#1231 – THE DAY WE WENT TO THE PARK by Linda Stephen & Christine Manno


Written by Linda Stephen & Christine Manno
Illustrated by Linda Stephen
Handersen Publishing 2/15/2020
32 Pages   Age 4—8

                  DEBUT WRITERS & ARTIST


Genre:  Children’s Picture Book, Fiction
Themes: Parks, Origami, Outdoor Fun



The Day We Went to the Park takes the reader on a walk around a community park—exploring all there is to see, do and hear. Through rhyming verses and detailed origami paper sculptures, the story invites readers to observe, imagine, and interact with some of the nature at the park including squirrels, ladybugs, pine trees, prairie flowers and a painted turtle. The origami illustrations featured in The Day We Went to the Park reflect the rich diverse communities in which we all live and includes people of different ages, ethnicity, ability and gender. (from publisher)

Opening Sentences

“The park by the lake is my favorite place to be.
So much to do! So much to see!
Come, and take a walk with me.”

Why I like this book

Told in a mixture of couplets and tercets, The Day We Went to the Park is a rhyming collection of what one unnamed character saw and did during a day at the local park. Readers can vicariously spend the day alongside this person; seeing, hearing, learning, and enjoying everything he or she does.

We enjoy a circus act, as squirrels jump and scamper from tree to tree. Bending down for a lower view of the park, we see worms and honeybees. The worm uses an amazing amount of power, as it scales a beautiful purple flower.  A bit lower, looking under rocks for slugs, the effort brings only red ladybugs. Prance like a ladybug, leap like a worm, feel a warm summer breeze, and listen to the birds whisper secrets.  Up ahead, in the lake, are sailboats ready to start a race. Off they go, tacking the buoy, soon to finish the course. Seems little is lacking from this day in the park.

The illustrations are 100% origami sculptures against watercolor backgrounds. All told, it took the artist hundreds of hours to create all the folded papers (>300), and sculptures (>1000), needed to create this picture book. The trees, boats, and people look grand, as do the different sized animals.  I found it amazing being able to see what the artist intended, while also seeing objects only I might see, like the man in a brown jacket sitting by the lake.

The rhyming scheme is consistent, yet could flow better if the musicality were tighter. Over-use of the exclamation point (I counted 17), becomes tedious reading—maybe not for a child—yet to verbally express affection to so many exclamation points, and the dozen question marks, makes for weary reading. Parents may not find multiple reads enjoyable, and that is important. Maybe The Day We Went to the Park, when something extremely unusual happens, might make those exclamation points worth reading as often as children will want them read.

Children will like The Day We Went to the Park. They can relate to walking down a gravel path to green grass and fields of trees and animals. They can relate to looking under rocks, rolling on one’s belly, and watching ladybugs prance about while they dance along with them. Children might see themselves as the unnamed character, taking others through the park, pointing out wonderful things only a child appreciates seeing.  Young children will like looking at the illustrations. Even more, they will love finding the objects mentioned. Sometimes you can see objects other than those intended, similar to gazing at the clouds and seeing Daffy Duck float by. I gazed at these creations for a long time, and then started it all over again before writing this review.  Each time I read The Day We Went to the Park something new amidst the origami popped out.

But . . . I am not a big lover of books offering a meticulous accounting of some activity. I am partial to stories that rise and fall in conflict and have a defining moment when good tackles bad or right defeats wrong. I like what The Day We Went to the Park tries to do: show kids what our parks offer and the fun they can have at a park if they put down all the technology and simply see and do. Very young children (board book age) is a better fit for this type of story. They will look at unusual images or images created in a different way, and this book fits that bill exquisitely. Those who collect picture book for the illustrations could not find anything more visually exciting than Linda Stephen’s origami.

Back Matter

Includes a lesson from artist Linda Stephen on how to make an origami caterpillar. There is also a section titled, About the Art and Papers. Here Stephens explains a little about origami and her construction of the illustrations.

Illustrations Rendered in watercolor backgrounds, which hold the torn and folded (origami) creations made by the artist to tell the story.

Available at Amazon

THE DAY WE WENT TO THE PARK. Text Copyright © 2019 by Linda Stephen & Christine Manno. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Linda Stephen. Published by Handersen Publishing, Lincoln, Nebraska

Origami Artist Linda Stephen–A Short Biography

Linda Stephen has more than 25 years of experience in origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. She is fluent in Japanese and passionate about Japanese paper. Linda studied Japanese art and worked in rural Japan outside of Kyoto for seven years.

In 2003 Linda turned her love of invention and paper folding into creating custom origami landscapes and sculptures. Her award-winning origami collage landscapes are part of collections around the world, from JW Marriot Hotel to a Japanese city hall. Commercially, Linda’s work includes the origami animated videos for Tobacco Free Nebraska and six custom artworks for the JW Marriott Hotel’s “sister city” collection in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In 2018, her artwork “Recess,” of a one-room schoolhouse, won juror’s choice award for American Landscapes from the Maryland Federation of Art. She has served as an artist in residence for the National Parks Service, Jasper Arts Center, Big Rapids Festival of the Arts, Pyrtle Elementary School (Lincoln) and more.

Linda holds a Master of Arts degree in international journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts in French from Northern Michigan University. Stephen has taught writing, editing, and public speaking at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  Linda is a frequent speaker on Japanese culture and origami at art festivals, galleries, and university events across the U.S. The Day We Went to the Park is Linda’s debut picture book as artist and author (along with Christine Manno; also her debut picture book). She lives in Lincoln with her two children.

Find Linda Stephens at her website:  https://www.lindastephen.com/


Copyright © 2019 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

[I am an Amazon affiliate. When you purchase through a link on KLR, you are supporting Kid Lit Reviews. For each sale, KLR makes a small commission, which costs you nothing extra. This is an easy way to show your support for this site, without using your own money. For each commission received, I gratefully thank you.]


3 thoughts on “#1231 – THE DAY WE WENT TO THE PARK by Linda Stephen & Christine Manno

  1. This looks like a work of art. Plus – nobody loves the park better than I do. Whether it’s circus squirrels or bugs or clouds or ducks – I am on board. And if somebody drops a cigar butt on the ground or leaves an empty McDonald’s bag on a bench, all the better. I’m on it!

    Love and licks,


If you like this post ... Why?

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.