Today’s book review is for Breakfast With Bigfoot, written by Amelia Cotter, illustrated by Charles Swinford, published by Black Oak Media. I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
While young Gretchen is on a camping trip with her family, she decides to go for a short walk in the woods. She notices that the sun is getting low and starts to head back to camp–only to find that she’s lost. She does not, however, lose her wits. Instead, she thinks back to lessons from nature camp and decides to wait until someone finds her. She just never expected that it would be Bigfoot who finds her! This humorous story offers young children sound advice for basic outdoors skills.
This is one of those cases where I’m actually shocked that the publisher printed the book as it exists in this edition. The writing is sound. The illustrations are nice. The book design, however, is terrible. The paper is of such low quality that the text shows through to the other side of the page–which sometimes muddies up the illustrations. The font selection is pretty tacky. And for a target audience of 3-6 year old kids, there is far too much text on each page. At one point, I was tempted to just scan the illustrations and re-design the book for myself. The good news on this front is that a revised edition is in the works. I’ve been told that it will be printed on higher quality paper and will feature some layout changes.
When I started reading the book to my daughter, she was interested in the story. As a parent, I found that the text was fairly easy to read aloud and had a kid-friendly tone. There were a few moments where it felt like narrator asides were talking down to the audience a little. “Oh no! Gretchen is lost!” is one such example. We’ve just heard that she doesn’t think she’s on the right path–the target audience should be able to deduce that she’s lost without it being spelled out. There are other places where the prose could be tightened up a bit. Overall, though, the story flows smoothly and has a good balance of humor and teachable moments.
Swinford’s pencil and watercolor illustrations are fun. I really enjoyed the facial expressions and body language of both Gretchen and Bigfoot. The pictures complemented the text nicely. They made it easier to understand what was happening in the story. My primary complaint with the illustrations was that I wished there had been a few more. For the age group of the target audience, the visual element is important. There were no full-page illustrations–but there were full pages of text. The text and imagery balance was way off for a picture book.
This has been an incredibly difficult book for me to evaluate. Poor design is one of the biggest hurdles for me to get past when reviewing a book. I feel like the book itself earns 2 stars, while the content merits 3 stars. But I’ve got high hopes for the revised edition. I love that Cotter is working to teach young kids basic survival skills–stay calm, stay in one place, don’t eat strange foods. As a parent who already takes her daughter hiking and plans to take her camping soon, too, it’s nice to have a resource like this available. Cotter’s onto a great idea; now she just needs the editorial guidance to help her shine.
You can find more information about this book at Goodreads.