Reading & Writing

Build with Bricks: Book Review and Author Spotlight

Today’s post is a little different than what I normally do, so I hope you enjoy this collaboration!

I met a children’s book author recently through Twitter. In case you didn’t know, the writing community (on Twitter especially) is composed of some wonderful people who are all about supporting and promoting other writers in addition to themselves. So, this is where I was introduced to Ray Price and his new children’s book “Build with Bricks”. Today’s post is going to be an honest and unbiased review of his book by myself (as a fellow writer and parent) and my children. I also had the pleasure to speak with the author (via e-mail) about the book and what inspired him, so you’ll get his own personal insights.

So, what is “Baby’s First Brick” about? The Amazon description to the book reads: 

“BABY’S FIRST BRICK! Build with Bricks is a Pigquel to The Three Little Pigs. Mudball is a biracial pig who learns the valuable lesson of hard work. Studying hard & learning how to build with bricks is tough but will it be enough to save this pig from becoming a pulled pork sandwich?”

That sounds cute, right? I certainly thought so. The book is 31 pages in length, it’s a paperback picture book and was written by Ray Price, with illustrations by Mandy Huey. The price for the book is $11.99 for paperback ($8.99 for Kindle) on Amazon, with prime shipping. So, right off the bat, from a parent perspective I thought the description and pictures of the book were delightful and the idea that it was based on a lesson in hard work was great. The cover illustration is beautiful and does a wonderful job showcasing the title. The book did a lovely job telling the story of a pig, Mudball, growing up learning the lessons of hard work while struggling with the belief that parents don’t always know best, and then finally learning that they actually do. (Sounds like every child ever, am I right?) The illustrations are stunning and do a great job telling the story, which is great for young children like my toddler. I don’t want to give away too much, because I’d rather not spoil the story for you, but it’s a great story.

So, what did my kids think? My youngest daughter (she’s three) was quickly bored with the story (too many words for her liking), but was absolutely enthralled by the photos. My two older children (who are nine and twelve) absolutely loved the book and often chuckled while reading it out loud. Watching both of them closely while reading I could tell they related quite a bit to the story, and I think that’s something every author hopes for. My son (he’s nine) loved all the social media type references and although it took him until the end to finally grasp the full concept, he said he loved the book and thought it was a good story. My oldest said she started to understand the point about halfway through but also agreed that it was a well told story. She is of the same age as Mudball when it comes to the belief that parents are wrong (also with being sneaky and trying to do things the “easy” way) so I think that connection gave her a different perspective. She also said that she thought it was a great story about working hard and learning not to do things a certain way just because others do. 

All in all the book was well received by this household and I do encourage you to grab a copy for yourself/your children here:

So, who is Ray Price anyway? Let me tell you!

Ray Price is a current children’s book author who has been writing since the fifth grade. He started filling composition notebooks with fantasy stories (which he says he still has) and then went on to college where he wrote plays at Washington & Jefferson College. Despite attending college for his BA in Political Science he quickly realized that he was passionate about telling stories and that people enjoyed the stories he told. As the years went by and he had his own child, he began reading for his daughter’s first grade class. It was her question to him, “Daddy, I know you can write so can you write a story for me?” that sparked the idea to create a story dedicated to her but to make it available for everyone. Here are some of his thoughts on this story and what’s to come for him in the future.

On the question of why children’s books, Ray had this to say:

  • RP: “Children’s stories are the first stories we hear and see as humans. And they are stories that last with us for our entire lives. One of the stories that impacted me as a child was The Three Little Pigs. My father would say to me often that hard work pays off and winners never quit and quitters never win. These lessons I wanted to continue in my story but modernize them.”

On what he hopes audiences take away from reading the book:

  • RP: “I hope when audiences pick my book up and read it they smile. I think people need something uplifting and happy right now. I hope they read it more than once and notice the work we put into making this story. I didn’t want to rush a book out or take shortcuts. I wanted a product that was worth the time of the reader. There are small things in the book like the reason Mudball is purple is because of one parent being red and the other blue. Or the social media references in the book that were fun to create. Some of the most heartfelt and genuine scenes, I hope when people read it reminds them of being a child and growing up.”

On the question of who the illustrator of the book is and how he found her:

  • RP: “Mandy Huey illustrated the story and is a very good friend of my wife. My wife introduced us and after talking to Mandy, I knew she was a perfect match. Mandy had worked in a daycare before and had read many children’s stories to kids. That was important to me why I went with her as the illustrator because I wanted someone who had experience with children but also who would be passionate about this project. We met monthly for the past 2 years on this project until it was complete. This is her first time illustrating a children’s picture book but she is a talented artist with a number of projects in her portfolio.

On the question of whether he hopes to continue this story and/or write more:

  • RP: “I would love to continue the story of Mudball and I actually have different ideas of where to take the story next. Definitely more to come with that. I am working on another children’s picture book that will be out sometime next year. But in the meantime I will be getting the word out about Build with Bricks. My goal for writing children’s stories is to tell stories that are fulfilling and have wholesome lessons. Build with Bricks is my favorite story I have written. I hope it inspires others to read or even write. With an idea and hard work you can create anything and I’m looking forward to inspiring many people with the stories I create.”

I had a fantastic time getting to know Ray a little better and learning about what inspired this wonderful story. I hope that you check out his newest book “Build with Bricks” on Amazon and share it with your children.

If you’d like to connect with Ray you can do so via Twitter using @raymondaprice or Instagram using @buildwithbricks.rp. 

Happy Friday everyone!


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