A children’s book is a hard task master, and one that takes no prisoners. To work, it must become a ballet of the visual, the written word, and the message. OK, that sounds like a load of gobbledygook, but I swear it is true! I love children’s  books, they have a dynamic that you just don’t find elsewhere in the world of literature.

I am a reviewer not a critic, but my favorite question is why? Why did an author write a book, why did he or she select the subject, why now? Oh my list of why’s is endless!  To me the question ‘why?’ is an important one. It is possible, even probable that the reason I am a book reviewer is so that I can ask why?

Incidentally it was the first question I asked Daniel Collins about The Little Candle, but I will come back to that later.

The Little Candle is Daniel Collins first foray into the world of children’s books and I congratulate him on creating a very fine story. The key to a winning children’s book is to take a complex concept and explain it in simple terms. Daniel takes on the issue of self worth. In recent years this topic has garnered much attention, particularly concerning children. Peer pressure leads to children doubting their own self worth, and that, some might argue, is the precursor to become the target of bullying. Not every child can be the most popular kid in the class, nor can they be the prettiest, the slimmest, or the most athletic. But that does not make them less of a person.

Teaching self worth to small children is not an easy task, I think Daniel Collins does it with great style and aplomb. His ‘Little Candle’ lives in a candle shop, the little candle is not elegant, just short and stubby. It is with sadness and an amount of envy that the little candle watches customers come in and buy the tall elegant candles, the ones that will sparkle and light glorious dining tables, presiding over family gatherings or glamorous social gatherings.

Normally when I review a child’s book I am happy to explain the plot, it helps parents in making wise choices. The Little Candle is a little different, adults can get just as much benefit from reading it as a young child. I could see The Little Candle being used in an adult learning environment. It contains a powerful message that many people could learn from.

The Little Candle is also different in another way. It is somewhat of a rarity for the author to do their own illustrations. Usually the task is farmed out by the publishing company. Daniel took on the task himself, and he is a very fine artist. His watercolors are warm and inviting. Maybe the one grouch I have is that I would have preferred them larger. In fact they are so good that prints in a larger physical format would really wonderful framed and on the wall.

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I like his illustrations a great deal. You can find more in this video clip.

The Little Candle gets high marks from me, and I am sure that we are going to see more books from this creative author. As I mentioned earlier, I love to understand the back story to any book, I play the terrible two’s and ask Why? Daniel has a great answer, certainly one that I did not expect. But, I think I will keep you all guessing until I interview him.

You can buy your own copy of The Little Candle at better book stores everywhere, or by clicking on the Amazon link above

Simon Barrett

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