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Shanna A. Gonzalez "eyelevelbooks.com" RSS Feed (Gaithersburg, MD)

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Banzai Aqua Blast Hopscotch Water Splash Pad
Banzai Aqua Blast Hopscotch Water Splash Pad
Offered by The Humming Bird
Price: $11.99
23 used & new from $11.25

1.0 out of 5 stars Cheap Flimsy Junk is Not Warrantied, July 8, 2014
You might prefer to put this product directly in the trash to avoid dressing kids for water play, then watching them cry after it immediately breaks when used exactly as directed.


SHOPPING CART LINER - BRAND NEW - GROCERY - BLACK
SHOPPING CART LINER - BRAND NEW - GROCERY - BLACK
Offered by Handy Laundry Products Corp.
Price: $6.00
12 used & new from $0.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Made of very flimsy fabric, August 19, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This shopping cart liner is made of very flimsy, disposable fabric -- the kind that complimentary tote bags are made of. I wouldn't recommend washing it, let alone taking it out in the rain.


VTech Communications Safe & Sound Digital Audio Monitor with two Parent Units
VTech Communications Safe & Sound Digital Audio Monitor with two Parent Units
Price: $59.95
14 used & new from $49.88

5.0 out of 5 stars Good Performance, Outstanding Customer Service, June 25, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This monitor gets great reception, even at some distance, and the intercom feature is convenient. The parent units did permanently lose their connection to the baby unit after a few months. I contacted the manufacturer and they said this is an issue with this model, and replaced it within a matter of days. If you're going to use this for many years, you might want to check the warranty.


The Very First Easter
The Very First Easter
by Paul L. Maier
Edition: Paperback
Price: $7.19
124 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Resource for Helping Children Transition from Rehearsal to Historical Engagement, March 2, 2013
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This review is from: The Very First Easter (Paperback)
Paul Maier, a professor of Ancient History, brings his expertise to bear in explaining the significance of the Easter events and subsequent Christian traditions. As in the companion book The Very First Christmas, a father and mother read the Bible with their son Chris, while he peppers them with questions about the meaning and historicity of the Easter story's events. They explain why Jesus rode a donkey into town, how the Jewish Passover became the Christian Lord's Supper/ Holy Communion, how much Judas' thirty pieces of silver was worth, why Jesus (as a man) prayed to God (when he was God and man at the same time), why Judas kissed Jesus, and other details that help an elementary audience engage the Easter story from a historical perspective.

The author does make a couple of interpretations that aren't universally accepted. He states that Jesus miraculously appeared in the locked upper room (Luke 24:36 and John 20:19) because after the Resurrection He was able to appear and disappear at will. The biblical text doesn't explicitly make this claim, and some scholars believe it's possible Jesus simply unlocked the door and walked in. Maier also states that during the Ascension, "Jesus moved into a higher dimension of reality -- beyond our human ability to see." This might be true, but it would have been simpler to just say the cloud that hid Jesus was a cloud of glory, often associated in Scripture with the presence of God (Exodus 16:10, Exodus 19:16-20, Luke 9:28-36). Still, most of the content is both factual and enlightening, and children and adults will learn quite a bit from it.

Ordaz's artwork is impressive, although the Biblical characters look more European than Middle Eastern. (Someone with a better art-history background than mine might be more appreciative of the artistic conventions.) Maier is a good writer, but Chris's conversation with his parents is rather contrived, and the information could have been effectively presented without the question-answer setup. That said, this is a great resource for helping elementary-aged children transition from simply rehearsing the Easter events to understanding their historical and spiritual significance.


The Donkey Who Carried a King
The Donkey Who Carried a King
by R. C. Sproul
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.68
32 used & new from $10.53

4.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Perspective on the Easter Story, March 2, 2013
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When I picked up this book I expected a straightforward retelling of the Easter events, with some explanation about the significance of the donkey in the Triumphal Entry. This is instead a moral lesson based on Matthew 20:28 - "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

In the setup, a young boy comes home distraught at being picked last for a game. His grandfather sits down with him and tells the story of Davey the donkey, who learns from his old friend Barnabas that although he was chosen to carry a great King, that didn't mean he was too good for simple roles. The King Himself humbly chose to become a willing servant, so Christians should recognize that every role is important and not seek only prominent positions. After making this point, Grandpa explains that Jesus died to save His people from their sins, bearing their punishment and erasing their guilt. He now reigns forever with His Father, and is worthy of our service.

Although the story hangs on the events of Jesus' Passion, burial and resurrection, the main part of it is entirely fictional. We know almost nothing about the real donkey on which the fictional Davey is based, except that he fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9. Davey's donkey friend Barnabus, who is supposed to have carried Jesus' mother Mary to Bethlehem, isn't actually mentioned in the Bible at all. Although the meaning of Easter is explained on the last page, the Gospel isn't the main point of the story -- rather, you might say the main point depends on an understanding the Gospel. It's possible that some children reading this may be confused about the historical events of Easter. However, even children usually understand the difference between real animals and anthropomorphized ones.

Although I'm usually uncomfortable with embellished Bible stories, if anybody can pull it off without getting into theological trouble it's R.C. Sproul. This book is well-written, interesting and engaging, and attractively illustrated. It has a biblical message, and although its message isn't central to the Easter observance, it could make a good addition to an Easter reading basket.


The Easter Story
The Easter Story
by Patricia A. Pingry
Edition: Board book
Price: $6.32
207 used & new from $0.01

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bare-Bones Retelling of Easter for Toddlers, March 2, 2013
This review is from: The Easter Story (Board book)
Easter is such a big cultural event that it can be a challenge for Christian parents to orient their kids to the holiday’s Christian meaning. This board book presents the events from Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection at a preschooler’s level, showing that Jesus died and rose from the grave to save us and give us life.

A significant omission is any mention of human sinfulness, the reason humanity needs to be saved. And although the story is presented accurately, it isn’t all that exciting. Jesus’ death and resurrection to save us from sin is the core of Christianity; it’s the most momentous event in the history of the universe. You might expect even a preschooler’s book to convey some of the drama, suspense, and surprise the first disciples experienced. Some parents may prefer to read the same story from a good picture Bible instead.

All that said, however, it does present the Easter story events clearly, and could make a good supplement for hands-on activities such as salt dough Easter tombs or Resurrection Cookies.


How to Be a Baby . . . by Me, the Big Sister (How To Series)
How to Be a Baby . . . by Me, the Big Sister (How To Series)
by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.29
56 used & new from $0.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Fit for Newly-Promoted Older Siblings, February 9, 2013
Books on welcoming a new sibling abound, many heartwarming, many boring, most dealing with sibling rivalry -- and only a few of them are truly funny. In this engaging volume, a newly-promoted big sister speaks to her new brother, outlining rather sympathetically what it's like to be him. There are fewer opportunities: "When you're a baby, people eat your ice cream for you, because ice cream isn't appropriate for babies." There are restrictions: "You don't sit on a chair. You are tied to it. Or you fall off and bang your head and scream and have to go to bed." She contrasts his limitations with her own abilities, looking forward to the time when he will be old enough to copy everything she does. The speaker's self-satisfied superiority is conveyed with humor, but the speaker seriously acknowledges her brother's dependence on others, and she responds to his vulnerability with a protective tenderness.

Lloyd-Jones does a masterful job capturing a child's voice and perspective, and Heap's whimsical artwork perfectly complements the lighthearted mood of the text. This is a wonderful portrayal of a positive sibling relationship, providing an example for older siblings to emulate without being at all moralistic. It's appropriate for preschoolers and an elementary audience, and adults will enjoy it too.


A Mother for Choco (Picture Puffin Books)
A Mother for Choco (Picture Puffin Books)
by Keiko Kasza
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.39
124 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A New Twist on P.D. Eastman's Classic Plot Device, February 4, 2013
Twenty years after P.D. Eastman's classic Are You My Mother?, Keiko Kasza presents a heartwarming story of another lonely bird who sets off to find his mother -- but is disappointed after interviewing a giraffe, penguin, and walrus, to find that no mother shares his wings, his yellow color, his round cheeks, or his striped feet. When he spies Mrs. Bear he knows she isn't his mother, but when he begins to cry she immediately comforts him, just as he imagines his mother would do. When she suggests that she could be his mother, he objects that she doesn't have his wings, yellow color, round cheeks, or striped feet. She laughs, "That would make me look very funny!" and invites him home to meet her other children, none of which are bears. The story ends with the same resounding comfort as Eastman's classic, as four children snuggle with Mrs. Bear, secure in her love even though she looks nothing like them.

The straightforward plot communicates a profound principle that families need not be defined by biological similarity. This point lends itself to heavy-handedness, but it comes across here with simple good humor as Choco experiences a mother's love through his encounter with Mrs. Bear. This story may be especially appealing to children whose families have been formed through adoption, but other children will benefit from it as well.


Are You My Mother? (Beginner Books)
Are You My Mother? (Beginner Books)
by Philip D. Eastman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $6.00
868 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Simple, Well-Loved Classic, February 4, 2013
Are You My Mother, a simple, well-loved classic, opens with a mother bird sitting on her egg. When the egg begins to move, she leaves to find some food for her anticipated baby. In her absence, the egg hatches, and the hatchling sets out in search of his mother. He asks a kitten, a hen, a dog, and a cow if they are his mother, and each says "no." He sees a car, a boat, and an airplane, is disappointed that none of them are his mother either. Finally, he finds a construction digger, which he calls a Snort. The digger lifts him high in the air, frightening him terribly, then drops him back into his nest where he meets his mother returning home.

This is a great read-aloud for preschoolers, who will identify with the baby bird's fear at being separated from his parents. Its pacing is wonderfully predictable, with not-very-scary tension building to an exciting climax with the "Snort," and transitioning quickly to a deeply reassuring ending as the baby bird snuggles into the nest with his mother. It's also a good easy reader, although a student who has had the book read aloud in preschool may view it as babyish. I recommend the full paperback or hardback version rather than the abridged board book, which loses much in the abridging.


Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight (Library of Nations)
Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight (Library of Nations)
by Ogden Nash
Edition: Paperback
34 used & new from $0.41

4.0 out of 5 stars More of Custard's Courageous Cowardice, September 24, 2012
This sequel to The Tale of Custard the Dragon charms the reader with more of Nash's matchless rhyme. This is another tale of genuine courage expressed in a time of need by a habitually mild, timid "little pet dragon." In this story, Belinda is kidnapped by an evil knight, and it is up to Custard to rescue her from his evil lair.

As in the first book, Nash's ironic, tongue-in-cheek hilarity is complemented by Munsinger's whimsical artwork. If told with a serious way, the story might be frightening to sensitive children, but the peppy, poetic rhythm and lighthearted images do much to lighten the potentially sinister mood. If your kids liked the original, this is sure to be a hit.

This book is unfortunately out of print, but is widely available on the used book market. There is also another edition, Custard the Dragon and the Wicked Knight, illustrated by Linell Nash Smith, but it appears to be an expensive collector's item.


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