Hi,

I am sad to let you know that Sisterhood Magazine has stopped publication of its magazine. I received word from them late last week. Their parent company is going out of business. Awful! I thought this Christian-focused magazine was terrific and from what I heard from teen girls they thought so too.

Nancy

As I was reading Thanksgiving Graces, I could smell the turkey cooking, see the doors swing open with arriving guests and hear the cheery “hellos.” This picture book for ages 4 and above put me in the scene. I was welcomed to the Thanksgiving feast of a friendly, gracious family just as much as the invited guests and the surprise guests were.

Thanksgiving Graces by Mark Kimball Moulton, illustrated by David Wenzel and published by Ideals Children’s Books (2011) does have a table grace, but the story is not about a prayer. The story is about extending ourselves to welcome family, friends and strangers. The young boy in the story is excited when the guests start arriving, but he begins to feel afraid as more and more people come. Will there be enough to go around? He learns that sharing is possible and fun; God provides. This emphasis on God’s provision that enables us to share sets this children’s holiday picture book apart from other Thanksgiving stories with a contemporary setting.

David Wenzel’s illustrations are kid-friendly. The home and people are drawn in rich autumn colors. There is a lot of activity in the pictures and they capture the energy and fun of a large, happy gathering. The drawings also zero in on quieter moments of talking heart-to-heart and prayer. The story is told in rhyme and I think it adds to the fun. I did stumble a few times on my first reading, but further readings will no doubt smooth out.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  Her latest work is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Kristina discovered this heart-warming Thanksgiving book last year and wrote about it. It is worth another mention. Molly’s Pilgrim is an illustrated book for children in grades 1-3 and may help them see the holiday in its historical context and also broaden their perspective.– Nancy

Molly’s Pilgrim written by Barbara Cohen and illustrated by Daniel Mark Duffy (HarperCollins, Revised Edition, 2005)  is only 32 pages long, but a terrific read.

Molly does not fit in at her new school. She is different. Originally from Russia and a Jew, she has come to live in a small town following her family’s arrival in New York City. Molly is teased by the other girls in school because her clothes are different and she does not speak English well.

One day, the girls tease her all the way home. She starts to cry, and her mother says she will talk to the teacher. Molly fears her mother will make things worse because her mother speaks Yiddish and only a little English. Molly agrees that she will talk to her teacher, but she never does.

In November the teacher asks Molly to start reading a story. It is about the Pilgrims. The teacher asks each student to bring in a Pilgrim doll. Molly goes home to start work on the doll and other homework. Her mother creates a doll based on a picture of Molly. Molly thinks it is beautiful, but it is not like the picture in the book that the teacher gave Molly. Her mother explains that Molly is a pilgrim too. She has come to the United States for religious freedom as well.

Molly takes the doll to school. The other children share their dolls. But, Molly’s doll is different and she is teased. The teacher asks to see the doll. She says it is beautiful, and Molly explains the story. A few of the students start to think about Molly’s pilgrim as a modern pilgrim. Molly even becomes friends with a girl who teased her.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a modern Thanksgiving story. It reminds us that there are still people coming to the United States to worship God in their own way. It teaches us to think about our special and important right to freedom of religion. This story also reminds us that Thanksgiving originated with Christians who read the Bible. Their feast was similar to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrated the harvest that God gives.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a great story for young readers ages 7-10 and even a great read-aloud for families.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of twin girls, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoys raising her two girls.

It’s November 2 and many of us here in the States (I say this for our readers in other parts of the world)  are thinking about Thanksgiving Day which this year will be on November 27. For some of us, as for some of you, it has been a roller-coaster year, but we are recounting to ourselves and each other the wonder of God and His gifts to us.

One of the great gifts that God gave to the first thanksgiving celebrants was the Native American Squanto. His story and how God used his adversities to help others truly deserves the word “awesome.” Carol found a book a couple of years ago about Squanto which your family might enjoy.  I posted about it then and I think it is worth posting now in case you didn’t see it. — Nancy

Carol’s Review:

Fall leaves are turning color; winter chill is in the air. Soon Thanksgiving will be here. Unfortunately, most schools will be telling our children the Pilgrims thanked the Indians, not God for seeing them through a bitter winter.

Gary Metaxas’ book, Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving, (Thomas Nelson, 1999) does more than counteract this half truth. Metaxas shows that God’s hand and not coincidence was behind this amazing true story in America’s early history.

In 1608 slave traders captured Squanto, a Native American, and several other young Patuxet braves and took them to Spain. Squanto was sold to a monk, who taught him about God and how he could trust in Him for the good that would come. Five years later Squanto, with the monk’s help, traveled to London–the first leg of realizing his dream to return to America. Here, a London merchant taught him English and about the great chief, King James I. Finally, after another five years Squanto was going home but there was one more interruption–a layover until spring in Newfoundland.

Tears, not joy, were Squanto’s response to his return to America. A terrible illness had wiped out his entire tribe, forcing him to stay with a neighboring tribe. Disappointment and doubt drove him to live in the woods by himself where he made his peace with God.  Samoset, another Native American, told him that Englishmen, called Pilgrims, lived on the site of his family’s former village. Only God could have planned Squanto’s meeting with Governor Bradford and the Pilgrims who were looking for a home of their own. Readers will delight in the Pilgrims’ surprise when Squanto addressed them in English and worshipped the same God they did.

The author’s easy-flowing text contains a background drumbeat of suspense and sadness. The story  ends with a feast of food and faith. Shannon Stirnweis’ warm, colorful and realistic illustrations depict the darkness of the slave ship, the vividness of London and the homecoming to America’s wooded shores. Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving would be great to read as an appetizer to your Thanksgiving dinner when the family gathers to give thanks.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is married and the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

While Donna Fujimoto and I were discussing her recent post, I came across Men of Science, Men of God. The book was written by Henry M. Morris (published by Master Books, 1982) and gives brief biographies of 101 men who have believed in the Bible and pursued or supported scientific discovery. The biographies highlight their work as scientists and their lives as believers.

Dr. Morris begins with Da Vinci and ends with Sir Cecil Wakeley. The survey includes such well-known scientists as Johann Kepler, Robert Boyle, William Herschel, Samuel F.B. Morse, Louis Pasteur and George Washington Carver. Before beginning his biographies, Morris states that his book is not intended to be an exhaustive study. The book is designed more as a reference book that would pique a person’s interest in the subject of faith and science and perhaps being a deeper study of particular scientists.

Morris also states “the inclusion of a particular scientist in this collection does not indicate that we would or would not endorse his personal behavior or particular doctrinal or denominational beliefs. Our only criterion has been that, in addition to being a highly qualified scientist, he believed in the inspiration and authority of the Bible, accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and believed in the one true God of the Bible as the Creator of all things.” It is important to note that Morris was president emeritus of the Institute of Creation Research at the time of the book’s publication. This organization promotes the belief in a 6,000 year-old earth. A few of the scientists he included also promoted such a view.

Whether you and your child subscribe to such a view does not, in my opinion, negate the value of the book. Just reading about the famous and less famous scientists who also believed in Jesus is encouraging. I think upper elementary children and teens will benefit from seeing that science and faith were not incompatible for these men and consider that society’s prevalent thinking, may be worth questioning. It might encourage your child to research and find contemporary scientists who are people of faith in God. We have them among us.

(Note: A few years ago I heard astronomer Dr. Hugh Ross speak. Not only are human beings “fearfully and wonderfully made,” but our planet and the universe declare the magnificence of God.)

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) Two of her published works for children are Marty’s Monster and Jessica Jacobs Did What?  Her latest work is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

God created this amazing world. It is only natural that we should be curious about it. In Genesis 1:26, God commissions Adam and Eve, in His image, to rule over all He has created. They are entrusted with stewardship of this world, and the creatures that live here. I think He delights in us when we work with plants and animals and explore the mysteries of nature and the universe that He made for us.

Children love to ask “Why?” about the world they see and hear. They are always exploring. How can parents encourage that curiosity? Through science.

Historically, the church fostered the growth of science and medicine. You can keep this spirit alive by introducing science to your kids. It may even end up capturing their imaginations so much that they pursue it as a career!

There are lots of books in libraries, schools and bookstores to inspire kids, but what I encourage is a lifestyle of discovery. Children learn best from hands-on experience. Let me describe some broad categories that may give you ideas on how to introduce science into your kids’ experiences.

Nature is a beautiful place. Wherever you live, there are places you can go—from your backyard, to a local park, to a state or national park—to see nature at work. Kids love to observe insects, pick up rocks and sticks, and compare leaves from different trees.  Take nature walks or serious hikes, go fishing, or go camping.  Encourage your kids to take pictures of these places or make collections of rocks, shells or pressed leaves.

Depending on where you live, raising a 4-H lamb or calf, caring for a dog or cat, or even a small tank of fish invites a child into the wonders of animal reproduction, growth, and how to deal with the reality of death. Our kids cared for silk worms one year—we got the worms from a school project and procured a supply of Mulberry leaves for them to eat. It was fascinating for our kids to watch worms transform into moths, leaving behind beautiful silk cocoons.

Science kits excite kids who like to build and experiment. You can find these at educational stores, toy stores, and department stores. Some of these require adult supervision, especially for younger children. There are chemistry sets, rock-polishing machines, radio kits, magnet kits, crystal-growing kits, and more. You can go online or to the library and get ideas for doing fun projects at home like making goo with corn starch or building simple electronics.

Gardening is amazing: a seed in a pot with water and sunshine makes something grow! You can choose flowers or vegetables. If you have more space you can plant a window box or a whole kitchen garden. Kids may even want to eat their veggies!

If the street lights are not too bright in your neighborhood, you can study the night sky, memorize constellations, get up at one in the morning to watch a meteor shower or take a trip to a local planetarium or observatory telescope.

Somewhere nearby there is probably a science-themed museum. Kids like looking at dinosaur bones, rocks, old scientific machines, and dioramas. Aquariums and zoos also offer a fun look at the natural world.

There are lots of movies and books that can enlighten your children, answering even more questions. Once they’re intrigued, kids will do research for themselves. If you have concerns about content, preview the material before they launch into it. Here are some suggestions: field guides to birds; guides to rocks and minerals; books listing breeds of cats, dogs, or horses; gardening books; age-appropriate anatomy books for those with interests in nursing and medicine. There are lots of great science documentaries and nature shows. You can check out Moody Science Institute products if you want a faith-based perspective.

As kids get older, they can experience science through community. They can participate in school science fairs and clubs. If your child likes teamwork and competition, they may find clubs that compete nationally and internationally, some for college scholarships. There are general science clubs as well as clubs that specialize in areas such as robotics or engineering. If your school doesn’t have such a club, you may be able to sponsor and help organize one.

Children can grow passionate about taking care of the world God has given us through the application of science to world problems. They even take up a cause such as keeping the planet clean, providing water to people in parched countries, finding new ways to feed the hungry, or finding cures for debilitating diseases. Science can help them express the love of God to others.

Coming full circle from the miracle and mystery of creation to the ways we can help others, science is a language worth learning for children in today’s world.

 

Famous Christians in Science:

Blaise Pascal–physicist

Galilei Galileo—astronomer

Isaac Newton—scientist and theologian

Gregor Mendel–botanist

William Thomson Kelvin—engineer, physicist

Louis Pasteur—chemist, microbiologist

John Glenn—astronaut, senator

Francis Collins—physician, human genome mapper

 

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

 

 

Do your kids ever ask, “How did we get the Bible?” It’s an intelligent question. If you are going to study a book and follow its teachings, you want to know it is reliable.

There are whole classes on this subject. There are encyclopedia-sized volumes of very dry reading. How can you find something that spells it out in a child-friendly way?

Let me suggest The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Story of the Bible by Tim Dowley (published by Kregel Publications, 2001). It is a colorful, 10 ½ by 7 ½ inch, 32-page booklet designed for elementary-aged children. Nearly every page is illustrated with maps, charts, drawings and photographs.

The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Story of the Bible explains oral tradition, the languages in which the Bible is written, the materials on which it was written (including a fun section on how to make papyrus), book summaries, how the Bible was copied, and what led to current translations of the text into modern languages. There are photos of illuminated manuscripts and an explanation of how the Bible moved from scroll to book form.

Brief stories of people who labored to bring the Book to us are shared, including those of Jerome, Waldo, Erasmus, John Wycliffe, John Hus, William Tyndale, and William Carey. There are lists of interesting facts and statistics.

For the curious mind, this book will answer many questions. It is available from Christianbook.com, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

 

 

 

Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis with Beth Clark and published by Howard Books (2012) is the true story of a young woman who made a remarkable decision. The book tells her story.

Eighteen-year-old Katie Davis researches short-term missions opportunities in orphanages for Christmas break. She discovers a need in Uganda. With her mother she travels there and stays three weeks. Katie is captivated by the young children and does not want to leave. A nearby school offers her a job teaching kindergarten. Katie decides to put off college for a year, break up with her boyfriend, and move to Uganda. She believes that this is a calling from the Lord and she seeks her passion to follow Jesus at all cost.

Her life in Uganda is an eye-opening experience. She learns how simple life really is. With faith in God and only limited help, she establishes a home for 13 adopted children and founds Amazima, a ministry to provide schooling, medical supplies, food, and the word of God to hundreds of children. Katie also works with the women of Masese, a very poor village near her town.

Katie learns to trust the Lord with all of her heart and to know that He will provide for her. She has many experiences with culture and illness while teaching the people of Uganda about the Lord,

This is a great book for teenagers and those interested in missions work in Africa or other parts of the world. Katie’s experiences remind us that God is doing amazing work in places that need it the most. It also reminds teenagers to find and seek God’s plans for their lives.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of twin girls, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoys raising her two girls.

 

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed by Heather Vogel Frederick (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition, 2004) is a sea adventure that will keep middle school aged boys and girls turning the pages.

At the age of twelve, Patience loses her beloved mother while her father, a whaling ship captain, is at sea. When he returns, he resolves to take Patience and her brother with him to sea, so keeping his family together. But Patience wants to remain in Nantucket and study math, at which she excels. Her little brother Tad, however, is ecstatic over the idea of going on the ship. The captain tries to employ his older sister, who runs a school for girls, to be their governess on the trip, but she refuses. Aunt Anne gives her niece a journal to record her journey and a sextant to help her navigate. Their cousin is the first mate, and he and others in the crew do their best to make the two children feel welcome while their father is busy setting sail.

As the story unfolds we see the ship, its operations, and ports of call through the eyes of a curious girl. Patience tries to do what is right, but often struggles with her temper. She is kind to her brother, and makes herself useful by both helping with navigation and baking biscuits and pies for the crew. Slowly her relationship with her father—who traveled for years at a time during her childhood—grows deeper. Patience as well as the other characters in this story are realistically portrayed with strengths and weaknesses. Children will relate to them.

In a furious storm, a valued crew member is washed overboard and the first mate’s leg is broken. Their cousin stays in port to heal, and a new mate is hired. Patience’s dislike of the new man is merited when he turns mutinous, marooning the captain, her brother, and all the loyal crew. Patience must find a way to retake the ship and navigate back to save her family before it is too late.

Details of whaling are described which may upset some readers, but they are based on historical facts of that era. There are elements of peril, but it feels a lot like the Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys series in both reading level and suspense. Nothing is really terrifying and the reader feels as though all will end well.

The culture of that time and place is Christian, and there are references to scripture, prayer, and poetry that reflect this.

The author descended from New England mariners. She includes recipes baked on the voyage and a glossary of nautical terms.

I think middle school aged children will find this book a nice adventure. It is just over 200 pages in length. I found it at my local library. It is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

 

 

 

This nonfiction, healthy lifestyle book is written by Bethany Hamilton, a young woman from Hawaii who became famous after surviving a shark attack while surfing as a teen. Her story was told in both the book and a movie entitled Soul Surfer. Body & Soul is a collaboration with Dustin Dillberg (Bethany Hamilton’s trainer) and Kirby Dillberg (health food consultant).

Body & Soul finds its best audience with the high-energy, athletic high school girl. It outlines a lifestyle that requires perseverance and self-discipline. Bethany encourages a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, low-fat organic chicken, meats and fish, lots of water, whole grains, nuts, small portions, and no junk food. There is a chapter of delicious healthful recipes, including Bethany’s favorite green smoothie.

In other sections of the book she recommends specific kinds of workouts—complete with step-by-step photographs and instructions. The reader will also find  encouragement both to find a sport she loves and to exercise regularly with friends. There is a sample week-long diet and exercise plan to get girls started. Bethany points out the importance of a balanced life and of having a good relationship with God.

It sounds as if Bethany is speaking directly to the girls from her home or the beach, using surfing terms to emphasize her enthusiasm. The book is colorful and upbeat, full of scripture quotes, tips on healthy eating and exercise, “Soul Secrets” and “Challenges.” Bethany offers further advice through her website.

Body & Soul is 150 pages long, 10 ½ by 7 inches in size, and is published by Zondervan. It is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Christianbook.com.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

 

 

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