Monday, August 31, 2015

Wisdom Stories

The Lion Classic Wisdom Stories (Lion Classic Series) by Mary Joslin is a collection of beautiful, short stories from around the world, each with a grain of wisdom meant to leave a lasting impression.

Although this book does not fall under the category of "Christian Children's Book", it is still a great book. The stories are pulled from many of our world's cultures which, for me, is always fascinating.

I personally preferred to read this book aloud with my children. Because the stories in it are not inherently "Christian" stories, I wanted to be there to explain, discuss, give a biblical basis for the morals taught, and answer questions about the stories.

What I Like: I really like that Mary Joslin has found 28 intriguing and fascinating stories with great moral lessons and made them easy for children to appreciate. Many of the stories were new to me. The stories are told in such a way that a child's interest is kept and captivated throughout the reading. I also love the illustrations. They really lend to the cultural setting of the book.

What I Dislike: I liked this book very much.

Overall Rating: Very good (only because this book is not a specifically Christian book, just a great  moral book.)

Age Appeal: 5-12 years old

Publisher Info: Lion Hudson, 2013; ISBN: 978-0745963693; hardcover, 128 pgs., $19.99

Buy it from Amazon for $16.08

Let's Learn About The Lord's Prayer

In this first book of the HeartSmart series, preschoolers are invited on a playdate with Emma. Together they learn the Lord’s Prayer and practice “teaching” it to Emma’s favorite teddy bear.

Introducing HeartSmart, a Scripture memory series designed to create opportunities for children to fill their heart with God’s Word. HeartSmart combines key Scriptures with songs, giving parents a spiritual formation path for building a strong foundation of faith.

The entire Lord’s Prayer is included, along with a custom song (free download with access code).

What I Like: Teaching a child scripture is always something that I like to see in a book, and when the scripture is explained in a way that a child can understand, I like it even more.  Author Catherine DeVries did a really good job teaching The Lord's Prayer and explaining which each line means in a way a child can understand.

What I Dislike: The book was reminiscent of cartoons for pre-schoolers in which a question is asked and then the child is supposed to respond, but the book didn't immediately relay whether the answer was correct or not before moving onto the next part of the book. For example, the character Emma takes the reader to her bedroom and introduces her stuffed bear and then we are shown a cross hanging on her wall and she asks the reader to guess who else is her best friend, other than the stuffed bear. The next page (where I am expecting her to introduce Jesus) we see her mom calling her downstairs for lunch. She doesn't confirm that Jesus is her other best friend until the end of the book after so many other things have happened. A two year would have forgotten that she asked that question twenty pages back.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal:
2-4 but I believe pre-school aged kids would be better suited for this book.

Publisher Info:
David C Cook, 2015; ISBN: 978-0781412698; Hardcover, 26 pgs., $10.99

Buy it Now at for $7.99

OR Buy it at for $8.40

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dare U 2 Open This Book

DareU 2 Open This Book, by Carol McAdams Moore, is a devotion book for guys. There are 90 two-page devotions. Each devotion includes a topic, quote, Scripture summary, plus some type of activity – doodles, journal prompts, quizzes, etc – that relate to that day’s devotion.

Topics include things like how to listen for God’s instructions, ways to praise God, ways to forgive people who hurt you, and ways to share your faith with others. As the book blurb says, this isn’t your typical devotion guide. “It’s an open space for you to explore and learn more about yourself and your faith. Prompts get your mind thinking and ideas flowing, helping turn your thoughts and emotions into dynamic doodles and more.”

What I Like: Just about everything.

What I Dislike: This is a great book for devotions and for generating ideas on how to implement the days’ lessons. However, the book is set up so you can not only write or doodle in it, but you’re supposed to be able to paint on the pages or glue things to them. This is just a paperback book. I think any painting or gluing would make the pages thick and make the book difficult to close.

Overall Rating: Very good.

Age Appeal: Teens.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2014; ISBN: 9780310742975; paperback, 192 pages, $9.99.

Buy now at ChristianBook $7.49!

Special Info: This book is intended for boys, but I think some girls would like it, too, if they can get past the “guy” language (words like “dude”). Visit the author’s website. Read our review of the girls’ companion book called Just Sayin.

Monday, August 24, 2015

FaithGirlz! NIV Bible

This special binding of the Faithgirlz! Bible, NIV offers a trendy and unique magnetic closure. Every girl wants to know she’s totally unique and special. This Bible says that with Faithgirlz! sparkle. Through the many in-text features found only in the Faithgirlz! Bible, NIV girls will grow closer to God as they discover the journey of a lifetime.

Features include:

• Book introductions—Read about the who, when, where, and what of each book.

• Dream Girl—Use your imagination to put yourself in the story.

• Bring It On!—Take quizzes to really get to know yourself.

• Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth, Isaiah) in You?—See for yourself what you have in common.

• Words to Live By—Check out these Bible verses that are great for memorizing.

• What Happens Next?—Create a list of events to tell a Bible story in your own words.

• Oh, I Get It!—Find answers to Bible questions you've wondered about.

• The complete New International Version (NIV).

• Features written by bestselling author and tween expert Nancy Rue.

What I Like: While we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, the cover to this FaithGirlz! Bible is really adorable. The purple polka-dotted area is actually a magnetic flap that help keeps the bible closed and keeps the usually exposed pages protected.  The text inside is purple and the extras are highlighted in pink. A true girly bible. However, this bible is more than just cute. It is very much a study bible for girls. I especially love the "Oh I Get It!" section where girls get a deeper understanding of scripture. My other favorite extra is "Is There A Little...In You?" in which readers are asked to relate to people in the bible. It is a great resource to help the readers understand the motives and feelings of those in bible. "Is There A Little...In You?" also helps teach girls about qualities that may not recognize in themselves; good and bad.  The "Treasure This" section highlights scripture girls can relate to and easily memorize.

What I Dislike: At full price, it's a bit steep for a tween bible.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 9-12 but I think girls aged 9-14 would like this bible.

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2015; ISBN: 978-0310750079; Hardcover, 1504 pgs., $39.99

Buy it Now at for $23.99

OR Buy it at for $28.51

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Its Great To Be A Girl

Everywhere your daughter goes--online or in real life--our culture tells her lies about her body. That's why bestselling author Dannah Gresh, creator of the Secret Keeper Girl events has developed this resource that points tween girls like yours to the truth about God's design.

With stories and examples your daughter can relate to, this Girl's Guide takes her to the Bible as her resource, helping her meditate on its message and have fun while she does it. She'll explore questions such as What if my body is different from everyone else's? What does the Bible mean by "Honor God with your body"? What about makeup--should I wear it? If so, how much? Should I be afraid to grow up? What's the big deal with nutrition and exercise?

Here's solid guidance with biblical grounding that will help your daughter grow spiritually as she's maturing physically.

About this series: The Girl's Guide books in the Secret Keeper Girl Series have been created for tween girls to help them explore topics important to them and give them the opportunity to travel deeper into "God's diary"--the Bible--for truth and instruction.

What I Like: This in depth book for young girls about to or who are already experiencing puberty goes into what is happening to their bodies, the importance of the changes and why God is the author of the changes. From the very beginning, authors Dannah Greash and Suzy Weibel offer opportunities for the young readers to take this journey with their parents and friends as a bible study and learning experience. They are teaching the readers prayers, the importance of meditating on God's word and confidence that puberty is positive and necessary. I found it refreshing that Dannah & Suzy made puberty a journey of growth to be proud of, not scary or disgusting. I love that they encourage bonding with moms and friends during the journey.

It is an interactive book where girls can do crossword puzzles, fill-in-the-blanks, doodling, prayers, word searches and journaling. The book is meant to be a resource, not just a one time read. The book includes sections of bible study.

The book also includes practical information like photos of the female womb and its purpose, menstraul cycle info, along with hair style ideas, hygiene practices, staying active while having fun, importance of healthy eating and even bra shopping.

What I Dislike: Nothing

Overall Rating: Excellent
Age Appeal: 8-12 Years but I would say 10-14 due to reproduction discussion.
Publisher Info: Harvest House Publisher, 2015; ISBN: 978-0736960076 ; Paperback, 128 pgs., $11.99

Buy it Now at for $8.99
OR Buy it at for $8.93

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Little Pine Tree

The Little Pine Tree, written by Mark E. Labriola Sr., is a story about the life of a pinecone. It starts with the seed being nurtured by snow and rain and then growing from a sapling to a sturdy pine. The pine tree longs for a carpenter to carve him into something beautiful so that his life will have purpose. A carpenter’s son befriends the tree, but as the boy grows, he visits less often.

Then one day, soldiers chop the tree down. As the pine is cut apart, it rejoices, wondering what wondrous purpose it will be used for. It is disappointed to realize it is being made into a cross for a dreadful crucifixion. Even worse, the person being nailed to it is the very carpenter’s son who loved him as a child: Jesus.

At the end of the story, Jesus returns to the cross to show that He is alive and to explain that His death was the only way to pay for mankind’s sin.

The story ends with a Scripture passage found in Galatians 6:14

The layout of the book is a series of two-page spreads with an illustration on one side and a full page of text on the other. The pictures are best described as simple line drawings that are fairly realistic and appear to be colored with watercolor or some other type of paint.

What I Like: This book offers a free audio book download. What a treat! It’s always fun to get free things. It is also appears to be a retelling of the last part of a familiar tale about three trees (read below). It would work as a nice supplement to the Easter story.

What I Dislike: This is a note. This story is very similar to the third part of a book called The Tale of Three Trees. In that tale, three trees growing on a hilltop dream of grandeur, just like this little pine tree. Then Woodcutters chop them down, and craft them into common things: a manger, a fishing boat, and the final one is cut into stout timbers. Just like this tree, the three trees are very disappointed until they realize that their dreams actually do come true. The manger holds the baby Jesus, the humble fishing boat carries Jesus and his followers, and the third becomes the cross that bore Jesus… just like the little pine tree in this story. Personally, I think the Tale of Three Trees is a much better told version of this idea of the cross, especially when you compare the prices and artwork. However, this is a decent rendering, so it’s a matter of preference.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: None is given, but I think it would work Kindergarten through second grade.

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing, 2014; ISBN:978-1630632328; Paperback or Kindle, 28 pgs., $9.99

This book is NOT available at
Buy it at for $9.99
OR Buy the Kindle version for $7.99.

Special Info: Other versions of this story include: The Tales of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt, The Three Trees by Elena Pasquali, The Legend Of The Three Trees - Picture Book by Catherine McCafferty, A Tale of Three Trees by Linda Nash, and The Legend of the Three Trees: The Classic Story of Following Your Dreams by Dahl Taylor.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fast Freddy

In Fast Freddy by Lee Ann Mancini, it's back to school time in the ocean and all the young fish are excited to see their friends again. But when Miss Mermaid introduces a new student named Freddy, the little fish aren't very kind. Freddy has the head of a shark and the body of an octopus. He looks weird to the kid-fish, and they let him know it by refusing to hang out with him. Miss Mermaid scolds the children: "Making fun of someone just because he's different isn't nice...I'm half human and half fish. Don't you like me?" 

The fish-kids say they love her, and Freddy mentions he swims fast like a shark and is strong like an octypus. "In my old school I was the fastest swimmer and the strongest wrestler." That gives the fish-kids an idea; maybe Freddy could race on the swim team and win the championships for the school. The fish-kids organize pep rallies and begin cheering Freddy on.

When the day of the races arrives, Freddy wins by a landslide. The kids all cheer for him and Freddy says, "Getting an award will be great, but having friends is ever better! I love my new school and all my new friends!" That night, Freddy thanks Jesus for making him "different and special."

The last page of the book is a reminder for children to say their prayers and "always have Jesus in your heart." It also tells children to look for the hidden ichthys (Christian fish symbols) hidden throughout the book.

What I Like: Dan Sharp's illustrations are wonderful. His characters have strong appeal with fun expressions and bright colors. His imaginings of a world under the sea are engaging and sometimes creative. I also like the hidden ichthys, which turn the book into a puzzle, as well as a story.

What I Dislike: I have a fundamental problem with this book. The fish-kids learn to like a "different" kid because he can do something for them: Win the championship - something their school has never done. It would have been so much better if they had learned to treat him like any other "kid" just because, well, he's just like another other kid.

Overall Rating: Ho-hum.

Age Appeal: About preschool - 1st grade

Publishing Info: GLM Publishing, 2015; ISBN 978-0578140766; paperback, 30 pgs., $6.99

Buy at Amazon for $6.99

Monday, August 10, 2015

Brother Giovanni's Little Reward

Brother Giovanni is a happy man, content to do what he knows best: baking. But all is not well at his monastery, where the monks are trying to teach the children their prayers in time for a very important visit from the Bishop. Having tried everything, they turn to Giovanni -- but he doesn’t know anything about teaching! Eventually, though, Brother Giovanni discovers how to use his gifts to offer the children the perfect motivation.

This vibrant book, which includes a historical note and free recipe, tells the fascinating story behind one of the world’s most popular snacks.

What I Like: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Author Anna Egan Smucker has written a clever story about a monk who invented the prtezel, based on historical sources that attribute the pretzel to an unknown monk in Italy or France in 615 AD. I loved how the shape of the prtezel has signficance in its creation and in the book. I think kids will love the story behind the the pretzel and how it relates to Christianity. It is a cute story with the potential to open children's hearts to praying.

This book is a great for story time to be read by a teacher to the class. The teacher can also learn from this book and can incorporate a pretzel snack to get the children even more interested. There is a recipe in the back for soft pretzels.

The illustrations matched the story very well and are very colorful and  nicely drawn. Illustrator Amanda Hall filled the pages with illustrations that are reminiscent of old paintings but easily likeable for children.

The book is large and makes it a great for sharing the book with the children.

What I Dislike: There are a few instances where the author would like the reader to assume the reasons for feelings and actions.  Example: The donor of the church is coming for a visit and the monks believe he will be upset if the children don't know their prayers. That is understandable but then the book goes on to say that they will no longer be able to sell their bread if the donor is upset. As an adult I can surmise that they believe the donor will discontinue donations and therefor they can not purhcase the supplies needed to make and sell their livelihood but I'm not sure a 4 year old can make that leap. I'm not even sure he would understand if an adult tried to explain that concept.

This price is a bit too steep.

Overall Rating: Good
Age Appeal: 4-8
Publisher Info: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2015; ISBN: 9780802854209 ; Hardcover, 34 pgs., $17.00
Buy it Now at for $12.49
OR Buy it at for $11.28