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Book Review

Listed in alphabetical order:


Balloons Over Broadway

Melissa Sweet (author/illustrator); published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: Through illustrations and other colorful collage and mixed-media pictures, readers learn about real-life marionette man Tony Sarg. At the age of 6, Sarg began creating puppets and rigging inventions using pulleys. In New York (as an adult), Sarg created puppet performances for Broadway and Macy's department store windows. On Thanksgiving Day, 1924, Sarg helped stage the first Macy's parade. Each year, he improved his hot-air creations until Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, with its stunning balloon puppets, became an American institution.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Sarg's father is so impressed with his son's invention for feeding chickens, he never makes Tony do another chore. Executives at Macy's give Sarg funding and creative freedom as he develops his creations for their parade.


The Berenstain Bears Get Ready for Christmas

by Jan and Mike Berenstain; published by Zonderkidz, the children's division of Zondervan

Summary: In this lift-the-flap book, the Bear family unpacks their Christmas decorations. They find a box containing Jesus in the manger, but they wonder what's happened to the rest of the scene. They search throughout the house to find Mary, Joseph and other pieces, explaining each animal or character's part in the Nativity story. When the set is complete, the Bears gather around it and say a Christmas blessing.

Christian beliefs: The Bear family members tell parts of the Christmas story as they locate those who are a part of their Nativity set depicting Christ's birth. Looking upon their completed scene, the family says, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace."

Authority roles: Mother and Father Bear decorate for Christmas. After helping the kids find the pieces of the Nativity set, they work with them to set up the manger scene.


Goodnight, Angels

by Melody Carlson (author); Sophie Allsopp (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, the children's division of Zondervan

Summary: In rhyme, a little boy says goodnight to friends, parents, toys and other items that belong in his bedtime routine. He falls asleep saying goodnight to God and the angels.

Christian beliefs: The little boy calls God his father, thanking Him for His blessings, love and care. The boy says angels are watching over him as he sleeps.

Authority roles: The boy's parents take him to play at the park before bedtime. After Mommy bathes him and combs his hair, Daddy reads a story. Mommy tucks him in, giving him lots of kisses.


How Do You Feed a Hungry Giant?

by Caitlin Friedman (author); Shaw Nielsen (illustrator); published by Workman Publishing

Summary: In this pop-up, lift-the-flaps book, Oscar and his dog, Cowgirl, find a giant in the backyard. The sad-looking giant holds up a sign requesting food. Oscar brings out more and more food. Each time, the giant gulps it down and still looks famished. About the time the kitchen and pantry shelves are bare, Mom appears. Oscar shows her the giant and his sign, and she invites him in for dinner. (The book includes a pullout booklet of eight giant-sized, kid-friendly recipes.)

Christian beliefs: None.

Authority roles: Mom is concerned as she sees Oscar dragging food into the backyard. After she sees the giant and his sign, she hospitably whips up a huge dinner. She even allows Oscar to help cook, much to his delight.


Hugs and Kisses, God, from Kids Around the World

by Allia Zobel Nolan (author); Miki Sakamoto (illustrator); published by Zonderkidz, the children's division of Zondervan

Summary: In this rhyming, lift-the-flap book, a teacher asks her students to list the ways they let God know they love Him. Students share their favorite demonstrations of love: praying, appreciating God's creation, being kind to others and reading Bible stories, to name a few.

Christian beliefs: Children pray, send God hugs and kisses, and otherwise express their love and appreciation for Him. One has a party in His honor, saying she's His princess and He's her King. One reads Bible stories with her grandma to learn about what God has done.

Authority roles: Parents, grandparents or teachers appear in nearly every illustration. They are attentive and helpful to the children. Their smiles affirm the God-honoring behavior they're witnessing.


King Jack and the Dragon

by Peter Bently (author); Helen Oxenbury (illustrator); published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Summary: Jack, Zack and baby Caspar build a castle from sticks, trash bags and a cardboard box. They spend the day battling imaginary beasts and dragons. Giants (Zack's and Caspar's parents), take Zack and Caspar home as night falls. Jack begins hearing animal noises and feels nervous. He hears something with four feet outside his castle; he's certain it's a dragon. It's actually his mom and dad, coming to bring him in for the night.

Christian beliefs: None.

Authority roles: Jack's mom hugs him and apologizes for scaring him. Dad carries Jack home on his back.


Llama Llama Home With Mama

by Anna Dewdney (author/illustrator); published by Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

Summary: Llama Llama wakes up with a fever, sore throat and cough. Mama sends him back to bed. Llama is bored. He plays a little and gets some sleep. Later, when he's feeling better, Mama starts getting sick. Llama is bored again, until he realizes he can help by taking care of Mama. He brings her tea and a tissue, and he reads to her. They fall asleep together.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Mama examines, medicates and comforts Llama. She reads to him and makes him soup.


A Mango in the Hand: A Story Told Through Proverbs

by Antonio Sacre (author); Sebastia Sena (illustrator); published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams

Summary: It's a special feast day for Francisco, and he's finally old enough to pick the mangos for the meal. But bees buzzing in the nearby mango tree hamper several of Francisco's attempts. Each time he returns home empty-handed, his father shares a proverb. He says, "Nothing bad happens that good doesn't come of it," or "It is better to give than to receive." Francisco eventually discovers his father is right: "Where there's a will, there's a way." He is able to pick some mangos. On his way home, he shares all his mangos with Tió Tito, Abuela and Tía Clara. They come to his party later that day, and Tía Clara brings mangos to replace those Francisco shared earlier.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Francisco's wise father shares advice using memorable proverbs. He urges his son to keep trying despite initial failures. Francisco's relatives encourage him along the way. Even crabby Tía Clara softens and pleasantly brings mangos to the party out of gratitude for Francisco's kindness.


Mitchell's License

by Hallie Durand (author); Tony Fucile (illustrator); published by Candlewick Press

Summary: Mitchell never wanted to go to bed — until his dad let him drive there. Humorous illustrations depict Mitchell inspecting his car, which is his father, honking dad's nose and driving him all over the house. Mitchell even tries to put gas (cookies) into his weary vehicle. Over several nights of practicing, Mitchell's driving improves. Dad tucks him into bed, and Mitchell drives off to the cookie gas station in his dreams.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Patiently and pleasantly, Mitchell's father allows the boy to drive him around, fuel him up, honk the horn and kick the tires. Mom looks on with a smile.



by Judy Ann Sadler (author); Susan Mitchell (illustrator); published by Kids Can Press Ltd.

Summary: Everyone is reaching for Baby in this rhyming tale — from Mama and Daddy to Sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. People Baby loves surround him. They reach out to pick him up, play with him, tickle him or help him stand. They kiss, sing, dance, cuddle and play horsey. Mama and Daddy say one day Baby will reach for the stars himself, but for now, he's in their hands.

Christian beliefs: None.

Authority roles: Many loving adults cuddle and play attentively with the baby. Mama and Daddy clap for and praise him when he walks on his own. They hover over his crib, smiling as they watch him sleep.

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