Category Archives: Children’s Book Reviews

On Guard by Deepak Reju

On GurdReju, Deepak. On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church. Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014. 208 pp. $19.99. Purchase at Westminster in print for less or on Kindle.

Introduction

Deepak Reju serves as Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, DC. He has contributed to Christ-Centered Biblical Counseling and Scripture and Counseling.

Summary

Divided into three sections with a number of appendices, Dr. Reju tackles a timely though difficult subject. Section one lays the foundation and the necessity of getting familiar with the problem of child abuse. The second section offers eight strategies for protecting against child abuse while section three offers three strategies to properly respond to abuse if it should occur in your church (or anywhere for that matter).

The appendices offer suggestions ranging from writing policies to talking with children to training scenarios for workers and volunteers.

Review

As much as I hate to say it, this book is much needed today. Stories abound, as do court cases and arrest records, of the pervasive nature of child abuse both in the home and the church. Obviously, we cannot be everywhere at once, but we can look for signs in the lives of those children and families who are under our care as a church.

Deepak’s work is rooted firmly in Scripture. From that solid foundation, he offers much practical insight in how to deal with this often hidden problem. On Guard is not lengthy though one ought to read it slowly and thoughtfully as we are all going to give an account one way or another.

Depending on where you stand in your knowledge of the pervasiveness of this problem, this work could be extremely eye-opening. Wading through section one for the one who is ignorant of the problem may be earth-shattering. Section two will prove to be a most valuable platform from which to build one’s ministry to protect against child abuse. Section three will serve as an exhortation to respond properly both biblically and legally when it comes to reporting these crimes.

Dr. Reju’s work is extremely accessible to all in the church. His desire to offer “a more comprehensive approach” to preventing and responding to child abuse has been met. This resource is not meant to be the end of the discussion but the beginning of a lengthy discussion designed to equip the bride of Christ to minister more effectively to a hurting world.

Recommendation

If you are a Christian, you need to read this book. If you are on a church staff or a member of a church, you must read this book. It is sad that it needs to be written, but the fact that it does indicates the importance of the subject at hand. We must no longer bury our heads in the sand. Rather, we must equip ourselves to bear one another’s burdens. Dr. Deepak Reju aids us in this endeavor and for that we are indebted to him.

A Father’s Love Zonderkidz Adventure Bible

A Father's LoveA Father’s Love (I Can Read! Adventure Bible).  Illustrated by David Miles.  Grand Rapids: ZonderKidz, 2014. 32 pp.  $3.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

A Father’s Love is a level two I Can Read! based on the NIV Adventure Bible. In it, young readers learn about how great a father’s love can be for his child. At this read-alone level, newly independent readers follow a young man who decides to go out on his own, with his inheritance. He wastes his money and makes bad choices but eventually realizes that home and family are more important than anything. When he goes home to make amends, his father welcomes his son home with open arms and joy.

Written for the newly independent reader, vocabulary and content is at a more advanced reading level, making this series appropriate for children almost ready for their first chapter books.

Review

This is a retelling of the parable of the prodigal son. It is again based on, though not the actual text of, the NIV Adventure Bible. The story is true and is, in essence, as if a parent is “breaking it down” for their child to understand what is happening. The final page alludes to the gospel which sets up a perfect opportunity to explain to your child his or her need of salvation in Christ.

There is also the fact that these books line up with Common Core. I say this not to engage in a debate (I am against CC for the record) but simply to let you know.

Recommendation

The fact that it is close but not exactly may ruffle some feathers, but as long as there is explanation that this is not the Bible but a paraphrase, then I see nothing wrong with giving your children this book to read. I recommend this book to all families as well as any who may have reason to be around children (whether a doctor or day care worker, etc). Take every opportunity you can to redeem the time. You can start with these age-appropriate I Can Read! books.

Widgmus World by Randall Bush

Widgmus WorldBush, Randall. Widgmus World. Mountain Home: BorderStone Press, LLC., 2011. 232 pp. $12.95. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

I reviewed the first book in this children’s series here.

From the description of this book:

An evil sorceress lurks in Arboria, terrorizing the Orna folk while cruising the Tinsel Canals in her abominable ship, surrounded by wicked creatures. Her goal: to banish Christmas from the Tree World and reduce the beautiful snow of winter to mud, mud that she can use to make her slaves, and worse. The evil queen is willing to go any lengths, including war, to bring about her plan. Who can stop her from building a mud empire that will forever bury the true meaning of Christmas? Can Jason and Kim discover a way to stop the mad queen before she creates her WIDGMUS WORLD?

Review

In a sequel that gives a different perspective on the world of Arboria, one is reminded of the seeming endless attacks on Christmas. Bush offers yet another fun-filled story that will point the reader to Christ and the real reason for why we celebrate Christmas.

There is much in here that leads to discussion from a Christian worldview that will also help to teach your child how to properly respond to those who refuse to acknowledge the Christ of Christmas.  In the end, the reader is left with a wonderful story, vividly told that will leave the reader to his or her imagination regarding the world of Arboria while here in our world, they will find that they have been thinking long and hard of the true meaning of Christmas.

Recommendation

This was a fun read and one I think children of all ages will enjoy.  I recommend this to any and all looking for a fun Christmas read chock full of meaning.

Gabriel’s Magic Ornament by Randall Bush

Gabriel's Magic OrnamentBush, Randall. Gabriel’s Magic Ornament. Mountain Home: BorderStone Press, LLC., 2011.  134 pp.  $11.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

Dr. Randall Bush is Professor of Philosophy at Union University. He has written a number of book in addition to a number of children’s books.

From the book:

A Christmas Tree World called Arboria faces danger from a fearsome foe! In the wilderness at Tree Bottom, someone opened a bag by mistake and let out a hideous dragon! No angel star is safe, and Arboria’s Orna folk face grave danger.

Review

This work is a quick read and seems best read aloud. It is in the ilk of Lewis and Tolkien in that you get lost in the realm of Arboria. I appreciated the ready made gospel discussion points and the fun with which the children had (in the book) as they discovered a whole new world.

Bush’s ability to tell a good story is on full display here and leaves the reader longing for more. There are, after all, three more books in this little series.

Recommendation

If you are looking for a good Christmas story either as a read aloud or for your children to read, Gabriel’s Magic Ornament is what you are seeking.

 

Show them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower

Show Them JesusKlumpenhower, Jack. Show them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids.  Greensboro: New Growth Press, 2014.  204 pp.  $17.99. Purchase print for less at Westminster Books or digitally on Amazon Kindle.

Introduction

Jack Klumpenhower has written Children’s Ministry curriculum for over 30 years. Currently, he is working in conjunction with the Serge staff to write a middle-school gospel curriculum.  He lives with his wife and two children in Durango, Colorado.

Summary

Divided into two parts, Jack begins with a look at why we ought to teach the Good News. His first chapter sets the tone for the entire book: The One-Note Teacher. In other words, all we have to offer children is Christ and that is what we should make a priority in the lives of children we know.  Ultimately, Jack makes a case that the Good News is like nothing else and is for all children…especially church kids.

The second part looks at the mechanics of how we should teach the Good News.  First, he looks at the gospel as found in the Old Testament. Next, he looks at the gospel from the New Testament.  The final four chapters offer insight into how to take the gospel to all of life whether in the home, in the school, or even in the prayer closet.

He concludes with an essay entitled Twelve Answers to the Objection that Teaching God’s Free Grace Leads to Lax Obedience.

Review

Having served as a youth pastor, a children’s pastor and having five of my own children, I found this resource to be refreshing, challenging and encouraging all at the same time.  I appreciated the gospel-centered hermeneutic employed by Jack a la Charles Spurgeon who always preached the text and then made “a beeline to the cross.”

Full of Scripture and personal anecdotes from his 30+ years of teaching, Jack writes to the Sunday School teacher, the pastor, the father, the mother, and the one who was once a child.  His style is conversational and instructional at the same time and drives the reader to a deeper thinking of how he or she ought to be more intentional in regards to exhorting children with the grace of God.

I was a bit shocked by the closing essay which serves as an appendix but found it to be helpful as it unearthed certain areas in my thinking that I was unaware of.

Recommendation

When it is all said and done, we must be thinking about how we ought to be intentional about sharing the gospel with everyone, especially children.  In a day and age when the battle for the well-being of our children begins at conception, we must equip ourselves to be gospel-centered in our parenting.  To this end, I recommend Show Them Jesus to everyone.

Jonathan Edwards by Simonetta Carr

Jonathan EdwardsCarr, Simonetta. Christian Biographies for Young Readers – Jonathan Edwards. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. $18.00.  Purchase at Westminster Books. Also, at Amazon.

Introduction

Readers here at Christian Book Notes know Simonetta Carr. Every book in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series has been reviewed here to date.  Also, I have been bless to have interviewed her as well.  She is certainly a favorite of the readers of this book site as well as a personal favorite of mine.

Summary

Simonetta takes a different approach to this biography given her younger audience.  She looks first and foremost at a young Edwards which also happens to be the inspiration of the cover.  She then moves quickly through his being a student and a young pastor only to spend much time on The Great Awakening and his work as a missionary to the Native Americans.  She closes the book with a copy of a letter from a concerned father to his daughter, Mary.

Review

In only 64 pages, Carr delivers an excellent summary of the life of Jonathan Edwards. For those that know Simonetta personally or via Facebook, they will be aware that this particular biography took on a very personal aspect for the author as she endured great tragedy in her own family.  The providence of God would be such that she was working on the final touches and one can’t help but read the final chapter with great gravity as Simonetta pours her heart and soul into its pages.

To be able to say so much in such a small biography about America’s greatest theologian of which so much has been written is a testimony to Simonetta’s ability as a biographer and writer.  She has become a master of the informative highlights of these great clouds of witnesses that have gone before that I would hardly trust another biographer to write such succinct and historically accurate biographies than Simonetta Carr.

Recommmendation

I have recommended every one of these biographies in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series and I do not see any reason why I cannot recommend this biography to all.

Moses Leads the People – I Can Read! Adventure Bible

Moses Leads the PeopleGod’s Great Creation (I Can Read! Adventure Bible). Illustrated by David Miles. Grand Rapids: ZonderKidz, 2014. 32 pp. $3.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

I recently reviewed God’s Great Creation, also part of this series and also illustrated by David Miles.  This particular story begins with Moses meeting with God at the burning bush and culminates with the crossing of the Red Sea.

The entire series draws from the the Adventure Bible – a best selling children’s Bible designed for kids age 12 and under. This book is for the reading level 2 group of children which is geared toward ages 4-8.

Review

I appreciate the folks at Zonderkidz adapting the Bible to a readable format.  I also appreciate how they are breaking them down into shorter stories so as to not intimidate children.

One criticism I have with the series is that it always seems as though God is asking for help.  For example, in this book, Moses hears God say, “Moses, I need your help!”  This is instead of “Do not come any closer…”  It might be splitting hairs, but we must always seek to make much of God and not too much of man.

Regardless of this criticism, Moses Leads the People is faithful to the Biblical account.  The illustrations bring the stories to life for the children and, I have found, they really enjoy hearing how God triumphs.

Recommendation

Being a parent of 5 children, 1 which just learned to read and 2 yet to still learn how to read, I am becoming a huge fan of this series.  Being a pastor of a church where we have 15 children under 8, I can see how this series will be a huge benefit for all parents.  While this series will never replace reading the Word of God, it does an excellent job of introducing the children to the Word of God.  I recommend this book to all children and all parents of children.

Why Dogs Are…by Tana Thompson

Why Dogs Are...Thompson, Tana. Illustrated by Marita Gentry.  Why Dogs Are…  Talladega: Kendall Neff Publishing, 2014.  17 pp.  $14.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Tana worked in colleges for 30 years and, now that she is in retirement, she is pursuing her dream of writing.  In so doing, she is combining her love for dogs with her pursuit of writing.

Why Dogs Are is the first in a book series aimed at raising awareness of the various roles animals play in our lives that enhance and improve our physical, psychological and spiritual well-being.  This series is entitled Loved Unleashed.

You can read more at WhyDogAre.com.

Summary/Review

Why Dogs Are tells the story of how a dog teaches some life lessons to a very special child. It seeks to explore the concept of God’s unconditional love and how someone without the ability to see or hear can comprehend its scope and His impact in our lives.

I appreciated that the story involves a child, Brian, with a handicap.  So many children never understand the reality of life with difficulty except when they do not get their way.   The story is one of what God’s creation means to us as humans, the “jewel” of God’s creation.  I appreciated the interplay and the implicit example of God’s love for His creation.

I was a bit concerned when God needed help from His creation in order to show Brian how much He loved him.  My concern is that it will leave children with the idea that God needs help thus making Him less than who He is.  Yes, I can be accused of reading into this, but at the same time, we must do all we can to discuss God on His terms and according to His Word.

This concern notwithstanding, I really enjoyed the story and the truths that were proclaimed to a younger audience.  The love God does show through His creation to a young man that world often typically thinks of as less than perfect is to be understood in the context of our being created in His image.  That is where we find our argument for the sanctification of life and that is where Tana Thompson succeeds in telling a great story of love unleashed.

Recommendation

I feel I need to qualify this recommendation based upon the above comments.  Be prepared to explain to your children that God really does not need help but that it is part of this story in order to show His love for all of His creation.  I can recommend this book to all children and all Christians.  The layers of the message being shared in this book will have impact beyond the first reading.

 

 

God’s Great Creation: ZonderKidz Adventure Bible

God's Great CreationGod’s Great Creation (I Can Read! Adventure Bible).  Illustrated by David Miles.  Grand Rapids: ZonderKidz, 2014. 32 pp.  $3.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

The Adventure Bible is a best selling children’s Bible designed for kids age 12 and under.  This particular I Can Read! book is for the reading level 2 group of children which is geared toward ages 4-8.

This edition covers the 6 days of creation and the Fall of man.  The pictures by David Miles are well done and explode off the page with color.

Review

This children’s book does a good job of getting the main thrust of the Creation story to the children.  It also does a good job of explaining the fall of man by listening to the temptation of the serpent.  I wished it would have added the line from the Scriptures where Eve states that God said they couldn’t touch it which is not what was said when God gave the original commandment.

I point this out only because it leads to a number of important lessons for us today.  It teaches that we must know exactly what was said.  It teaches us that we ought to keep the text in context.  It teaches us that God is not nearly as “harsh” as we are to ourselves.

Regardless of this one point, I really enjoyed reading this to my younger children and letting my stage 2/3 reader read it aloud.  The story is biblically verifiable and leads to actual gospel conversation.

Recommendation

While I rarely recommend children’s books about the Bible because they are typically watered down, God’s Great Creation is part of a series of I Can Read! books that I think will go a long way in beginning to lay a foundation of the importance of Scripture in a child’s life.  I recommend this book for all Christian parents and families.

 

The Simple Little Salvation Story by William F. Cote

Simple Little Salvation StoryCote, William F. Illustrated by Shirley Chiang  The Simple Little Salvation Story. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.  60 pp. $14.95. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction/Summary

Bill Cote has written a children’s book that offers the gospel message to children (and the parents who read it).  It is only 60 pages and offers an explanation of our need of salvation as well as how we can be saved from our sins.

The illustrations by Shirley Chiang are colorful and invite the children to keep their attention on the pages as they are being read aloud or silently.

Review

One of my great concerns when I began reading this work was the comment in the “Acknowledgements” section where he talks of receiving helps from a priest in the Catholic Church as well as a pastor in a Baptist Church to avoid pushing the “heresy button.”  My concern is if you typically try to reach the Catholic and the Protestant with the gospel you are inevitably going to deny one or the other’s essential doctrine.  After all, the Reformation did happen for a reason.

As I read the work, I was impressed that Cote walked the line though he did not offer the works-based salvation of the Catholic Church.  He does keep the Protestant version of the 10 Commandments as well.  In other words, he offers the law of God in order to show the grace of God.

Could the gospel have been phrased more accurately? Perhaps, but the point is to share the “simple” story of salvation.  He succeeds in that endeavor.

One might also be upset at the complexion of Jesus given He is depicted as a fair-complected almost middle-class American.  While I easily get agitated at that, I understand the longing to have the children feel as comfortable as possible when talking to them about their sins.  Again, easy to tee off on, but not necessary if the parent is doing his or her job and teaching about Christ already in the home.

Recommendation

I can recommend this 60-page Gospel saturated little book to anyone wanting yet another opportunity to share the gospel with their children.  Cote’s Law/Grace approach is excellent and makes this work a worthwhile addition to your library.