Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Its Not About You Mrs. Turkey

“It’s Not About You, Mrs. Turkey” is a unique tool for parents, grandparents and teachers to share both the historical and religious background of the holiday with young readers. The fun and colorful illustrations give children the opportunity to see clothing styles of the past as they learn the importance of courage, sharing, friendship and giving thanks.

What I Like: I am always in favor of literature that points children away from commercialized holidays and teaches the true meaning of why we celebrate a holiday.  Author Soraya Coffelt has done exactly that in It's Not About You, Mrs. Turkey. In a loving and factual way, she lays out the true meaning of Thanksgiving and Christianity's significance.

Illustrator Tea Soroya did a great job showing the emotions of human characters and foul.

What I Dislike: The vocabulary may be too advanced for 5 and 6-year-olds to comprehend. The story is about the true meaning of Thanksgiving so I think a cover depicting solely a confused turkey detracts from the actual message of the book.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: 5-10 Years

Publisher Info: Morgan James Publishing, 2015; ISBN: 978-1630476366; Paperback, 32 pgs., $8.99

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Berestain Bears' Harvest Festival

The leaves are changing into bright colors, the apples are ripe, and it’s time for the Bear family to enjoy the fall harvest. In Michael Berestain's book The Berestain Bears' Harvest Festival, the whole bear family walks to a neighbor’s house to enjoy a hayride, pumpkin picking, pumpkin pie, and a shared meal. On the way and throughout the story, they take small moments to count their many blessings.

Lovers of the Berestain Bears series will enjoy the comforting images of fall and the friendly family banter highlighted in the book.  Rather than having a story with a problem and solution, it’s more of a celebration of fall activities complete with a prayer of thanks from Preacher Brown.  At the end of the book, the author makes the story more interactive by including three questions to discuss and two activities to try out.

What I Like: The Berestain Bears were always a favorite of mine (and of my children). This book makes a nice addition to the collection and gives parents the opportunity to talk about the fall season in a fun way!

What I Dislike: The story was sweet, but slow moving. It lacked the kind of problem-to-solve with a moral lesson that distinguished many of the earlier books in the series.

Overall Rating: Very Good
Age Appeal: 4-8 years old
Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2015; ISBN: 978-0310748656; Paperback, 24 pgs., $3.99
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Lori Gives Thanks for Just Sayin'

Life sure has its ups and downs, but what I have learned this year more than any other is that God is with us through it all... and for that I am extremely thankful! That means He can carry my burdens, guide my way, and surround me with people to encourage me. Not only that, His faithful love allows me to turn right back around and be a blessing to them!

This Thanksgiving, I have to straight out acknowledge that I am thankful for my family and friends, my joys AND my sorrows, my victories AND defeats. Through all these things, God works for our good and His glory.

Looking back over recent reviews, I picked a devotional book to highlight called
Just Saying: Write 'Em, Draw 'Em, Hide 'Em In Your Heart. In my review, I stated this: I am one of those people who love to doodle. Rarely does a piece of paper pass through my hands without some kind of embellishment added. So I was immediately drawn into (pardon the pun) the format of the book. So often, students are offered a left-brain approach to studying Scripture (or doing schoolwork for that matter). This right-brain approach is refreshing. I want to say, “Finally… a devotion geared for people like me… someone who colored the entire surface of her desk in second grade (without teacher consent) and turned in a cartoon strip for her final project in a college course (with teacher consent).”

You can read the full review HERE. 

What I Like: Just about everything since it's a unique approach to devotions for the artistically inclined.

What I Dislike: The verses are presented raw, with little or no explanation or context provided. Therefore, I believe it may be best suited for those familiar with and well rooted in the stories of the Bible. Also, I am not one who likes slang, and the book uses a lot of it. To me, the book would be just as enjoyable but have a longer shelf life if it used quality vocabulary!

Overall Rating: Excellent
Age Appeal: 8-12 (although it may appeal to those older than designated age group).
Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2014; ISBN: 9780310742982 ; Paperback, 192 pgs., $9.99.

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OR Buy the version geared for boys, Dare U 2 Open This Book: Draw It, Write It, Dare 2 Live It for $8.82. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cynthia Gives Thanks for Its Great To Be A Girl

Another Thanksgiving is upon us and I am always in awe of how God blesses my family and I every year. Every year brings new challenges and experiences and God is always right there blessing me with opportunities to live and learn. I am thankful for my position here at CCBR and being a part of a group of women who care about feeding our children's spirits through literature. I am especially grateful for It's Great To Be A Girl by Dannah Gresh. My 11-year-old daughter and I love this book. It's a resource that continues to help my daughter through the challenges of adolescence in a practical and spiritual way. It also encourages her to share her journey with me as an ally.

Everywhere your daughter goes--online or in real life--our culture tells her lies about her body. That's why bestselling author Dannah Gresh, creator of the Secret Keeper Girl events has developed this resource that points tween girls like yours to the truth about God's design.

With stories and examples your daughter can relate to, this Girl's Guide takes her to the Bible as her resource, helping her meditate on its message and have fun while she does it. She'll explore questions such as What if my body is different from everyone else's? What does the Bible mean by "Honor God with your body"? What about makeup--should I wear it? If so, how much? Should I be afraid to grow up? What's the big deal with nutrition and exercise?

Here's solid guidance with biblical grounding that will help your daughter grow spiritually as she's maturing physically.

About this series: The Girl's Guide books in the Secret Keeper Girl Series have been created for tween girls to help them explore topics important to them and give them the opportunity to travel deeper into "God's diary"--the Bible--for truth and instruction.

What I Like: This in-depth book for young girls about to or who are already experiencing puberty goes into what is happening to their bodies, the importance of the changes and why God is the author of the changes. From the very beginning, authors Dannah Gresh and Suzy Weibel offer opportunities for the young readers to take this journey with their parents and friends as a bible study and learning experience. They are teaching the readers prayers, the importance of meditating on God's word and confidence that puberty is positive and necessary. I found it refreshing that Dannah & Suzy made puberty a journey of growth to be proud of, not scary or disgusting. I love that they encourage bonding with moms and friends during the journey.

It is an interactive book where girls can do crossword puzzles, fill-in-the-blanks, doodling, prayers, word search and journaling. The book is meant to be a resource, not just a one time read. The book includes sections of bible study.

The book also includes practical information like photos of the female womb and its purpose, menstrual cycle info, along with hair style ideas, hygiene practices, staying active while having fun, the importance of healthy eating and even bra shopping.

What I Dislike: Nothing

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 8-12 Years but I would say 10-14 due to reproduction discussion.

Publisher Info: Harvest House Publisher, 2015; ISBN: 978-0736960076; Paperback, 128 pgs., $11.99

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christine Gives Thanks for 66 Books One Story: A Guide to Every Book of the Bible in 2015

As always, I am thankful for another year, another month, another week, another day, another hour, and even just another minute of being alive. We have lost so many family members and friends in the past few years, it’s just wonderful being able to say we’re still doing okay. God is good.

There are so many books to be thankful for, that is was simply hard to choose one for this review. However, I chose 66 Books One Story: A Guide to Every Book of the Bible for two reasons: First, because it deals with the Bible, God’s book of life’s instructions. The second reason is because the Bible has 66 books, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all of them. Despite the few things I point out I don't like about the book, it is still a handy reference guide to have beside you if you have a question about a particular book of the Bible.

66 Books, One Story: A Guide to Every Book of the Bible, written by Paul Reynolds, is a study-guide for the Bible. The title refers to the idea that although there are a total of 66 books in the Bible, they all tell “one story”, that of God’s love and power. Also, the author shows many examples of the cohesion of the books where the Old Testament prophets predict events that happen in the New Testament.

There are 67 chapters in this book. Genesis and Psalms are each discussed in two consecutive chapters, and John II & III are combined into one. Each chapter consists of a title, a short subtitle that relates to the content of Biblical book; an Introduction that gives a brief synopsis of the book; an Overview that lists anywhere from four to 17 points of interest in that book; a section called “Learning from ________ [the blank is filled in with the book’s title] with three ideas from the book; a section called “Salvation Thread” telling why the book is important; and ends with a Key Verse.

What I Like: I like the way the author has summed up each chapter. You can easily find a quick review of any of the books of the Bible.

What I Dislike: The author makes liberal improper use of commas, periods and apostrophes throughout the text. Also, the writing itself could use a bit of editing. The book called the Song of Solomon is referred to as the Song of Songs. And, rather than discuss the book of Psalms as a whole, the author cites only two individual Psalms from that book, that of Psalms 69 and 103, each requiring its own chapter.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: Tweens and teens.

Publisher Info: Christian Focus Publications, 2013; ISBN: 9781845508197; Paperback, 235 Pages, $18.99.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Suzette Gives Thanks for Instant Bible Lessons for Nursery: Give Thanks to God

Last year brought some changes not our home and family in a wonderful way. After being members at our current church for (at the time) six years, I was asked to step into the position of Interim Director of Children's Ministry until a full time Children's Minister could be found. I continue to serve in this capacity, and it has been a blessing to our family in so many ways.

I am thankful for the extra income it has blessed us with. I am thankful for the people I have met. I am thankful for the glimpse of our wonderful staff and all of the hard work they do behind the scenes so our Sunday mornings are flawless. I am thankful for the friendships I have made which will carry on long after my services are no longer needed. I am thankful for the children I have the privilege of serving each week.

When I received today's book, I knew God had led Kristina and Cynthia to pack it in my box because it was so relevant to the ministry I am currently involved in.

Instant Bible Lessons for Nursery: Give Thanks to God by Mary J. Davis is a consumable book of eight lessons, complete with reproducible coloring pages, songs, and Bible lessons.

The lessons in this book are designed for nursery aged children with simple lessons which go over the same concept repeatedly so little ones can remember it. Each lesson can be broken up to be spread over an entire month which is great in giving little ones consistency in their lesson.

As is implied in the title, this lesson book focuses on thankfulness. The lessons include:

  • Thank You God for My Family
  • Thank You God for My Friends
  • Thank You God for My Home
  • Thank You God for My Pets
  • Thank You God for My Food
  • Thank You God for Water
  • Thank You God for Clothes
  • Thank You God for My Church

The last chapter of the book includes extra "Give Thanks" activities, including games, rhymes, and crafts.

Even children in the infant nursery can be taught to be thankful just by having the caregiving adult repeating the simple themes and verses while being rocked.

What I Like: I love the simplicity of the these lessons. Nursery curricula put together by larger groups often include "too much" stuff, and little ones are not designed to sit through and listen to a long drawn out lesson. The length of the lessons in this book are the perfect length for little ones. All of the pages in the book are also perforated for easy removal and photocopying.

As the Children's Ministry Director at our church, I look forward to implementing this book in our nursery.

What I Dislike: I liked everything about this book.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 0-2 year olds

Publisher Info: Rainbow Publishers, 2012; ISBN: 978-1-58411-119-1; paperback, 96 pgs., $13.95

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Kristina Gives Thanks for The Jesus Storybook Bible

The last few years haven't been the easiest for my family. We've struggled with health issues, money issues (paychecks don't go as far as they used to!), feelings of isolation from our family, and feelings of betrayal from people we thought were friends. But, boy, have we grown spiritually! I'm thankful for the fact that now, as a family, we are more focused than ever on God. I'm also thankful we are working toward a long time dream: To move away from the suburbs (and a city that seems less and less family friendly) and into a rural area. God willing, by next year we'll be living very near family, in the middle of God's beautiful forest.

But this a blog is about books. I am certainly thankful, as I pack the gazillion books we own, that we have such easy, ready access to books. And as I learn about people throughout the world whose governments make owning a Bible illegal, I'm thankful that I have multiple copies of the Bible. But the Bible I may be most thankful for is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones (and illustrations by Jago). Not only has this children's Bible storybook been a huge blessing for my children - teaching them important, deep spiritual truths - but it's taught me a lot about the Bible, too. And I'm not the only adult who feels this way. In fact, so many adults wrote to Jones about The Jesus Storybook Bible, that she created a version just for adults, called The Story of God's Love For You.

What I Like: I absolutely love how Jones goes way beyond mere retelling of Bible stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible. She not only links all the stories included in the book to Jesus, but she manages to express spiritual truths in such a simple, easy to understand way. I cannot recommend this book enough.

What I Dislike: Nothing!

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: Toddlers through adults.

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2007; ISBN: 978-0310708254; hardback, 352 pgs., $17.99

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Innkeeper's Dog

There are several Christmas stories told from an animal’s perspective. The Innkeeper’s Dog, written by Deborah Bence Boerema, is a little different; it tells about a dog’s viewpoint Christ’s birth a year later.

The star of the book is a pup named Thaniel the Spaniel. He lives in a stable but feels downhearted as the other animals constantly recall the events of that fateful night Jesus was born. Since Thaniel didn’t see the baby, he doesn’t feel special. Sure, he carries food for the family, helps guard the sheep, and protects the family, but to Thaniel, that doesn’t seem extraordinary.

One day, the innkeeper’s son decides to throw a celebration in honor of what happened. Only then does Thaniel learn the truth: that he was born on the same night as the Christ child and was given as a gift to Jesus. However, Mary leaves Thaniel behind, asking the innkeeper’s son to care for the pup and telling him, “Each time the pup does something for you, it will be as if he is doing it for my son. Remember that God wants all creatures to use our talents and skills to serve him. And one way we can serve God is by serving others.”

Upon hearing this, Thaniel realizes that he is special after all!

The layout of the book is a series of two-page spreads with an illustration on one side and a full page of text on the other. The pictures are best described as simple line drawings that are reminiscent of a coloring-book style.

What I Like: The message is a good one. We can’t all be superstars; we don’t always possess obvious talents. But if we can use the skills we have with a humble attitude, we can still serve God. The book also offers a free audio book download. That’s always a plus in my world! Children who like dogs will likely enjoy this book.

What I Dislike: There is a lot of text for the target audience, and not a lot of action in the story. In addition, it is a little pricey for a small paperback.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: None is given, but it would work for the grades K-2 crowd.

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing, 2013; ISBN: 978-1625103239; Paperback or Kindle, 24 pgs., $8.99
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