Finally a book that accurately illustrates Noah’s ark, but. . .

If you have read any of my reviews of children’s Bibles on this blog, you have already heard about my issue.  You have all seen it, the itty bitty ark with a few animals sticking out.  Is it any wonder so many do not believe the flood was an actual event!

 

COVER_NOAH_11__45064.1409194076.1280.1280But then, I received this book, Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, to review and it is stunning, from beginning to end.  Mark Ludy is an incredible artist.  He brings the story of Noah to life just through the pictures and you provide the narration.

 

If you are familiar with the short account of Noah and the flood in the Bible, then you will have little trouble explaining the story as your little ones look through the pages.  A few times, I wasn’t exactly sure what the artist was depicting, but I think that is OK.  You could easily fill in with what you think the picture is showing.

 

BUT. . .I have one gripe with the book.  I was under the impression it was for children and even Amazon has it listed as being for ages 2-18.  The only problem is that a couple of the pictures include the main parts of this very real story. . .you know, the parts about mass destruction and everyone dying.  One page even shows a couple of people drowning in the water.  I know this is what really happened, but I don’t want it shown that graphically for my toddlers to ask me all sorts of questions about it.

 

So, I will hang on to this book until our children are a little bit older.  I will emphasize again that this book is beautiful.  But if you are giving this to your children, then you, as their caregiver can judge what is appropriate for their age level.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Handlebar in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

 

Book on healing from loss. . .but probably not the best

Book Review: Experiencing the Loss of a Family Member by H. Norman Wright

 

I have greatly mixed feelings on this newest book by H. Norman Wright. Having never read Wright’s material before, I didn’t really know what to expect. Having walked with my wife through two miscarriages, I read the book with some anticipation. And I enjoyed parts and aspects of the book. Wright’s description of the world of grief in chapter one was a good general description from an experiential level. Anyone who has walked through the dark valley of loss can relate to that experience. 216459Throughout the book, Wright offers some real-world help for those who are struggling, and I don’t doubt that those who are experiencing grief can draw some benefit from this work.
However, I have some concerns. On a purely personal level, when someone uses ten Bible versions in this short of a book, I wonder if they are trying to find verses that say what they want, rather than letting the text speak. On a more serious level, Wright lists a lot of Bible verses that are supposed to be part of the healing process, but the text seems to come after some practical tips, and little mention is given to the huge amount of help a local church body and trained pastor can be. Instead, the resources listed are almost all secular in nature. Nothing is put in theological context. Questions such as, “why is there death and suffering?” aren’t answered or addressed. When talking with children, absolutely nothing about God is His purposes/sovereignty is given. Apart from Christ, there is no hope in the death of a loved one, only despair. This book lacks much in the way of hope, except in the “you’ll eventually feel better” arena.
Overall, Wright’s integrationist tendencies and lack of emphasis on scripture, the local church, and giving grieving people hope within the bigger context of the world and the God Who is in control makes for a promising book that falls somewhat flat.

I would give it 3 out of 5 stars and would look for a more text-centered book for counseling the grieving.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Another Classic Murder Mystery Featuring Drew Farthering

Murder at the Mikado by Julianna Deering

 
In the third installment of the Drew Farthering mysteries, Julianna Deering weaves another interesting and intriguing story. Drew Farthering has become somewhat accomplished in his side interest of solving murders, and the local police have become somewhat used to his presence and assistance. But Drew’s 210976latest mystery comes with a twist.

 

An old love interest of Drew’s shows up, pleading with him to help clear her name in a murder mystery. There’s a hitch. Drew is engaged to be married, and the beautiful woman from his past was not known for her virtue and integrity. She had toyed with Drew when he was a young college student. Drew’s fiance is not excited about Drew becoming involved with an old flame, but there is a dead body to account for, and Drew’s old love interest is married to one of Drew’s better employees.

 

So Drew takes on the challenge. The murder has occurred at a theater, and the reader is given a theatrical ride with nuance, twist, subterfuge, and emotional ups and downs appropriate for the setting. As Drew gets closer to finding the culprit, his relationship with his fiance grows strained. Much soul-searching occurs before the novel concludes. As with the first installment, Deering delivers a solid mystery. The characters are believable, and their personal struggles are real to life. The challenge with the book (as a work of Christian fiction), is that faith plays such a minor role in the work. The book is clean and well written, but lacks some depth in dealing with the challenges facing the young engaged couple because of the complete lack of the role of God in relationships. That being said, the story wrestles through issues of good and evil, hypocrisy, trust, relationships, and the incidents that can so easily break trust.

Overall a good, if not spectacular, read.

 

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

 

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The story of St. Nick

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

If you have young children, you know the many questions that pop up regarding Santa Claus – especially during this time of year (yes, well before Thanksgiving) when they start seeing Santa everywhere it seems. How, as Christian parents, are we supposed to respond? Do we just ignore Santa and forbid the mention of him in our homes? Do we just lump him in with all the other Christmas hoopla? How do we teach our children about the real, historical Saint Nicholas and is it a story worth telling?

If these are questions that have popped in your m731153_1_ftcind, then this new children’s book may be for your family. A little boy named Nick is out Christmas shopping with his dad when he overhears a department store Santa Claus telling a child the true story of Saint Nicholas. Through that, Nick will learn an important lesson about giving and the greatest gift of all – Jesus.

I am not particularly familiar with all the details of St. Nicholas’ life, so I cannot verify the story’s accuracy. But I would assume it is correct and the author does a great job of explaining it in a way that a young child (ages 4-8 per the back of the book) can understand. The illustrator beautifully makes the story come alive in a realistic way so that most children will be able to follow the story quite well by looking at the pictures as you read the story. I look forward to reading this to our children during this holiday season. I would also recommend this as a nice gift book.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Christmas already?

Book Review: Yuletide Ice Cube Fair (VeggieTales) by Karen Poth

I know, it is almost 80 degrees here and we’re talking about Christmas? Yep. We love Christmas around our house and we have developed a few traditions. If it were up to our son, we would celebrate Christmas all year long. . .but that’s a whole different story.

Yulet_225_350_Book.1351.coveride Ice Cube Fair is a brightly colored paperbook that would make a great addition to your holiday book collection for your children. VeggieTales tend to be utterly silly and sometimes the message is pretty vague, but this one is very clear. The reason we celebrate Christmas is because of Jesus, and we can’t lose sight of that amidst all the other things that attempt to distract us. I think our children are especially susceptible to the distractions at Christmastime, so having a fun book like this on hand will be a great way to start a conversation about Jesus’ birth.

The back of the book designates this story as appropriate for ages 4 through 8. And if your children are already familiar with the VeggieTales characters, then they will probably enjoy this short Christmas story with a great message.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook blogging program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A lesson in loving your enemies

Book Review: Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door by Denette Fretz and illustrated by Gene Barretta.

723493I read another book in The Next Door Series and loved the way the author uses humor and fun characters to teach important biblical truths to kids. I was excited to check out this book and I was not disappointed. Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door is about a boy named Conrad who goes to his Uncle Conrad’s ranch to learn to be a cowboy. Unfortunately things aren’t going so well, but to make things worse a know-it-all neighbor, Imogene, enjoys pointing out where he is failing.

And in the midst of the silliness, your child will be learning a valuable lesson in loving your enemies. It seemed a bit subtle to me, so you will probably have to explain it to your younger children. But the author also includes some great Bible verses and questions to guide the discussion. Also, don’t miss the couple of pages at the end of cowboy poetry.

This book is recommended for children ages 4 to 8. The illustrations are worth looking at several times as I am sure you will see things you didn’t notice the first time through. I am looking forward to more books in this series.

5 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of the book from Zonderkidz as part of the BookLook program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Teaching children about angels

Book Review: God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant

 

426611_1_ftcAngels can be quite a difficult topic to teach to our young children. They are usually very curious about angels, but the Bible does not give us a lot of information about them. To make things more difficult, many children’s books are loaded with a bunch of misinformation about angels.

 

I love how the author emphasizes that “angels live to serve God.” Much of what is explained in the book is taken straight from Scripture. I especially appreciate that Bergren attempts to dispel the myth that somehow we become angels when we die. It seems that adults like to tell children that as some kind of way to help explain death and dying. But it is simply untrue.

 

If you have read any of the other books in this “God Gave Us. . .” series of books, then you will be familiar with the tender way that Little Cub’s questions are answered by Mama and Papa bear. As always, the illustrations are sweet and endearing with the occasional bear with angel wings in the background. The back of the book recommends this book for children ages 3 to 8.

 

5 out of 5 stars

 

I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Press as part of the Blogging for Books Program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

A Great Help for Pastors Who are Working Through Psalms

Book Review: A Commentary on The Psalms (Vol. 2) by Allen P. Ross
Often, “expositional” or “applicational” commentary is just another way of saying “lightweight commentary that doesn’t deal with original language issues.” I find myself struggling with this in sermon prep. As a seminary trained pastor, I love the heart of the pastor in some commentaries- men who have preached the text and applied it to their congregations. I draw great insight from these men and their messages. But my heart cries for a text that works in the original. I want to see the Hebrew and Greek worked through and for exegetes to “show their work.” This is the strength of the latest commentary in Allen Ross’s series on Psalms.
This volume, which covers Psalms 42-89, follows a set pattern for each psalm. The text begins with an introduction, giving the text and textual variants. Ross works through textual issues in footnotes that are very helpful for the pastor working in the Hebrew, but they are placed so as not to be intimidating to the pastor with little or no knowledge of the original. After the introduction, there is a section on Composition and Context. This section is helpful in that it gives the background of the psalm, or at least as much as can be known about it. This is followed by a brief Exegetical Analysis composed of a summary and outline of the passage. This is helpful because it shows the steps of the exegetical process. Ross uses a strictly exegetical outline here, and will develop it into a expository outline in the next section.
The final and most lengthy and meaty portion of the commentary is the “Commentary in Expository form.” It is in this section that the text is developed, explained, and put into sermon form. Each Psalm closes with a brief paragraph on application.
Overall, Psalms can be a tough book to preach. It doesn’t flow like some, and poetry can be hard to accurately exegete and explain. Ross makes a hugely positive contribution to pastors and their work in this precious text. I would recommend using Ross’s work on any series through the Psalms.

 

I give this text 5 out of 5 stars.

 

I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Veggie Tales Book Review

Book Review: Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend by Karen Poth

 

I am a big fan of the I Can Read books which are great for early readers, but I have especially been happy with the Zonderkidz I Can Read books. As children transition from listening to picture books, to reading on their own, I love that they can pick up books with familiar characters and read it themselves. That’s how I felt with this Veggie Tales book Sheerluck Holmes and The Case of the Missing Friend.

I am not going to tell you anything new regarding the Veggie Tales series itself. If your child enjoys the silliness of Veggie Tales, then he or she will enjoy this book. With just over 30 pages of bright illustrations featuring Bob and Larry as Holmes and Watson, your new reader will learn a lesson about being kind while building reading confidence. The book is identified as level 1 and is further described on the back of the book as containing simple sentences for eager new readers. There are only a few _240_360_Book.1323.coversentences on each page and I think the most difficult words are the names (Sheerluck, Nommy, Percy, etc)

 

While the book contains a moral lesson (be kind), there is nothing else in the story that makes it distinctively Christian. A verse is listed at the front of the book, but I probably would have liked to have seen it actually incorporated into the story.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from Zonderkidz as part of the Booklook blogging review program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Review: Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

346497_1_ftcJeremiah Prins is the top dog in his world. Not only does he come from one of the wealthier families in the Dutch East Indies, but he is well-known for his skill at playing marbles and almost savage ability to fight. His father is emotionally distant and his mother is distracted with her own mood struggles, but Jeremiah is well cared for in his large home with servants. He has plenty of time to get into mischief with his siblings and local children, and has even come across the love of his life, Laura. Life could not be better from his vantage point.
And then his father and older siblings are taken away by the Japanese to go to a work camp. Months later, he and the rest of his family are taken away to endure the harsh realities of a Japanese concentration camp. His life of ease becomes a fight for survival.
The story is very fascinating with a well developed plot and characters that are intriguing. Brouwer does a great job of mixing in a bit of humor in an otherwise very dreary story. However, I thought that there would be more of a hopeful aspect to this book. Obviously I don’t want to give away the ending, but I was just disappointed in the end. There is SO much foreshadowing in this book that I was expecting things to end differently than they did. Romantic love is lifted up as more important than even God Himself and the hope He gives. I also had another issue with this book which many will think I am being a bit of a stickler. But, sorry, I feel that Christian books should not have any cursing in them.

 

So in all I really enjoyed the first three quarters of the book, but the ending combined with the instances of bad language forces me to give only 4 stars. Otherwise I thought the book could almost be a classic level book with a lot of different characters to analyze and themes to discuss.

 

4 out of 5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Press as part of the Blogging for Books program in exchange for a fair and honest review.

 

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