Tag Archives: Children

Book Review: The Berenstain Bears Easter Magic by Stan & Jan Berenstain

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The Berenstain Bears Easter Magic by Stan & Jan Berenstain is an early reader book originally printed in 1997. It’s targeted at families with young kids to help them learn to read. The artwork is typical Berenstain Bears, which means that everything is well drawn and the characters are expressive.

As this is an early reader book, it has a rhyming style so every two lines rhyme and follow the same meter. The story starts with the onset of Spring, but quickly leads into a visit from the Easter Bunny and candy. As always, the authors leave with a quick message. In this case, the message is not to eat too much candy.

My Take: It’s an early reader book. If you like the Berenstain Bears and tend to celebrate Easter with bunnies and candy, it could be useful to assist your younger children with reading. It’s not going to be a deep read by any means. It’s short and could make for a quick bedtime read. Personally, we don’t celebrate bunnies at Easter so this isn’t going to be in my “must buy” list, but I realize that it could appeal to others.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on the part of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: Camp ABC: A Place for Outdoor Fun by Zora and David Aiken

Camp ABC: A Place for Outdoor Fun

Camp ABC: A Place for Outdoor Fun is a short picture book aimed at children younger than 6 that gives 26 ideas about what can be done outside. This follows the letters of the alphabet and includes animal-spotting, canoeing, and so on. It’s definitely designed for early readers to correlate letters of the alphabet with different outdoor activities. This book is designed to be read together with a parent as some of the words are definitely beyond an early reader. The illustrations are reasonable for this style of book and I think they’d be appealing to younger readers following along.

My Thoughts: I think that there could have been better activities to correspond to some of the letters. There seemed to be a lot of examples involving boating. While that can be fun, I think that a little more variety instead of canoeing, kayaking, and rowing (for example) could have been used, especially with the book being so short. I don’t have a child at home that fits the target age range, but if I did I could see this being something we could read together. Our family likes camping so this would be a good fit for us. If your family doesn’t do much outdoors, you might use this to get some ideas of things to try, but it likely wouldn’t be a good fit otherwise.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy with no expectations on the part of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: I Hate Picture Books by Timothy Young

I Hate Picture Books by Timothy Young is a relatively short illustrated book aimed at the young reader just growing out of the “picture book” phase. We are introduced to our protagonist who exclaims at great length about how much he hates picture books and how ridiculous they are. Mr. Young throws out some great reminders of our childhood favorites, including Green Eggs and Ham, Are You My Mother, and others. Many books show up throughout the story in the background, which will bring a smile to parents. Some of the situations given are silly enough to get a laugh out of younger readers. The ending is very appropriate for the story and will get a smile from parents reading this with their children.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this. It’s short, but well illustrated. I could pick out several favorite picture books throughout this book, which made it more enjoyable. I shared it with my kid, who is older than the target audience, and she enjoyed it. It won’t be her favorite book, but she caught the references and laughed at the silly parts. I’d say this is definitely worth a read for kids who are on the verge of outgrowing picture books. It reminds us of the silliness of those books, but also the things that make us love them.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on behalf of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way by someone else.

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Book Review: The Action Bible Handbook by David C. Cook

The Action Bible Handbook: A Dictionary of People, Places, and Things

The Action Bible Handbook by David C. Cook is the companion to The Action Bible. It’s a dictionary for those reading the Action Bible to help them understand the people, places, events, and beings discussed in the Bible. It’s arranged alphabetically by topic. The details are sufficient to help children understand a little more about what’s going on, giving details about the people, history, or events as appropriate. There are links provided to both The Action Bible and to the verses in other Bibles.

There are a handful of illustrations throughout the book. Because this book is designed as a dictionary more than something to sit down and read, the pictures are all well done, but limited to one every page or two. The definitions sometimes give several examples, such as the definition for Diseases. Other times, they just provide the basics, such as with Donkeys. The references sometimes are a bit broad, such as entire books of the Bible, but more often point to specific chapters or verses.

My Take: I like this as a Bible Dictionary resource for children. The amount of detail is just right for them to better understand the terms they’ll come across in the Bible. I do see a couple of things that felt missing to me. Maps just don’t seem to show up at all. For those of us in America, it’s hard to relate to the places as easily. Showing some of those locations and why that location is important would have been a nice to have in some cases. I was also a little disappointed that for as many Biblical names as the dictionary includes, there was no pronunciation guide for those names. That would be really helpful for times when we hit a really unfamiliar name. Overall, though, I liked the resource. Those issues are minor compared to the value the book does provide.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on anyone’s part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: The Action Bible Devotional by Jeremy Jones

The Action Bible Devotional: 52 Weeks of God-Inspired Adventure

The Action Bible Devotional by Jeremy Jones contains 52 devotions based on The Action Bible. Each devotional section contains a selection from The Action Bible in graphic novel format, a key verse, a look at how this applies to our lives today, some activities to bring it all together, some questions, and a place to write what you’ve learned. Finally there’s an application to share what you’ve learned with others or to focus on the bigger picture.

The verses come from the New Living Translation of the Bible. The book is well illustrated with a great graphic novel format to highlight the passages in the Bible. They tell enough of the story to capture the important points without becoming inappropriate for kids. This doesn’t replace actual Bible reading, but can be a great resource to do some weekly devotions as a family or even individually. The order of the devotional readings seems to be based on the traditional ordering of the books in the Bible, not the actual historical order.

My Take: I really like this format for devotional readings for kids. Even for adults, I think there’s enough to think about in the questions that it’s worth reading with your family. The stories tie in well with the devotional reading and I really like the way they are tied to our modern lives. I wouldn’t get into the habit of using The Action Bible or this devotional in place of regular Bible reading, but I can see this being a useful supplement to help with regular reading.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on anyone’s part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: The Missing Cuckoo Clock by Lynda Beauregard

The Missing Cuckoo Clock: A Mystery about Gravity

The Missing Cuckoo Clock by Lynda Beauregard is the 5th in the Summer Camp Science Mystieries series of books. Here we join the kids at Camp Dakota and meet our newest camper, Megan. We learn more about gravity throughout the book, starting with how gravity powers a cuckoo clock.

Throughout the book, we see the kids being kids – doing the sort of things that kids would do at summer camp. They swim, and we learn about center of gravity. We learn a bit about how gravity can compress our spines throughout the day as Megan learns she isn’t tall enough to ride a horse. The kids make a gravity-powered clock using water and some cups. We even learn a bit about how gravity affects everything the same, though other properties such as surface area can work to counteract those effects.

The book is well illustrated – definitely a graphic novel as opposed to just a comic book. The key points are called out in a separate panel to draw attention to them, but never in a long, drawn-out way. The explanations work well for the elementary-aged target group and the book is filled with small bits of humor to keep the kids entertained. It’s not a long read, but introduces some basic concepts of gravity and physics to kids. There are some experiments and questions at the end of the book to help the readers solidify their understanding or to try out some of the concepts.

My Take: I think this is a pretty good resource for younger kids to start learning some basics of gravity. It’s not a text book, but if this is something that the kids need to understand, it can be an aid to get them interested to learn more about it in a fun manner. I actually look forward to reading through some more of this series. They’re short reads, entertaining, and I think well-produced for this age group.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on anyone’s part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

The 13-Story Treehouse

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton, is definitely a book aimed at the elementary aged child. The illustrations are amusing and seem to fit well with a lot of similar titles available today. The stories are just the right mix of silliness and story-telling that a younger kid will appreciate. Sometimes the illustrations tell most of the story and other times they just complement it.

Andy and Terry live in a 13-story treehouse that has just about anything you could possibly want – a lemonade fountain, a marshmallow shooter, and all sorts of other outrageous things. Andy and Terry are tasked to write a book, of which they only have 2 pages completed. The finished product is due at the end of the day and they keep getting distracted. Several of the stories involved growing sea monkeys and the exploits that came about as a result of their mishaps.

My Take: All of the stories fit well with a child’s sense of humor, though I’d advise parents to give the stories a once-over first. Andy and Terry aren’t the best role models, even if their antics are amusing. I’d give it a cautious recommendation with that in mind. If your kids like books along the lines of the Dork Diaries and other books that are partly illustrated and partly telling a story, they’ll probably enjoy this as well.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on anyone’s part. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: Totally Awesome, Super-Cool Bible Stories as Drawn by Nerdy Ned

Totally Awesome, Super-Cool Bible Stories as Drawn by Nerdy Ned

Totally Awesome, Super-Cool Bible Stories as Drawn by Nerdy Ned is targeted at late Elementary to early Middle-School kids to tell the stories of the Bible in an entertaining, but respectful way. Corey Adams works in some great illustrations along the way, provides the readers with spaces to doodle, and tells the major stories that make up the Bible. Corey throws in humor just enough to keep things interesting, but doesn’t go far off point. The language is definitely over the top, but not in a way that diminishes the meaning of the stories.

We start off in Genesis, seeing the Creation and Fall and working our way through Noah, Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. We move through Exodus, making sure to include the Ten Commandments along the way. Judges touches on some of the main judges we know in that book – Deborah, Samson, and Gideon. We meet Ruth, Samuel, Saul, and David. We move through the major and minor prophets, spending a bit more time on Daniel than the others, but that works in this context.

Corey then moves to the New Testament, starting with John the Baptist and Jesus. He spends several chapters following the life and teachings of Jesus, summarizing them in an entertaining, but accurate, manner. However, when it comes to the final days of Jesus leading up to the cross, Corey takes a more somber tone. He writes of the trial, crucifixion, and burial of Jesus in a more serious tone with much less joking. That works well to emphasize this part is important. At the resurrection, things get a little more jovial because all is right again.

We end the New Testament section following Acts, Paul, and so on. Corey summarizes some of the major points Paul makes in his letters in one chapter, emphasizing their importance, though ending with a texting summary. He does say that he prefers Paul’s version. He finally ends with the Revelation when Jesus will come back.

My thoughts: Overall, I think this is a decent summary. Some parts may be a little too silly for my tastes, but I’m not the target audience. Some parts may not quite be summarized the way I would do so or perhaps emphasize a different point, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with the way Corey tells the stories. This is definitely not a replacement for a real Bible, but could be useful to point out some of the stories in the Bible to those who find it hard to concentrate or read through the Bible. The spots to doodle could be useful, though some guidance on what might be good to doodle would have been appreciated – in the way that the Doodle books are popular now. It’s something I would consider letting my kid read, though with enough checking in to make sure they weren’t taking everything in here literally. I enjoyed the illustrations throughout and think they worked well to emphasize the main points of the stories.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L Taylor

Little Pilgrim's Progress: From John Bunyan's Classic

Little Pilgrim’s Progress by Helen L. Taylor is a retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan. The language has been simplified and the characters adapted to be more accessible to children. The characters may still need a little explaining to younger children, but most make sense without too much assistance.  As in Pilgrim’s Progress, we start in the City of Destruction following “Little Christian” as he travels from the city to the Cross and finally to the Celestial City.

The story is told without any lessening of the characters. We still feel their struggles and see them stumble, be rescued, fall, and get up again. Little Christian and his companions slowly make their way towards the Celestial City, encountering many of the issues that a Christian has to face in their walk with Christ – doubt, despair, pride, worldly wisdom, and so on. Here those traits are introduced as people and are seen as a fatal flaw. At times Christian is tempted to follow or join them and always pays for those failings when he does in some way.

As with Pilgrim’s Progress, there are two stories – Little Christian and Christiana. Both follow the original story as faithfully as can be expected in an adaptation. My daughter was captivated by the story and couldn’t wait to see what the next trial or rescue would be. She was pleased when Christian finally made it to the Celestial City and entered into his rest.

My Thoughts: I think this is a pretty faithful re-telling of the story. The characters remain largely unchanged. The language is significantly more accessibly than the original, and it can be read by a late Elementary age child without too much assistance. I’d definitely be ready to help with concepts or ideas as they come up because this is sure to raise some questions. If you want a version of Pilgrim’s Progress that can be read more easily or by a child, I’d recommend this. Of course, remember that it’s an allegory and not meant to be taken literally at any point, but that’s part of the charm of the original and this version.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on the part of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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Book Review: The Boy in the Box by Cary Fagan

The Boy in the Box

The Boy in the Box by Cary Fagan stars Sullivan Mintz, an 11-year old boy who doesn’t seem to make an impression on anyone. We learn early on that Sullivan was encouraged to take up juggling by Manny, a resident in his family’s retirement home. Manny is one of the few people who actually takes an interest in Sullivan. Norval, Sullivan’s friend at school, and Samuel Patinsky, the school bully, seem to be the only others who really see Sullivan – Norval to be a friend, Samuel to make his life life miserable. Sullivan is just going through life helping his family when Master Melville’s Medicine Show comes to town. At that point, Sullivan finds something to interest him and he even decides to show his juggling skills to Master Melville one night. Sadly, this leads to him becoming the “Boy in the Box” as he’s kidnapped to become one of the show’s performers.

We learn bits and pieces of Sullivan’s life, but the story ends up being more about how everyone reacts. Norval and Samuel end up coming together to remember Sullivan and keep his legacy alive. His family and Manny remember him, with his little sister trying to get people to realize that Sullivan might have been kidnapped, not dead. The child performers in Master Melville’s show are interesting in themselves, but we know that the Melvilles are not nice people – kidnappers and con artists who use children taken from their homes to perform. They even give those children new names and forbid use of their old ones.

I read this because it sounded like an interesting premise at the time. I found that the plot moved a little too slowly at times and was left at the end feeling that there’s more to tell of this story. The story definitely ended on a somewhat depressing note, which is definitely not my favorite type of ending. Even with that, though, I didn’t feel that this was the best possible ending. I wanted to know more about Sullivan’s plight, but at the same time I wasn’t really left hungering for the next book to know how things turn out or progress. Overall, I liked the book, but just can’t give it a very high recommendation. The book was kind of slow to get started and just when things seemed to be moving somewhere, it ended. I considered sharing this with my kid, but with the main theme revolving around kidnapped children, I just didn’t think it was the best fit for my child. Other parents may feel differently, but you may want to skim through the book first to get your own opinion.

 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy with no expectations on the part of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way by the publisher.

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