You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘College-age/Working Adult’ category.

The Summer Kitchen (Blue Sky Hill Series), by Lisa Wingate and published by New American Library (2009), will open your eyes to the needs around you and teach you many important life lessons.

The story starts out by introducing the main character, Sandra Kaye Darden.  She has just experienced some trauma. Her beloved uncle, nicknamed Poppy, has died. Her treasured, adopted son, Jake, has left and she hasn’t heard from him in six months. He had been attending Southern Methodist University in Texas. All she knows is that he abandoned his car at the airport and bought a ticket to Guatemala, the land of his birth.  Sandra has another son, Christopher, who is a junior in high school. Her husband, Rob, a doctor, wanted both boys to be pre-Med.

Sandra Kaye lives in Plano, but each day she crosses town to work on her uncle’s house in Dallas. She isn’t quite ready to let it go, so she has told the real estate agent she will paint it and do some other minor repairs. Her mother, who has been a great disappointment to Sandra due to her abuse of various medications, owns Poppy’s house.

On one of Sandra’s trips to a nearby store, she notices a tall young girl, who looks about junior high age. The girl, Cass Sally Blue, is twelve and she has a brother, Rusty, who is seventeen. When their mother passed away last year, they ran away from their stepfather, believing him to be dangerous and unstable. They are trying to make it on their own, with Rusty working full time. Rusty has just brought into the house, Kiki, a young adult, and her daughter, Opal, who were living in an unsafe situation.

In the weeks to come, Cass becomes attached to Opal and they meet up with Sandra Kay. Sandra sees they are in need. She also sees the needs of the other neighbor children. She makes up a bag of sandwiches to bring them each day. Eventually, Cass comes to spend time at Poppy’s house with Sandra and help with the chores.

Sandra eventually tells her son, Christopher and best friend, Holly, that she is involved in feeding the neighborhood children. They too become involved and begin to serve daily lunches to many of the neighbors. So far, Sandra’s husband does not know about her ministry. She finally gets the nerve to tell him, and although skeptical, he does not forbid her to continue.

When the need of Cass Sally Blue becomes overwhelming, Sandra’s husband gets on board with his wife. Their relationship is strengthened, moving to a whole new level.  Christopher, who was always silent about his true feelings, becomes bold and shares them with his father. He also sheds light on why Jake may have left.

In the end, all is well and a wonderful new ministry begins in Poppy’s neighborhood. Hope replaces hurt and heartbreak; lives are redeemed.

I loved reading this book. It was rich with spiritual truth and gave me many tools for growth. The author, Lisa Wingate, has a wonderful way of driving points home in a very subtle way. She makes you get outside your comfort zone and think about how you can find purpose by helping others in need.

She also points out the reality of family living. It is not always perfect, and sometimes, just plain agonizing. She makes you think about growing out of your fears and failures and moving on to all that God has planned for you. I would recommend this book for women, ages 18 and above.

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.”

Advertisements

Wonderland Creek, was written by the amazingly talented Lynn Austin and published by Bethany House Publishers (2011). This novel will delight your heart and it will also get it pounding. I read the suspenseful scenes, hoping for a peaceful outcome, but I read the book as slowly as possible because I didn’t want to finish it. Every sentence is packed with either fun, hilarity or suspense. The novel centers around twenty-two-year-old Alice Grace Ripley of Blue Island, Illinois, and takes place in 1936, during the Great Depression.

Alice loves books and is always reading some dramatic story.  She is the daughter of Reverend Horace Ripley, who encourages her to help others as much as she can. She is also dating Gordon T. Walters, the son of a funeral director. Her best friend, Freddy, is a school teacher. Within the first few pages of the story, Alice’s boyfriend Gordon breaks up with her, believing she is not grounded enough in reality.  She also looses her job at the library, due to cutbacks because of the Depression.

She thinks her life is over, until she finds out her very rich Aunt Lydia and Uncle Cecil will be traveling through Kentucky to a spa and hot springs in the Appalachian Mountains for two weeks. This gives Alice an idea. She has been collecting books for the poor folks in the backwoods of Kentucky. She has also been corresponding with a librarian there, Leslie MacDougal.  Alice thinks this would be a perfect way to escape her town for a while, and forget her problems. Her aunt and uncle agree to drop her off on their way to the spa, and return for her in two weeks.

The car ride is long and tedious, and when they reach the town of Acorn, it is so small, they don’t even know they are there. They do however find the library and leave Alice at the door with her boxes of books and a suitcase. Alice knocks and a very grumpy man answers, not knowing who she is. When she explains she wrote to the librarian, Leslie MacDougal, saying she had books to donate and time to offer in the library, the man says . . . “Yes, you did, and I told you not to come!”

The man is the librarian and tells her he has no room for her. He also informs her the town has no hotel, no restaurant, no train station, no telephone, no electricity and no running water!  But because her aunt and uncle have already driven off, Leslie has no choice but to take Alice in and offer his room, sparse though it is. Her first dinner consists of pork and beans slathered between two slices of bread. He informs her there is an outhouse in the backyard.

Alice is distraught. This is not at all what she imagined. She is not sure how she will “survive” until her aunt and uncle return.

Soon Alice discovers there is an elderly lady, Miss Lilly, living on the top floor of the library. Alice thinks Lilly, who is 100 years old,  is weak and frail, but then she finds out more about her and how much of a fighter this little person really is. Lilly is the resident prayer warrior and herb healer. She is also like a mother to Leslie. Leslie, who calls himself Mack, lost his parents when he was quite young.

On Alice’s second day in town, Mack is shot. The bullet goes right through him!  There is no doctor for miles around, so Alice and Lilly must care for him and try to stop the bleeding.

As if this isn’t enough for Alice, Lilly and Mack try to get Alice to agree to make it look like an accident, have him die, and stage a mock funeral. Mack believes he was shot because someone is upset with him. He thinks if he doesn’t fake his own death, the person will return and attempt to  harm him again, putting Alice and Lilly at risk.  Alice thinks they are absolutely crazy, but she agrees to remain silent.

In the next few days, the things these folks ask Alice to do are absolutely unbelievable and outrageous. She finds herself wrapped up in a real life drama, not just imagining the drama in the lives of the characters of whatever book she is reading. Her trip ends up to be a little longer than she had originally planned. I don’t want to give away any of the ending, but I will say it all ends perfectly. Alice finally knows why the Lord wanted her to take this trip.

At the beginning of the book, Alice’s faith is weak, but by the end, she has learned to lean on the Lord in many ways. She spends time helping and encouraging many in the area. She comes to care for them and enjoy being with them. She even learns to ride a horse and takes books up steep hills to those who are living far from the library.

I enjoyed the deeper parts of this story as Miss Lilly shared with Alice a lifetime of trusting in God.  I’m sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did.

However, there is one aspect of the book, I had trouble with. Alice begins a relationship with a young man. He is charming and cheerful and Alice enjoys kissing him. But I thought she didn’t take the relationship seriously. Her reaction when it is over it is rather flippant. She doesn’t question whether she should kiss him or not. She just thought she would have an adventure, go home and that would be the end of it. If that is how she felt, I don’t think she had any business kissing him to begin with. Her attitude is immature and not grounded in reality. For this reason, this romance novel  would probably be best read by women 21 and above.

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.”

 

In Peculiar Treasures by Robin Jones Gunn and published by Zondervan (2008), quirky, red-headed Katie Weldon is finishing up her junior year of college at Rancho Corona. Her best friend, Christy Miller, is recently married. Katie is in a dating relationship with Rick Doyle, the boy she has had a crush on since high school. As she works to define her relationship with Rick, another guy whom she nicknames “goatee guy” arrives on the scene and challenges Katie’s perceptions.

Struggling with finances, Katie is given a new job as a resident advisor in the dorm, but it takes her away from Rick. Their efforts to draw closer seem to push them further apart. As Katie juggles her responsibilities of work and school, her relationship with Rick becomes a roller coaster.

Other troubles arise as she adjusts to her new job and the conflicts it brings. Katie realizes she must learn to forgive others in order to receive into her heart the peculiar treasures God has given her.

Peculiar Treasures is the first book of four in the Katie Weldon series. I enjoyed this series because it realistically portrays how God works in someone’s life. It showed how God prepares you for the things He wants you to do by weaving the desires of your heart into His plan. And even when things don’t seem to work out, there is a purpose for them in your life which can help you grow. Also, Katie and Rick’s relationship in the stories provides a good, Christian model to follow.

We are recommending Peculiar Treasures for older teens and college-age students. It is categorized as a romance, but it is not a typical romance.  The series continues with On a Whim, Coming Attractions and Finally & Forever.

Books 4 Christian Kids also reviewed two other books by Robin Jones Gunn Summer Promise and A Whisper and a Wish . These novels follow Katie’s best friend, Christy Miller.

J. D. Rempelhttps://jdrempel.com/ , 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. 

 

 

 

Happy Easter!!!!

From Nancy —Spring Break is upon us in some parts of the country. I think a good read, an escape from school work, is definitely called for. And for teens and better upper elementary school readers, what could be more inspiring than Ben Hur? Here’s Donna’s review of this great classic.

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace, is a much beloved and acclaimed story read by millions. It begins with a retelling of the nativity of Christ and then moves into the life of Judah Ben Hur, a wealthy young man living in first century Jerusalem. Messala, his boyhood friend and a Roman, returns from soldiering, changed in his view of the world. When he cannot convince Ben Hur to embrace his cause, Messala betrays his friend, sending him on a journey through trials and victories. Eventually the two men face each other once more, meeting as opponents in a high-stakes chariot race.

Now also a man, Christ re-enters the narrative. His gentle influence has a profound effect on Ben Hur. Wallace illustrates how choices for good or evil, when fully embraced, mark a person’s life.

The author tells a compelling tale, particularly in his ability to define the inner journey, not only of the hero, but also of a large cast of supporting characters. Vivid scenes stay with the reader after the book is closed. However, the style of writing reflects the tastes of Wallace’s time (1880s). By current standards it may seem wordy and slow. The point of view is omniscient, which is rarely employed in contemporary books. Although historical and political details are meticulously researched, personal and cultural descriptions seem more imaginative than realistic.

Another feature distinguishing Ben Hur from modern novels is the explanation, once conflicts are past, of what happens to characters followed faithfully through its pages. Ben Hur, rather than leaving the reader wanting more, offers satisfaction that the story is complete.

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.

7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness was written by Eric Metaxas and published by Thomas Nelson (2016). 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. The seven men are George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II  and Charles W. Colson.

George Washington, refused the temptation to become king of the United States, after the American colonies defeated the British during the Revolutionary War. At the time, the young nation was vulnerable, and most likely would have accepted a king. Instead, Washington retired from military service. He was selected to represent Virginia at the Constitutional Convention, where he was elected as the convention president. Later in 1789, he was voted in as the first president under the Constitution.

William Wilberforce was partly raised by his Methodist aunt and uncle. They introduced him to the teachings of John Newton, a former slave trade captain. While serving as a member of the House of Commons, Wilberforce experienced a revival of the beliefs and teachings he knew as young boy. He made it his personal mission to get the House of Commons to pass a law banning the slave trade in the British Empire.

Eric Liddell was born to British missionaries serving in China. Though it might mean that he would lose his chance to win an Olympic gold medal, he refused to go against his religious convictions of observing the Sunday sabbath. He also became a missionary to China during the 1930’s and 1940’s. When others left that war-torn country, he did not.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian. He believed the Jews were God’s people. He gave up safety in the United States to go back to Germany, to stand up to the Nazis and to speak out against the their treatment of the Jews. He was arrested, imprisoned for some time and later executed.

Jackie Robinson was born to sharecroppers in Georgia. A few months later his father left. Jackie’s mother saved money to move her family to Southern California where the children grew up. The Robinson boys were active in sports and grew up with the Bible. A Methodist preacher led Jackie Robinson to the Lord.

It was discovered as time passed that Jackie was a great baseball player. If he had been white, he would have been drafted, but at the time there were no African-American players in the major leagues. All of that changed when Robinson met Branch Rickey, who would sign him to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Jackie was selected because Rickey saw him as a Christian and a man who could hold his silence, letting the crowd not get to him.

In spring of 1946, it was official–Robinson would play in the major leagues in the Dodgers organization. He played and remained silent despite the mean words said. Within a few weeks the entire Brooklyn team was on Jackie’s side.

Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) grew up a Polish Catholic. During the first part of the German occupation of Poland, he worked in the industrial labor field to make a living for himself and his elderly father. One day he came home from work and found his father had died. Devastated, Karol prayed all night. Out of the sad events he realized his true calling and decided to enter the priesthood. This was a great risk during the Nazi occupation. Twice during these years of studying at secret seminaries he almost lost his life.

In the summer of 1978, now a cardinal, Karol Wojtyla voted in conclave for a new pope, but he never thought he would become pope as well. Within 33 days of that election, another conclave was called as the new pope had died. Cardinal Wojtyla had no idea that he would face a decision that would change his life. He was elected pope. He said “It is God’s will, I accept.”

Charles W. Colson, as a young man, worked hard to get Richard Nixon elected. After the election of 1972, it became evident that the White House was involved in a scandal. Colson was charged with obstruction of justice, plead guilty and was sentenced to prison. Prior to entering prison he had an encounter with God leaving him praying for his salvation. In prison he began to lead Bible studies and prayer groups. When he was released, the prisoners said do not forget us. He did not. He founded the ministry Prison Fellowship.

Each of these seven men God used to change the world. Merely ordinary men, all answered the call when God used them to influence history.

I encourage you, high school boys, to read 7 Men, discuss your own interests, and consider how God can use you to do amazing things. Who knows, you might be in a history book one day. Even if you are not, God would like to use you in many good ways.  For me the verse that comes to mind when writing this is Jeremiah 29:11.

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

Christy, written by Catherine Marshall and published by Evergreen Farm, will certainly keep you under its spell of adventure, suspense and delight until the very last page. First released in 1967 and based on a true story of the life of Leonora Haseltine Whitaker Wood, the author’s mother, the story is compelling in many ways. Full of joy, imagination and deeply spiritual insights, this story is best suited to anyone aged 18 and above.

In 1912 nineteen-year-old Christy Huddleston, leaves her home in Asheville, North Carolina, to teach in a mission school in the Smokey Mountains community of Cutter Gap, Tennessee. The school at Cutter Gap is fairly new. It and two other schools in the area were established by Miss Alice Henderson, a Quaker from Ardmore, Pennsylvania.

From the very start, this new adventure is a challenge. The man who is supposed to meet Christy at the train station has an accident while he is out cutting trees, so Christy must walk the seven miles with the mailman. The trip is not at all easy, but they finally arrive. This poverty-stricken place, filled with many Appalachian highlanders whose ancestors came from Scotland, is a different world to Christy.

Life is very hard in Cutter Gap. The people do everything themselves with no electricity or running water. The woman grow their food, make the clothes for their family and wash them by the river. They have no formal education.

The first day of school for Christy is in late October when the children have finished helping their families with the crops. Many of the children have no shoes and must walk miles to the school. She has about sixty students in a one-room schoolhouse. Several of her students are young men in their late teens with bad attitudes.

Christy is encouraged in her work through the amazing spiritual insights of Miss Alice, who has immovable faith in Christ. Christy is a Christian, but her faith will soon be tested and she will mature in many areas through the course of the story.

The novel is rich with interesting characters. David Grantland is the minister of the church in Cutter Gap. Single and in his mid-twenties, he helps Christy with the older boys. His spinster sister, Ida, assists at the mission with the cooking and housework. Another influential character in Christy’s life in Cutter Gap is Dr. Neil MacNeill. He grew up in the area but attended college elsewhere. He has a true understanding of the people. His wife passed away three years earlier, and he is bitter toward God because of this.

Christy become friends with David, whom she greatly admires. After living and teaching in Cutter Gap, Christy leaves for the summer to visit her parents. Before she goes, David proposes marriage to her. She is flattered but knows she will need to spend much time praying about this. While she has a love for him, she doesn’t yet know if the Lord is leading her to marry him.

Although the people are often steeped in ignorance and superstition, Christy’s teaching is breaking through and many of the children are learning at an amazing rate. Christy becomes close friends with one of the mothers, Fairlight Spencer, who has a tremendous thirst for learning to read. Once Christy teaches her, she reads everything in sight.

This particular story only covers eleven months in the life of Christy, and it was over too soon. I find myself missing the characters and wishing a sequel had been written, but since it is based on a true story and real people’s lives, I can do some extra research on my own. Without giving away the ending, I will say that all the main characters discovered a much deeper and closer relationship with God through their experiences. They found Him to be as loving, faithful and powerful as His word says He is. I believe this story will be an excellent tool in guiding young people to find the path He has for their lives.  It encouraged me greatly and I pray it will do the same for you.

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.”

Valentine’s Day is coming–funny and sweet cards, flowers, chocolate, a good meal. It’s one of the biggest nights of the year for restaurants. It can be a lot of fun.

But as sweet and as powerful as love is for couples, love doesn’t just belong to couples. Neither does Valentine’s Day. It’s a good thing to remember. When we don’t, we can put way too much pressure on the couple-relationship. We need more kinds of love in our lives. Patsy took a look at a book of short stories a couple of years ago that show love in many aspects. I thought it was worth a re-posting. — Nancy

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 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.”

 

 

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.

 

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.  Rempelhttps://jdrempel.com/ , 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. 

 

Book Reviews

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

Join 96 other followers

Search Posts by Categories

Advertisements