Menu Close

Book Reviews: Brother John, Extraordinary Gardener, Take Off Your Shoes and More

Extraordinary Gardner review.

Book Reviews: Brother John, Extraordinary Gardener, Take Off Your Shoes and More

All books were sent to me by the author or publisher. All opinions are my own. Post contains affiliate links.Brother John Review.

Brother John: A Monk, a Pilgrim, and the Purpose of Life by August Turak

Brother John is something of a short, picture book memoir of August Turak. It tells the story of Turak pondering the purpose of life and finding that purpose after a chance meeting with Brother John, a Trappist Monk. The illustrations are beautiful, but I must admit, I don’t plan on reading this book aloud to Apollo or keeping it as part of my library.

This book seems very much aimed at adult seekers, not children. Not being Catholic, it was hard for me to follow along with the significance of the ceremonies and traditions in this book. I love reading about different cultures and beliefs to my children, but this book seems better suited for someone who is already familiar with Catholicism. This book is long (50 pages) and wordy in a philosophical way.

I am giving Brother John 3 out of 5 stars. I think it is a great book for its intended audience (adult seekers) and the illustrations are beautiful. Amazon readers have given it plenty of 5-star reviews but it just isn’t for me.

Take off Your Shoes is a fun memoir abut travel, family, and slowing down.

Take Off Your Shoes by Ben Feder is a fun memoir about family, traveling, and finding a slower pace of living.

Feder is a CEO in New York City who is run ragged by his company, raising his three kids, and keeping his marriage together. Then one day, he decides to walk away from it all and take his family to Bali. This is exactly the kind of thing I often dream about. Being an expat in a beautiful country like Bali. I enjoyed this book. At 214 pages it is a quick but solid read.

Take Off Your Shoes is told from Feder’s perspective. He is a male CEO who lives in the big city. You couldn’t get much further away from my own life than that. Because of this, I often found myself struggling to empathize with his situations simply because they were so foreign to me. Despite this, I would definitely┬árecommend this memoir.

Pet Dad Review

Pet Dad by Elanna Allen

Pet Dad is a quirky picture book with a strange premise. Plum, the main characters wants a pet but her dad doesn’t. She gets around this by deciding to get a pet dad. That’s right, her dad becomes her pet.


I like the fact that there seems to be some ethnic diversity in this book (something I always personally look for). Plum has dark skin and curly hair while her dad had lighter skin and white (grey?) hair.

By the end of the story, Plum learns it’s better to say please and hug her dad than boss him around.


I am personally not a fan of the idea of a kid having a “pet dad” and bossing him around…even if he refuses.

This book will not be added to our carefully curated library.

Extraordinary Gardner review.

The Extraordinary Gardener by Sam Boughton

And now, I’ve saved the best for last. I really, really enjoyed reading The Extraordinary Gardener. It is the story of a little boy named Joe who lives in an ordinary apartment building. He has a vivid imagination and longs to add beauty to his life. He dreams of color and smells. Then one day he plants a seed…and changes his world and the world around him.

I’ll leave the rest to the author. One thing I love about this books is the diversity of people displayed in the book. If you look at the illustrations in the book you can see how the illustrator does a beautiful job of transitioning from drab to colorful. This book will definitely remain in our library!

What books have you read lately? Be sure and leave the name or a link in the comments.

1 Comment

  1. bemis

    Have you ever read the book, The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart? It’s a Caldecott picture book and sounds similar to The Extraordinary Gardener. It has recently become one of my very favorite kids’ books. We also love anything by Chris Van Dusen (The Circus Ship is spectacular).

    As far as adult books: my recent favorites have been The Outlaws of Sherwood (a slightly different, full-length story of Robin Hood), and What’s Math Got to Do With It by Jo Boaler. This is one of my favorite books and is a fascinating look and how kids learn math and how they enjoy math. Right now I’m about half way through Pontius Pilate by Paul Maier and am finding it very interesting and relatively quick.

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.