Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rock and Roll Literacy with Sigmund Brouwer

My kids with Mr. Brouwer
 Today's post will be a bit unusual, but when you come across something or someone who profoundly impacts you AND your kids AND your kids friends...well, I just have to tell you about it. And while it's not a book review, it is a review of sorts, and I believe fits right in with our desire to help moms (specifically) point their kids to the gospel through the books they read. When you see a life that reflects Christ, you want your kids to be influenced by it in whatever way they can.

This week our school (Burton Elementary) had the privilege of hosting author Sigmund Brouwer. He came to  help us celebrate Right to Read Month and our Young Authors program. I'm not sure that I can even express how impressed our entire school was with Mr. Brouwer, his presentation, and his generous character.  The kids absolutely adored him and the teachers and administration were thrilled with his enthusiasm and genuine passion for kids, reading and writing.

Our Kindergartners listening and laughing

His presentation for students is called "Rock and Roll Literacy." For an entire hour he held the attention of 500 students (K-6th) through song and story. The kids had a great time and came away believing in the power of stories and in their ability to write stories that will make an emotional connection with others. Last night I was talking with one of our third grade students and he pulled out a brand new notebook that he had gotten and had already filled several pages with ideas for his next story. He was so excited to show me and see my reaction to some of his ideas! It was amazing!

Mr. Brouwer also came back that evening and spoke to our students and their parents again, encouraging parents to listen to the stories their children tell. Parents told me that their kids were begging to come back in the evening to hear Mr. Brouwer because they so enjoyed his assembly that afternoon. During the evening we also celebrated our Young Authors program. Each student displayed their own published work for the entire school to read and celebrate. Mr. Brouwer spent the rest of the evening signing books and taking pictures with students. He signed for everyone who asked!

Our PTO was able to purchase one of Mr. Brouwer's books for each student, so the next morning he came back to our school and went around to every classroom to personally hand out each book.  Oh yeah, and he also did a personalized autograph for each book! It was like Christmas morning! Our students were so excited to receive a BOOK!! The entire school was energized by his visit.

As I said earlier, we were very impressed by Mr. Brouwer's generosity. How refreshing to see a professing believer display Christ-likeness and he was able to do it in a public school!!
I would highly encourage you to find a way to bring Mr. Brouwer to your school. Here is a man who is able to go into hundreds of public schools each year and be a servant of Christ.  He views his "job" as an opportunity for ministry and he is excellent at what he does! You will NOT be disappointed!

If you are interested in finding out more about his school program you can click HERE. If you've never heard of Sigmund Brouwer (gasp!) or read one of his books (double gasp!) you can download 3 free e-books HERE.
For those who want to see our regular format this is what I would say:

Recommendation: ********** (10-stars!!) Seriously, 5 stars just isn't enough

Positives: EVERYTHING

Negatives: NOTHING

Talking Points: Your child will be inspired in so many ways by Mr. Brouwer's words and character!

If you have any questions or want more information, please send an email!
I think this was when he was telling the booger story,
or was it the one about drinking toilet water?!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer

Recommendation: ****

In the second book of the Merlin's Immortals Series Brouwer once again masterfully weaves a story that kept me on reading much to late into the night for this mom! Thomas has fulfilled part of the destiny he was born too, but he is discovering that there is much more yet to discover and unfold. He must tread carefully as he is unsure who to trust or where to turn to for guidance. As a young Lord of his castle he is discovering secrets that have been uncovered for ages. In his quest for truth Thomas must decide whom he will serve, but he is learning that this decision may not be based on facts, but faith.

Positives: This story was positively riveting! The first book I struggled at the beginning, but in this sequel I was hooked from the start. The plot was very intriguing (I don't want to spoil it for you!) and had plenty of twists and turns that were unexpected. Boys in particular will love the battle/action scenes.  I love the idea of faith that the author is bringing out. Thomas must make decisions based on fact and faith. He may not be given all the answers he seeks, and this is where his faith must come in. The inner conflict of Thomas is a great illustration of a young Christian's road to faith in Christ.

Negatives: None

Talking Points: Talk to your kids about faith. Their own faith and yours! If you look up "faith" in a Bible dictionary it talks about it being a (1) firm conviction (2) a personal surrender (to God) and (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender.  It says that faith stands in contrast to belief which is a purely natural exercise. Help your kids understand that faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8) that will grow as it feeds on God's Word (Rom. 10:17). Faith is supernatural! Even when we don't have all the answers we can have faith. Demonstrate this to your children! Can we understand everything about who God is? No! He is God! If we could completely understand Him, he would not be worthy of our worship! Just as Thomas is beginning to have to make decisions when he doesn't have all the answers, in the same manner we exercise our faith in Christ. Read Hebrews 11 with your kids so they can hear of the great faith exercised by those who have walked before them. But don't stop there! Read Hebrews 12 to remind them that the object of our faith is Jesus Christ!

Age Level: 10 years of age and up

I received a free copy of this book from WaterBrook Multnomah in exchange for this review.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chronicles Of The Broken Book II by Amanda Washington

Recommendation: ** (2 1/2 Stars)

This book details the sometimes sad and difficult reality of inner city teenage life.  By using a myriad of characters the author draws us into a detailed web of stories that are individual and yet connected. As these teens struggle with friendships, dating, drugs, death, divorce, sickness and many other things we see the pain and reality of sin weighing heavily upon their lives.

Positives: This is not a story for the faint of heart. I'll admit I did not care for the book initially, but after reading where the author took her inspiration from I had a better understanding and appreciation for this story. The author says she wants to portray life as it is - broken and messy and help readers understand that we are never beyond God's grace. I think she has done a good job of portraying the effects of sin in the lives of her characters. I hope in the books to follow we will see more of the gospel of grace that she says she wants to portray.

Negatives: I was at a disadvantage because I have not read the first book in this series. It took me quite a while to figure out the characters and keep them straight. There are a lot of characters and the author jumps between their stories frequently so it was difficult at first.

I was confused as to why the character Marcus has this "special ability" where he intensely feels the emotions of others. In a story that seemed mostly realistic this was a puzzle to me. I'm not sure why this element is necessary in the story and it seemed out of place to me.

I am hopeful that in the sequel the gospel will be presented. Though these kids are loosely affiliated with a church group there is no mention of the gospel, no one is calling them to repentance. In the midst of their pain and suffering, no one is pointing them to the only source of Hope and Joy - Jesus Christ. Maybe in future books we will see the church rise up and share the gospel with these kids.

Talking Points: Will our kids encounter hardship and pain like these kids  endure? Certainly. We live in sin-filled world and they will encounter sin and pain in their own life and the lives of friends. The question is, do they know where to turn when hardship comes? Will they boldly proclaim the gospel to their friends? Will they call those friends who claim to know Christ to repentance? The Gospel is the only answer to sin and the effects of sin we endure here on earth. Talk to your child about the most loving message they can share with their friends in times of hardship and pain - the message that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for their sin by dying on the cross. Help your kids to understand the gospel well enough that they can effectively share it with their friends - and pray together for boldness when the opportunities arise! Here is a simple summary of the gospel with Scriptures. God - He is Holy (Rev. 4:8, Is. 6:1-5); He is Creator (Gen. 1:1, John 1:1); He is Loving (Ex. 334:6, I John 4:10); Man - Man is created by God (Gen. 1:27); Man is Sinful (Rom. 3:23, Is. 53:6); Man is separated from God and headed to death (Is. 59:2, Col. 1:21, Rom. 6:23); Jesus Christ - Jesus is God in the Flesh (Luke 22:70, John 1:1-2); Jesus lived a sinless life (2 Cor. 5:21, I Pet. 2:22); Jesus Reconciles us to God (2 Cor. 5:18-19); Jesus Died in our Place (Rom. 5:8) Jesus Rose from the dead (Acts 17:31) Jesus is the Way to Eternal Life (John 3:16, John 5:24); Response - Repent (Acts. 2:38, Acts 17:30); Believe (John 3:18, John 5:24).

Age Level: 14 years of age and up

I received a free copy of this book through the BookCrash Program in exchange for this review.