Perfect Picture Book Friday: THE ROUGH PATCH Plus Double Giveaway

Sometimes things are just meant to be.

A couple of months ago, I noticed author/illustrator Brian Lies was promoting a new book and offering a signed copy and an original illustration sketch as a giveaway. All you had to do to enter was to share the post. Of course, everybody knows I love sharing the word about new picture books…so I did. And guess what?

I won! The book is  AMAZING! And the sketch will be hung in a place of honor in my home. But even more special is that I got to connect with Brian. And when I asked if he’d like to participate in a Will Write for Cookies Q&A, he said: YES! Plus, because Brian is a generous soul as well as being a super talented author/illustrator, he’s doing a DOUBLE giveaway…a copy of THE ROUGH PATCH and a copy of his other new book that just launched, GOT TO GET TO BEAR’S. So, please make sure you leave a comment here and also come back tomorrow when Brian stops by to chat with us.

rough patch


Written and illustrated by Brian Lies

Published by Harper Collins/Greenwillow Books (August 2018)

Ages: 4-8

Themes: Loss, grief, friendship, hope

Opening lines: “Evan and his dog did everything together.”

Synopsis: From a Starred School Library Journal Review:

“Lies taps into the powerful nature of love, loss, grief, and hope in his latest picture book. Evan, a fox, and his dog are best friends and in a series of acrylic, oil, and colored pencil vignettes, they are shown attending a fair, playing games, and, most important, working in Evan’s meticulously groomed garden. These loving scenes are abruptly cut short by a large spread of white space with spare text stating: “But one day, the unthinkable happened.” On the opposing page, white space surrounds a grieving Evan as he mourns the loss of his dog. In his grief, Evan destroys the garden that reminds him so much of his friend and weeds grow in its place. When a pumpkin vine sneaks into the garden, Evan allows it to take root and with it, hope returns. With lyrical figurative language, Evan transitions from being devastated by heartache to a being willing to step back into the world again. With his pumpkin, Evan rejoins his friends at the fair. Although it’s not the same without his best friend, he enjoys himself again and even wins a prize for his pumpkin. His prize and the hope of all those who suffer love’s loss is a chance to love again with a new puppy. While best suited for independent readers or shared moments during a loss, this poignant picture book provides an exquisite depiction of grief and hope. VERDICT A remarkable first selection for all libraries and a helpful guide for children and adults who are going through their own rough patches.”  –-Rachel Zuffa, Racine Public Library, WI

Why I like this book:

  • The subject: we need more books that will help young kids cope with loss and grief – this book is perfect for a parent or teacher to use as a vehicle for opening a discussion when a child is going through a rough patch.
  • Even more importantly, I think, because of the fabulous illustrations, it is a book a young child can ‘read’ just by turning the pages and looking at the pictures. THIS is a book where every picture is worth a thousand words.
  • And the words that Brian does use, are absolutely perfect, setting just the right tone and pace for loss, grief, and finally, hope. This is a wonderful book for writers to use as a mentor text if they are looking to write a picture book about loss.


10-adorable-fox-crafts-sqPhoto courtesy:

Paper plates, paper bags, and just plain paper – that’s what you’ll need for most of these fun fox crafts, plus scissors, glue, and maybe a couple of googly eyes. I even see one that uses autumn leaves. How cool is that! Hop over to get detailed instructions here:

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered into the giveaway for a chance to win one of the two books.


Brian’s newest book, GOT TO GET TO BEAR’S (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) actually launched last week. This author/illustrator is on fire!!! And one lucky person is going to win a copy of it. Here’s a short synopsis from Amazon:

Bear never asks for anything. So when she sends a note to Izzy urgently requesting her presence, Izzy can’t refuse! But a blizzard begins and slows Izzy’s progress.  As the snow accumulates, so do her friends, helping her on her way to Bear’s place.  
     This heartwarming tale from best-selling author and illustrator Brian Lies shows readers the rewards of counting on friends to get you through, snowstorm or not.

And please do come back tomorrow when Brian shares insights, inspiration, and a lovely cookie recipe with us that has been in his family for THREE generations!

Speaking of family, I just booked a last-minute flight to Chicago to spend Thanksgiving with my son and his family. I have to honestly say that Brian’s book, THE ROUGH PATCH, was part of the push to do that because it makes you realize how very important friends and family are.  We need to enjoy them and cherish them while we can. And when my 5-year old granddaughter heard I was coming, she told me she will be doing the cooking of the salad, turkey, and dessert. I am surely in for a rare treat!

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever - Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (PomegranateKids, March 15, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, Feb 13, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, May 1, 2019); MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: THE INSPIRING FRIENDSHIP OF ELLA FITZGERALD AND MARILYN MONROE (Little Bee Books, Spring 2020); FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY THE WORLD MOVES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020) picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my young grandson.

Posted on November 9, 2018, in Craft Activity for Kids, GIVEAWAYS, Perfect Pictture Book Friday, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I love A Rough Patch! Such a good book. Can’t wait to read Got to Get to Bear’s! Thanks for sharing these titles with us!


  2. These look adorable! Can’t wait to find a copy! And I want to hear all about a dinner a five-year-old cooks! 🤣🤣


  3. These both sound amazing, I especially love the idea of kids seeing tumultuous feelings and how they are worried through. My favorite part to read here was how the pumpkin vine “took root.” What a perfect analogy!


  4. They are both adorable books with universal themes. Gorgeous illustrations for both of them. Thanks for sharing. Must look and see if they will appear downunder.


  5. Brian Lies is one of my favorites. He’s as wonderful as his books! Have a great vacation, Vivian. And, thanks for keeping us in the picture book loop! (and cookies too!)


  6. Have been hearing a lot about this book in Twitter ! Would love a copy for our library and grief group that meets on Thursdays !


  7. The illustrations are so bright and colorful. Perfect match for such a touching story such as The Rough Patch ❤️


  8. I love this concept. Congratulations, Brian, and thanks, Vivian, for spreading his good news.


  9. I got The Rough Patch from the library recently and it was hard to take it back. Definitely one to return to again and again. Love the cover for Bear’s!! I’ll be looking for that one too.


  10. I wanted to read this book a few times to experience the beautiful message. Anyone can relate to a rough patch – we all have them but for children, this book is much needed. I’m glad he chose a fox and a dog as characters and not people too. The page turns were beautifully written and illustrated. Great storytelling for a difficult subject


  11. I love The Rough Patch & paired it with A Stone for Sascha a few weeks ago in a “Perfect Pairing” post. So happy to see it featured here!


  12. I love both books by Brian Lies. THE ROUGH PATCH shares the loss of Fox’s best friend in a caring and honest way. All readers with pets can relate.


  13. I love everything about this – the books, the crafts, and the fact that you were inspired to spend some extra time with your family! Thanks for the reminder about what’s important, and the chance to win some lovely books!


  14. Oh The Rough Patch–a new favorite. Lovely and bittersweet. I look forward to reading Bear!


  15. You are right about this being a tough topic but it sounds like he handled it perfectly. We have a100 year old great grandpa that is fading and I know this book will help his grand and great grand children when the time comes .


  16. Both books look absolutely lovely … will be reading them soon! 🙂


  17. These both sound like very good books. I took a Booklist webinar this week that promoted Got to Get to Bear’s. Love the fox craft ideas you posted here, too, Vivian. Thanks!


  18. I’m so happy you reviewed the picture book, Rough Patch. I checked it out from my library shortly before the unexpected loss of my father-in-law, and I have to say that although the book was intended to help children learn to cope with loss, this tender tale helped me, too. I’m looking forward to reading your interview tomorrow with Brian Lies.


  19. Picture books truly are for all ages & stages. Love these titles!


  20. Beautiful books! What school counselor wouldn’t love to have The Rough Patch for their “grief group?”


  21. Thanks for sharing about this book looks like a very important one to help children (and adults) cope with grief. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  22. Becky Scharnhorst

    The Rough Patch is such a beautiful book about heartbreak and hope. I’m so glad it’s out in the world. I look forward to reading Got to Get to Bear’s. I love the cover!


  23. These both look wonderful. Thanks for sharing Brian’s books and art with us.


  24. Loved the Rough Patch so I’m excited to read this other book.


  25. Danielle Hammelef

    As soon as I read about The Rough Patch, I immediately placed a hold on it at my library. It is picture book perfection and I’m still thinking about this book and how it impacted my own thoughts on grief and allowing happiness back into my life. Now I need to read all of Brian’s books.


  26. These books are amazing! Thank you for presenting them Vivian.


  27. I definitely will add these to my collection. The illustrations look amazing.


  28. mariagianferrari

    I LOVE The Rough Patch & can’t wait to read Bear’s story!!! Brian’s art and storytelling voice are just beautiful!! Congrats on winning your own copy, Vivian!!


  29. These books look great…both the storylines and illustrations. I can’t wait to read them.

    And I agree. Family is so important. I just got back from visiting mine. It had been 2 years since I’d seenmost of them!!! And it was so nice.


  30. Oh, I’m so glad you’re going to see family for TG! Yes, that’s what it’s all about.

    These two books sounds so wonderful. And unlike what the reviewer for SLJ mentioned, I don’t think that books about grief should just be read just by those who are grieving. Empathy is a critical skill that can be used broadly, in many different situations, one being to empathize with others who are grieving. And I think that this book would also help kids develop the muscle to deal with grief when it affects them personally sometime down the road.

    The snowstorm book reminds me a little of a book my son LOVED when he was small. It was about a little porcupine who gives some article of warm clothing away to each animal she meets in a snowy woods. Until she’s cold herself. And then her friends come to the rescue. We read that book SO many times, but it always left us with a smile. Sounds like this book will do the same. And of course, the illustrations in both books are wonderful! Love his work!


  31. Wonderful post. I love the covers on the books and I am sure the insides are also great. Have a happy Thanksgiving.


  32. Brian does such beautiful work, so happy he has two new books!


  33. His writing is perfect, and I absolutely love his illustrations. I’m in awe of people that are so good at more than one thing. (I’m always still fascinated by bilinguals.)
    Thank you for this highlight.


  34. These books look wonderful! Can’t wait to read them both.


  35. I love all of Brian’s books – and I can’t wait to grab these two new ones. (I still love his bat-books the best.) 🙂


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