Monday, September 18, 2017

#AuthorInterview with Helena P. Schrader @HelenaPSchrader

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Amy Lignor is talking with Helena P. Schrader, author of The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus

FQ: You speak about one day putting together a history of the Iberlins. Can you tell us a bit about this particular project?

SCHRADER: I’m an historian by education and the first books I published were non-fiction: a biography of a leading member of the German Resistance to Hitler, a comparative study of women pilots in WWII, and a book on the Berlin Airlift. However, I have not published a non-fiction book on the crusades or medieval history. I started playing with the idea both as a means to keep my brain active and to lend credibility to my historical fiction set in the crusades.

When researching for my current novel, I was amazed by just how powerful Balian’s descendants were in the 13th century. His sons were regents of Jerusalem and Cyprus. Other descendants were constables and seneschals of both kingdoms at various times, baillies for the Holy Roman Emperor, barons of Beirut, Sidon, Caesarea, Arsur, and Counts of Jaffa and Ascalon. Daughters of the House of Ibelin married Kings of Cyprus six times! The Ibelins were scholars, whose legal opinion dominated the highly sophisticated courts of Outremer, and they were patrons of the arts. John d’Ibelin, Balian’s eldest son and the hero of The Last Crusader Kingdom, built a palace that stunned visitors from the west for its polychrome marble, realistic mosaics, fountains, windows and extensive gardens — and that in the early 13th century. In fact, no book about the history of the Holy Land can avoid reference to the Ibelins, yet no one has pulled all the fragments together to write an account of the rise of the House of Ibelin. That is a challenge I have set myself. It should keep me busy and intellectually challenged in retirement! The working title is: The Uncrowned Kings of Outremer.

FQ: Cyprus, for a small island, has always played such a major role throughout history. Can you tell readers what drew you to this particular locale? Have you visited Cyprus in person?

SCHRADER: One accidental trip to Cyprus literally changed my life. My husband and I had planned a holiday in Egypt when a terrorist attack made us cancel our plans. On short notice, we had to find an alternative destination — far from the cold and gloom of a German winter. We found a cheap package-deal to Cyprus and arrived without knowing anything about the island. I fell in love almost instantly — we landed in balmy temperatures just as a large copper sun slipped into the sea behind the palm trees. In the following week, I was astonished to discover that Cyprus had been ruled by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Crusaders, Venetians, and Turks. The layers of history fascinated me (I’m a historian remember), and the relics of these various periods are enticingly set in some of the most entrancing landscapes imaginable.

Because of this one trip, my life changed in two ways: First, my husband and I decided to retire to a Mediterranean island and spent the next fifteen years choosing the right one for us. Second, I became fascinated with crusader Cyprus and did extensive research leading to a series of novels set in crusader Cyprus of which The Last Crusader Kingdom is the second to be published. St. Louis’ Knight was the first of my Cypriot books to be published.

FQ: As an expert in this area, when you look at history – from Roman rule to others attempting to take over lands for their own treasure chests – how is it that the people of Cyprus have such extreme loyalty to their land? Do you find it unique that they constantly stood up against far bigger enemies? Is there another particular kingdom you would compare them to?

SCHRADER: I don’t think their love of their country is unique. It is quite natural. However, large islands have two natural advantages: 1) clearly defined borders (that foster identity), and 2) natural defenses (which deter many would-be conquerors). Palestine has been over-run by every civilization in recorded history because it has no defenses. The mixture of so many different invaders and settlers, undermines identity and unity. Cyprus, Sicily and England, on the other hand, evolved strong and unique identity as a result of having immutable borders and the ability to resist many attempts at conquest. Despite which, they have all been invaded from time to time.

FQ: As a diplomat currently serving in Africa, can you tell readers a bit about your current post? Is it a good place to be a writer?

SCHRADER: I’m currently serving in Ethiopia, which is an amazing country with a history that stretches back to Biblical times. Ancient Ethiopia maintained trading ties from Ancient Greece to India. Ethiopians claim that Balthzar was Ethiopian, and Ethiopia was the second country to make Christianity the state religion. Ethiopians were in Jerusalem in the 12th century, took part in the defense against Saladin, and to this day maintain a chapel in the Church of Calvary in Jerusalem, a gift of Saladin after he gained control of the Holy City. Today, although roughly 40% of the population is Muslim, Christians and Muslims live together in admirable harmony. Ethiopia has its own script dating to ancient times, a rich, written history and literary, artistic and musical traditions hundreds, if not thousands, of years old.

My experiences here have enriched my understanding of human nature, which is critical to writing good fiction set in any period. Indeed, my descriptions of refugees, insurrection, the impact of female genital mutilation, and much more are based on my personal experiences here.

Ethiopia has also been evocative of the Middle Ages in a number of ways. Just living in a profoundly religious society, for example, helps me understand the mentality of medieval men and women better. Likewise, being extremely rich and privileged in a country dominated by subsistence agriculture and poverty provides insight into the roles and responsibilities of as well as the responses to royalty in medieval Europe. Encountering donkeys, camels, and livestock on the streets or watching plowing and threshing with oxen makes it easier to visualize daily life in the Middle Ages too. I think rural Ethiopia is closer to medieval Europe than anywhere in the entire United States.

FQ: Jumping to the industry, itself, can you share a “day of writing for Helena Schrader?” Such as, do you need to work in a specific area, have it completely quiet, work better in the morning than the afternoon, etc.?

SCHRADER: I like to work at a large desk with a pleasant view to the outside world and lots of natural light. I need to be surrounded by book cases filled with my research books. Immediately to my right are the books I refer to most frequently on my current project, including a dictionary and thesaurus. These books include primary and secondary sources, biographies of key figures, art books, books on the architecture, diet, fashion, and atlases and tour guides of Cyprus and the Holy Land.
I also need blocks of time to work, because I always reread the previous 2 chapters/sections before starting work. It generally takes me a while to get back in the mindset necessary for stepping into the shoes of my characters and telling their story. This means that as long as I have a full-time day job, I can only write on weekends and holidays. Because I need time to “prepare” to write, I do my best writing late afternoon and early evening.

FQ: As an author, is there one industry issue you feel should be addressed? What are your personal views on digital publishing?

SCHRADER: Digital publishing has been liberating for both authors and readers. It is wonderful to be able to have books to read loaded on an e-reader and be able to keep that in a purse and read them anywhere/anytime. That said, I hate the inability to rapidly flip back and forth between text and end-notes, maps or other supplementary material in an academic work. I no-longer buy non-fiction books in ebook format. In fact, I prefer reading paperbacks, but for travel I still download some books to avoid carrying heavy paper around.

In terms of industry “issues,” I’m inclined to think that the flooding of the market with 4,000 (or is it more?) books per day is, like a real flood, damaging. There’s way too much worthless trash out there and it’s almost impossible for quality books to find their way to readers’ attention. There is a need for a filter of some sort — but not a return to the system of agents and publishers preserving their individual, arrogant and narrow-minded vision of what is “literature” or should be “popular.” I believe that there must be some way to filter out patently sub-standard books without interfering with freedom of expression or effectively imposing censorship.

FQ: Along those same lines, your books are so well put together – substance, as well as editorially – could you share your views, if any, on how the editing “arm” has dwindled over time? What would be a piece of advice you would give to the new author out there who is also a fan of history, research and learning?

SCHRADER: First, thank you for the compliment. Editing is critical to quality, and finding affordable editing is a huge challenge for the independent novelist.

As for advice: With respect to research, when writing historical fiction it is not enough to get all the “facts” right. Fiction requires more research than non-fiction. You need to know about the architecture, art, cuisine, clothing, social structure, legal norms, religious practices (not theology or theory!), and more. I recently read a book set in the late 12th century in which the writer talks about lace garments and capes, neither of which were features of 12th century fashion. I’ve read other books set in the Middle Ages that feature carriages. Nonsense. That kind of stupid mistake jars your reader out of the story, and detracts from what might otherwise be a brilliant work of art. Worst of all, of course, are “medieval” characters with modern ideology and behavior. Superwomen riding around in armor and besting men in combat, priests questioning the divinity of Christ, kings suggesting democracy would be more fair and the like. That kind of thing completely discredits you as a novelist and guts the novel itself of any value.

Good historical fiction addresses universal themes (like the suffering of displaced humans, greed, passion, ambition, compassion etc.) without introducing anachronisms. In good historical fiction, anachronisms are unnecessary precisely because human behavior has hardly changed in 5,000 years, and so many of the challenges we face today were challenges to people in the past too. My motto is: understanding ourselves by understanding the past. The emphasis is on understanding — not trying to retroactively impose modern ideas on the past, much less altering the past to suit our current concepts of “correct” behavior.

With respect to writing: plan to re-write your book at least three times and, if at all possible, leave the book alone (don’t even look at it) for a month or two — or better six! — between each re-write. You’ll see many more flaws and be able to make more valuable corrections.

With respect to editing: if possible, have two different editors look at your manuscript. They will see different problems and correct different weaknesses.

FQ: Could you tell readers about the current works you have in progress?

SCHRADER: In the second quarter of the 13th Century, Friedrich II Hohenstaufen, the Holy Roman Emperor, attempted to impose authoritarian government upon Outremer based on his vision of himself as a “Roman Emperor.” He attempted to remove vassals from their fiefs by royal decree without due process, for example. His ambitions were opposed by the majority of the barons of Outremer — led by the hero of The Last Crusader Kingdom, namely John d’Ibelin, more commonly known as the “old Lord of Beirut.” The conflict is recorded in detail in a history written in the mid-13th century by a participant (and partisan of the Ibelins): Philip of Novare. The events described are dramatic and exciting with sieges, battles, negotiations, hostages taken, and dramatic escapes in small boats, amphibious landings, daring rescues and more — perfect material for a novel, or two.
The novel I’m currently working on will cover the events of the 6th Crusade (Friedrich Hohenstaufen’s crusade 1228-1229) largely through the eyes of John d’Ibelin’s eldest son and the latter’s future wife, Eschiva de MontbĂ©liard. I’m a little nervous about it, because the principals are young, a little hot-headed, and not as heroic historically as Balian, Maria, and John d’Ibelin, but I wanted a change of pace and hope my readers will enjoy a new cast of characters.

FQ: Thank you for your time.

SCHRADER: Thank you for this opportunity to talk directly to readers! I hope readers will feel free to send me their personal questions either via my Goodreads questions page or by writing me directly at:

To learn more about The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus please read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

#BookReview - The Last Crusader Kingdom @HelenaPSchrader

The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus

By: Helena P. Schrader
Publisher: Wheatmark
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1-62787-517-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 13, 2017

Reviewers have stated this before: This author knows more history than anyone out there. In addition, she also knows exactly how to put on paper a historical book that excites, offers suspense, sparks adventure, and brings together a cast of characters that are literally impossible to forget once the last page has been read.
In this newest tale, readers join up with John d’Ibelin, who is the son of the legendary Balian who readers met and became loyal to in previous tales written by Helena Schrader.

We begin at a monastery on the island of Cyprus in the year 1193. Dozens of villagers have reached the monastery’s doors, and look like they have met with men of war, which they most definitely have. The villagers have had to defend their homes (yet again) and fight for their very lives against an enemy they cannot beat. However, this is nothing new for these people on the island of Cyprus.
The English King first sold the island to the Templars, whose rule was not exactly popular with the natives. The Templars were forced out and now the island has been placed in the hands of one who has a mighty pack of supporters desperate to gain Cyprus as compensation for their own lands lost. If something is not done soon, the name of Richard the Lionheart – the ultimate crusader – will no longer have a legacy that includes Cyprus. There has to be hope somewhere; a man who could stand up to the battle and win the ultimate war.

Enter...John d’Ibelin. As the son of a true hero, John has a legacy of his own he will one day have to live up to. At this moment, he is away from his own father and family, apprenticing for a Constable. A pounding comes on the door of the home owned by the Constable of Jerusalem. He is arrested for treason, sending John on horseback to alert his father of this horrible news. After all, if anyone would know what to do, it would be Balian. He is the man who enabled 3,000-plus to escape the Saracen and negotiated the surrender of Jerusalem which saved tens of thousands of more lives.
When John arrives before his father, they are both confused as to how on earth the ‘paragon of chivalry’ who is Lord Aimery would possibly have committed treason. Something is truly wrong with this picture, and another war is about to commence.

From a faltering dynasty to meeting up with pirates sailing the Mediterranean, this intricate and exciting book offers up the early history of the Kingdom of Cyprus. As the author states at the beginning, this is one kingdom that has largely been lost over time. There are very few facts left in regards to the founding of Cyprus, so this fictional work focuses on ways that these things could have happened.

Quill says: Historical fiction fans, adventure fans – there is something in The Last Crusader Kingdom for everyone. Yet again, Helena Schrader has hit the ball out of the “proverbial park” with her intelligence and creativity.

For more information on The Last Crusader Kingdom: Dawn of a Dynasty in Twelfth-Century Cyprus, please visit the website:

#BookReview - The Beloved Christmas Quilt

The Beloved Christmas Quilt: Three Stories of Family, Romance, and Amish Faith

By: Wanda E. Brunstetter
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Publication Date: September 2017
ISBN: 978-1-68322-225-5
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: September 13, 2017

Wanda, Jean and Richelle Brunstetter deliver three heart-warming short stories in The Beloved Christmas Quilt.

In the first short story, Luella’s Promise, Luella Ebersol doesn’t shy away from hard work. Her job is to provide comfort to Atlee Zook’s dying wife at the same time she nurtures their young son, Daryl. When Dena’s health began to decline, Luella was offered the job of caregiver while Atlee worked in his shop. Often, Atlee would take time to attend biweekly church services on Sundays while Luella sat with Dena. Dena’s health was failing and there would come a time when Atlee and Daryl would have to say goodbye. Little did Luella realize the time would be soon. As she sat in quiet conversation with Dena one afternoon, she couldn’t help but comment on the beautiful quilt. ‘...It is a lovely quilt. Your mamm was a talented quilter. Dena got a faraway look in her eyes. Jah, she certainly was. I miss my mamm and wish she was still alive to take care of Daryl when I’m gone...’ In her next breath, Dena extracted a promise from Luella. Little did Luella realize how that promise would change her life forever.

The next story, Karen’s Gift, opens with young mother Karen Allgyer. She is the grown daughter of Atlee and Luella Zook. She is blessed with a loving husband, Seth and three beautiful daughters. The newest addition to their family was precious Nancy Anne. Karen worried about Nancy Anne’s health. Karen was barely four months pregnant when she was infected with the German measles. Her parents hadn’t considered vaccinations for Karen when she was a child because she went to a private Amish school. So far, all signs pointed to Nancy Anne thriving. Seth was a good provider and had a good job in Lykens, Pennsylvania. Both of their families still lived in their childhood hometown, Bird-in-Hand. Karen often lamented to Seth how wonderful it would be to move closer, but Seth would hear nothing of it. Their life was in Lykens and there was plenty of opportunity for family visits. As time goes on, Karen and Seth face challenges to their marriage that would put their faith to the test.

In the last of The Beloved Christmas Quilt stories, the reader is treated to Rosanna’s Groom. Rosanna Allgyer is the oldest daughter of Karen and Seth. She is about to be married to the man of her dreams, John. She is a talented young lady and enjoys sewing lovely dresses for many of the town’s women. John is a stand-up young man and the Allgyer’s couldn’t hope for a finer person to take care of their daughter. On the eve of her wedding, Rosanna has the pre-wedding jitters and best friend Katie convinces her it is nothing more than nerves getting the better of her. However, on the day of her wedding, the last thing Rosanna expected was the turn of events that unfolded.

Wanda Brunstetter has teamed up with her daughter-in-law Jean and granddaughter Richelle and among the three women, they have delivered three warm and spirited tales. The overarching connection between the three stories steps from generation to generation and the beloved Christmas Quilt is at the center of each story. While each author has a unique tone and style to their writing, the beauty in all three stories is that they flow well together. The dialogue is light and believable. All three women have done an admirable job in delivering warm and insightful tales. Well done ladies. I look forward to your next collaboration.

Quill says: The Beloved Christmas Quilt is a series of three short stories with a bond of the overarching theme of hope and new beginnings.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

#BookReview - Antitheus @horrornovelist


By G.A. Minton
Publisher: World Castle Publishing
Publication Date: July 2017
ISBN: 978-1-6298-9762-2
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 5, 2017

Harken back to Stephen King’s now-famous characters who were trapped in a huge hotel with a blizzard raging outside (while the demons raged within), and throw in some of the debates regarding right vs. wrong that Dan Brown focused upon in his now-famous tale, and you will create a mixture from where this incredible book could have been born.

Now, we’re not talking the Overlook Hotel here. We are talking about an isolated place set high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where a hotel was built by a mining company back in the early 1900’s. A mine sits nearby where coal was being excavated when a vein of gold was unearthed. Once the gold was gone, the mining company closed up shop and abandoned the place. A man named Zeke Reinhart, along with his now deceased wife, purchased the inn, took out a huge loan to remodel the place, and renamed it The Goldmine Lodge. They even re-opened the mine and offered free tours. Zeke and Greta turned their venture into a success, but once Greta passed on, Zeke noticed that everything else was dying off as well.

When the tale begins, the only visitors at the Lodge are a group of religious leaders calling themselves "The Shepherds of God." From various faiths, these people are holding their annual conference; setting their differences aside, they’re working to find ways to get more young people involved in religion. Unfortunately for this group, there is a true evil at play that wants to stop their good works.

As Zeke sees the thunderheads amass and knows that a blizzard is taking shape, he doesn’t expect to also go into one of the hotel’s rooms to find a virtual massacre of one of the Shepherds, with a note left on the wall over the corpse reading: They All Lose Heart. Zeke immediately calls the Sheriff who is a ways away and lets him know what has happened. The Sheriff says to lock the dead man’s room; he will be starting towards the location immediately, hoping to beat incoming snow.

Trying not to scare the other Shepherds, Zeke does his best to break the news calmly and not tell them what the room looks like and the horrific act that took place there. He tells them that the law is on the way and then suggests they take a tour of the mine, perhaps to get their thoughts off the tragedy that has just occurred. It doesn’t take long, however, before another horror occurs, another note is found, and another step on a journey that will bring fear to the reader, as well as the cast of characters, is taken. From the priest to the rabbi to even a nun who just happens to have some frightening reading material with her on the trip, readers will be amazed at the twists and turns this story takes before it comes to a thrilling conclusion.

To say this is simply one of those good vs. evil battles would really not do this tale justice; it’s too well-written. The author has made sure that every character has that touch of evil. Even Zeke’s own dog, Rip, is descended from Nazi killer guard dogs. Minton has made sure no stone was left unturned.

Quill says: If you want that great horror story that’s intelligent and frightens you to death, this is the book for you!

BookReview - The One That Got Away

The One That Got Away

By: Melissa Pimentel
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1-250-13037-2
Reviewed by: Diana Buss
Review Date: September 6, 2017

Then. Now. No matter what time frame, one thing remains the same - Ruby has never gotten over Ethan, no matter how she tries to tell herself she has. As a successful New York City businesswoman, avid coffee drinker and workaholic, Ruby thinks she has it all. In her eyes she’s living her dream life, but in truth, it’s a life without love. With one best friend living in New Jersey, her father and stepmother, Candace, who live in Florida, her little sister, Piper, getting married, and no love interest in sight, she hardly realizes her life is lacking. She lives a calm, routine life of work and exercise, but her sister’s upcoming wedding is about to change all that.

Ruby's sister’s wedding is about to put her face-to-face with her ex-boyfriend Ethan. It’s been 10 years since she’s last seen him, after leaving him with simply a letter saying goodbye, and he’s turned into much more than she could have imagined. Bartender turned successful tech millionaire, Ethan’s made a name for himself and a life he loves, one he wishes Ruby was still a part of.

Upon arrival in England, where Piper is getting married, Ruby begins to question and doubt the life she designed for herself and realizes her feelings for Ethan are still strong and alive as ever. It appears, however, that he does not feel the same. Desperate to make things as normal as possible, she tries to show how much his presence doesn’t bother her, which only serves to make multiple situations much more awkward than they need to be. From pushing him to date one of the bridesmaids to making a grand show of not caring that he’s there, it’s clear there is something between the both of them, even ten years later. With her sister getting married to Ethan’s best friend, and being required to spend the entire week with him, Ruby has to try to keep her cool, but as unforeseen events occur, they begin to wonder if life really is too short to hold a grudge.

I absolutely loved this book. As an avid fan of Jane Austen and a lover of Persuasion, I couldn’t help but fall equally in love with this modern retelling. Not only was The One That Got Away able to keep my attention and drag me in at the end of every chapter, but it was also a love story without being overwhelmingly romantic. Many books that go between the past and the present can be confusing, but this was expertly told and clear at every point. Receiving the backstory along with the present not only served to deepen the plot, but it provided such a deep view of the characters that it’s impossible to not become highly attached. I look forward to new works by Pimentel - and I just might have to go back to enjoy her previous books.

Quill says: The One That Got Away is a light-hearted, read-in-one-day kind of a book. Absolutely delightful and enthralling.

#BookReview - When the Wind Blew

When the Wind Blew

Written/Illustrated by: Petra Brown
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1585369690
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 2017

Moving to a new home can be a very stressful time, especially for little ones. Author Petra Brown has addressed the issue in a gently and reassuring way in her new book When the Wind Blew.

Little Bear is snuggled up against Big Bear's warm, furry side for a good night's nap. During the night, there's a loud rumble outside the bears' cave that wakes up Little Bear. He growls and wakes up Big Bear, afraid that there may be something dangerous outside. Big Bear knows that it's just the wind and tells the young one to go back to sleep.

The next morning, when the bears wake up and exit the cave, they're surprised to find that all the trees have been blown over. Big Bear explains that it must have been the wind, and again reassures Little Bear that all will be well. They wander around, visit the nearby lake, but then notice that the birds are flying away. Big Bear quickly realizes that they, too, will have to move away if they are to find food. Little Bear is worried and doesn't want to leave his home. What will happen?

When the Wind Blew is a sweet book that cleverly uses the story of a little bear to teach young readers about what happens when a family moves to a new home. Little Bear is understandably upset, as many youngsters are, at the thought of having to move. All ends well for Little Bear, happy in his new home, and this reassurance will definitely be a source of comfort for children. The author is also the illustrator and her love of drawing animals shines through on each and every picture. As Big Bear tells his young companion, "Don't worry...things will be fine..."

Quill says: Planning a move? Have little ones? Then you need to get them a copy of this book to help show them that all will be well.

#BookReview - Blue Corn Soup

Blue Corn Soup

By: Caroline Stutson
Illustrated by: Teri Weidner
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: August 2017
ISBN: 978-1585369676
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 2017

What's better than sharing a bowl of homemade soup with friends on a cold winter day? In this adorable new book, the message of sharing your bounty with others comes across loud and clear while also telling a fun story.

It's cold, the wind is blowing, and Mouse decides to make "Blue Corn Soup" to help warm her tummy. She'll grind some corn and make just enough "sopa..." for " small mouse." Mouse tastes the soup and decides something is missing.

Mouse adds pepper, chop, chop, chop,
into the sopa with a plop.
Just enough for one small mouse
staying warm inside her house.

Mouse works hard, adding various ingredients to make her sopa extra tasty. As the meal cooks, the aroma drifts through the woods and other animals pick up the scent. Soon, Chipmunk, Rabbit, and Old Bear show up at her doorstep, hoping for a bit of the tasty sopa. But there is only enough sopa for one little mouse. What will they do?

The author of Blue Corn Soup, the late Caroline Stutson, was a talented author with a great gift for rhyming. She displayed that gift in telling this story, and the gently flowing words add a soft and welcoming feel to the story. It has a slight repetitive nature, with Mouse going "chop, chop, chop" every time she adds a new ingredient, and the aromatic smoke drifting through the woods each time a new ingredient is added. This repetition will be enjoyed by young children as they follow along with Mouse and her friends. The illustrations, in soft, subdued winter colors, add the perfect feel to the story. As a bonus, the recipe for "Blue Corn Soup" is included in the back of the book.

Quill says: An adorable and delightful tale of sharing that should be in every child's book collection.