• Title: The Safe Return
  • Author: Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans
  • Illustrated By: Abigail Gray Swartz
  • Publisher: House of Tomorrow on September 3, 2020
  • Genre: Children’s Fiction
  • Pages: 27
  • Formats Available: Hardback, Paperback, & Digital
  • Rating: 3/5

Trigger Warnings: None

Many thanks to Blackberry Book Tours, Ashley Wheelock, Arwen Evans, and Abigail Gray Swartz for providing me with a digital copy of The Safe Return with a request for an honest review.

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The Safe Return Blurb

★ Face masks on or off? This e-book contains both versions. It’s two books in one. ★

It’s a topsy-turvy world that children live in today, but the adventures must safely return. Face masks on or face masks off, this fast-paced book takes kids through the ups and downs of a balance bike ride with friends. A stuffed bunny is temporarily lost, but a community is found. No matter which way you read it, the book reinforces the joys and freedoms of childhood and advocates for a safe return to the fun. Print copies of this book flip over so that the book can be read either way.

Perfect for Covid-19 and to normalize the wearing of masks. Yet, this book will remain in your collection when the crisis has ended.

“A lovely, reassuring tale for children set during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.” – Kirkus Reviews

My Review

The Safe Return is a sweet book that encompasses togetherness and safety. We get to witness a safe gathering of family and friends where everyone is wearing a mask for protection.

The illustrations are astounding, with a lot of imagery and emotion. The colors blend well and tell a great story.

The story is a bit stuffy, with the language being a bit too grown-up for the audience. I had a hard time following along at times. The font was too small for the page, and my eyes weren’t sure which words to focus on first. As I say this, I want you to know that I read this book on my Kindle. The hard copies may be different. 

I love the idea of this story and couldn’t get enough of the illustrations. I award The Safe Return 3 out of 5 stars. It is a great book for the pandemic age.

About the Authors – Ashley Wheelock and Arwen Evans

Ashley is a writer and lawyer on the central coast of California. She loves books, especially children’s books, and began her book career as the then youngest editor-in-chief of her elementary school’s press. She dreams of marshmallows and witches.

Author’s Contact Links: Twitter | Instagram

Arwen is a PR executive. Her mission is to raise strong girls, which is important as she has three of them. She spends her commute embroidering elaborate gifts while dreaming up her next story. Arwen is a member of SCBWI.

Author’s Contact Link: Instagram

About the Illustrator – Abigail Gray Swartz

Abigail Gray Swartz is a fine artist, muralist, and illustrator. Her work has appeared in The NY Times, countless magazines, and most notably, she painted the Women’s March cover for The New Yorker magazine (Feb 9, 2017 issue). Her cover went on to win several awards. Abigail is also the founder of City of Hidden Figures a national public art program that seeks to celebrate local hidden figures through murals, statues, and the renaming of streets while providing art opportunities and equal pay for female-identifying artists. Abigail earned her MFA from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She lives in Maine with her young family and a handful of chickens, where she loves to garden, go swimming and breathe in the salty sea air.

Illustrator’s Contact Links: Instagram | Twitter

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