Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter and published by Dalmatian Press, will definitely cheer your spirit. (Amazon.com offers the  Pollyanna Press, 2013, edition.) This condensed and adapted version of a well-known classic is perfect for children ages 8-14. Older children and adults will find it heartwarming as well.

The story begins as an eleven year-old orphan, Polly Whittier, comes to live with her spinster aunt, Polly Harrington. Aunt Polly is the stern younger sister of Pollyanna’s mother. She is not sure she is ready to care for a child, but she feels she has an obligation to take Pollyanna in. Nancy, Aunt Polly’s housemaid, who is sincere and softhearted, helps Pollyanna adjust to her new surroundings.

Pollyanna can’t help but share her cheerful spirit with everyone she meets. She tells them that the way to manage life is to play the ‘just being glad’ game. Her father, who is now deceased, taught her this game during a time when it was hard for her to be thankful. She has played the game everyday since and encourages others to play it as well. Some of the people she shares her favorite game with are Mrs. Snow, a sad invalid; John Pendleton, a crabby neighbor; Dr. Thomas Chilton, her aunt’s former sweetheart; and Jimmy Bean, another orphan.

Everyone in this story changes as a result of Pollyanna’s love and cheer. She tries to find out the mystery of who her Aunt once loved and arranges for John Pendleton to adopt Jimmy Bean.

When Pollyanna is one day suddenly hit by a car and told she will never walk again, her Aunt and new friends rally around her and try to encourage her, as she has taught them. They see that she has temporarily given up the glad game, and they try to lift her spirit.

Aunt Polly’s heart softens and she reconnects with Dr. Chilton, whom she was once engaged to. He believes a friend of his can help Pollyanna walk again. The story ends with a very happy ending and everyone in the story sold on continuing their thankful attitudes.

I loved this story because I saw how Pollyanna made such a difference in the lives of other by being “thankful in all things.” God encourages us to give thanks always. This book is a good example of why that is important. It will help young children to see the results of a cheerful attitude in their own lives.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for 32 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

The Secret of the Old Clock, written by Carolyn Keene, is the first of the Nancy Drew Mysteries. Armed with good wits and a strong will to see a case through, Nancy Drew is a young, amateur sleuth. (According to Amazon.com, this novel was first published in 1930, but only its 1959 version, which was a significant rewrite, is currently in print.)

The mystery in The Secret of the Old Clock is about the missing will of Mr. Crowley. He promised to leave his fortune to certain friends whom Nancy meets. None of them have received their promised money because a will was drafted giving the Topham family access to Mr. Crowley’s fortune. Nancy learns there is possibly another will and that an old clock could lead to its whereabouts. That clock, she discovers, is at the Topham’s summer cabin. Nancy has a friend who runs a camp on the other side of the lake. This gives her the perfect plan; she will seek the permission of the caretaker and take a look at the clock.

The “perfect” plan unravels when she walks into the house in search of the caretaker and finds two robbers who are stealing things from the house. She is locked in a closet, but she is rescued by the caretaker. The old clock, however, is missing. She calls the police who are looking for the robbers, but she finds where the robbers are hiding before the police. She searches for and finds the clock. Inside it is a note, but before she can read it, she is interrupted by the returning robbers. Nancy informs the police of the direction the robbers took. They are caught and the clock is recovered.

The note Nancy finds, will it lead to a secret will? What will the Topham’s do about the news of another will? Were Mr. Crowley’s friends mentioned? Such questions are all answered.

The Nancy Drew series was written for girls ages 10 to 15 years. This book is a great read for those young readers interested in sleuthing and trying to figure out who did it. Though the book is not specifically Christian, the novel makes a clear distinction between good and bad. Criminals do not get away with their crimes. The book’s sleuth, Nancy Drew, is a young person of good character. She respects adults and authority figures. She is kind hearted and tries to help people by solving the mystery. She perseveres, following through despite the difficulties she encounters

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.

FYI: 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge by Donna Fujimoto was formerly available only for Kindle users. We are excited to let you know that those of you with other devices may now purchase this e-book through Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Smashwords.

Here is our review by J. D. Rempel.

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Books 4 Christian Kids is proud to announce the release of 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, an e-book by our own Donna Fujimoto*. It is a collection of science fiction short stories for young adult readers.

The stories are filled with interesting twists as readers travel with the characters to alien planets, make first contact, discover parallel worlds, and more. In these fantastic and vivid worlds, the young characters portray admirable behavior even when faced with difficult decisions. The book is a mix of amusing tales and parables which reveal strong moral depth.

*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.

J. D. Rempel is a graduate of Simpson College. She is endeavoring to pen a preteen science fiction novel and an adult fantasy series. She loves to read and started a library at her church. She enjoys working with her husband in youth ministry.

Children love to color and they love crayons. The Day the Crayons Quit uses crayons in a funny, imaginative way that will delight and tickle children. Written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers and published by Philomel Books (2013), this picture book will also give them something to think about.

One day Duncan goes to his crayon box and finds letters from his crayons. Red complains that he is tired and worn from being used too much for fire trucks, apples and red balls. Purple writes that she knows she is a favorite color but would the child please try to stay within the lines. Beige says that she is not to be called light brown or tan. Her name is beige.

The author tries to show that crayons are a lot like people; they want to be thought of in the right way. Do crayons write letters? No. Do crayons complain or expect different things? No. But the child will smile the next time he colors and thinks, maybe red does need to be thought of with respect and care. At the end, all the colors are used and a beautiful picture is made.

In a clever and humorous way the book helps a child think about how to respect his friends and how each one is important. You might call it a “colorful” way of showing the “Golden Rule” and that each person needs to be handled with care.

Requests will be made for The Day the Crayons Quit to be read over and over again.  It will also provides interesting talking points for the reader and the child. What is their favorite color? Is a name important? Just like each color has its place in God’s world so does each child. Who would have thought a lesson besides art could be learned from colors? Maybe, just for fun, the reader might want to help the child write a letter to its favorite color. Enjoy and have fun.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is 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.

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Mimosa: A True Story was written by Amy Carmichael and published by Christian Literature Crusade. Carmichael, a young Irish woman, went to India as a missionary in 1895. She stayed over fifty years and ministered mainly to women and children, founding a remarkable community called Dohnavur.

It was at Dohnavur where Amy first saw Mimosa, a young Indian girl dressed in bright colors and flashing jewelry. For one afternoon Mimosa visited the community with her father. She begged her father to let her stay and learn more of what these people believed, but he said it would cause their family shame. She left with him, trying to smile through her tears. Amy Carmichael did not see Mimosa again for twenty-two years.

This is the story of how Mimosa took what truth that she heard that day, living it with only God’s Spirit for a guide. Her life was marked with trials: punishment from her parents, persecution from neighbors, an arranged marriage to a difficult husband, sickness, poverty, the loss of a child. But through it all, prayers and hope in a loving God sustained her.

After Amy is reunited with Mimosa we hear the end of her story in epilogues. Her life inspired many others to persevere through their hardships.For those experiencing difficulty or discouragement, this book offers an uplifting perspective. Its primary message seems to be “Love will find a way.”

First written in 1924, the writing style of this book may pose problems to some readers. Prayers are expressed in King James English. Some vocabulary words, like “heathen” and “succor,” are out of style now. The formatting of the opening chapters includes distracting quotes from the reading sprinkled throughout the pages.

I am recommending this book for high school students and college age/working people. The difficulties of Mimosa’s life might be too distressing for younger children.

I read Mimosa’s story almost as a devotional—a chapter at a time, pausing to reflect. I entered into her sense of peace. It reminded me to live in hope.

A paperback of 147 pages, Mimosa: A True Story is available from Amazon.com, 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.

Lightbearer: The Lorica Prophecies was written by Marcy Weydemuller and published through Helping Hands Press (2014). It is a fantasy novel for YA.

Jonne,  who is on his way to his choosing ceremony, meets a mysterious stranger. The stranger advises the young man to search his heart for what he might want to do in the future. At the ceremony the mysterious man announces there is an opening for a lightbearer in the High Valley. The people in the village have never been to the High Valley.

The opportunity excites Jonne even though it means  he will probably never see his family again. Saum, Jonne’s best friend, has already decided their plans for the future and thinks it is best that they work as a team. But Jonne wants to be on his own without Saum; he has always felt he was in Saum’s shadow.

Jonne knows becoming a lightbearer will not be easy and that he must develop a relationship with El Olam (God). Jonne prays and asks El Olam if he is to go to the High Valley. He asks for a sign. El Olam answers him and Jonne chooses to go to the High Valley. Saum sees that Jonne wants to leave and wants to go too, but he is refused.

Jonne travels to the High Valley and learns more about El Olam and how to become a lightbearer. An unexpected visitor arrives at the High Valley to complicate things for Jonne during his training. He tries hard to do what is right. In the end there is an unexpected twist which shows how God can use anyone for His glory.

Even though Lightbearer: The Lorica Prophecies is fiction, it gives the reader some deep spiritual ideas to think about. It shows how we as Christians have two callings in our life. One is to be a lightbearer to others (showing Jesus’ light) and the second is the calling or vocation that God has given each person. The story shows Jonne’s vocational calling, for which God has prepared him beforehand, is something that Jonne is passionate about and also is gifted. Also Jonne is a good example of what we should be, how we should rely on God, how we should ask for His guidance through prayer, and then how to be obedient to what He has called us to do.

Lightbearer: The Lorica Prophecies is a young adult novel. But, we are also recommending it for those who are 12-years-old and older. It was quite the page-turner and I think even adults would enjoy it. Lightbearer is 147 pages and is available on Kindle.

J. D. Rempel is a graduate of Simpson College. She is endeavoring to pen a preteen science fiction novel and an adult fantasy series. She loves to read and started a library at her church. She enjoys working with her husband in youth ministry and has two dwarf hamsters, Lucy and Suzy.

Henry Hodges Needs a Friend was written by Andy Andrews and illustrated by Colleen Madden. It was published by Tommy Nelson in 2015.

In good rhyme Andy Andrews tells the story of a lonely little boy. Henry lives at the end of the street. He’s glad his house is there. He likes to swing on his tire swing but not much else. Henry is bored and very lonely. His mother tells him that he needs a friend and then says “so a friend’s what you’ll get.”

His parents decide to help by finding him a pet. Henry’s wild daydreams about what this pet will be are great fun. They range from a singing turtle to a porcupine with curls softer than silk to a goldfish with antlers.

At the animal shelter Henry finds the loneliest pup. The little dog jumps into Henry’s lap. Henry has found a friend and he names him Hap, short for happy. God knew all along what Henry needed. Children will relate to the theme of needing a friend. They will be led to think about the many times God uses others to help us solve our problems.

Colleen Madden’s illustrations are detailed in the foreground down to the frown and freckles on Henry’s sad face. She has chosen a more free-flowing style for the background that follows along with the story.

An adult may read this book to a young child, but children who are beginning to read independently may read the story for themselves. An interesting visual detail is the print layout. Certain words are printed in colors other than black. This highlights those words and signals the reader to pay attention to them. It is a subtle way to increase a child’s vocabulary and keep his focus.

When you read this book, don’t miss the poem on the inside flap.

Unique, creative and heart-felt are words to describe this book destined to become a treasured favorite.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is 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.

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Children love pictures. They love them even more when they have to find different things in each picture. Look and Find Bible: New Testament Stories, text by Charlotte Thoroe (Amazon credits B&H Editorial Staff as the author), illustrated by Gill Guile and published by B&H Publisher (2014) asks them to do exactly that. This kind of story-telling provides hours of “look and find” fun,  and also acquaints the child with each Bible story.

Thoroe covers five stories about Jesus in Look and Find Bible: New Testament Stories. The five are: Jesus’ baptism, His first miracle, His healing of the paralytic, His story about the sowing of the seeds and His time with Zaccheus. Each depicted scene gives the Bible reference and has a checklist of items for the child to search for in the picture. Some of the items a child is asked to find are: children climbing a tree, an owl, a goat, camels, a man juggling, a man about to be hit by an egg, disciples of John the Baptist and two donkeys.

As you can see, some of the look-and-finds are serious, but others are humorous and add unusual interest to the story. Another attention grabber for the sharp-eyed reader is that a raccoon is hidden in each story’s illustration.

Guile’s colorful illustrations are true to the time period. This enhances the reader’s (viewer’s)’ knowledge of Biblical days and immerses the child in that long ago time.

Another unique feature of this board book is its slick-surfaced pages. The child can use an erasable marker on that surface. When one child has finished finding and checking off the items, the checklist can be erased and another child or family member can have a turn “looking and finding.”

I give this book high marks for having an unusual twist in presenting Bible stories in a way this is fun for the whole family.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is 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.

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Here are 2 lists (one for upper-elementary, middle graders and one for YA) of books we’ve recommended that boys might enjoy. Girls might like these books as well. We are suggesting these particular books for boys because most of them have male protagonists. (Some books appear on two lists. We thought they were appropriate for both age groups.) FYI: Some of the books such as The City Bear’s Adventures, Jungle Doctor Meets A Lion, Full Metal Trench Coat, etc. are part of a series. May the boy in your life’s summer be rich in reading adventures.

Middle Grade Books

Adventures of Pearley Monroe
Avion My Uncle Flew
Babe the Gallant Pig
The Children’s Book of America
The City Bear’s Adventures
Danger on Panther Peak
Dragon and Thief
Escape from Warsaw
The Forgotten Door
Full Metal Trench Coat
Hatchet
Hero Tales
Incredible Journey, The
Journey Under the Sea
Jungle Doctor Meets a Lion
Operation Rawhide
Night of the Cossack
Running Roselle
Spam Alert
The Tarantula in My Purse and 172 Other Wild Pets
Tim Tebow: A Promise Kept
Trumpet of the Swan, The
Two Mighty Rivers: Son Of Pocahontas
World War II Pilots

Young Adult Books

Ben Hur
The Bronze Bow
The City of Tranquil Light
Escape from Warsaw
Escape to Witch Mountain
God’s Smuggler
Journey Under the Sea
Les Miserables
Night Flight
Night of the Cossack
9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge
Robinson Crusoe
Tim Tebow: A Promise Kept
Thunder Dog

From Nancy:

To all the dads, grandfathers and uncles who nurture, lovingly discipline, protect and respect children and teens, happy Father’s Day. We celebrate you. Your fathering gives all of us a glimpse of our heavenly Father.

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