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.

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon, 2017)

Hope Growing {Book Review – A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti}

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti (Abingdon, 2017)

Hope grows when seeds are planted-even in the muddy middle of life.

Josiah Chamberlain’s life’s work revolves around repairing other people’s marriages. When his own is threatened by his wife’s unexplained distance, and then threatened further when she’s unexpectedly plunged into an unending fog, Josiah finds his expertise, quick wit and clever quips are no match for a relationship that is clearly broken.

Feeling betrayed, confused, and ill-equipped for a crisis this crippling, he reexamines everything he knows about the fragility of hope and the strength of his faith and love. Love seems to have failed him. Will what’s left of his faith fail him, too? Or will it be the one thing that holds him together and sears through the impenetrable wall that separates them?

My thoughts:

Cynthia Ruchti knows how to pack in the conflict. In A Fragile Hope, readers find conflict after conflict in both Josiah’s external circumstances as well as his internal world. As a marriage counselor, one might think Josiah would be attentive to his own wife’s needs, but the reader meets and reads about a selfish man for much of the book, even down to his internal dialogue. This helps set Josiah up for positive change and growth, but I also found it hard to root for Josiah until the ending chapters. His dangerous habit of assumption also added to his inner turmoil (and added to me questioning him as if I could talk to him throughout the book).

The author obviously did vast amounts of research into brain trauma, hospitals, and ICUs. (I say this as a mother with a touch of experience having been in the ICU with her child more than once.) I loved the nurses’s and doctors’s differences and ways in which they cared for their patients. The author brings readers in with setting details and added to the tension since a majority of the book takes place within a hospital.

I read (and reviewed) another one of Cynthia Ruchti’s books, As Waters Gone By, a couple of years ago. Like in that novel, I found a few of Josiah’s internal dialogue and analogies a bit jumpy, which disconnected the flow of reading a few times. But, also like in that novel, the realistically portrayed side characters in A Fragile Hope became my favorite characters of the novel. From Nancy to Stan to both Catherines, I felt for those side characters, loved when they showed up, cheered for them, and felt thankful they were in Josiah’s life.

This novel offers a tension-filled narrative into truly being present and attentive for your spouse, as well as finding hope in the darkest, most implausible places.

Visit the Litfuse page for more information about this book, the author, and more reader reviews.

Litfuse is also hosting a lovely giveaway where you can win one copy of A Fragile Hope and a metal Scripture decoration. Click on the banner below (or here) to enter. The giveaway is open through May 3rd!

A Fragile Hope Cynthia Ruchti
 

What Scripture do you turn to when you need to see hope growing?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the Litfuse Publicity Group as a part of their blogger 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.

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

Another Look at History {Book Review – The Dog Who Was There}

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

About the book (from the publisher):

The Dog Who Was There by Ron Marasco (Thomas Nelson, 2017)

No one expected Barley to have an encounter with the Messiah.

He was homeless, hungry, and struggling to survive in first century Jerusalem. Most surprisingly, he was a dog. But through Barley’s eyes, the story of a teacher from Galilee comes alive in a way we’ve never experienced before.

Barley’s story begins in the home of a compassionate woodcarver and his wife who find Barley as an abandoned, nearly-drowned pup. Tales of a special teacher from Galilee are reaching their tiny village, but when life suddenly changes again for Barley, he carries the lessons of forgiveness and love out of the woodcarver’s home and through the dangerous roads of Roman-occupied Judea.

On the outskirts of Jerusalem, Barley meets a homeless man and petty criminal named Samid. Together, Barley and his unlikely new master experience fresh struggles and new revelations. Soon Barley is swept up into the current of history, culminating in an unforgettable encounter with the truest master of all as he bears witness to the greatest story ever told.

My Thoughts:

When I first heard about this adult novel, I loved the unique premise that the story would be told through the perspective of a dog wandering about first century Judea.

The first several chapters move very slowly with quite a few flashbacks, dreams, and “had been” moments rather than immediately drawing the reader in to current action. Much of the writing could be tightened and more active phrasing employed. (Perhaps this was a voice choice, though.) I also noticed several inconsistencies within the first half of the book (ie: a character calling the time “first century AD” when I’m not sure someone living during the time of Christ would have called it that). Also, at times Barley is portrayed as only understanding certain words, yet at other times, he is shown as understanding full conversations. The book also is a bit of an Americanized version. For example: one of the characters in the first chapter has the more culturally appropriate name of “Duv,” but his wife says it rhymes with “love,” which is an English word, of course, and wouldn’t have been used in ancient Judea. Though the book is pitched as told in Barley the dog’s point of view, readers are tossed between Barley’s perspective and several other characters’ perspectives throughout the book, which breaks the flow of reading.

Barley himself is a wonderful character. The author does a lovely job of showing the dog’s instincts and natural desire to be in a ‘family’ group and love and protect. Those traits are (in my animal-adoring experience) God-given, which plays well into the themes and plot of this novel. The last third of this book picks up in action, making it a quicker read. Many of the violence scenes are graphic, just as a note to readers who prefer not to read such. Barley (and the readers) only see Jesus in his last few days as he reaches Jerusalem, so you can imagine the intensity of those chapters. The ending, though, is satisfying and offers redemption to the many, many trials Barley endures throughout the book. It winds together Barley’s experiences in a way that offers an example of how God works in our lives.

Read more about the book and the author at the Litfuse page.

What biblical or historical event would you find interesting as ‘viewed’ from the perspective of an animal?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book via Litfuse. This is an honest review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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.