Tag Archives: reading

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.

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.

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

A Fix-It Girl Reads About a Fix-It Girl {Book Review – A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay}

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

About the book (from the publisher):

A Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2016)

Emily Price—fix-it girl extraordinaire and would-be artist—dreams of having a gallery show of her own. There is no time for distractions, especially not the ultimate distraction of falling in love.

But Chef Benito Vassallo’s relentless pursuit proves hard to resist. Visiting from Italy, Ben works to breathe new life into his aunt and uncle’s faded restaurant, Piccollo. Soon after their first meeting, he works to win Emily as well—inviting her into his world and into his heart.

Emily astonishes everyone when she accepts Ben’s proposal and follows him home. But instead of allowing the land, culture, and people of Monterello to transform her, Emily interferes with everyone and everything around her, alienating Ben’s tightly knit family. Only Ben’s father, Lucio, gives Emily the understanding she needs to lay down her guard. Soon, Emily’s life and art begin to blossom, and Italy’s beauty and rhythm take hold of her spirit.

Yet when she unearths long-buried family secrets, Emily wonders if she really fits into Ben’s world. Will the joys of Italy become just a memory, or will Emily share in the freedom and grace that her life with Ben has shown her are possible?

My thoughts:

See how “fix-it girl extraordinaire” is listed in that first sentence above from the publisher’s back copy? That’s how I knew I’d at least be able to relate to some of Emily Price’s inner workings as I read this fun, yet layered novel.

We meet Emily as she’s just arrived in Atlanta on a new art restoration job and at the same time meet brothers, Joseph and Ben. Hints of backstory are dropped here and there, but we are fully in the present as we witness differing personalities between the brothers and Emily realizing how she may be able to help both at her job and at the Joseph’s aunt and uncle’s restaurant.

As we follow along, we see that Emily’s want to help and fix things is fantastic in the art world, but sometimes becomes overbearing or a burden in other aspects of life, like with her sister Amy. Broken relationships abound both in Emily’s family and in Ben and Joseph’s, and this is part of what makes the story realistic and easy to both follow and relate to.

I love how the setting transfers from Atlanta to Italy, and we as readers get to witness some of the author’s lovely descriptions of sunflowers, of small Italian villages, of art once beautiful and ready to shine again. The descriptions of art restoration are lovely, full of questions and perspective from Emily’s point of view, and readers without art knowledge (like myself) can still be captivated.

The romance is a whirlwind one that might bring some readers out of the story for a moment wondering how realistic it could be, but the author makes it work, partially by leaving it imperfect yet a place for grace. Readers will love Lucio and many of the other side characters and both cheer for and be challenged by the more difficult relationships and sometimes slower (yet realistic) growth. One of Emily’s most important trials is learning, when the time is right, to sit with others in a pain rather than attempt to fix it and that’s a guide for all of us.

Oh, and after you read it, please come back here and tell me what you think of page 264 because that was one of my very favorite pages.

A Portrait of Emily Price is intriguing, thoughtful, and lovely, and is among my favorites of Katherine’s books. (My favorite favorite is Lizzy and Jane!)

Check out Katherine’s other books, including Dear Mr. KnightleyLizzy and Jane (which I reviewed here) and The Bronte Plot (which I reviewed here), and read more about Katherine on her website.

What is one of your favorite novels that includes either international travel or broken families (or both)?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author as a part of the launch team. 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.