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The Festive Frolics of Panda and Owl Review by Lisa Tanner

Frank Lewis
Brown Books Kids
16250 Knoll Trail Drive, Suite 205
Dallas, TX 75248

Loveable characters and exciting adventures are key ingredients in a kid-friendly story. That’s exactly what The Festive Frolics of Panda and Owl delivers. This illustrated paperback book from Brown Books Kids shares five different adventures that friends Panda and Owl take. It was a cute book that I enjoyed reading aloud to my younger children. Of course, many of the older ones gathered around too, and joined us in our follow-up activities.

The book, though illustrated, is not meant for early readers to read on their own. The pictures throughout are small, and there is a lot more text than in a traditional picture book. There are also words that a beginning reader would struggle with, such as possibilities, raving, and brilliant. Additionally, Owl makes up nonsense words throughout, which might present a struggle to young readers. Because of this, I’d recommend using it as a read aloud for younger children. By the time children are ready to read it on their own, they may not be as appreciative of the fun characters and their journeys.

The dedication page of this book explains the premise, which was very sweet, and explains the higher-level of language used. Author Frank Lewis wrote each of these adventures for his wife while they were dating. She thought the world should know about Panda and Owl and worked to have her husband’s words published. Illustrator Autumn Brook added colored images throughout the 40 pages of text, helping bring Panda and Owl to life.

The five adventures never work out quite like Panda and Owl imagined. For instance, in the first story, they wanted to make ice, so Panda could practice walking on two feet in the heat of the day. But, though they walked all over the forest to the river and back home, they never succeeded in cooling down water enough for ice to form. Panda was discouraged, thinking she’d never learn how to walk well without practicing, when Owl chimed in and reminded her that she’d been walking all day. This sort of encouragement and support happens throughout the book.

In another story, Panda thinks everyone in the forest forgot her birthday. She started out wanting to spend the day with Owl, so she walks to his house. On the way, she runs into many other forest creatures, who all appear to be busy with party preparations. But none of them remember it’s her birthday. When Panda finally makes it to Owl’s house, he doesn’t even remember. Frustrated, Panda starts to walk home. Owl accompanies her, and when they arrive back at her house, there’s a grand surprise party waiting. No one had forgotten her birthday after all.

Lewis gave the characters distinct personality traits, and my children enjoyed talking about them. We even decided to try some of the adventures in our house, to add some fun to our homeschool. We learned about ice, and how it’s made, and we tried making it by leaving it outside in the cool of a tree like they did in the book. It was fun to hear my kids explain why it didn’t work.

And even though the little creek running through our field isn’t quite like the Rumbling Rowdy River, it was still fun to play “Splash” in with a paddle.  In this adventure, Owl and Panda go past Beaver, who has been tasked with making the Dark Deep and Dangerous Lake safer. This lead naturally to a discussion of how beavers work to help make dams.

Throughout this book, there are plenty of opportunities for expanding learning and diving into topics of interest. My children looked forward to reading a new adventure each week, and had fun drawing pictures, making predictions, and expanding their learning after reading it. The characters are sweet, though a bit quirky, which added a great element to the book. I definitely recommend this book for families with children who enjoy listening to tales read aloud.

-Product review by Lisa Tanner, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2018