Category Archives: children’s books

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago (Zonderkidz, 2017)

From the Creators of the Jesus Storybook Bible

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago (Zonderkidz, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago (Zonderkidz, 2017)

From the bestselling The Jesus Storybook Bible, with over two million products sold, comes Found based on Psalm 23. Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, little ones will fall in love with this padded cover board book that reminds them of God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love.

Our Thoughts:

My son says: “I love the illustrations from Jago! I love how bright he makes the sun, all the colors he uses, and the pictures he drew. They fit the words well.”

My daughter says: “I love the illustrations and the words. I can understand the meaning of the psalm a little better with how Sally wrote it. I especially love the illustration where the shepherd is helping the little lamb up from a rock. It makes me think about how God helps us.”

My thoughts: This board book is a lovely representation of Psalm 23. Though it’s closer to picture book size, the pages are board-book thick, sturdy enough for young ones. The Jesus Storybook Bible is still one of our very favorite bibles, so we were thrilled to see Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago working together again on this project.

Jago’s illustrations are lovely, vibrant, and enticing. To help kids grasp the analogy of shepherd to God and sheep to us, readers follow a shepherd and his flock–especially focusing on a particular young lamb–throughout this Psalm 23 retelling. Focusing on that relationship allows for kids to begin to grasp the personal relationship God has with His children (while still showing there are more sheep the shepherd cares for). Sally Lloyd-Jones’s words carefully work to match the original intent, with Sally’s trademark lyrical touch and slight simplifying to help youngest readers consider the analogy and learn about God’s love. (We also loved the single inclusion of Jesus Storybook Bible‘s repeated refrain of “never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love.”)

My only suggestion would have been to include the ‘regular’ Psalm 23 text in the very back of the book for kids and parents to read together and discuss. But, parents can read Psalm 23 in their choice of translation with their kids and highlight the differences. This board book is a lovely addition to family libraries and would be a great gift idea.

What are some of your family’s favorite Bible retellings?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Noah Noah What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Melissa Iwai (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

A New Faith-Based Picture Book {Noah Noah What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.}

Noah Noah What Do You See by Bill Martin Jr, illustrated by Melissa Iwai (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

Noah, Noah, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Melissa Iwai (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

From the bestselling authors of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Chicka Chicka, 1, 2, 3

Noah, Noah, what do you see? I see animals in the ark with me.

Moses sees the Red Sea part. Daniel sees lions in the den. Mary sees baby Jesus smiling at her. Noah, Noah, What Do You See? introduces little ones to favorite Bible heroes from the Old and New Testaments.

With colorful art from Melissa Iwai and the signature rhyming style of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, parents and children alike will love the classic storytelling of Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson.

Bill Martin Jr. didn’t learn to read until he reached college, yet he earned a doctorate in education from Northwestern University. He was one of the world’s foremost authors in literary education, as well as a million-selling author of books including Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Michael Sampson, Ph.D., is a New York Times bestselling author of twenty-six books for young children, including Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3 and The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry. Sampson is dean of the School of Education at St. John’s University in New York City and lives with his family on Long Island.

Our Thoughts:

This board book follows the classic structure from the Brown Bear, Brown Bear books. Each page spread highlights an often-covered storybook Bible story (like Noah, Joseph, Jonah, Paul, etc.). Each spread also lists the Scripture reference in the bottom right corner to allow families to read those specific stories and accounts.

My kids and I especially love the illustrations with, thankfully, darker (more realistic) skin tones represented on many pages (though not on the cover). The style is bright and inviting for youngest readers. I also appreciate that the book includes a couple stories slightly less covered in many storybooks, like Esther.

Some of the rhythms didn’t read as smoothly as others when read aloud; the point of emphasis seemed to be shifted a little compared to other lines. But we enjoyed reading this one aloud and it would make a lovely accompaniment to board book libraries and to go along with storybook Bible reading.

What are some of your family’s favorite board books?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

I Am Martin Luther King Jr by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Dial, 2016)

Celebrating Multicultural Children’s Books

Recently, we celebrated Multicultural Children’s Book Day, where many bloggers around the world have shared about great multicultural children’s books.

Check out the origins of Multicultural Children’s Book Day at the main site and at Pragmatic Mom and Jump Into a Book.

The folks at Multicultural Children’s Book Day also put together a Classroom Kindness Kit.

We were given the opportunity to join in on the #ReadYourWorld fun and review a book that celebrates diversity!

I Am Martin Luther King Jr by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Dial, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

I Am Martin Luther King Jr. by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (Dial, 2016)

We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer.

Even as a child, Martin Luther King, Jr. was shocked by the terrible and unfair way African-American people were treated. When he grew up, he decided to do something about it—peacefully, with powerful words. He helped gather people together for nonviolent protests and marches, and he always spoke up about loving other human beings and doing what’s right. He spoke about the dream of a kinder future, and bravely led the way toward racial equality in America.

This lively, New York Times Bestselling biography series inspires kids to dream big, one great role model at a time. You’ll want to collect each book.

My Kids’ Thoughts:

My son says: “I like it! But I don’t like when Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be friends with his best friend anymore. I like the fun illustrations and reading about Martin Luther King Jr.”

My daughter says: “I give this book 4 1/2 stars! I really love reading about Martin Luther King Jr., and I like when everyone comes together to let freedom ring and be kind to each other. I like the illustrations, and I don’t mind that Martin Luther King Jr. is shown as staying smaller the whole time, but I do think that’s a little confusing. At the end of the book, I feel like we can all help each other.”

My Thoughts:

This book is part of the “Ordinary People Change the World” series, which highlights amazing actions done by many people for justice and kindness throughout history.

My kids and I have been reading a lot about Martin Luther King, Jr. over the past year, and they were thrilled that we’d get to read and review this book.

The narrative is a bit longer for a picture book, so this book (and series) is better suited for ages 5 and up. This book included a lot of information within its pages though, which we all liked and appreciated. My kids enjoyed how the narrative was written as if Martin Luther King was talking to them, telling us his story. They also enjoyed the illustration style and formatting of having some folks talk in dialogue bubbles that added to the narrative. These spots allow for perfect places to take turns reading out loud.

The material sparks conversations on fair treatment and justice, even for the younger age group. Starting in childhood also helps younger readers relate what happened to minorities. I expected more back matter at the end of the book, although it makes since that the back matter is condensed since the narrative highlights many events within MLK Jr.’s life. I’m especially glad the book states, “…remember how far we’ve come. And how much more work there is to do.” The ending spread empowers readers to know our voices can come together to support each other.

I personally found the illustration choice of keeping Martin Luther King Jr. as child-sized throughout the book distracting rather than helpful. My kids noticed it too (as my daughter noted above), but it also didn’t bother them. (This is a style choice throughout the whole series, so it’s something I believe most readers can get used to.) The illustrations are colorful and interesting. We’ll definitely be checking out more of this series.

Check out more reviews of amazing multicultural books at the link-up!

Multicultural Children's Book Day

I also share about kidlit books, including many diverse books over at my Instagram account. Join me and let’s talk books!

Instagram for kidlit books and more

Celebrating multicultural children’s books is for every day! What favorite diverse books have you been reading lately?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as a MCBD reviewer. All opinions expressed are my own, and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Courage to Soar by Simone Biles with Michelle Burford (Zondervan, 2016)

Soaring and Believing {Book Review – Courage to Soar by Simone Biles}

Courage to Soar by Simone Biles with Michelle Burford (Zondervan, 2016)

From the publisher:

Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance by Simone Biles with Michelle Burford (Zondervan, 2016)

Simone Biles’ entrance into the world of gymnastics may have started on a daycare field trip in her hometown of Spring, Texas, but her God-given talent, passion, and perseverance have made her one of the top gymnasts in the world, as well as a four-time winner of Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.

But there is more to Simone than the nineteen medals—fourteen of them gold—and the Olympic successes. Through years of hard work and determination, she has relied on her faith and family to stay focused and positive, while having fun competing at the highest level and doing what she loves. Here, in her own words, Simone takes you through the events, challenges, and trials that carried her from an early childhood in foster care to a coveted spot on the 2016 Olympic team.

Along the way, Simone shares the details of her inspiring personal story—one filled with the kinds of daily acts of courage that led her, and can lead you, to even the most unlikely of dreams.

My thoughts:

Written for tween age and up, this autobiography follows Simone from her early life in foster care through her gymnastics journey to the Olympics.

Each chapter starts with an inspiring quote from an author, athlete, or otherwise accomplished person. Simone also sprinkles in inspiring statements throughout her narrative, typically as she learns the lessons they grow from. These motivational lines can apply to anyone with a goal, which helps expand the book’s readership.

“…a person can only fail if they stop trying, if they refuse to pick themselves up and try harder.” – Simone Biles, Courage to Soar

The writing tone is casual and quality is average, but accessible. The chapters progress mainly chronologically (with a few backtracks), culminating with her recent Olympics experience. Readers gain insights to the many pressures that come with elite gymnastics. Faith discussion is limited, as comments were generally more about praying that God would make this or that happen and recognizing talents as God-given. If you’re looking for a deeper look into the author’s faith, you won’t find it in this book, but readers can still learn more about her dedication and perseverance. This book isn’t meant to make one think and analyze, but instead provides entertainment, background about a role model, and a few inspiring moments along the way.

What athlete or role model have you read about recently?

Disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

NIrV Love Letters from God Bible (Zondervan, 2016)

Reflecting on the Bible as a Family {Book Review – Love Letters from God Bible}

NIrV Love Letters from God Bible (Zondervan, 2016)

From the publisher:

NIrV Love Letters from God Bible by Zondervan (2016)

What if a child could read his or her own personal mail from God? The NIrV Love Letters from God Bible will invite kids to do just that! This full-text Bible in the New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) is a perfect way to introduce children to God’s Word and his great love. With 80 love letters from God written especially for the reader, children will see Bible stories and themes come to life and learn just how much they are loved by their Creator.

Each love letter also contains a very special Bible verse, entitled God’s Wonderful Words to You. Much more than a mere memory verse, each carefully chosen promise will be God’s very own personal words of love, encouragement, and hope, and are highlighted in the text. The love letters will culminate in an invitation for the children to write their own RSVP to God.

Features include:

-80 personal love letters from God
-Highlighted Wonderful Words—special verses to remember and cherish
-80 prompts encouraging children to write their own love letters to God
-8 full-color tip-in pages with additional content
-The complete text of the New International Version (NIrV)

My thoughts:

This NIrV Bible is a continuation of the style from the author’s Love Letters from God picture books. (I reviewed the first one in that series here.) My kids still enjoy reading through the original Love Letters from God, so we looked forward to reviewing this Bible together.

This Bible is a full Bible text in the NIrV translation. There’s a short “how to use this Bible” page before the table of contents, then an explanation of the translation, and then it goes straight into Genesis.

We love the NIrV translation, so reading this Bible remains enjoyable. About once a book (or twice for some books), readers find a short “love letter from God” written in the same style as the picture books, written from the perspective of God talking to the reader (referring to the reader as “you”). The letters often reiterate something read in the Bible text and ask questions for reflection as well as restate aspects of God’s love. Each letter concludes with a highlighted verse. Beside each letter, readers have about one vertical third of the page to “write back” to God and respond to the suggestions reflection questions. These reflections often ask “have you ever…” questions to relate the biblical material to the reader’s current life or ask “how do you feel” about a truth introduced.

As with any Bible with interpreted devotions, I suggest reading and analyzing these devotions/reflections together with your child/students as not all interpretations may fully fit your family/church’s theology.

Additional features:

  • three full-color inserts (front and back pages) with additional information or highlighting important aspects of faith and study, including the ten commandments, definitions, ‘how to pray,’ a ‘getting to know Jesus’ summary, and more. Each of these pages has a “Write Back” sidebar with questions for writing reflection. We particularly liked the “how to pray” page. It makes prayer accessible for all and less daunting for kids unsure of where to start.
  • a dictionary in the back
  • full color maps in the back
  • an attached ribbon bookmark

This isn’t a study bible since it does not contain other sidebars or introduction/summary information at the beginning of each book. But it’s also not meant to be a study bible. Its main purpose seems to be for reading and reflection on what the words of God mean about God and about our relationship with God. This bible serves its purpose well, so it’s a fine addition to any family library. If you are looking for one main bible for kids to use for both study and reflection, you may find other study bibles better able to suit your needs.

Read about two of our favorite NIrV Bibles for middle grade readers and advanced early chapter book readers here: NIrV Adventure Bible and NIrV Kids’ Devotional Bible.

Do you generally look for more reflection questions in your family bibles, or do you look for more study aspects?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher as a part of the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions expressed are my own and this is my honest review.

I am an affiliate for Amazon Associates. If you click on an Amazon link and then make a purchase, I receive a small commission. This does not affect your final cost at all. Thank you for supporting this blog and my family!

This site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.