REVIEWS – Publisher of Children's Picture Books

REVIEWS

THE EPIC OF GABRIEL AND JIBREEL
When two boys from different socioeconomic backgrounds meet, they forge a friendship that transcends privilege and expectations and lasts until their devastating end. Marin’s uniquely detailed art style sets the scene for a timely story of love and loss.

Leigha Chiasson-Locke
Children’s Services Librarian
A.C. Hunter Public Library
St. John’s, NL A1B 3A3
737-3974


Another enjoyable book from Marin, with a lesson and a twist in the tale. A story which is very fitting in today’s world. The book is a joy to read and beautifully illustrated. ( *****)

Viv


Gabriel and Jibreel is a wonderful tale of friendship, hardship and the belief that we are much the same despite some of our outward differences.
Jewell Cousens,
Librarian,
A.C. Hunter Public Library


OAKY
In a world that wants to move towards more inclusion and acceptance, “Oaky” is written and designed to get the kids started early on this ethic. With plenty of clever puns and colourful imagery, it celebrates difference and uniqueness, while at the same time conveying the overarching message that, in a truly inclusive society, one’s difference is one’s contribution. “Oaky” is very well done and, in the current global push for social justice, it comes along at just the right time.

Jeff Kelland,
President
Indie Publishers of Newfoundland and Labrador


THE TALE OF WAS AND DAS
This work is exquisite on multiple levels: story, illustration, writing, humor and morality. Kids will love it. This is story of universal appeal, of moral rectitude and man’s best and second-best friend.
I can almost hear the chirp of laughter in little rooms around the world. Bravo.

Herb Hoskins,
retired teacher, writer, artist


‘The Tale of Was and Das’ by Marin centers around some obnoxious things like farts and burps, but does have a nice storyline. What is notable is the word jugglery throughout the book that creates real fun, like bisecting the meaning of German Shepard, using two German words DAS and WAS in questionnaire, thesaurus instead of dinosaur, barking lot, funny signposts like ‘buy one, get one flea’ and so on. This book can be enjoyed by kids along with their family. There is also a take-home message for big kids like us on how to recycle garbage towards circular economy. I found the book enjoyable and constructive.
D.T.


THE JOURNEY OF YUAN AND KIAN
Quite frankly, I wasn’t what to expect from this book when I saw the cover and title. But as I began reading, nostalgia washed over me as I recalled the nightly routine of reading or creating stories for my children so long ago. The artwork and storyline were simple but the overall effect was a delightful story. And, as with many children’s books, there is a lesson to be learned, and certainly that is the case here. Funny enough, I find myself currently in a situation where the lessons of this simple story just may jolt them into realizing the absurdity of how childishly they are behaving! Perhaps I shall read this book with them at our next meeting!

My only regret is that my children aren’t young anymore for me to read this story to them. Nevertheless I shall share this story with them — I think they will still enjoy it!
Paul S.
https://www.librarything.com/work/23739258/book/174179834


‘The Journey of Yuan and Kian’ by Marin Is a very cute picture story book for children. The rhyming names in his book titles make it even more cute. The author is also a very talented illustrator, his drawings bring the story to life. Coming down to the level of kids, understanding their thoughts and speaking in their language is not easy, but the author has done it very well. I always like these kind of children books that are not crammed with morals and lessons, but are made of pure joy, imagination and innocence. The book can be children’s introduction to animal identification as well. The underlying message is that ‘if you believe, you can do anything’, reminds me of Disneyland’s theme to inspire generations.
Dr-Tan
https://www.librarything.com/work/23739258/book/174509656


Congratulations on completing another lovely creation. As I read through the pages of Yuan and Kian, I maintained a healthy dose of curiosity as to wondering how in the world will a unicorn teach a sea unicorn how to walk or how will the story transition to having a whale or anteater fly? Who will they get to teach them how to fly? and Why do they want to fly? I was reminded of the joy I had as a child reading about the adventures and characters of Winnie the Pooh and a growing community of unlikely friends who accepted one another for who they were and the funny quirks in their personalities. Friends helping one another along their way, helping them realize their dreams without judgment.
Friends show up in the most unlikely places. Look what you can achieve when you dream, believe – think you can, seek supports and don’t give up!

Once again, congratulations on your accomplishments!

Warm regards,
Daphne MacNeil


THE ADVENTURE OF ALEX AND ER
Knight Alex and his unicorn Er encounter some unusual characters in their quest to reunite a snowman with his stolen broom. Another great storybook from Marin, which again he has illustrated beautifully. I loved the inventive, unusual characters. A joy to read for adults and children who like stories. ( ***** )
Vivien Murdoch,
Scotland


The Adventure of Alex and Er: Get ready for a fun tale of adventure and rescue. Marin Darmonkow creates a colourful world inhabited by a wicked witch, strange creatures, royalty and, of course, a brave knight and his faithful unicorn mare. It’s sure to delight readers of all ages.
Kelly Shiers,
Nova Scotia


‘TWAS THE NIGHT
’Twas The Night by Marin Darmonkow is a remarkable book. It doesn’t tell a story; it shows a story. There is neither narrative nor dialogue as the tale is completely visual. A young boy in a wheelchair finds an injured dove in the street. He takes it home and nurses it back to health.
The whole book has a surreal quality to it. It’s nighttime on Christmas Eve and the streets are completely empty of cars and people. Although the shops and houses are ablaze with light, there is a feeling of solitude. The boy and the dove appear to be the only living things in the whole world. The surreal quality expands as the book moves on to a point where reality and dream are confused and the magic begins to unfold.

The lack of words is the strength of this book because every page elicits an emotional response. Loneliness, love, care, wonder and triumph jostle for room in this emotional yet gentle rollercoaster. I love the artwork from the cityscapes to the pictures on the walls of the little boy’s home. Most significant is the picture of Peter Pan’s shadow. The boy who never grew up; the boy who could fly. Yet this is his shadow. Parallels can be drawn between Peter Pan’s shadow and the wheelchair-bound boy.

There are lots of loose ends for the reader to ponder over. When the boy fell asleep, his glasses were on the pillow. When he awoke, they were on the bedside table. These are not errors, they indicate that dreams and reality are becoming confused and we are not able to judge when he is asleep and when he is awake.

Although this is ostensibly a children’s book, I think its appeal will span every age group from the very young to the very old. I loved this book. I loved everything about it and it is with great pleasure that I award it 4 out of 4 stars.

Helen Combe
Onlinebookclub.org
https://forums.onlinebookclub.org/viewtopic.php?f=60&t=118753


A child in a wheelchair helps an injured bird and dreams of flying in this wordless picture book.

Darmonkow’s (The Epic of Gabriel and Jibreel, 2019, etc.) work begins with a few pages of realistic paintings of a glowing city at night. Sparkly Christmas decor dots the scenery. Next, a bespectacled white child using a wheelchair finds an injured bird on the sidewalk. The kid takes the white bird home, tends to its wounds, and provides food and water. With the bandaged bird nestled in bed, the child dreams of flying out the window, using a pair of crutches as wings. High in the sky over the shimmering metropolis, the kid discards the crutches and encounters Santa Claus in his sleigh. Then, the story abruptly ends. Although the author’s intent of showing the power of a child’s imagination is evident, the tale would have benefited from a clearer plot. But Darmonkow’s photograph-like illustrations are emotive. They offer vivid details that kids will recognize and enjoy, such as a Peter Pan painting hanging on the wall in the background of one image. Many elements here are open to interpretation, including the child’s backstory. Still, the overarching, worthy message celebrates the imagination, Christmas wishes, and the importance of treating all creatures with care and kindness.

An artistic, nicely illustrated Christmas tale that offers a valuable sentiment.

Kirkus Reviews
https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/marin-darmonkow/twas-the-night/


‘Twas the Night: Christmas dream-like story by Marin is a children’s book in a unique format. This book is about a young boy who is disabled. The content shows him as a child in a wheelchair and this is our first introduction to him. It is a cold winter’s night as the title suggests. The boy comes upon a bird lying injured on the ground. Under these circumstances, it is bitterly cold as can be seen through the pictures. The boy takes the bird with him and takes care of it and nurses it. This story is essentially about the boy and the bird and how their lives interweave.

The most unique feature about ‘Twas the Night is the fact that it is a story without any words. The entire tale is told simply through illustrations with no accompanying dialogue or narrative. As a result, the story is open to interpretation to a certain extent. This open concept of storytelling is a subtle reminder of our thoughts and impressions, which are also always subjective at the end of the day. Young children can definitely let their imaginations run free with this book and it would be a good tool to use for teachers or parents to encourage children to verbalize their thoughts and feelings. It may also be great to use in a group discussion where everyone contributes and develops the story as they go along. Overall, this is an interesting concept book with some fun illustrations.

Gisela Dixon
readersfavorite.com


WEENY MEENY’S HALLOWEEN
I was lucky enough to get this book to review before it is released. I absolutely loved it! Yes I know it’s a kid’s book, but I don’t care as it’s my kind of book. I’ve never outgrown stories of Witches and I can’t wait to explore Marin’s other books. I hope there’s more Witches and also in future publications. Marin also illustrates his books and I love Weeny Meeny and her pet cat and crow. The illustration of cat and crow on the broomstick is definitely my favourite. A girl after my own Witchy heart. Took me right back to my childhood and the excitement of Halloween and my favourite topic …Witches. ( ***** )

V. Murdoch


‘Twas the Night’ by Marin is a word-less picture book that will touch your heart. It is about a disabled kid in wheelchairs and high-power specs – his compassion for nature, Christmas miracle and the desire to fly. The good thing is there is no words, so it is up to the readers to interpret with their own imagination. Good job, Marin!
Dr-Tan


ASSHOLE THE KING

Thanks Marin for the funny (but oh so relatable!) audio story! It was a great way to begin my day!
Paul


“I visited Fontreal and…speechless. In awe. The illustrations, the books. Magnificence.”

Lorence Collins,
Retired Executive Director of the Law Society Newfoundland and Labrador


Funny short story with the ending really being fitting for today’s world! I listened to the audiobook, which isn’t released yet, so I could provide a review. Worth a listen to get a wee laugh. Children’s stories for adults.

V.M.


The image of the lips making rude gestures while the mouth tried to talk made me laugh out loud. It’s nice to see that the asshole’s virtues we’re recognized at last. Unfortunately, many of the ones we have in the UK currently are not so useful.
Helen C.


WHAT TO EXPECT:
Varied stories of humor, fantasy, and heartbreak
It’s quite possible that an author has never published such a varied collection of stories—from silly nonsense that will quite possibly induce a giggle, to a heartbreaking parable that is not for the faint of heart, to a completely wordless picture book that lets readers decipher their own emotions. The variation in the five tales of the 2Gether Picture Book Collection shows that Marin is a true storyteller with a poetic mind and artful illustration style that takes on a vectored, photographic look.
A mystical and magical romp for older picture book readers, The Adventure of Alex and Er chronicles the dreamy escapade of a knight and his unicorn as they endeavor to locate a snowman’s missing broom. A witch is the likely thief. The pair must work together if they are to overcome obstacles such as finding the corner of an oval room. More words than pictures, this book will most likely appeal to readers who enjoy fantastical tales.
Filled with absurdity and humorous puns for the word-loving crowd, The Tale of Was and Das tells the story of an orphan gypsy boy and his dog, a German Sheppard. The boy and the dog find each other living at the dumpster built halfway between Fartsville and Burptown—it’s the area where the townspeople come for fresh air. Fast friends, the dumpster provides them with shelter and entertainment—they even fill a container with found books and label it the Library. They end up building a dinosaur named Thesaurus—the biggest dinosaur in the world— and it brings the people of Fartsville and Burpville together. This book is the only one not illustrated by Marin; Peter Stan created the entertaining artwork for this title.
With a message of “When you believe, you are” The Journey of Yuan and Kian is a fable about a land unicorn, Yuan, and a sea unicorn, Kian the narwhal, and how they created the stars in the sky. Yuan’s job is to make holes in the soil with his horn so that people can plant seeds and grow fruit and vegetables. Kian’s job is to poke holes in the ocean so that the other ocean animals can get some air. When Yuan meets Kian, they see themselves in each other and from an immediate friendship—only to realize that there is not enough time in their hardworking day to play. Yuan learns to swim and Kian learns to walk, but now they must learn from other animals if they are to find a way to add more light to the nighttime allowing for a longer playtime. Kids who like stories with a folktale feel will likely enjoy this animal story, with its touch of magic.
The Epic of Gabriel and Jibreel is a heartbreaking parable of two boys, one of whom is a refugee. Gabriel’s mother died the night he was born. He lives with his father in a large house by the beach. Gabriel’s father does not like the refugees. One day, while his dad is in the car texting and talking on his phone, Gabriel meets a refugee boy named Jibreel. Jibreel lives with his father in the boat that brought them across the sea, and he recalls his mother drowning. With similar stories of devastating loss and yet joyful life dreams, the boys form a connection and continue to meet every Sunday unbeknownst to Gabriel’s father. That is, until a fateful day in which their lives end tragically because of a hateful crime. This is the most heartbreaking story in Marin’s collection and it is not for the faint of heart, however, the message is a powerful one and is certainly worth hearing.
The only wordless book in the 2Gether collection, so far, ‘Twas the Night features a blonde Caucasian boy who is in a wheelchair. The setting is dark, gray, moist, and certainly Christmas. The boy finds an injured pigeon that he nurses back to health with gentle care until it is able to fly again. An illustration shows a framed picture of Peter Pan’s shadow on the mantle, and readers experience the boy’s dream: he is in flight with the pigeon and even encounters Santa flying in his sleigh. ‘Twas the Night is a poignant wordless wonder that allows readers to interpret their own meaning of the story, while undoubtedly sending the subliminal message to dream big. It’s a story in which imaginations and reveries can take flight, just as the pigeon and the boy in the wheelchair do.
All in all, readers are sure to find an appealing story in the 2Gether Picture Book Collection, and it’s quite probable that the story will be like none they have read or experienced before.

— The Children’s Book Review