Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tyndale: The Big Pig Stampede

This book is written for tweens and especially boys- and that demographic in my home loved it. (and as a teacher/kidmin person grade 3 and 4 boys are the hardest group to reach and motivate, and I concur!) 

I loved that it brings to life in a fictional account what life for other children could have been like at the time of Jesus miracles.  It builds connections for Bible lessons and study, it helps kids visualize the setting and time of Jesus life, and to recognize that people are the same no matter when they lived.   

This book is funny, cute, and charming.  If you are looking for bible verses, study, or a Bible storybook, this is not it.  It is a book that should spur higher level or critical thinking in the readers mind.  It clarifies what historical setting Jesus lived in.  It is funny, proving that everything biblically connected isn't for stoic grown ups or traditional classically written.  But because of that, some grown ups will hate it, and find it irreverent.

As a teacher and parent, especially the reading teacher in me, I love that it helps build comprehension of this period in Jesus life, and my son (a 2nd grader who read it) actually wanted to check the Bible and see if it happened like that.  And for those reasons it is golden!  
It develops connections, clarifications, will help build vocabulary, and critical thinking, keys to making great readers.  Yes the humor involves some potty humor, but that is better than the secular options that motivate boys. So it's an awesome alternative.  

Thank you tyndale for the privilege of reviewing this book.  Sorry for the delay in posting it, we read it last year!  

Kregel Book Review: Would You Like to Know.... Collection by Tim Dowley and Eira Reeves

Here's the publisher's description of this cute little set:

In this new addition to the fantastic Would You Like to Know? series, six little books are featured in one boxed gift set. Each book offers a starting point for young children to explore some of the key points of their faith and gain a greater understanding of Christianity. Each title has accessible illustrations, an inscription page, and notes for parents. A wonderful gift for those getting to know the church. 

Would You Like to Know About God?
Would You Like to Know How to Pray?
Would You Like to Know Jesus?
Would You Like to Know the Bible?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Christmas?
Would You Like to Know the Story of Easter?

My review:

In a nutshell: the books claim to be simple and clear explanations for children on the six topics presented.  I found that they are just that and more than I anticipated.  

They also include: applications for a child's life, quality images, sturdy,  durable while beautiful books/box, and presented in a way that will aid comprehension of these truths. 

Doctrine is accurate as well, and I liked the skills and practices mentioned like reading your Bible and going to Sunday School (in the Jesus book after the gospel message).   They are not denominational oriented either, but content driven, so if the Word of God and salvation by faith in Jesus and forgiveness of sins by His death on a cross is central to your belief system, this series should be acceptable, and even enjoyable.  I enjoyed them and believe children will enjoy them as well, my younger children like them.  

My least favorite book was the knowing Jesus book, and I think it's just hard for authors to present the gospel to children authentically/accurately.  It's not awful,  it just rubs me the wrong way.  The book presented  a relationship with Jesus through "I'm sorry"  on one page, and the next encouraged us to apply it in our lives/friends.  I'm a nitpick- on the page after the book says "say "I'm sorry" for all the wrong things I have done," the next page says, "sometimes we need to say I'm sorry to other friends too."   I think mentioning asking God to forgive our sins, is not too sophisticated for children, and then wondered with the language chosen if it would be confusing to children to see why Jesus forgiveness is so much different.  But it's a concept that those who choose these books are likely to have their own preference, and hopefully will teach their children that Jesus rescued us from our sins and the wrath of God we deserved.   

So those giving this set as a gift, might want to be aware of this.  I didn't have concerns about any of the rest of the books presentation of content, I actually found them charming, delightful, and clear with excellent thinking about what simple content should be present.  

I was blessed to be given these books in exchange for my honest review. Thank you Kregel Publications for the chance to review my favorite genre of literature- christian children's literature.  

EXTRA info:    

Construction of the Book:  
The six books fit into a sturdy, glossy little box, and each book has a sturdy cover, and glossy thick pages inside.   Each book has a "this book belongs to:" page which ended with "and I'm finding out about ____" and that is appealing to children, but also a great reading skill, building connections and repeating the concept of the book.  There are also summary pages at the start (or end) of the Jesus, Easter and Christmas books, that build/reinforce vocabulary, connections, clarify, reinforce the question and set the up that this still matters to us.  

The illustrations are colorful, realistic, and child oriented.  The children and bible characters depicted had great expressions and would draw children in, help clarify, are relatable, and build wonder in the reader/listener's mind.  

The content is accurate, evangelical, and theologically accurate if you are a follower of Christ.  The word friend is used throughout the books making them easy to comprehend and grasp for children and adults alike.  Friend is used as a way to explain our relationship with God/Jesus as an approachable deity whom relates with us, and loves us.  The books are twofold- they teach a concept and encourage the reader to apply this knowledge in their own life.  Well chosen facts and explanations are included.