Sunday, August 27, 2017

"Gobi: A Little Dog With a Big Heart" by Dion Leonard, Illustrated by Lisa Manuzak

Gobi: A Little Dog With a Big Heart is an adorable children's book that shares the true story of a stray dog who runs with ultra-marathon runner through the Gobi desert.

Rather than focusing around a conflict, this book instead focuses on the power of friendship. The biggest challenge the runner and dog duo must overcome is a water crossing, which the runner carries the dog across. After the story ends, an author note expresses further challenges, including losing the dog in a city and having to wait an quarantine period before being able to take the dog back to his home country to live. I liked that the book stayed focused on their friendship, though I was also interested to read more of the story in the author's note.

I loved the illustrations of the dog, Gobi. She's a scruffy-looking pup with big, loving eyes. The author's photo on the book jacket shows Dion holding Gobi, who looks very similar to the illustrations, though less scruffy.

I really enjoyed the writing, too, which shared perspectives of Dion and Gobi.

The cover is very well done with Gobi's name in large glossy letters and Gobi herself glossy and bounding through a matte desert scene.

I received a copy of this book from Book Look, but was not required to post a positive review.

Review: Rewordable: The Uniquely Fragmented Word Game

I love board games/card games, and I love word games, but unfortunately, Rewordable didn't really measure up to my favorites of either distinction. 

For your turn, you play a word using cards from your hand and cards from the available pool of three cards or by adding hand cards to an existing word on the table. Points are given at the end of the game based on achieved objectives (cardboard chips for meeting goals such as playing a 7-letter word or playing a card using only yellow cards) and one point for each letter in words you own.

In the example above, I stole the words FRY and INTEND from my opponents by adding the ER card to make FRYER from my hand and by adding ING to INTEND. I also used a turn to add IN to COMING, which was my own word. You can also add letters to the middle of words as long as you're not reordering any letters.

Stealing words from opponents was fun. I also liked that you could strategically earn more than one objective chip a turn, which made for interesting challenge beyond just picking a good word to play.

However, I didn't feel that this game left enough room for creativity. I felt very limited in my options each turn. Also, because there is a common pool of cards, it was difficult to plan ahead, which led to a lot of time waiting for players to plan their moves.

I played the game twice, with four players. It can accommodate from 2-8, so it's worth noting that the game could be very different with a larger or smaller group of players. However, I'd hesitate to even attempt 8 players based on how long waiting between turns took with only four.

Overall, I was not super impressed with the game. I have a large collection of board games and card games and I can't see choosing this one over any other.

I received a copy of this game from Blogging for Books, but was not required to write a positive review.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Wow! The Good News in Four Words" by Dandi Daley Mackall

Wow! The Good News in Four Words is a 30-page children's book that explains God's salvation plan. The four words are keywords repeated throughout the book: wow, uh-oh, yes, and ahh.

These keywords are anchors to important themes. As explained in the "Note to Parents" at the beginning, Wow is that "God, the Creator, loves us"; Uh-oh is that "we have all sinned, and the result is a broken world and separation from God"; Yes is that "Jesus died for us and rose from the dead--through him we are offered forgiveness and a new beginning...if we say yes"; Ahh is "saying yes to Jesus gives us eternal life and peace"; Wow is "as we grow in faith, we'll want to tell others the Good News." Each of these themes is given one or more Bible passages as references. Additional Bible passages are listed at the end of the book for each keyword.

The book travels from "Let there be light," to Adam and Eve, to the birth of Jesus, to Jesus' death and resurrection. After that, the book switches to more general examples of what this means in life, including Christ is the Life and the Truth and the Way, and the fruit of the Spirit, for example. Simple short sentences are used, with three rhyming lines per stanza. Some pages have one stanza, some have two, but the amount of text is never overwhelming so that the child would lose interest.

The illustrations, drawn by Annabel Tempest, are captivating. They are very busy with a lot of detail--tons of things to look at. It's one of those books where you'll see something new every time you read. As is usual for me, I judge the artist on how cute the animals are, and these ones are excellent. They are cartoon-ish and adorable. I appreciate the frequency with which they appear. Animals fill the pages talking about the Garden of Eden, but also appear scattered throughout the second half of the book.

The only weird thing is that the keywords that have already been used appear along with the current keyword in-text, but kind of faded out. It doesn't really make sense to read them aloud, and therefore I don't really see why they are there. The only thing they possibly do is provide a road map of where the book came from. It doesn't include the keywords yet to come though.

I revived a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

"Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories" by Jean Fischer

Precious Moments Little Book of Bible Stories is a small padded-cover board book. It contains 16 stories, ranging from "The Beginning" to "Jesus Lives!" and "Tell the Good News!" Each story is given a name, the Bible chapter or chapters it is based upon, and a short paragraph, while the opposite page has a related one sentence rhyming prayer and a one sentence Bible verse. Each is illustrated in the Precious Moments style--child-like, with colorful pastels and lots of animals.There's also a decorative flower border around the story pages.

The Bible stories are written in short sentences, with easy to understand words. Clarity seems to be the main goal, to the point of taking away some of the interest. However, I still think it would be a good introduction to the Bible stories because they are so short and easy to understand.

True to Precious Moments style, even the adults are drawn very child-like, with the exception of Jesus and Goliath, who are drawn as young men. I especially like the large number of animals in the illustrations, which I think would be appealing to children. For example, there's a story called "Jesus Loves Children" (based on Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18) that features two separate illustrations--one with a young boy and girl reading a book with a puppy stealing a lick of the child's lollipop, while the other shows four friends, one holding a baby bird and one a puppy.

The pages kind of stick together a little bit, making the pages hard to turn. I think this will get easy with each re-read though. The pages are very sturdy and durable.

I think the number of stories in this book is just right, along with the length of the story. There's just enough detail to tell the story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.