I’m a sucker for a great story and have seemingly passed that on to Tiny. Since Tiny’s first day of life outside the womb, I am have been a story weaver, story teller, and story reader. While I much prefer to art of storytelling-by-the-seat-of-pants, I also appreciate a remarkable story laid out in a beautifully illustrated book which allows the imagination to unfurl.
Tiny isn’t too discerning when it comes to books yet. I try to help her understand the value of a quality book through careful vetting before Tiny gets ahold of the book. This can be difficult because I get a lot of books to review. (Perk of blogging). Some are books I was expecting and others just show up. The ones that just show up are usually the books I am not too keen on.
A few weeks ago, Hands-On-Prints emailed to see if I would be interested in reviewing their children’s books. The Publisher’s name already resonated with me. Hand-On-Prints. That sounded promising. I ventured over to the website and was grinning from ear to ear!
Hands-on-Prints offers a wide spectrum of learning materials, stories and poems that are not only informative, but designed also to broaden consciousness, encourage mindfulness, and inspire the best in children.
How’s that for a company vision? Pretty good right? Sort of makes you sit up and take notice.
It certainly did for me!
While the selection of books is still growing, the current offerings all looked right up my alley. I asked to review “Nuts for Coconuts” as well as “A Persistent Vine.” Coconuts is an obvious match. I think you all would be shocked if I did not select that one. A Persistent Vine is set in the culture of Japan’s Heian period and I choose to review this particular book because my mother has a VERY strong connection to the Japanese culture. So much so, that she is a published Haiku writer and very skilled in the art of Ikebana. I was hoping this book would grow Tiny’ exposure and love of the Japanese culture.
Before I share my thoughts on these books, I wanted to tell you a wee bit about the authors. I’m pretty impressed with what these women bring to the literary table.
Christinia Cheung directs a Montessori bilingual school educating children aged 3 months to 18 years, where she has seen first hand a vital need for books that bother treat subjects in greater depth and are also designed with the aim of leading children to become more reflective and more aware of the world, of the past, and of others.
Dr. Han Tran has a Doctorate in Classics from UC Berkeley and is currently a lecturer at the University of Miami at Coral Gables. Her area of expertise is in classical and world myth, as well as ancient religions.
Ms. Cheun and Ms. Tran came together because they both had a deep interest in distilling knowledge and making accessible to a young audience. They believe in the power of storytelling as a way of engaging the mind while encouraging thoughtfulness and personal responsibility.
About those books…
Nuts for Coconuts
As one of the earth’s most cultivated and widely used plants, there isn’t a lot of literature that raises children’s awareness and appreciation for the coconut tree. Although I wrote about its many uses in 165+ Uses for the Coconut Tree, most 3-10 year olds are not frequenting my blog.
I was excited when I opened Nuts for Coconuts because the illustrations are not only eye catching and fun, but they are accurate! No cartoony drawings here. Nope – the images are an accurate portrayal of the many uses of the coconut!
The story itself isn’t fancy, which is a good thing. It is a rhyming adventure which allows children to discover more and more and more ways in which they too can use a coconut! The story is told from the perspective of a coconut which makes it fun too.
Tiny is 4 ½ and personally, I did not feel like the content was over her head at all. Granted, she knows a lot about coconuts already but even if she didn’t, I think she would have found some new facts fascinating. The gentle rhyming patterns hold children’s attention and help turn something educational into something very memorable.
I also appreciated that fact that the children depicted in the illustrations were from all over the globe. As a multicultural household, I place a high value on books which offer diversity. Pictures can be more memorable than a story and I appreciate books that expand Tiny’s world vision.
All in all I really adore this book! Since Coconut Oil has taken the world by storm, this is a fantastic book to add to your children’s library!
A Persistent Vine
This book is the first installment to an innovative series title “The Botanical Tales.” It is written in the form of a traditional tale with breathtaking watercolor illustrations.
A Persistent Vine is aptly named. It weaves a tale of the struggles between maintaining appearances and preserving something almost sacred with the struggle of an invasive species whose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t want to spoil the storyline but the essence of the story explores the concept of the fine line between a “weed” and a “botanical treasure.”
The story itself is intricate. Having been in some traditional Japanese gardens, I appreciate the importance of nurturing and preserving some of the rare species found there. This story is rooted in this idea with the added layer of the cultural ideals during this time period. The Heian Period was a time when beauty in all its forms ruled. You did everything you could to preserve beauty.
I personally saw some deep lesson in this story. There are the historic elements, the botanical elements, but then also character building elements hidden in the idea of what is beautiful and what should be treasured.
A child of any age can certainly listen and enjoy it but might not grasp the deeper meaning. However, I would not hesitate to read it to a younger child. You just might face a barrage of questions.
I will be keeping my eye on this Publisher and cannot wait to discover what else is in store. Be sure to keep Hands-On-Prints on your radar too!