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Monday, June 1, 2020

Good Book Partner Book Review: The Prisoners, The Earthquake, and the Midnight Song. By Bob Hartman

A True Story about How God Uses People to Save People.  

Tales that tell the Truth, a series of books from The Good Book company.  This book releasing today June 1st, is another fast favorite for this Mom, kidmin leader, curriculum writer, elementary educator who LOVES any way to whisper or even shout the Word of God to our children.  This book does not disappoint.  So many potential ways to engage your children, even during this pandemic and an upcoming summer of not all our normal activities.  

What I loved about this book:
  • This event in history from Acts 16:16-40.  The Philippian Jailer with Paul and Silas in jail accurately told with added themes to engage the readers. 
  • Illustrations by Catalina Echeverri, the right amount of reality blended with images to SEE the sounds you also listen for, and to understand what is occurring at this time. People of different skin colors are well represented in the people in the book.  So vital in children's books.  
  • Themes:
    • Light you see on the cover, coming out of their mouths and all around, is throughout the pages of the book and it represents sounds like praising God.  
    • Listen: lots of descriptive language, onomatopoeia:words visualized like earthquake, snoring or sawing a zigzag visual snore, ... and the light you see is really representing the sounds heard.  
    • Rich use of language: to represent opposites (up/down, beneath/rising up), to match the sound all can hear with a gray zigzag n the prison,  as well as teaching vocabulary a sword's scabbard,  and the concepts of complaining/grumbling opposite of praising God.  
    • Do you hear that? on every few pages. 
    • Image repeated throughout with the same wording describing the cross, the stone rolled away when Jesus is alive,and the Holy Spirit.   (Jesus forgives, lives so we can live forever, and follow Him as Our King).  What a great set of concepts repeated several times in the book, so it will be quickly memorized.  
What I wonder:
  • could the Bible reference be part of the subtitle so that in a quick scan, adults see the immediate connection?  
  • what age this is intended for?  The books in this series are picture books with a fair amount of text, so I've often used them in the primary ages from Kindergarten to Grade 3.  The amazon description says ages 3-6, but I like to use it with older kids as well, and think it would only work well for young kids if one on one. 
I plan to use this book in our Sunday School lessons from Acts with grades 1 and 2 children.  I would recommend this book for any child who would sit and want to interact with the adult reader from preschool on and I believe all ages will enjoy the book.  

Thankful to have an advanced copy of this book as a partner of The Good Book Company.  

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Partner Review: Good Book Company- Seek and Find Old Testament Bible Stories

Happy to introduce a new partner company- The Good Book Company This company happens to have published some of my very favorite children's books in recent years.  I finally looked them up, and discovered a treasure trove of resources from this company.  This is a link to their blog, by the author of the book that I am reviewing today.

Details: Specification
Age range: 2 - 6
Author Sarah Parker  Illustrator Andre Parker 
ISBN 9781784984748
Format Board book
First published May 2020
Dimensions 8.5" x 10.2" x 0.4"
Language English
Pages 18
Publisher The Good Book Company
Other information
Each Bible story is retold in just a few words so as to be understood by the youngest children. But each page also gives the Bible reference so that older children and their families can read the biblical account for themselves.

Things I like about this book
  • Theme-the book begins with a welcome from the author and illustrator.  This sets the real theme of the book from the very start:  learning about Our Awesome God and what He is like.  On each page after a brief synopsis of the specific bible event, there is a statement about God.  Examples: 
    • God rescues His people. 
    • God is the strongest!  
  • Content- each bible event is given a title, then the passage in the Bible where it can be found.  It's followed by the synopsis of the event, the statement about God, and then each page has 10 items to seek and find, counting item number 1, you find 1, item number 2, you find 2, etc.  
  • Writing-the author uses great descriptive language, not only in her retelling of the events, but in the description of each item to find.  The adjectives animate the events and items, just as the amazing illustrations bring the images to life.  
  • Illustrations- as a seek and find book, the pictures make or break it.  These illustrations do not disappoint!  They are engaging, warm, friendly, and best of all, full of expression!  It has an animated quality not found in many books.  
  • Physical book- this is a magazine size BOARD book.  The cover is thick and sturdy, it's a non glossy page on the front and back so it will not look dirty after many readings.  Inside the book, the pages are high quality board pages with just a little shine for effect.  The illustrations look life-like, and finding the hidden items is a fun challenge.  
  • Options-this book has over 450 items to find. When you see my list of educational connections, it goes on and on.  I completely remember my boys at this age group from 2-6 even through age 9 loving this type of seek and find book reminiscent of Where's Waldo, especially on long summer trips in the car and at our destination.  
  • Website Store-the companies sales page has links to two printable coloring pages and will let you see inside three of the events/pages of the book before your purchase it- sort of a test run.  
  • Will there be more books like this? I sure hope so! 
  • Will children over age 6 enjoy this book?  I suspect that anyone who picks it up, will be inspired to read it, find some if not all of the items, and from the front cover the bonus items.  
  • Will the author's next book change the language of the title to be Bible Events (instead of Stories)?  I'm still learning to change my language to be even clearer to the children and adults I interact with.  The bible is true, and it contains a review of history, a guide on how to live, and a plan for eternity.  Children often believe stories are made up, and adults often envision a story as fiction or enhanced.  But the bible speaks of real life events and God's work and character are revealed throughout it.  
  • Will other authors convince Andre Parker to illustrate their books? He oversees the art work and children's illustrations for the Good Book Company, and I sure hope he continues illustrating children's work directly.  I don't love the illustrations in a picture book easily.  
  • Trusting there will be more books by this talented team... what themes will they make fun and thread throughout future books? I sure hope that they have volumes of both OT and NT events, and I'd be happy with a whole series about who God is.  But I'd also like to see them include concepts like sin, repent, eternal, the names of God, a book that shows Jesus throughout the Old and New Testament.  And I can see all these as seek and find, but also timelines, a book of theological vocabulary, explaining the gospel?  anything is possible. 
Educational Connections: 
The 2-6 year old crowd loves to learn, to discover, to test out their understanding of new concepts, and to show how much they have already picked up with life experience.  This book does not disappoint in the rich language choices to discuss as you read, re-read, and perhaps memorize aspects of this fun and enjoyable child friendly book.  Here are some quick suggestions to highlight and make it more engaging for you and your littles. 
  • counting: numbers 1-10 are on every events seek 1, then seek 2, ...
  • colors:  when you are to seek a watermelon- it's green, poppies are red, blue dragonflies
  • concepts like
    • sizes: little, tiny, tall, long
    • physical attributes: sharp, pointy,  prickly, hard 
    • emotional/feeling descriptors: friendly, happy, sleepy, trust, curious
    • actions: slithering, laughing, flapping
    • physical items: barrell, bundle, sacks, jars
    • animals: sloth, hummingbirds, snake, geckos, kiwi bird
    • plants: dandelions, lillies, lilypads, wheat
    • tools: axe, ladder, sickle, well, wheelbarrow
    • Historical items: sickle, spears, jars of spices, wheat bundles, silver cups
  • With the concepts ask you child to:
    • find the example of that word. 
    • compare and explain what a happy vs. sleepy animal is like. 
    • research historical items like sickle -even find other biblical event common items. 
    • practice observation skills and sharing- why is a waterfall splashy? how else could you describe it. 
    • talk about how some descriptive words sound like what you would hear near that animal, person, thing or place. 
    • talk about nouns, verbs, and adjectives.  
    • talk about how good writers and illustrators use their style to convey a feeling, tone, or mood.  What examples of colors, numbers, dates, places, size, etc are in the book, how do the illustrations and word choices bring this book to life.  
  • Add to the events.  Read the bible passages, and ask the children what other items could be pictured? what words could also help set the tone or mood of an event? 
  • Draw more of their own seek and find items for this event. 
  • Use this as a springboard and have individuals, pairs, or teams create their own seek and find pages by drawing or using clip art and graphics to illustrate and write a God theme, as well as an event synopsis.  (this would be a fun youth group activity even, and would help the teens gain perspective and think critically while laughing and enjoying one another.)  
Thankful to be a new Good Book Company partner and be offered this book to review.  I hope there are many more reviews with this publisher in my future.  Next month, I'll introduce you to a new book from a series of books that I can't resist,  I may just own every one of them.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Bethany Partner Review: Secrets of the Happy Soul by Katie Orr

Apparently I'm in  season of life where the best way I become a better Whisperer of the Word is continuing to delve into how to grow myself in seeing God's character, His Word, and following the Holy Spirit's lead in my second to second every changing mindset.  I've recognized that a growth mindset educationally is important to learning.  And developing a God mindset in my heart, soul, and mind, not only impacts how I connect with the Lord, but also impact who I am, and how I connect with my husband, my children, the people in my world.  And I seek to read books that will help me do this, but so rarely find high quality in depth biblically connected books that impact me and make a difference in my mindset.  So it's pretty amazing (or pretty clear what my head and heart need to focus my mind on), when I find 5 star books two in a row. 

Secrets of the Happy Soul: Experience the Deep Delight You Were Made for

Katie Orr is a new author to me, so I had no real expectations of this book, but reading the description I was intrigued and wanted to read it.  I've found a new author to follow!!  I loved her book and rated it five stars which I rarely do. 

Here's why: 
*The book is biblical and theologically sound
*Her book is centered on helping her readers recognize how the Word impacts our lives. 
*The book is full of verses that are key to being a happy soul. 
*The book is easy to read, with authentic examples from the author's experiences.
* Once I started I didn't want to stop reading, which is unusual for a christian growth book. 
*The secrets of a happy soul theme is threaded throughout the whole book helping me retain the strategies suggested.
*At the end of the chapters where she has explained how a "Happy Soul" person lives, she has a short personal rating scale for you to reflect on this area of your life and then she has some prompts to help you plan to grow.  (and it's not hokey or stressful- her style is so connected, you aren't intimated to answer, you are prepared.
* Experiencing deep delight- sounds like an unachievable goal, but this book shows the reader the skills, mindset, and perspective (including what we often might think and tell ourselves that needs correction). 
*God has been encouraging me to seek who He is more, and look to Him in all the minutes of my day/life.  This book shows me how. 
*As an avid reader of christian growth books, I often feel like a new book adds little to my already well researched mindset, but the author's perspective is unique.
* I learned NEW ideas that I am applying already and will check back in on my highlights and review to keep growing.  This book blessed me and has stirred my heart, mind and soul to continue to seek a deeper connection with the Lord my God. 

Honored to partner with Bethany House publishing and receive a copy of this book.   

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Book Review from one of my favorite authors: Sara Hagerty- Adore

Think about all these quotes-- this is the truth you will find SIMPLE strategies and stories of how to train your mind to see who God is as a minute by minute habit or as Sara Hagerty labels it in the middle minutes.  This is what I have learned can make all the difference between a me mindset to a God mindset.  And the scripture encourages us to have a God mindset- trusting in, reflecting in, leaning into, standing in, praying for, speaking the truth of His Word to ourselves.  This is the mindset that changes me.  This is the mindset that makes my mind, thoughts, emotions, and actions grounded in God's character and how HE views me no matter what is going on.  He sees me, He soothes me, He keeps me safe, He supports me, He loves me, and He calls me His own.  This is a message worth reading. Worth applying. Worth pondering.  This book launches into the world today.  If this is a habit that needs some growth in your heart, mind and soul. Have your library order this book- Sara Hagerty recorded the audio of the book herself, and she is a naturally gifted teacher.  I've heard the first three chapters read by her and she will inspire you to learn this habit and grow.  

It's not your traditional book the first 6 chapters teach you how to adore God in all the minutes, in the grit, in the fear, in the ugly moments of life.  Then she shares with you 30 of the most popular attributes of God with actual short examples of times in her life when meditating on them, pondering them, and putting scripture into her mouth made a difference in her moments, crises, grittiness.  

I pre-ordered this book so I would have a hard copy of it.  I've read the 30 days, but now I will be pausing and reflecting on them for the next 30 days, probably also the next 30 years!  Feel free to message me if you'd like to be held accountable and learn this habit together.  It's powerful and unlike her other books, in that their is a rawness, a reality, and a soul shift that is humbly modeled for us.  

Monday, March 23, 2020

Bethany Partner Review: Thriving in Love and Money by Jeff and Shaunti Feldman


Parenting is not for the faint of heart.  Parents who trust God and His Word and strive to grow in their marriage will whisper the Word to their children by their actions and relationship.  So today, I'm featuring a book that helps couples improve their communication about money.  Often an area of great tension in relationships. 

We've been married for 25 years-- and this is a book that we both picked up to read. This book is a great resource of strategies on how to communicate-- yes it's really focused on communicating about money--but truly it's also a great plan to figure out how men and women think differently and may not be communicating or speaking the same language.

The book is researched based and has percents, comparisons, and shares perspectives of a lot of couples. Making it a believable and thought provoking book. We stopped and discussed how we are doing on the main themes of each chapter and how we are doing communicating.

Whispering the Word connection: 
The authors suggest praying and trusting God in this process as you seek to really communicate with one another about money.  

Great book for a couple at any point in their marriage, a solid foundation to expand your communication about money and the ideas transfer to many other conversations. Thankful to partner with Bethany House/Baker publishing to get a copy of the book. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Crossway Partner Review: Enough about Me: Finding Lasting Joy in the Age of Self by Jen Oshman

This book is a solid biblical view of finding joy in God, in the gospel, in who God is, and in creating an intimate relationship with Him.  If you want to whisper the Word to your children, you need to have a life centered on God- not on self, as the world celebrates and encourages us to do.

Jen Oshman is a great story teller and made a non fiction book that teaches theology an easy read!  Jen has lived overseas sharing the gospel in other countries as a missionary and shares a diverse perspective with her readers.

The book is also a thought provoking read, that had me examining am I living for self or focused on the gospel and knowing God.  It's a compelling book even though it doesn't sound like a theology book, it is! Theology is knowing about God- and how He is in our lives- and that's what this book is about-- contrasting it to the message we hear in the culture, throughout recent history, especially as women that self is most important.

Her style is different than other books that suggest similar concepts- it's a very down to earth real life explanation- including how our culture and the women's movement has encouraged us to make it all about me.

I think this book will appeal to a wide audience and I enjoyed reading an ebook copy courtesy of Crossway.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Book Review: Five to Thrive by Dr. Kathy Koch

The Core Needs reviewed. 

Kathy Koch is a brilliant person-- and she is SO gifted in sharing what she knows in a reachable way that all can understand and learn- and she is a natural motivator and cheerleader as she writes- she graciously thanks you for reading-- she engages you with questions as you read, and then stops you as the concepts change with an assignment-- and these are challenging but with her input so achievable.

As I found in her 8 Great Smarts and Start with the Heart books- you can hear in her writing that her faith and her personal relationship with God continues to be active and growing, and the richness of scripture she shares as it applies to what she knows as an educator and psychologist is such a fresh and insightful way to apply research! As well as her consistent perspective that we are His workmanship.

She encourages all of us to see our gifting and to see who we are through God's lens. This book surprised me as my knowledge of the core needs has always been rather dry and limited- knowing that if we don't have security or identity- we can't belong- and that all three lead us to competence and purpose... But the concept that only God can really meet these needs and He desires to make us whole! This is truth- I knew it when we fostered a child and worked first on his security, identity and belonging- and as we did- he calmed and trusted us- but that we were really helping him realize humans are broken and can't always meet his needs we will fail. But God can!!

Read this book- you won't be disappointed. The core needs are something that helps us realize who we are and Dr. Kathy helps us see and plan to IMPROVE and grow- and her suggestions are the clearest and simplest- and set to support the reader in making a real change for the positive.

The physical book is worth owning-- it's the perfect size to throw in a bag and it just feels good!! Also it's written in contrasting colors- with charts and boxes- and plans to accomplish identifying your core needs and ways to grow. I suppose the kindle will look as good- but if you waver at all- get the book!! Moody is thoughtful about making it worth owning!

Blessed- to launch this my fourth book of Dr. Kathy's and to have read and used 5 or more of her books in my personal and professional life. Thank you Moody Books and Netgalley for the opportunity.