Reviews (Professional/Editorial)

KIRKUS REVIEW (Jake & the Pandemic):

"A dog adapts to the Covid-19 landscape in this picture book.  At the start of the pandemic, a small white-and-cream dog named Jake is frightened: “Mom and Dad were using different words than I’d ever heard before, like virus and lockdown.” The canine notices the streets are quiet and his favorite places, like the dog park, are closed. Although Jake attends canine school online, he misses seeing his pals in person. He feels comforted when Mom “explained…what was happening…and wanted me to know that it was okay to be scared.” Jake and his family enjoy at-home activities like charades and baking. He finds purpose in helping others, such as sharing his homegrown veggies because “simple acts of kindness can really make someone’s day.” After Mom tells Jake about the Covid-19 vaccine, the dog feels optimistic that “life would be back to normal.” Jake’s experiences during the pandemic will be familiar to many young readers. Hardy portrays the pooch’s struggles with anxiety and loneliness in a considerate, heartfelt manner. Wally_LL’s adorable, vivid illustrations present engaging, sometimes silly scenes, including Jake practicing yoga. The spreads feature fun details like Jake’s squirrel friend Stuart. Some depictions are anthropomorphic (Jake mows the lawn).  Others portray the main character as a pet, such as being walked on a leash. Jake’s human parents, shown from the neck down, are biracial, and his neighbor uses a wheelchair. People in background scenes are diverse.  A thoughtful pandemic story from the perspective of a relatable protagonist."  -  Kirkus Reviews


KIRKUS REVIEW (Jake and the Purple Unicorn):

"A puppy dreams about wild escapades in this second installment of a picture-book series. In Hardy’s appealing sequel, a shaggy, white puppy named Jake, a relatable child substitute, falls asleep in his cozy bed and is off to dreamland, looking for adventure. Jake finds it, meeting up with his pal Tedd the toad and driving the amphibian’s car to a forest where the canine makes a new friend, Gwen the Unicorn. Gwen invites Jake to jump on her back and hold on as she soars up into the sky and then straight down to the ocean floor, where diversions await. Among the numerous undersea sights that the author’s rhyming text describes to tickle funny bones are “Wizards and lizards / and goats on floats / They saw sharks named Mark / and seals with wheels.” LL’s colorful, digital art enhances the overall gentle silliness with a wealth of visual whimsy: A seal wears blue roller skates; a goat lounges on a pizza float; whales knit sweaters; and starfish play basketball. (Readers will have fun, too, going through the pages to spot Jake’s squirrel friend in each image.) After Jake wakes up and a certain discovery makes him wonder if he is “really awake, or am I still dreaming?” Hardy invites reader involvement: “He had no clue what was really true / so tell me, dear friend / do you??” Children will relate to the endearing canine at the center of this zany adventure."  - Kirkus Reviews


KIRKUS REVIEW (Jake and the Biggest Yawn Ever!):

"An embodied yawn wreaks gentle havoc on a world up past its bedtime in this picture book.

This third installment of Hardy’s Jake series begins with the eruption of a mighty yawn from the eponymous fluffy white dog, who is made drowsy by too much popcorn and the stultifying TV game show Feline Feud. In semicorporeal form as a nebulous, cherubic figure, the yawn wafts out a window and visits other domiciles. A family of squirrels cooking acorn soup is rendered bleary-eyed, while a bevy of bunnies playing checkers is made sleepy enough for the yawn to pilfer some carrot slices. Avoiding truck drivers, the yawn moves on to a pod of lizards watching insect videos and finally beds down as the whole town starts snoring. Hardy builds the slender narrative from simple, repetitive plot points couched in winsome verse—“He zoomed and loomed floating down the whole block; no one is safe for it’s now yawn o’clock!”—that youngsters will remember. LL’s illustrations are captivating, with a varied palette that ranges from bright pastels to nighttime greens. Her compositions are sprinkled with witty details—one squirrel is reading The Efficient Nutcracker—and her drawings ably convey the cuteness of yawning critters. The story is catchy and whimsical while cannily exploiting the implacable infectiousness of the yawning instinct; those in search of an effective device for putting to bed a 4-year-old will love it.  A beguiling tale that will please children and the parents who want them to sleep." - Kirkus Reviews


KIRKUS REVIEW (Grateful Jake):

"A dog feels grateful in this third installment of a picture-book series. Before Jake, a small, white canine, found a loving forever home, he lived alone on the streets. During this “very scary” time, Jake explains, he “wished for even the simplest of things to help me feel better.” Repeating the phrase “I am so grateful,” Jake describes what he values. Some of the things are practical, like water, food, and the ability to read. Others are fun, as when Jake says, “I am so grateful I can…PICK.” The image shows Jake and a squirrel friend selecting a movie to see. Jake also recognizes kindness and demonstrates his willingness to assist others. Ultimately, the pooch cherishes his friends and the world around him. Jake is a sprightly protagonist, and young readers will enjoy his energetic actions and thoughtful realizations. Hardy’s tale will inspire kids to consider the wonderful things in their own lives. LL’s robust illustrations offer delightful, busy scenes with vivid details. While the spreads mainly mirror Jake’s experiences, they also feature different animals in related scenarios. For instance, when Jake says, “I am so grateful I can…WALK!” he saunters on a leash while an accompanying image shows a bandaged horse strolling and a sign reading “SECOND CHANCE: Horse Physical Therapy.” When Jake helpfully distributes water bottles after a community crisis, supplemental pictures include a squirrel inviting a lone raccoon to play and a beaver visiting the “WOOD RECYCLING CENTER.” An uplifting canine tale that encourages positivity and appreciation."  - Kirkus Reviews


READERS' FAVORITE (Jake and the Pandemic)

(Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford)

"This Covid business is downright scary. It’s not just children who are frightened; adults are, too. But, it’s most difficult for young children to understand. That’s where Jake comes in. Jake’s a dog who lives with a loving family. When Covid suddenly hit, Jake had to mask up and follow the rules just like everyone else. He couldn’t understand why his favorite stores were locked up and his favorite park where he played with his friends was closed. But Mom did her best to keep him busy. They played charades, did yoga, learned how to bake, planted a garden, and basically enjoyed each other’s company. Oh yes, and Jake learned the importance of reaching out to help others.

Chris Hardy’s picture book story (well, really, it’s Jake’s book), Jake and the Pandemic, is a clever and humorous way to open up the discussion for young readers so they can try to better understand what’s happening in the world around them. Jake might be a dog, but he’s also just as affected and confused by the pandemic as young children (and adults, too). Like everyone else, what Jake misses the most are his friends. The author (with Jake’s help) weaves a clever, and sometimes lighthearted and humorous, plot that outlines Jake’s new world: the restrictions and the confusion and what he misses most. With bold and colorful illustrations, this story will appeal to young readers and hopefully help them understand this very complicated new world in which we live. When Jake learns from his Mom that there’s a vaccine to stop the spread, he’s hopeful that things will return to normal, his kind of normal, that is. In spite of the restrictions we’ve all had to endure, there is always hope. Beautifully told and presented."


READERS' FAVORITE (Jake and the Purple Unicorn):

Reviewed By Anelynde Smit

"Jake and the Purple Unicorn: Jake’s Dreamland by Chris Hardy really brought out the inner child in me. I read this book out loud and found myself enjoying it. Jake goes into his dreamland and there he meets a new friend Gwen; a purple and rainbow unicorn who takes him on a wild adventure, even taking him under the deep blue sea. The rhyming was fun to follow as you met some of his friends, like Ted the toad. It’s obvious why this is such a popular series; the stories are very entertaining and the silly wordplay keeps you smiling. There is a twist at the end that will make grownups think. The illustrations were adorable and the use of color was very well done. I loved the rainbows on Gwen which gave her that magic touch and the surroundings were not neglected. There is mystic magic to this book.

Jake and the Purple Unicorn by Chris Hardy was so much fun to read to my five-year-old niece. She called it doggy magic and is obsessed with anything rainbow so Gwen was her favorite character. As I read this book to her it gave me a thrill; it was fun and silly and very well thought out. There were moments when you thought things could not get any stranger, but “seals on wheels” proved me wrong. From a child’s perspective, this is a fun book with very beautiful pictures and I as an adult tend to agree. I loved the illustrations and how well executed they were. Chris Hardy knows what kids like and delivers. This could be for a boy or a girl so there is no gender-based reading. I recommend this book to parents who want that spark of magic."


READERS' FAVORITE (Jake and the Biggest Yawn Ever!):

Reviewed By Daniel D Staats

"It happened to me, and I am sure it will happen to you and your children. Within two minutes of starting to read Jake and the Biggest Yawn Ever by Chris Hardy, I began to Y-A-W-N. Our puppy friend, Jake, lets out the most enormous yawn, which takes on a life of its own. It goes out of the house and around the neighborhood. Yawns are contagious, and everyone in town starts to yawn. Not only the humans begin yawning, but the lizards, the squirrels, and other animals. Yawn infects all the animals and humans with yawning. Chris wanted to write a book that would help children fall asleep but has succeeded in authoring a book that will cause us all to yawn. Kids will love this book and will want to read it repeatedly. I challenge you to read this book to your children and not yawn.

Once again, Chris Hardy has written a classic in Jake and the Biggest Yawn Ever. This is the second book about Jake that I have read, and it is even better than the first. Chris knows how to hold the attention of children. Her illustrator is Wally_LL again. Her drawings are even better than the last time. Children will enjoy guessing which animal is on the next page. They will delight in watching all the various animals yawn. Chris hit the ball out of the park with this simply delightful children’s book. She states her goal in writing this book was to help children sleep. Reading this story to your children as they go to sleep may take several nights to finish. Chances are your children will fall asleep before you finish reading."


READERS' FAVORITE (Grateful Jake):

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford

"What are you grateful for? Are you grateful for a warm house in which to live, food to eat, water to drink, toys to play with, books to read? There are so many things to be grateful for. I bet you can make a list much longer than mine. Jake has a lot to be grateful for. He was rescued off the streets and placed in a loving home where he feels safe, warm, protected, fed, and, best of all, loved. He has a story to tell about his gratitude and he wants you to join him and add some of your own gratitude to the list. Chris Hardy’s picture book story, Grateful Jake, is more than a charming dog story. It’s a compassionate look at an important topic: gratitude. We go through life often taking so many things for granted when, like Jake, we have much to be grateful for. After a short introduction from Jake and how he came to be a rescue dog, the author uses this sweet little dog as the role model and storyteller. Through Jake’s eyes and words, the author leads young readers through a list of things they should be grateful for. Each new item on the list begins with: “I am so grateful …” Young readers will instantly latch onto this repetitive use of the phrase and will start to recognize the words (a good introduction to reading). With bright, bold, colorful, and interactive illustrations, the young reader will see so many things to consider for their own gratitude list. For example, when Jake says, “I am so grateful I can … SMELL!”, there are images of him sniffing the fresh baking coming out of the oven, the flowers in the garden, and, yes, of course, what dogs do best when they meet another dog (sniff their butts). There are serious examples, compassionate examples, and funny examples of things to be grateful for. This might, at first glance, appear to be a book of lists, but it’s much more: it’s a story with a lesson, one that can be interactively shared with readers of all ages."



"Jake and the Pandemic is a charming children’s story about a dog that shares his experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. This poignant kids book teaches readers about the pandemic and how to deal with the anxiety and the changes that it has brought. It shows the challenges that many children face, like virtual learning, but also shows how we can still help others and find joy in our new way of living.

This wonderfully illustrated children’s book will keep readers engaged throughout as they are constantly on the look out for Stuart the squirrel who makes an appearance throughout the book. My favorite was Stuart pushing the shopping cart with a nut in it. So cute!

While the book is fun and colorful it also shows many of the challenges that children face during the pandemic. There is even a very cute scene of Jake having a virtual classroom and there are other dogs in different relatable poses on screen. Again, so cute!

Throughout the story you can see other dogs wearing masks, closed stores, and empty streets. This book will help children and parents have a conversation about the challenges and emotions we face during this crisis and also shows us how to see the positive things in our new situation; like increased family time, gardening and cooking. There’s even a hidden cookie recipe in here!

Jake and the Pandemic is a wonderful children’s picture book that will keep young readers entertained while also teaching them about the pandemic."  - Literary Titan