Monday, December 28, 2015

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life's Biggest Yes

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World ***
by Kristin Welch

The premise of this book is that giving our children everything they want, and protecting them from all hard things, isn't good for them. Kristin Welch spends a lot of time backing up this belief. I skimmed that part of the book...those weren't new ideas for me. She spends some time on technology and issues that are more present with teenagers. I skimmed those parts, too.
I did find some encouraging nuggets though. My favorite thing in the book is how her family eats beans and rice every Monday to remind them of people around the world who live on beans and rice. What a great, practical way to remind your family of how much we have and to be grateful.
I loved Kristin's first book Rhinestone Jesus, which was her story of Jesus' working in her life. This book was a bit slow in comparison. I liked the ideas, but I think I could have read one article instead of it being stretched through a whole book.
I would recommend this book to someone who is new to the idea of not giving their kids everything. Kristin does a thorough job of walking you through what it looks like to let your kids work hard, fail at things, and go without for the sake of growing healthy young people. This is a message that parents today need to hear.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage

Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage: 12 Secrets for a Lifelong Romance ***
by Greg and Erin Smalley

I try to read a book on marriage every so often to be challenged and encouraged. This book was such a disappointment. It wasn't necessarily bad, just boring. The book has twelve "Romance Secrets." However, the secrets were really just basic truths about marriage. For instance, you have to work out who is doing what chores. You have to both love and serve God to have a godly marriage. You have to be committed to your marriage. You have to live in relationship with other believers both younger and older than you, etc.
So, this may be an encouraging book for a newly married couple or a newly saved couple, but I found it just rehashed things I already know. And I'm not saying I know everything about marriage! I have read many books on marriage and keep learning new things. This just wasn't one of those great, insightful books.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Just Add Watercolor

Just Add Watercolor  ***
by Helen Birch

This is a beautiful, hardcover book full of watercolor paintings and some descriptions. I'm hoping it will inspire our family's young artists to try different styles of painting. The only reason I gave it only three stars is because it is so small. The book is thick, but only about the dimensions of a postcard. I wish the paintings were a little larger.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Mouse Family Robinson

Mouse Family Robinson   *****
by Dick King-Smith

by Sabrina Staples, 7

The Robinson's move to a place that has no cats to eat them.They find a house. A boy named Bill Black lives there. He is a boy who loves mice.They have an old friend who had 78 kids, and his wife got eaten by a cat. The Robinson's have 6 babies. Their names are  Beaumont, Ambrose, Camilla, Desdemona, Eustace, and Felicity. And then they had 11 more!
Negative elements: someone dies
Conclusion: I think 7, 8, 9, and 10 year olds will like this book. It is cute, and there are no bad words. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Scary Close

Scary Close
by Donald Miller

Scary Close is a fascinating book about what hinders us from authentic, intimate relationships. The premise is that until we are confident in who God has made us that we won't be able to let people see us as we really are. And when we are hiding, we can't have true, deep friendships in our private lives, or at work, or in our communities.
I loved how this book is sort of like Donald Miller's diary. We watch him learn about these truths and then see how he applies them to his relationships. Miller's life until this point is a string of different girlfriends that don't last long. Now he is forty and realizing he needs to change some things if he ever wants to be married. The book ends telling about his wedding. You can even go on the book's website and see his wedding photos, which I did!
This book is very well-written, enjoyable to read, and full of practical insights.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Mexican Slow Cooker

The Mexican Slow Cooker *****
by Deborah Schneider

I  love Mexican food so I was really excited to try out some of the recipes in this cookbook. We tried our first three recipes tonight for dinner. I made the Pollo en Creme con Chipotle (chicken dish), Arroz Mexicana (rice dish), and Dulce de Leche (caramel).
This isn't a 'dump the ingredients in the crock pot and go to work cookbook.' I spent the day prepping items, putting them in the crock pot to cook a few hours, adding other things, blending sauces, etc. It was a lot of work but fun to make something new. I loved how the author explained why you have to do certain things and which extra steps are most important to do. I learned how to roast a pepper and then peel it, and I cooked with two new peppers I've never used before.
I would recommend this to a cook who loves trying new things and has plenty of time to cook.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The 13 Clocks

The 13 Clocks  ***
by James Thurber

"I liked the characters and the pictures. The Golux's stories are really funny. And the lady that cries diamonds is a funny part. The princess is really pretty, and she saves the clocks."
By Sabrina Staples, 7

This book is written differently from any other book I've read. There are lots of made-up words which are challenging for younger readers since it's hard to tell what words are real and which are pretend.

The writing is almost poetic. Here's an excerpt to give you an idea:
"From the sky came the crying of flies, and the pilgrims leaped over a bleating sheep creeping knee-deep in a sleepy stream, in which swift and slippery snakes slid and slithered silkily, whispering sinful secrets."

This book is probably worth reading just because it is so creative. But with that said, I'm not sure that I even grasped the full meaning of the book. So, it's probably a book to read aloud and talk about. That's how our family read it.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Just Show Up

Just Show Up  *****
by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn

Overview: The book's subtitle is "the dance of walking through suffering together." I can't think of a better way to describe what this book is about. It's the story of two friends and their journey through suffering. However, it is more that just their story. The book is full of very practical advise on how to be a better friend to someone who is hurting. 
Themes: friendship, suffering
Negative elements: none
Positive elements: well-written, specific and helpful, encouraging, full of hope in the midst of a despairing story
Conclusion: I highly recommend this book for anyone to read. I did cry at the end...I couldn't help myself. But this truly is a well-written, helpful book. I learned some things that I am going to try to apply right now in my life in regards to some suffering people who are around me.  

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Midwife's Apprentice

The Midwife's Apprentice  ***
by Karen Cushman

Overview: An orphaned and abandoned girl begins working for a midwife in exchange for shelter and some food. She begins to develop from a wandering "animal" into a girl.
Themes: friendship, home, perseverance, midwifery
Negative elements: Parts of this book were a bit much for my girls so I "edited" it as I read it out loud. Since it is about a midwife, there are some tense scenes of childbirth. Also, the midwifes during the middle ages used a lot of "magic." There is also reference to an affair and some other implied inappropriate boy/girl relations.
Positive elements: I love the change the girl goes through as she works through her fears and pursues her dreams in the midst of great adversity. She works hard and treats people kindly even when she isn't well treated. The different characters in the town are well portrayed.
Conclusion: This short book is a bit dark and sad for me even though the ending has a glimmer of hope. I did enjoy how well it was written and the development of all the different characters. I would recommend this book for middle schoolers and older because of the mature content.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

More than Conquerors

More than Conquerors  *****
by William Hendriksen
This is a step-by-step walk through the book of Revelation. It begins by addressing the overall set-up of the book of Revelation, the audience, the author of the book, etc. Then it moves into taking a deeper look at each of the chapters.
I've been reading through a chapter or two a day. This is a book that you have to read slowly to absorb all the depth and details. The book is easy to read in that it is very well-written. There are some big "Christian" words that might stump a newer believer such as "dispensations." (It took me awhile at Bible college to figure that one out.) But I do think that anyone could pick this up and read through it and really come to a deeper understanding of the book of Revelation. And hopefully a deeper love for God. 
This book was first published in 1940, so it has truly stood the test of time!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Bronze Bow

The Bronze Bow  *****
by Elizabeth George Speare
Overview: Daniel is living in a tense time. The Romans are in control of Israel and have killed his parents. The Jewish people are bent under the oppression of the Romans and are crying out to be delivered. Daniel dreams only of the day that he can help raise up an army to defeat the Romans and free his people. 
He leaves home to join a band of outlaws whom he hopes will gain momentum and some day fight against Rome. However, in the midst of his training, he is forced to return to town and care for his disabled sister. As the story unfolds, he discovers there is more to life than pursuing revenge. He makes his first real friend. He meets Jesus. And everything begins to change.
Themes: love vs. hate, friendship, family, loyalty, freedom, sacrifice
Negative elements: demon possession, theft, murder, anger (However, the book is so well-written that these tough things are treated in a way that isn't offensive to even young children.)
Positive elements: One of my favorite parts of this book was the author's portrayal of Jesus. I felt like I was there in Israel meeting this strange rabbi named Jesus for the first time. And the effect of seeing Jesus face-to-face leaves one changed.
Conclusion: I read this book out loud to my whole family, and we all loved it. I thought it was going to be too much of a "boy" book for my girls to get into. However, my husband and all the girls were so engaged. What a powerful story! Like I mentioned earlier, the story was so well-written that it dealt with some hard issues but in a way that was appropriate for the whole family. Those, I believe, are the best books. You can read them, discuss them with the family, and be challenged by them. Thus the book goes beyond just entertainment to truly be enriching!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Luther and Katharina

Luther and Katharina  *****
by Jody Hedlund

Overview: This is a historical romance about Martin Luther and his wife Katharina Von Bora. Katharina is a nun who escapes a convent and is sheltered by Martin Luther. The two opposites fall in love.
Negative elements: torture, murder, rape
Positive elements: brings to life an important time in history
Conclusion: I could only stand to read half of this book. I had to put it down for a couple reasons. First, the story wasn't engaging. I felt the author was "trying" to hard to build a tension of love and hate between the main characters. (After you have read some of the great romances including Jane Eyre, these modern romances are ridiculous.) Second, the first half of the book was too sexual for me. The characters are desiring each other, a man tries to persuade Katharina to lie with him (and she is ready to), nuns are almost raped a few times by peasants, then actually raped in a raid, other nuns are raped in the convent by the abbot...and that was just the first half of the book!
I don't normally read Christian romance, but I had read some of history about Martin Luther and Katharina Von Bora, and they were quite a match! The book also had great reviews. However, I guess I don't agree with the general opinion this time; I wouldn't recommend the book.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Invincible Lousia

Invincible Lousia  *****
by Cornelia Meigs

Overview: This is a biography of the life of Lousia May Alcott. I was curious about how much of Little Women was based on her life. I also learned a lot about life at the time of the Civil War, the effects of transcendentalism on society, new ideas about education, and the powerful love of family.
Themes: overcoming obstacles, family
Positive elements: The book is full of positive messages of working hard and not giving up even when things are hard. At one point, the father decides to stick with his family instead of leaving to pursue his own desires. The book talks the whole time of the importance of sacrificing for your family and how much delight and fulfillment comes from a devoted family.
Negative elements: young death of a sister, death and sickness due to war
Conclusion: I enjoyed learning more about the life of Lousia May Alcott and her family. I wouldn't recommend it to my daughters or young readers just because it is a little slow. There is also a lot of discussion on difficult subjects like transcendentalism. Her father was a philosopher and that greatly shaped her family for good and bad. I think it would be hard for an elementary aged child to follow all of those ideas.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Bear Feels Scared

Bear Feels Scared  *****
By Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman

Bear Feels Scared is an adorable book of a bear and his animal friends. Bear gets lost in a dark howling storm on his way home. His friends get worried, and so they all bravely go looking for him. It has a happy ending and descriptive words. Another thing that makes bear books great is that they have awesome pictures! Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman have other bear books in their series. My Grandma and I own some of them, including: Bear Snores On, Bear Wants More, Bear Stays Up, and Bear Says Thanks. I have not read, but I want to read: Bear's Loose Tooth, Bear Feels Sick, and Bear's New Friend. They are amazing books.
By: Summer Staples
Age: 9


Treat  *****
by Stephanie Banyas

This is a small, cute, hard backed recipe book. The book has fifty recipes for homemade marshmellows and rice crispy treats. The photos of the treats are beautiful. Some of the recipes look tasty and creative! I think my girls will enjoy trying new variations on the classic rice crispy treat. I must confess that the recipes without pictures are much less tempting to try. It's too bad that there aren't more photos. 

The book also has some helpful cooking hints in the beginning such as how to melt chocolate. 

Treat is a bit too simple for adults but would make a nice gift for a young cook. I think it might also spur cooks on to create their own variations on rice crispy treats.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Doodletopia Cartoons

Doodletopia Cartoons  *****
by Christopher Hart

Overview: This is a fun workbook style how-to book on drawing cartoons. It guides you in drawing different people, animals, settings, outfits, expressions, etc. There are a variety of ways that the book tries to teach you how to draw including drawing the mirror image of a character, finishing the details on an animal, adding clothes to a character, putting different faces on people, changing a basic shape into different kinds of animals, competing a scene, etc.
Theme: drawing cartoons
Positive elements: I like that the book is filled with such a variety of cartoons. I wanted my daughter to be able to learn some new drawing methods, and I was pleased by the variety of things to draw and the good tips. The pictures are also appropriate for kids.
Negative elements: The only gross thing was a page talking about writing with a "horror" look. The letters look like they are dripping with blood. That was a big gross, I thought. But that was the extent of the questionable content.
Conclusion: I would recommend this book for older kids or adults who want to learn to draw or would even just enjoy a fun book to doodle in.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands

The Best Yes   *****
by Lysa TerKeurst

Overview: This is a very practical guide to making wise decisions. The focus of the book is that if we say "yes" to too many things, we won't have the time or energy to say "yes" to the things that God wants us to be doing...our "Best Yeses."
Themes: decision making
Positive elements: humorous, practical, biblical, very well-written, quotes from the book in the back for review, a decision making picture chart for reference
Negative elements: none
Conclusion: We do live in a world where there are so many demands on our time. And it is easy as Christian women especially to feel like it is wrong to say "no" to helping someone. This book will challenge you to look at your life and ask God to show you what his "Best Yeses" are for you right now. And then how to say "no" when you need to. This is a book you could re-read every few years for a refresher...probably worth buying rather than just borrowing.


Wonderstruck   *****
by Brian Selznick

Overview: This is the second graphic novel by Selznick. (His first was the popular Invention of Hugo Cabret.) Two story lines run through this book and converge at the end. The main characters are deaf, and the story centers around a museum.
I loved the mystery of the book and how the art and the text went together so well. One of the stories is told mainly through the drawings and the other through the text. Very creative and enjoying to read! 
I did feel like the story would be hard for younger readers to follow. My 9-year-old read it and understood some of the story. However, a middle schooler would probably get even more out the book.
Themes: family
Positive elements: visually beautiful, explores the Deaf culture, well-written, creative
Negative elements: an out-of-wedlock child, a few different deaths, a kid hiding and smoking, some mysticism
Conclusion: Kids love these illustrated novels because they can read a 630 page book in one day! However, I would only recommend this book to middle schoolers and older. Not only would they be able to follow and appreciate the mystery better, but they could handle some of the negative elements better. 

Puzzle Journey Through Time

Puzzle Journey Through Time   *****
By Rebecca Heddle 

Puzzle Journey Through Time is a great mystery book! They ask you if you can find things. If you can't find it, there are answers in the back. That's one of the reasons I like it! A lot of puzzle or mystery books do tell you the answers in the back. I like the ones that do! Puzzle Through Time is a book for seven and older because there are a lot of words, and they are pretty small, too! They are great for road trips and just reading. There are no bad words. Each page is a new journey with the same charters named Matt and Lou. Matt and Lou travel with a magic box. There are other Puzzle Journey books that are good, too.
Hope you enjoy it!
By: Summer Staples
Age: 9 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Street God

Street God  *****
by Dimas Salaberrios and Angela Elwell Hunt

Overview: Dimas was born with the drive to succeed and be at the top. Unfortunately, he saw the men with the money and power on his street were drug lords. The book takes you on a first-hand journey through the drug world. In and out of jail, close to death many times, Dimas finally surrenders his life to Jesus. The second half of the book shows how he learned day by day how to follow Jesus and put all his drive and energy to work for Jesus instead of himself.
Themes: redemption
Positive elements: The second half of the book is full of story after story of God's miracles.
Negative elements: The drug world is a dark and evil world. The first part of the book talks about murder, theft, sex, drug use, selling drugs, making drugs, prison, witchcraft...probably more things I'm forgetting.
Conclusion: The first half of the book was a bit long as he went into all the details of his drug dealing days. However, the amazing stories of God's faithfulness and relentless pursing of this man made it worth reading. I was truly encouraged and reminded of God's great power! My husband really enjoyed this book as well.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret  *****
by Brian Selznick

This is a story about Hugo Cabret. He tells this story about when he was young. He is a thief, and so whenever he is getting ready to steal, he will rub a button on his coat. Hugo's father died in a fire in the beginning of the story. Hugo runs clocks for the whole train station where he lives. He meets a girl named Isabelle at the toy booth that her godfather owns. When Hugo's father dies in a fire, Hugo finds a broken automaton (robot) that writes a secret letter! Hugo is great at fixing things things because he fixes clocks! He has to fix the robot to find out the secret message. I will let you find out the rest! 

The themes in this story are about friendship and family.

There are only three negative things in the book. There is a lot of stealing, and there is one picture with a immodest mermaid with only a little bit of clothing. Also if you are sensitive to homeless children this wouldn't be a good fit for you!

I give this story five stars because it has a good ending and is a wonderful story! This book has awesome pictures! Almost the whole book is pictures! I loved it! I think this book is good for 8 and older. There are some hard words even I couldn't understand! It is a great book! Enjoy this wonderful story of Hugo Cabret!

By: Summer Staples
Age: 9         

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Time Chamber

The Time Chamber *****
by Daria Song

The Time Chamber is part coloring book and part picture book. It has a soft cover, but the quality is more like a real picture book than a coloring book. The book has a high quality dust cover with lovely gold embossing. The book is printed on high quality paper as well.
The story is about a fairy who lives in a clock. She comes out at night and discovers all the wonders of the little girl's room in which she lives. There are very few words but enough to give the book the feel of a picture book rather than just a coloring book. 
The pictures are beautifully drawn and very detailed. This would make a great gift for a seven-year-old or older girl.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

More for Girls Only Devotions

More for Girls Only Devotions
by Carolyn Larson and Colonel Moutarde

This is a daily devotional book for girls. Each day starts with a short story and Bible verse. Then there is a quiz, a list of ways to apply what you've learned, and some related Bible verses and famous quotes.

My nine-year-old daughter has really been enjoying reading through this book on her own. She feels very grown-up having her own Bible study to do. I'm hoping that she begins a habit of studying God's word daily on her own.

This study is appropriate for young girls around my daughter's age. It isn't a very serious study. If I had a teenager or maybe even middle schooler, I'd want to challenge her with some more in depth study. This is a very light study but perfect to start developing a devotional life.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Door in the Wall

The Door in the Wall   *****
by Marguerite De Angeli 

The Door in the Wall is a good story because the boy is brave and has courage. The problem is that he can’t walk. If you do not find out what you can’t do, you find out what you can do. He still could help the kingdom. You should read it.   

By Sabrina Staples, age 7

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook

Junie B. Jones is not a Crook  *****
By Barbara Park

Overview: The story is about a kindergartener named Junie B. Jones. One day her grandpa gets her brand new mittens. She is so exited to go show all of the kids at the school! She is a little annoying showing all the kids her mittens. While she is at recess, someone steels her mittens. 
Themes: This is a mystery about who stole Junie B. Jone's mittens.

Positive Elements: The good things that happened in the story are that Junie B. Jones finds her mittens, and the crook gets caught by the teacher.

Negative Elements: The only bad thing that happened is a kid stole her mittens.

Conclusion: I think any kid should read it, but I think seven and older is probably best. I think seven and older is best because my sister Sabrina who is seven is getting through them pretty slow. I enjoyed it, and I am now reading other Junie B. Jones books in the series!

By: Summer Staples
Age: 9

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Agents of Babylon

Agents of Babylon: What the Prophecies of Daniel Tell us about the End of Days *****
by Dr. David Jeremiah

Overview: This book is a kind of a Bible study on the book of Daniel. Each chapter of the book begins with a fictional depiction of each chapter of Daniel. Then Dr. Jeremiah leads you through the actual text of that chapter of Daniel. Then the end of the book's chapter has principles for today from the text.
Theme: the end times
Positive: Dr. Jeremiah writes so clearly. He writes in a way that anyone can understand no matter how much they already know about the Bible or about Daniel in particular. Someone who had never read the book of Daniel could pick up this book and understand it.
Negative: The fictional account of what happened in the biblical text is a little repetitive. Dr. Jeremiah says that he included the fictional story to help draw people into the story. It's true that there were aspects of Daniel's life that I hadn't thought about before. However, I am always cautious to mix fiction with my Bible study.
Conclusion: Studying the end times can be frightening to me. But Dr. Jeremiah's book is filled with so much hope. He reminds us that even though judgement is coming to the Earth, God is with us. We already know the end of the story...that we will be with Him in heaven. And that's something to hope in!
The end of the book has an appendix with over a hundred instances where God is at work in Daniel. It is a good reminder that everything happens because God is directing it. Very encouraging!

I received this book for free from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Maniac Magee    *****
by  Jerry Spinelle

Overview: This is a tall tale of a young boy, without a family, who is seeking a place to belong.
Themes: friendship, prejudice, family, home
Positive elements: This book shows how one person can make a difference in a community. We see what it means to truly be a friend and what is means to belong to a matter the color of your skin.
Negative elements: Maniac Magee suffers through some hard things including the death of a dear friend.
Conclusion: My girls were talking about how this was one of their favorite books we've read lately. I also found it truly moving. I highly recommend it! 

Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang

Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang     *****
by Ian Fleming

Overview: A fun, well-written story about a family who buys a magical motor car.
Themes: family, adventure
Positive elements: The family is good to each other and goes on adventures with the magical car. This book is just good, old fashioned entertainment.
Negative elements: The bad guys kidnap the two children out of their beds, which was a little scary for my five-year-old. However, the bad guys are a bit silly so they really aren't very terrifying. And they don't mistreat the children.
Conclusion: My girls loved this book. We got it on CD from the library and really enjoyed listening to it as a family. It's a pretty short book so it's good for shorter attention spans. I was surprised how completely different the book is from the movie and the musical.  

Touching Godliness

Touching Godliness    *****
by K.P. Yohannan

K.P. Yohannan spoke at our church this summer, and I picked up a couple of his books. This book had some similar ideas to his "Road to Reality," but this book is more theological than practical. 

"Touching Godliness" had some good food for thought. Yohannan spoke a lot about our attitudes towards submission and authority as Christians. He is very conservative; for example, he believes that women's heads should be covered. But the book was a good reminder of the blessings that come through a life completely submitted to Christ and to those in authority above me.

At the end of the book there is an overview of each chapter and questions for a discussion.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Overraded: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?

Overraded: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?   *****
by Eugene Cho

Overview: A real, honest approach to how we should serve Jesus and love justice and not just "do good things to look good."
 Themes: Christian ministry, justice issues, church planting, spiritual growth, self-examination, sacrificial service
Positive elements: Good food for thought...this is a book to read slowly and pray through.
Conclusion: I really enjoyed reading about Pastor Cho and his family's journey through sacrificial giving. I felt like I knew him and went through the highs and lows of  his ministry and seeking to follow Jesus. This was a very encouraging book also. He challenges us to follow in his example of laying aside our wealth and comfort to help the least of these around us and around the world. And he does a great job of making it clear that ultimately what matters isn't just "doing good" but following after Jesus. We each need to pray that Jesus will show us how we can lay down our lives for others....and that he will give us the ability to obey.

The Little Prince

The Little Prince    *****
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Richard Howard

I heard about this classic story and was excited to read it to my girls. However, I was disappointed to find that the story was a bit boring for them. In the story, a pilot crashes in the desert and meets a boy from another planet. The two talk and form a friendship. I did enjoy some of the deeper meaning behind the story but my girls, aged 9 and younger, didn't get the full meaning.

The story was originally written in French in 1943 and since then translated a few times. I read the newest translation from 2000. I later read some reviews that said a lot of the poetry was lost in the most recent translation. So, maybe when the girls are a bit older, we will try reading it again in the original English translation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

An American Army of Two *****
by Janet Greeson   

An American Army of Two is a great story about two sisters who help keep  the British away during the American Revolution . They always spot the British  ships from a lighthouse. The two sisters practice playing a drum and fife. They play the drum and fife because those are the instruments that sounded like the ink anotAmerican army. (The American Army was only a couple farmers in the r astory.) Isn't amazing how instruments and music are like swords that can fight a huge army?! 

I loved the story! I think other kids should read it.

By Summer Staples, age 9     

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You...Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together

You Read to Me,  I'll Read to You...Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together *****
By Mary Ann Hoberman

We stumbled across this book at the library. It is a collection fairy tales written for two people to read back and forth, like a short play. The stories are creative, funny and written in rhyme. My nine year old and seven year old have been reading them together and performing the stories as plays. They almost have a few stories memorized. There favorite story is Cinderella with one part for Cinderella and the other part the step-sisters. Because the stories rhyme, they are easy to memorize. Such a fun book!

It looks like there are a few other books in this series that we are going to check out, too! 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Two Girls in Sister Dresses

Two Girls in Sister Dresses
by Jean Van Leeuwen

Overview: Two Girls in Sister Dresses is a sweet story of two sisters. The two sisters fight a lot in the first part, but the ending is sweet. The story reminds me of me and my sisters, especialy when they talk in bed at the end of the story. 

By Summer Staples, age 9

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Honey for a Child's Heart

Honey for a Child's Heart
by Gladys Hunt

Someone recommended this wonderful book to me recently. This resource is full of great books to read, and they are organized by age and topic. For example, they have a chapter on books for new readers. I've loved that chapter because sometimes it is hard to find interesting books that my first grader can read. There are chapters on themes including fantasy, historical, holiday, animal lover, etc. They also divide up books by age: 4-8, 9-12, 12-14. 

Many of the books I review on this blog come from recommendations from this book. I highly recommend it!

The White Mountains

The White Mountains  *****
by John Christopher

Overview: The world has been taken over by huge, metal tripods. They control the humans by implanting metal "caps" on their heads. A few humans have resisted. This is the story of three middle school aged boys who try to escape the tripods before they are "capped."
Themes: friendship, freedom, adventure
Positive elements: The story does a great exploring what it means to be a friend and how hard a threesome of friends can be. The boys also realize what a prize freedom is. Freedom is greater than a comfortable life with easy living.
Negative elements: The story has a lot of holes surrounding the tripods. We never understand the tripods, and they do things it seems they shouldn't. The story read like it was too hastily put together and not thought out. However, the author says in his Preface (at the beginning of the book) that the tripods are supposed to be mysterious.   
Conclusion: I loved how the three boys interacted throughout the story. The author did such a great job capturing what it would have been like to be on such an adventure. The story was quickly paced and kept me wanting to read. However, I gave the book three stars because the ending was so disappointing. He just ended the book at the peak of the suspense. It felt like he got tired of writing, but the book wasn't even very long!