I was in a bookstore recently–lots of children’s books about spring and little chicks. It was nice, but it’s no substitute for books about Easter. Easter is more than nice.  Easter changed everything. It’s a new day, a new beginning. It’s a promise kept; a promise not to just to be remembered. It’s a promise kept that we live on, grow on, lean on. Easter is about Jesus, the Savior.

The Parable of the Lily by Liz Curtis Higgs, illustrated by Nancy Munger and published by Thomas Nelson Publishers (2007) is a picture book. On the surface it tells a simple story—a child’s rejection of a gift. But The Parable of the Lily  has a deep truth to share. The story may help your child connect on an emotional level with Jesus and the Easter story.

On a cold, snowy day a little girl receives a letter that a gift is being sent to her. Maggie eagerly waits for it. Finally, it arrives. But it surprises and disappoints her. How Maggie discovers the gift’s value and her response to her discovery is the rest of the story.

Bible verses on each page-spread link Maggie’s story with the story of Jesus and His resurrection. This simple story depicts the emotional responses of the people of the first century to the Father’s wonderful gift of Jesus. But the story does not just show the responses of people long ago. People today still reject God’s gift.

The watercolor and pencil illustrations are colorful and gently evocative. Important emotions and actions are vividly portrayed. Munger has also added sweet, humorous touches to her pages by depicting friendly animals that watch the actions of the main characters and sometimes even participate in the unfolding story.

Books 4 Christian Kids has other suggestions of Easter books that you might want to share with your dear ones.

God Gave Us Easter
Easter Surprise
My Easter Basket: And the True Story of Easter
The Easter Story
An Easter Gift for Me
The Legend of the Sand Dollar

(A note: Before you go looking for the above books at an online bookstore, be sure to write down the author as well as the title. I found that many books shared the same title.)

I also like the magnificently illustrated picture book Exodus which tells the story of Passover. The drama of God’s deliverance of the Israelites will capture the imaginations of older children. When they learn in Sunday school or from you that it is linked to the Easter story, their faith in God and His love will also grow.

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.

 

Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science is, I think, one of my year’s best discoveries—book-wise. I can’t say enough good things about it. Written by Louie Giglio with Tama Fortner and illustrated by Nicola Anderson, it’s published by Thomas Nelson (2017). The most appropriate age group for this book is, I think, fourth grade through eighth. Younger children would have a lot of difficulty reading it on their own. The scientific facts that each devotion contains would intrigue high schoolers, but the cartoonish illustrations would dampen their enthusiasm for the material.

Each devotion has interesting and sometimes jaw-droppingly fun things to say about the world that God has created, including us. For example, you may have heard that your fingerprints are unique, but did you know that other parts of your body also declare that you are one of a kind? And what is the tallest mountain? If you say Mount Everest, it’s a good guess. It reaches the highest point on earth. But the inactive volcano, Mauna Kea, is actually the tallest when you consider it from its base on the ocean floor to its top. Do you know how seahorses use their tails? What causes the aurora borealis? Is a camel born with a hump and what is a camel’s hump made of? The most energy-efficient light in the world is . . .?

You might be tempted to rush now and google the answers to these questions. But don’t do it.  Because if you only find out the answer to the questions, you will miss reading that God has given the seahorse what it needs and that He will do the same for you.

And while googling might explain aurora borealis, it won’t remind you that God’s wondrous light is not just in the sky. It can also be in us. You and your child don’t want to miss these connections. And you don’t want to miss the 98 other cool scientific topics that the authors have written about and then use to help us grasp God’s greatness and His love.

BTW, have you been wondering what the other unique parts of your body are? Well . . . I’m not going to say. But I will tell you that Giglio (after telling the reader) goes on to write that we may sometimes feel like we are just another person in a crowd and that there’s nothing special about us. But that, he writes, is wrong. We are each unique and what’s more God sees us that way. (I just thought you might need to know that today.)

Each devotion begins with an appropriate Scripture and ends with a short prayer. I typed in what looked like an average length devotion to get a word count—it ran 279 words.

Nicola Anderson has created cute and lively drawings to go along with the text. There are also photographs of all kinds of wonders—stars, close-ups of insects, animals, etc.

I think kids will love reading these fact-filled, meaningful devotions and will love sharing the information with others. You might consider asking your child to choose one of the devotions and read it after dinner. (Don’t be surprised if your child wants to read more than one to you.)

As I read through this book, my sense of awe toward our God grew. The insecurities that often nip at my heels weakened. They were replaced by the thought that I and the universe in which I live are fearfully and wonderfully made, and that the God who made it is wonderfully wise and indescribably loving.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue are her most recent works. These novels are mysteries for kids, ages 10 to 13.

Adventures in Prayer by Catherine Marshall helps readers to learn new ways to speak to God. There is so much more to communication with our Heavenly Father than telling Him our needs. This book offers ways to expand that dialogue.

Catherine Marshall’s life was not an easy one. She encountered joy, loss, frustration, hope, and victory. She pours lessons learned into eight chapters, each one ending in a sample prayer, which you can personalize. She explains the asking prayer, the prayer of helplessness, the prayer that helps your dreams, the waiting prayer, the prayer of relinquishment, the prayer in secret, the prayer of joyful blessing, and prayer that claims God’s promises.

Each example is steeped in scripture, and supported by personal stories from the lives of believers. Her world view is conservative, especially regarding societal roles, reflecting the norms of the 1950s.

We may not get all the results she describes. But the opportunity for stretching our view of God, for enriching our spiritual lives, for finding God’s will, and living in joy, is definitely worth the read.

This slim paperback is just the right size for you to keep with your Bible to read during your quiet time or to slip into a backpack for reflection on the go. It makes a great gift for teens or young adults.

Adventures in Prayer is available on Amazon.com and on Barnes and Noble. Other books with the same title have been written, but this review is specifically for the book written by Catherine Marshall.

I hope it lifts you closer to heaven.

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March has been designated as Women’s History Month. Eric Metaxas has written a book about seven very different, but incredible women that will interest and inspire middle school and high school students. 7 Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness is published by Thomas Nelson; Reprint edition (2016) 

The question that Metaxas answers is “what makes a woman great?” Is it leading the French army, having nineteen children of which two will become preachers and hymn writers, helping to abolish slavery, saving Jews during the Holocaust, standing up for civil rights, or working in the poverty neighborhoods of Calcutta? Each woman in the book was not afraid to stand up for God or what was right.

Joan of Arc was a teenager when she led the French army into battle against the English. She faced the challenges both of men not wanting to fight for her because she was a woman and of faction groups not taking her seriously. Despite these trials, her battle victories led to a France free from British rule. The triumph came at a personal cost. It ended her life, but with Mextaxas’ help the reader sees that it is not the end of her story.

Susanna Wesley was the wife of Samuel Wesley and the mother of 19 children. Susanna’s husband was not good with money. He borrowed often until he could not repay. Despite her husband’s debt, Susanna found her joy in raising her children to be strong people. She started educating her children at age five about faith, wrote two textbooks for her children, and she believed her daughters should be educated as well. The family would survive poverty and two house-fires.

Two of her sons would lead the modern Methodist movement: forming churches, starting hospitals and orphanages. Her son Charles wrote many hymns. The reader will recognize the names of some of the songs which are still sung today.

Hannah More was a writer who changed the world. She wrote books and plays. After reading John Newton’s book Cardiphonia, she was inspired to join with Wilberforce in the fight to end slavery. Her role was to help everyday Britons look at the inhumanity of the slave trade. It will prove satisfying to read that just before her death in 1833, Parliament passed a law ending slavery in the British Empire.

Mextaxas also gives the reader glimpses into the fascinating but relatively unknown life of Saint Maria of Paris. Of Ukrainian ancestry, she would, after the Russian Revolution, spend many years in France. She was raised Eastern Orthodox, but after her father’s tragic death she claimed to become an atheist.

As a young woman, she married a Bolshevik and became immersed in revolutionary ideas, but the marriage did not last. She subsequently returned to her Christian faith. In time she married again. Forced to flee Communist Russia, she and her family eventually ended up in Paris. After the tragic death of her third child and the end of her second marriage she began to open up her home to those who needed a place to stay. During the German Occupation of France, she helped with the resistance, actively transporting, hiding, and helping Jews escape France. She was discovered, arrested and . . .

Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch woman and a devout Christian, believed that the Jews were God’s chosen people from the Old Testament. As adults, she and her sister Betsie led boys’ and girls’ clubs, teaching Bible study and leading other activities for teens.

In 1940, Holland was invaded by Nazi Germany. Corrie and her family resisted the Nazis and provided a hiding place for Jews in their home. In time Corrie and her family were arrested for this choice. Corrie and Betsie were transported to Ravensbruck and. . . . There, the two led Bible study with a smuggled Bible. The two women prayed for the women in the camp and the guards as well. Betsie died in Ravensbruck, but Corrie was released. She made her way back to the Netherlands where she once again opened her home–this time to concentration camp survivors.

Rosa Parks is most famous for refusing to give up her seat to a white man during the era of segregation in the American South, but there is more to her story. Parks grew up attending church and learning from her family about her history. In 1932 Rosa married Raymond Parks a barber, church sexton and member of the Montgomery, Alabama chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). During the 1940’s she and her husband became more involved in the civil rights movement.

In 1954 a break came for the movement—the Brown v. the Board of Education decision. Public education was no longer segregated, but buses remained segregated. Many African-Americans began to think about a boycott while the Montgomery NAACP filed a lawsuit against the public transportation. The plan was for a woman to not give up her seat, but who would do it? Little did Rosa Parks know, it would be she.

Mother Teresa was born Gonxha Agnes Bojaxhiu. Her father died when she was young, sending her family into poverty. Despite their own poverty, young Agnes’ mother looked after the poor in the community and helped clean or cook for them. The family lived a life of faith and religion. At age 18 Agnes learned about Society of Jesus in India, who worked with the poor and sick in Calcutta. In 1928, she began her life as a nun and dedicated that life to working with the poorest of the poor in India. Metaxas’ description of that work shows how she lived her life by Jesus’s command in Matthew 25:34-40.

This book is about women who made a difference in their world. All stood up accepting their mission from God. Each teaches us a lesson in faith and inspires us to follow in their footsteps. I would encourage middle school and high school students to read this book. There are some words and details a parent might need to explain, including the context of history and the use of certain language.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history.

 

First Impressions (The Jane Austen Series): A Contemporary Retelling of Pride and Prejudice, written by Debra White Smith and published by Bethany House, Reprint edition (2018) will entertain you from cover to cover. The characters in the story resemble those in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and they are also performing this play for their community of London, Texas.

Eddi Boswick who resembles Elizabeth Bennet, has recently moved to London to start her new law practice. She is beautiful, smart and practical. In order to bond with the community, she tries out for a local theater production of Pride and Prejudice and is cast as Elizabeth.

The play is being directed by an older woman, Madelynne DeBloom. Madelynne owns the community theater, which operates in her home, Huntington House. She resembles Lady Catherine de Bourgh from Pride and Prejudice. Her nephew, Dave Davidson, ends up playing Mr. Darcy.

Dave, who has been in town for three years, is handsome and wealthy, owning his own ranch. He lost his parents and considers Madelynne his mother. He has a past as Eddi and her sister Jenny come to discover. Before he was fully surrendered to the Lord, he was known as William F. Davidson, and owned a company called USA Online. He was a celebrity, written up in People Magazine, and he’s been seen with the actress, Laura Schock. Eddi and her sister admire him, but don’t trust him.

Eddi’s youngest sister, Linda, who is twenty, is rebelling against her parents, Edward and Mary Boswick who live in Houston. She is drinking and dating a man named Rick Wallace. Similar to Mr. Wickham of Pride and Prejudice, he is always trying to make himself look better than he is. He is also a foster cousin to Dave. In the middle of the story, Linda finds out she is pregnant, and considers ending the pregnancy. Dave Davidson intervenes, and arranges for Linda and Rick to marry and attend church, helping them both to make a new life for themselves. Eddi is very thankful for his intervention.

During much of the story, sparks fly whenever Eddi and Dave are around each other. Eddi is somewhat attracted to Dave, but she feels he is arrogant and that he is hiding things. As the story progresses, she finds out that as a lawyer, she has misjudged him without hearing his side. At first, Dave is very much attracted to Eddi, but doesn’t see how things could ever work between them. He knows that she feels he is arrogant.

Other characters are introduced, and the entertainment continues. Eventually everything turns out for the best as people grow and change with the Lord’s help. All ends happily and the three daughters end up married within one year!

I really enjoyed First Impressions (The Jane Austen Series). Some of the lines from Pride and Prejudice are included, and it is very funny how the different characters in the novel resemble their roles in the play.

There are also some transformations, some apologies, some confessions and some relationships made right because of the Lord’s presence in the lives of the individuals. For example, Linda gives birth to an adorable baby, and Linda and her husband, Rick, begin following the Lord. I really enjoyed how the author shows how much better a life with Jesus can be.

First Impressions (The Jane Austen Series) would be appropriate for high school-age students and above. I know you and they will enjoy this story as I have.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her children and grandchildren. Her two daughters, two sons, one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law and two granddaughters 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 more than 35 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.”

 

Chocolate is very welcome on Valentine’s Day. It tastes so good. (OK, it tastes better than good. Words are just inadequate to describe chocolate.) I’m just glad Valentine’s day is next Thursday. Maybe there will still be some chocolate left in the bag for me to distribute. Flowers are a great gift too. I’m always surprised and delighted to see them when I walk into the room where they are.

But a novel with fun, intriguing characters and a romantic theme is a meal for my heart. And if that book speaks of and shows me God’s love being played out, fleshed out, in human lives, that book becomes a feast for my soul.

My short answer to what to give a special young person on Valentine’s Day–a romance novel. (But don’t skip the chocolate. People do enjoy eating something while reading.)

I chose some books for you to consider from the ones we’ve liked.  It is only a sampling. Click on “Select Category” on the left to find other book reviews.

Christy

Dear My. Knightley

Even Now

Love at Any Cost

Love Finds You in Lahaina, Hawaii

Love Letters, The

Once Upon a Time

Pearl in the Sand

Secret of Pembrooke Park, The

With Every Letter

Wonder of You, The

 

21 Days of Love, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet (2016) is a must-read for Valentine’s Day. It is creative, heartwarming and insightful. Not your ordinary collection of flowers and romance, this book shares true-to-life tales of all different types of love, focusing on God’s love as the primary and most important of all. Women, ages 18 and above, will find this a good read.

There are twenty-one amazing stories with a wide range of relationships–sweethearts, spouses, parents and children, grandparents, friends, pets, caregivers and couples from other countries. I enjoyed reading each story and learned something from each one. The main theme of the book is that God should be the center of all relationships. With His guiding hand, all love relationships will be greatly enhanced. I would like to highlight a few of my favorite stories.

The story I could relate to the most, A Finger and a Big Toe, by Nancy Ellen Hird, is about a young mother who is troubled because no matter how hard she tries, the woman she wants to have a significant relationship with, isn’t responding with equal interest. I think this is a common issue in the friendships among women. We often seek a friendship with someone and are disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way we had planned.

Becky and Carla are good friends, but Becky also is seeking the friendship of Jennifer, a woman she works with in a volunteer organization and whom she admires greatly. She tries unsuccessfully to reach out to Jennifer and make time for them to get to know each other. When Jennifer doesn’t respond, Becky is upset.

While at a church event with Carla, Becky sees Jennifer and learns that Jennifer and her family are planning to move in the near future. Becky is stunned. On the way home, she tells Carla about her disappointment.

Carla gives encouraging advice and shows Becky that perhaps God had a reason for preventing the friendship to blossom. Becky realizes how blessed she is with a friend like Carla, and learns an age-old lesson of trust and obedience to God’s plan. I believe this story can encourage others to place God at the center of their relationships.

Another story I particularly liked is Desert Crossing, by Dona Watson. It is the story of Lori, the mother of a nineteen year-old son named Josh. Her husband David is away with the military, deployed in the Middle East. As the story begins, Josh has gotten into some trouble with drugs and has had to spend a night in jail. Lori is hoping and praying for his safe return home. She settles into bed, praying and crying out to God for both her husband and son.

Soon she hears a door open. She believes Josh has come home. It turns out to be her husband David. Lori is thrilled he has returned and thankful they can face the challenges with their son together. After a happy greeting, she takes him to the kitchen to make him a meal and explain about their son.

Shortly after that, Josh returns and is overjoyed to see his father. He admits he was wrong and agrees to get help for his problem. The family is reunited with a sense of hope for the future.

Every story in this little book is encouraging and well-written. I loved the variety of characters. There is even a story about a little dog. This book would be a great one to read, and also would make a wonderful gift.

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her children and grandchildren. Her two daughters, two sons, one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law and two granddaughters 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 more than 35 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.”

 

 

Sunday, January 27, 2019, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Many books have been written about the tragedy of the Holocaust. We recommend the following titles for young people.

The Hiding Place

Number the Stars

The Zookeeper’s Wife

In the United States, February is designated Black History Month. The month has been set aside to make better known and to honor the African-American experience in the US. The following books  enlightened and inspired us and so we share them with you. (Clicking on the titles will take you to the review.)

The Adventures of Pearley Monroe. Written for upper elementary school kids, this novel centers around Pearley Monroe, an African-American boy living in California in the latter half of the 19th century. The novel gives young readers a glimpse of his family life and the small town of Coloma, California, where he lives.

Didn’t We Have Fun! The paintings of Hilda Robinson and the text of Jeff Kunkel invite you into the world of Ms. Robinson’s childhood. Her world is that of a large African-American family and a tight-knit urban community in Philadelphia, during the late 1940’s. It is a time before television and computers. Family life, reading, radio, movies, picnics and church are the sources of Robinson’s pleasure and delight.

George Washington Carver: From Slave to Scientist. Many books have been written about George Washington Carver. This one is recommended because of the smooth flow of the story connecting the many remarkable events of Carver’s life. The reader gets a strong sense of his personality, faith, and the motivations that carried him through difficult times. Part of the Heroes of History series, it is a great candidate for a book report, but it is also a fascinating read in its own right.

Hidden Figures Young Readers’ Edition follows the lives and careers of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden. In a time when few women entered professions in math or science and when African Americans were being actively excluded from many arenas of American life, these four women broke through barriers because of their intelligence, character, fortitude and vision.

Meet Addy: An American Girl is a great book about the Civil War from the eyes of a child slave. Addy learns a valuable lesson about growing up. The novel has a brief history of American slavery and the Civil War. The book is suggested for ages 7 and up. However, Kristina believes it is more appropriate for children ages 9 and up.  The book will interest people of all cultures.

7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness. In this book, best-selling author Eric Metaxas tells of seven men who allowed God to use them as a vessel to do great things. Some changed the course of human history; some stood up when no one else would; and, all made a sacrifice for faith. Jackie Robinson is one of those men. The other six featured in the book are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pope John Paul II and Charles W. Colson.

Why We Can’t Wait. Authored by Martin Luther King, Jr. and first published in 1964, Why We Can’t Wait gives readers insight into this watershed moment in American history from the pen of one of its most influential and principled proponents. It is, in essence, a literary time capsule for the year of 1963. Dr. King opens by describing the worldview and tragic socioeconomic circumstances of the average African-American of that time.

William Wilberforce, Take Up the Fight may also be of interest. In the latter part of the 18th century, Wilberforce, as a member of Parliament, championed the end of the slave trade. The life of William Wilberforce is an important story for children to read. This biography is suited for upper elementary, middle school, and high school audiences. Although the subject matter—slavery—is harsh, the writers deal with it skillfully. They make the evils abundantly clear without graphic description.

Guess Who’s Coming? written by Carol Green, illustrated by Ron Clelland and published by Carol Green and Ron Clelland (2018), is a short picture book about the arrival of a new baby. It is best suited for two- to four-year-olds. It is colorful, cute, and full of animals, which children love.

It begins by asking the question, “Can you guess who’s coming to your house?” Then it proceeds to go through a list of animals and finally tells us that it is “God’s Special Delivery. . . . A Baby.”

Young children love simplicity, colors, animals and humor. This little book contains it all. There is a Bible verse included, which could stimulate conversation about babies being God’s special gifts to our families, and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him.

Parents and grandparents will enjoy reading Guess Who’s Coming? to their children. When my daughter was expecting her second baby, she read many books to her then two-year-old, helping my granddaughter to know what to expect. Reading these kinds of books is always a good way to prepare children for the new little one coming. This story is perfect for that; I enjoyed it tremendously. I know you and your children will as well.

 

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her six children. Her two daughters, two sons, one-daughter-in-law 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 more than 35 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.”

Book Reviews

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

Join 101 other followers

Search Posts by Categories