Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My ABC Bible Verses from the Psalms by Susan Hunt and Richie Hunt

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

On this adventure through the Psalms, with two of my favorite authors, your child will learn about our great God and why He is worthy of our worship and praise. On each page a verse from the Psalms is given to represent a letter of the alphabet. The verse is accompanied by a short story about Bill, Missy and their family that teaches and illustrates the verse. Your child will love the beautiful illustrations as well as the adventures of Missy and Bill. The verses are simple enough for your child to memorize and if they memorize all the verses presented they will have Psalm 100 hidden in their hearts!

Positives: Not only is this book beautifully illustrated, it serves a greater purpose of teaching kids about God. Families with young children will love to use this for a daily devotional and work on memorizing the verses. I love how at the end of each story it provides another Bible reference to reiterate the point of the story. I also love the "Let's Talk" and "Let's Pray" sections highlighted at the end of the story. What a great opportunity to further discuss with your child the meaning of the Scripture and help them apply it to their heart. Please be sure to read the letter from the authors at the beginning of the book, it will help you understand their purposes in writing this book and give you clear direction as you read it with your children.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: I highly recommend that you use the "Let's Talk" section at the end of each story. It is important for us to engage our children in the Scripture and by asking questions you will see what their level of understanding is and where you can help them to grow. Use the rich language of Scripture to direct their hearts and minds to worship their Creator God who loves and cares for them. Model and teach them to pray prayers of adoration to their Savior, thanking  and worshiping Him for who He is.

Age Level: 3-8 years of age - While mainly geared toward preschoolers, your slightly older children will enjoy it as well.

I received a free copy of this book from Crossway Publishing in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

David Sticker Book by Karen Williamson

Recommendation: **** (4-star)

This book tells the story of the early  life of David. It quite accurately reflects the biblical text of how he was anointed King, his conquest of Goliath, and his flight from King Saul. Throughout the book there are places where your child can place stickers that go with the illustrations in the book.

Positives: As I said the story line was pretty accurate and true to the Biblical text and very appropriate for its target age group. The stickers are a great way to engage your child in the book and add an element of fun. I really liked that at the reference to the biblical text the story was taken from was included at the end of the story.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Help your child see beyond the character of David and talk about how God worked in David's life. Trace the providential hand of God from David's selection for king as a young boy, his belief in a great God and understanding that God should receive all the glory in his life. Talk about God's preservation  of David's life for many years as he ran from Saul. I think David would agree with Isaiah 55:8, David probably wouldn't have chosen God's path to being a king just as we would often like to avoid difficult circumstances, but God's sovereign plan is for our good and His glory. Show your child that the Bible is not a collection of great stories, but the story of our great and glorious God and Savior, it is exactly what He wants to communicate to us today.  2 Timothy 3:16-17, Is. 55:11, Is. 40:8, I Pet. 1:24-25.

Age Level: 3-7 years of age

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publishing in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

God Gave Us Easter by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Recommendation: *** (3-stars)

I have thoroughly enjoyed the books in the "God Gave Us..." series and was anxious to receive this new book. Little Cub has questions about Easter and in this book Papa Bear is the one who is able to instruct her. Papa Bear explains how God always knew he was going to give us Easter and as they hike through the woods they talk about how out of death comes life because Jesus didn't stay in the tomb. They talk about how God had an even bigger plan than just sending Jesus. His plan was for us to be with him forever in heaven.

Positives: I love that Little Cub always find the answers to her questions from her parents! What an example of how our homes should be.

Negatives: There were a few things that I wish would have been a little different in this story. When Papa Bear is talking about the disobedience that came again after the flood it says "...[God] had to find a way to keep us connected, once and for all..." I don't like the word choice here because it makes it sound like God to readjust his plan. She did earlier state in the book that God knew all along He would give us Easter, but I think this could be confusing to young children. Secondly, Little Cub asks if God talks to Papa Bear and Papa Bear responds, "It's like he whispers in my heart." I wish the author would have made a mention that God speaks to us through the Bible. I think it would be a more concrete image for a child to understand than God "whispering to our hearts." Lastly, Papa Bear says that "God forgives us when we make bad choices." I wish the author would have used the word sin. We can make bad choices that aren't sinful and children can easily understand the idea of sin and wrongdoing.

Talking Points: While this story does a great job of teaching some of the ideas of Easter, it does not tell the Easter story. I think it would make a great supplement to reading the gospel accounts of Jesus' death and resurrection, but it falls short of explaining the need for Christ to die and shed his blood. What a great opportunity to grab your Bible and share the gospel story with your kids once again! Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-20, 2 Cor. 5:15-21

Age Level: 3-6 years of age

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

Recommendation: **** (4-stars)

When I found this sequel to "Al Capone Does My Shirts" at our library I was so excited to read it! In this book, the story of Moose Flanagan and his family living on Alcatraz continues. Moose's sister Natalie is off to the Esther P. Marinelli school and life is going to be just great...but trouble just seems to find Moose. Trouble with Mr. Trixle (one of the guards), trouble with his friends and even trouble with the inmates on Alcatraz. There is no shortage of humor, surprises and adventure on Alcatraz!

Positives: I just love the story. It was funny and moving and so down to earth. Some of the problems these kids have are ordinary kid problems, but they are always compounded a bit by the fact that they live on Alcatraz. And some of their problems are unique to living on Alcatraz which lends itself to some pretty humorous situations.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: A lot of the tension in this book revolves around Moose's friendships. For the most part Moose truly wants to be friends with everyone. However in trying to please everyone he finds that no one is happy with him. Moose learns that it true friends, like he has on the island, will accept him for who he is and he doesn't have to pretend to agree with everyone and like everything they do. As this books target audience is pre-teens this is a relevant topic to approach with them. What does the Bible say about friendship? Is it possible to be friends with those who don't share my beliefs or moral values? What if I don't have any friends? It is important to always direct their hearts and minds back to the gospel and the truths of Scripture. Romans 12:18 tells us to strive to live in peace with all people. While this doesn't mean that we abandon our beliefs, we can strive toward good relationships with unbelievers, after all, isn't our purpose here on earth to share the gospel with unbelievers? If we never allow our kids to be around unbelievers, how can they share the gospel? Help your child develop gospel-oriented relationships with other believers as well. Prayerfully they can find friends who are willing to confront them on their sin (Prov. 27:6a). An excellent resource on friendship can be found in I Samuel as well. Help them to study the friendship of David and Jonathan. Help guide your child as they learn to develop relationships and always keep the gospel at the forefront of your guidance.

Age Level: 10 years of age and up