This blog uses affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions

{Read my disclosure policy}

Answering Your Kids' Toughest Questions: Helping Them Understand Loss, Sin, and Other Hard Topics is written by mother/daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

This is a very different sort of parenting advice book. It deals with topics that are difficult, and instead of being a "50 questions" type book that gives small snippets of advice, the authors really delve into each area. They stress that the book isn't to be used as a script for a conversation with your child, but rather as a guide for learning more, looking to God's Word, and talking with your child in a personalized way. 

Answering Your Child's Toughest Questions includes chapter on the following challenging topics:
  • What is Sin?
  • Why Do People Die?
  • Who Is Satan? What Is Hell?
  • Why Do People Get Divorced?
  • Why Does the Bible Say That? Difficult Bible Stories
  • Why and How Do Some People Sin Sexually?
  • Why Does God Let Natural Disaster Happen?
  • Why Do People Fight and Kill?
The authors suggest ways to talk to your children when topics like these present themselves. They offer guidance for discussing the topics for three different age ranges, again stressing that parents speak to each child using familiar language. Suggestions are given for preschool, ages 5 to 10, and ages 11 and up. Parents are repeatedly pointed toward Scripture and encouraged to pray and follow the Holy Spirit's leading.

Answering Your Child's Toughest Questions tackles each topic by educating you about what the Bible says about them before offering ideas for discussions with your child. By preparing parents with knowledge and understanding, the authors instill confidence and make these conversations easier to face. I really like how the advance planning for these things makes spontaneous middle-of-the-night conversations more productive. The authors also encourage parents to talk about these topics before you need to:

"It is important to have build a firm foundation with your kids about the death of a loved even before they have to experience it personally. You shouldn't wait until a dear family member or friend dies to bring the topic up. If you wait, you will be grappling with your own faith and emotions. Trying to talk to your children about death then will be unnecessarily difficult" (p. 45).

Kids of all ages are curious and have questions. Parents are the best source for having these tough conversations and directing their children in a Godly way. Whether a young child dealing with a death in the family or a teen who accidentally encounters porn on the internet, Answering Your Child's Tough Questions gives you parenting confidence. 


{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Reckless Devotion

{Read my disclosure policy}

Heidi and Rolland Baker's Reckless Devotion is a collection of 365 meditations. The Bakers are missionaries who have been working with the world's poorest people and orphans for more than thirty years. They have seen and continue to see first-hand what God can do, and their "reckless devotion" to the ministry fuels the passion in their writing. The short devotions in Reckless Devotion don't pull any punches, getting right to the point -- the heart -- or what it means to abandon ourselves to Jesus and take up his cross daily.

In "Authentic" (#109), the Bakers address division in the church and challenge readers:
"Instead of immersing ourselves in the controversial debates surrounding what we think God will and will not do, we need to connect with the fundamental power and simplicity of the true Gospel. God will always defy our definitions of Him. He will always break out of our imagined boundaries for Him" (p. 117).
"Pure Religion" (#79) explains their hearts for missions:
"The reason I am in Africa, the reason I have come to serve here, the reason I am alive, is for this purpose and this purpose alone: to learn how to love as Jesus loved. Every day Jesus meets me in unexpected ways. Sometimes He is an orphan looking for love and unconditional acceptance. sometimes He is a widow desperately begging for a simple job in order to provide the basic necessities of life for her hungry children. Sometimes He is another lost and broken person who just needs a hug and someone to listen" (p. 87).
Each week's worth of readings ends with a "Come Closer" section with bullet-point calls to action -- practical and convicting actions you can take to strengthen your faith.

Many of the devotions are not accompanied by Scripture references, and I would prefer to see more direct mention of specific verses. Otherwise, I like how the Bakers draw from their personal experiences and write in a way that is easy to comprehend. Also, because the readings are not dated, they can be read in any order.


{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Saturday, August 30, 2014

NIV Pink Bible

{Read my disclosure policy}

The NIV Pink Bible is an exquisitely beautiful Bible for any woman, and especially for those touched by breast cancer. This "invitation to hope" includes the complete text of the NIV Bible, an index to verses of hope and encouragement, and a collection of prayers, reflections, and encouragement interspersed throughout the text. Truly a gorgeous Bible that is even more irresistible to pick up.

Encased in a slip cover/box, you cannot fully appreciate just how special this Bible is until you take it out. The cover is hot pink and pink Italian duo-tone leather with pages are edged in silver. The slim-line design has stitching and a silver embellishment on the cover and a hot pink satin ribbon bookmark. It is also designed to lay flat when open. 


The reflections and devotions included in the NIV Pink Bible are written especially for women who are enduring breast cancer, but anyone who is facing trials will relate to the inspiring words of comfort written by a breast cancer survivor. Topics include:
  • A Prayer of Hope
  • Handling Suffering
  • Holding on to Hope
  • Facing the Reality
  • Overwhelming Odds
  • Staying Positive
  • Asking for Help
  • Surrounded With Prayer
These practical and encouraging readings include Scripture references for further study.

Besides the fact that the NIV Pink Bible is visually beautiful, the words contained inside are words of hope and everlasting life. I especially like that this Bible isn't "overdone" with its theme. There are just enough extras, and the focus remains on the Word of God. 

I think this Bible would make a wonderful gift for any woman -- something truly special!


{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

Monday, August 25, 2014

Words for Pictures

{Read my disclosure policy}

Brian Michael Bendis, the bestselling Marvel comics writer reveals the comic book writing secrets behind his work on The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, All-New X-Men, and more in his new book, Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels.

Words for Pictures explains the tools and techniques used to create some of the most popular comic book and graphic novel stories, taking readers through each step of the comics-making process from idea to script to finished sequential art. Examples are shown from comics like The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, and more. Bendis also includes tips from other working writers, artists, and editors in the business. These anecdotes are some of my favorite features of this book, because they reveal what goes on behind the scenes and provide inspiration and unique insight.

The first thing my son , a graphic novel/comic fan, as well as an Avengers fan, asked was, "Is this our new English textbook? Well, no, but he might just be on to something. There is so much useful and interesting information in Words for Pictures that it actually is a wonderful teaching tool. Anything that motivates my son to practice the art of writing along with his numerous drawings is a must-have for me.

As a writer myself, I discovered many helpful tips in this book, and I enjoyed the perspectives of other professionals in the field. Even non-comics enthusiasts will benefit from the wealth of inspiration this book provides. Comics enthusiasts will want this book in their collection simply for the treasure-trove of graphic art included between its covers.

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

I Can Read! Adventure Bible God's Great Creation

{Read my disclosure policy}

A fun Bible story for developing readers, God's Great Creation is a fully illustrated I Can Read! title depicting the story of Creation and the events that led to Adam and Eve's exile from the Garden of Eden:
"Adam and Eve lived happily in the garden. Then one day Satan had a plan. He went to the woman as a snake and said, 'Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?"
This story is presented in short sentences, large print, and brief passages of text on each page. The detailed illustrations highlight each story and provide context clues for early readers. There is a special section in the back featuring "People in Bible Times" and "Words to Treasure" with Scripture references.

God's Great Creation is a faithful retelling of these biblical events, and kids who are familiar with The Adventure Bible will enjoy the format of this book. My early reader is excited about reading Bible stories independently. I appreciate the careful attention to detail in this book, as well as the way the harsher details are presented in a gentle way, so even young children will enjoy this book as a read aloud.

We have enjoyed reading God's Great Creation along with our Bible curriculum as we study the days of Creation. My emerging reader is able to read this without much help, and he feels a sense of accomplishment as he learns more from the book of Genesis on his own. This book provides a fun story in a fun format, a valuable teaching tool, and a wonderful resource for developing independent Bible study in young children. The pretty illustrations make the book a nice read aloud as well, so even pre-readers will enjoy it at book time!

{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}

I Can Read! Adventure Bible Moses Leads the People

{Read my disclosure policy}

A fun Bible story for developing readers, Moses Leads the People is a fully illustrated I Can Read! title depicting the story of the Israelites plight as slaves in Egypt and Moses' leading them to freedom:
"So Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. They had been there for 430 years. They were finally free and going to God's Promised Land."

This story is presented in short sentences, large print, and brief passages of text on each page. The detailed illustrations highlight each story and provide context clues for early readers. There is a special section in the back featuring "People in Bible Times" and "Words to Treasure" with Scripture references.

Moses Leads the People is a faithful retelling of these biblical events, and kids who are familiar with The Adventure Bible will enjoy the format of this book. My early reader is excited about reading Bible stories independently. I appreciate the careful attention to detail in this book, as well as the way the harsher details are presented in a gentle way, so even young children will enjoy this book as a read aloud.

By introducing new vocabulary in manageable chunks with lots of repetition, the publisher strategically made Moses Leads the People a valuable teaching tool. For example, the following passage, which appears on a two-page spread, allows children to practice reading a possibly unfamiliar word, Pharoah, several times after introducing it:

"Moses and Aaron met with Paroah.
'What do you want?' Pharoah,
the king of Egypt, asked Moses.
'Please let the Israelites go,' said Moses.
But Pharoah said, 'No.'
So God gave Moses and Aaron some tools 
to use. They would convince Pharoah."

Not only is Moses Leads the People a wonderful way to introduce Bible events to children, but it is also a nice way to practice reading skills and engage kids with a fun format. Definitely a valuable addition to our shelves!




{The publisher provided me with a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinions.}