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A Grief Observed, written by C.S. Lewis*, is most definitely a book that embodies what so many other books can’t–unflinching honesty. And whether that’s due to Lewis’ candid and confessional writing style, or that he did not write it intending for it to be published, is hard to say. What can be said, however, is that the unguarded approach to such a topic breaks down personal borders that other attempts in the genre simply can’t.

A Grief Observed is a chapter by chapter walk-through of the author’s encounter with his wife’s death. I’m not married, nor has my spouse passed away, however I find that this particular book holds value whether you’re in the process of bereavement or not. Told in four parts–each section is more like a journal entry than a chapter–with time passing in between each one. Even among the thick sense of dread that fill such pages, it’s somewhat comforting to see the gradual process of healing in Lewis’ heart. It reminds us that even in times of emptiness, we can always hold tight to the fact that time truly does heal all wounds.

Throughout this short book, Lewis wades through questions of his faith, humanity, and the intense weight of love. As if fading in and out of consciousness, we see Lewis (for the first time in any of his works) truly question the faith and ideals that he had held and defended for so long. We see a man beaten, broken, and on his knees through most of the book. We can feel his weakness in the text, as he relives the nostalgic and bright memories that he shared with his wife, whom he refers to as “H.” These memories are rejoiced and delighted in by Lewis, only to be shot down by the heart-wrenching reality of loss–then denial, then loss again. A painful redundancy that many of us have felt the sting of.

There isn’t much detail given about their relationship, however what we do know is that Lewis and “H.” were passionate, intimate carers for each other. I refer back to chapter one here, as Lewis explains, “… her voice is still vivid. The remembered voice–that can turn me at any moment into a whimpering child.” This childlike tenderness isn’t one generally displayed by grown men–and it’s an example of the firm, overgrown, mossy walls that can shatter in an instant during those few times in life. The antithesis of our greatest moments and memories.

Like most trials in this life, we eventually see healing begin to take place. Even if it takes months, years, or the rapture, God promises that He will leave no stone unturned, which is a point that Lewis himself echoes in the later sections of the book. Overall, the text cannot be looked at in a vacuum, but is best used with larger and much wider perspectives. Scrutiny and analysis of a work like this will only leave you with confused ramblings of a discombobulated spouse–it is when you zoom out that you begin to understand it’s purpose.

Now most people can boil their lives down to their best and worst experiences, and even to specific moments within those greater contexts–but in this particular work Lewis concentrates the healing process of a tragedy to only the most necessary of thoughts and considerations. There isn’t a single word in this book that need not be there. Every sentence is essential to its greater message–one that I find crucial to any self-respecting adult, and one you’ll just have to find out for yourself.

*Note from Nancy: This classic was first published in 1961 under a pseudonym. After Lewis’ death in 1963, it was published under his name. A Grief Observed can often be found in libraries and is available on Amazon.com from several publishers.

 

Hey there! I’m David. I’m 20 years old but I feel a lot older on the inside because I was raised in a wonderful home, conversing with others older than myself. My parents and three siblings have always supported my interests. I film weddings for my day job, but I love the occasional non-fiction. As a Christian, I enjoy reading books about observations on God – however I can never deny myself a good thriller. English was by far my favorite class in school, and it seems as if three years later the love of essays hasn’t stopped. 

 

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Brush of Wings, written by Karen Kingsbury and published by Howard Books (2017), will be very difficult to put down. It is suspenseful and exciting in many ways. High school students and adults will want to keep reading to find out what happens in this third and final book of the Angels Walking Series. (The second book contains some material related to gang violence and may not be suitable for young teens.)

In the series four angels, Beck, Jag, Aspyn and Ember are commissioned to keep two couples and their future children alive and well. There are forces at work trying to break up these couples and destroy their friendships and relationships with each other. There are even threats to their lives.

One of the angels’ most serious assignments is to make sure these young people marry and have the children whom God has ordained will someday be great servants in His Kingdom. Throughout the books, the four angels come alongside these characters, praying and often intervening as helpful citizens.

Sami Dawson and Tyler Ames are introduced in the first book, Angles Walking. Tyler is a major league baseball player until he is injured. Through his life experiences, he returns to the Lord and to his high school sweetheart, Sami.

In the second book, Chasing Sunsets, Tyler’s friend and LA Dodger pitcher, Marcus Dillinger meets Mary Catherine Clark who is Sami’s roommate. For both Marcus and Mary Catherine, it is love at first sight. However, they are both reticent to become involved. Mary Catherine knows she has a heart condition and will someday need a valve transplant. Marcus admires Mary Catherine and is very attracted to her, but he is involved in a relationship with his coach’s niece, Shelly. Tyler, Sami, Marcus and Mary Catherine are involved in a local youth center. They want to help young people involved in gangs, hoping to keep them out of prison.

Lexy, whose mother is in prison, is one of the young women who comes to them for help. She is the girl friend of the gang leader of the West Knights, Dwayne Davis. Lexy wants to leave the life of gangs, but she is afraid that if she does they will hunt her down. Through her grandmother’s admonishment, Lexy seeks the Lord and accepts Mary Catherine’s offer to mentor her. Lexy’s boyfriend Dwayne ends up in jail. Before she is fully ready to surrender to the Lord, she begins a relationship with another gang leader, Ramon.

Marcus soon breaks up with Shelly who is quite young and very shallow. He admires the spiritual depth he sees in Mary Catherine. She relates well to young people and leads them to the Lord.

Mary Catherine’s story is at the center of the third book. She has dreamed all of her life of working in an orphanage in Uganda. Her doctor is against her pursuing that dream. Her heart functions too poorly. She needs a heart transplant, not a heart valve as was formerly thought. She promises him she will tell those in her family about the true condition of her health and that she will return as soon as she feels worse. Mary Catherine is determined to spend whatever time she has left serving the Lord. Her roommate in Uganda, Ember, turns out to be one of the angels. (When the angels show up in the lives of the young people, the young people don’t guess that they are indeed angels.)

In this book Lexy moves in with Sami while Mary Catherine is in Africa. In this way, Lexy hopes she can separate herself from the gang and from Ramon. Lexy has become pregnant by Ramon. She has the baby which she has decided to give up for adoption.

Mary Catherine does not follow through on her promise to her doctor. Several months into her trip, Ember is very concerned. Mary Catherine is getting much worse. Finally she sends her former roommate, Sami, an email, disclosing the truth about her condition. Sami alerts Marcus right away and he flies to Uganda to bring Mary Catherine home. She is  ready to come home. The trip is difficult, but the angels’ prayers are constant, and the Lord is with them.

Mary Catherine realizes she has made a grave mistake by taking her life and decisions into her own hands, against the advice of others. The angels work overtime to keep her alive. She is admitted to the hospital, and the doctor introduces her to a devise he has just discovered. It is called a LVAD–Left Ventricular Assist Device that can act as a mechanical heart in place of her own, which is rapidly giving out. She is intrigued and agrees to the surgery. She will need to charge the devise daily and be a little more cautious than usual. Her parents, Sami, Tyler, Marcus and Lexy are all there to support her. She apologizes for not being honest with them, and all is forgiven.

There are more events and exciting happenings in this final book of the Angels Walking Series, but I will leave you to discover them on your own. I really enjoyed this series, and was more thoughtful about how angels really do intervene in our lives. It is a blessing to know the Lord and His Angels are always watching out for us. His will shall be done in His way and for His glory.

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 Ebb Tide written by Beverly Lewis and published by Bethany House Publishers (2017) is a good read for young women, especially for those who love to travel. I am not young anymore, but I certainly love to travel.

The main character of the story is Sallie Riehl, a nineteen-year-old Amish girl who lives in Paradise Township, Pennsylvania. She has not taken her vow yet to join the Amish Church and remain in the fellowship of the People for life. She figures she will splurge with her hard-earned money from waitressing and take a two-week trip to Australia. She has been dreaming of far away places since she was little and for several years she has been saving money to travel.

She makes arrangements to leave, but then she learns that her two-year-old nephew Aaron has a heart murmur and needs a valve repair. His surgery will cost much more than is available in the Amish Medical Fund. After much prayer and angst, Sallie decides to donate her trip money for his surgery.

Sallie wants to keep what she has done for her nephew a secret, but word gets around and the family is very grateful. Her mother wants her to join the church right away, but Sallie just isn’t ready. Soon she hears about an intriguing opportunity through her boss, Lyman Sullivan. Len and Monique Logan, friends of Lyman and frequent customers to the restaurant, have a nine-year-old daughter, Autumn, and a newborn son, Conner. They need a nanny this summer at their home near the ocean in Cape May, New Jersey. Lyman recommends Sallie.

Sallie is thrilled with the turn of events, but she doesn’t think she will gain her parents’ approval for a trip like this. She is also becoming interested in Perry, a kind Amish man. After prayer and discussing the opportunity with her parents, Sallie is permitted to go with the Logan family. She has always dreamed of seeing the ocean. Although Cape May is not the Great Barrier Reef that she had studied and dreamed of, she is thrilled at the prospect of seeing the ocean for the first time.

During her first few weeks with the Logan family, Sallie and Autumn take a boating trip to view fish and birds. A marine biology student, Kevin Kreider, helps lead the trip. He is a Mennonite and takes an interest in Sallie. In the weeks that follow, they meet at the beach and become friends. They have much in common, including their love of travel and marine life. During this time, Sally and Perry are communicating by letter, but soon Sallie realizes that her relationship with Perry pales in comparison to the one she has with Kevin.

As the time draws near for Sallie to return, she feels she has no other choice but to break off her friendship with Kevin. She is starting to have stronger feelings for him, but can’t see how it could work out.  She is planning on returning to the Amish way of life.  On one of their last times together, Sallie accompanies Kevin to the Mennonite church service, where she hears the pastor mention that God leads each person’s life individually. He explains how others may not understand the way He is leading us. Sallie takes this to heart, and wonders if she will ever be ready to join the church at home.

Back home, Sallie and Perry begin seeing each other, but Sallie quickly realizes that she does not care for him in the way she would need in order to marry him. He is more of a friend to her. She also comes to see that with her love to explore God’s creation and travel, perhaps God has another plan for her that may just lead her away from the Amish lifestyle. She is eventually honest with her parents about this and is surprised to hear that they really do understand. They are disappointed, but they know that only she can make this decision.

Other events come to pass, and the story ends on a very happy note. Sallie’s questions are answered and the Lord leads her on a wonderful path, one she could never have imagined had she not waited on Him and listened for His leading. She realizes how important prayer has been to the entire process.

This is a very helpful book for young women, ages 18 to 26, who are wondering about their own futures and what God has planned for them. With all the choices available, it can be confusing at times. The book will encourage young people to seek the Lord above all other voices. It will show them the vital role prayer plays in their own lives. I enjoyed it very much. BTW, my favorite place to be is at the ocean.

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.”

 

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity, written by Nabeel Qureshi and published by Zondervan (expanded version, 2016), recounts Qureshi’s journey to Christianity–his “powerful memories and personal thoughts.”

As a young boy, Nabeel, an American-born Muslim, has the ideas of Islam instilled into his thinking and way of life. The culture of his faith is his identity and understanding of the world. But it becomes evident, that even while still a boy, God is working in his life.

On the school bus one day, Kristen talks with him about Good Friday. According to what Nabeel has been taught, Jesus did not actually die on the cross. Instead he passed out and was taken away where he recovered. Both, agree to disagree. Nabeel feels validated that Islam is the right religion and the final chapter.

In high school he has a conversation with Betsy, who talks about Christianity and invites him to a church play about sin and death. Nabeel and his father attend the play. On the way home they have a conversation about what they’ve seen and how it is wrong. Both discuss how Christians believe in “3” gods not the Trinity–“God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.” They agree, again, Islam is right and there is only one God—Allah. Jesus is a prophet like Muhammad.

In college Nabeel meets David, a Christian. David encourages Nabeel to expand his literature understanding of Jesus and based on literature decide whether or not Jesus is who he says. David invites Nabeel and his father to a debate with two pastors who have written about the history of Jesus. The arguments are again made that Jesus did not actually die on the cross. The pastors explain that the Romans made sure Jesus was dead. The piercing of his side was an indication that he was dead by suffocation.

When the debate ends Nabeel is confused and looks again to his Muslim literature. David then encourages Nabeel to go to church with him since one of the pastors who debated is preaching. Nabeel says he cannot attend based on what his parents would say. David counters that Nabeel is an adult and can make his own decisions. Both men graduate college and go their separate ways for graduate school. Nabeel begins to pursue a medical degree.

Guided by the loving, faithful hand of God, Nabeel comes to be on his knees before Jesus–accepting the truth. In the Extended Epilogue his journey as a Christian continues. Nabeel must deal with his decision of faith and efforts to restore a relationship with his family.

The side margins of the book have a glossary of Islamic terms. Documents in the back are helpful as well.

This book is a good read for college-age young adults who want to explore both a better understanding of the Muslim faith and how God works in our lives–never giving up on us.

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

I just came in from a walk. Some of the neighbor kids were also out walking. Today is the first day of their summer vacation. It’s exciting for them; an adventure is about to begin. But I also got the impression they are little bit at loose ends. They’re missing their friends. And this might sound weird and totally improbable, but I think they miss being at school. School can be fun. (Yes, it can and sometimes they will even tell you that it is.) At school they learn new things and kids like to learn. They are all about growing.

Reading good books is one way for them to grow well. It is one way for kids to go on an adventure. We have created lists of books (select Book Lists found on the menu at the top of the page) that we think are interesting and fun. More than that we think they will bless a child or a young person. If you select the title, it will take you to the review. We don’t think our lists are the last word, but they might be a good place to start.

Just a thought, consider reading a book together as a family. Sharing a worthwhile story can be an enriching experience. It’s warm, friendly; it can build community, and reading aloud helps you to listen to each other.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue.  You can learn more about her and her books at www.nancyellenhird.com .

For several years Nancy was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

Accidentally Amish (Valley of Choice) by Olivia Newport and published by Shiloh Run Press (2012) will instruct and delight you. The two main characters, Annalise Friesen and Rufus Beiler couldn’t be more opposite. Annie, as she is called, is from Colorado Springs and owns a software company. Rufus is from the San Luis Valley in Colorado, and he is Amish. Yet, even so, these two are drawn to each other.

Through a series of crazy events, Annie ends up in the San Luis Valley with Rufus Beiler’s family. Rick Stebbins, her intellectual property lawyer/ex-boyfriend, and Barrett, her business partner, are attempting to take over her company. Fleeing from Rick, who is trying to get her to sign papers, she becomes a stowaway in a truck driven by Tom, a friend of Rufus. She decides on an extended stay at a hotel in the small town.

Through her relationship with her new Amish friends, and her desire to lead a more simple life, Annie comes to have a deeper faith in God. In the beginning of the story, she is highly attached to her computer and cell phone. She begins to rethink her lifestyle as she spends time with the Beiler family.

Intertwined in the story of Annie and Rufus is the story of another family. Jakob and Verona Beyeler came to America from Europe on the Charming Nancy in 1737. Many facts in this story are true. The book’s author, Olivia Newport, is a descendant of this family.

Annie begins to research her family history and finds she is related to Jakob Beyeler, through the line of his second wife, Elizabeth Kallen. When Jakob’s first wife, Verona, died, she left him with five children, the youngest still a baby.

Annie’s business stays in tact. She sells it and buys a small house in the San Luis Valley. She is not ready to become Amish, but she wants to learn more about God and about His plans for her life. After pursuing her own dreams of success for many years and coming up empty, without many meaningful connections in her life, she wants to find out what it would be like to live a life directed by God.

Nothing is completely resolved in Accidentally Amish; it is only book 1 in the series. But the novel does end happily, even though there are people in Annie’s life who don’t understand or agree with her decisions.

I really enjoyed reading this novel because the plots of both stories are interesting and a bit mysterious. I loved the fact that one way of living was not declared the one and only way. The book pointed out positives and negatives of the Amish and non-Amish ideas. The main point of this story is that God wants each of us to follow Him in the way He leads. If he leads each one differently, that is OK.  I think this would be a helpful book for young adult women and enjoyable for all adults.

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.”

 

From Nancy–My apologies. Something went amiss when we posted the following review. It was fine when we previewed it. It was only this morning that we noticed that the left edge of the post was being cut off. Ugh! (I like a mystery and maybe you do too, but not when I’m reading a book review.) I hope the post is fixed now, but if not please bear with me. I will climb this hill and reach the top.

From Nancy– Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14, and I thought it appropriate to re-run Patsy’s review of this book that celebrates motherhood.

21 Days of Joy, compiled by Kathy Ide and published by Broadstreet Publishing Group, LLC (2016), is the fourth book in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series. This one is all about mothers. The most wonderful aspect of this book is that you don’t have to be a birth mother to find great joy in its pages. It is a wonderful read for those wishing they were mothers, those who have fostered or adopted children, or those who have lost children. It gives women hope that they can be used as a mother in a child’s life.

I loved reading the book and seeing how each one of the twenty-one stories was so varied and touching. The main thread that winds through this incredible little book is that God loves and honors mothers of all kinds. He loves our children and hears our prayers for them.

There were two stories in particular that stood out, and I would like to share about them. “Here With Us” by Nancy Ellen Hird is about an adoptive mother. I love the idea of adoption because my daughter has a desire to adopt someday. Kristie, an adoptive mother, has rushed home from a business trip after learning that she and her husband have been given a baby. She is overjoyed, but more than a little nervous as she reaches for the newborn in her husband’s arms.

She and Matt love their new little bundle of joy, a sweet baby girl. In a private moment with her sister Lisa, Kristie expresses fear that the birth mother might change her mind and want her baby back. Lisa reassures her, but also offers that all children go away someday, and that we are just borrowing them from the Lord. Kristie relaxes and rejoices at the amazing gift she and her husband have received. As our children grow, we need to learn to let go, and place them into God’s loving care.

Another story I particularly enjoyed is “Haiti’s Song,” by Deborah Raney. It is about a young woman, Valerie Austin, whose fiancé, Will, has just called off their wedding after most of the arrangements have been made. He comes to realize he never wants children, and yet Valerie does.

From a young age, Valerie had dreamed of having children. She had sewn many children’s clothes as a young teen, placing them in her hope chest for the future. Heartbroken when her wedding is called off, Valerie donates the clothes to charity.

In Haiti and working at an orphanage, she begins to love the children around her, and finds herself at peace with God’s calling. All of a sudden, she starts to recognize the clothes she had made years ago, worn by the children she works with. She knows that God is giving her a message. She believes He is pleased with her sacrifice and will use her in a mighty way, even if she never has children of her own. I found this story to be particularly heartwarming.

This little book is filled with all kinds of stories about mothers. It is sure to inspire you to do your best wherever God has called 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.”

The Dilemma of Charlotte Farrow is the second book in the Avenue of Dreams series by Olivia Newport. It is published by Revell (2013). This book examines the class and gender barriers in nineteenth-century Chicago. Set during the time of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, Charlotte’s life changes while taking a ride on George Ferris’ wheel. At that moment, she decides to put her past behind and move forward with her life.

Charlotte is a maid at the home of Lucy Banning, who has just left on her honeymoon trip. The two met shortly after Charlotte had just given birth and left an unsafe husband, Lathan Landers. Wanting to help, Lucy found a woman to care for Henry, the baby, so Charlotte could be in service at the Banning home. Archie Shepard, the Banning Family coachman, is enchanted with the lovely, twenty year-old Charlotte. She cares for him as well, yet she knows it could never be, as she believes she is still legally married to Lathan.

As the story begins, the woman who has been caring for Henry has to leave the area and brings the baby back to Charlotte. Since her supporter, Lucy, is gone for the time being, Charlotte is afraid to reveal that the baby belongs to her. She makes up a story about some unknown person having left the baby in the backyard.

The family is very surprised, but they know their daughter Lucy. She has been involved with the local orphanage, so they don’t want to make any decisions about Henry until they hear from her. Also, another young servant girl, Sarah, recently came to the Banning home from the orphanage. Mr. Panard, head of the servants, appoints Sarah to be a nanny for the young child.

Meanwhile, Miss Emmaline Brewster, a distant relative of the Banning’s, comes from New Hampshire for an extended stay. She adores Henry and makes secret plans with Charlotte to take him back to New Hampshire. Since Charlotte is fearful Lathan will come looking for Henry, she helps Emmaline to escape with the baby. Emmaline has the means to provide for Henry and clearly loves him as if he were her own son.

When the family finds out Emmaline has left with the baby, they feel betrayed and are very upset. Charlotte is heartbroken. Archie encourages her to trust in the Lord and to believe that she can eventually get her baby back.

On her day off, she wanders to the World’s Fair, where on a previous outing with the family, she had spied her husband working. She hopes she can somehow be free of  him, since she was forced into the marriage by her parents in the first place. She finds Lathan Landers, who demands to know what she did with his jar of money before she left. He has no interest in the baby, and is with another woman he says he is engaged to.

Lathan insists Charlotte go up in the Ferris Wheel with him to discuss the matter. Against her better judgment, she complies, and tells him she never took the money. She suggests the woman he hired to clean must have taken it. He appears to be fine with her answer and makes it known he wants nothing more to do with her.

Charlotte realizes she needs God’s help if she is to become free of the fears of her past and honestly admit the truth about her son. She is encouraged to do what is right by her best friend Archie. He does some research and discovers that Charlotte’s marriage was never recorded. It is not legal, after all. They are both thrilled to discover this.  In the end, all turns out happily. Charlotte realizes that the Lord has turned things around and has given her a new found joy and hope in Him.

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.”

 

Hi, I’m calling it spring cleaning; really it’s more like renovating. But I haven’t been working on my house, I’ve been working on this blog. I want to make it easier for you to find the book or books you are interested in. I’ve added to Book Lists a list of the picture books we have recommended. (A list of books for middle grade and lists for YA were already there.) And thanks to technology the titles are linked to the reviews. (I hope they are. I’ve checked that they are, but if you come across a broken one, please let me know. I’ll fix it.) I’ve also added a list of the books that we have suggested for the college/working person. Those titles are also linked.

I hope this helps you in your search for good books.  –Nancy

P.S. As I worked on the picture book list, it occurred to me again what great baby gifts a number of these books would make. A great story read by a loving parent will live in a child’s heart when that child’s children have children of their own.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

What Do You Do With An Idea?, written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom, published by Compendium, Inc. (2014) is a picture book, but not one for small children. Its thought-provoking, life-enriching big idea will resonate better with older children and adults. If the YA people in your life can get past that it has illustrations, What Do You Do With An Idea? may find a place in their hearts as well.

The story is told from the point of view of a young boy. He says he had an idea. (The idea looks like an egg wearing a small crown.) The boy doesn’t know what to do with the idea and so, like many of us when we get an idea, he walks away from it. But the idea follows him on its chicken legs.

With the honesty and simplicity of a child, the boy tells us of his fears and his joy as he and the idea spend time together. He realistically tells us of his struggles as they continue their friendship. The story ends happily. The ending is a little over the top, but when we consider that this is a picture book, we can forgive it for its big happily-ever-after moment. (And who knows, some “ideas” do have this kind of ending.)

The illustrations are active and evocative. While full of energy, they also manage to have a thoughtfulness about them that perfectly suits the fable. There is a really interesting use of color. In the beginning it is used sparingly. The world is gray except for the yellow egg. As the boy and the idea become friends, more color enters the boy’s world. Vibrant color erupts and spills out onto the last pages as the story reaches its exciting ending.

Adults will be touched with compassion for the boy and his idea and remember with tenderness their own experiences with new ideas. Elementary school children will find themselves in this story and be encouraged.

What Do You Do With An Idea? is a great book. I think writers, artists, scientists and other dreamers should have it on their book shelves and take it down and read it when necessary. And there will be days when it will be necessary.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. 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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