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Children’s Corner — The Marvelous Mud House

7 Dec

Ben and his American family live in a hungry ranch house where they are always wanting more. But then they travel far across the world to Kenya and visit the marvelous mud house where George and Mama George live. There, among the mango trees, they discover a marvelous lesson about what it’s like to be full of joy instead.

 

 

April Graney is the author of The Marvelous Mud House, a whimsical true story about finding contentment and joy based on her family’s trip to Kenya. Her passions are pointing her own five children towards the grace of God, serving in ministry at New Life Ranch in Oklahoma with her husband, and teaching children and parents about God’s heart for the world and those living in poverty. She enjoys early morning runs with friends, growing tomatoes and herbs, taking naps, drinking coffee, blogging and attempting to be an artist. She has a master’s degree in Biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, and has taught Bible study methods to teenagers, and spoken at leadership camps, and mother/daughter retreats. Her blog is http://www.aprilgraney.com.

Alida Massari is an award-winning artist who studied Illustration at the European Institute of Design in Rome. She finds inspiration from ancient art and architecture. She describes her work as modern with an ancient atmosphere.

My Impressions:

With bold and richly colored illustrations and a message of joy in all circumstances, The Marvelous Mud House is the perfect addition to your home library. The story centers on two very different families — one in Kenya and the other in the United States. There is an obvious difference in the economic state of each family, but it is the contentment in want versus discontent in plenty that will make an impression on your kids. George and his Mama have a faith that God will provide and they find joy in all aspects of their life. The Smith family, on the other hand, are always hungry for more, even when their cup overflows. The contrasts are excellent and will make your kids (and you!) think about the many blessings they enjoy, and perhaps spark creative ways to help others! The book provides a Parent Connection that will assist you in leading a discussion including truths found in the Bible. There are Kenyan words to learn and actual artwork from George’s village to enjoy.

Although not a Christmas story, The Marvelous Mud House is the perfect book to read during the weeks leading up to Christmas because of its focus on God and His provision. Consider making this one part of your family read-along this holiday season.

Highly Recommended. 

Audience: children 4-8.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to B&H Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

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Children’s Corner — Spirit of America series

22 Nov

 

The Spirit of America series is the brainchild of MaryTherese Grabowksi. She and illustrator, Michelle Graham-Fricks, have created a series for elementary-aged children that focuses on the history of America and the democratic process. Here are a few words from main character, America Johnson:

Hello Patriots!

I’m America Johnson and I am so glad you came to visit- let’s take a patriotic adventure together! Along the way my big brother Sam, my BFF Elisa, my BDF (best dude friend) Ben and of course my sassy dog Liberty will be part of the fun.

We all know READING ROCKS!! We want you to read along and learn things at an earlier age to  prepare for that high school civics class. For example: Do YOU know the official address of The White House? What do you know about our first president? Why should anyone vote? These questions and many more are answered in this series of 25 books to date. 

 How about we have fun too? Learning should never be boring and trust me, you will laugh and learn on our patriotic adventures!

You can learn more about this series at spiritofamericabooks.com.

 

MaryTherese Grabowski is an award winning former TV journalist. Her years of covering the military, government and politics helped keep civics top of mind for this admitted Air Force brat. Her love of patriotism and talent as an emcee afforded her the opportunity to entertain our troops overseas for 15 years in the Operation Seasons Greetings morale tours. “MT” was the 2009 Spirit of Bob Hope Award nominee for the United States Air Force Reserve.

Patriotism is deep rooted in her soul. The notion to write the “Spirit of America” patriotic children’s book series came about when she asked her young niece, “Can you tell me who makes up The President’s Cabinet?” The response was “Why do I care who makes his furniture?” So, although humorous Grabowski realized we are missing kids at an earlier age teaching them the basics of civics which they are usually taught in tenth grade and that is two years before these students are eligible to vote.

Grabowski and her illustrator Michelle Graham-Fricks are making this a “movement” to educate students earlier on the basics. “If you can take historical events and information and present them through creative story telling you just might hook these kids.”

Grabowski’s main character America Johnson takes young readers on patriotic adventures that are fun and educational. Each book has a quiz at the end helping young patriots to not only be more prepared for that civics class down the road, it gives new birth to patriotic pride that seems to have been lost lately.

Grabowski is available for books signings, readings, speaking engagements and as an emcee.

MaryTherese lives in the Washington D.C. area with her husband Bob.

Contact “MT” at: soabookseries@gmail.com

Check out her Author’s Page on Amazon!

Michelle Graham-Fricks is an eccentric, passionate, magical thinker, and artist that has a diverse background. Another unique quality she possesses is that she remembers distinctly what it is like to be a kid. She was a military kid, but not a typical one. She was taught patriotism and serving others early in life by her father, who is a Vietnam Veteran and further served through the Air National Guard and her mother who was, and still is, a talented homemaker.

She is the oldest of three sisters, so there was always a lot going on in their house. This did not stop Michelle from finding time to sit in her favorite persimmon tree so she could imagine and draw. Then in Kindergarten she heard many, many stories and listened to fairy tales on small records with the turn-along books. She admired the lovely art in those books so much, and loved when the teacher would turn the book to show the illustrations to the class. Then, the teacher had the students write and illustrate their own books, and the drawings would no longer be called drawings but no illustrations!

Years later, in high school, she would do art for many competitions, in every medium, her favorite being bombastic color drawings, however. Then it happened!  Her art mentor told her something very prophetic. He said, “One day, you will be illustrating for children, because your heart is so young. If you don’t, it would be a shame.” What a wise sage.

Michelle lives in Bayside, Texas with her husband Trey and their seven children.

Michelle is available for speaking engagements, artistic presentations, and career day visits.

You can reach her at: soabookseries2@gmail.com

 

Liberty on The Loose in The White House

Have YOU ever lost YOUR dog before? What is the strangest place you had to look for your dog? If there were ever an adventure to go down in history it should be the day America Johnson lost her dog in The White House! Liberty on the loose in The White House is a fun filled story of Liberty, a sassy Scottie, who just had to break her leash and dash into The White House to check things out. America and her family were excited to be touring The White House on their vacation but now they have to find their dog before they get into trouble. Searching for Liberty was an education for America and her family about the most famous home in The United States and who lives there. Who knew a little pooch could cause so much commotion and laughter at the same time!

To purchase, click HERE.

My Impressions:

In the first book of the series, the Johnson family travels from Middle Georgia to Washington, D. C. to visit historic sites, including the White House. Along for the ride is Liberty, an adventure-loving explorer, who doesn’t hesitate to get up close and personal with off-limits areas. This fun story introduces kids to the home of America’s Presidents. At the end is a quiz to reinforce the facts your child will learn from the story.

Your Vote Counts!

When you are a kid, voting for macaroni and cheese for dinner is just as big a deal as an adult voting for President of The United States! In both cases you want your voice to be heard. Why is it important to vote? In Your Vote Counts America, Johnson learns the hard way that some kids don’t understand why they should speak up. Her dream of running for student council at school turns into an explanation to students about using their voice, making a choice and voting. Believe it or not, sometimes adults don’t understand it either. Ironically, there is a presidential election at the same time as America’s school elections. This helps her Dad explain the similarities in voting and responsibilities. This patriotic adventure will take you through the importance of voting. Even as a kid you get to make decisions. As adults you will be making hundreds of decisions big and small every day. It’s never too early to learn about the importance of voting . . . otherwise you might get something besides macaroni and cheese!

To purchase, click HERE.

My Impressions:

In the second book in the Spirit of America series, Your Vote Counts, America Johnson is running for Student Council. When she finds her fellow students think their vote won’t count, she enlists a teacher to help show that every vote or decision makes a difference. In this book the concepts of voting, democracy, and a republic are simply explained, along with easily understood examples of the importance of voting. Again, at the end of the book, are questions to remind kids of what they have learned.

America by George!

Oh the dreaded history report. How many times have YOU struggled to give a report on someone from U.S. history because your teacher said to make it interesting and memorable? The first President of the United States has never been portrayed as he is in America By George! When America Johnson had a homework assignment to give a memorable report on our first president she thought “I know just what to do to get my class to always remember George Washington!” Some false teeth, a wig and a rap set the stage for this fun filled history lesson. (Yes, you read it correctly –  there is a rap in this story!). America By George! will not only help you remember important facts about our first Prez, it may just have you fine tuning your musical skills for other homework assignments.

To purchase, click HERE.

My Impressions:

America by George! is the third book in the Spirit of America series. America Johnson is eager to share with her history class about the first president of the United States. With a bit of creativity, America tells George Washington’s story in a way that will make it easy for your child to remember facts from his life. Questions at the end of the book reinforce what the story shared.

All the Spirit of America books are fun ways to engage you kids in the history of America and our democratic processes. Currently, there are 5 books in the series, including a patriotic take on Clement Moore’s famous poem entitled The Night Before Christmas in America.

Recommended.

Audience: elementary aged children.

(Thanks to the author for complimentary copies of these books. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Children’s Corner: Angel on Assignment

15 Nov

If your family loves the Elf on the Shelf and you want to keep the fun going, check out Angel on Assignment. It’s a children’s activity book that offers a Christian alternative to the elf, teaching children about the angels who watch over them, not just at Christmas but all year long.With beautiful illustrations and rhyming verse, Angel on Assignment takes readers through the angels’ roles in the Christmas story and presents the ways guardian angels look out for boys and girls today — and how children can act as angels in disguise for friends who need help. See how many angels your child can find — some are hiding!

At the end of the book, you’ll find detailed instructions for making your own angel. When you’re finished, you can introduce your angel to your elf and let them keep an eye on things. Then post a photo of your creation to the book’s Facebook page, and check out the angels that other families have made!

Wanda Carter Roush, a mother to five and MiMi to three, has homeschooled her children for the last twenty plus years. A former Sunday school teacher and children’s church director, she has used stories of angels to communicate God’s love to children.

The idea for Angel on Assignment came to Wanda while caring for her youngest daughter, who has severe epilepsy. While the Elf on the Shelf was fun, she wanted to instill a mysterious hope in her child’s heart that would last a lifetime. Wanda believes the angels catch the little ones when they fall and have caught her little one who “falls” often. Wanda’s hope is that this book would stir an awareness that angels are among us.

 

My Impressions:

The Elf on The Shelf craze hit long after my kids were grown, but I have followed the antics of these little interlopers through my friends. Funny and crazy and sometimes downright creepy, the Elf has infiltrated a lot of American homes. But while a fun tradition, the Elf has little connection to the real story of Christmas. That’s where Wanda Carter Roush comes in. This mother and grandmother created Angel on Assignment to show God’s love and care for people. The story begins with God’s plan — Jesus. It shows how angels brought the good news of Jesus’s birth and were there when He rose again. But Roush doesn’t stop there. In a narrative that flows with rhyming verse, the story of angels continues, letting children know that angels are indeed on assignment all around them, helping and protecting. Illustrations are colorful and perfectly compliment the narrative. While the message is hopeful, it doesn’t end there.  In addition, Roush includes instructions for making your own angel to place around your house to remind your family that God’s messengers are a part of their lives. With a fun craft project and a hope-filled story of God’s love, Angel on Assignment is a perfect addition to your Christmas traditions.

Recommended.

Audience: families 

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Book Crash for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

Book Review: A Forest, A Flood, And An Unlikely Star

23 Oct

Follow along with thirteen-year-old Kusiima in the third book of J.A. Myhre’s The Rwendigo Tales.

Just thirteen years old, Kusiima has no time for school, sports, or hanging out with the other boys in his African village. With no father or mother to take care of him, he works long hours to support his grandmother and sickly baby sister. Then one day, Kusiima’s life suddenly changes when he travels into a nearby protected forest. In the forest, Kusiima is presented with many choices, all with uncertain outcomes. Should he go along with illegal logging? Help to save an endangered baby gorilla? Follow a donkey to who knows where?

With each choice, Kusiima has to make yet another decision about what is right in front of him. As he does, he meets a mysterious doctor who holds the key to his past and his future. In the end, Kusiima is faced with the hardest choice of all. Can he forgive a great wrong and heal a broken relationship?

Readers of all ages won’t want to put down this exciting book that addresses current realities like AIDS, malnutrition, and environmental destruction, all set in a richly detailed African adventure story. Following along as Kusiima makes his decisions, readers will find themselves considering their own choices and growing in empathy for others. This action-packed tale of a boy, his sister, and an orphaned gorilla is also a clear call to give up bitterness and forgive deep hurts, restoring broken lives and relationships.

J. A. Myhre serves as a doctor with Serge in East Africa where she has worked for over two decades. She is passionate about health care for the poor, training local doctors and nurses, promoting childhood nutrition and development, and being the hands of Jesus in the hardest places. She is married to her best friend and colleague Scott, and together they have raised four children for whom many of her stories were written as Christmas presents.

Find out more about J.A. at http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.com.

My Impressions:

I first became acquainted with J. A. Myhre’s writing when I read the first book in the Rwendigo Tales, A Chameleon, A Boy, And A Quest. I loved, loved, loved that book and gave it a highly recommended rating. So of course I jumped on the chance to review the third book in the series, A Forest, A Flood, And An Unlikely Star. This book takes place in the same fictional area of Africa and involves another child in an adventure. But this book has a decidedly darker atmosphere. It is billed as a novel for children in grades 3-7, and I would agree that is the reading level. But due to some of the harder topics explored, I would suggest parents preview the book for younger children. It is an intriguing and riveting read, and I rate it highly recommended.

Kamiisa is a thirteen year old boy whose world has undergone upheaval in the past year. His mother has died, his baby sister is seriously ill, and he lives a day-to-day existence working for pennies to support his family. His grandmother loves him, but she struggles with providing the basics of shelter and food. It is a bleak existence for a boy who loves to read and learn. Because of his circumstances, Kamiisa has learned to nurture hatred in his heart — especially hatred for his absent father. God seems far off and uninterested or uncaring of what befalls him. But a couple of unlikely characters, a baby gorilla and a donkey, bring a spark of hope to his life.

Myhre is a doctor and missionary in East Africa. She first told her stories to her 4 children. I am glad that she wrote her stories down and developed them to share with other children — children who know nothing about the hardships of poverty, disease, political strife, and the struggle to survive one day at a time. Although A Forest, A Flood, And An Unlikely Star takes place is a fictional African nation, the book reflects the realities of living in Africa. Kamiisa is an endearing character. As the story progresses, his emotional and spiritual growth progresses. What was a life of despair becomes a life of hope and promise. The spiritual thread that is developed is subtle but strong, and is a great starting point for discussions about God’s care and provision. Tough issues are explored in a matter-of-fact way — showing that for the people of Africa they are a way of life.

I would not hesitate to recommend this book to families with elementary and middle school-aged children, but as stated above, I would suggest that parents check it out first. Parents know what their kids are ready for.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: children ages 9+ and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to LitFuse and New Growth Publishers for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Children’s Corner — Say Goodbye to The Grand Duchess of Greed

18 Oct

Join Bibleman and His Team as They Take on the Grand Duchess of Greed! 

“It’s MY money, and you can’t tell me what to do with it!” Uh-oh, sounds like somebody is having second thoughts about paying their pledge to the Youth Group Fundraiser — and Lila is a member of the group! That sparkling Greed-dust must have something to do with it. Bible story: Elijah & the Widow. Key verses: Matthew 6:1-4

To purchase, click HERE.

My Impressions:

Teaching your child about the value of generosity can be a daunting task in a world that is filled with the temptations of pretty stuff. B&H Kids have made it a bit easier with a Bibleman Adventure, Say Goodbye to The Grand Duchess of Greed. In this book suitable for elementary school-aged kids, Bibleman and the Bibleteam uncover a plot to turn generous kids into greedy kids. The Grand Duchess of Greed is disguised as a friendly little old lady, but her real desire is to tempt and deceive. Main character Lila learns her lesson with help from Bibleman, and so will your child! This easy to understand story can be used during family reading time or to develop your child’s reading skills. At the end, Bible verses are shared to explore what God says about being generous. Questions focus on developing the concepts shared in the story and scripture.

Both fun and instructive, Say Goodbye to The Grand Duchess of Greed is a recommended read!

Recommended.

Audience: school-aged children.

(Thanks to B&H Publishing for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Children’s Corner — The Great Missing Flag Caper

9 Oct

The most patriotic symbol of The United States of America is the flag. Imagine America Johnson’s surprise when she finally got picked to be on Flag detail at her school and her first day on the job the flag disappears! Where could it be? Who took it? Join the search with America and her classmates as they learn some interesting fun facts about “Old Glory” in The Great Missing Flag Caper! Warning . . .  the search takes a turn that’s so disturbing America turns down Mac n Cheese for dinner! Now that’s a big deal!

 

 

MaryTherese Grabowski is an award winning former TV journalist. Her years of covering the military, government and politics helped keep civics top of mind for this admitted Air Force brat. Her love of patriotism and talent as an emcee afforded her the opportunity to entertain our troops overseas for 15 years in the Operation Seasons Greetings morale tours. “MT” was the 2009 Spirit of Bob Hope Award nominee for the United States Air Force Reserve. Patriotism is deep rooted in her soul. The notion to write the Spirit of America patriotic children’s book series came about when she asked her young niece, “Can you tell me who makes up the presidents cabinet?” The response was “Why do I care who makes his furniture?” So, although humorous Grabowski realized we are missing kids at an earlier age teaching them the basics of civics which they are usually taught in tenth grade and that is two years before these students are eligible to vote.

Her fourth book is now available! The Great Missing Flag Caper has America Johnson soliciting help from her fellow students to find Old Glory. The flag detail found an empty closet one morning when they went to get the flag to raise it in front of the school. Find out all kinds of flag facts and etiquette in this patriotic adventure!

The first three books in this series of twenty-five to date are Liberty on the Loose in the White House, America By George, and Your Vote Counts – and they are available everywhere.

Grabowski and her illustrator Michelle Graham-Fricks are making this a “movement” to educate students earlier on the basics. “If you can take historical events and information and present them through creative story telling you just might hook these kids.” Grabowski’s main character America Johnson takes young readers on patriotic adventures that are fun and educational. Each book has a quiz at the end helping young patriots to not only be more prepared for that civics class down the road, it gives new birth to patriotic pride that seems to have been lost lately.

Be sure to visit WWW.SPIRITOFAMERICABOOKS.COM for more information on author/illustrator school visits, book signings and the newest in the patriotic adventures!

Grabowski is available for books signings, readings, speaking engagements and as an emcee.
contact “MT” at : soabookseries@gmail.com.

My Impressions:

One of my fondest memories is of my two sons participating in the lowering of the flag at Mount Vernon. They were so proud to be serving their country in that way! Sadly, patriotism and respect for our flag are at a downturn nowadays. So MaryTherese Grabowski’s 4th book in the Spirit of America series, The Great Missing Flag Caper, is especially timely. The book features the very patriotic America Johnson, an elementary school-aged girl who has been chosen for flag duty. She is bubbling over with enthusiasm as she shares her knowledge on the history of the American flag. When she reports for duty with 3 other kids, she gets a lesson on the rules that surround the handling of our flag. But the flag is missing and the kids go on a quest to discover just what happened. Fun illustrations accompany this fast-paced book. The facts of our flag are shared in an easily understood way with emphasis on pride in our country. The bit of mystery will keep young readers intrigued as well. I liked that the people depicted in the book are from diverse backgrounds too. There is a quick quiz shared at the end to reinforce what your child learns. All in all, this is a great book for children. It would be especially good for the classroom — public, private, or homeschool.

Recommended.

Audience: elementary school-aged children.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to BookCrash for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Children’s Corner — Little Jesus, Little Me

4 Oct

Jesus was a baby just like me.

Jesus learned to walk one step at a time just like me.

Jesus once was a little child too! With sweet and simple text and colorful illustrations, helps your child learn to connect with Jesus at an early age and learn about God’s great love. Perfect for parents and grandparents to share with children, this book will soon become a favorite for your little one!

Doris Rikkers is a freelance writer and editor who has written many bestselling children’s books and Bibles. Although she loves the ocean, she lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, surrounded by her books, her flower gardens, and her family and friends.

Lizzie Walkley graduated with a degree in illustration in 2004 and has been lucky enough to have had a career as an illustrator ever since. Working in-house for greeting card companies for 10 years has taught her to be adaptable in style as well as the importance of sticking to briefs and working to tight deadlines. Since going freelance and joining Advocate in 2014, Lizzie has enjoyed working on a wide variety of projects, from children’s book and greetings card illustration to toy designing. She is hard working, reliable and endeavours to communicate at all stages of the brief. She works from her home studio in Gloucestershire and has a nice man and a little girl.

My Impressions:

Little Jesus, Little Me is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of Jesus being just them, fully human, while being God’s Son. I loved the parallel illustrations — the left hand page depicting Jesus and the right hand page depicting children of all races — showing how similar contemporary children are to Jesus who live long ago. Simple illustrations in muted colors are just right for the littlest reader. Perfect for bedtime, Little Jesus, Little Me will be an often requested book by your child or grandchild.

Recommended.

Audience: preschoolers.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Zonderkidz for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)