Monday, October 12, 2015

Up Down All Around

Up Down All Around by first time author Kevin M. Kelley is a beautiful retelling of the Creation account.

This book is different from any other book written about the Creation account that I have read. I love how the author speaks of God, calling Him Elohim, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, introducing children to the concept of the Trinity in a beautiful way and God's name in Hebrew.

The idea of Up Down All Around comes after the explanation of Creation. Up Down All Around has to do with the harmony that God intended between Himself and us (up), between us and his creation (down), and between us and those around us (all around).

The illustrations align beautifully to each page of story. God's hands and body are outlined in white in the illustrations showing that he is present during the Creation of the world.

What I Like: One aspect of the book which is love is how God is continuously show as one God in three Persons. The Trinity can be hard to explain to children, but I think this book is a great starting point. As children hear this book read to them over and over again, it will give them the pieces for one day understanding one of the foundations of our Christian beliefs.

With the purchase of this book, there is a code included in the back of the book. This code enables the purchaser to access the audio book file, allowing this book to be heard by children at times when the parents are unable to read to them.

What I Dislike: I liked this book very much.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 5-12 years old

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing, 2014; ISBN: 978-1631220487; paperback, 28 pgs., $9.99

Buy it at for $8.99

Friday, October 9, 2015

Learn and Spell Puzzle Book of Learning

Learn and Spell / Puzzle Book of Learning by Frank-N and Dotsie j is a workbook designed to teach preschoolers their alphabet and numbers.

The pages of this workbook are bright and colorful. As children are learning the alphabet, they are also being taught a little rhyme about Jesus.

As the children are introduced to a number, because each letter is equated to a number. As the children learn these combinations of letters and numbers ("A is letter number 1"), they are given activities and games which combine the letters and their "partner" numbers.

What I Like: I like that a lot of thought has been put into the designing of this book. Rather than children being taught the traditional "A is for apple," words that children would use in their daily vocabulary are used instead. "A is for and."As children are being taught the alphabet, they will notice that vowels have a shadow behind them in order to teach them that these sounds are different from all of the others.

I also like that where most preschool learning books children are usually taught to count to the numbers 10 or 15, in this book they are taught to count up to 26 because of the number of alphabet in the English language.

What I Dislike: I personally have a hard time equating a letter to a number. All of the games use the letter/number relationship which is somewhat difficult for preschoolers to do, and the games are extremely difficult, in my opinion.

Although I know that a lot of thought and time has gone into the making of this book, I think it is a bit expensive.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: 4-6 year olds

Publisher Info: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013; ISBN: 978-1482701753; paperback, 48 pgs., $10.53

Buy it at for $10.53

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Ella Mae: The Courageous Cheerleader

In Ella Mae: The Courageous Cheerleader, Ella Mae is bullied by some of the other cheerleaders in her school. Rather than striking back at them – being mean in return – she chooses to turn the other cheek and repay hurt with kindness. Before long things turn around at her school and the kids no longer think it’s cool to be mean. They even elect her queen for the day at her school.

Author Stephanie Cameron uses Galatians 6:9 as the reference for the story. She also includes a list of three discussion questions at the end of the book (each with its own Bible reference), as well as a suggested prayer and another list of scriptures that can be used for references to the story.

The illustrations are cartoon-like, but they are colorful and work well with the text.

What I Like: Bullying is, unfortunately, something many kids have to face on a daily basis. It’s good to have stories that related to the subject. I also like that the text is based on a true story. And, I like the numerous Bible references used for the text and the study questions.

What I Dislike: The story is written in rhyme, and as you probably know, I am generally not a fan of rhyming text. This is because it is very difficult to write in rhyme and to do it well. Unfortunately, although most of the text does actually rhyme, the rhyme is often forced, making the sentences sound unnatural and throwing off they rhythm of the text.

Also, although the story is about bullying, the reason for the bullying is never mentioned. Why is Ella being bullied?

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: It’s tough to say what the age group is because the story is about cheerleaders. You usually don’t have cheerleaders in elementary school, but the text is written for that age group. So, I’d  have to say ages 8-12 would be appropriate.

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing, 2012; ISBN: 9781628546002; Paperback, $8.99.

Buy the hardcover edition now at Amazon $18.99!

Special Info: A link to an audio download for the story is included with the book.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Can God See Me?

Can God See Me? by Penny Reeve is a sweet book in the spirit of The House that Jack Built where each page builds on what the previous page said.

The question is asked, "Can God see me?" Throughout the story, a very fantastical situation is thought up by a little boy and the question is continuously asked. I love how the end of the story concluded with, "At the base of the hill, far away from the tree... I'm so thankful God can still see me."

What I Like: On a personal level, I love that when my daughter walked up to me as I was writing this review, she remembered the story and the conclusion most of all. It has been several months since we read this one together. As a parent, I love when a book impacts my own child to the point where remembers it vividly.

I also love the illustrations. They line up perfectly with the fantastical wording. The illustrations leave plenty of "white" space for the words to take center stage, yet they stand on their own to complement the story perfectly.

What I Dislike: Although I have a paperback version of this book, it is only available as an e-book for Kindle at this point.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 3-8 years old

Publisher Info: Wombat Books, 2013; ISBN: 978-1-922074-97-3 ; Kindle, 24 pgs., $3.99

Buy it at for $3.99

Monday, October 5, 2015

Paul, Tarsus to Redemption

For kids who love manga, check out the book Paul, Tarsus to Redemption. This visually entertaining book by Matthew Salisbury and Gabrielle Gniewek follows the life of Saul in his early persecution of the church, his blinding encounter with Christ on the road to the Damascus (and name change), and all the way to his death in Rome. 

Classic manga illustrations by Sean Lam help the reader visualize every step of Paul’s journey. With the binding on the right instead of the left and panels read from right to left in Japanese style, readers can fully immerse themselves in the comic-style experience. The book helpfully provides directions on how to read the text. Ironically, this information is located at the end of the book, making it the first page readers unfamiliar with the genre see! The author also provides an annotated map of Paul’s excursions.

The book is divided into three chapters. Each chapter quotes a verse of Scripture.

What I Like:This is a book that would appeal to my son and kids who enjoy comic books. The artwork is visually spectacular. It’s a thick book, but a fast read, making it particularly appealing to reluctant readers.

What I Dislike: I felt like the text left a few gaps in the story that the pictures were not able to fully clarify. Therefore, I think kids must have a good grasp on Paul’s life from Scripture prior to reading the book. Without that background knowledge I think the tale would be hard to follow. There were also a few places where the writer/artist took some creative liberties which surprised me, but, in general, those served to make the story come to life.

Overall Rating: Very Good, though the artwork is Excellent. So VG with a nod toward EXCELLENT.

Age Appeal: None is suggested. I think it works for ages 8 and older.

Publisher Info: Magna Hero, 2012; ISBN: 978-0983639749 ; Paperback, 312 pgs., $9.99
This book is not currently available at
Buy it at for $9.99.

Special Info: This author or illustrator has other books that might interest your manga reader, including: Pope Francis: I Believe in Mercy, Many Are Called, and Judith: Captive to Conqueror.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Why Did the Osprey Poop on My Head?

Why Did the Osprey Poop on my Head? by Helene Clarke is a small book which covers the question, "If God is so good, why do bad things happen?" It is a question that children ask.... and so do their parents.

Timmy is a little boy who is always saying, "God is good." One day an osprey poops on his head, and he wonders why, if God is so good, He allowed that to happen. The next day, at his uncle's funeral, Timmy overhears the adults asking the same question. One of the adults explains that bad things happen to everyone, but those who know that God loves them have hope.

What I Like: I like that this book covers a difficult topic in a way that children can relate to and does not get too deep into the reason for bad things happening. Most children are not ready for that particular conversation.

What I Dislike: I personally could have done without the poop, which is mentioned more than once.

Overall Rating: Very good

Age Appeal: 6-12 year olds

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing, 2011; ISBN: 978-1-61739-839-1; paperback, 24 pgs., $8.99

Buy it Now at for $8.09

OR Buy it at for $7.19

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Project Inspired: Review and Interview

Nicole Weider is on a mission: to help young girls avoid the traps that culture sets. The trap that baits you into thinking you must sacrifice your self-worth in order to be beautiful and popular. Nicole launched Project Inspired in 2010 (, a website for teen girls that analyzes pop culture and explores ways girls can live in their authentic beauty.

In Project Inspired, Nicole shares tips for you to stay true to yourself—to how you were created to be—as well as how to dress modestly yet fashionably, how to make a positive difference in the world, and how to enjoy your teen years while standing firm in your faith. With photographs, real behind-the-scenes stories from inside the fashion world, and an honest look at living a life that looks great on the outside and feels great on the inside, Project Inspired is a book you’ll turn to time and time again.

What I Like: From the very beginning of the book Nicole Weider, tells her testimony of being a young model in Hollywood and the pitfalls she faced in the "glamour" of being famous. So from the start she lets us know that she can actually relate to young girls trying to fit a mold, be liked by her peers and the desire to pursue a life she wanted.

I was a little weary about a book that focused on appearance but the book delves into feeling good about yourself within in a simple and easy for girls to understand. Nicole offers scripture, fashion tips, and everything a teen girl talks about with her friends and thinks about when she is alone, but with a faith filled heart. It reminds me of a teen magazine with depth and scripture.

I teach high school bible studies and a recent lesson was all about personal appearance, so I took Nicole's book into class. The girls went wild for the book and I was pleasantly surprised.

I had the pleasure of conductin an interview with author Nicole Weider and you can read it below!

What I Dislike: Nothing

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 12-18

Publisher Info: Zondervan; 2015; ISBN:978-0310749394; Paperback, 168 pgs., $17.99

Buy it Now at for $11.49

OR Buy it at for $11.99.

Nicole Weider Interview 

CCBR: Hi Nicole! Congratulations on your new book, Project Inspired! I had the pleasure of reading it and was pleasantly surprised. In the beginning of the book you give us your testimony. Could you tell the moms out there a very condensed version of who you are?

Nicole: My testimony is pretty crazy to say the least! I wasn't raised in a Christian home, and I didn't have faith in my life. My family and I lived in Salem, Oregon but I always wanted to move down to LA to pursue modeling more full time. I moved when I was 16, and my agency bluntly told me no matter how thin I got, my body type wasn't made for high fashion- but it was great for lingerie and swimsuit work. I was a lingerie model for several years, and I thought it would be a glamorous experience, however it was the opposite- it was destroying my self esteem and my self worth. After a series of coincidences and bad circumstances, I fell into depression and wanted to get out of the modeling industry. Thankfully, my best friend Christina is an on-fire Christian and she was the one who encouraged me to go to church with her. She prayed for me continually, and told me how God could use my experiences for His glory. I gave my life to Jesus when I was 23, and it was the best decision I've ever made. After I became a Christian, I knew I wanted to share my testimony with people to warn them about the dangers of Hollywood and the destruction it can be, along with the hope of Jesus Christ and how He saved my life.

CCBR: I also had the opportunity to visit your website ( and really liked it. Could you tell us a little about the site and how the book and site differ?

My book is different from the site because I share my best fashion secrets and skin care advice, how I knew my husband was the one, and so much more. I also answered the top questions I get from girls on everything from depression, to bullying.

CCBR: Here at CCBR we love books that are not just "clean" books but also spiritually filled. While reading Project Inspired, you talk about turning to self help books when you were in need of comfort but never really find it that way. How important was it that you include scripture and biblical principles in your book? 

Before I became a Christian, I didn't know where to turn to find hope and inspiration. I thought turning to self help books would be what I needed, when in reality nothing I could read would satisfy my soul unless I turned to God. After I made the commitment to Jesus and I saw firsthand how he transformed my life, I knew only God could save people from their doubts of self-worth. It was incredibly important to me that the book was based on Biblical principles and scriptures, along with covering all of the issues that teen girls want to know about.

CCBR: You are also a contributor for the NIV Bible For Teen Girls (Read our review HERE). Tell us how that came about.

Nicole: It was an incredible honor and privilege that Zondervan wanted to use excerpts from my new book in the teen Bible. It was completely unexpected, and it is such a blessing! I also consider it a God-incidence (what I like to call a coincidence, but not really because God orchestrates everything) that a page from my book is across from my favorite scripture which is Matthew 7:7 "ask, seek, knock." God is so loving, and He amazes me every day.

CCBR: So I know you are busy and I am sure somewhere one of our reader's kid is yelling for Mom, so I have just one more question. Why is Project Inspired good for our teen girls?

Nicole: My book is a great resource for teen girls, because I feature almost every topic that the girls ask me. My book is unique, because it's a Christian book while still encompassing things not usually talked about in the Christian genre such as what everyday wardrobe basics, how to combat acne, finding the perfect jeans, and so much more. I also weave in my personal story, along with sharing the Biblical stories and how they relate to our modern day world.

CCBR: Thank you so much for spending some time with CCBR.