Friday, December 28, 2018

Dinosaur Devotions by Michelle Medlock Adams, illustrated by Denise Turu

Dinosaur Devotions is a fun devotional book for children who love dinosaurs. There are 75 devotions, each of which is two pages long. The first page introduces a dinosaur including name pronunciation, which family it belongs to, height, length, weight, and diet. There's also a short Bible verse at the top. The main text of the devotion ties in the Bible verse to some key fact about the dinosaur in an approachable manner. The second page includes a sidebar for "digging deeper" reflection question, "Jurassic journaling" writing prompts, and sometimes "dino dictionary," as well as a did you know fun fact.

I found the devotion text to be tied in well to the Bible verse and the introduction of the dinosaur. The length, at about 3 paragraphs, was just enough to cover a small topic and not be overwhelming. I thought the journaling section was especially well done in that it suggested activities that children might actually do (and maybe even want to do!).

There are also illustrations for each dinosaur in full color. The illustrations are cute, but not realistic (for example, a t-rex holding a fork and knife). There's also some light foliage sprinkled around the illustrated dinosaur.

The book has a to/from dedication page and a ribbon bookmark for doing daily devotions easily. Overall, I think this devotional does a nice job of combining an interesting theme with relevant Bible verses that might help introduce children to devotionals, or encourage reading of devotionals in general.

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

You Are by Emily Assell, illustrated by Lauren Copple

You Are written by Emily Assell, illustrated by Lauren Coppleis a board book for "speaking God's Word over your children."

Eight of the spreads feature an attribute addressed to a child, such as "Sweet child, you are free" with the word or words following the phrase "you are" appearing in larger font. Then, an associated Bible verse that expresses the same sentiment appears in a much smaller font.

Each spread is illustrated with an adult animal and at least one child animal. The animals are very cute with a pleasant illustration style. The background is lightly patterned, but ultimately not distracting. The effect is a very simple spread with only the animals and the words to focus on.

The final spread is "Child of God, you are so loved" and contains seven verses in support of the statement, unlike the others that only have one.

The first spread is title page information, with a letter to parents that describes the power of the Word of God, including quoting scripture.

It seems like this is a book that can grow with children, by beginning with only reading the "you are" statements and then adding in the Bible verses as the child is ready to listen for a longer amount of time. It's a nice book with a good message, but it doesn't seem like it would be a favorite since there is no story line or consistent characters.

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

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Cow Said Neigh! A Farm Story by Rory Feek, Illustrated by Bruno Robert

The Cow Said Neigh! A Farm Story by Rory Feek, Illustrated by Bruno Robert is a short, easy to read children's picture book with adorable illustrations. The story tells the tale of animals on the farm, each that envies something that another animal has or does, in a "grass is always greener" type way. In response, the animal makes the sound of the animal it envies, and then the next spread shows the envied animal envying a different animal. It begins with a neighing cow, as the title suggests, jealous of the way that the horse runs openly while the cow is in the barn. The un-matched animal sounds rhyme with part of the stanza that describes why they wish they were a different animal. The chain ends with a cat wishing it was the farmer and the farmer being quite startled at hearing a cat say, "hello." Going to the barn, he quickly hears that the cat isn't the only animal making unusual sounds. Though at first perplexed, ultimately the farmer decides the only logical thing to do is play along, ending the book with a "moo!"

The illustrations are very well done, In what looks like colored pencil style shadings. The expressions of the animals is the best part--they are so enthusiastic in making their new animal sound that they close their eyes and open their mouth wide to belt it out. Meanwhile the animal who traditionally makes that call is looking on with interest, curiosity, and maybe even a little concern. The animal sounds are big colorful block text that makes it pop-off the page.

This book features a dedication page at the beginning for gifting the book.

Overall, I think it's a nice shake-up of children's books that teach animal sounds and would probably be quite surprising and funny for children to read/have read to them.

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

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cozy, Snowy Cuddles illustrated by Fransesca Pesci

Cozy, Snowy Cuddles is a 10-page touch and feel board book featuring a young polar bear. Each spread, the polar bear interacts with a child and adult animal of a different species that has a touch and feel element (narwhals, huskies, seals, moose, and finally other polar bears at the end). Each spread has a four line rhyming stanza. Most of the text is white, but key words pop out in a different color on each spread.

The text itself is just okay. It uses lots of different words within the snowy, cuddly theme about keeping warm and companionship. The ending spread says, "Thank God for cozy kisses! [...] We snuggle up with good night / hugs and whisper, 'I love you.'" This spread is the only one that doesn't rhyme. It's also the only one to mention God, and it's not a particularly strong use. I would have preferred a stronger Christian message from this book rather than something that can be brushed off as an insincere "thank God." Working it in to the I love you part, for example, would have been a better use. I've seen this pattern with putting God at the end just on one spread in a few of these Christian touch and feel style books, and it just feels like an afterthought rather than a focus.

The touch and feel of this book though is really well done. The textures are all actually different and really feel like the animal they represent. The cover even has some bonus glitter-texture snow.

Overall, this book is a good touch and feel book for young children. The illustrations are very cute, and though the text isn't anything spectacular, it does function just fine.  I'd still recommend this book especially for children who love winter or who are reluctant about it.

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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice Coloring Book illustrated by Julianne St. Clair

The Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice Coloring Book is wonderful, even the cat loves it!

The book has two features that really set it apart from any other coloring book: perforated pages (perfect for hanging up your art or sharing coloring time with others) and a wide variety of types of pictures to color. For example, there's word heavy pages that feature Bible verses, famous quotes, and fall themed word pages that require little more than filling in words and filling in a small border. My favorite of these even rolls over two pages and has a vertical orientation--two unique features all on one spread! Others have sprawling landscapes: a barn with a fence and trees, a river running through the forest with a mountain/sun in the background (two very similar pages, my only complaint), and pumpkins and apples at orchards. Indoor scenes such as books with hot cider, a fire place with a mantel decorated in pumpkins, and a door wreath. There are more abstract arrangements of leaves and mushrooms into a heart shape, intricate designs inside a giant leaf, and berries and blooms. There are a few animals featured including birds and owls, as well as one close up deer head. 

This coloring book also has a to and from page at the beginning, ideal for a thoughtful gift. The cover has some nice metallic green shine that make it look fancy enough to give as a gift, too. However, I think the truly special thing about this book is that with the perforated pages, you can color with family and friends, so it's really a gift to all!

Get your oranges, browns, and all of your dark yellows and reds ready--this book is all fall!

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Candy Apple Blessings illustrated by Maddie Frost

Candy Apple Blessings celebrates all of the fun things that happen in the fall. It is a 20-page board book with shiny foil accents on the cover.

Each spread covers a different fall topic and a five line stanza where the first three lines rhyme. The fourth line is a single word repeated three times, usually a sound associated with the topic, and the fifth is specifically says what the fall activity is.

Beginning with candy apples, as the title suggests, the other themes that follow are going back to school, getting bundled up in warm clothing, decorating the house, going on a hayride, playing in the leaves, picking pumpkins, navigating a corn maze, and visiting a fair with a petting zoo and games. The final spread follows the three rhyming lines pattern about praying before eating, but then deviates for the fourth and fifth line: "God, thank you for fall blessings!"

The illustrations are cute and have solid, distinct lines. However, within the illustration there is a lot of texture to the design, like lightly rubbing the side of a crayon on construction paper. The main featured animals are a cat, dog, and mouse that appear on each spread and on the cover. Other animals are sometimes repeated from activity to activity, but most appear only once.

Overall, the rhymes are decent, the topics are spot-on, and the illustrations are very pleasant. This book would be great for children who love fall, or even children who need some convincing to love fall.

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

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together is a Touch-and-Feel Trucks book, published by Tommy Nelson, the children's imprint of the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. It is a 12-page board book illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi.

The front cover features Tipper, the dump truck with rubber wheels to feel. The cover theme of construction is clear from the yellow and black stripes with industrial-looking screws. Tipper's jolly smile and eyes, plus bunnies and a bird keep things light and cheerful.

Inside, we meet three additional trucks, Dozer, Diggit, and Stretch the crane. Each page features easy-to-read rhyming text. Touch-and-Feel features include gritty sand (actually more of a non-shiny glitter glue, not like sand paper), more rubber wheels like the cover, reflective mirror windshields, shiny blue silver foil, shiny silver foil, and a final gritty roadway (same as the gritty sand earlier).

The text features lots of onomatopoeia: "Thud! Whomp! Crash!" Themes include helping each other, working fast, and getting the job done. The last line says, "God bless...Good night to each of you," which is the only Christian element of this book. It also doesn't rhyme with the last stanza. The animals from the cover show up on the last page, but are not mentioned in the text and are background as opposed to prominently featured.

Overall, this book had a decent variety of feels to touch and the variety of trucks was good. The rhymes were easy and fun to read, especially the onomatopoeia. I would recommend this to children who like trucks.

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

Friday, July 6, 2018

Create! A Girl’s Guide to DIY, Doodles, & Design

True to its name, Create! A Girl’s Guide to DIY, Doodles, & Design breaks it’s content up into those three categories. The 28 DIYs include Pom Pom garland, felt-flowered mirror, cross string art, and my favorite, book page embroidery. The 11 doodles include how to create your own hand-lettering style, Bible verse poster, and one I find particularly interesting, progressive drawing. The 15 designs include glitter button earrings, silverware organizer jewelry holder, and several duct tape projects.

Each project has at least one full color photo, a description of the project, a materials list, and step by step instructions. Some include additional elements such as helpful hints, ways to jazz it up, and rarely, Bible verses.

The Christian projects include steps instructing prayer during the process as well.

In the back of the book there is an index of materials that lists each project that uses the material underneath. Because each uses multiple materials, I think this would mostly be helpful for shopping and knowing, for example, if you find a deal on picture frames that two different projects use them.

The book is a good suze, brightly colored, and would make a really fun gift for a child who loves crafting, but for parents who need a little help with ideas. This book is a great way to express creativity, but most would require heavy adult participation, at least until the reader is in her teens.

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Breath of Hope by Lauraine Snelling

A Breath of Hope is the second book of the Under Northern Skies series by Lauraine Snelling. It continues the story of the Carlson family—Rune, Signe, Bjorn, Knute, Leif, and Kirstin—who are still adapting to their new life after leaving Norway for America in the first book. Challenges continue with the difficult uncle they had moved there to help, as their relationship with the aunt and their new community continues to grow.

At first, the book is divided between their story and a story back in Norway where other relatives put plans in motion to join them in America. Raising money for the voyage was difficult, but eventually Rune's younger siblings Nilda and Ivar were able to save enough for one ticket, the other paid on credit from uncle Einar.

When they arrive, they quickly learn about Einar's terrible temper and how the community had been pushed away. Through the book though, the family learns to stand up for themselves more and more, while still trying to be loving to their family members no matter how difficult. When Einar suffers an injury, things become even more tense with him around the house all the time. The Carlson begin to work on their new house and the community steps into help, too.

This book is called A Breath of Hope for the way that despite everything that has happened, the family works to repair relationships and support one another and the community.

The story itself is pretty slow moving, with most just telling about everyday work around the house, farm, and in the woods cutting down trees. There is some drama and scandal early on, hints of future love interests for Nilda, and things do pick up in the last three chapters. Overall, the family is an interesting one to read about, but it really drug on in the middle for me. Sometimes it seemed hastily put together, as my mother pointed out when she read it in a minor plot line of Rune attempting to make skis, he mentioned that his father had made some in Norway, but then soon after says that his father hadn't made skis.

"You made skis before?"
Rune shook his head. "We used the ones my far made but could not bring them along. I know he used hickory..." (51)

"Rune checked in the press he had build to turn up the tips of the skis after he had soaked the planes and smoothed black ash. How would he know when it was dry? If only here were someone he could ask for advice. His far had not made skis, although he made anything else that was needed out of wood." (88)

Though it doesn't affect the story at all, this and other instances made the story feel as though it were rushed. I often felt that details were provided were completely unnecessary and slowed he story down.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first in the series, as I felt it was very true to the series. Though this book was a little disappointing for me, I would still look forward to reading the next in the series because of the set up this book provided for future stories.

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

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Go to Sleep, Sheep illustrated by Sydney Hanson

“The silly sheep in Bedtime Barnn don’t want to go to bed! Will they ever tire out?”
Go to Sleep, Sheep is described as being a book to relax children who insist they are not sleepy. The pages describe in cute rhyming stanzas how the four young sheep delayed bedtime by asking for more playtime, snacks, eater, stories, and finally praying before snuggling into the hazy for the night. Most pages end with, “Go to sleep, Sheep!” Though two pages break from that trend to say “Ready for sleep, Sheep?” At the beginning and "Sweet dreams, sheep” at the end.

The illustrations by Sydney Hanson are cute and fit the calming mood of the book. Other animals from the barn are also included in the illustrations, though not mentioned in the text. These include a curled up cat, a bright-eyed baby pig, a foal and it’s mother, a calf and it’s mother, and even a baby goat with it’s mother. The pokey hay are the only sharp lines in the book, everything else is rounded without texture. Each of the sheep have a different accessory to make them unique: one with glasses, one with a scarf, one with a hair bow, and one that has one, matching the mother sheep.

The cutest moment is when a little sheep tells her mother that she loves her most of all.

This is a sturdy board book cut out in the shape of a barn.  The moon on the cover is glittery. This story is just the right length for bedtime.

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

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, illustrated by Justin Skeesuck and Matt Waresak

The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, illustrated by Justin Skeesuck and Matt Waresak is a picture book about two boys who bond over a love of baseball. One of the boys is in a wheelchair, but it doesn’t get in the way of their fun times.

John, the boy in the wheelchair, entertains his friend Marcus with jokes that are shared in the book. He also helps him with. Marcus make sure that John is always included and doesn’t have to sit out of activities. Marcus feeds, dresses, and pushes John in his wheelchair. 

“I push you in a wheelchair, but you push me to be a better person,” (26).

This book has a lot of text and small print, meant to be read to a child. I think this story would be great for a child in a wheelchair, children who go to school with someone in a wheelchair, or just any child as an example of how to be helpful and kind.

Even the illustrations live out the message of the book. On the last page there is a page called “The Story behind the Artwork,” which explains that author Patrick Gray and illustrator-friend Justin Skeesuck created this book together, not letting Justin’s inability to use his hands due to a progressive disease stop them. They found illustrator Matthew Waresak who ha a similar art style to Justin to outline the illustrations and then Justin used a voice responsive program to fill them in with watercolors. The end result is beautiful on the page, and in its message. 

I highly recommend this book for older children due to the large amount of text. Some pages have several paragraphs of around 4 sentences. 

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

Monday, April 30, 2018

I Love You, Little One by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman

I Love You, Little One by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman is a padded board book in the Really Woolly brand.

It features 19 spreads each with a title that begins with “I Love You” and then roughly describes a theme, such as “I Love You to Love Others” and “I Love You When You’re Playing.”  A short Bible verse is followed by a two-stanza (four lines each) poem and a small illustration. The facing page has a short two-line prayer and a large illustration.

I found the themes to not be very distinct—you couldn’t really match them to specific situations. Instead, you’d probably pick one at random to read to a child. The poems are just okay.

The illustrations are the highlight of this book. They are colorful pastels featuring the Really Woolly animals. My favorites show a little duck with a newspaper folded into a sailor hat and two mice wheeling a wagon of marshmellows to toast over a fire.

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

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

Where the Fire Falls: A Vintage National Parks Novel by Karen Barnett tells the story of painter Olivia Rutherford set in the 1920s. The story is part mystery part adventure part drama, but mostly romance.

Olivia is trying to hide a dark secret of her family’s past, but circumstances keep bringing the past to the present. In a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity, Olivia is contacted to paint Yosemite for a magazine—all expenses paid. On top of that, het art dealer has found a wealthy couple to invest in her work, and they agree to go to the park with her to pose for her paintings.

Olivia becomes fast friends with the wife, but the husband is full of bad intentions. Park guide Clark becomes more than a friend after initially dismissing Olivia’s high-soceity persona. The real Olivia cares not for status or fame, but just to support her two younger sisters through school.

Paintings are destroyed, a body appears at the bottom of a crevice, and a kidnapping round out the intense second half of the book. Old friends and old enemies both appear in unexpected drama-filled ways.

The romance portion of the story is predictable and less interesting than the other parts of the book. Some of the drama was a little over the top and really stretched my suspension of disbelief. The burning question of this novel is never resolved.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the park. I would’ve loved to see this book as full-color with showing the paintings. The way they were described made me really want to see it. I’d recommend this book as an adventure for fans of Yosemite.

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Finding Gobi for Little Ones" by Dion Leonard, illustrated by Lisa Manuzak

Finding Gobi for Little Ones is a 24-page board book. The pages are flimsy board for older children, which the publisher suggests is appropriate for ages 4-8. Notably, this is the same range as the paper children's book version, Gobi: A Little Dog with a Big Heart.

All versions of this book (also including an adult version and a young reader's version Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey) tell the true story of an adult ultramarathon runner, Dion Leonard, running a race in the Gobi desert and encountering a little dog that runs along with him. He names the dog Gobi and she runs the entire race with him, facing challenges such as a dangerous river crossing. The theme throughout is repeated that they will be forever friends.

This version of the book has the same illustrations as Gobi, the paper children's book version. However, there is just over half of the amount of text, suggesting that though the publisher classifies this as the same age range, this is the younger version of the book (also because it has board book pages). There is less dialogue and the text more closely relates to the illustrations.

Of the three children's versions of the book, this one is my favorite. I really enjoyed the illustrations, with the adorable Gobi pup winking, begging, and jumping for joy. The amount of text is just right, without including unnecessary additional text. I do like that the young reader's version gave a more full account of what happened after the race (and the paper version even had an author's note explaining some of the aftermath as well). However, the core of this story is the race and the incredible dog that could keep up with the runners.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: "The Knot Yours Truly" by Carley Roney and the editors of

This book is primarily wedding photos and is essentially a large magazine. It is broken into three sections: defining your style, real weddings, and crafts.

The defining your style section is the most brief at 12 pages, but it packs the most text per page. Most of the information is very basic (defining formality, choosing a color or theme, etc.). It also definitely spends time plugging the website: "sign up for notifications from The Knot--we'll send you a list of to-dos tailored to where you are in the planning process along with tons of inspiration" (20). However basic this section may be, it is a very exciting time so it might be nice to read anyway.

Nearly 160 pages of "real weddings" make up the largest part of this book. That's all it's described as in the table of contents, but at the beginning of the actual section it breaks it down further into bohemian, classic, eclectic, glam, modern, romantic, and rustic. Personally I would have preferred this information to be in the main table of contents for ease of access, but it's not that inconvenient. Each section covers several couples' weddings, including quotes from the couple, and tons of pictures of invitations, centerpieces, dresses, tuxes, and cakes. At the end of each section there's a "blueprint"page that suggests colors, flowers, paper, attire, menu, venues, and favors that match the style. This seems like a very helpful overview for anyone really looking for advice on what type of flowers or colors.

The crafts section is really cute. From save-the-date clay magnets to a breakfast-to-go basket for out of town guests, this is a great idea for the creative couple looking to put their personal touch on their wedding. However, each of these crafts is only one page of typed instructions and one full-page picture. So don't expect step by step pictures to help you progress.

There's also an index and a list of the venues and photographers used, which is helpful.

Overall, yes, all of this information is also available from other sources for free and probably even more useful online, such as The Knot or Pinterest. However, this book would make a really nice gift for a newly engaged couple excited to start dreaming of their wedding together. This would also be really fun to browse through with a recently engaged friend (or soon to be).

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Touch and Feel Night Night, Farm by Amy Parker, illustrated by Virginia Allyn

Touch and Feel Night Night, Farm is a 10-page board book. The front and back covers are very sturdy and the inside pages are sufficiently sturdy. You won’t have to worry about this book getting bent or ripped, which is good given the touch and Feel style is usually for very young children. The title features read and blue foil and the sun is glittery gold.

Each spread of pages features a four line rhyming poem ending with animal noises following the pattern of “Night Night, Farm,” such as “oink oink, pigs.”  The rhymes are cute and sometimes mention a number of animals features or use a texture word, so there are some learning opportunities. The last page says, “oh, the animals God has made! And, hey, He made me too! Night Night, God.”

A sheep has fuzzy white wool, a pig has a cloth tummy, stars and sun are glittery gold, a horse has fine hair, a cat has longer hair, sheep dream bubbles are glittery white, chickens have red foil, a hay ride has a slight indent, and the last page has foil glitter moon and stars and a cloth blanket. Most of the touch and Feel elements are really good, but the soup-can tractor pulling a hayride only has a slight indentation and it took me a long time to notice it. I don’t think kids will be interested in the minute difference. Also, the glitter being repeated was a bit disappointing especially because that’s so common in many children’s books.

Overall though, I’d recommend this book. Touch and Feel books are so fun to read with children and this one is no exception. I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Prayer Bible ICB Review

The Prayer Bible is an International Children's Bible (ICB). The cover designs are metallic gold and there is a cloth blue ribbon bookmark.

Though it has "large readable type" that is much easier to read than an adult bible, it is still probably only 10-point font. The pages are thin as in most Bibles, which may be challenging for children to get used to.

There are 160 pages in the Bible focused on prayer. These are a full page focused on a particular topic, with a scriptural reference point to start, followed by several paragraphs of text explaining an aspect of prayer, such as "Your Will." There's also "Prayer Pointers": "We don't always know what to pray for, but God always knows what is best for us!" (16). These pages are lightly decorated with a stems of leaves.

There are 64 colored pages of poem prayers, scripture prayers, and kid's Q&A's related to prayer. The only real added color though is gold, but it is prominently featured as a decorative border on several pages, and as an accent on others.  The prayers are relatively short, but are one-per-page. An example of a question answered in this Bible is "What if I am afraid God si not going to answer? Should I pray anyway?"

There is a key verse highlight section that directs the reader to passages based on a topic keyword, such as "bravery," "healing," "love," "rejoicing," and "salvation." Throughout the Bible, these "key verses" are highlighted in blue. The Lord's Prayer is printed in easy-to-read language with the scriptural reference printed at the top.

Each book of the Bible features blue titles and chapter numbers. There are footnotes throughout. I was disappointed that there's no child-friendly introduction to each book of the Bible.

There is a dictionary at the end that is also a directory of scriptural references to the word mentioned. The dictionary explains who people are, as well places and words like "amen." There's also two pages of "What God Promises About..." which features a category (e.g., "forgiveness,""my prayers," "wisdom") with verses printed out and where they are located in the Bible. There are three pages of "Memory Verses for My Life." There are several blank ruled pages for prayer requests at the end, followed by two more prayers and Q&A pages.

It comes with a 64-page ruled prayer journal that has a kite in the top left corner of the left side of the spread and a hot air balloon in the bottom right of the right page. The inside of the journal's design and lines are printed in blue.

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

Friday, January 26, 2018

With Love, From Me to You by Mary Manz Simon, illustrated by Corinna Ice

With Love, From Me to You is a board book that shows how to love one another in various situations and also how God shows love to us.

A polar bear mail carrier visits a new little animal each spread of pages, encountering animals who are sad, shy, and angry, delivering letters sealed with hearts. The book then talks about how we feel God's love and how our outward kindness shows God's love to others. The text it given through four lines of rhyming text on each spread. The language is easy enough, but not confined to short words, either.

The cover has red foil for the title and hearts on the cover, which adds a nice little touch of shiny. The pages are not completely stiff, so this book is a good transition from a hard board book to books with real paper.The illustrations are adorable with all sorts of little animals holding letters sealed with hearts, helping elderly animals, hugging one another, and playing together.

This book would be a cute gift for valentine's day or any other time, really. As the back of the book says, it's a "sweet reminder to little ones how important it is to love and be loved."

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

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Crown The Official Companion by Robert Lacey

Written by royal biographer Robert Lacey, The Crown the Official Companion covers everything you might wonder after watching the Netflix show. Volume 1: Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen covers the years 1947–1955, corresponding with season one of the show.

The book is broken into 10 chapters, one for each episode. Each chapter contains history surrounding the events of the show, and most interestingly describes any deviations the show has from the historical record. For example, chapter one explains that Phillip had really given up his title several months before the wedding, but the show condensed the timeline. For each deviation, Lacey explains what really happened and why it is portrayed differently in the show.

Throughout the chapter there are short biographical blurbs of various related people, or blurbs about specific moments or general history. One about “educating Elizabeth” lasts several pages. These blurbs are more about specific history and relate less to the show/specific episode. 

There are black and white photos throughout, both historical and from the show. Sometimes they are not captioned, which is a little annoying to not know the context. Another small problem with the pictures is that in Phillip and Elizabeth’s wedding picture, which spreads across two pages, the caption specifically regrets to Queen Marry being behind and between the bride and groom, but you can’t see her at all because it’s right in the book’s gutter. There are also two color inserts. Overall, the amount of photos is generous and what you would hope for in this type of book. 

This book also provides other resources, such as a family tree, a royal timeline,a list of the cast (including a category of fictitious characters added), recommended further reading on the history,and an index. 

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

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tora Fright Patches Things Up by Tracey Madder, illustrated by Bonnie Pang

Tora Fight Patches Things Up is a children’s book from a series called “Prayer Monsters.” Tora, the second youngest of five siblings, is described as being the one who always reminds her siblings to pray. However, when her baby brother accidentally destroys an art project she’d worked so hard on, it takes her mother’s gentle reminder for Tora to pray. Tora asks God for help in forgiving her brother and then apologizes to him. Together, they rebuild the art project.

After the story, the last page has Ephesians 4:32—“Be king to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”

The story is told through short paragraphs, usually about three sentences per page. Some have more, especially if the other page of the spread doesn’t have any words. The illustrations are colorful and cute. The monster family has a home just like a human, complete with family photos and bookshelves.

Before the story begins, there is a chapter introduction of three of the siblings, each devoted their own page. After the story, the other two children are featured. These character descriptions provide more background and detail to individualize the characters.

This is a pleasant book to read and I thought the message was very well done.

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