Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Easter Stories

Easter Stories: Classic Tales for the Holy Season is a collection of classic stories, ideal for reading aloud during the Easter season, compiled by Miriam Le Blanc and illustrated by Lisa Toth. Authors include C. S. Lewis, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Anton Chekhov, Alan Paton, Ruth Sawyer, The Brothers Grimm, and more, and each story is accompanied by a woodcut print.

During the season leading up to Easter, it is nice to have a resource that helps us meditate on the true meaning of the season. Bunnies, Easter eggs, and baskets of treats are fun, but we should also remember the reason we celebrate Easter in the first place. Sharing stories like the selections in Easter Stories in our family is a great way to focus on the spiritual side of Easter.

One of our favorite selections in this anthology is "Stories from the Cotton Patch Gospel" by Clarence Jordan, a retelling of the New Testament in the idiom of the American South:

"And while they were busting out all over with joy, and wondering if they could believe their own eyes, he asked, 'Have you got anything around here to eat?'

Somebody brought him a piece of fried fish. He took it and ate it right there in front of them.

He said to them, 'All this is what I was talking about while I was still with you--how everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the Prophets and Psalms had to take place'" (p. 52).

Similar is style to Home for Christmas, the stories in Easter Stories: Classic Tales for the Holy Season are just the right length to read in one or two sittings, especially as a read aloud for older kids. My kids anticipate the fun each year as we plan to spend time with family and hunt eggs in the yard, and Easter is a favorite holiday in my home. Easter Stories is adding another dimension to our Easter season by providing material we are spending time reflecting on. I like the fact that these stories are of high literary quality, and I have incorporated this book into our homeschool literature curriculum for the spring.

The publisher provided a review copy for my honest opinions. Learn more here.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Grandma's Guest Review: Where Trust Lies

Where Trust Lies by Jannette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

This story begins when Beth comes home after teaching for a year in the Canadian West. 

She has had a wonderful year of teaching and has met a Mountie who she is very attracted to before leaving for home. When she arrives home, she learns that her family has planned a very long cruise for the family. 

With mixed emotions Beth joins them but quickly realizes she has left her heart elsewhere. She and Jarrick stay in touch by mail and phone. It is a difficult separation for them both. Beth enjoys getting reacquainted with her family, especially younger sister Julie. The girls meet two other girls and a young man, Nick, on the cruise and begin doing things together.

Is this a good plan, and what will come of it? There is much suspicion and many tense moments. Beth's Mountie enters the picture, and a mystery is solved. 

This is a wonderful book about family loyalty and a strong faith in God and belief that everything should be taken to the Lord in prayer. It is difficult to review without giving away many twists and turns. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone wishing a good Christian read.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Candle Tiny Tots Lift the Flap Bible

A cute way to introduce toddlers to God's story is through the Candle Tiny Tots Lift the Flap Bible. This large board book features sturdy flaps on each page that young children can lift to reveal another part of the story or to answer a parent-guided question, such as what will happen next or why something happens.

Lift the Flap Bible includes stories of Noah, Moses, Daniel, Jonah, and Jesus. These stories are very short and rely heavily on the illustrations, making the book a great conversation starter for parent and child. It is an interactive book meant for parent and child to sit down with together--but it is also a nice book to bring along to keep toddlers occupied during church services.

The cute and colorful illustrations are vibrant and engaging. Different emotions are featured related to the stories, but in a gentle, non-scary way. The people in the field who are starving look worried, until Jesus provides food for them, and their faces show their comfort and bewilderment. Subtle details like this help introduce bigger themes to young children and prepare them for the full stories from Scripture.

Lift the Flap Bible is larger than typical board books, with rounded corners and sturdy cardstock flaps.

Monday, January 26, 2015

My Little Life of Jesus

My Little Life of Jesus is a simple retelling of the story of Jesus especially for preschoolers. With a padded hardcover, this book contains more than sixty colorful pages of stories, including:
  • The very first Christmas
  • Jesus and his family
  • Why Jesus came
  • Jesus returns to Jerusalem
  • The very first Easter
  • Jesus is alive!
Complete with verse references, My Little Life of Jesus also features a map of the places Jesus lived and a presentation page for gifting.

Pictures fill each page, holding kids' attention as parents and caregivers read the sweet stories to them. The stories are just the right length to keep preschoolers interested as they learn about the major events in Jesus' life.

"Many sick people came to Jesus. People with bad backs and bad legs. People who couldn't see and people who couldn't hear" (p. 41).

This book gives preschoolers a good introduction into the major events of Jesus' life:
  • His birth in the stable
  • Being baptized by John
  • Meeting the disciples
  • Preaching and teaching in towns and villages
  • Returning to Heaven
My Little Life of Jesus is a sweet retelling of these parts of the Bible, and it is a nice way to expose young kids to the Gospel.

The publisher sent a review copy for my honest opinions.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grandma's Guest Review: Like a Flower in Bloom

Grandma's latest review is for Like a Flower in Bloom by Siri Mitchell. The publisher sent us a review copy in exchange for our unbiased opinions. Keep reading to see what Grandma thought of this book.

Like a Flower in Bloom was captivating from beginning to end.

It begins in England in 1852 with Charlotte and her father, a botanist writing and illustrating books. As an avid gardener, I found the descriptions of plants and flowers so wonderful.

Charlotte has been managing writing and the family household since the death of her mother, also a writer, because her Father was unable to cope. The Admiral, Charlotte's uncle arrives on the scene to try and make things easier for Charlotte and to introduce her to society.

Also arriving is Mr. Trimble, along with some specimens of his. Mr. Trimble was known to be a sheep farmer and had come to assist Charlotte and her father.

It becomes quite an amusing story as Charlotte is introduced into society to find a husband, all the while being "tutored" by Mr. Trimble. After a circle of events, revelations are revealed about Mr. Trimble, and the ending of the book is delightful and satisfying.

I most enjoyed the field trips and the wonderful descriptions of plant life, After reading Like a Flower in Bloom, I have a much better understanding of the importance of the work a botanist does.

It was hard to stop reading and put the book down each night, and I would highly recommend it, especially if you are a gardener and have a love of plant life.