Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beween God & Me: A Journey Through Proverbs

By Reviewer Leeann N. Cronk
Author: Vicki Courtney
Primary Audience/age group: Girls ages 9-12
Genre: Nonfiction
# Of pages: 150
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Year of Release: 2010
Part of a Series? No (although other “issues” are available)
Rating: 5 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Description (from Amazon Product Description): Vicki Courtney speaks timeless truth to school-age girls in a modern language they understand. Her TeenVirtue and TeenVirtue: Confidential releases won ECPA Christian Book Awards while Between (for ages 8 to 12) landed on the industry’s young adult best seller list. Now, Between God and Me hits the “tween” scene with social talk that’s rooted in chapter-by-chapter wisdom from Proverbs. Amidst the cool, magazine-style photographs and colorful Q&A’s, kids will discover what’s not so cool about hanging with the wrong crowd, gossiping, being lazy or selfish, or having a bad temper. Girls will have all kinds of fun as they begin to understand that God has a greater purpose for their lives—even at this age

Review: I thought this was an engaging and thought-provoking book for pre-teen girls. It is an excellent Bible-study of the book of Proverbs that relates Old-Testament wisdom to modern day life. The publication tries to come across as “magazine-style”, but it really wasn't. The graphics and lay-out strive for this, but in reality I feel it is best read chronologically from front to back (unlike a real magazine with multiple articles and blurbs that can be read in any order). Additionally, the terminology “in this issue” is used (because there are other “Between” publications) which led me to further expect a traditional magazine-style read. When I began reading, it took me a while to get over the fact that it wasn't really a magazine – at least not the kind of magazine I was used to. Once I realized I was dealing with a Bible-study for young girls and started viewing it through that lens, I was able to appreciate it for all that it has to offer. I feel the lessons and thought provoking questions were excellent and that it had a lot to offer for girls in the upper-end of elementary school and into middle-school or junior-high. Girls who enjoy reading and answering questions on their own will probably get into the format and get a lot out of it. For less self-motivated girls, it would be an excellent tool to use in group settings.

Rating: 5

Positive: This book is full of positive, Christian-based encouragement for young girls. Every idea presented is Biblical, and it is an excellent resource for parents and/or teachers.

Spiritual Elements: This publication is full of spiritual insight that is based strictly on Biblical principles.

Violence: None

Language: None (unless you're offended by the term “poopy turds”. The author used this term to describe a disgusting habit her dog has).

Sexual Content: None

Other: Real-life situations where people do not live up to God's standards are relayed, but always against the conversation of what God wants us to be doing instead of what we might actually be doing

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to girls between the ages of 9 and 12. It would be especially useful in a Sunday-school or Bible-study setting.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Asking for Trouble

Reviewed by: Shawna
Title: Asking for Trouble
Author: Sandra Byrd
Primary Audience/age group: 10+
Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Year of Release: 2010
Part of a Series? Yes, 1 of 2 (London Confidential)
Rating: 5 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Description: Fifteen year old Savvy has recently moved to London from America and finds that her new home is quite different: fashion, culture, and “proper” English. When a position on the school newspaper opens up, Savvy thinks this is just the right place for her to belong. But, without the experience, she has to come up with a way to show the very cute editor that she has the right stuff without making a spectacle of her American self. But, will she be able to stick to her Christian principles and still fit in?

Review: Asking for Trouble is a light-hearted read that shows how 15-year old Savvy is able to adjust to life as an American teenager in London. She struggles with being the outsider in a new country and with leaving her old friends behind at first. But, God leads her through these struggles and grows her in her faith along the way. One of my favorite aspects of the book is when Savvy learns some new “proper” British terms. It was fun to see the two cultures collide. All in all, Savvy is a very likeable character who is able to do the right thing in the end.

Rating: 5

Positive: At first Savvy lies about her writing experience in order to be on the newspaper but is given the opportunity anyway to prove herself. She seeks God’s guidance on the Advice Column she’s writing and is even able to sneak tidbits of Bible truth into her responses.

Spiritual Elements: Savvy prays to God for wisdom, and she uses the Bible as a guide for writing her articles.

Violence: none

Language: none

Sexual Content: none

Other: none

Recommendation: I would recommend this book as a fun, light read. Even though Savvy’s character is older, I think younger children would still be able to identify with her and enjoy the book. I recommend ages 10 and up.

Monday, September 13, 2010

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth

By Reviewer: Dianne
Title: As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth
Author: Lynne Rae Perkins
Primary Audience/age group: Middle school and up
Genre: Realistic Fiction
# Of pages: 352
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Year of Release: 2010
Part of a Series? No
Rating: 4 (View Scale)
Recommend? Yes

Description: Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. This pretty much sums up the start of 16-year-old Ry’s summer. As Ry is on a train heading for a summer camp program in the middle of the Montana wilderness, he comes across an unopened envelope from the camp marked “Urgent” which he had simply stuck in his luggage and forgotten. Upon opening it, he finds that summer camp has been cancelled. He tries to call his grandfather who is dog sitting in their new home in Wisconsin while his parents go off on a Caribbean vacation. Of course there is no reception on the train, so when a mechanical problem delays the train he steps off to see if he can get through to him. As he seeks a spot where he might be able to make the call, he notices that the train appears to be moving…and indeed it is, leaving him in who-knows-where Montana. One catastrophe after another ensues with virtually every character (even the dogs) in this novel, leaving the reader somewhat breathless, and highly entertained. Will Ry ever be reunited again with his family?

Review: This book was fun to read. The point of view changes as we follow our hero through his wild adventure across the United States and to the Caribbean. Even his dogs put in their two cents worth... but the dog version of what is going on is done in pictures. (What? You thought dogs could read and write??) Although the coincidences in the story are totally unbelievable, it doesn’t make you shake you head in disbelief and toss the book aside. It’s way too entertaining for that.

Rating: 4 for mild language

Positive: Ry learns a lot from his rescuer, Del. Del tends to be the white knight that comes to the rescue whenever needed and will literally give you the shirt off his back. He is not afraid to work with his hands and displays an optimistic attitude about pretty much everything. Ry picks up on this and by the end has found satisfaction in helping out wherever he can. It’s a good lesson in “love your neighbor”.

Spiritual Elements: None

Violence: None

Language: There were some mild language issues in this book.

Sexual Content: None

Other: None

Recommendation: Even though Ry was 16 years old, I would not hesitate to recommend it to middle school and up.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mockingjay

Reviewed by: Rachel
Title: Mockingjay
Author: Suzanne Collins
Primary Audience/age group: 12 and up
Genre: Science Fiction
# Of pages: 398
Publisher: Scholastic
Year of Release: 2010
Part of a Series?: 3 out of 3 the Hunger Games Series
Rating: 2 (View Scale)
Recommend? No

Review of Hunger Games (Book 1) and Catching Fire (Book 2)

Description: After surviving the Hunger Games twice, Katniss takes part in a rebellion against the Capitol and becomes “The Mockingjay” the symbol of the uprising. She struggles as she tries to unite the districts and give them the passion they need to fight no matter what the circumstance. With every step things get harder, people get hurt and die, and she starts to lose hope, beginning to ask herself if the rebels can really bring down the Capitol.

Review: The first two books captured my interest, and I couldn’t stop reading them. This book, however, was really slow and was about one thing- war. Either they were talking about war strategy or they were in war. Katniss ends up in the hospital so many times that after her first four visits the reader just hopes that she will stay in there because she is going to end up back in a hospital bed anyway. It wasn’t like the first two books at all, and I have to say I was really disappointed at the lack of Peeta- Katniss moments.

Rating: 2 for violence

Positive: Katniss loves her family and her friends and they are willing to do anything for each other. District two doesn’t join the rebellion at first and a few people just want to blow them up but Katniss refuses, telling them there has to be some other way. She cares about human life, and doesn’t want unnecessary losses.

Spiritual Elements: none.

Violence: Unlike the first book where Collins keeps the violence to a minimum, there is a great amount in The Mockingjay. People are decapitated, burned alive, stabbed and shot… oh and blown up. A bunch of planes come by and bomb a hospital full of men, women, and children. They all die. President Snow uses hundreds of children as a human shields. Without any hesitation, the rebels blow up the children and Collins says that the streets are littered with human body parts and blood. Many people are tortured. The book doesn’t describe this in detail, but we know that one girl was soaked and then they would pulse electrical charges through her body. They also torture one boy by cutting off his fingers and toes. At one point a characters legs are blown off, and he dies soaked in his own blood. Katniss is so depressed that a couple of times she contemplates suicide. At one point she even makes an attempt to kill herself.

Language: none

Sexual Content: There is a little bit of kissing, but not as much as in the other books. It is said that after the Hunger Games, if the winner is good looking, the Capitol would sell “their bodies” to people. Finnick admit that this is what happened to him.

Other: Haymitch is still a drunk and at one point drinks himself unconscious.

Recommendation: I do not recommend this book. There were parts were I grimaced at the violence. Of course war is violent, but Collins doesn’t try to save us from the gore like in the other books. Spoiler: It was very depressing and so many of the characters died that you are sad by the time you are done reading it.