Category Archives: Children’s Book Reviews

Marie Durand by Simonetta Carr

Marie DurandCarr, Simonetta. Christian Biographies for Young Readers – Marie Durand. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2015. 64 pp. $18.00. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is back with the 9th volume in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. You can read reviews of many of her books as well as interview here.

Summary

From the back of the book:

In 1730, nineteen-year-old Marie Durand was arrested and taken from her home in a village in Southern France for the crime of having a brother who was a Protestant preacher. Imprisoned in the Tower of Constance, Marie would spend the next thirty-eight years there. Simonetta Carr introduces us to the inspiring life of a woman who could have recanted her Protestant faith and gained release, but held fast to the truth and encouraged others to do so as well. Beautiful illustrations, a simply told story, and interesting facts acquaint young readers with the challenges facing Protestants in eighteenth-century France and show them that even a life spent in prison can be lived in service to Christ and others.

Review

I honestly had never heard of Marie Durand until reading this children’s biography. Simonetta expertly tells the story of the 18th century wranglings between the Protestant and Catholic churches in France from the perspective of Marie.

Through the retelling of her life, children today will learn that faith does indeed cost and sometimes the price exacted is more than we think. In the end, God will reward one’s faith in Him as only He can.

Recommendation

As with all of the biographies in this series, I highly recommend this to all readers of any age. There are many stories to be told about God’s faithfulness in the lives of His children. Many stories have gone untold until now. The church remains indebted to Simonetta Carr for her work on this series. Pick up a copy today and you will see why.

Duck Commander Devotions for Kids by Korie Robertson & Chrys Howard

Devotions for KidsRobertson, Korie and Chrys Howard. Illustrated by Holli Conger. Duck Commander Devotions for Kids. Nasville: Tommy Nelson, 2015.  223 pp. $16.99. Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

I have confessed to not being a fan of Duck Dynasty let alone having ever watched an episode. I have, however, reviewed another resource from this marketing juggernaut: The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible. Now, the wives are at it penning a devotional for children.

Summary

Comprised of 103 devotions that are two pages in length, each day begins with a verse from the NIV and then springboards into a short devotional meant to drive home a particular point. Many of these devotions begin with a snippet of information about the Robertson family or a reference to an event in one’s life that many (if not all) children have experienced.

Each devotion concludes with a prayer as well as a “Duck Commander in Action” section where the child is directed to some activity to help implement and cement the lesson for that day.

Review

While one may charge that the devotionals border on moralism (don’t most of today’s devotionals?) I think it would be wise to understand that they are writing to a young audience that seems to be more and more void of morals than ever before.

I was impressed with the regularity in which they pushed children to trust in Christ. At the end of the 103 day/week devotional there will have been many topics discussed. All of them will appeal to both your child’s imagination and drive them, Lord willing, to a deeper understanding of what it means to walk with the Lord. At the very least, they will begin to see how it is genuinely impossible to do all that the Lord commands us!

Recommendation

As far as devotionals go for children, this is pretty nice. I found it interesting and very engaging as well as full of biblical truth. I can recommend this devotional as long as it is part of a larger Bible reading plan for the entire family.

Miracles of Jesus Zonderkidz Adventure Bible

Miracles of JesusMiracles of Jesus (I Can Read! Adventure Bible). Illustrated by David Miles. Grand Rapids: ZonderKidz, 2014. 32 pp. $3.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

Miracles of Jesus is a level two I Can Read! based on the NIV Adventure Bible. This particular edition of this ongoing series looks at two particular passages in the New Testament: The raising of Jairus’ daughter and the feeding of the 5,000.  Along the way, we find Jesus healing a woman sick for many years.

At the end of the book is a “did you know?” section which offers a few other miracles that are more well known. Also, they allude to the only two miracles that are found in all four gospels: the feeding of 5,000 and the resurrection of Jesus.

Review

Though they water down the healing of the sick woman, I found this work to be enjoyable and a platform in which I was able to explain more deeply the importance of the miracles. Once again, I like the genre of teaching children to read while using the Bible even if the language is brought down to their level. The beauty ends up being their familiarity with the Word of God as they grow up.

Recommendation

As with all of these learn to read books I have reviewed, I recommend this one. What better, and truly more missionally minded way can you teach a child to read than using the Bible and the stories found therein?

The First Easter Day by Jill Roman Lord

The First Easter DayLord, Jill Roman. Illustrated by Michelle Henninger. The First Easter Day: A Touch and Feel Book. Nashville: CandyCane Press, 2013. 16pp. $8.99. Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction/Summary

What would it have been like to be present on Easter Day? This sweet board book with textures helps children imagine just that. From a little bee buzzing with excitement that Jesus is alive to a bunny hopping in delight and the sun shining down on the risen Lord, children will be able to feel as well as see the events of the first Easter morning. The narrator considers various perspectives on the Resurrection and the joy felt by all who loved Jesus. Charmingly illustrated, this book is a great way to introduce children to the good news of Easter.

Review

This little touch and feel board book is a cute and fun way to introduce your toddler to the fact of the first Easter Sunday. Each animal wants to proclaim the resurrection to everyone or to go and see Jesus. In the end, the child states that Jesus resurrected to “give new life to me.”

This is a perfect opportunity to engage your child with their need of salvation in Christ. Granted, there are no mentions of sin (hence, why we need new life), but there is enough here to begin a conversation with your child on why Jesus had to rise from the grave.

This is a perfect book to have sitting on a coffee table for your child to read to your child or grandchild or even for them to flip through and play around with.

Recommendation

If you have children or grandchildren or know those with children, you will want to get this board book. It is an excellent year round gospel conversation starter with children…and perhaps with their parents.

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.