Category Archives: Children’s Book Reviews

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.

 

Heavenites by Shauna Collison

HeavenitesTylercoverHeavenitesMocoverCollison, Shauna. Illustrated by Christen Cushing. Mo and the Surfing Competition and Tyler and the Circus Lie. St. Louis: Revelation Products, LLC, 2014. $7.99. Purchase at Heavenites.com.

Introduction/Summary

In these two books, we learn of the importance of truth and the need for mercy. Tyler, a boy who wanted to tell a story finds out how quickly a lie can spread…even when it is supposed to be a secret. Throughout the story, we see how telling one lie leads to telling more and more lies. In the end, the only way to take care of a lie is to tell the truth.

Mo, a young surfer, was excited to enter the surfing contest. He was one of the best young surfers, and everyone knew it. One friend, Mikey, decided to keep Mo from participating so he could win. When Mo gets a friend’s surfboard (hint: it is a girl’s surfboard), Mikey gets upset. As they are competing, Mikey winds up in trouble in the ocean. Will Mo help Mikey or will he win at all costs?

Review

These two children’s stories are very well written and illustrated. They are real to life (except for us land-locked folks!) and help to teach the young reader his or her need to tell the truth or show mercy and help others when in need…even if it might cost you something.

It must be noted that they are moralistic in nature…which is not necessarily a bad thing when teaching young children. What they do allude to is that we learn how to be merciful and truthful from the Bible. While I wish they would have had more gospel in the story, I also can see where they put the impetus on the parents to cross those t’s and dot those i’s.

Recommendation

As with the other Heavenites books I have reviewed, I found these to be fun and engaging and full of biblical truth. They can be of great use to teach a child early in life of the need to be merciful (when was the last time a children’s book actually talked of that?) and to tell the truth. I recommend these to all parents of Christian children with the caveat that you need to be ready to share the gospel with your children as they read these books.

Alphabet and Counting Book by Shauna Collison

HeavenitesABCBookCollison, Shauna. Illustrated by Christen Cushing. Alphabet Book and Counting Book. St. Louis: Revelation Products, LLC, 2014. HeavenitesCountingBook $9.99. Purchase at Heavenites.com.

Introduction

These Heavenites books are designed to teach children how to count and learn their ABC’s in a fun and God-centered manner. The front page of these two particular books state,

We are the Heavenites, God’s children through and through. We want to spread the Word of God and share His love with you.
God sent His one and only Son to die so we could live. If you put your faith in Jesus Christ a brand new life He’ll give.
God gave us the Bible, it’s His Truth for us to know. But you need to read it daily, if you really want to grow.
Our hearts belong to Jesus, our future is on firm ground. A citizen of Heaven, a Heavenite…Heaven born, Heaven bound!

Summary

Each book is simple. The Counting Book counts to number 12 while the alphabet book teaches the ABC’s. The illustrations undoubtedly will keep the attention of the children. The alphabet book offers both capital and lower-case letters to help the children to become familiar with both.

Review

There are a number of children’s books out there that teach the alphabet and counting. From the beginning, the Heavenites series sets itself apart by beginning with the Word of God and centering every page on who He is or what He has done for us.
For example, in the counting book, every page alludes to the fact that God created (or made). Also, this book takes an excursion through the zoo as you count various animals. The number 3 is about dinosaurs. I love that they are included in this zoo and it is made known that God created them, too.

The alphabet book is catchy will be a great aid in teaching your children or children in your church’s nursery how to count and know their ABC’s.

Recommendation

At less than $10, these Heavenites books are excellent for teaching your children to count and learn their alphabet. They are colorfully illustrated and bound in such a way that they will withstand the rigors of toddler use. I highly recommend them to all Christian families seeking to pour an early foundation of the gospel in the lives of their children.

If They Could Talk by Rich Hamlin

If They Could TalkHamlin, Rich. If They Could Talk: Letters from those who were there. 110 pp. $22.00.  Purchase at Amazon for less.

Introduction

Rich is the founding pastor of Evangelical Reformed Church in Tacoma, WA. He and his wife Lynn have been married for over 25 years and have three adult children. His sermons and blog posts can be found at SoliDeoGloria.org. This is his second published book.

Summary

This particular book is a children’s book designed to tell the story of God’s plan of redemption as found in the pages of the Bible. What is more, the author takes a Biblical theological approach to this work. In other words, he begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. Naturally, he begins with Creation through the eyes of a sparrow and works his way through the Fall (rabbit) to the camel’s observation of the Abrahamic covenant to the horse’s history of the David covenant on to the dog’s diary of Jesus’ public ministry to the cow’s gazing at the resurrected Savior ascending into heaven and concluding with the Seagull soaring over Paradise restored. All in all, there are 24 crucial moments in Scripture detailed from the perspective of various animals.

Review

All I can say is Wow! This is a magnificent way to introduce the glory of God in His creation and redemption of man. The beginning of each story offers where the real story can be found in the Bible. Each animal has its own characteristics and offers its own perspective on the stories being shared.

Each animal asks questions meant to engage the children (and adults). Not only will they need to look up Scripture, but they will begin to realize that they are now accountable for the information they are learning. The illustrations are fascinating and the story is provoking.
In the end, reading through this children’s book will give the reader (or listener) a bird’s-eye view of the whole story of the Bible. It could also become an excellent foundation from which to build a child’s theology going forward.

Recommendation

I thoroughly enjoyed this children’s book. I believe it will be used of the Lord to develop deep theologies in children everywhere. I can recommend this for any parent or grandparent, church nurseries or daycares, or even veterinarian offices. Rich Hamlin’s creativity is a blessing to all of Christendom. Get a copy for yourself and one to give to a friend with children.

The Warden and The Wolf King by Andrew Peterson

The Warden and the Wolf KIngPeterson, Andrew.  The Warden and the Wolf King – The Wingfeather Saga Book 4. Nashville: Rabbit Room Press, 2014.  524 pp.  $22.99.  Purchase at Amazon and on Kindle for less.

Introduction

Andrew Peterson needs no introduction to most.  He is most known for his songs though I believe that is changing with the publication of this fourth (and final?) book in the Wingfeather Saga series.  You can read reviews of the first three books here.  It must be noted that the publication of this book was part of perhaps the most successful kickstarter campaign in the history of kickstarter campaigns.  His goal was $14,000 and he raised well over $110,000!

Summary

At over 500 pages and over 90 chapters, this book is actually a very quick read.  The story picks up right where it left off in The Monster and the Hollows.  We once again join Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli as they fight against Gnag the Nameless and bring peace to Anniera.

From the book synopsis:

All winter long, people in the Green Hollows have prepared for a final battle with Gnag the Nameless and the Fangs of Dang.  Janner, Kalmar, and Leeli – Throne Warden, Wolf King, and Song Maiden of Anniera – are ready and willing to fight alongside the Hollowsfolk, but when the Fangs make the first move and invade Ban Rona, the children are sparated.  Janner is alone and lost in the hills; Leeli is fighting the Fangs from the rooftops of the city; and Kalmar, who carries a terrible secret, is on a course for the Deeps of Throg.  Meanwhile in Skree, Sara Cobbler and Maraly Weaver care for the broken Artham Wingfeather as Fangs muster for battle across the Mighty River Blap.

Sea dragons lurk in the waters.  Stranders crawl through the burrows.  Ridgerunners and trolls prowl the land.  Cloven haunt the forest. Monsters and Fangs and villains lie between the children and their only hope of victory – in the epic conclusion of The Wingfeather Saga.

Review

I could not put this book down.  The problem with that is late nights and anxiety of what is going on in a fictional world.  Andrew writes with such passion in both his music and his fiction that the reader cannot help but get caught up in the action and the lives of the characters.  His ability to tell a complete story while changing everything at the same time is a gift to fantasy genre.

The only negative I discovered in reading this work is that I forgot to read the first three books again and was therefore a bit lost in the story. Nonetheless, Andrew dropped enough hints throughout the book that I was quickly up to speed on the lives of the characters.

As you progress from page one to page five hundred nineteen, you will not know what to expect.  Even the ending of the story is not really an ending.  He leaves open the possibility of yet another book in the series but in a way that is unexpected.  You will find yourself cheering for the Wingfeathers, crying for the Hollowsfolk, and, in the end grateful to the reality of life this Christian-based work of fantasy depicts.

Recommendation

If you have not read the first three books in the series, you will want to do that.  If you have and are eagerly awaiting this fourth book, you will not be disappointed.  We are indebted to Andrew Peterson for sharing his gift of story telling with us.  This series, now complete, will eventually, as it has already, find its way into the conversation with Lewis’ Narnia, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (a comparison I rarely make), and even the controversial Harry Potter series.

When a Family Starts by Eric Young

When a Family StartsYoung, Eric.  Illustrated by Katriina DeMoreta. When a Family Starts. Mulberry: SunPowered Publications, 2012.  25 pp.  $10.95.  Purchase for at Amazon and on Kindle for much less.

Summary/Review

When a Family Starts is a children’s book written for young kids to begin to explain the intended purposes of God in the family unit.

From the back of the book:

Families were created by God, and He loves every person in every family!  Just like God created families, He created a perfect way for them to start. In His perfect way God starts a family with one man and one woman.  In God’s perfect plan, a family starts with marriage.  Through history, many families have stared in many different ways, and though God loves them all, the desire of His heart is for all people to lean again to start each family His perfect way.

I am grateful for this book in the current cultural context we all find ourselves.  Young takes the story of marriage back to the Creation of man and woman and even explains how sin has destroyed God’s wonderful plan for man.  The beauty is that while the book is written for children, it explains that the family starts with marriage…a misconception today that a couple is not a family until they have children.  In only 25 pages, only 12 pages with words, Eric Young lays a solid, biblical foundation of family, marriage, and God’s created order in one fell swoop.

Recommendation

If you are in a church or have an office setting or a daycare, you can purchase a copy to be read by many.  Again, given our current cultural family crisis, this resource will be an ally in laying the foundation with children (and adults!) to look at God’s Word to understand the importance of marriage, family, and children, according to God’s Word.  I highly recommend this resource to all.

 

John Knox by Simonetta Carr

John KnoxCarr, Simonetta. John Knox. Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2014. 64pp. $18.00. Purchase at Westminster books for less.

Introduction

Simonetta Carr is no stranger to readers here at Christian Book Notes.  I have been blessed to review most everything she has written as well as interview her.  You can find all of our interactions together here.

Matt Abraxas, the illustrator for a number of the books in this series, is renown for his work on display at the SmithKlein Gallery in Boulder, Colorado.  He has traveled from California to France, studying different approaches to art.  You can watch many of his videos on his YouTube channel.

Summary

From the back of the book:

From armed bodyguard to galley slave, from loving husband and father to fiery preacher, John Knox was moved by a relentless passion for the honor of God and the purity of His truth and worship. Yet when he was a schoolboy growing up in the small Scottish town of Haddington, he could never have imagined that he would become a major leader of the powerful movement that transformed Scotland into one of the most committed Protestant countries in the world. Simonetta Carr tells the story of how this great Reformer, whose life began humbly, in a faraway, mysterious part of the world, influenced the church and its beliefs far beyond the borders of Scotland, shaping our thinking still today.

Review

What child knows about John Knox? For that matter, how many adults know about John Knox? After reading this biography, they will not only know the pertinent information about one of the more fiery men of church history, but it is almost certain they will want to know more about the man.  Furthermore, this particular edition in the Christian Biographies for Young Readers will reinforce the reality of the bloodiness that was the Reformation.

If the reader would take the timelines from the various biographies previously published in this series, they will begin to see just how much overlap there was in the many lives that constituted and directed the Protestant Reformation.  For example, Lady Jane Grey, was born, rose to become Queen, and was executed all within the lifetime of John Knox.

Recommendation

Here is yet another winner in this very important series.  Given the wide swath of men and women included in this series of biographies, a child will have an excellent understanding of the giants in the faith who have gone before them.  Also, these biographies are quickly becoming a clarion call to a new generation to stand fast in the faith and fight for salvation of lost souls through the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Every Christian home should have these biographies available to read.