Friday, July 13, 2012

Storm Warning by Linda Sue Park

Recommendation: ***** (5-stars)

The clue hunt seems to be coming to an end, yet the danger and intensity continue to rise! In Storm Warning Amy and Dan find themselves tracking down the history of their pirate relatives and discovering even more secrets about their family and the one person they thought they could trust, Nellie, their au pair. Betrayal runs deep and the rifts continue to widen between family members as they desparately pursue the power the clue hunt has promised them.

Positives: These books never disappoint when it comes to adventure! Combine that with a little dose of history and your kids will actually enjoy learning (just don't tell them that they are learning anything!). Throughout the series the brother/sister relationship between Dan and Amy has been great to see develop. They learn the importance of family, relationships and integrity. As they watch the other teams they realize they don't want to win this clue hunt at any cost, they want to do it the right way.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Forgiveness is a hard lesson, one that both Amy and Dan continue to struggle with. Can they  forgive those who murdered their parents? Can they forgive Nellie for betraying them? Can they forgive their grandmother for seemingly abandoning them? The verses of Ephesians 4 kept echoing in my mind as I read this book. Starting in verse 20 and on Paul tells us to put off the "old self" (lying, anger, stealing, laziness...). Instead we are to be renewed in our minds and to speak truth and grace to those around us. Paul's final instruction in this chapter is to forgive others as God, in Christ, has forgiven you. Teach your children that they are never outside of the reach of God's forgiving grace. Then teach them to extend forgiveness to others as they want Christ to forgive them - freely and graciously.

Age Level: 9 years of age and up

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lady Jane Grey by Simonetta Carr

Recommendation: ***** (5-star)

Simonetta Carr's newest addition to her Christian Biographies for Young Readers, lives up to the high standard the author has set for herself in the previous books in this series. This biography covers the life of Lady Jane Grey. I was only vaguely familiar with her story prior to this and found this book educational and encouraging. Lady Jane Grey was known for her courage in defending the gospel. Though she lived 17 short years, her life has left a mark on the history of her country, England and more importantly on the church. Young women in particular should know her story and be encouraged by her faithfulness to the point of death.

Positives: I have always enjoyed the artwork in this series and Matt Abraxas does not disappoint! The beautiful illustrations enhance the storyline. The pictures help provide an accurate historical view as well. Simonetta has such a wonderful way of teaching as she writes. Your children will learn not only about Lady Jane, but also what it means to "count the cost" of the Christian faith. History and life lessons are wovenly together seamlessly and beautifully.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: In Luke 14:25-33 Jesus tells us to carefully consider the cost of discipleship. Talk to your kids about what this means. Is becoming a Christian something we take lightly? Is it just repeating a prayer? Is it a decision we make in a moment? No, Christ calls us to consider what it means to be one of his followers. He tells us that it WILL be costly, and it may cost us our life.  Yet if we are not called to be a martyr - are we still willing to pay the price of living everyday to the glory of God and not self. Are we willing to abandon self completely? Don't be afraid to share these difficult Scriptures, an understanding of truth makes a confession of faith that much sweeter! Even at a young age Lady Jane understood what was required of her as a Christian and our kids can too.

Age Level: 7-12 years of age