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God and Me! Vol 3, Ages 2-5
God and Me! Vol 3, Ages 2-5
by Lynn Marie-Ittner Klammer
Edition: Spiral-bound
Price: $10.77
57 used & new from $0.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great tool for building habits!, August 1, 2011
The 106 devotions in this spiral-bound book are divided into four sections:

* Growing in God's Word
* Learning God's Way
* Doing My Best for God
* I Can Trust God

Each two-page lesson includes a purpose, Bible verse and a true story taken from the author's experiences with her children. These are followed by questions and space to write answers, then an activity. The activities range from crafts and drawing projects to simple puzzles.

WHAT I LIKE: I like the format. This book is a great tool for helping young girls build a habit of seeking God every day and applying biblical truths to their own lives. I also like how the vast inclusion of topics. It's more than just sharing and telling the truth. This book also broaches such topics as the Lord's Supper, what makes a healthy church, not using the Lord's name in vain and public service. These are just a few of the topics included here, but rarely introduced at such young ages. Of course, these advanced topics are not discussed exhaustively, but they do serve as wonderful discussion starters for parents.

WHAT I DISLIKE: Unless you have a very advanced preschooler, expect your child to need help with these. They're definitely not at a level for independent use. Not only are the reading sections written at a higher level (between first and second grade), but the font is small and each devotion requires the girls to write responses, a skill not common among this target age range. Even the activities, with few exceptions, cannot be done without adult guidance and supervision. I am all in favor of families doing devotions together, but this one is so specific for very young girls, it is not a good option for whole families, especially those with limited time and resources.


Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

Limos, Lattes and   My Life on the Fringe (Real Life)
Limos, Lattes and My Life on the Fringe (Real Life)
by Nancy Rue
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.99
102 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left me wanting more!, July 29, 2011
Nancy Rue's newest teen novel centers on Tyler Bonning, a girl on the fringe who, as a prank from the popular kids, is nominated for prom queen. At first, Tyler is mortified. She's always hated this school and now has even more reason. But when she discovers how important the prom is to her cousin, and how elite the event has become, she decides to use her new status as a platform for social reform. She initiates a "Prom for Everyone" campaign that seeks to level the field, allowing the less-than-wealthy, not-so-popular and even the outcasts on the fringe to attend and enjoy the prom.

It's no surprise when she receives opposition from the "ruling class" (a.k.a. the most popular circles), but it seems this endeavor turns all her relationships topsy. She finds some common ground with her previously alien cousins, a very unlikely friend in the class president, and enemies among those believed to be her closest friends. Even her parents fall on an unpredicted side of this issue.

In the meantime, a strange book abandoned on the bus forces Tyler to think about God and what role He plays in her life. Is it possible that He could be a personal God? One who actually cares about Tyler and what happens in her life?

This book dives into the sticky side of relationships and social heirarchies with drama, action and even a touch of romance.

What I Like: I love everything about this book! It features strong, well-written characters, a multi-faceted plot, a solid faith foundation, a respectful view of adults and Christians ... there is absolutely nothing not to like about it. I especially appreciated the diversity of characters. It is rare to find solid Christian YA novels that feature African Americans as a main character rather than a sidekick. It is even more rare to see edifying, healthy interracial relationships. This book has both. The author left me wanting more of the series.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent!

Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

John the Revelator
John the Revelator
by Peter Murphy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.00
90 used & new from $0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me., July 29, 2011
This review is from: John the Revelator (Hardcover)
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I received this book as an Advanced Reader's Copy. It boasts complex characters and deep themes. Some will call it "excellent." Unfortunately, I am not one of them. I don't want to criticize the book, specifically, because I believe this title simply isn't my cup of tea. I found it confusing, dark and strange, and not in a good way. That, however, doesn't mean it's a bad book. It's just not a book for me, a miscue in genre, perhaps.

If you seek an escape, a positive, redemptive, literary work, pass on this one. You probably won't like it.

If, however, you like severe emotional dramas with gothic hues and diverting story directions, this may be exactly the title for you.

Super Ace and the Space Traffic Jam (I Can Read! / Superhero Series)
Super Ace and the Space Traffic Jam (I Can Read! / Superhero Series)
by Cheryl Crouch
Edition: Paperback
Price: $3.99
57 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally an easy-reader that appeals to boys!, July 29, 2011
Written by Cheryl Crouch, this is one in a series featuring a big goofy superhero and his nerdy little sidekick. It begins by quoting Psalm 16:1 -- "If you really want to be wise, you must begin by having respect for the Lord. All those who follow his rules have good understanding." (NIrV)

Ace and Ned receive a call for help on the planet of Joop. While en route, they encounter a massive traffic jam. Ace worries that they'll never be able to help the citizens of Joop if they can't get through the traffic. Ned, however, believe this traffic jam may be the reason Joop needs help.
Ace considers his two superpowers: (1) his good looks and (2) his amazing strength. Since his looks usually cause traffic jams instead of fixing them, he decides to use his strength. Unfortunately, every time he lifts and moves a car, another accident occurs.

Ned suggests that the problem may be with the traffic light. Ace doesn't know how to fix a traffic light, but Ned assures him: "God gave me wisdom. God can help me solve this problem." Sure enough, the light is missing a wire. Once Ned replaces the wire, the light is fixed and the traffic jam dissolves. When the super duo arrive to the planet of Joop, they are greeted with gratitude. They fixed the problem for which they were called!

This title is a Level 2 book in the "ZonderKidz I Can Read!" series. Books in this category feature "high-interest stories for developing readers."

The illustrations by Matt Vander Pol reflect a comic book style perfectly appealing to young boys.

WHAT I LIKE: My son (5 years old) really liked this book. I like that it appeals to boys! So many titles target both genders or just girls. This one clearly is after our sons and I think that's great. As always with ZonderKidz "I Can Read!" books, I appreciate the Scripture quotation at the front of the book and the word list at the back.

WHAT I DISLIKE: The spiritual lesson seems weak and definitely doesn't align with the quoted Scripture. I would classify Ned's solution as a use of knowledge, not wisdom ... I suppose it's a fine line between the two. Regardless, it has no mention of obeying God's rules. I wish the point had been more thoroughly made. Also, while my kids thought it was funny, I don't appreciate "good looks" being classified as a superpower. Kids (especially girls) become self-conscious of their looks far too early as it is. I don't like the idea of exacerbating insecurities (or increasing pride) by elevating attractiveness.


Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

The Christian Girl's Guide to Style
The Christian Girl's Guide to Style
by Sherry Kyle
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.29
54 used & new from $0.46

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun devotional and activity book!, July 29, 2011
"The Christian Girl's Guide" series offers seven books to target young teens' greatest concerns. This volume -- The Christian Girl's Guide to Style written by Sherry Kyle -- encourages readers to "create the most stylish YOU inside and out!"

While each chapter focuses on a different element of style -- clothes, hair, accessories, skin care, etc. -- every chapter maintains a consistent format.

* A Bible verse introduces a short fictional story (2-4 pages).
* "What Do You Think?" encourages readers to interact with the stories by answering specific questions in the provided space.
* Sidebars offer style tips, encouraging Bible verses and "Did You Know?" facts.
* "Ask Kelsey" features Q&A.
* "What Does the Bible Say" quotes several relevant Scripture passages for meditation.
* "Letters to God" offers a written prayer from one of the story's characters and a prompt for readers to write their own.

All chapters also include either a "Try It!" or a "Make It!" section. The "tries" feature activities to do in the book, such as a crossword, word scramble, or accessory match-up. The "makes" provides step-by-step crafts like a "decoupage painter's hat", "confetti nails", or "shirt pillow." These fun activities encourage skills of painting, cutting, even sewing.

WHAT I LIKE: This book is great. It's thorough and written at an age-appropriate level. Both the content and design -- which is peppered with simple illustrations by Anita DuFalla -- appeal to the target audience. The activities are highly varied and creative. I was quite impressed. And the Scriptural emphasis pervades every chapter. I love that!

WHAT I DISLIKE: As for the book itself, there's not much to dislike! A few of the verses don't quite match the stories and seem a bit out of context, but overall I think this is a great resource, albeit far from timeless. Styles change so very quickly, I wonder if and when updated editions will be planned.


Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

Glamour (On the Runway)
Glamour (On the Runway)
by Melody Carlson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.99
58 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Easy, summer read with a fresh topic, but could use more depth., July 29, 2011
Written by Melody Carlson, author of more than 200 books, "Glamour" is the fifth "On the Runway" book. The series follows two very different sisters with one big thing in common: their TV show about fashion. Paige is older, charismatic and thrives in the spotlight, while Erin is more reserved, conservative and striving to live out her Christian faith.

This title begins shortly after Paige becomes engaged to designer Dylan Marceau and just before the girls' mom gets married. The sisters clash over issues of premarital sex, body image and the virtues of modesty. Beyond trying to accept her sister's life choices, Erin also needs to tip-toe around her best friends. Molly is a Christian, but pregnant, unwed, and not exactly the best confidant. Blake, also a Christian, clearly wants to progress his relationship with Erin beyond "just friends," but Erin's not so sure. While her views on premarital sex are crisply defined, Erin unwittingly waltzes a gray area of relationship boundaries with Blake.

In the midst of this, Erin becomes privy to serious and secret health issues with their producer, Fran. Because Fran has no family or close friends around, Erin takes it upon herself to care for her, which becomes an increasing burden.

Most of the book takes place in the Bahamas. The girls take the film crew there for a week-long fashion show. Erin struggles to find her place in this world of TV and fashion while seeking earnestly to live out what she believes to be true, in spite of the ridicule she receives. Her pursuit leads to new friends, stretching endeavors, and even a path toward eco-fashion, a line that may have a place, even for her.

WHAT I LIKE: This is a well-written easy read, perfect for lazy summer days. I appreciate the assertion that Christians can have a place, though be it small at times, even in the most "secular" of industries. I really liked the one character, Rhiannon -- a strong character worthy of imitation, and would have liked to see more of her. She was a bright beacon in an otherwise worldly collection of characters.

WHAT I DISLIKE: This is definitely not a stand-alone book. I started reading without researching the title (I don't like spoilers) and was completely lost for the first 80 pages or so. Without the backstory of the first couple books, I didn't know who these characters were, their relation to each other, how old they were, or why the publisher targeted a Christian teen audience. (The material seemed very mature for teens, perhaps better suited for college-aged readers.) While I quickly grow weary of repetition in book series, a quick recap would have been helpful for new-to-this-series readers.

I felt uncomfortable with the obvious isolation of the main character, both in her relationships and her beliefs. I would have liked her to have a little more support, but instead she was made to feel like a freak and a prude, even by her own mother. This does little to encourage readers to stand up for their faith, morals or integrity.

Finally, I just struggle with the main premise of this series. Girls naturally fight against the materialism of fashion while seeking healthy body and self image. I've seen the pressures already hit my seven-year-old daughter! I don't see how books like this alleviate that pressure. In fact, it seems to serve the contrary. This book features a character who has not yet fallen victim to those traps, yet throughout her journey, she gets sucked in more and more until she actually "enjoys" it. I'm not saying we can't enjoy fashion, but why change her? She was fine being herself without an obsession for expensive clothes and brand name styles.


PARENTS NOTE: While none of these topics are the main point of the book, this title does include premarital sex, teen pregnancy, and under-age drinking.

Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

Shattered: A Daughter's Regret (Secrets)
Shattered: A Daughter's Regret (Secrets)
by Melody Carlson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.48
57 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An innocent rebellion changes a girl's life forever. Can forgiveness ever reach her?, July 29, 2011
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Even though it is the second book in the "Secrets" series, Shattered: A Daughter's Regret by prolific author Melody Carlson, reads very much like a stand-alone novel. It centers around Cleo, a high school senior who makes one seemingly innocent rebellion, the consequences of which change her life forever.

As a reaction to her mother's overprotective nature, only-child Cleo deceives her mom and deliberately disobeys by going into the city to a concert with her best friend. The next day her best friend, Lola, moves away and Cleo is visited by the police. Her mother's body was found murdered just blocks from where the concert was held. When Cleo checks her cell phone messages, her suspicions are confirmed. Her mother was in the wrong place at the wrong time because of her.

Grief and guilt combine to send Cleo into a downward spiral. Seeking to dull the pain, she takes some of her mother's old prescription medications. It dulls the ache and so she takes more. Slowly her habit becomes an addiction and soon she finds herself at the park spending her college savings to get a baggie of unknown, colorful pills from a shady drug dealer.

In the meantime, Cleo's aunt Kellie moves in to help her and her dad manage. Cleo struggles to balance that new arrangement with her secret self-medication, maintaining the lead role in her ballet recital and a budding relationship with her long-time crush at school. All while knowing she can never reveal to anyone -- not even Lola -- what role she played in her mother's death.

How long can she keep her drug habit a secret? Will she be able to quit on her own? And what role does God play in all of this? Will her father ever forgive her? Will she ever forgive herself?

WHAT I LIKE: This book covers really heavy topics without being preachy. It clearly emphasizes the value of honesty and friendship (including support groups), but also highlights a beautiful balance between personal responsibility and God's grace. Forgiveness, a topic not often covered in YA literature is a pervasive theme. I really liked that. I like that the characters are fully developed. The whole book is wonderfully realistic without going crazy with unsavory details. Nicely done.

WHAT I DISLIKE: The text goes back and forth between first person present tense and first person past tense. I realize this is a storytelling tactic as old as the written word, but I found it annoying. More importantly, I wish the spiritual content had been stronger. It was there, but extremely subtle.


PARENTS SHOULD NOTE: Substance abuse is a main theme within this book. In addition to the illegal use of drugs, it also references the sale and purchase of illegal drugs. Themes discussed but not central include alcoholism, murder and suicide.

Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

Jesus, God's Only Son: Biblical Values (I Can Read! / Dennis Jones Series)
Jesus, God's Only Son: Biblical Values (I Can Read! / Dennis Jones Series)
by Dennis Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: $3.99
108 used & new from $0.01

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for emerging readers, but not the best faith training, March 29, 2011
This title is a Level 2 (Reading with help) book in Zonderkidz "I Can Read!" series. It begins with Jesus praying in the garden then re-tells -- with age-appropriate details --the accounts of His arrest, crucifixion, resurrection and assention.

The tone of the book focuses much on Jesus' friends: how they wanted to help Him when He carried the cross, how they cared for His body at the tomb and how happy they were to discover He was alive. The last page includes readers in this friendship by telling them that Jesus is always watching over them and that they will one day meet Him in Heaven. The illustrations by Dennis G. Jones feature a comic-like style that instantly attracts young readers. Bold lines and bright colors typify the expressive characters.

WHAT I LIKE: This book is very attractive. My kids were instantly drawn to it. As with every book in the "I Can Read!" series, this one features the perfect spacing and font size for beginning and emerging readers. The sentences are short. The text includes a combination of familiar words to build confidence and new words to expand vocabulary and reading skills.

WHAT I DISLIKE: This book leaves a lot of questions unanswered. It says "God's son Jesus was working hard" but never says what He was doing or what kind of work engaged Him. It explains that Jesus died and rose from the dead, but never explains why. It tells readers they will someday meet Jesus in Heaven, but doesn't say how or when. I wish the book offered more answers.

The illustrations clearly exhibit great skill, but the style detracts from the text. They inspire more humor than reverence. My kids were far more interested in Jesus' disproportionaly huge hands and feet than in the message behind the story. The drawing of a muscle-bound, beefcake-like angel with flowing blonde curls cracked up my kids. They thought it was hysterical! That's not exactly the desired reaction when reading about the resurrection.

OVERALL: It's okay.

Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

Animals of the Bible for Young Children
Animals of the Bible for Young Children
by Marie-Hélène Delval
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.05
73 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't meet expectations; better for younger audience, March 16, 2011
This book re-tells stories of the Bible that include animals. Even stories that feature animals in very minor roles get full attention here. With just one two-page spread devoted to each, the stories are short, ranging from one to seven sentences.

At the back of the book all of the include stories are listed with Scripture references so that readers may examine the full texts.

The bright illustrations remind me of Paul Gauguin's works. They feature heavy brushstrokes, a stylized technique, and lots of saturated color.

WHAT I LIKE: I like the concept. My son cannot get enough books about animals. He loves them! I greatly appreciate the idea of using his interest in animals to get him more interested in Scripture. The index at the back is a wonderful inclusion. I'm always a fan of books that refer readers back to the source, in this case, specific passages of Scripture.

WHAT I DISLIKE: This book didn't meet my expectations. Based on the book's title, target age range and the summary on the back cover, I expected animal facts and scientific trivia interwoven with Scriptural truths. Instead I got extremely short paraphrases of Bible stories that include animals. This would be fine if done thoroughly, but because the stories are so abbreviated and frequently taken out of context, the meanings behind these stories are lost. The cohesive nature and themes of the Bible are lost. My son (5 years old) was disappointed and became bored very quickly.

OVERALL RATING: I think this book would be fine for younger kids. For the specified age range (4-8), I rate it Ho-Hum. But for younger children (2-5), I rate it Good.

Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review

Hear My Prayer
Hear My Prayer
by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Edition: Hardcover
59 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars A nice collection of short prayers for children, February 7, 2011
This review is from: Hear My Prayer (Hardcover)
Award-winning poet Lee Bennett Hopkins compiled a nice collection of prayers, including two of his own original works, in Hear My Prayer. Fourteen prayers in all, some are familiar and others brand new. While nine of them were written by anonymous authors, others are from Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Robert Browning.

The illustrations by Gretchen "Gigi" Moore are saturated with bold color. They feature diversity of characters and a touch of whimsy.

WHAT I LIKE: I like that the prayers are personal. The book offers beautiful examples for children to follow when they don't know how to pray or what to pray for. Short in length, they make for easy memorization, too. My 6-year-old likes that she can read this book by herself. The font is large and clear, perfect for emerging readers.

WHAT I DISLIKE: The illustrations are not my favorite style. They appear "unfinished." Other than that, there is nothing I specifically "dislike." But there is also nothing that stands out as extraordinary.


Tanya -- Christian Children's Book Review
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