no longer believe that war can lead to peace. War can’t lead to peace anymore than ignorance can lead to knowledge. War leads to premature death, pain, suffering, hatred, fear and more separation.” -Renée Paule

My favorite sections included: A Bit of a Rant, Completeness, Independence, What If and Other Worries, and Attachment. The simple (Dilly) illustrations make very powerful statements alone.

I think everyone could take something from this book and hope more will read it. It’s not a self-help book at all, so please don’t be afraid to read it if you’re one of those people afraid of those types of books. This isn’t it. This is the author’s journey and at the same time a call to humanity.

Continue reading “Just Around the Bend by Renée Paule – Updated”