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Pray this Way, written by Dr. Larry A. Vold and Rick Chavez, and published by Create Space Independent Publishing Platform (2016), will enlighten and deepen your prayer life. The book looks into “The Lord’s Prayer,” or as some call it The Model Prayer. After reading Pray this Way, I found myself praying differently.

A small, 180 pages, but mighty book, it has eight chapters on the prayer. Some of the chapter titles are “Proclaim His Glory,” “Desire His Reign,” “Do His Will,” and “Trust His Provision.” At the end of each of the chapters, there are helpful, thought-provoking questions for discussion. This is a great book to read and study on your own or to use with a study group.

Each chapter explains part of the prayer and how we can come to desire to pray more in the manner in which Jesus taught us. Pastor Larry gives examples of situations where “The Lord’s Prayer” has helped and strengthened others. He also gives examples of situations where people he has worked with failed to understand certain truths about what the prayer is really saying.

Pastor Larry also points out some difficult areas in our Christian walk. One of them is when the Lord asks us to forgive others. The prayer states, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors,” Matthew 6:12. Larry says that we are expected to forgive others if we want the Lord’s forgiveness. That is the only part of “The Lord’s Prayer” that has a condition. Forgiving is not always easy, and we need the Lord’s help to fulfill His request.

One of my favorite parts of the book is this quote, “When we make God’s holiness our focus in prayer, we are, in fact, worshiping. Do you consider prayer as an expression of worship? It is! When God is our focus in prayer, our prayers become beautiful worship. We open up and tell God what he is worth to us. That’s what worship is, extolling His worth in our lives.”

Pray this Way is a difficult book to put down. The points are so interesting and helpful, and the writing style is beautiful and meaningful. This book helped me to consider things about prayer I hadn’t really thought much about before. It has helped me to pray more for God’s Kingdom to come and for His will to be done in my life, family, friends and church. I understand this more than I had before. The book greatly encouraged me, and I am sure you will be encouraged as well. Men and women, 18 and above, would benefit most from this book.

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 Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story was written by Diane Ackerman and published by W. W. Norton & Company (2008). It has 349 pages and tells the true story of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, Christian zookeepers in Warsaw, Poland, prior to and during World War II.

In 1929, Jan was given the position of director at the Warsaw Zoo.  Jan and Antonina were married in 1931 and began their work together at the zoo.

It is worth noting that prior to this time many zoos were private. Poland dreamed of having a zoo that rivaled that of Germany. The Warsaw Zoo, as part of its innovations, was one of the first to have enclosures similar to a modern zoo where animals are not kept in cages but rather are free to move about in enclosures.

In 1932, Jan and Antonina had a son whom they named Ryszard (Rys). He grew up in the villa on the zoo property where he learned to love and care for the animals, even walking a pig and a badger. Both Jan and Antonina took great pride in the animals and in caring for them.

Just before dawn on September 1, 1939, Antonina was awakened by the sound of engines. She and Jan soon learned of the German invasion. They fled Warsaw, leaving behind their animals. When they returned a few days later, they found most of the animals were dead or gone. On September 7,  42-year-old Jan was selected as an able-bodied man to join the Polish army at the northwestern front. All civilians were ordered to vacate the zoo immediately. Once again Antonina and Rys left the zoo, not to return until after the surrender of the Polish troops.

By March of 1940, Poland now under full Nazi occupation, Jan began a pig farm on the zoo grounds. Despite the rationing, Antonia was able to bake bread from the grain she purchased from her sister-in-law. By the end of spring piglets were born. Jan also became part of the Polish Resistance and Underground, smuggling weapons, people, and some Jews.

The Warsaw Zoo was near Old Town. Just beyond that was the Jewish Quarter where about 300,000 Jews lived in the thriving, then modern city of Warsaw.

During the 20th century antisemitism had grown in Poland and with the occupation a Department of Racial Purity was established. The persecution of Jews began with calorie counts, (Germans 2,613, Poles 669, and Jews 184). Jews were also forbidden to be in restaurants, public parks, or use public toilets and city benches. Each Jew was given a Star of David to wear on the their outer clothing; Jews in civil service were fired; Jewish lawyers disbarred; and, Jewish doctors were forced to stop practicing. Finally the Jews were ordered to the north section of the city and into the Ghetto.

In the summer of 1940, Jan began to accept Jews to stay at the zoo.  Some stayed only temporarily and some stayed for years. The old animal enclosures provided a place to hide the Jews. In addition other “guests” stayed at the zoo including Jan’s mother, friends, and Irene Sendler.

As the war pressed on, Jan and Antonina did what they could to save their family, preserve the spirit of the zoo, and show respect for animals and for people of all races. The book tells of the challenges they faced and overcame living under the fearsome German occupation.

This book is written by a naturalist who has a different writing style and perspective than a historian. However, as a historian, I think this book is well written and a good story about life at the Warsaw Zoo before, during and after World War II. The Zookeeper’s Wife does have some details that might need to be discussed with an adult. I would recommend this book for upper level high school students interested in World War II history and adults interested in World War II. In the back of the version I read are discussion questions which could be used by a reading group or by a parent and teen reading the book together.

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


The time between Christmas and New Year’s is a lovely time for the kids to unwind and savor the goodness of God. Here are some book suggestions that might just be the right thing.

For your YA:

The Boys in the Boat— the true, inspiring story of the young men, who to everyone’s surprise, won Olympic gold in rowing at the 1936 Olympics.

A Christmas Gift for Rose–an uplifting story about God’s provision and care. A young Amish woman discovers the story of her parentage.

First Date–a contemporary novel with small nods to the story of Esther from the Old Testament. Teenage American girls in a  beauty pageant compete for a first date with the President’s son.

Found in Translation–a humorous and heart-warming novel of a young woman’s adventures and misadventures on her first short-term mission trip.

God’s Smuggler–a true and thrilling story of Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles into countries closed to Christianity.

Oxygen–science fiction, a space crew traveling to Mars suspect that one of them is a saboteur.

Thunder Dog— the story of  Roselle, the guide dog who helped the blind Michael Hingson and those who were with him escape the plane-struck Tower 1 on 9/11.

For middle schoolers:

Anne of Green Gables–classic for girls, with a number of books in the series

Callie–a book for emerging independent readers about a finding a home for a cat

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe–the thrilling first book of C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia

Full Metal Trench Coat–first novel in a series for elementary school children, especially boys

Nick Newton Is Not a Genius–fun, wacky characters in a steampunk setting. An average kid with a lot of grit finds adventure when he tries to put together a clockwork bird.

The Pilgrim’s Progress–Christian classic, an allegory on the Christian life that comes in several versions

The Prince Warriors–a Christian allegory for boys and girls based on using the armor of God

Sarah, Plain and Tall–historical fiction about life on the American prairie of the 19th century

Scout— a boy’s adventures with a lost dog

The Voyage of Patience Goodspeed–historical fiction, a sea adventure for boys and girls set aboard a 19th century whaling ship

We All Get a Clue–a contemporary mystery/adventure, second book in the two-book series about pre-teen detectives in Edinburgh, Scotland


Working in youth ministries, my heart squeezes with sorrow and fills with compassion as I see all of the things our youth face today. They are surrounded by the world’s standards and expectations, and put into highly stressful situations. I try to encourage the young ladies in our youth group, but there is only so much I can do because of their busy schedules and limited time.

ADORED: 365 Devotions for Young Women is a quick devotional which provides sound biblical doctrine, and is relatable to today’s young women. Geared toward teen girls, it emphasizes how they can strengthen their relationship with God through reading and studying God’s Word. It also shows them how they are adored daughters of God, how important and valued they are. The author illustrates to the reader that God made them with special gifts and talents and how they can contribute to the heavenly kingdom.

The devotional speaks in a gentle and conversational manner without being preachy. It challenges the reader to think about what it means to be a child of God and to be adored and loved by Him. It encourages young women to make wise, godly choices. Topics include modesty, self-esteem, idols, serving in the church, being yourself and not following the crowd, working hard, following through with commitments, friendship with the world and many more.

I was so excited that it touched on so many problems and issues our teens go through. I would have loved to have read this devotional when I was their age, but I enjoyed reading it as an adult and learned some things myself.

Each daily devotional takes about a minute to read. Beginning with a verse, it leads into the subject which is covered in a few paragraphs. The author makes a statement or asks a question, gives the reader the biblical answer, and then shows them how to apply it to their lives. It also includes space for journaling and has many Scripture references. The cover art and page edging is charming and attractive with a blue and gold design.

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women would make a lovely gift for the teen girl or even the college-age young woman in your life. It is written by Lindsay A. Franklin and published by Zondervan (2017).

J. D.  Rempel , is a graduate of Simpson College. She is endeavoring to pen a YA science fiction novel and an adult fantasy series. Currently, she is seeking a publisher for her middle grade fiction novel. J. D. loves to read, work with her husband in youth ministry, and play peekaboo with her turtle, Applesauce. 


Hanukkah begins next Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at sundown and runs to Wednesday, December 20, 2017, at sundown. The name comes from a Hebrew verb that means “to dedicate.”  The book of John (John 10:22) tells us that Jesus was in Jerusalem during this Jewish winter festival which John calls the Feast of Dedication. I think it is interesting to consider why does John give us this detail.

There is a terrific book for kids that talks about this Jewish holiday. The book is Maccabees! The Story of Hanukkah

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.

Growing Up with Aloha: Nanea, Classic 1 was written by Kirby Larson, illustrated by Juliana Kolesova and published by American Girl (2017). This novel is a fictional account of a young girl growing up in Hawaii during World War II. It is recommended for children ages 8 to 12.

Nine-year-old Nanea is the youngest in her family. The story begins at breakfast on a morning late in 1941 and introduces the reader to Nanea’s older sister, brother, mother and father. The family live in Honolulu, Hawaii. Nanea’s father, who is from Oregon, works as a welder at the Pearl Harbor shipyards. Nanea’s mother is a native Hawaiian born on the island of Oahu. Her parents, Nanea’s grandparents, own a grocery store in town.

Nanea, eager to help her family and show them that she is responsible, works at the market. She is has two close friends, Lily and Donna. The girls are active in school activities. They are learning to hula dance and planning to perform for the upcoming USO Christmas show.

The story picks up with a Thanksgiving–Hawaiian style. Nanea is happy about school and helping with activities for the Christmas shows. On December 6, 1941, she and her friends note that the Christmas ship will be arriving in a week with trees and Christmas decorations from the mainland. Nanea decides to make a breakfast for her family the following morning to show them she is getting older and can take on more responsibilities. The next morning is December 7, 1941.

Nanea, up to prepare breakfast, goes outside and hears planes. Hearing planes is nothing unusual, until she sees the symbol of a red circle which the children of Hawaii call “meatballs” and instantly she knows that the plane is Japanese.

Her brother pulls her from the yard and into the house. She asks what is happening just as her father switches on the radio which announces that all military personnel must report to duty stations. Her father, though a civilian, receives a phone call that he is to be ready to leave for the base in five minutes. David, Nanea’s older brother, who is a boy scout, says he also must go. Nanea does not know it then but she will not see her father or brother for a few days.

Grandma and Grandpa come over to stay with the family. Later it is discovered that Lily’s father has been taken in for questioning because he is of Japanese descent. (He would later be released but many others remained for questioning and internment.)

Nanea reads the Newspaper Bulletin: “War Declared on Japan by US.” She soon understands the scope of the attack. She feels helpless. What can she do? Over the next few days she decides to make lunch for the emergency workers, to help find her dog that went missing during the attack, to work in the grocery store, and to start a re-cycling drive for bottles.

In these early days of the war there is a lot of uncertainty for Nanea. Will her father be all right? What will she do when one of her friends must leave Hawaii?  Will there still be an upcoming performance at the USO? Nanea learns through this that she can be useful, responsible and helpful in the war effort as Hawaii and the United States prepare for war.

This novel is part of the American Girl Beforever series. There are two other novels about Nanea and her family. The book has a Hawaiian language words section which was helpful and a brief history of Hawaii before and during WWII. I liked how it said many people did not know where Hawaii was prior to December 7, 1941, but after that everyone knew. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 8, 1941, would say,  “Yesterday, December 7, 1941–a date which will live in infamy–. . .  .” I encourage people to remember this date in history, and if possible to visit Pearl Harbor to learn more about US History.

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



I know; Thanksgiving is next week. Somebody–actually a number of somebodies–have told me so. I can’t get my brain wrapped around it. But whether I am ready or not it will happen next Thursday, a week from today. So Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the States!

Here at Books 4 Christian Kids we’ve discovered some great books that might just add to your celebration of the day and the days following. – Nancy

What is Thanksgiving?  – a board book that takes the listener to the heart of the holiday

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving – a picture book about God’s hand in the first Thanksgiving. The whole family will enjoy this one.

Thanksgiving Graces – a picture book about extending ourselves to family, friends and strangers

Molly’s Pilgrim – a first chapter book with illustrations for children in lower elementary grades that may help children consider modern day pilgrims.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving – a gentle story about family life at Thanksgiving from 19th century author Louisa May Alcott.  This short book with illustrations would be enjoyed by children ages five to twelve.

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.




Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women, also wrote short stories, many of which have been rediscovered in recent years. Some collections were released in the 1990s as small gift books. Kate’s Choice contains three short stories that take place at Christmas time with themes focusing on kindness, generosity, and contentment in one’s circumstances, no matter how humble.

The main characters are girls and young women, who must make choices about how their attitudes and behaviors will make life better for themselves and the people they care about. The stories have that romantic historical feeling of a time long past. The book is charming, definitely G-rated, and geared for upper elementary to middle grade readers.

In Kate’s Choice a wealthy orphan from England must move to America and live with relatives until she grows up. Kate visits the different homes of her relatives, trying to decide where she wants to live. Her choice may surprise you! What Love Can Do tells of Dolly and Grace, sisters who became poor after their father died. Sadly planning a simple Christmas with what little they have, they are overheard by neighbors. Then we see what a little generosity can do to both the giver and receiver! The third story, Gwen’s Adventure in the Snow is about a group of boys and girls on a sleigh ride. Caught in a winter storm, they must work together to get safely home again.

The book contains interesting notes about the life and work of the famous author. Alcott’s stories reflect the values and social roles of her time, which are more traditional in comparison to today’s society.

Currently, it is available in hardback (Riveroak Pub, 2001) with pretty illustrations and a presentation page from Amazon. (It is temporarily out of stock at Barnes and Noble and Powell’s.) New or used, Kate’s Choice is a treasure.

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.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 


Suddenly Single Mom, written by Jeanette Hanscome and published by Worthy Inspired (2016), is a power-packed devotional with 52 messages of hope that will encourage single moms in any stage of parenting.

Each devotion begins with a Scripture to remind the reader there is a Heavenly Father who promises to stand beside her through every challenge. Hanscome also includes scenes from her own journey, an encouraging thought for the coming week, a prayer and a “practical survival tip.” As a visually-impaired single parent, Hanscome faced abandonment and an uncertain future armed with very little but her faith in God.  As a result, in each devotion she delivers remarkable depth that will touch hearts, promote healing and awaken faith.

While every single mom’s story is different, certain facets of single parenting are undeniably similar. Hanscome covers such topics as stress, exhaustion, financial hardships and loneliness.

There are lighter moments too, such as when she bands together with other single moms for a ”girls’ night out at Costco.”  One can smile along with her at the kindness of her supportive church family and laugh as she takes advice from her oldest son on how to avoid ‘creepy’ guys who try to hit on her.  Perhaps most importantly readers will relate to the sacrificial love she has for her children as they, too, learn to cope with their changed lives.

I highly recommend Suddenly Single Mom because the author’s transparency takes readers on a journey from shock to acceptance, and from anger to forgiveness. She does not shy away from difficult subjects, such as dealing with her ex-husband, the courts and even future dating. Hanscome’s unflinching self-assessments and course corrections give readers a godly friend with whom to travel.  The poignant vignettes prove single parenting is not an easy path, but her sage encouragements and trust in Christ’s continual grace reveal great gain.

This uplifting book would make a wonderful present for any single mom, especially during the holiday season when an understanding heart is the greatest gift of all.

Pamela Walls is the author of the historical adventure series for girls, “Abby and the South Seas Adventures.”  Abby–Lost at Sea (South Seas Adventures #1)  is the first novel in that series. Pamela has also written over 400 articles, which have appeared in such publications as “Woman’s World,” “Today’s Christian Woman,” “Guideposts,” “Angels on Earth,” and the “San Jose Mercury News.” Originally trained as a science writer, she began writing for God after finding Christ at the age of 28. 

Like Hanscome, Pamela later became a handicapped single mom who found God to be faithful, kind and generous–the best partner for life and all eternity!

From Nancy –

October 31, 2017, Tuesday, is Halloween here in the States. It is also the 500th anniversary of what many people consider the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther, so it has been said, on the eve of All Hallows (All Saints Day) attached a document with 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. Everyone had to attend church on All Saints Day, so Luther, a university professor of biblical studies, tacked up his theses expecting people to read them, to consider them and even to debate them. From what I’ve been told, he didn’t expect an upheaval or a radical change in the culture. However, that is what happened.

Luther was an interesting, complex man. His life and times were both exciting and challenging. Donna reviewed a book about him. She thought it a good read. I think she’s right. I’m re-running her review below in case you missed it.


When Lightning Struck: The Story of Martin Luther was written by Danika Cooley and published by Fortress Press (2015). This historical novel on the life of Martin Luther, the German theologian credited with starting the Reformation movement in the 1500s, is impressive. Danika Cooley works hard to combine storytelling with historical fact, weaving period details into narrative and quotes from historical documents into dialog. The book does an excellent job of making history accessible to the reader.

It begins when Luther, on his way to law school, scurries under a large tree for protection during a thunderstorm. Lightning strikes the tree, raining down fiery debris around him, and Luther vows that if he survives he will become a priest.

Martin’s father, a successful businessman, is a strict man whom Martin equally fears and loves. His mother tells him tales of superstition and myth. His father has sent him to school to become a lawyer so the boy will be able to support them in their old age.

When Luther tells his family and friends that he is changing professions, they are stunned and angry. They try to dissuade him, but Martin enters a monastery. He works his way up, through study and self-discipline, to priest, Doctor of Theology, and university professor.

Luther is pursued by a sense of guilt and the fear of an angry God. He fasts himself into gauntness, sleeps on the cold stone floor of his cell, and confesses sins constantly. He is consumed with hopelessness at his inability to shorten the time after death that he expects to spend in purgatory before entering the realm of heaven.

A mentor gives Luther a copy of the Bible. In it, Martin Luther begins to see glimmers of God’s love and grace. He spends hours studying it and teaching from it to his students.

Sent on a trip to Rome, Luther is shocked by the sin and luxury he sees among the priests and nuns there. He also finds little comfort in the holy sites he visits and the holy relics he views.

After this he discovers in scripture that salvation comes by faith alone. He also begins to see God as a source of love. He teaches this “New Theology” in his classes and writes about it.

When the buying of indulgences to shorten one’s time in purgatory or to purchase forgiveness from sins begins to empty the pockets of his poor neighbors, Luther writes a list of objections to their sale and posts it in his town—Wittenberg—for local debate. A printer makes copies and sends them far and wide, creating shock waves across the Roman Catholic Church.

Luther tries to bring change within the Roman Catholic Church, but arguments between him and its leaders become so strident that Luther and the leaders break with one another. The Protestant Reformation begins with sweeping changes to the priesthood, to forms of worship, and to theological teaching across Germany. Luther’s personal life is transformed as he works out what biblical teachings mean for himself and the society in which he lives.

This dramatized biography describes a man who transformed Christendom by his teaching, writing, Bible translation, song compositions, and the very force of his life. Yet it also paints a picture of personal struggles and flawed character. It shows the life journey of one trying to balance the spiritual and secular powers of his time, as we all do.

Approximately 250 pages, this book is best for Young Adult readers. It is sold on and in hardcover and e-book formats.


Nancy here again – A few weeks back I caught a docudrama on PBS, Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. I thought it was thoughtful, informative and well-balanced. It was worth my time watching it. There may be a  re-broadcast in your area. A DVD of it will become available through Amazon. com, but not until November 21.


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.  The Shining Orb of Volney, a science-fiction novel, is her latest title. 

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.




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