Bear with Bear by Hagit R. Oron, Galia Armeland

Bear with BearBear with Bear

by Hagit R. Oron, Galia Armeland (Illustrator)
PDF (but you can buy the Kindle Edition), 31 pg.
Orons, 2016

Read: November 30, 2016

Hagit Oron has branched off from her adventures with Elphie to come up with something for slightly older readers. This is the story of Bear, a young man in search of a pet. He has a few hurdles — his parents (his mother in particular), his sister’s qualms about several representatives of the animal kingdom, and reality (he doesn’t ask for a Hippopotamus for Christmas or anything that outlandish, but it wouldn’t have surprised me). I really liked the siblings relationship as depicted here — it felt real, it felt relatable.

I’m not sure that I buy the 6-9 age range for this story — but I’m not an expert, 5-7 would be my guess. But whatever, target ages like that are best used (and/or ignored) by those who know the kid best.

The thing that will appeal most to older readers is that if you click an icon in the lower corner of the page, it’ll take you to another page that gives you some insight into the factual basis behind the part of the story you just read — or showing just how fictional it was. Oron drew from her own family’s pet hunt for inspiration and she details how she went about taking that inspiration and turning it into the story. It’s an added touch that I think could really help a lot of younger readers. Now, my review copy didn’t have that function, so I can’t tell you how well it worked — I assume it’s pretty straightforward in operation — but I did get to read those pages, and appreciated what Oron was trying to accomplish with them.

Armeland’s art pops off the page. It’s simple and attractive, but it feels like there’s something wrong with calling it “simple” — I don’t mean it as an insult, it’s the first word that comes to mind. But there’s a lot of subtle things going on with the illustrations, too — so it’s not simplistic. Ugh, I clearly shouldn’t talk about art — I liked it, I thought it fit the story, and it didn’t feel like the art in kids’ books that I’ve seen a million times before.

It was a nice story, told in a good way that should appeal to younger readers — with a nice twist that’ll capture the imagination of many. Maybe even inspire some young writers out there, now that they’ve seen how their lives can be the basis of fiction. I continue to be a Oron fan, probably more of one now than before.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest take, and I thank her for it.


3.5 Stars

Elphie Goes Trick or Treating by Hagit R. Oron, Or Oron

Elphie Goes Trick or TreatingElphie Goes Trick or Treating

by Hagit R. Oron, Or Oron (Illustrator)
Series: Elphie’s Books, #3

eARC, 15 pg.
Orons, 2016

Read: October 15, 2016

We’re back for another batch of fun with Elphie — this time her Halloween is off to a rocky start. Her mom is able to help her out a little bit, and gets her out the door. But that’s not the end of the trouble — but her friend Phante comes through and saves the day, getting Elphie to see how silly she was being. I actually thought they were going to end up in a different direction after her initial hesitation with the costume, but liked theirs better. But that’s not all — Phante starts having problems, and Elphie comes through and saves his holiday.

One plus to this book is that it’s not just about people helping Elphie with something. It’s everybody (including the neighbors) pitching in — not that there’s anything wrong with Mom and Dad helping out Elphie, but the variety is nice.

Okay, I’m in danger of writing a post longer than the book, so I’ll wrap up. As always, it’s a cute story with fun art — an elephant in a tiger costume is just what you need to bring a smile to your face. This continues to be a series I recommend to those who are looking for picture books.


3 Stars

Bravo and Elphie by Hagit R. Oron, Or Oron

Bravo and ElphieBravo and Elphie

by Hagit R. Oron, Or Oron (Illustrator)
Series: Elphie’s Books, #2

Kindle Edition, 9 pg.
Oron’s, 2016

Read: July 12, 2016

Elphie, the cute elephant kid, is back — with a pet. Mom is trying to get Elphie to go down the slide at the playground, and it’s not going too well. I’m willing to bet you’ll find out that Mom’s a pretty smart cookie.

The art’s as good as last time — nice colors, the kind of characters that’ll keep the lil’ ones’ attention. I bet this would be fun to read aloud with a little someone squirming on your lap and pointing at various things.

It was a bit too short, and not as inventive as the first book — but you know what? I don’t think the target audience is going to be as critical as I am. This was a bright spot in my day, I read a lot of nonsense that day, and this was a little glimmer of optimism and sunshine. Get it for the kid in your life (get the first one, too).

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for this post.


3 Stars

A Few Quick Questions With…Hagit Oron

Earlier, I posted a piece about Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron. Hagit was nice enough to take part in a Q&A with me. I kept it short and sweet, because I’d rather she work on her next book than take too much time with me, y’know? Hagit gave some great answers, hope you enjoy this — and be sure to check out her books!

Good depictions of Fathers are pretty hard to come by, so I wanted to say thanks for that. What made you decide to tell as story about a Dad and his kid rather than the typical Mom?
Well, I love stories about fathers and sons. “Out Stealing Horses” by Per Petterson is one of my favorite books and it is truly an inspiration.

I was also inspired by the relationship between my Dad and his Dad. My grandpa was a strict uptight guy. As he grew older he left all that behind and became this soft mellow sweet person, somewhat like Elphie’s father at the end of the story.

By the way, the next book features Elphie’s Mom, but I guess she isn’t the typical picture book Mom as well. I like my characters to be different and unique.

Why elephants? Is there something deep going on — something symbolic maybe. Are they just fun to draw?
I was fortunate enough to view elephants in their natural habitat at Africa, and I fell in love with them. They are so complex. I mean, on one hand they are these huge heavy animals, but on the other hand they are delicate and sensitive. You expect to hear an elephant’s footsteps at the savanna, but you don’t hear a thing. They are so grace and walk very lightly. I knew I was going to write something about elephants after my visit to Africa, but I didn’t have anything concrete until I saw this episode of “the myth busters” a few years ago. They were trying to check if elephants are afraid of mice, (which was confirmed), and boom! I got the idea for the entire series of Elphie’s books.

My daughter, Or, who is the illustrator says that they are also fun to draw. J

Are you drawing on your own experiences for these stories? I see that Goodreads has this listed as the beginning of a series — how many do you have planned?
I guess a writer always writes about her own experience, one way or another. . .
There are currently 4 stories on Elphie’s books. All of them feature the same characters: Elphie, Dad or Mom, Elpie’s somewhat wild friend Phante, and Bravo – Elphie’s pet mouse which is introduced on the next book.

Each book tells a different story, which is told through Elphie’s eyes in first person.
These are all sweet little stories about a child daily experiences, but I do hope adults readers would enjoy them too. It’s like a kidlit with a wink.

Can you talk about your process a bit? What comes first — the words or the pictures? Is it more of a simultaneous thing?
I always start with the words. For some parts of the story it is a simultaneous. For this story, the pages about Elphie and his Dad return from the shop and fight a dragon, rescue a princess etc were simultaneous, because I wanted the illustrations to tell the story together with the words. So I wrote instructions for the illustrations as well.
In the writing of Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure, what was the biggest surprise about the writing itself? Either, “I can’t believe X is so easy!” or “If I had known Y was going to be so hard, I’d have skipped this and watched more TV”.
The biggest surprise about this book was writing it. J

Usually, I plot a story in my head and I think about it for weeks before I write the first word, but this came out as a whole in one sitting completely unprepared.

“Elphie and Dad Go On an Epic Adventure” was actually the third book I wrote in this series. We were already working on illustrations for “Bravo Elphie”, but we liked this story so much and decided to make it our debut.

Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron, Or Oron

Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure Elphie and Dad go on an Epic Adventure

by Hagit R. Oron, Or Oron (Illustrator)
Series: Elphie’s Books, #1

Kindle Edition
, 25 pg.
Orons, 2016
Read: March 15, 2016

Picture books are not the usual fare around here, true. But Hagit Oron asked, and I figured, why not? Now, can I get this post up without using more words than the book did?

Elphie is a little elephant accompanying his dad on an errand — but his dad is one of the good ones, and instead of dragging Elphie along — he entices the child by promising an “epic adventure”. Wearing a cape and carrying a wooden sword, the two set out for a walk to the store.

Along the way, Elphie does battle with imaginary foes, and has one very close call that wasn’t imaginary enough. With some guidance from Dad, a great imagination, and a helpful store clerk — Elphie has an epic adventure indeed.

I really appreciated Dad — he’s not perfect (he gets distracted in a very real and relateable way), but he’s trying — and he recovers from a mistake well. A good guy, not a buffoon, not a super-hero. There’s not enough dads like that in books.

The art is great. The colors are vibrant, the drawings pop just right. It’s not fantastic, which I honestly get annoyed by in kids’ books. It’s friendly and eye-catching, very accessible, and engaging — enough so that you get drawn into it, but not so much that it detracts from the words. The art serves the story — and will keep the attention of those who can’t yet read.

It’s been a few years (almost ten) since I’ve read picture books on a regular basis. This is just the kind of thing I’d have liked then, and would’ve read — and then have been “compelled” to read again (and again and again). For those with kids — or grandkids — or who might have a kid nearby your Kindle, pick it up.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this book by the author in exchange for this post.


3 Stars