Monday, October 10, 2016

How Three Brothers Saved the Navy

How Three Brothers Saved the Navy, by Charles A. Salter
(The Kare Kids Adventures #3)
(Outskirts Press, 2016), pb., 111 pp.

Think of the Hardy Boys in a military family and you have a good idea of what this book is like. Three brothers- Matt (12 yrs old), Ryan (10 yrs old), and Jake (8 yrs old)- like to play like they are Force Recon Marines drawing from various things they have learned from their father who is a Captain in the U.S. Navy. In one of their adventures they stumble across a terrorist plot to destroy US aircraft carriers using HALO jumpers. In the ensuing adventure the boys display heroism, courage, teamwork and perseverance as they help to foil the terrorist attempt.

This was a fun read and my 10 year old daughter and nine year old son loved it. Some will probably scoff at the idea of boys this age accomplishing what is recorded in this story or even fret over suggesting to other children that they should seek to take on armed enemies. Such people will miss the point of the book. Is the accomplishment of these boys outlandish? Of course! But that is part of the point. It isn’t likely that any of our children will discover a new world in the back of one of our wardrobes or closets and become kings or queens of those worlds. Nor are we suggesting they find wolves or witches to kill. Rather we want them to be inspired by the courage, initiative and care for others demonstrated in these stories. Salter’s story succeeds well in this goal as he portrays hard working confident children who engage the outdoors, work together and are attentive to their surroundings.

We really enjoyed this book and commend it to you.




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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Crescent and the Cross: The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad

The Crescent and the Cross: The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, Robert Rogland
(Saluda Press, 2015), pb., 208 pp
$12.95 + shipping & tax (how to purchase)
Ages 7-14

I found out about this book because the author is a friend of Douglas Bond, one of our favorite authors. With the friend connection and the idea of the book, I was intrigued.

This is a well-conceived story building on the well-known seven voyages of Sinbad and then telling of an eighth voyage during which Sinbad comes to faith in Jesus. The book is filled with good adventure, as the characters get out of one scrape just to fall into another (like the original Sinbad stories). The theological topics are handled well. The evangelization is done well and isn’t “bam” all of a sudden as is sometimes the case in Christian books. However, I do wonder if Muslims would think they were fairly represented, or if more of a straw man were presented. That thought nagged at me, but it was good for reading to my children (which is the intended audience).


This is a fun book which takes up significant theological truths in a way accessible to children, so I commend it to you. You can find information on how to purchase a copy at this link.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Comic Book Hero Bible

The Lion ComicBook Hero Bible, by Siku, Richard Thomas & Jeff Anderson
(Lion Hudson, 2015), hb. 192 pp.

This is Bible story book meets Marvel Comics. According to the publisher, this is the first Bible retelling to engage with and challenge the superhero genre. Here is an excerpt of the publishers description:

The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible is a dynamic expression of the Bible's depth and power, produced in the style of Marvel Comics. You've heard of Spiderman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Now meet Earthman, Lawman, Warrior Man, and many others. With dynamic illustration using a range of styles, Siku (Old Testament) and Jeff Anderson (New Testament) bring the Bible stories alive for a new and graphically sophisticated generation.”

The Bible does indeed have grand, epic stories and this fact is often missed by potential Bile readers. I heartily welcome efforts to help people grasp the power of the biblical stories. This retelling is generally faithful to the text, though of course it must be selective and move fast. At points I think it captures well the dramatic realities of the story. However, in general, I fear the truths of the text get lost in the medium. Is it really helpful to portray Deborah as a warrior with a spear known as “the Iron Maiden”(that's her just to the right of center on the cover picture)? Were the giants referred to in the OT, including Goliath, animalistic? It is not always clear when they present a character in a factual way or take some artistic license for another purpose. To their credit, they do make clear that Jesus is the ultimate hero of the biblical story.


In the end, I cannot recommend the book. It could be fine, but it manages to over-dramatize. I would commend instead The Picture Bible, which I have commented on previously.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Job in Poetry and Pictures


Illustrated by Todd Shaffer
(P&R, 2015), pb., 32 pp.

If you have read this blog for any time you will know that Douglas Bond is one of my family’s favorite authors. I had the opportunity to read the text of this new book a good while back, so I was eager to see the finished product. It did not disappoint.

Bond faithfully retells the story of Job in poetic form. The rhyme and rhythm makes the reading even more enjoyable as well as memorable. My younger children loved it! Then, Shaffer has done a good job capturing the feel of the story in his illustrations. The only character who Is not presented in the appearance of the Ancient Near East is Satan who looks like a mad professor from today!

The book closes with an original hymn by Bond which makes the Christological connection with Job’s expectant hope of a Redeemer. There is also in the back a list of difficult words explained, a quiz, and some questions for thought.


This is a great book for families- fun, educational and enriching. We warmly commend it to you.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The LEGO Architect

The Lego Architect, by Tom Alphin
(No Starch Press, 2015), hb., 186 pp.
Ages 8+

This book is a fascinating idea well presented. The author presents seven different architectural styles and then shows how to build in that style with Lego pieces. To get started he presents a brief history of architecture, and throughout the book he presents nice color photos of good examples of buildings from around the world in each style. I just expected a guide to building with Lego, but realized this was also an engaging way to learn about real architecture.


The guides to building with Lego are detailed and easy to follow. If you or your children enjoy Lego, this will be a fun book for building and learning.

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The Origin of "The Night Before Christmas"

Illustrated by Susan Winget
(Schiffer Publishing, 2013), hb., 54 pp.
Ages 4 & up

This is a fun book, richly illustrated, telling the story of how the famous poem, “The Night Before Christmas” was conceived. Apparently Clement Moore first developed and told the poem as a Christmas present for his sick daughter. The poem was first published anonymously. Some suggest Moore did not put his name to it because he didn’t think such popular verse was fitting for his reputation as a scholar of biblical languages. He told his family the story of how the ideas came together for the poem, and the family passed the story down across generations. Then, Ms. Dinghy Sharp, great-great-granddaughter of Clement Moore told the story to Mark Moulton who has put it into verse reminiscent of the poem itself for this book. The result is fascinating and fun.

I thought the story in verse was well done and engaging. It was a delight to see pieces of the famous poem embedded in the author’s experience the night of writing the poem, from the sleigh, to sugar plums to a kindly old woodman who was secretly leaving firewood for families. This woodman, who was “rotund and jolly,” had a white beard, was dressed in red coat, and was known for telling stories to the village children gathered round in the general store.


It was fun to me to discover that Clement Moore was a biblical scholar (he published a Hebrew-English Lexicon), and watching for echoes of the poem in Moore’s Christmas Eve outing was a delight. We had a lot of fun with this book and commend it to you.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Snoopy Treasures

The Snoopy Treasures: A Celebration of the World Famous Beagle, by Nat Gertler
(Thunder Bay Press, 2015), hb., 175 pp.
Ages 5+

This is a fun, beautifully produced book that will delight any Snoopy fan. Packed with images and memorabilia, this book tells the story of Snoopy's beginning and development over time. I had no idea how the drawing of Snoopy had changed from the beginning. Several envelope pages are also included which contain mini posters, pennants and other items. We all enjoyed this book, from the younger kids all the way up to me!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Time: It’s All About Jesus,

Illustrated by Alicia Young
(Aneko Press, 2015), pb., 28 pp.
Ages 2-9

You might be tempted to overlook this book as just one more Christmas story with simply a cute story & very little biblical content. But, that would be a real mistake! I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  The author retells the Christmas story following very closely the accounts from Matthew and Luke in poetic form. I was impressed by how careful she was to follow the biblical text, and the nice poetry made the reading even more fun and engaging.

Part of the Christmas tradition in our house is retelling the Christmas story on Christmas morning. The form of the retelling has grown with our children, often involving them acting out, with little figurines, what I read. If we had had this little book when our kids were smaller, I would have used this for our reading. It is that good.

So, as you prepare for Christmas this year, this is a fun, readable book- one which your children might continue to read for themselves, as mine have. We warmly commend it to you as we prepare to celebrate the wonder of the Incarnation.

In fact, I have an extra copy to give away! Pass on word about this review and you will be entered in the drawing to receive a free copy. You can link to this on Twitter (@rvannest), Facebook, or your own site. Provide your link in the comments here to insure I see it and enter you in the contest.

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