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review 2018-08-21 01:09
Who Was David?
Kingdom Files: Who Was David? - Matt Koceich

Marketed as a “biblically accurate biography”, I had some issues with this particular installment in the series. Although I understand the author’s intent to portray David as the “man after God’s own heart” role model that he was, I felt that there was not enough acknowledgement of his mistakes. For instance, the entire episode with Bathsheba and Uriah and the fact that David had many wives were both left out entirely. While these are not necessarily age appropriate fodder for 8-12 year olds, I think that some sensitive mention could be made regarding David’s struggle with sin; it seemed that David was written too idealistically. The biographical section of the book was, in my opinion, a bit confusing and dry for adolescents; the “clues” contained details critical to the story rather than shedding additional light on the narrative, and there was no real tie-in between David’s story and the reader until the power-ups section at the end of the book. Engaging the reader in David’s life story would have made it more appealing and interesting, and including some basic maps along with the nicely-done illustrations would have dispelled some of the confusion of David’s often nomadic life. With all of that being said, however, I honestly did not entirely dislike this book. I think that with a few tweaks it could be as wonderful as some of the others in this series. As it is, I would highly recommend that adults read this story with their kids to answer questions and make things more clear, as well as to help with name pronunciation. This would make a nice study for Vacation Bible School or Sunday School, especially by using each of the ten “power-up” lessons and each one’s accompanying Bible verse as a guide and structuring in the relevant parts of David’s story with each.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-08-21 01:05
Who Was Esther?
Kingdom Files: Who Was Esther? - Matt Koceich

“Who Was Esther?” proves to be a delightful resource and introduction to this influential biblical figure for those aged 8-12. Esther was a great choice to include in the Kingdom Files series because she is very relatable. She was an orphan raised by her older cousin Mordecai, and she did not come from a particularly high station in life. Furthermore, she was Jewish, and the major backdrop of her story revolves around the persecution that her people faced. Despite all of this, she acted courageously and trusted God, making her an incredible role model. This is underscored throughout the narrative with pertinent Scripture that is infused into the writing, and with tie-ins to Jesus and to God’s role in Esther’s story despite His not being explicitly mentioned in the biblical book. Clues scattered throughout the biographical section offer further explanations and insights, and cute illustrations help bring the account to life. The story itself is followed by a section of ten “power-ups”, each with a memory verse, which includes lessons to learn from Esther’s life and how it relates to how God is working in our lives. This would make a very nice study for Vacation Bible School or Sunday School. My only criticisms are that a pronunciation guide is needed for the names of some of the people, and a kid-friendly Bible translation would be much more appropriate for the verses that go along with the power-ups.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

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review 2018-08-02 22:12
Thornhill by Pam Smy
Thornhill - Pam Smy,Pam Smy

This is another book I randomly picked off the shelves when I went to the library for the first time in six months. I was drawn in by the spine. All I saw was it was completely black with Thornhill written in bright white font. Once I flipped through the book and saw it was also told through illustrations, I decided to read it right there and then. And I was not disappointed.

 

Thornhill is told through two perspectives. The first is Mary, an orphaned girl living in the Thornhill Institute during 1982, and is being viciously bullied by one of the other orphans. The second is Ella, a girl living next door to the ruined Thornhill Institute in 2016, who sees a little girl inside the institution and desperately wants to become her friend. What unfolds is a story about loneliness, anger, and pain these two must face in order to find their peace in the world.

 

This story is depressing. Pam Smy does not shy away from showing how terrible being the victim of bullying truly is. It hits the reader hard. Just reading about the pain Mary goes through, seeing her in pain, how lonely she is, it just hurts so much. With the fantastic artwork accompanying the story, brings that hurt alive. Smy is truly talented in weaving both the past and present into one narrative. I am in awe at her abilities to create a story not just through words but art as well.

 

Her characters are so amazing as well. I feel so strongly for Mary the most. She just wants a family to love and appreciate her and because of how quiet she is, she is treated so poorly. Not just by the other orphans, but by the adults as well. But she is such a kind, gentle soul. She loves creating dolls to be her friends and it's truly magical. I adore her. Ella is also kind and gentle. She works so hard in befriending the girl she sees next door and I love that her instinct was to be friends and not to judge her. Smy's characters are lovely and it makes me feel all the more for them.

 

I can't really dive into anything else that happens in this book because it's all about seeing how everything plays out for these two and how the two time periods become interwoven. All I will say that this is truly a tragic story and if there's one thing you take away from reading this book is, if you see anyone being picked on or bullied, please say something. Get help. Being tormented day in and day out is no way to live. Please don't let anyone suffer. We are all on this planet to live as best we can. Let's try to make it a good place for everyone.

 

I really like this book for its art and story, and though it is quite a depressing read, I highly recommend you pick it up. There's violence, bullying, and child neglect involved so keep that in mind when reading this book. However, I do think it's worth the read and worth it for the art as well. It's absolutely stunning!

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review 2018-07-27 13:37
My Name Is Parvana (The Breadwinner, #4) by Deborah Ellis
My Name Is Parvana - Deborah Ellis

And with My Name Is Parvana, this amazing series comes to an end. I had an wonderful and heartbreaking experience reading this series and I would reread these books again and again for years to come. I adored all of these books. Each one has a very important story to tell. Each one is a story that must be told. All four books contain a message, a story, a lesson which we should learn about the people living in Afghanistan, especially the women.

 

Deborah Ellis did a fantastic job in researching the country of Afghanistan. She went above and beyond to bring their stories to life for Western audiences to understand the atrocities that happen there. I love her writing style so much. It's blunt. She doesn't shy away from telling you that women are being tortured, raped, and murdered constantly. And though these books contain such heavy topics, I think it's important that we read them. Not just adults, but children, too. It's important that we read and understand that these things happen in the world and from learning about these horrible acts, we can prevent them from happening in the future. These books teach us that through education, through acceptance and love and empathy, we can get to a better place and help each other to find said place. Ellis writes her characters to be such brave and loving people.

 

Seeing Parvana and how strong and brave she has become by the end of this series is so wonderful. I love how she fought so hard despite all the hardships thrown her way. In fact, so many characters in this book continue to get up and fight even if it seems hopeless. Asif, Sauzia, Mrs. Weera, Parvana, they are such amazingly strong and brave characters. So real and authentic. I admire them greatly. I won't go on about how much I love these characters because that will bring me to spoiler territory, but you should definitely read these books to find out how these characters come together to overcome all the strife surrounding their lives.

 

If you've read all the previous books, then continue on. This book gives the read hope. Not a false hope either. It's not telling you things are going to be better from this point on. It's telling you that life is cruel and messy and sometimes, you want to just give up. But if you can find the strength to keep going, it'll all be worth it. It's a fantastic series if you want to learn more about Afghanistan or the women living therein. It's a great series if you want to find just a little bit of hope out there. I highly recommend you read The Breadwinner series. They are such amazing books!

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review 2018-07-27 05:43
Treasure Hunt House
Treasure Hunt House: Lift the Flaps and Solve the Clues… - Kate Davies,Becca Stadtlander

I meet a couple of friends once a week for coffee/chai/chocolate and today one of them said "want to go to the bookstore afterwards?"

 

...

 

I assumed it was a rhetorical question.  Anyway, this friend has 2 small kids so we of course gravitated to the kids section, where she bought nothing, and I bought this book.

 

For myself. 

 

It has flaps. 

 

It has clues.

 

It has riddles.

 

Did I mention it had flaps?  Flaps are almost as good as pop-ups!  

 

The book is beautiful, with a gorgeous spread and multiple flaps for each room of a house owned by an obviously very wealthy Great Aunt Martha.  Behind each flap is a little fact about the object on the flap and they cover a multitude of subjects: art, music, inventions, history, and fashion.  

 

Each spread also contains a clue to one of the flaps - this was, unfortunately, the most disappointing aspect of the book as the clues seemed easy to the point of insulting.  Yes, yes, this is supposed to be a kids book, so the clues reflect that, I know.  But the clues' simplicity seem disproportionate to the relative maturity of the facts the other flaps contain.  There are a few concepts (like BC and AD, or royal executions as examples) that  imply a higher level of education than clues that consist of "Stop Press! Read all about it! The answer is here in black and white!", which is easy enough that I don't even have to tell you the answer.  Although perhaps in this digital age I'm giving kids too much credit.  

 

Regardless, the facts were great but the clues too easy.  But the book is lovely and I can't wait to show it to my nieces.

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