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Grady HarpTop Contributor: Children’s Books


5.0 out of 5 stars ‘As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart’ – Proverbs 27:19 Reviewed in the United States on May 2, 2022

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Colorado author Catherine Ann Russell served as a professional research scientist at National Oceanic Atmosphere Administration before forming Spike Productions – a digital multimedia company, then formed Basket Relief Project, a humanitarian service supporting famine relief. She is joined by illustrator Brooke Connor, a retired environmental chemist, in this Pearls of Wisdom series. Two scientists address finding true identity.

The referenced Proverb upon which this story is quoted above. Russell embellishes the Proverb by relating the tale of Princess Journee who seeks advice from her animal friends as to her true identity, resulting in a journey to self-acceptance and self worth. This is an excellent story for children – of all ages! – and a welcome addition to the library of caring families. Grady Harp, May 22


5.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, great values
Reviewed in the United States on April 23, 2022

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The Pond of Reflection is the first installment in The Pearls of Wisdom Series: Stories Inspired by a Biblical Proverb by Catherine Ann Russell. This story was fantastic! And the illustrations were nice too. I liked the theme of looking inside yourself for answers, and I think it was a good message for kids too. However, what we know (or maybe are still learning, no judgement) and what the mouse king knows is that you have to look inside yourself for answers. I liked the encouragement of Journee going on a journey to find that out for herself, even though her father already knew the answer.
Lastly, the themes of teamwork and trial and error, finding out who you are by finding out who you are not, were great and I think made for a mature read. But kids need that sometimes amongst all the goofy characters. A high recommendation for sure.

Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous for my granddaughters
Reviewed in the United States on June 18, 2022

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My nine year old granddaughter loved this book. She read it in a few days. She is anxious now to read the Hyrax Song, the second in the series.

Celeste S

5.0 out of 5 stars Friendship and self discovery
Reviewed in the United States on April 26, 2022

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The Pond of Reflection written by Catherine Ann Russell is a beautiful book that will captivate young and old alike. It is book 1 in the series Stories Inspired by Biblical Proverbs. This one in particular teaches readers about the search for the self and the importance of friendship regardless of our possible differences.
The Pond of Reflection tells the story of Journee, a mouse and a princess.
Although she is certain of these things, she needs to discover her real identity so she embarks on a journey to find a legendary pond where she will supposedly find the answers to her questions. Through her encounters with different charming and memorable characters, she will learn important and valuable life lessons.
The characters are believable and very well constructed. The writer has described them with such ability and imbued them with such an ample range of feelings that it is very easy for the reader to empathise with them. The plot is simple but it poses some philosophical questions that resonate with deep emotions long after the end of the book. It is a perfect book for children, although I must say that I enjoyed a lot too.

Samuel Scheeres

5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Biblical metaphors
Reviewed in the United States on December 16, 2021

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Reading your work was a real delight, Cat. I won’t forget what I learned from your story. I enjoyed your illustration of the proverb (27:19), and I’d even call this a work of biblical exegesis for children. I enjoyed the character mix-up in the Whoami woods. You did a good job of presenting identity confusion in a light-hearted yet sincere way. I was glad to see how the character mix-up ended with a baptism in the Identity Falls. We only become free from our confusion when we find our identity in Christ.

I imagine that a child would really love this story, although I’m twenty-four and all beaten up and sad, so my word about children isn’t the best. What I can say is that the story is mature yet simply written. It is fun and happy and worthy of my laughter, yet I found a real pearl of wisdom within it. I imagine that a thoughtful child, while enjoying it, would also be moved to “commune with his heart”, to learn what he truly is.

I look forward to reading your other work.

One person found this helpful


5.0 out of 5 stars Written for young children, but the lessons are universal
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2021

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I bought this book as a gift for a friend’s two daughters aged 5 and 7, but the illustrations by Brooke Connor were so inviting and the book’s write up so engaging that I had to read it myself before wrapping it! The story is extremely well-written and easy to follow for a child to read on their own, and anyone reading aloud to children will find the story unusually engrossing. The themes in the book are ones that face not just the youth of today, but indeed ones that we face well into adulthood: the age-old questions of ‘Who am I?’, ‘What if I don’t measure up to expectations?’ and the pursuit of wisdom and courage through our life experiences. A wonderful and quick read, I shall be getting this as a stocking stuffer for all my young friends!


5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic Proverb about inner beauty very much needed in today’s world!
Reviewed in the United States on February 22, 2022

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The Pond of Reflection is a perfect book for the young readers in your life. In a world where they are bombarded with messages that tell them the most important thing about them is appearance, this book invites them into a magical kingdom where this concept is turned on its head. A wonderful story with a powerful message!

Joe in Carolina

5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful, fresh take on a timeless lesson
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2021

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At 70 years of age, I found this precious tale to be very enjoyable and at the same time very educational. It enabled me to re-remember similar themes from my childhood books. The lessons woven throughout this wonderful story should be shared with children at an early age, but alas, also shared with those elderly children like myself. A thoroughly enjoyable story with magical illustrations too!

Robert Halbert

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and heartfelt
Reviewed in the United States on December 10, 2021

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What a lovely story! The mouse princess could be anyone who is not quite sure of themselves and who is determined to know themselves for who they truly are. The mouse king provides wisdom and stability. The characters all have distinct traits and personalities, and they make the story relatable, interesting, and fun. The story is full of creativity and vivid imagery. The artwork is amazingly beautiful and whimsical. The idea of being happy with yourself just as you are – and that sometimes it requires a “journey” to realize it – is relevant for anyone of any age at any time.

Baby Boomer

5.0 out of 5 stars A great story even for adults!
Reviewed in the United States on January 11, 2022

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I read this book as soon as I bought it, all in one sitting. It was a delightful story. The characters all came to life for me. And best of all, there are several life lessons to be gleaned from it. As a Baby Boomer, I was surprised that I found wisdom and application for the children’s book even at my age. It really made me ponder some important things about my own life. I can see how it could generate some great discussions about important issues for kids and grandkids. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Debbie Ash

5.0 out of 5 stars Know yourself from the ‘outside in’
Reviewed in the United States on December 13, 2021

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The Pond of Reflection by Catherine Russell is a delightful book which I truly enjoyed reading. The little princess, Journee, who lives in a kingdom with no mirrors, wants to find out who she really is so she decides to seek out her own reflection. She sets out on an adventure and is joined by a noble steed, a homely little frog, and a wise and skilled owl. These four become fast friends as they discover and appreciate not only who they are, but also accept and appreciate each other. As I read, I found myself wishing that I had a 10 year old sitting beside me with whom I could share this lovely book.

Sydney Hostetler

5.0 out of 5 stars Charming and uplifting
Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2021

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Love this affirming story! Precious characters will charm your children and grandchildren, and who can help loving the Toad!! This message about identity is so very needed today! A very safe and inspirational read, and great for reading out loud. Illustrations are beautifully done!

Top reviews from other countries

Meera Jhogasundram

5.0 out of 5 stars When you are loved for your heart…
Reviewed in Germany on February 4, 2022

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The superficiality of appearances is beautifully contrasted with the depth of character. The only way to live life is to experience it with whole-hearted involvement. This book teaches young learners the importance of being true to yourself. It shows that identity is a product of social expectations. What is your expectation for yourself? What is most important to you? The story prompts you to answer these questions. Your inner harmony will be reflected in your physical appearance. That is true beauty. A meaningful read!

JoAnn Niebur

5.0 out of 5 stars A sweet book
Reviewed in India on December 13, 2021

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This is a sweet story about identity and a loving king. Great for young readers or for reading to younger children.

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