Catholic Mom Book Spotlight

The Bramble Thicket
by Deborah Thomas
Hardcover: 83 pages
Gypsy Hill Publishing; (February 1, 2004)

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The Bramble Thicket is about eight Bramble Thicket bears™ who embark on a journey to find a new home. While stranded in the forest, the bears’ kindness, persistence and teamwork help them to overcome many obstacles to create a fairy tale adventure story unlike any other. Throughout the story, the bears demonstrate concepts and virtues such as vocabulary building, reading comprehension, problem solving skills, teamwork, manners, and honesty, all of which are essential building blocks in the growth of a child.

LH:  Deborah, congratulations to you and James Seward on the publication of the delightful book The Bramble Thicket and for participating in this Book Spotlight. Could you please share some information about yourself and your family?

DT: It is a pleasure to share The Bramble Thicket with you and your readers. The publication of The Bramble Thicket is fulfillment of a dream. My family has been a great encouragement. During the thirty-some years of marriage, my husband Jay and I have always believed that dreams do come true. We have two adult children, both were homeschooled and have gone on to earn Master of Law degrees. As a stay-at-home mom, I was able to practice my belief that Motherhood is the highest calling in the world. It requires various skills, self-discipline and a sense of humor!

I like to learn new things, analyze old concepts, and develop new ideas. I am a creative thinker, author, master seamstress, artist (Paper Mache’ sculpture, and water color landscapes), designer, teacher, and basket weaver. In addition to these activities, I enjoy conversation, travel, hiking, reading and meeting new people. Talents are gifts from God and I am thankful for his blessing.

LH:  What served as the inspiration for The Bramble Thicket?  What message would you like to share with your readers, both young and "young at heart?”

DT: I had noticed a trend in children’s book that led away from traditional values. “Someone should write stories parents can trust,” I told Jay. Little did I realize that someone would be me. The Bramble Thicket began one day as we were traveling. I began to see the opening scenes in my mind. I described them to Jay and later wrote them down. The original manuscript is written on scraps of paper, napkins, and placemats.

A good story is one that is enjoyed by all ages. The Bramble Thicket is a story of hope for everyone. I write stories to touch the imagination of children, and stories that do that will touch the imagination of others, for we were all children once.

LH:  James Seward's illustrations for The Bramble Thicket are magnificent!  How does it feel to see your beloved characters come to life at the hand of a gifted illustrator?

DT: It was an incredible experience seeing the characters as Jim painted them. Mr. Seward is a great painter and a wonderful person. Illustrating is a process that begins with the selection of passages to be illustrated. One day after Jim and I had made the selections, he sat back, wiggled his fingers and said “I am your fingers…tell me what you see.”  He then did rough concept sketches of the images in my mind. The next step was the pencil drawings, and the final step was the painting. Each illustration became more than my vision as Jim combined his talent and experience with the text. The opportunity to work with one on the greatest storyteller illustrators in America, will always be one of my cherished memories!

LH:  Moral themes seem to abound in The Bramble Thicket, as does the message that we can all overcome obstacles in life.  Was this your intention for writing the story?

DT: Children and adults learn great principles through stories. From parables to fairy tales stories with purpose teach and encourage. The Bramble Thicket Bears look at life as an opportunity to solve problems, not be overcome by them. The cast of eight, very busy bears creates the opportunity for the reader to identify moral themes and values.  The Bramble Thicket Bears teach by example. Throughout the story the bears demonstrate: Teamwork  • Determination  • Kindness  • Consideration  • Respect for others  • Hope • Curiosity  • Gentleness  • Courtesy  • Exploration  • Manners  • Safety  • Self-respect  • Confidence  • Honesty

LH:  One of my favorite elements of The Bramble Thicket is its emphasis on Good Manners.  Why do you feel this is an important message to share with young children?

DT: Good Manners are an important theme in The Bramble Thicket. Manners are tools that allow us to interact with one another. Manners teach self-restraint and consideration for others. Rough and Tumble (twin Bramble Thicket™ Bears) are learning to use their manners. They do not always succeed, but they do try! This is an important lesson for young children. Good manners take practice. Wise parents teach good manners to their children.

LH:  Do the Bramble Thicket Bears have any plans or dreams for the future?

DT: Yes! The bears, are still having adventures so I am writing more Bramble Thicket stories! There are many more stories written (over twenty), waiting to be published. Some of the additional titles include, Brick Walls that Talk!  The Secret Code and Lessons from a Soap Box. Perhaps, Bramble and Helper will set up their own printing press! Until they do, I will continue to write the Bramble Thicket stories!

LH:  Thank you again for your time and for sharing this wonderful story with our readers.  Are there any closing thoughts or comments you'd like to add?

DT:  I am often asked “ What makes The Bramble Thicket different from other children’s books?

The Bramble Thicket is a treasure book. It is eighty-eight pages, divided into twelve chapters. The book is designed to teach reading comprehension and build character. The Bramble Thicket is different because it is filled with the same thing that makes stars twinkle and dreams come true. It is more than imagination - it is the wonder of hope and discovery. The same wonder we see in the eyes of a child at Christmas time, is brought to hearts all year long in this story. Children believe in the Bramble Thicket Bears!

Thank you for this opportunity to share The Bramble Thicket with your readers. It is available at bookstores and

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