Today and Always, This is True, God Loves You, written by Holley Gerth, illustrated by Alisa Hipp and published by DaySpring (2019) is a charming book for young children.

Each two-page spread of this board book tells the child the many ways God’s love embraces all of us. Some pages have an interactive flap that the child can look under to see more. On the very last page the moon is actually a mirror in which the child can see the face of the one God loves!

Holley Gerth’s words are joyfully accented by the sweet, softly painted pictures on each page. Her easy-to-listen-to poetry is brought to life by Alisa Hipp’s pictures of a mama bear and her small cub.

This little book would be a great parent and child read before bed, or an afternoon snuggle-up story to read to a grandchild.

Today and Always, This is True, God Loves You, is available at Christian book stores and Amazon.com.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon. 

 

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah is an inspiring man. Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls and published by Random House Children’s Books (2015) tells the story of his early life. It’s an awesome life, full of challenges, but rich in perseverance and triumph.

Emmanuel was born in Ghana. He was healthy except that he had a deformed leg. Most people where he lived believed that such a child would be useless or a curse. His father left. His mother had faith though and she named her son, Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”

She was determined that Emmanuel would have a good life. We learn that she encouraged him when he was very young to be self-reliant. We are then told that in Ghana at that time many children with disabilities could not go to school. Emmanuel did go to school. His mother carried him until he became too heavy. However, he did not stay home then; he hopped by himself—two miles there and two miles back.

It’s not surprising that Emmanuel encountered more difficulties at school and in his life. It is surprising and thrilling to hear how he met those obstacles and overcame them. Just before she died, his mother told him he must not quit. And he didn’t.

To honor his mother and her belief in him, he decided to show people “that being disabled does not mean being unable.” He devised a plan. He decided to ride a bicycle throughout Ghana, stopping at times to talk to and encourage people with physical challenges. On his ride he also talked to people without disabilities and encouraged them to re-think their thoughts about disabilities. He became a national hero.

Emmanuel’s Dream is a picture book, simple and direct in its language. Maybe that’s a really good thing because in this format there’s no way that anyone reading or a child listening to this story can miss its powerful message.

The illustrations are simple, yet colorful, lively and emotionally evocative. They support and enhance the narrative beautifully.

Emmanuel’s Dream will help children look at people with disabilities differently. I think it will also inspire young children to consider that they too can overcome obstacles and challenges.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

 

The gift goes on.

A kid’s magazine subscription is a great gift. The magazine will come throughout the year and it comes with the child’s name on it. (Kids like getting mail.)  The articles and the stories in the magazine are short. Children who are intimidated by the length of novels are able to read a short piece and derive satisfaction from finishing the task and succeeding at it. Articles and fiction stories are targeted to a child’s interest and skill-level. And more than all those reasons, the magazines are fun.

There are several magazines that I recommend for Christian kids.

https://store.focusonthefamily.com/media-types/magazine

Too, getting it done is a no brainer. Order it, print out the receipt and you’re ready for the Christmas stocking.

Nancy

 

Books can be “mirrors, windows, stepping stones,
anchors, escape hatches, quiet corners, spring boards,
warm blankets.”
A Chinese proverb says,
“A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket.”

Books make super wonderful stocking stuffers. I chose a few titles that we have liked from Book Lists to get you started, but there are many more titles on Book Lists.

For Young Independent Readers:
The Great Cake Mystery
West Meadows Detectives
A Windy Spring Day

For Middle Graders:
Anne of Green Gables
Dragon and Thief
Full Metal Trench Coat
Hello Stars
I Get a Clue
Nick Newton Is Not a Genius
Raiders from the Sea

For YA:
The Boys in the Boat
Dawn at Emberwilde
First Date
God’s Smuggler
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall
A Whisper and a Wish
Young Pioneers

For College Person/Working Person:
Christy
The Lost Castle
Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii
Oxygen
7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness
7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness
Sushi for One?
With Every Letter

 

Raiders from the Sea, (Viking Quest series, book 1) was written by Lois Walfrid Johnson and published by Moody Publishers: New Edition (2003). It is advertised for children 10 and above.

Brianna, an Irish girl turning thirteen, is out for a walk in the green hills when she sees a young man fall into a stream. Thinking it’s a friend, Bree jumps in to save him. But he turns out to be a stranger named Mikkel, who will soon change her life forever.

Viking Quest Series follows the adventures of a sister and brother, Brianna and Devin during a time when Vikings raided the shores of Ireland.

We meet their parents, grandmother, and younger siblings, and then see Bree and Devin wrenched from the safety of home, thrown into a longboat and taken far away. The family are Christians, and close friends with Brother Cronan at the nearby monastery. Both children have learned to read the scriptures there. When Mikkel and his Viking crew steal them away as slaves, the only thing that sustains the sister and brother is their faith in God and their concern for one another.

Lois Walfrid Johnson did extensive research on the time period and culture, making the setting seem real. Her historical depictions of Vikings lean toward the gentler side.

She integrates internal faith with external actions and dialogue in a realistic way. I love how she weaves scripture and prayer into her characters’ thoughts as they seek to cope with this terrible upheaval, as they grapple with anger, fear, and loss.

Johnson’s writing is easy to read, with believable voices for the characters’ ages. Each chapter begins with a beautiful shaded line drawing of a scene from that part of the story.

I have read only the first in the series of five books, but if the other four follow along the lines of the first, they will be entertaining and intriguing. Raiders from the Sea is 208 pages long and available at Christianbook.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in bookstores.

 

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon. 

Today we digress from book talk. I have something different to offer you, something that it is quite special.

Many of us watch a nativity play at Christmas, but few of us actually get to be part of one. Our jobs, our family responsibilities, our health restrictions, keep us from it.  So we watch. And don’t get me wrong. It is a good, good thing to be an audience member. Still, when it comes to a nativity play, sometimes . . .  sometimes, we yearn to be in the scene. It was during one of those seasons for me that I wrote and produced A Shoestring Nativity. I’m putting it up now on the chance that one of you also has such a longing, but don’t know how to get started.

I’ve posted A Shoestring Nativity pdf on my author website http://www.nancyellenhird.com. (Copying and pasting from a blog can be a bother.)

A Shoestring Nativity was originally written for publication with a personal experience story at the front end. I’ve included the story because it shows a little of how the groups can be organized for the preparation time and then how the “performance” can be managed by the director.

The producer/director will need to gather the materials, tools, song sheets, and do some drawing and some cutting ahead of time. The preparation time of the “players” is minimal.

“Players” will need only a few minutes to complete the construction of their costumes and/or props, put the costume pieces on and practice their song (or songs). This creating of the costumes and/or props and practicing the songs is valuable for the whole experience and is part of the fun of doing the “play.” Readers will only need a few minutes to read over the Bible passages that they will read aloud during the “performance.”

The materials suggested (construction paper, gold wrapping paper, gold ribbon, brown wrapping paper, baker’s twine, macramé cotton rope) can be found on Amazon. An old sheet cut into the appropriate size will work for head pieces for Joseph and the shepherds. A long oblong scarf or shawl will work for Mary. If you do buy rolls of wrapping wrap, you might think of using the cardboard tubes that the paper comes wrapped around. Give them a bend and voila you have shepherds’ staffs. The producer will also need texts of the songs–several copies of each song.

I’ve done this “play” with a home study group of 12—adults and children. I’ve also done it with a women’s Bible study group of nearly 40 women. In terms of the number of participants, it can have, A Shoestring Nativity is flexible.

Nancy

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

 

Looking for Home, Beyond the Orphan Train Series, Book 1, was written by Arleta Richardson and published by David C. Cook (1993). According to the “About the Author” page at the back of the novel orphan trains operated between 1854 to 1929 in the United States. These trains helped to relocate about 250,000 orphaned, abandoned and homeless children. Arleta Richardson based her series on a boy, Ethan Cooper, who rode the orphan train in 1908.

The novel begins in 1907. Ethan Cooper’s mother has just died after a long illness and his father is away at sea. His four older siblings decide that Ethan and his four younger siblings cannot stay at home. There is no money and there is no one to care for them. A neighbor takes the baby girl and Ethan, who is eight, and the three other children must go to live in a nearby orphanage, Briarlane Christian Children’s Home. Ethan is put in charge of five-year-old Alice, three-year-old Simon and two-year-old Will on the journey to the orphanage. His older siblings also tell him to look out for the little ones while they are at Briarlane. Ethan accepts this big responsibility.

The children are treated well at the home. They receive lots of good food; they have chores, but they also have time to play. There are rules, but the adults, though firm, treat the children with kindness. Ethan and Alice know that in the fall they will have the chance to go to school which they are excited about. The Cooper children are happy at the Briarlane. Ethan’s greatest concern is that they will, or he will, do something wrong and they, or he, will be sent away.

One day Matron calls Ethan aside because he has not been making his bed before going out to play. During this time of correction, Matron tells Ethan that God is interested in him. When Will goes missing and Ethan is frantic, Matron tells Ethan that God is the Good Shepherd. She encourages Ethan to pray and ask God to take care of Will and then trust that He will somehow bring the little boy back. This comforts Ethan.

Before Will went missing, Bert, a good friend of Ethan’s, overheard a lady tell the home’s director that she was determined to adopt Will. When, after a thorough search of the farm, Will is not found, Bert and Ethan go to the lady’s home. But neither she nor Will are there. The boys go to town and wander into her husband’s office. He begins to piece together that his wife probably has Will at their summer home. He goes there immediately which results in his wife returning the child and apologizing to the director.

Ethan tells Bert that Matron is right. “It is a good idea to pray about stuff.” Will’s return is not the end of Ethan’s troubles, but he will begin to see and believe that there is a Good Shepherd who is watching over him.

The reading level for Looking for Home is about third grade and Ethan, the main character is eight years old, but I think the book would be more appropriate for fifth graders. Fifth grade social studies curriculum covers US history, so the book would have more meaning for these readers. I also think that developmentally fifth graders and/or fourth graders in the latter half of the school year are better able to handle, psychologically and emotionally, the loss, hardships and uncertainties that Ethan and his siblings experience. The readers of this age would still have compassion for the Cooper kids, but their growing maturity would shield these young readers from feeling personally threatened.

This is an interesting story. Children will want to read what happens next. I think it will also help young readers grow in their faith in God and help them consider that He is looking out for them even when they experience hardship and troubles.

 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

 

The Great Cake Mystery was written by Scottish novelist Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Ian McIntosh, and published by Anchor Books (2012). It is subtitled Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case. As an adult, Precious is the heroine of Smith’s popular series, set in Botswana, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detectives Agency. The Great Cake Mystery gives juvenile readers the opportunity of meeting this clever woman when she was a young girl and beginning to consider that she had some talents and skills to be a detective.

The book begins with Precious’ favorite story about her father and his encounter with a lion. It is an exciting and fascinating story, but it seems irrelevant to the mystery–at first. Then we learn that while Precious immensely enjoys her father’s telling of the tale, she knows when he is telling her the facts and she knows when he is embellishing them. That quality, the author tells us is an important ability for a detective.

The mystery takes place at Precious’ school. Special treats that the children have brought from home and even ones that are being made on the school grounds go missing. Two of the children whose treats have disappeared accuse a boy, Poloko, and think they have evidence. Precious and the teacher step in, saying the children don’t have proof.

The accusers walk away, but they continue to call Poloko a thief. Precious befriends the boy. Together they discover the real culprits—monkeys–and Precious devises a plan to catch the culprits in the act and vindicate her new friend.

It’s a simple, yet exciting and heartwarming story, well suited to third and fourth graders. Young children will also like and be intrigued with the author’s glimpses into life in Botswana.

The story is told in 73 pages, but the book also includes extra materials such as a reader’s guide with a pre-reading activity, discussion questions, post-reading activities and a recipe.

Illustrations appear on every spread and give the reader a visual sense of being in a different place. Wood cuts in tones of red, black and gray are sophisticated but will appeal to children.

I think young readers will enjoy The Great Cake Mystery. Precious is an admirable and clever character that they will like and want to emulate.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels 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.

 

 

Book Reviews

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 109 other followers

Search Posts by Categories