Papa’s Pearls: A TOS Crew Review

papaspearlslogoI reviewed Papa’s Pearls as part of the TOS Crew Review.  This 100+ paged paper back book by Diane Flynn Keith is a narrative of her father’s practical advice, sayings, and real life accounts that show how “Papa” learned each of the pearls he would later pass down to his children and grandchildren.

papaspearls book jacket

If I were to ask you, when you were a kid, what was one phrase you remember your father saying? Maybe like me, you heard these:

It ‘aint over till the fat lady sings.

You don’t know what you’re missing.

It doesn’t matter if I like it, do you like it?

Hey is for horses.

Bye-bye, buy bonds.

Yes, our dads and granddads were filled with witty comebacks thrown in with some wisdom. I know you will enjoy reading the life story of Carol Joseph Flynn (Papa) lovingly recounted by his daughter. Each of the 17 chapters is titled with a pearl, and starts by bringing the reader back in time to early 20th century America and follows papa through his unconventional upbringing, his stint in continuation school and the Civilian Conservation Corps, and his start in the plumbing business. Finally, readers will read of his transition to adoring husband and wise father.  It is a heartfelt read, with many wonderful stories and historical tidbits of the 20th century.


This is a perfect book to read-a-loud as a family. The author would certainly approve of our reading the book in the car, as she also wrote the popular title Carschooling. My whole family enjoyed reading Papa’s Pearls.  The chapters were short enough that we could read two on a typical twenty minute car ride.  I love quote and sayings, and several of Papa’s resonated with me:

Everyone deserves a second chance,

Be grateful every day,

Get it in writing, and

It’s all about family.

It was such a joy to do a read-a-loud again as a family.  It was a daily practice when my boys were younger, but now that they are all teens and one is now in college, it is not a regular part of our routine.  In recent days my boys would roll their eyes or scatter when I tried to rekindle family read-a-louds.  But not with Papa’s Pearls. Here’s what they all had to say about the book:

garyGary (hubby): “I wasn’t looking forward to reading it as at first glance I was expecting hagiography that would be saccharine and overly sentimental. Rather it was good advice presented through vivid stories which demonstrated the heart of each of the pearls. The readings brought about family discussion about playing outside and how the world is a different place from when us parents were kids.  I especially enjoyed learning about the CCC – we never studied that part of the great depression recovery so it again triggered a spontaneous history lesson.”

garrisonGarrison (college student): “It read like a lively documentary; a daughter trying to share the wisdom her father taught her while infusing it with his personality. None of the sentence structures in the book amazed me, the book is written so that the character her father was will make up for the average-quality writing style (I’m not saying the writing style was bad, I’m saying it wasn’t great). The pearls I heard were decent advice. Often I felt them to be fairly naive, but that’s really the essence of the book – the man Papa was; a joyful, forgiving man who tries hard to see the best in people. I imagine it could be a popular family book for families with grade-school age children as it opens up lots of discussion:  is your grandpa like Papa in this chapter? is the advice good? do you want to try it? It’s different than the books I read as a child since although it is like a documentary it reads like a story; that’s why I called it lively.

benny2Benny (16 year old) “It was a fun little book. Most of it was just common sense, but it was interesting to see someone else’s take on the world, and on life.” 

willWill (12 year old)“It was an inspiring book.” 

Let me leave you with this highlight of our experience:  Papa liked to dance and used to say, “Doodle-lee Do it” and click his heels. It was his way of bringing a little lightness and joy to his family and business associates. We found the song, and once it started playing my college guy broke out in smiles and let loose with a little two step jig.

When the song ended we were laughing and then another history lesson ensued: “You mean you and dad used to listen to music on a phonograph?! Wow, you had it rough.”

No boys, it wasn’t rough to us. It was “Fantastic!”


An autographed copy of Papa’s Pearls: A Father’s Gift of Love and Wisdom to His Children and Grandchildren is available through Homefires for $21.97 which includes shipping. The book is also available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition.

Read more reviews of Papa’s Pearls from the TOS crew here at the review crew blog.

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2 Replies to “Papa’s Pearls: A TOS Crew Review”

  1. Thank you so much for reviewing “Papa’s Pearls,” Kathy, and for including your entire family in the review process. I really enjoyed reading their comments. It might interest Garrison to know that I deliberately wrote the book at about an 8th grade level because I wanted to make it accessible to the “average Joe” – people like Papa (who was educated in the school of hard knocks). I loved the phrases that your father said. I thought you might like to know that I’m having a Papa’s Pearls Father’s Day Contest. If you share a memory about your own father on my blog, you’ll be entered to win a $50 Gift Card to Amazon. Get the details here: Thanks, again! 

  2. Thank you for commenting Diane. It was such a pleasure to read the book together as a family. I’m glad you enjoyed reading our review.

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