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Book Review

Listed in alphabetical order:

A Brave Big Sister: A Bible Story About Miriam

by Rachel Spier Weaver and Anna Haggard (authors); Eric Elwell (illustrator); published by Harvest Kids, a registered trademark of The Hawkins Children’s LLC and Harvest House Publishers Inc.

Summary: Miriam and her family are Israelites, slaves to the people of Egypt. Miriam’s mother has just given birth to a son. When the Egyptian king fears an Israelite will take his place, he says Israelite baby boys are no longer allowed in his kingdom. Miriam’s family can no longer hide the baby, so they put him in a basket on the Nile River. Miriam prays and keeps watch over the child. When an Egyptian princess finds him, Miriam says she knows a woman who can feed him. Miriam brings her own mother to become the baby’s ¬caretaker. The princess names him Moses and adopts him. When Miriam is an adult, God makes her part of the team that saves the Israelites from captivity. He also endows her with a beautiful singing voice. After the parting of the Red Sea, Miriam sings, dances, plays a tambourine and leads her people in celebrating God’s miracle.

Christian beliefs: This story is based on Exodus 2, Exodus 12:31-15:21 and Micah 6:4.

Authority roles: God loves Miriam, hears her prayers and uses her for His purposes. Pharaoh bans Egyptian boys from his land when he fears one may steal his throne. Moses’ parents do their best to keep their son safe under these circumstances. An Egyptian princess has compassion on Moses and adopts him, even though he is an Israelite.

Dad and the Dinosaur

by Gennifer Choldenko (author); Dan Santat (illustrator); published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group, a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

Summary: Little Nick is afraid of everything, including darkness, bugs and the undersides of manhole covers. His dad, Big Nick, seems fearless. Little Nick feels brave like his dad when he has his toy dinosaur in his pocket. He keeps his dinosaur with him when he plays sports, swims or sleeps. One night at a soccer game, Little Nick loses his dinosaur on the field. He doesn’t want to tell his mom, but his fears begin to return on the ride home. Dad walks in after the boy has a bad dream, and Little Nick tells him about the missing dinosaur. Dad takes Little Nick back to the dark soccer field right then, and they use flashlights to find the dinosaur. Little Nick asks Dad not to tell Mom about the toy or how it makes him feel, and their secret creates a special father-son bond.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Both parents are loving and attentive. Dad respects Little Nick’s desire to conceal his fears from Mom. When they go out looking for the dinosaur, Dad tells Mom they’re doing “guy stuff.” Little Nick’s special alliance with Dad makes him feel valued and understood.

La Princesa and the Pea

by Susan Middleton Elya (author); Juana Martinez-Neal (illustrator); published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group, a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

Summary: Whimsical illustrations inspired by Peruvian culture accompany a humorous, poetic retelling of this classic fairy tale. Spanish words appear throughout the story and are defined in a glossary at the front of the book. A beautiful girl arrives at the castle seeking lodging. The prince falls for her immediately, to his doting mama’s chagrin. La Reina has servants pile stacks of mattresses in the guest room, and she hides a small pea at the bottom. She believes that if the girl is a real princess, the bed will be too lumpy for her to sleep well. Mama is convinced of the girl’s royalty when the young woman emerges tired and droopy-eyed the next morning. She allows her son to wed, and the couple has many children. The prince and his bride never tell Mama the truth: The prince had hidden pitchforks and stones between the mattresses to help his true love pass the queen’s test.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: The queen babies her son and turns away many potential wives because they’re not perfect enough for him. When she’s convinced their guest is a princess, she reluctantly throws them a fancy wedding. She is depicted on the last page smiling broadly with arms full of grandchildren.

Les & Ronnie Step Out

by Andrew Kolb (author/illustrator); published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, a registered trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

Summary: Les and Ronnie are feet. They live on the same body, but they are nothing alike. Serious Les likes his routine, his neutral-colored footwear and responsible activities like folding laundry. Ronnie likes to dance and wear crazy socks that may or may not be clean. When a skateboard accident leaves Ronnie with a sprained ankle, Les likes the calmness for a while. Then he realizes Ronnie is sad, and they’re both bored. Les’ favorite activities — sharpening pencils and such — don’t cheer up Ronnie. Finally, Les decides to break out of his comfort zone and dance. Ronnie is thrilled to watch, and Les discovers a new passion. After Ronnie’s ankle heals, they dance together.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: A doctor wraps Ronnie’s ankle and tells the nervous feet that Ronnie will be better in no time.

The Life of Martin Luther

bby Agostino Traini (author/illustrator); published by Spark House Family (now called Beaming Books)

Summary: This pop-up book begins by depicting a young Martin Luther caught in a storm. He vows to become a monk if God will save him. When God rescues him, he devotes his life to studying the Bible. The church requires people to pay for their salvation, but Martin discovers the Bible says people are saved by faith, not money. He writes down 95 ways he disagrees with the church, and his statements anger many important people. Martin’s supporters spirit him to safety. He spends the rest of his life writing and translating the Bible into German so people can read it for themselves. His writings inspire the Reformation Movement and bring big changes to the way Christians understand and live out their faith.

Christian beliefs: Martin devotes his life to serving God, discovering His will and making His Word accessible to all. He stands up for his faith, even when his beliefs are unpopular.

Authority roles: Church leaders are angry with Martin and urge him to take back his criticisms.

Little Excavator

by Anna Dewdney (author/illustrator); published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group

Summary: Little E is a small excavator. He tries to knock down walls, load junk, haul large items and dig deep ditches like the bigger vehicles on the construction site. Each time he fails because of his size. The other vehicles remind him he’s too little to do their big jobs. The final task of the day involves crossing a narrow bridge to plant a tree. Only Little E is small enough to complete the job. The other vehicles praise him and remind him he will grow bigger in time. They call him a mighty little excavator.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: The larger vehicles tell Little E he is too small to help. When his size proves an asset for their last task, they admire and praise his work.

Love You Always

by Eileen Spinelli (author); Gillian Flint (illustrator); published by Worthy Kids/Ideals, an imprint of Worthy Publishing Group, a division of Worthy Media Inc.

Summary: Simple rhyming lines remind young readers they are loved by Mom, Dad, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends. Seasons change, as do a child’s behaviors, activities and emotions, but love from family does not waver. Soft watercolor illustrations depict children playing and interacting with attentive relatives.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Various grown-up family members share smiles, hugs and time with the children in their lives.

When God Made You

by Matthew Paul Turner (author); David Catrow (illustrator); published by WaterBrook, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Summary: little girl in cornrow braids and overalls paints at the park. Her bright, splashy designs come to life in the form of imaginary creatures. In rhyme, a narrator tells readers what God sees when He looks at them. God created every physical detail of you before you were born, he explains. God sees the beauty and color that only you can bring to the world through your talents, dreams and imagination. God wants you to be kind and giving, confident and strong, viewing others through the eyes of love. The narrator concludes by saying the reader is God’s dream coming true.

Christian beliefs: The narrator conveys God’s love for and pride in His children. He urges readers to act in ways that glorify God and make the world a better place.

Authority roles: An adult artist in the park watches in awe as the little girl’s paintings come to life.

Winter Dance

by Marion Dane Bauer (author); Richard Jones (illustrator); published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Summary: A red fox in the forest sees the first few flakes of snow. He wonders what to do, now that winter is coming. A caterpillar suggests he curl himself up into a chrysalis. A turtle tells him to swim down into the water and bury himself in mud. Bats, bears, squirrels, geese and rabbits also give ideas based on their own winter routines. The fox realizes none of these things will work for him. Then he meets another fox, who reminds him that in the winter, foxes dance. The two dance happily together in the snowy twilight.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None

Your Magnificent Chooser

by John Ortberg (author); Robert Dunn (illustrator); published by Tyndale Kids, a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers Inc.

Summary: In simple rhyme, a narrator tells children they each have a Chooser. Choosers (or, the God-given capacity to choose and decide) are depicted like fuzzy helium balloons with faces that stand beside the children in the story. The narrator explains that Choosers help us make decisions, develop good habits and overcome disagreements with friends or family members. He says Choosers get stronger over time, but they can still make mistakes sometimes. He encourages children to seek God when they feel stuck with tough decisions. He tells them to go out and use their Chooser to do something great.

Christian beliefs: The narrator reminds readers that God gave them Choosers and wants them to use their Chooser the way Jesus would. He urges readers to pray for help when they don’t know how to choose, because God has the best Chooser of all.

Authority roles: One illustration shows a boy trying to decide whether to defy his mother when she asks him nicely to clean his room. Another shows a girl using her Chooser wisely. She shows love to her mom with a hug.

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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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