Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Children’s Book Review: The Bella the Great Series Premiere

Children's Book Review: Bella Goes Bump in the Night (2010) by Derek and Gina Roché, Illustrations by Jonathan Ashley

Reviewed by: Kristine Daniels

There are wonderful gems emerging in the world of independent children’s book publishing today, and Bella Goes Bump in the Night is one of them. Bella Goes Bump... is the first book in the new “Bella the Great” series, featuring a character based on the young daughter of authors Derek and Gina Roché. Be ready to be swept up into the spectacular adventures of an ordinary little girl with a fantastic imagination.

Composed in rhyming poetry, this first story begins at Bella’s bedtime as she is imagining the spooky creatures that inhabit the dark. She and her faithful stuffed bunny find themselves drawn into Bella’s own fantasy world of ghosties, dragons, spiders, unicorns and fairies. Bella is not afraid of these creatures; on the contrary, even the spookiest ghouls become her friends. As she enjoys a tea party with her supernatural crew, we are reminded that our imaginations are “limited only by what one pretends”, and that even beasts that look strange on the outside can be sweet on the inside when you get to know them. Children with night-time fears and their parents will appreciate how brave Bella turns her runaway fantasies into funny escapades and heartwarming friendships.

A perfect bedtime or campfire story, Bella Goes Bump in the Night is appropriate as a read-to for younger children. The whimsical verse will have readers laughing out loud; and the creature factor may also appeal to a slightly older age group than would typically be drawn to picture books. This is thanks especially to the outstanding illustrations by Jonathan Ashley. The images are beautifully rendered with a sense of humor, elegant detail, and color work reminiscent of Maxfield Parrish. Characters are drawn with sensitivity and wit, whether Ashley is depicting the most ghoulish beast or the believable little-girl charm of Bella herself. The whimsical yet eerie illustrations set the perfect mood for Bella’s fantasy world.

The whole family will want to gather around with blankets and flashlights to read this book together. Produced by the Roché’s independent press BellaBoGia Publishing, Bella Goes Bump in the Night is available through the Bella the Great secure online store and also as an ipad e-book download from itunes. Visit the Bella the Great web site for more information.

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