Review & Giveaway: Heart of the Oak by J.L. Novinsky

Genre: Children’s / Nature / Life Cycle
Publisher: Christian Faith Publishing
Publication Date: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 36 pagesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Heart of the Oak is a sweet story of the life of an old oak tree.  

He’s old and weathered; his skin is rough and knotty.  But he has memories of joy, of love, and of tragedy.  He has endured many years and felt the sorrow of so much loss.  But his greatest joy is just ahead!  

Praise for HEART OF THE OAK from Amazon reviewers!

“Such a great book with a heartfelt story!”

“My children and I LOVE this book. We had a wonderful and insightful conversation after we read it.”


Contrary to popular advice, I tend to judge a book by its cover. And if I had done that with Heart of Oak, I would have assumed that this book was a cutesy children’s story about a tree. But there is so much more to this book than cute illustrations and a beautiful tree.

This book not only explains the life cycle of a tree in an artistic way, but it also explores the way that a tree impacts the lives – human and animal alike – of others and how they affect the tree as well. There are two stories of young being brought up beneath the safety of the majestic oak, one ending with a farewell and another beginning a touching reunion. The tree is anthropomorphized as it experiences feelings of happiness and loneliness, and as age and nature take its toll. It makes me wonder if the tree is meant to represent humans in general, or a particular person.

The reason that I wonder who the tree is meant to represent is because another children’s book, The Giving Tree, tells the story of a tree whose unconditional love for a boy represents the selfless and giving love of a mother. What I like about Heart of Oak is that it doesn’t portray the animals and humans that spend time with the tree as heartless leeches. While the tree will gladly accommodate anyone who wants to live or play with it, it doesn’t harm itself to make others happy. In one particular scene, the tree does everything within its power to preserve itself. I like that because I’m a big believer in making yourself happy before you can make other people happy.

Perhaps because such deep feelings and themes are involved, the author used more advanced vocabulary. There is no age recommendation for this book, but my 6-year-old’s eyes glazed over by page two. I was hoping that the illustrations alone would hold his interest, but I guess my little boy is too addicted to bright colors and zany characters to appreciate the dreamy, watercolor-like imagery. I personally enjoyed the mix of soft lines, reminiscent of my own childhood picture books, and the strong lines that make the characters look a lot like manga.

I recommend this book for children ages 8 and up. I think that it would be an excellent addition to any family’s picture book collection.

J.L. (Joan) Novinsky was born just outside of Chicago, but she got to Texas as fast as she could! Joan started college at age 55, and while taking a Creative Writing class, she wrote her first story, Heart of the Oak. Joan has now written a second children’s book, Horace and Giselle, available for on-line purchase January 2019. She was married to Bob in 1992, had a son, Stephen, in 1998, then in 2001, she and her husband took on the challenge and excitement of adopting a boy from St. Petersburg, Russia. Andrei joined the family in 2002, and the family resides just north of Dallas with their various and numerous pets.
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First Prize: Signed Copy + Bookmark + $25 Amazon GC; Second Prize: Signed Copy + Bookmark + $10 Starbucks GC; Third Prize: Signed Copy + Bookmark

JANUARY 3-12, 2019
(USA only)


Book Trailer
Guest Post
Sneak Peek
Character Interview
Notable Quotable
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Filed under Book Reviews, Giveaway, Lone Star Book Blog Tours

2 responses to “Review & Giveaway: Heart of the Oak by J.L. Novinsky

  1. Lovely and insightful review. I thought the same thing about the vocabulary level, but I guess it’s one more opportunity to teach something in the book. Love this story.

  2. Faith Creech

    Thank you for the interview. Would love to read this book!

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