Thursday, July 7, 2016

Channing O'Banning and the Turquoise Trail

Channing O'Banning and the Turquoise Trail by Angela Spady is the second of the Channing O'Banning books.

Channing is a precocious 4th grader who becomes interested in dinosaur bones and rocks after being given an assignment from her history teacher. She gets to learn more than she bargained for when her family takes a trip out West to New Mexico.

Throughout the story, Channing learns that true friends never abandon you when you embarrass yourself, that it is always important to make restitution when you lose something that has been lent to you, and that God has created a lot of different but amazing people with their own traditions.

What I Like: As with the first book, I love the relationship Channing shares with her grandmother. Nana is her sounding board when, in her mind,  her nine year old world gets turned upside down.

What I Dislike: As with the first book, I don't particularly care for the relationship Channing and her sister Katie have. They are constantly picking on each other, saying things that are not kind, and always looking for ways to verbally cut each other. As a mother with two children, I realize that sibling relationships are not always sunny, but I prefer to surround my children with examples of how siblings are to treat each other well. As I read this book with my eight year old, we talked about the attitudes the sisters had towards each other.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 6-10-year-olds.

Publisher Info: Thomas Nelson, 2015; ISBN: 978-0718032364; paperback, 128 pps., $6.99.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Angels: A 90-Day Devotional about God's Messengers

Angels: A 90-Day Devotional About God’s Messengers, by Christa Kinde, is as the title implies, 90 days of devotions about angels. Each day's devotion starts with a Bible verse about an angel that is mentioned in the Bible (i.e, Gabriel), or answers a question about angels. Other Bible verses are scattered throughout the text. 

Each devotion also includes a discussion about the day's topic and ends with a section called "Dig a Little Deeper." this section contains questions that require discussion and/or future research about the topic.

What I Like: I like the thorough way the author has addressed the idea of angels. She discusses the subject from multiple angles, giving in-depth evidence for their existence.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: Teens and up.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2015; ISBN: 9780310747659; Paperback, 192 pages, $9.99.

Special Info: Visit the author’s website.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Channing O'Banning and the Rainforest Rescue

Channing O'Banning and the Rainforest Rescue by Angela Spady is a great chapter book for young readers who are looking for wholesome adventures.

Channing O'Banning is a 4th grader who learns about the value of friendship and offering others a chance at friendship. Channing and her best friends' worlds are rocked when Marco moves into town.  She decides that she doesn't like Marco when he befriends her best friend Maddy. Yet a family summer vacation and a chance to get to know Marco help Channing realize that it is important to give others a chance at friendship.

What I Like: I really liked the relationship that Channing had with her grandmother. I am a firm believer in the importance of cross-generational family bonds, so seeing Channing consider her grandma as a person she could confide in and trust and someone she truly wanted to spend time with was refreshing.

My daughter really enjoyed this book. We read it together and every night she would always ask for one more chapter. I love books that my children cannot wait to read.

What I Dislike: I did not like the relationship Channing and her sister had. I know that siblings do not always get along perfectly (I have two children of my own), but children need to be shown good examples of siblings relationships, not ones that are hostile and passive aggressive. These two girls were always antagonizing each other and verbally cutting of each other. I had to constantly remind my daughter that this was not how we expected her to treat her brother.

Overall Rating: Recommended.

Age Appeal: 6-12-year-olds.

Publisher Info: Thomas Nelson, 2015; ISBN: 978-0718032623; paperback, 112 pps., $6.99.

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Plans I Have for You Devotional

The Plans I Have For You Devotional by Amy Parker is a book of 90 daily devotionals. The book is divided into six sections; each section has 15 devotions. Each section highlights a character of the Bible as well as a specific thought

Each section highlights a character of the Bible, providing Bible verses and stories to show how the section title relates to that particular character as well as to our individual lives. A couple of section titles are "There's Nothing You Can't Do" and "I've Given You a Purpose." Moses is highlighted in the section called "There's Nothing You Can't Do" and Mordecai in the other one. Each section is filled with poems, stories, quizzes, scriptures and other items of interest that relate to the topic of that section.

Black and white illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton are plentiful throughout and are multicultural in nature.

What I Like: Just about everything.

What I Dislike: Since the book is divided into 6 sections and each section has 15 devotions in it, and since the number "90" in printed in the upper left-hand corner of the cover, I thought each devotion would be numbered, i.e., #1 - #90. They are not. That's not really a problem; I just thought they would be.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: I'd say this book would be great for tweens and teens, so ages 9 and up would be about right.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2015; ISBN: 9780310725220; Paperback, , 160 pages, $14.99. 

Buy now at ChristianBook $11.99!

Special Info: Read our reviews of other books by Amy Parker. Visit Amy Parker’s website.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Beyond the Attic Door

Beyond the Attic Doorby Tracy Del Campo, is set in the year 1925, the year of "the Scopes' Trial." John Scopes, a school teacher, is on trial for teaching about evolution in the classroom. The topics of God and the Bible, and of course evolution, are being hotly debated throughout the land. Many people think the outcome of the trial will be the death of religion.

But for Lulu and her 7-year-old brother, Buddy, who were raised in a family with a firm belief in God, their beliefs are not being shaken by the trial. Actually, their faith is still very strong. They do believe in science but they don't believe in evolution; their beliefs are based on Bible truths.

When the children visit their grandmother for the summer, they come across a machine their uncle made. He has it hidden in Grandma's attic. Not knowing what it does, they accidentally trip the device and end up in the past, all the way back to Biblical times. Their uncle invented the machine so he could go back in time to witness a major Biblical event. With his camera in hand, he could then take pictures and bring them back with him to the present, so he could prove the Bible is true. Of course, his plans don't work out so well.

What I Like: I like how the author combines the ideas of evolution, the Scopes trial, and a time machine in one story.

What I Dislike: However, although the premise is a good one, the storytelling part falls short. It feels like the author is trying to do too much in the story in such a short format. Perhaps, if the book were longer, the ideas would have worked better. The way it is written, the story is a choppy and not quite believable.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 8-12.

Publisher Info: Westbow Press, 2014; ISBN: 9781490837079; Paperback, 90 pages, $11.95.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Snuggle Time Prayers

Snuggle Time Prayers by Glenys Nellist is a beautiful board book with simple scripture based prayers for young children.

Glenys Nellist is one of my favorite children's authors. Her writing speaks in a voice that children can hear and understand. Based on her writings, I can picture her having a very safe voice, perfect for the ears of little ones.

Each prayer features a one line verse with a reference. The prayer then reflects the heart of the verse with personal application in a way that little ones can understand.

These prayers can be read one each night, or as in my 4 year old's case, several in a row because he liked them so much.

What I Like: I am big on finding great illustrations in children's books because little ones can see and be pulled in by the pictures before they can read the words. Cee Biscoe's illustrations perfectly match the voice of Glenys in this sweet book. The cover photo is a great example of the illustrations found throughout the book.

What I Dislike: I loved everything about this book.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 2-4 years old.

Publisher Info: ZonderKidz, 2016; ISBN: 978-0310749325; boardbook, 30 pgs., $9.99.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

My Big Book of Bible Heroes for Kids: Stories of 50 Weird, Wild, Wonderful People from God's Word

My Big Book of Bible Heroes for Kids: Stories of 50 Weird, Wild, Wonderful People from God’s Word by Glenn Hascall is filled with, as the title says, stories of 50 "weird, wild, wonderful people" from the Bible. Hascall writes about well-known Bible heroes such as Noah, Abraham, Joshua and John the Baptist. He also includes stories about lesser-known characters like Shiphrah and Jochebed (Yes, those are real Bible names!).

The author relates an incident that illustrates a special heroic trait of each Biblical character mentioned. Each story is followed by a set of questions called "Learning from a hero." The questions are designed to create discussion about each story so the reader can learn from what the hero did.

Full-color Illustrations by Amit Tayal highlight every story title page, providing life-like representations of the people mentioned.

What I Like: This is a great selection of stories. I especially appreciated that the author included some stories about women from the Bible.

Each story includes a page with the person's name and a Bible reference for the story. It also includes the person's "Heroic Quality." Some of these qualities are endurance, compassion, and respect. I like the idea that being a hero doesn't mean you have to have a "super" power, you just need an "Heroic Quality."

What I Dislike: Unfortunately, the writing style is rather boring. While the author chose good Bible characters to write about, he writes too much with the passive tense, instead of using action verbs. For instance, consider these two sentences: "Samson was the strongest man anyone had ever seen. When he was born, he was dedicated to God." The word "was" is used three times in just these two short sentences. That's okay, but I think it would have been better written like this: "Samson was the strongest man anyone had ever seen. After his birth, his mother dedicated his life to God." What do you think?

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: 7-10.

Publisher Info: Shiloh Kidz, 2015; ISBN: 9781634093156; Paperback, 158 pages, $14.99.

Special Info: Read our reviews of other books by Glenn Hascall.