Thursday, February 23, 2012

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Recommendation:  *** (3 Star)
As I wrote for The Hunger Games, the storyline is captivating, but it was difficult to deal with all the murder.

In this sequel to The Hunger Games, we find the story picks up right where it left off. Peeta and Katniss are the victors and are about to embark on their victory tour through each of the districts. We also learn that the government is not happy with them. Apparently they have started a revolution against the government and President Snow threatens Katniss if she doesn't do everything in her power to stop the revolution. Add to that the news that for this years Games, all the tributes will be selected from prior victors - which means she is going back to the Games.

Positives: Once again a captivating storyline. This book keeps the reader thoroughly engaged. The character development of Katniss in particular is intriguing and you feel her anguish and her ferocity as she wrestles through life.

Negatives: As with the first book there is plenty of murder, violence and drunkenness. Katniss in particular has very violent dreams and she also daydreams of how to murder President Snow. Katniss and Peeta kiss and one time Katniss describes her feelings during the kiss asa yearning that comes from deep inside her. Peeta tells everyone that Katniss is pregnant (this is a lie) and other tributes refer to her as "knocked up."

Talking Points: This book would yield discussion similar its predecessor The Hunger Games. If your child has read both books, continue your discussion on the preciousness and sanctity of human life. As people are created in the image of God (Gen. 1: 26-27) this sets them apart from every other created thing. God took this very seriously and gave us a command against murdering (Ex. 20: 13). Discuss with your child how a Christian should respond in the situation Katniss or the other tributes find themself in. Search the Scriptures with them to help them find a biblical basis for how Christians should respond.

Age Level: The publisher says for 13 years and up. As with The Hunger Games, I would highly  recommend parents read this book with their child or before they let their child read it. You are the best judge of your child's maturity to handle the violent subject matter.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Piggies by Audrey & Don Wood

Recommendation:  ***** (5-star)

I was so excited to re-discover this book! We once owned a copy of this story but it was so well-loved in our home that it completely fell apart. This story will have your kids giggling in no time as they read about their fingers and see the great illustrations bring the story to life.

Positives: I love the simple language and the detailed illustrations. You will see something new each time you study the drawings. Kids will love that they will soon be able to "read" this story themselves!

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Our bodies are a truly amazing creation. You can talk to your child about how and why God created our hands with 5 different size fingers and how each of our hands and fingers are unique. Use Genesis 1 and Psalm 139 when talking about how God perfectly created your child's individual fingers. I would also talk about how God wants us to use our hands. What are ways that your child can honor Jesus with their hands? Talk to them about serving others with the wonderful hands God has given us. Mostly have fun with this book, enjoy being silly with your child and be sure to end the story with the appropriate tickles and kisses!!

Age Level: 2-4 years of age

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some Changes You'll See...

We are always looking for ways to improve our blog and help meet the needs of our readers. So, from time to time we will may make changes to how we present our reviews.

One of the areas we see a need for an improvement is our Recommendations. Instead of merely "Recommending" or "Not Recommending" a book we are going to implement a star rating system. We hope that this will help you as you choose determine what is best for you, your children and your family to read. Below, we will provide an explanation of how we will rate books from now on. Please, let us know if this is more helpful or if there are other areas we can make changes. We value your comments and feedback.
***** (5-star rating) - These will be books that we are highly recommending for your family to read. These stories will contain material that is spiritually beneficial for your family. While it may not always be a "Christian Book" there will  be great spiritual lessons you can derive from the story to continue to teach and train your children in the ways of Christ.

**** (4-star rating) - These books will be books that will be beneficial for your family to read but are not quite up to the standard of the 5-star rating.

*** (3-star rating) - These are books that may contain questionable material. For example, it may have a great storyline, but some of the content may be inappropriate or questionable. These may also be books that just aren't as well written or thought out.

** (2-star rating) - These will be more poorly written books. Some of these books may contain error or false teaching in them.

* (1-star rating) - These books are poorly written. We may put books in this category that claim to be "christian", but teach things that are contrary to Scripture.

In addition, we will try to include a short explanation as to why we have given a book a particular rating. As always we value your comments so let us know if this is helpful or of other changes you may like to see.


Monique & Vicki

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

June B. Jones Is Not A Crook by Barbara Park

My first grader was introduced to Junie B. Jones at school recently so I thought I would read one of this series and see what it was all about.

Junie B. is a precocious kindergarten aged girl. In this particular story her new mittens, which she really loves, disappear during recess. Through this situation Junie eventually learns that it is not right to keep things that don't belong to you.

Positives: There was a moral to this story and it came across clearly. Although reluctant at first to return the pen she found to the Lost and Found box, Junie does do the right thing and sees the value of her honesty.

Negatives: I personally did not care for all the slang language used. I know she is a Kindergartner and this age child doesn't always use the correct tenses of verbs and such, however, I prefer my children to read books that will strengthen their use and understanding of English rather than reinforce their bad habits. Junie B. is a selfish and sometimes annoying little girl. She was demanding and unthankful at times in this story.

Talking Points: In Exodus 20 God is giving the Israelite people the Ten Commandments which are the basis for the Law that they are to live by. Ex. 20:15 says "You shall not steal." Talk with your child about what this means. Certainly taking things from a store is wrong, but, like Junie discovered, keeping something that someone lost is stealing too. We should do all we can to return things to their rightful owner. We are to love others. Philippians 2:3 tells us to count others as more important than ourselves - to think about how the person who lost the item may feel and prefer their happiness over our own.

Age Level: 6-8 years of age