The Most Magnificent Thing written and illustrated by Ashley Spires and published by Kids Can Press (2014) is a picture book. Clever, humorous and truthful, it celebrates creativity. But not the “it’s magic” kind. In this story a little girl makes a magnificent discovery–creating something often involves trial and error.

Children will relate to the little girl. They will see themselves (and we the readers will also find ourselves) in the little girl’s enthusiasm for her project. I think they will know her disappointment when she can’t create what she has imagined, and they will feel sad when she quits. But the story turns and the little girl discovers that she doesn’t have to be done with her “magnificent thing.” Hurray!

Though the book is being marketed to children as young as three, I think the age range is more appropriately five- to eight-years-old. (School age children more often have greater expectations for themselves and for the things they create than younger children.) Upper elementary children could, particularly, benefit from The Most Magnificent Thing, but they often shun picture books. However, if you can get your older kid to read it to a younger child, then . . . .

The line drawings and the colors are a little more sophisticated than those found in many children’s books, but I think they work for this story. The language is expressive with a number of grown-up words that children will be delighted to wrap their tongues around.

The assistant that the little girl hires, her dog, provides a number of humorous touches to the story-telling.

The Most Magnificent Thing is a worthy book to have on your shelf. I’m going to keep my copy handy especially for those days when my characters aren’t talking to me and my plot twists aren’t twisting.

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.

 

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.”

 

Happy Easter to You!

He is risen and now we know that we and our lives are made new.

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.

 

 

 

 

This year, 2017, Passover begins at sundown on Monday, April 10, and ends at sundown on Tuesday, April 18, two days after Easter. There’s a deep connection between Passover and Easter. Learning something about Passover will enrich your faith in God and His jaw-dropping awesomeness.

Patsy has found a fun, interactive book for children (you’ll have fun too) that tells about the origin of Passover and how Jews celebrate it.  We also recommend Walk with Y’shua Through the Jewish Year and Exodus. — Nancy

 

ABC Passover Hunt, written by Tilda Balsley, illustrated by Helen Poole, and published by Kar-Ben Publishing (2016), isn’t your everyday picture book. The first page says, “An alphabet Passover scene. Find all the letters in between!” The last page reads, ” Z’man cheruteinu……We celebrate that we are free! Happy Passover to every family!”

On each page of this book and for each letter of the alphabet, there is a word pertaining to Jewish history, the Bible or the Passover holiday. The book uses questions and colorful, cartoon-like drawings to explain aspects of Passover and its celebration. For example, the question on the “B” page asks what was baby Moses’ boat on the Nile. The drawing on the page shows a box, an inner tube, a leaf, a rowboat, a rubber ducky, and a basket. The child guesses which was Moses’ boat. The answers to all of the questions are at the end of the book.

I found ABC Passover Hunt interesting and fun, with poems that rhyme and that describe what is being conveyed. Pictures depict Bible characters, food used in the Passover meal, maps, families celebrating together, etc. There are some Hebrew letters and words. One of the questions for the letter N is “Nisan…..This is the month that Passover’s in. On which day does it begin?” As I mentioned before, all the answers are on the last page of the book, in addition to a paragraph entitled “About Passover.”

This book describes and illustrates Passover in a very clear way that young children can understand. The best age of readers would be from four to twelve years. I learned a lot from this 32-page book and I hope you will as well.

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.”

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.

 

 

 

 

Hi,

I’m excited about what is happening for teen girls. Focus on the Family is re-offering Brio, and I received an email from Jessica Lippe about her magazine for Christian girls. Jessica, the editor of Girlz 4 Christ, a free online magazine for teen girls, wanted me to let you know that they have a new website. You can subscribe at Girlz4Christ.org.

Nancy

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.

 

From Nancy – We discovered, to our embarrassment, that the recipe for Easter cookies that Carol believed was included in The Legend of the Sand Dollar is not actually part of the book. The recipe was added by her book seller. We are so sorry. But we have some great bakers here at Books 4 Christian Kids and not wanting to disappoint you, we are happy to suggest a recipe for sugar cookies and one for icing for sugar cookies that might be just the thing for Easter baking.

Be sure to heed the warning about thoroughly softening the butter when making the sugar cookies. Also because you are making them with butter only, they will be “fluffier”  or so says one of our master bakers.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/9870/easy-sugar-cookies/

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/11587/sugar-cookie-icing/

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.

Carol has discovered several Easter books that will tell the story and delight your children in the telling. — Nancy

 

Young children, ages 2 to 4, love learning their colors. They will be delighted with My Easter Basket: The True Story of Easter by Mary Manz Simon, illustrated by Angelika Scudamore and published by B&H Kids (2016). This board book uses the colors that could be found in an Easter basket to tell the Easter story. The author begins with green for the palm branches and follows with red, brown, blue, purple, orange and yellow. Dr. Simon ends with yellow, relating it to sunshine and Jesus, God’s son.

My Easter Basket: The True Story of Easter has a gentle rhyme which guides the reader from page to page and adds to the flow of the story. Watercolor illustrations with sparkles capture the joy of Easter in a unique way. My Easter Basket will help young children look at Easter and their Easter baskets with different eyes and understand the true story of Easter.

Another book for young children not to be missed is My Very First Easter Playtime by Lois Rock, illustrated by Alex Ayliffe and published by Lion Hudson (2014). For children ages 3 to 5, My Very First Easter Playtime is an activity and sticker book. Children will hurry to put each sticker in its right place.

The Legend of the Sand Dollar, written by Chris Auer, illustrated by Rick Johnson and published by Zonderkidz (2013) will enrich and bless older children, ages 4 to 8.

In this story children will discover more than the delights of nature. They will learn how nature tells of the wonders of God. It begins with Kerry and her older sister going to visit their cousin, Jack. On the beach they find a sand dollar. On one side Kerry sees the impression of an Easter lily. Jack tells her the legend of Jesus being alive. She wonders about the sand dollar’s five holes and he explains they are for the four nails and spear that pierced Jesus’ side. Jack continues to use the sand dollar to tell the story of God’s love.

Kerry begins to look at the sand dollar with different eyes, with eyes that see the true meaning of Easter. Who would have guessed that God would use the sand dollar to tell of His greatest gift, Jesus, God’s Son? The book ends with a poem, whose author is unknown, about the legend of the sand dollar.

With their soft look, Johnson’s excellent watercolors bring the story of the sand dollar to life.

(Zonderkidz reissued this lovely story by Chris Auer in 2017 with new illustrations by Richard Cowdrey.)

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

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.

Book Reviews

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