Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Swallowing the Golden Stone

Swallowing the Golden Stone: Stories and Essays, Walter Wangerin, Jr.
(Augsburg Fortress, 2001), hb. 183 pp.

I have only dabbled in this book so far, but I bought it because CBD has it on sale for 50 cents- for a hardback! At this price it’s worth picking up even if it only has a few good items, especially if you are already placing another order. It contains stories for kids as well as essays on writing. I wanted to go ahead and mention this, even though I can’t give an opinion yet, so you can take advantage of the deal. If you have read this book I’d be interested to hear from you.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The True Story of Noah’s Ark

The True Story of Noah's Ark, Tom Dooley
Illustrated by Bill Looney
(Master Books, 2003), hb., 73 pp.

This is a nicely done, beautifully illustrated book. There are so many, very poorly done children’s books on Noah’s Ark. This one seeks to help you understand the setting, what life would have been like at the time in addition providing an apologetic for the historicity of the event. This is all done in such a way that this is a good one for families to read together. The illustrations really helped my boys to get an idea of the immensity of the ark. The book led to some good discussions of what it would have been like to really be there during this time.
Dooley uses more complex vocabulary soemtimes which would make this more difficult with younger children or for children to read on their own. You can read it to your children though explaining as you go. The one part I thought was a reach was the suggestion that the pre-flood civilization may have achieved sophisticated technology. The page had a picture of a city with skyscrapers and a futuristic look. That was a small issue overall, however.

We really enjoyed this book.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Douglas Bond Continues the M’Kethe Story!

Quite a stir was caused at breakfast this morning when I told my boys of an email I had just received from Justin Taylor alerting me that Douglas Bond has written a new book about the M’Kethe family! The M’Kethe’s, whom we followed through the Crown & Covenant Series, have become almost dear friends to us! So we were delighted to hear that we would be able to read more of them. Bond’s new book, Guns of Thunder, is the first volume of his Faith & Freedom trilogy and picks up with Malcolm as a grandfather in pre-Revolutionary War America. Guns of Thunder was scheduled for release this month, but had some art related delays and is now expected for February. Since we are now moving into the 1700’s in history, we are looking forward to getting this book and reading it soon! You can pre-order the book at Amazon. You can see more about forthcoming books by Bond at his site.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

ESV Childrens' Bible

ESV Children's Bible
(Crossway, 2005), hb. 1632 pp.

I have been meaning for some time to write something about the ESV Children’s Bible. I have had it listed in the recommended resources on there left. The picture above is of our boys on Christmas Day when their main gift was a copy of this Bible for each one. We have had one copy to share among them previously.

This is our pick of Bibles for children. It has the regular ESV text, which we use at church so they can follow along. It also contains nicely done pictures by Allen Parry, pictures that illustrate well without being cheesy or intrusive. Before the biblical text there is some good introductory material. “The Bible, God’s Message to Us” provides a good introduction to what the Bible is (focusing on what it teaches us about God) and how to read and respond to it (pray, meditate, apply). Then there is a list of verses on what the Bible says about itself, some information about how this Bible is arranged.

After the biblical text there is an additional 80 pages of material including an overview of key doctrines, a gospel overview, help for memorizing verses, a Bible reading plan, a section entitled “Learning to Pray” and a good dictionary.

These are very useful tools that can be used at different levels. A child may not use all the tools when he or she first gets the Bible. As the child grows, then, more of the tools may become of interest and use. This is a great resource.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Twila Paris, “Bedtime Prayers: Lullabies & Peaceful Worship”

Twila Paris, “Bedtime Prayers: Lullabies & Peaceful Worship”

My wife and I are long time Twila Paris fans so it is no surprise that we liked this CD as well. We like having peaceful music to play as we put little ones (bed baby stage) to bed. This is a really nice one. Twila Paris writes in the album cover:

"This is a lullaby album, but my goal is not just to help children go to sleep.
Hopefully the music will do that and will simply minister peace during quieter
waking moments of the day. However, as I wrote these lyrics, I felt that my
ultimate purpose was to gently instill foundational truths in young vulnerable
I think she succeeds well in writing lyrics for such a goal. These are good songs of faith. Her song, “More Than I Can Say,” is moving to me because after she makes the point that God placed you in a family to learn of his love she goes on to other verses for children who have no family or are lacking a parent. She points to how God has promised to fill up what is lacking.

Her song, “Your Whole Life Long,” puts in words some of what I pray for my children.
“I pray …
That He will always comfort you
And make you brave and strong
I pray that you will follow him
Your whole life long
I pray that you will grow up
To be good and wise and true
I pray that you will please the Lord
In everything you do”

This is a wonderful CD.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Before Columbus: The Leif Eriksson Expedition

Before Columbus: The Leif Eriksson Expedition, Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
Landmark Books, (Random House, 2003), pb., 98 pp.

I remember enjoying Landmark books when I was a kid, so I anticipated reading some to my boys. This one is a good tool for telling the basic story of the Viking discovery of the New World. It is not a riveting retelling, but it covers the basics well. An author’s note tells you clearly what was based on data from the old sagas and what was invented by the author to fill in the blanks. That helps a lot.

One intriguing thing is that according to the author, she did not have data about Leif and Erik’s response to the introduction of Christianity by King Olaf. Without concrete data, she tells the story with Leif and Erik rejecting Christianity and holding to the old Norse gods. I wonder why she chose to present the story that way. Since we have already dealt with the Greek and Norse gods and how even in their own descriptions they are inferior to the One true God of the Bible, this was no big deal for us. However, if you have not crossed this bridge yet, then you would need to be prepared for it.

In summary, this book is useful for the history, but is not nearly as enticing as many others we have read. It is short, though, so if your children are accustomed to listening you can work through it.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

The Beggars' Victory

The Beggars' Victory, Piet Prins
The Struggle for Freedom Series, vol. 3
(Inheritance Publications, 2006), pb., 173 pp.

I have previously reviewed vol 1 and vol 2 of this series, often referring to them as the “Martin and Boudewyn books.” This book seems to complete the story (though a fourth volume is projected). This book opens with Martin, his father and Boudewyn on the sea with others of the Sea Beggars, the independent ‘navy’ that fought for Dutch liberation from Spain. In the end, the main characters are able to return to their home which they had fled in volume 1.

This is a solid book that will introduce you and your children to some important history. However, it is hard to read/follow. With so many difficult Dutch names (of people and places), the introduction of so many different characters, and the apparent assumption of a working knowledge of Dutch geography reading can be slow and difficult. I often summarized or skipped place names. It was difficult to follow the train of thought in places because I did not know the relation between various cities or which names referred to regions and which referred to cities. The story itself was fine but not real compelling. It certainly would be difficult for any story that follows the reading of a particularly excellent story like the Crown & Covenant Series. The Crown & Covenant Series is better told and handles issues of self-defense, forgiveness, etc. in a better way. I think that volumes 2 and 3 of the Struggle for Freedom Series did not rise to the same level of volume 1.

In the end, my boys enjoyed this book, I think largely because they were already into the story. This is a fine book, but will require some work to read.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How Great Our Joy

How Great Our Joy: Family Memories & Meditations for Christmas
Ray and Anne Ortlund
(B&H, 2001), small hb., 124 pp.

I am late in getting some Christmas books posted, but I’ll go ahead and put them up. They’ll be here for next year and you might be able to get them on sale now! :)

This little book has been a favorite of ours. It was one of the first ones that my wife and I found where a godly family discussed some of their own traditions. The book is not systematic discussion of a topic but a collection of musings on Christmas themes with interspersed reflections on their own family gatherings and classic paintings.