Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Little Life of Jesus (Kregel Books via Candle Books/Lion Hudson)

First, when it's a kids books, the BOOK matters. This is a book that is designed for kids. It's 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches. It's a padded book cover. It has a Presented To: page as the opening page. The paper is a glossy thick durable page.  It has a Contents page, has page numbers, and headings throughout the book.  The illustrations and color choices are clear, look computer layered/generated, but are appealing, and add to the book content.  It's a nice book to hold and very kid centered.

This book is targeted for children ages 3-5 and the simple facts and illustrations go along with that age group.  The content is accurate (i.e. the wise men visit Jesus as a young boy, not a newborn).  I love that in the middle of the book there is a map of the places Jesus travels with images to depict events in each location.  This is so key to knowing about Jesus life and ministry, but often isn't discussed until adult level.  I like the choices in sharing Jesus life, you have the Lord's Prayer, parables, miracles, and it continues on through his appearances after the Resurrection and ends with His return to heaven.

The author consistently uses simple child like vocabulary. I wish sin was used instead of 'bad things' and I would have liked a little more depth in the explanation of who Jesus is (God and yet man) and His purpose on earth. The book portrays Him as a healer, a kind helpful man, who made special friends and who was a special friend/king, he was killed and rose again, and went to be with His heavenly Father.  I prefer more direct doctrine- words like sin, Savior, more explanations of His living a perfect sinless life, yet dying to redeem a fallen sinful world. I am most disappointed that this life story lacks a clear plan of salvation or gospel message.

I really appreciate that in this book that is a summary of Jesus life the references to the Bible passage that also talk about the summary statement.  I think as a parent and a teacher, that adds credibility and makes this a practical resource to read aloud, and even to teach from.   I also see this book as laying a solid foundation and life of Christ outline for young children. It could be a simple tool and most parents/teachers who share my desire to present more than moralistic teaching from biblical content, will easily add in their own statements about Jesus, man yet God, born to die for sinners such as we are, and who is our eternal King in Heaven preparing a place for all those who accept His gift of eternal life.  But I hope that some day publishers will not shy away from the full story and will use terms that are biblical and more complete in thought than 'bad' instead of sin. I want to let me kids see who God is and how Jesus life was orchestrated to rescue a fallen, sinful world.

I thank Kregel Publications for the opportunity to review this book, and even with it's limitations, my children will read this and I will likely use it in my Sunday School class.  It's a lovely life history with some great features.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Evangelism Bible from Kregel Publications

 I love study Bibles.  Evangelism is not my most natural spiritual gift, but years ago, I discovered EvanTell and their tips, strategies, and visuals to help share the gospel with others.  So I was thrilled at the chance to review this Bible.  

Bible Features:  
  • Glossary of Evangelism Terms
  • Concordance
  • A Gospel Presentation: Bad News/Good News
  • Color Maps (and an index)
  • In-depth teachings on specific passages
  • "how to" trainings
  • devotionals
  • study notes 
  • practical tips (and a list in the front of what's integrated in each bible book) 
I found this Bible full of practical study helps, relevant to normal reading, but geared towards living a gospel focused life.  The tips often show how to share God's glory and the gospel with others, but also are great reminders of how amazing a gift the Gospel is!  

As a visual learner, there are tips to show the truth with visuals and to help communicate with more than just our words. I appreciated that.  I love that all the lessons on how to share the gospel, are connected to the text, how better to share God's salvation than with the Word of God.  The concordance was thorough and practical, and the hard cover Bible seems sturdy and like it will stand up to a lot of travel and use over a lifetime of reading.  And while it's not about the content, an excellent and loved book, is best if it won't fall apart in the first year or two!  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Time of Jesus A lift a flap discovery book

author: Lois Rock  Illustrator: Lorenzo Orlandi
Published by Lions Children Books 2014
isbn 975-0-7459-6398-3

Early on in my kids life, my mom made the comment--- hmm-- books have to do something to appeal to kids these days-- and then she realized that books that do something, aren't hide to find!!

I was so pleased to be offered this book targeted towards 5-7 year old children, I happen to have two of those kids.  We read lift a flap books all the time.  But we only have a few lift a flap books that are biblical, and this might be the first one that is biblical, and not super simple and short.  So this mom, was happy to have some new read with me material!

First, it's a paper size board book (about 8 x11).  Structure/Appearance
It's a sturdy book, and it has a strong binding, you'd be surprised at how many lift a flap board books, fall apart after a few readings, and this one has been in our living room for a month, and it still looks new!  The flaps are sturdy and have clear tabs for opening, I know I'm not yet talking about the content, but as a mom of 4 kids, a book that will last, is worth a purchase!  The illustrations were not weird, but are friendly people cartoon but life like drawings. Sometimes in books like this the expressions on the people or the proportions distract or are creepy to children. These pictures were beautiful and seemed authentic, and are appealing to kids.

Second, this is titled a 'discovery book' and that it is!  I love that this is a book about Jesus life from birth to His Resurrection, and it also shares historical/cultural facts.  Things that kids will relate to, and will help build connections, vocabulary, and background information on the account of Jesus life. There are 2-7 flaps on each set of pages, so it's not so many that the parent dreads reading the book over and over, but it's enough to keep the kids engaged.  It also has depth, it starts with Jesus birth, growing up, farm life, eating with Zaccheus, the temple, the trial, and the garden.  So it is a complete view of Jesus life but a snapshot version for the young child.

I think it's a great read aloud for home or Sunday School. I plan to use it with our PreK class this next month as we study Jesus life.

It is an account that is biblical facts, but it does not quote scripture or have a bible reference in the entire book.  This did not bother me because it was accurate and factual and I didn't miss direct quotes or references.   But some parents may be expecting this, so I find it only fair to state this is the life of Jesus in facts and details, and it's interesting and biblically accurate, but not quotes from scripture.

I enjoyed this book, my 9 year old and 13 year old boys found it appealing enough to glance at it, but it was really my younger kids who enjoyed it, and they fit the targeted audience.  

I will look for other books like this in the future.  I was given this book in exchange for my honest review by Kregel publications, but I have shared my own thoughts and opinions, I was not required to write a favorable review.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Noah's Boat, a lift a flap board book from Kregel

The Good.. a beautiful, well illustrated, sturdy board book with sturdy pages, beautiful colors, and lift a flaps and hidden words.  A bit of rhyme, a question: Guess Who Noah? and the answers are the hidden animals.   It also gives clues about the animal under the flap and it will teach your kids to think critically as they see and hear about the animal on the pages.  It's a great young baby/toddler book.

The okay... it's a simple Noah's ark rhyme book.  Not really a lot of details, facts, or reference to the Biblical concepts that were a part of the flood, but it's audience is a 2-3 year old, so simple is alright and appealing.

The wonders... it's a really glossy/shiny sturdy board book, but I think because of the shimmer/shine, once little fingers and hands (maybe mouths) have been on this book, I'm not sure if the glossyness will be an asset or something that gets blurred and looks dirty faster than another book.   I also wonder if the point of this book is to teach a little bit about animals via a biblical story to appeal to a wider audience. If that's the case, it meets it's goal. If the goal is to show who God is and why we there was a flood, it's lacking all together.  That won't bother many readers, especially to this young child, but if you want a more biblical account, this isn't for you.

I was given this book to review by Kregel Publications, the review content is my thinking, and I was not required to do anything other than share my response to this book.  This is my opinion as a mom, teacher, and children's ministry leader. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tell Me All About Prayer

The good....beautiful illustrations, warm, friendly, colorful, and appealing.  Includes stickers and a cd.  Scripture References every few pages.  Book Formula- What is prayer, and then answers, and an end of book review, fill in the blank that my 6 year old was able to do after one reading.

The okay... the cd music is catchy, but some may consider it cheesy.  The conductor theme is clear on the CD, but my 6 year old boy didn't catch it in the book, and thought it was a policeman, and my 4 year old girl just looked at me.

The wonders... "Magic Genie" neither of my kids grasp this abstract concept that God isn't one.  The interpretation of prayer and the concepts brought out are too advanced for kids, yet not deep enough to be accurate and maybe oversimplified and therefore inaccurate.  (example my son had the stomach flu and vomiting the week we read this, and he prayed asking God to stop him from throwing up, and based on the book wasn't sure why he still threw up 3 more times, he asked God."

I would be very curious about other books in this series. I like the premise, but this is not my favorite tool to teach children about prayer.  I was given this book as a part of the Tyndale Review Network. All opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Unwrapping the Gift an Advent Book by Ann Voskamp

As a mom to four children, a teacher to many, many children in our local church and community, and as a born again believer, I've become focused on taking our holidays and emphasizing Who God is with each natural opportunity and season.  I love when a book can be a simple tool that will help me focus on this without a lot of effort on my part.   

Pinterest has provided many, many ideas to the point that you can be dizzy and crazed trying to implement the ideas unless you plan ahead!  I have prepared some years in the summer for advent, when our lives are relaxed and unfocused as teachers on break with their kids.  But even that is daunting to accomplish most years, if you want to live life focused on your family, not 'stuff.'  

Advent is a more liturgical tradition but as a teacher, any chance to use a cultural tradition and focus on learning, I love to capitalize on it!  And since young hearts and old alike, cannot  help but focus on Christmas for the month of December (and often November too!), why not take time to focus on the real joy of Christmas, the baby born in a manger, to save us from our sins.   It's a month long teachable moment, and when you focus on God's gift, more than your own gifts, your heart is set to glorify the Lord and not yourself.  Advent means waiting-- and why not focus on waiting for Jesus to come to fix our eyes on Who God is.  

So when Tyndale offered the opportunity to review a new advent book, this reading teacher, rejoiced that she could be blessed to get a book I would have purchased mailed to me on release day! I'm review #3 on amazon no less, even though I've been sick and dealing with sick kids all week!  Reading is always a joy and refocusing for me, and even more so when it turns my heart toward my Heavenly Father, and the truth is a great truth for Christmas, but also for ANY days.   

And the book has been such a hit, it's on sale for $14.99 on amazon. Please check, as the prices change daily sometimes.   The book is a hardcover, with thick pages, for little hands to use, it's a high quality format designed to last a long time.  

Here's my amazon review:

A beautiful unwrapping of Who God is, and how His perfect plan came to be from Genesis to the birth of Christ with a focus on God's great love, His plan of salvation, and His delight in each of His people. Written with imagery and analogies as we've come to expect from Ann Voskamp. But clearly it was written with our hearts and our response in mind, many practical images in both picture and word format, discussion questions, and family activities are included with each day's scripture, her story explanation, and her personal application concepts for the listener and the reader alike.

If you are worried that as a busy family, you will not have time for a daily reading, DON'T worry. I was able to read the entire book in just over an hour. I'm sure reading aloud would add a few minutes, but it is achievable. Each day has a scripture reading (in the book), then an explanation and focus on how God's love through the plan that His Son would come to earth to rescue us from our sins and provide salvation. I think that the readings would be most appropriate for elementary age children and above, but even preschoolers would grasp the big truths and connections day to day of God's gift for each of us.

Our family has done the Jesse tree before, but never like this. Be prepared to pause in reflection, thought, and to have your heart held as you recognize through Ann's interpretation, real life examples, and connections to traditional Christmas traditions (lights, singing, celebration, family, ...) intertwined with the truth from God's Word that God's plan is one of love, hope, for each of us from the beginning of time. The ornaments are available for purchase online or you can download a set from her website.

I appreciate that the book gives real scripture from the New Living Translation before a story version with practical application, this makes it unique compared to other storybook Bibles for families. It's definitely a beautiful devotional for an adult as well as our children. Simple, poignant, and relevant to our need to remember Who God is and how He blesses us every day in all things.

I was given this book to review as a part of Tyndale's blog network, but the favorable review is my own personal opinion and delight in a new advent book to share with my own family this December! (and I'm even thinking about sharing it with our Sunday School class as it gives a beautiful timeline of God's redemptive plan).

Thanks for stopping by.  It's a pleasure to share new resources with others who want to Whisper the Word with others.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Candle Bible Handbook...a review

I love the opportunity to review a book, especially one that could be used by children or adults.  I wasn't at all sure what to expect from a 'Bible handbook."  But I was impressed as soon as I opened it.

This book is a high quality book, a sturdy cardstock like cover that has tabs that could mark your place in the book, and the inside pages are a heavy high quality shiny paper.  So from the start it has a great look and feel.

This Bible handbook is an overview of all the books of the Bible.  Each book has an Outline, FAQ, Look out for, and Study Questions. There are also pictures throughout- some are real images and some are detailed and beautiful drawn illustrations, all have captions.

In addition there are also some solid overviews and timelines, that pull together some of the big concepts in the Bible. (like Jesus miracles, parables, the tabernacle, Jerusalem,...)  The appendix at the end shares some other helpful info like key Bible characters, key passages/promises, and key big ideas in the Bible.

I know other reviewers were puzzled as to the target or audience of this book, and I would say it is for a new Bible reader or a repeat Bible reader who wants support.  It's a nonfiction book that is meant to pull together the concepts, books, and people of the Bible together. In some ways it could be like a 'cliff notes', I think that when you start reading through the Bible, many people need support to build connections, summarize, and synthesize their reading.  Many people just give up when they read their Bible alone.  This book would definitely help bridge the gap for a lay person who wants support or guidance as he reads the Bible for the first time, or the tenth time, but with a new purpose in mind.  

This book would help you choose a theme or concept and see it across both the Old Testament and New Testament. Or if you wanted to read the Bible through in a year, it would help give you an overview and focus, even comprehension checks as you complete a book reading.

So many people who read the Bible lack formal Bible education and are afraid to seek support, or even choose a helpful study Bible. This book would fill in that gap, is a great visual resource, as well as a synthesis several layers of the Bible.  I believe it would be a helpful resource for children or adults who are reading through the Bible.

I believe that when I do a book study I will consult the overview in this book for my own personal study, and I know that when I teach Sunday School or children, this book will have helpful images, charts, and definitions as I prepare to lead a discussion.  I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.

I was given this book as a part of Kregel's blog tour, all ideas and opinions are my own.