Tuesday, August 30, 2011

It Couldn't Just Happen: Knowing the Truth about God's Awesome Creation by Lawrence O. Richards

Recommendation: Not Recommended

I was very excited to be given the opportunity to read this book. I enjoy reading about creation and reflecting on the imaginative nature of God. Looking at and studying creation teaches us so much about God's intimate care for the earth He created. There were a few chapters that I really enjoyed, but overall I was disappointed. The author sets out to help young people see and understand that Evolution (capital E) is not a fact, but a scientific theory that has been sold as fact. The first section of the book was a little confusing and left me with a lot of questions. I thoroughly enjoyed the middle of the book (Parts 2-4). Here the author peeled back some of the intricacies of God's creation and showed how animals and humans could not possibly have evolved from a single cell. I enjoyed reading and learning so much about God's amazing design. Part 5 left me disappointed however as the author told his readers to search out the interpretations of Scripture that they would believe in. Maybe I misunderstood his words, but it seemed to me that he was allowing for different interpretations of the Bible to be true. God's Word has ONE interpretation, His original intent. We are to study to find His interpretation.

Positives: As I stated earlier, I enjoyed the sections where the author scientifically portrayed the truth of creation. He spoke of how many different things in creation depend on each other to live, he told of the specialties of different animals that would not have survived millions of years to evolve to their current day state. He took many of the arguments of Evolutionists and showed how their arguments actually prove creation.

Negatives: The last section of the book is called "The Book that Didn't Just Happen" and he speaks of how we can trust the Bible. In my opinion this section (even though it was poorly written) should be at the beginning of the book. The truth of creation begins with God's Word, not scientific evidence. Yes, science supports what we read in the Bible, but no matter what science may "appear" to prove, we trust and believe in God's Word. The author also presented several views on creation and how long it took God to create the world. However, he didn't adequately dissect these theories and compare and contrast them with Scripture. He simply led our young readers to believe that they could study and come up with their own interpretation.

Talking Points: Your child has undoubtedly come into contact in some way, shape or form with the ideas of Evolution. As parents it is our job to continually point them to the truth of the Scriptures for what we believe. New "scientific evidence" is constantly brought forth to prove Evolution. We must train our kids to think biblically first. God's Word is true because God IS truth, He cannot lie. Therefore, when He says he created the world in 6 days, that is what we believe. This book is written for older children, probably 11-15 year olds and has some interesting and helpful parts. It may be interesting for you to allow your child to read it and see what their reactions are. Then you can have a great discussion on discernment!
I have provided some links to answer questions about an old earth or a young earth, and a worldwide flood that may be helpful. The entire website is a wonderful resource, but first and foremost get out your Bible and read Genesis 1-9 and see what God has to say about HIS creation.

Age Level: 11-15 year olds

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, August 29, 2011

God Gave Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Lisa Tawn Bergren has written several "God Gave Us...." books and this is probably my favorite. Our curious young cub once again has questions for her Mama and Mama bear patiently and honestly answers each question, with a singular focus that "God gave us you."

Positives: I just love the simple text of this story. The cub keeps asking questions about herself and Mama keeps directing her back to the Heavenly Father who created her and gave her a family. This book would also be great for a family that is anticipating the addition of a new sibling. The illustrations are quite fun as well.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: This story provides an excellent opportunity for you to reassure your child of your love for them, God's love for them, and His perfect plan for their life. Psalm 115:3 tells us that our God does whatever He pleases. Psalm 135 reiterates this fact of God's sovereign control over the whole earth. With knowledge and understanding of God's sovereignty your child can rejoice in the knowledge that God placed them in this world in the exact time and place that He chose and with the parents, siblings and family members that He chose. What a comfort these Scriptures can give your family.

Age Level: 0-3 years

I received this book for free fromWaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Freckle Juice by Judy Blume

Recommendation: Recommended

Judy Blume has been writing award winning children's books for many years and Freckle Juice has been a favorite of grade school children for over 30 years (Yes, I know from personal experience!).

Andrew Marcus wants freckles. He thinks that if he had freckles, his mother would not notice if he was dirty and then he wouldn't have to wash. His classmate Sharon takes advantage of this knowledge and sells Andrew the recipe for freckle juice which she says is certain to give him freckles.

Positives: It's a cute, funny story that young boys may enjoy. Has some good opportunities for conversations with your child.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: There are several opportunities to have gospel-centered conversations with your child through this story. First, Andrew is not happy with how God made him. We ALL struggle with this one from time to time, right? Be sure that your child understands that they are perfectly created by God (Psalm 139). I would certainly also address the issue of wisdom and friendships. Andrew didn't trust Sharon, yet he desired freckles so badly that he listened to her. Proverbs 6-8 address seeking wisdom and avoiding deception. Help your child learn which friends to listen to. Help them to learn discernment as they interact with their friends, to carefully listen and evaluate their friends words and actions. Along with this, teach them that deceiving their friends is wrong. Deception is a sin and they need to seek to be truth-tellers in their own words and actions.

Age Level: 6-8 years old. This was assigned summer reading for my son before entering 3rd grade. My 1st grader enjoyed it much more than he did.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul

Recommendation: Recommended

I invite you to join a quest, it will be difficult and at times life threatening. This journey will take you through unknown lands with a group of people whom you hardly know, yet you depend upon them for your very life and evil is lurking around every corner. Such is the story of young Kale, a slave girl with a gift who is sent away from her home to serve Paladin, whatever the cost.

In this wonderful allegory you will see the truths of Scripture tightly woven into the story of Kale and her friends. Kale learns about serving Wulder and his son Paladin. She learns to use her gifts in their service and she learns some wonderful truths about the Body of Christ - the need we have for help from those around us.

Positives: A well-written adventure that will  appeal to a wide age range of  kids. I liked that Kale's journey was a difficult one and that she honestly shared her fears, doubts and struggles with the reader. There were times when she wanted to quit, to return to her former life as a slave girl. She was at times ashamed of how little she knew, yet was always hungry to learn more. These things in particular drew me to her character and can be great teaching tools as kids read the story. I loved the word pictures of biblical grace that came through as well.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: I am only going to highlight a few of the things you could talk with your child about as the story is full of conversation starters! As I shared earlier I loved the vulnerability of Kale's character and her earnest desire to grow in wisdom and learn.  II Timothy 2:15 tells us to study, to be a worker, Proverbs is full of instructions to strive after and desire wisdom and to be a hard worker. Kale was a great example of these things and our kids need to learn to "do all for the glory of  God." ( I Cor. 10:31). You could also have a conversation about using the gifts God has given each believer. (Eph. 4, I Cor. 12). I also loved the relationships developed within the questing group and how it reflected the church - the Body of Christ. You really cannot have a conversation about giftedness without talking about the church because gifts are given for the edification of the church. Children need to understand the importance of the church. The relationships there are to be as a family. Eph. 4-5 paint a wonderful picture of how the Body of Christ is to function.

Age Level: 7-10 years old

I received this book for free fromWaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

There's No Place Like Holmes by Jason Lethcoe

Recommendation: Recommended

Young Griffin Sharpe has been sent to live with his uncle in London for the summer  - an uncle he has never met. While he is very nervous, he is hopeful when he discovers his uncle is a detective. Griffin has a very keen eye for detail and enjoys mystery and adventure, he hopes that his uncle will finally be someone who understands him. As it turns out his uncle is not fond of children at all. His uncle is also a bitter and unkind man who directs much of his bitterness towards his neighbor, another detective, the great Sherlock Holmes.
As the story unfolds, a mystery is thrown right into Griffin’s lap. While working together to solve the mystery Griffin and his uncle learn about relationships and forgiveness.
Positives: It was a fun and exciting story. I enjoyed how the author brought out the importance of patience, forgiveness and mercy in relationships.
Negatives: I w as unsure of the nature of Griffin’s relationship with God. Several times during the story he prayed, however it did not seem that he had an ongoing relationship of dependence on God and His Word.
Talking Points: Griffin’s Uncle Rupert struggled with bitterness. You can see the effects this had on his life. You can teach your children how the sin of bitterness can affect so many areas of their life and steal their joy away. Ephesians 4: 31-32 tells us that we are to put away all bitterness (and wrath, anger, clamor and slander), and we are to be kind and forgiving toward others. Teach your children that these heart attitudes are sinful and that only Jesus can change a bitter heart.
Age Level: Ages 7-10
I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”