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Are you trying to keep up with a voracious reader? and losing?  Are you feeling left out–in the dark–about the books your kid’s carpool buds are talking about? Do you need more info about the books your child will be reading and discussing in school this coming year?

Plugged In, on the Focus on the Family website, is not just about films and TV. Info on the site says they have more than 6,000 reviews of entertainment media– books, films and TV programs. I was told that the number of reviews/reports on the books grows by three books a week.

The books are listed alphabetically by title. Click on the title and it will take you to the report/review.

The info in the report/review is different from the usual info found in a review. Reviewers of books for Plugged In don’t give an approval or disapproval rating. A report/review offers a plot summary and then goes on to cover Christian beliefs (if there are any), other belief systems, authority figures, profanity, violence, kissing, sex and homosexuality. A link on the page will take you to discussion topics and questions especially created for that particular book. (I like this last feature a lot. Talking through a book with a child develops a child’s critical thinking skills.)

Here at Books 4 Christian Kids we love recommending books. We love imagining a young person discovering a terrific, uplifting book and being blessed by reading it, all because we let you know about it. We love being part of that chain. We strive to find and point you to worthy books; we recognize that a young person’s time and your money are limited. But we also recognize that there are a vast number of books available for children/young adults/new adults. I can imagine that you want more info. I think the Plugged In site will help.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.) You can learn more about her and her books at www.nancyellenhird.com .

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

Ellen Miles writes children’s books about pets. Callie is the first book in a series and is published by Scholastic Paperbacks (2011). The series is called Kitty Corner and subtitled Where kitties get the love they need.

The story begins when siblings Mia and Michael are racing home from school on their scooters and stop to look at the kittens and puppies at their neighborhood veterinarian’s office. Michael wants a dog and Mia wants a cat, but because they live with their parents in a small apartment, they can have neither.

As they are rushing into their apartment to greet their mother, Mia thinks she hears a cat meow.  Later—and this is the only part I don’t like—she pretends that the recycling is full so she can go outside and look for the cat near the trash cans.

Mia does catch a fleeting glance of a calico kitten with a hurt paw. She asks her parents if the family can look for the kitten and take her to the vet. After some family discussion, they agree to go to the local market to buy cat food to set out for the kitten. The store’s owner, Mr. Li, congratulates them on getting a cat. He likes cats, and after hearing their story about the stray, agrees to set out food for the kitten, too.

Eventually, they succeed in taking the kitten, whom Mia names “Callie,” to the vet for treatment. They are advised to keep the kitten inside, but she is an escape artist, and shows up at Mr. Li’s store. After further conversations about the cat’s needs and the family’s limitations, Mia realizes that Callie would probably be happier living at the local market, with the compassionate Mr. Li, than cooped up in her apartment. When she proposes the plan, Mr. Li is delighted.

This begins a series of four books about the family fostering and finding homes for kittens, the next three being Otis, Duchess, and Domino. The first book is from Mia’s point of view, the second from Michael’s. Also, the stories have brief imagined thoughts from each cat’s view.

Callie is under 100 pages (ten chapters). The book includes a short section of interesting cat facts and chapter one of the next book in the series. The writing is aimed at upper second grade and lower third grade readers. The characters are realistic, the tone is light, and the problems are solved in a wholesome manner. Callie is a good, safe read for lower elementary that is a lot of fun. It is available at your library, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (Callie is listed on Amazon as Kitty Corner: Callie.)

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. 

 

Kristina discovered this heart-warming Thanksgiving book last year and wrote about it. It is worth another mention. Molly’s Pilgrim is an illustrated book for children in grades 1-3 and may help them see the holiday in its historical context and also broaden their perspective.– Nancy

Molly’s Pilgrim written by Barbara Cohen and illustrated by Daniel Mark Duffy (HarperCollins, Revised Edition, 2005)  is only 32 pages long, but a terrific read.

Molly does not fit in at her new school. She is different. Originally from Russia and a Jew, she has come to live in a small town following her family’s arrival in New York City. Molly is teased by the other girls in school because her clothes are different and she does not speak English well.

One day, the girls tease her all the way home. She starts to cry, and her mother says she will talk to the teacher. Molly fears her mother will make things worse because her mother speaks Yiddish and only a little English. Molly agrees that she will talk to her teacher, but she never does.

In November the teacher asks Molly to start reading a story. It is about the Pilgrims. The teacher asks each student to bring in a Pilgrim doll. Molly goes home to start work on the doll and other homework. Her mother creates a doll based on a picture of Molly. Molly thinks it is beautiful, but it is not like the picture in the book that the teacher gave Molly. Her mother explains that Molly is a pilgrim too. She has come to the United States for religious freedom as well.

Molly takes the doll to school. The other children share their dolls. But, Molly’s doll is different and she is teased. The teacher asks to see the doll. She says it is beautiful, and Molly explains the story. A few of the students start to think about Molly’s pilgrim as a modern pilgrim. Molly even becomes friends with a girl who teased her.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a modern Thanksgiving story. It reminds us that there are still people coming to the United States to worship God in their own way. It teaches us to think about our special and important right to freedom of religion. This story also reminds us that Thanksgiving originated with Christians who read the Bible. Their feast was similar to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrated the harvest that God gives.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a great story for young readers ages 7-10 and even a great read-aloud for families.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of twin girls, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoys raising her two girls.

In Sheltie the Shetland Pony by Peter Clover (Aladdin Paperbacks, 2000) Emma’s dad has a job in the countryside. Emma has to leave her home and friends in town, and she doesn’t like it. They arrive at their new house after dark. Waking in a strange place, she doesn’t feel much better—until she looks out the window and sees a fat cheerful-looking little Shetland pony tossing his head in the back yard!

Emma gets lessons in riding and caring for her pony. Soon they are the best of friends. But Sheltie is mischievous and keeps finding ways to escape the fence. A grumpy neighbor man down the road accuses Sheltie of stealing his prize cabbages. Emma wants to clear her pony’s name and solve the mystery of the missing cabbages, but it’s Sheltie who shows the whole village the answer.

Slightly more than 90 pages in length, this chapter book is written and charmingly illustrated by the author, Peter Clover. Since he is from England, it contains words like “cockerel” instead of rooster, “biscuits” rather than cookies, and “Mum” for Mom. Some children might find this intriguing, while others might need to have the difference explained. It is written for elementary children, ages six to nine. The style is lighthearted and descriptive.

Though no longer in print, you can find Sheltie the Shetland Pony at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s Books online. The book generally sells for less than $2. There are fifteen more titles in this series. I haven’t read them, but I’m going to look for them at my local used bookstore.

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.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

In the Fairy Realm Series by Emily Rodda (HarperCollins, 2003-2007) Jessie loves to visit her Granny.The two of them are so much alike. Jessie has inherited red hair, green eyes, and the love of make-believe from her grandmother. Behind her Granny’s big country house is a tiny stretch of lawn enclosed by hedges that Jessie calls “the secret garden” where she goes to think. In the first story she discovers that this place is actually a door to the Fairy Realm.

This series of ten books is crafted to captivate a child’s imagination. Emily Rodda’s prose is elegant in its description of landscapes, moods, and people. The vibrant full-color covers and skillful, black-and-white drawings by artist Raoul Vitale are intriguing. I know one child who daydreamed over the drawings before she could read the stories.

We find out in the first book that Granny Jessica is the rightful Queen of the Realm. Fifty years earlier, a young artist discovered a door and went to visit Fairy Realm. He painted wonderful scenes and became famous—his work hanging in art galleries and printed in books. He also fell in love with Jessica, and brought her back to this world as his wife.

Now their granddaughter Jessie may move between the two worlds at will. In each story, there is some problem in the Realm that she must solve. She usually does it using “good, human common sense”. To reward her after each adventure, Queen Helena (Jessica’s younger sister who rules the realm in her stead) gives Jessie a commemorative gold charm for her bracelet.

The stories are imaginative and fun, inviting children into another world of beautiful magic and friendly people. Children visit a palace; see unicorns, mermaids, gnomes, sprites, fairies, griffins, miniature talking horses, elves, and more!

In books 1 (The Charm Bracelet) and 6 (The Unicorn), there is a strong sense of threat and danger to people in both worlds, brought by the villainous Valda, who wants to gain control of the Realm from her cousins. Book 1 mentions the two recent natural deaths of Jessie’s grandfather and father. In book 6, Valda is touched by the unicorn’s horn and vanishes in a flash, because in the Realm, a unicorn’s touch destroys all evil.

Book 8, The Water Sprites, is not as much fun as others because there is constant squabbling and the reader doesn’t get much of a rest.

Book 10, The Rainbow Wand, ties up all the loose strings in the series in surprising ways. It has a sense of tension ending with hope. In between the reader finds all the beautiful elements of story they have come to love.

Jessie has a strong relationship with her mother and grandmother, as well as fond memories of her grandfather. She attends school, has neighbors, and deals with child-sized problems, overcoming them with courage. Sometimes children feel tired after school, sports, lessons, and the struggles of their young lives. These books help them realize they can be brave at any age not only in the world of imagination but also in the real world. This series provides happy escapes that give readers positive and hopeful feelings about life.

Averaging slightly over 100 pages, these chapter books are marketed for children ages 6-10/grades 2-5. The series is out of print, but you can still find them in libraries, at used bookstores and online at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

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.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

Happy Thanksgiving!!! Kristina has found a book which may help your elementary school children see the holiday in its historical context and also broaden their perspective.– Nancy

Molly’s Pilgrim written by Barbara Cohen and illustrated by Daniel Mark Duffy (HarperCollins, Revised Edition, 2005)  is only 32 pages long, but a terrific read.

Molly does not fit in at her new school. She is different. Originally from Russia and a Jew, she has come to live in a small town following her family’s arrival in New York City. Molly is teased by the other girls in school because her clothes are different and she does not speak English well.

One day, the girls tease her all the way home. She starts to cry, and her mother says she will talk to the teacher. Molly fears her mother will make things worse because her mother speaks Yiddish and only a little English. Molly agrees that she will talk to her teacher, but she never does.

In November the teacher asks Molly to start reading a story. It is about the Pilgrims. The teacher asks each student to bring in a Pilgrim doll. Molly goes home to start work on the doll and other homework. Her mother creates a doll based on a picture of Molly. Molly thinks it is beautiful, but it is not like the picture in the book that the teacher gave Molly. Her mother explains that Molly is a pilgrim too. She has come to the United States for religious freedom as well.

Molly takes the doll to school. The other children share their dolls. But, Molly’s doll is different and she is teased. The teacher asks to see the doll. She says it is beautiful, and Molly explains the story. A few of the students start to think about Molly’s pilgrim as a modern pilgrim. Molly even becomes friends with a girl who teased her.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a modern Thanksgiving story. It reminds us that there are still people coming to the United States to worship God in their own way. It teaches us to think about our special and important right to freedom of religion. This story also reminds us that Thanksgiving originated with Christians who read the Bible. Their feast was similar to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, which celebrated the harvest that God gives.

Molly’s Pilgrim is a great story for young readers ages 7-10 and even a great read-aloud for families.

Kristina O’Brien is a mother of twin girls, an avid reader and a credentialed teacher. She has taught both middle school and high school history. She is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoys raising her two girls.

Book Reviews

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