Leo & The Lightning Dragons by Gill White, Gilli B: An Adorable Book about a Very Brave Knight

Leo & The Lightning Dragons

Leo & The Lightning Dragons

by Gill White, Gilli B (Illustrator)

Kindle Edition, 36 pg.
Fledgling Press, 2019

Read: December 17, 2019


Leo is a very brave knight battling a different kind of dragon—his foes attack him from the inside where he cannot hide from them. He has a lot of people willing to help him, and several do their best, but this is a fight that Leo has to do on his own—so he musters up the courage and the confidence to get the job done with their support.

Gilli B is absolutely the right illustrator for this book! Her style brought it to life—I love her depiction of Lightning Dragons, I doubt that’s the approach many artists would’ve taken with them. Her chimerical pictures capture the spirit of the book beyond those, too. Delightful work.

If you’ve read anything about this book, you know how hard it would be to saying anything that’s not positive about the book. But I’m going to—it’s too short. I’m not looking for much, but we need a little more—just a couple of pages. There wouldn’t even need to be much text, some illustrations might do the trick. Leo’s got a tough battle to fight, and it’s over a bit too quickly, which makes it seem too easy. And there’s no way that Leo’s Lightning Dragons (fictional or not) are easily vanquished. How White can accomplish that without running afoul of the book’s overwhelming positivity, I’m not sure. I just think the subject deserves it.

Do the pluses outweigh my criticism? Oh yes. It’s a great book and I’m so glad I read it. The rhymes are cute, the story is very positive, great illustrations and the imagery of the Lightning Dragon fighting inside Leo is a great way to get the idea of epilepsy across to a picture book reader. A good story that should provide a springboard for a discussion with children about this condition and how hard it has to be for people to deal with. This is definitely one to pick up for your young reader.



My thanks to Love Books Group for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

Love Books Group

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Leo & The Lightning Dragons by Gill White, Gilli B

Today, I’m very happy to welcome the Book Tour for Gill White’s Leo & The Lightning Dragons. We’ll kick it off with this spotlight post and then I’ll be giving my take on the book here in a bit. But like I said, let’s start by learning a little about this here book, okay?


(that banner is too small to read all the names, etc. Click here for the full sized version.)

Book Details:

Book Title: Leo & The Lightning Dragons by Gill White, Gilli B (Illustrator)
Publisher: Fledgling Press
Release date: January 30, 2019
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Length: 36 pages

Book Blurb:

Everybody in the kingdom is supporting the brave knight Leo in his battle against his fearsome dragons. They try lots of different things to help him defeat them but eventually Leo realises that the most important thing to do is to believe in himself. This beautifully illustrated book with a poignant and uplifting rhyming story encourages children to persevere and find strength in the face of adversity, even when it seems that nothing is working. Written by Gill White for her son Leo who suffers from Ohtahara Syndrome, an extremely rare form of epilepsy, and beautifully illustrated by Fife artist Gilli B, this story has been positively received by parents of children with complex needs, by care workers and medical staff and by parents of healthy young children who love the book simply as an adventure story. All royalties from the sale of this book will go to CHAS (Children’s Hospices across Scotland).

About the Book:

Gill White wrote this book for her son Leo, who was born with Ohtahara Syndrome, an extremely rare form of epilepsy. Fifty percent of children diagnosed with Ohtahara Syndrome do not live past their second birthday. Leo is now three and still battling in the face of adversity.

Gill wrote the story before Leo’s first birthday. It was a difficult time and Leo was having huge numbers of seizures every day. Feeling that Leo deserved a happier story, one in which his strength and bravery was rewarded, Gill wrote one for him.

She approached Gilli B, a Fife based artist, after seeing her artwork online and loving her whimsical and quirky style. Although she was only originally commissioned to do a few illustrations, she actually loved the story so much she asked to illustrate the whole thing and Leo got his own ’book’ for his birthday!

The following year, Gill had packed his book for a visit to the CHAS Hospice Rachel House and came back one day to find that the nursing staff had read it and written the most amazing comments inside.

Bolstered by their enthusiasm, Gill approached Edinburgh author Peter Burnett for some advice on how to get the book published. He took the book to Clare Cain at Fledgling Press, who fortunately loved the book. Fledgling Press do not normally publish children’s books but made an exception in this case, to help raise awareness of Ohtahara Syndrome and CHAS – Children’s Hospices Across Scotland.

About the Story:

Drawing from the family’s experiences, Gill created this little kingdom of people who are all trying to help Leo fight the lightning dragons using their various skills. Eventually, strengthened by their support, love and encouragement, Leo is able to realise that the most important thing to do is to believe in himself.

This beautifully illustrated book with a poignant and uplifting rhyming story encourages children to persevere and find strength in the face of adversity, even when it seems that nothing is working.

Through the story of Leo and his ‘invisible’ dragons, we can teach children that we don’t always know what battles someone is fighting and it is important to be kind because even the bravest knights need a little help sometimes.

Leo & The Lightning Dragons’ Social Media:
I’m very tempted to copy all of the content from the book’s website to this post, but I’ll limit myself to borrowing the above—there is so much great content there, you’ve gotta check it out. While you’re at it, try these, too:

Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram



My thanks to Love Books Group for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.

Love Books Group

The ABCs of Metallica by Metallica, Howie Abrams, Michael Kaves: A Book for Everyone Who’s Wanted to Use “Cute” and “Metallica” in the same thought

The ABCs of Metallica

The ABCs of Metallica

by Metallica, Howie Abrams, Michael Kaves (Illustrator)

Hardcover, 48 pg.
Permuted Press, 2019

Read: November 26, 2019

Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


I’m struggling to come up with something to say about this. I want to go on for a few hundred words, but the book is too short for that. And honestly, if the concept doesn’t make you curious enough to check it out, it really doesn’t matter what I say.

But, oh, well—let’s give it a shot.

This is your basic A-B-C’s book, with a short burst of rhyming text starting with consecutive letters, acrostic poem style. The focus of this book is the history, personnel (Cliff Burton, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo, anyway), and music of Metallica. Just your typical picture book, really. Kid-friendly, but Metallica fans who aren’t afraid to be silly should be able to enjoy it, too.

It’s a little wordy for a picture book, but nothing terrible. I don’t know how much of the text Metallica is really responsible for and how much Abrams should get the credit for (my hunch is more the latter), but that’s not important. There’s some nice info, cute rhymes (sure, some of the rhymes are stretches, but who cares?), and fun ways to come up with something for every letter.

The illustrations are great. Again, kid-friendly but adult-friendly, too. McLeer is a Graffiti and Tattoo artist and it really comes through—I can see my son, a real Metallica fanatic, getting a couple of these tattooed on him, actually.

It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s a great idea—and proceeds are going to charity. Grab a copy, really.


3.5 Stars

This post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase from it, I will get a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, opinions are my own.

Hurricane Vacation by Heather L. Beal, Jasmine Mills: A cute little book with some important hurricane safety lessons for kids

Hurricane Vacation

Hurricane Vacation

by Dr. Heather L. Beal, Jasmine Mills (Illustrator)

Kindle Edition, 36 pg.
Train 4 Safety Press, 2019

Read: November 18, 2019


Heather Beal’s back with another book for early readers/pre-readers about natural disasters—this time (in case the title doesn’t give it away), it’s about Hurricanes. I really appreciate this way of educating children about these types of disasters—it’s not about facts and figures, it’s about assuring them that people can be safe in the face of disaster as well as helping them understand what’s going on.

Lily and Niko are visiting their family when a Hurricane watch is issued, so they join their family in preparing the house for the storm and getting ready to go to a shelter. Along the way, they learn about what a hurricane is as well as all the ways that people can protect themselves, themselves, and so on.

As with Elephant Wind and Tummy Rumble Quake, the information is given in an accessible way that’s mildly entertaining. Beal did a good job interweaving the information with interaction with the characters—even young readers/listeners don’t want to put up with infodumps, I guess.

I’m not sure the part of the story about Niko’s missing stuffed animal really fit—it seemed like it was tacked on as an afterthought. It may not have been one, it just felt that way. It was nice to see everyone working to make Niko feel safe (and that his toy would be safe) during this—very reassuring.

The art was cute and helped the story—I particularly enjoyed the “eye” in the storm showing how the term was misunderstood.

Beal delivers another helpful book that should be of good use for parents/grandparents/teachers/caregivers trying to help children cope with and understand the ways this world can terrify them (and adults). Recommended.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest opinion (above)..


3 Stars

Bearded Too by Jeremy Billups: The Bearded Bear is Back on the Road

Bearded Too

Bearded Too

by Jeremy Billups
Series: Bearded, #2

Kindle Edition, 18 pg.
Billups Creative, LLC, 2019

Read: October 29, 2019


Jeremy Billups has just given us a sequel to 2015’s Bearded—the story of a red-haired girl and her bearded bear traveling and having adventures.

I want to start off talking about the art—I know, I know, I’m usually a word guy—but these are “Picture Books,” right? There’s just something about the way that Billups draws these books that really works for me. Unlike, say, the art in Sea This and Sea That, with all the detailed backgrounds, there’s a lot of whitespace around these drawings, which makes them jump out at you (which is the point of the white space, I know—I’m not good at talking about this stuff). I will admit I’ve flipped through the book a couple of times without glancing at the words (something I assume the target audience will do more often than me).

But that’s not a reflection on the cute rhyming tour of the world seeing bearded animals (a guitar playing orangutan, cab driving markhor, and so on). There’s a dash of education in there, because some of these animals aren’t your typical Picture Book fare, too.

And, hey, a celebration of beards! I’m always down with that.

Not much to say about this, really. It’s a fun follow-up to Bearded that should please the ears and eyes of the picture book readers in your home.


4 Stars

LetsReadIndie Reading Challenge

Reposting: Bearded by Jeremy Billups: A Charming Picture Book about a Bearded Bear

Local Artist, Picture Book Writer and All-Around Good Guy, Jeremy Billups’ third book is scheduled to release today. It’s called Bearded Too, the sequel to this here book. I’ll post about Too soon, but in the meantime, here’s a look back at Bearded.

Bearded

by Jeremy Billups
Hardcover, 34 pg.
Billups Creative, LLC, 2015
Read: September 5, 2018
Picture books about bears are everywhere—I have a hard time believing many kids get out of the picture book stage without exposure to at least 4 of them (and that’s before they’re at the Pooh or Paddington stage). But how many of those bears have been bearded?

Enter Jeremy Billups and his little book.

This is the story of a little red-haired girl (no, not that one) traveling the world with her bearded bear, having all sorts of adventures and meeting a bunch of different animals. There really isn’t a lesson, moral or much of a plot—just a bunch of quick looks at the pair. A few quick lines and a picture on each pair of pages.

The art is simple and arresting. They just pop off the page—this is one of those times I wish I had the necessary vocabulary to describe why I like the drawings, but I don’t. I bought a print of what turns out to be page 16 before I even picked up the book to flip through. I’ve bought a handful of prints this year, and it’s my absolute favorite—I like it even more now that I’ve read the book. Also, If you ever see a better picture of someone making buffalo wings, I’ll eat my hat.

Oh, and the endorsements on the back cover are a lot of fun. If that doesn’t convince you to try it out, I can’t imagine what will.

Great art, cute story, fun rhymes—everything you want in a picture book. Even better—animals with beards are the best animals that aren’t dogs. This is a charming little book that’s sure to please.

—–

4 Stars

Sea This and Sea That by Jeremy Billups: Plenty of Goodness for the Picture Book Reader to Sea

Sea This and Sea That

Sea This and Sea That

by Jeremy Billups

Hardcover, 44 pg.
2017

Read: September 12, 2019


Off the top of my head, there are essentially three types of Picture Books:

  1. ABCs/123s
  2. Stories told simply (usually with pictures helping the text tell that story)
  3. Odd little collections of interesting/goofy pictures with some text to tie them together.

Myself, I prefer the stories—I’m always on the side of a narrative. But from my observation of my kids, niece, and other children, the third seems to be the most popular. They don’t need a grown-up around to “read” the book on their own, they can just pick it up and flip through the pictures, and the text (usually rhyming) sounds entertaining enough, even if they don’t really get what’s being said. I really know that’s true for my kids, they’d request demand them far more frequently—I can still probably rattle off Boynton’s But Not the Hippopotamus with only a prompt or two, despite not having picked up the book for 12-13 years.

It’s also the kind of book that Billups provides here—it’s set in a “crowded, hectic and gruff” city under the sea, with one quiet spot—The Sea This and Sea That Below the Seashore. Missus Bluffington gives a couple of kids (and the reader) a through her very unusual place, full of all sorts of sea creatures, sea plants, fish, and an octopus that shows up in some unusual places.

The rhyming text is fun, and I can imagine a good parent/adult/caregiver can get a good rhythm going while reading it to entertain their audience, but the star of the show is Billups’ illustrations. They’re just great—there’s plenty of color, while still feeling like you’re looking through blue-green water. The octopus’ tentacle alone is great to keep an eye out for, and I love Missus Bluffington’s glasses. But there’s plenty for a child’s eyes to take in while listening to the text being read to/at them.

I can’t forget to mention that it also includes some great back cover book blurbs that’ll amuse the parent/reader, as well as a couple of visual jokes.

This is a fun little book that’ll appeal to kids who love the look of Finding Nemo/Dory and aren’t quite ready for that other city under the sea, Bikini Bottom. I had fun with it, and I bet adult readers for those kids will, too.


3.5 Stars