Friday, September 30, 2011

Hermie: A Common Caterpillar by Max Lucado

Recommendation: Recommended

Hermie is a caterpillar. A plain, no spots or stripes, nothing out of the ordinary, common caterpillar. Except for one extraordinary thing Hermie does - he talks to God. And when Hermie and his friend Wormie are feeling particularly common and ordinary that is exactly what they do, they talk to God. They ask God why they are not strong like Antonio the Ant, or why they do not have a home on their backs like the snail...why are they just so ordinary? And God patiently answers them and lets them know they he isn't finished with them yet.

Positives: A good story to help teach contentment, thankfulness and patience. Kids (and adults) often wonder why God created them the way He did. Why did God give me freckles? Or why didn't he give me legs that can run faster? This is a good story to help teach us to trust and wait patiently on God.

Negatives: I thought the story was too predictable and  little boring. I know kids often like predictable, in this case, I didn't care for it. I would also exercise caution with this story as it might seem like we just need to be patient and God will make us into or give us exactly what we want. Teach your child that God created them uniquely and while your looks or abilities might never change, you can still become the person God wants you to be.

Talking Points: Psalm 139 teaches us that God created each of us and has intimate knowledge of us from before we were even born. Continue to emphasize to your child that they are one of God's beautiful, unique and special creations - that He created  them exactly as He designed and willed, no mistakes! Ecc. 3:11 tells us that God makes everything beautiful in His time. Teach your child patience and that God sees beauty differently than we do. Psalm 116:15 tells us that God sees the death of a righteous man as precious. Beauty to Christ is when God the Father is glorified. Teach your child to glorify God with their body (I Cor. 6:20) no matter how ordinary they may think they are.

Age Level: 3-7 year olds

I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hunter Brown And The Secret Of The Shadow by The Miller Brothers (Christopher & Allan)

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

What do you get when you combine Pilgrim's Progress, The Chronicles of Narnia, a little Tolkien, throw in a modern day setting and add the imagination of these great author/brothers? You get the Codebearers Series or as my boys call it - Hunter Brown. In this first novel you are introduced to a myriad of carefully constructed characters, taken on the adventure of a lifetime and are introduced to great spiritual truths as well.

Somehow, young Hunter Brown is chosen - chosen to break the curse of the Bloodstone, chosen to learn the truths of skills of the Codebearers and bring them freedom, chosen by the Author for a dangerous mission that could cost him his life. As a teenage boy this is a lot of pressure, much different than the carefree life Hunter has led up to this point. Along the way he learns so much about himself, about the Author, about being a friend and about life. This is a book - a series - you don't want to miss.

Positives: I felt that the spiritual allegories were very biblically based and true to Scripture. The ideas of our sinful nature and the temptations and doubts we struggle with were very real struggles that Hunter worked through. The story was full of action! My two boys (age 11 and 9) devoured these books. You gotta love when your kids are begging you for more time to read!

Negatives: None

Talking Points: As I read this story there were a couple of Scriptures that kept coming to the forefront of my mind. Philippians 2:12-13 tells us that we are to work out our salvation. While I don't believe that Hunter was saved until the end of the book he had to work through so many things in his mind. He searched for truth and had to learn where to go to find truth.  If your child is a believer they will have doubts from time to time. Encourage them and help them to search the Scriptures and pray to find the answers to their questions. Help them work out their salvation.  My favorite part of the book came at the end when Hunter realizes the ultimate sacrifice he must make to be a Codebearer.  Mark 8:34-35 tell us of the sacrifices we must make to be a disciple of Christ.  Talk about what it means to deny self and to live for Christ.  Also, look at Luke 14:26-33 and talk about "counting the cost." No one should come to Christ without attempting to understand the difficulties and glories they will encounter in this life. However, they should also understand the eternal implications of their decisions. "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36).

Age Level: 9-16 year olds

Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to:
Heather Clabaugh
Winner of the free copy of Simonetta Carr's Athanasius!
Send me an EMAIL with your address and I will get your new book out to you soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Athanasius: A Man Who Stood For The Truth by Simonetta Carr

(I'm giving away a free copy of this book! Be sure to check out how to enter).

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

I feel so privileged to be given the opportunity by the publisher to review this book. I have reviewed other books in this series and have thoroughly enjoyed them. This book was no different.

Athanasius grew up during a time of great Christian persecution. God used the atrocities he may have witnessed during his lifetime to shape and mold Athanasius into a man of conviction. He is most remembered and celebrated for defending the truth that Jesus is the eternal God, one with and co-equal to the Father. He was a part of the council that adopted the first Nicene Creed which upheld the truths of Scripture even though many were abandoning those teachings. He defended these truths of Scripture with his life. Twice he was exiled for his beliefs and he underwent great physical persecution as well. Athanasius died not knowing if the church would believe the things he so passionately defended. Today, we can be thankful for his legacy of standing for the truth and learn much from his writings on the personhood and Godhood of Jesus Christ.

Positives: This book is a beautiful volume written to clearly explain the necessity of standing for truth, no matter the consequences. I love the way the author has provided an excellent history lesson, given maps and a timeline of his life and still focuses on the spiritual lessons we can learn from this early church father.  The artwork and artifacts displayed throughout the book enhance your understanding and are beautiful. I am so thankful that the author sees the importance of children learning church history and about early church leaders. When asked why should children read Christian biographies the publisher wrote:
"...Church history helps us learn from the examples of many people raised up  by God, even from a young age like Athanasius, how we ought to live for Christ...Through church history we see the hand of God at work, the character of God displayed, and the glorious triumph of the truth of God. The faith of the faithful in the past encourages our faith for the future as we see that the God of yesterday is also the God of today and tomorrow, faithful to His promises, trustworthy to the end, full of grace and mercy for every circumstance we may face."
This entire series would be a great addition to your home or church library. They are heirloom quality books that generations will learn from and enjoy.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Read and discuss Hebrews 11 with your child. We often use the phrase "faith of our fathers", but does this phrase have meaning for you or your child? Look at the legacy of faith traced in this chapter from Abel all the way through the Old Testament to the early church martyrs. This is the faith that enabled Athanasius to boldly defend the deity and humanity of Christ, no matter the cost. This is the faith that will enable us and our children to do the same. Teach them this faith and pray fervently  for the Holy Spirit to quicken their hearts to embrace this faith.

Age Level: 7-12 year olds

Click HERE to watch a promo trailer for the book. Want to order this book from the publisher? Click HERE. Do you like this author? You can follow her blog HERE.
Book Giveaway
The publisher has made it possible for me to give away a free copy of this book! So here is your chance, follow the steps below and you will be entered for a chance to win this book. You have until 12:00pm on Monday, September 19th to enter.
You must click on the PunchTab link below to be entered. There are several ways in which you can earn entries.
  1. You will be asked to like this post on your Facebook account (don't worry, it is a very non-evasive form and is not a FB app)
  2. Leave a comment on this post, answering the question: "Who is your favorite early church father?"
  3. Like our "BookMoms" Facebook Page
  4. Tweet this post (you will be given a link and every person who comes to the drawing from your specific link will give you an additional entry)


 I received a free copy of this book from Reformation Heritage Books for this review.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Baseball for Breakfast by Bill Myers

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

"Jimmy hated to wait." So begins the story of Jimmy a young boy who hated to wait and the thing he disliked the most was waiting to play baseball. One night as Jimmy gets ready  for bed he is thinking about how much he hates waiting. The next thing he knows he is walking to school and finds a pocket watch. This is no ordinary watch though, Jimmy finds out that he can move the hands of the watch and skip the things he doesn't like to do. Pretty soon all he is doing is playing baseball but he finds there are disadvantages to not eating, sleeping or bathing. Pretty soon all his friends are mad at him and life is miserable. Jimmy learns to live each moment of life and enjoy the life God has given him.

Positives: A very creative story that perfectly illustrates for children the need for patience and living life - every moment of every day - to glorify God. Jimmy also learns that he must make difficult choices in life and live with the consequences good or bad.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: I came across this story at a great time in the life of our family. 8 months ago we packed up and moved across several states. Since that time we have been looking to buy a home. In the meantime we have lived in 2 different homes and most of our belongings are packed up in our garage. We have been learning patience (or least trying to!). There are times when we all wanted to move the clock hands ahead and be in a home of our own, but we need to wait for God to bring us the right home at the right time. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for everything, that God has appointed a time for all events. James 1 tells us to consider it a joy to go through trials. Teach your child that every moment is to be lived to glorify God. God teaches us through the difficult times and even doing the things we don't like to do, have a purpose in God's eyes. Teach them to wait for God's best even when the world says you can have it all right now.

Age Level: 3-9 year olds

For any readers in the Middlefield, Ohio area I will be reading this book at the Sparrow Christian Bookshop ( 14962 State Street), for a parent/child reading time on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 10:00am. Please joins us!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Back To School Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Sara Penner and Amber Bussard the winners of our Back To School Giveaway! Watch for another giveaway coming soon!

Friday, September 9, 2011

June Jam by Ron Roy

Recommendation: Recommended

June Jam, the 6th book in the Calendar Mystery Series is another hit that your young reader will enjoy. Father's Day is approaching and Bradley and Brian want to make their dad some homemade strawberry jam with fresh strawberries from the garden. As they head out to weed and take care of the garden they notice that something is eating the strawberries, but what? They bring in  their friends and fellow detectives Nate and Lucy to help solve the case and save Father's Day.

Positives: I love that these kids are creative and the different traps and snares they develop to help save their strawberries are great. These are not video-playing, TV watching kids who sit around all day! They use their minds and have a lot of fun together as friends!

Negatives: None

Talking Points: One thing I admired about the kids in this story was their perseverance. They were determined to catch the creature that was destroying their garden and no matter how many times they failed, they kept at it. Hebrews 12:1 tells us to "run with perseverance", to live the christian life faithfully. We will encounter trials (James 1:2, I Peter 1:6), but we are to press on toward the prize (Phil. 3) and to work out our salvation (Phil. 2). Talk to your child about perseverance. Teach them to work hard in all things in life to the glory of God.

Age Level: 4-8 year olds (Reading Level 2.1)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Smack Dab in the Middle of God's Love by Brennan Manning & John Blase

Recommendation: Recommended

 This is a touching story of a middle-aged couple who are reflections of Christ's love to their community. The love they show and share with the children around them is a testimony of their love for Jesus. The children enjoy spending evenings with Willie Juan and Ana, and they especially enjoy Ana's warm, sugary sopapillas with a drop of honey! Ana and Willie Juan teach the children about a God of  love and that they are each smack-dab in the middle of Abba's love.

Positives: I loved that this story showed a couple ministering in their community, being a part of the lives of children and showing them God's love in a very practical and tangible way. I loved that Willie Juan was a father figure to these children, an abba who taught them about Abba God. I also enjoyed seeing the love the children had for Ana and Willie Juan and how the conversation was easily centered around God's love.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: I John 4 tells us several times that God is love. God defines what love is, love is at the very center (smack-dab in the middle) of who He is. Children can be told of God's love, but they will understand God's love best by what they experience. The children in this story understood God's love through the love that Willie Juan and Ana showed them. Your children will understand God's love through the love that you and others around them show. Scripture also helps us see God's love. Some of my favorite verses that speak of God's love are Romans 8:38-39 - For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Age Level: 2-7 year olds

I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back To School Giveaway

Labor Day is over and the kids are back in school. Whatever your feelings might be, we thought it would be a great time to do a little giveaway. Actually, we'll be doing a couple of giveaways this month so be watching closely!

This week, we are giving away 2 copies of the audio CD of R.C. Sproul reading his own book, The Priest With Dirty Clothes.  If you'd like to see our review of this book click HERE. The book was recently re-released with a new cover but the story is the same, and your kids will love listening to this CD!

Here's how you can win. You must click on the PunchTab link below to be entered. There are several ways in which you can earn entries.

  1. You will be asked to like this post on your Facebook account (don't worry, it is a very non-evasive form and is not a FB app)
  2. Leave a comment on this post, answering the question: "What is one children's book you would like for us to review on this blog?"
  3. Like our "BookMoms" Facebook Page
  4. Tweet this post (you will be given a link and every person who comes to the drawing from your specific link will give you an additional entry)
So there you go. Sign up and win. The contest will run until 12:00 PM on Friday, September 9th.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Moms Top Picks 12 years and up...

About 10 months ago we did a series of posts of our Top Picks and somehow this post was never published! Sorry for the extended delay but here are our top picks for kids 12 years and up!

At the top of our list is:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

It is also time for your child to start reading some classic literature. These are great ones to start with but it's easy to get a list of Classic Literature from your local library. As always, it's important that you know and understand your child and are prepared to have a gospel discussion surrounding the contents of the book. My son received a summer reading list for entering 6th grade and all of these were on the list!

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

A couple of other series we like:

Hunter Brown - The CodeBearers Series by the Miller Brothers

The Chiveis Trilogy by Bryan Litfin (may be better suited for 16 and up) The third book in the trilogy is to be published next year.

We also like:
Wayne Batson and Sigmund Brouwer as authors. While we have not read every book by these authors we have read many of their books and have enjoyed their work. As always it is best if you are knowledgeable about what your child is reading, you as the parent can make the wisest choice for you child.

We would love to hear what your kids  enjoy reading as well!