Gelli Belle and The Lazy Lion

Children - Picture Book
40 Pages
Reviewed on 11/13/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Vernae Bezear is an Author, Wife, and Mother. She has worked professionally in the field of education for over 20 years. She is currently an Instructional Coach and certified Reading Recovery Specialist within the New York City Department of Education.

Vernae created the Gelli Belle Books as a fun means of teaching her daughter Angelica (and all children) valuable lessons about life and emotions to help them feel a greater sense of identity within our ever-changing world.

Diversity and Representation matter! As a member of the New Teacher Center Equity Commission, Vernae has poured her vast experience with children, education, and social-emotional learning into being a part of their mission, to re-center the humanity of educators, families, students, and communities, and to create new systems which create equitable results for everyone.

The Gelli Belle series focuses on such themes as the managing of emotions, making responsible decisions and having higher levels of empathy and self-awareness. Gelli Belle and The Magic Toy Chest is the first book of the series and the beginning of everything!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Susan Sewell for Readers' Favorite

A little girl tries convincing her sleepy lion friend to get out and enjoy life with her in the charming children's picture book Gelli Belle and The Lazy Lion (Gelli Belle Series: Book Two) by Vernae Bezear. Gelli Belle awakens, ready for an adventure, and she wants to take Larry the Lion with her. But Larry already has plans. He would rather stay inside and loaf about than go outside with Gelli Belle and explore. Gelli Belle tries to convince Larry he needs to get out and have fun with her, but he doesn't want to hear anything about leaving the comfort of his bed. Gelli Belle is determined, but so is Larry. Can Gelli Belle persuade her Lazy Lion friend, Larry, to leave the luxury of his room? Or will Gelli Belle have to find another favorite toy to take adventuring with her?

Gelli Belle and The Lazy Lion by Vernae Bezear is a delightful story with lovable characters. Gelli Belle tries to convince her favorite toy to leave his comfortable space and discover the world outside, then shows how much fun stepping beyond his comfort zone is. Illustrations combined with photos give the story a hint of realism while still keeping younger children engaged with the graphics. I enjoyed the flowing cadence of the narrative. The almost poetic rhythm of the story will enthrall readers of all ages. The book is enchanting, and the message is encouraging. I appreciate how the author, Ms. Bezear, created Gelli Belle and Larry to inspire children's emotional and social well-being. I recommend this book to children ages 3-6.

Deborah Lloyd

When Gelli Belle woke up one morning, she went to her toy chest to find a toy. In it was Larry the Lazy Lion, who was sleeping soundly. Gelli woke him up, telling him there were places they had to go. He begged her to take another animal, saying he was lazy. Finally, she dragged him out of the house and into the car by his tail, and her mother took them to the park. Larry and Gelli had lots of fun playing on the slides, swinging, and running through the sprinklers. They even got a treat on the way home. Larry thanked Gelli for taking him outside, and he learned that being lazy is a big waste of time. Author Vernae Bezear teaches an important lesson to children in Gelli Belle and The Lazy Lion.

On the last page, Ms. Bezear notes the book was written “to inspire others to get out of their comfort zone, try new things and enjoy life!” The goal was met through this delightful, appealing story. When children feel reluctant or intimidated by the prospect of a new experience, parents can read this book to them. The story can be a discussion starter about how doing new things can be a fun and exciting adventure. The charming illustrations by Jozcel Fernandez and Christina Rudenko also contribute to this main theme. Larry’s expressions change throughout the tale, as he moves from resistance to playfulness. The children’s book, Gelli Belle and The Lazy Lion, written by Vernae Bezear, is a book children will enjoy over and over again.

Jamie Michele

Gelli Belle and the Lazy Lion, written by Vernae Bezear and illustrated by Jozcel Fernandez and Christina Rudenko, is a children's picture book that revolves around a little girl and a sentient stuffed toy with little interest in moving from the comfort of his toy box bed. Gelli wakes up to a beautiful new day with all of the hope and wonder that most young children have. She is ready to play and select a companion to join in on the fun. Asleep in a chest is a lion who is determined not to play with Gelli, no matter how enticing her promises of what the day might bring for them both. The story is written in a lyrical, rhythmic narrative with illustrations that blend real-world photography and digital sketching in a colorful, mixed medium design.

I was pleasantly surprised when I opened Gelli Belle and the Lazy Lion, immediately struck by the voice that Vernae Bezear gives Gelli. She is upbeat and so, so alive that it is impossible not to be drawn in from the first line. She has agency over her day and is clearly in a home that nurtures exploration and excitement. The writing has a sing-song quality that is simple enough for my youngest reader to read on her own, although I admit I enjoyed it as much as she did. The artistry is creative and successful in the way that Jozcel Fernandez and Christina Rudenko merge the true-to-life environmental images while placing an illustrated Gelli in the scenes. The message is fun and reassuring without compromise on its entertainment value, and having the lead character of ambiguous ethnicity made this little book an excellent fit in our bedtime routine.