Saturday, June 29, 2013

Running Free America’s Wild Horses by Frank Staub

ISBN-13: 978-0-7660-2670-4
Grades 1-4, Page Count: 48
Description: Author and photographer Frank Staub takes readers out into the wild to view and learn about wild horses as they roam in their natural habitat. The question-and-answer format provides information on everything from where wild horses live to how they care for their young, how wild horses came to be in America, and how they are being protected today. Beautiful color photographs throughout enhance the engaging text.

Review: Running Free America’s Wild Horses is a very informative book about the American Wild Horse. Each page is filled with answers to a question that is posed about the American Wild Horse.    Photographs from gifted Frank Staub accompany each page and add to the experience of the book.   Each question leads the reader to learn about the details of American Wild Horses. 

The history of the American Horse is filled with evolutionary philosophy.   This would be an excellence resource book for a middle grade student doing research on American Horses for a school project. The pictures will lure even the reluctant reader to turn its pages and delve into its detail. (reviewed by C. Delorge)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by  Enslow Publishers, Inc. to facilitate our honest review. No compensation was received for this review.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Champion of Civil Rights by Edith Hope Fine

ISBN-13: 978-0-7660-2466-3
Grades 3-4, Page Count: 32
The Heroes of American History series includes the story of  Martin Luther King, Jr. Champion of Civil Rights by Edith Hope Fine. This series will encourage the young student to delve into the study of biographies of famous people. Ms. Edith Hope Fine's book about Martin Luther King, Jr. is an inspiring book detailing the life and events surrounding Mr. King's involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.  The author presents well the details of the peaceful approach to change that was near and dear to Dr. King. 

The large type makes this an easy read for young readers and middle readers alike.  Pictures of the actual events accompany the text to make the information real for the reader.  Each chapter is a concise explanation of an important event in the life of Dr. King as well as in the history of the Civil Rights movement in American history.

This will be an appropriate book for young student's reports and period studies. This is a good book to add to the ACS Library biography section. (reviewed by Claudette Delorge)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Champion of Civil Rights was provided to us by Enslow Publishers, Inc. to facilitate our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"Henry Hudson Explorer of the Hudson River" by Arlene Bourgeois Molzahn

ISBN-13: 9780766020702

Henry Hudson Explorer of the Hudson River by Arlene Bourgeois Molzahn is an enjoyable book to read.  The author has filled the pages with clear information about the historical period, the Age of Exploration.   There was a clear portrayal of a Hudson’s desire to find a northern water route to the Indies and the surprising discoveries he made instead. 
Molzahn clearly writes of the interactions between Hudson and those for whom he was working.  I especially enjoyed reading the depiction of what life was like  when traveling on the sea during that time period.  I think often we have idealized views of explores and almost romanticize what it would be like to be an explorer.  Molzahn clearly presents the trials and struggles that went along with the life of an explorer during this time period.   
I also enjoyed the mixture of new photographs and old style pictures that went along with the text of each page.  This book would be a good resource for middle graders as well as junior high students interested in the life of early explorers. (reviewed by Claudette Delorge)
DISCLOSURE:  A complimentary copy of Henry Hudson Explorer of the Hudson River was provided by Enslow Publishers, Incorporated, for the purpose of review. No compensation was received for this review.

"The Green Bath" by Margaret Mahy & Illustrated by Steven Kellogg

Review: This is a wonderfully fanciful story about a boy, a bath, and pirates.   Delightful illustrations accompany fun text that lends itself to a good read aloud for young children.   Sammy is challenged to stay clean for his grandmother’s arrival. 

When his neighbors get a new fancy boat and he gets a new green tub and his adventure begins.  Poor Sammy finds out that his adventure can be equally as fun as theirs.   This story lets each one use their imagination in an amazing and fun way. (reviewed by Claudette Delorge)

The teaming of Margaret Mahy's  famous award garnering text and story line with famed Steven Kellogg's fantastic skill as an illustrator creates a book sure to please the kids and presents an adventure that they will surely emulate in their own bath tub.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Scholastic Press in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Ivan Becomes a Hero" by by Linda Rossetti Brocato, Illustrated by Donna Brooks

This book is a wonderful story of acceptance.  Throughout the story the main character “Ivan” wants to learn about the world outside his own backyard.  He learns that we are all different and sometime others are not kind and friendly or accepting of differences.  

He does learn that God created us for His purpose and we need to praise Him for how he did make us.  Brooks’ illustrations are fabulous as they depict the emotions that are experienced by Ivan. 

This would be a good story to read aloud to younger children when teaching that each one of us is different and we need to celebrate our differences and use them as a positive instead of a negative.  This story is heartwarming and Ivan is a character that many children can relate to the feelings he experiences. (reviewed by C.Delorge)

DISCLOSURE: Ivan Becomes a Hero was a gift to ACS Library. Published by Brocato Publishing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent" by Erwin W. Lutzer

Review:  The Cross in the Shadow of the Crescent by Erwin W. Lutzer is a very encouraging and balanced viewpoint of how Christians can engage instead of fear Muslims. Most Muslims in the U.S. and around the world are not radicals, but the fundamentalist Muslims (Islamists) are pushing an agenda to Islamize America.

Lutzer gives lessons for today's churches and ends each chapter with a salvation testimony from a Muslim. The book is very positive in assessing that Christ and the church will triumph in the end. However, the church needs to busily engage Muslims with the gospel by showing our love, compassion, and boldness in the Scriptures. Jesus Christ is the Messiah and has not been superseded by Muhammed. Allah and God of the Bible are very different.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is concerned about our churches and tolerance of Islam in our schools' textbooks and guidelines. Lutzer gives examples from European history how accepting and conforming to those who are intolerant of other religions only promotes intolerance and persecution.

My only constructive criticism is for Lutzer to include the historical section of Islam's conquest of the 7th century to an earlier chapter. He doesn't include much history until the seventh chapter. Chapter ten was very enlightening; Lutzer gave many positive and practical suggestions detailing how Christians can grow in their awareness of the spiritual conflict and what they can do to stem the tide of Islamic inroads into our nation. (reviewed by M.Reynolds)

About the author: Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer, senior pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago since 1980, is an award-winning author of more than 30 books including Life-Changing Bible Verses You Should Know. A celebrated international conference speaker and the featured speaker on three radio programs heard worldwide, he and his wife, Rebecca, have been married nearly 45 years. They have three married children and eight grandchildren.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of The Cross and the Crescent was provided by Harvest House Publishers for the purpose of review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Lincoln by Harold Holzer

How did President Abraham Lincoln come to believe that slavery was "morally wrong," and that Congress needed to pass a law to abolish it once and for all? What did he do in January 1865—three months before he was assassinated—to ensure passage of the Thirteenth Amendment?

This fast-paced, riveting book answers these questions and more as it tells the story of Lincoln's life and times from his upbringing in Kentucky and Illinois, through his work as a lawyer and congressman, to his candidacies and victory in two Presidential elections. It also describes Lincoln's duties in the Civil War as Commander-in-Chief, his actions as President, and his relationships with his family, his political allies and rivals, and the public who voted for and against him. Harold Holzer makes an important era in American history come alive for readers of all ages.

An official companion to Steven Spielberg's Oscar® award-winning film Lincoln, the book also includes thirty historical photographs, a chronology, a cast of characters, texts of selected Lincoln writings and speeches, a bibliography, and a foreword by the author about his experience working as a consultant on the movie. ( description)

Review:  An absolutely great book!!!  Easily a companion to any history class studying the life of Abraham Lincoln.  While most Americans know who Abraham Lincoln was, they can only tell you that he was President during the Civil War and he freed the slaves.  There is so much more to Lincoln’s life.  Based on facts in the book, apparently Lincoln was the first presidential candidate to suggest a presidential debate.

Do you know why Lincoln grew a beard or that he and his wife Mary went through every parent’s nightmare of losing more than one child? 

This book would serve as a great resource for any student having to do a term paper on Lincoln.  It is easy to read and is full of information.  In fact, its one drawback may be that the author was trying to put too much information in the book.  Regardless, I highly recommend this book for anyone remotely interested in the life of our 16th President Abraham Lincoln. (Rev. P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: A copy was won on

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Double Vision by F.T. Bradley

Review: Lincoln Baker is a 12-year old boy who seems to stay in trouble on a daily basis.  Linc is a jokester whose antics finally catch up with him on a school field trip.  Their teacher, Mrs. Valdez has made arrangements for her class to take a tour of a chicken farm.  Only one restriction, Farmer Johnson does not want the students to go anywhere near the barns where the chickens are housed.  Well, Linc just can’t resist and encouraged by his friends, he puts his plan in motion.  Problem…Linc ends up letting all the chickens out of the barn.  Farmer Johnson is furious and hires a lawyer to sue Linc’s parents for the cost of damages to the chickens and the farm.

Linc’s parents are your normal, middle-class family and certainly can’t afford a million dollar lawsuit.  They are still recovering from Linc’s last trouble.  When some government agents show up on Linc’s doorstep offering a way to make the lawsuit disappear, Linc says yes and the government agents convince his parents to send him to “reform camp for trouble makers.”  Turns out that these secret agents need Linc’s help because he looks exactly like one of the junior spies, Benjamin Green, who has gone missing.  They need Linc to recover a package that could threaten national security.

Linc is suddenly thrown into the world of espionage and travels to France for a meeting that the real Junior Agent Benjamin Green was supposed to keep.  While Linc may look like Benjamin Greene, he is definitely not a secret agent.  Along the way, Linc must use his own special “jokester” skills to avoid capture and meets some very interesting people.  With the help of a young girl named Francoise, Linc works to recover the package and solve the mystery of the missing Benjamin Green.

This was a really good read.  While targeted for the age group of 8-12, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was fast pace without losing the reader and I thought the antics of the main character were very much in line with what a lot of 12-year olds might actually try.  Apparently this is the first book in a triology, and I look forward to reading the other two books.  I easily recommend this book! (Rev. P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: We received a complimentary copy in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Rescue Team by Candace Calvert (Grace Medical Series)

About the book: Tired of running from her past, nurse Kate Callison intends to become Austin Grace Hospital’s permanent ER director and make Texas her home. Despite staff friction, she’s moving ahead. Then unthinkable tragedy wraps the ER in crime tape, bringing swarms of media, legal chaos—and a search-and-rescue hero who seems determined to meddle in her life.

For Wes Tanner, nothing beats finding someone who’s lost; he’s known that helpless terror firsthand. So he’ll expand his team’s lifeline of hope: K9 tracking, swift water rescue, even horse-mounted searches. He’s ready for anything—except Austin Grace’s prickly and dismissive ER director.

As Kate and Wes discover more about each other, new respect becomes something deeper. Kate wonders if her heart might have finally found a home. But when a startling mission person’s case unearths secrets and opens old wounds, she fears that all they’ve found will just as quickly be lost. (description from back of book).

Review:  To say that I enjoyed this book is an understatement.  I found the characters believable and very engaging.  This is the first book I have read by Candace Calvert, but it will definitely not be the last one I read.  I found her style of writing to be easy to follow and the book hard was hard to put down.  The spiritual side is strong and is woven throughout the book and the characters.  I highly recommend this book. (rev. P.Howard)

About the author:    Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. Her Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine—along with a soul-soothing prescription for hope.

DISCLOSURE: A copy was received from the author in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"Rock Harbor Search and Rescue" by Colleen Coble

About the book: In Rock Harbor Search and Rescue, a middle grade fiction novel based on Colleen Coble’s bestselling Rock Harbor series for adults, kids will enjoy the mixture of pets, adventure, suspense, and a mystery.

Emily O’Reilly is obsessed with all things Search and Rescue. She volunteers with the team and goes on rescue missions with her stepmom. She is even selling homemade jewelry to save up for her own Search and Rescue puppy. But when an expensive necklace is stolen from a renowned jewelry artist at Rock Harbor’s fall festival and Emily is accused of the crime, it looks like she’ll never get her puppy and be able to join the Rock Harbor Search and Rescue team.

Emily isn’t willing to give up on her Search and Rescue dreams that easily, and she sets out to find the real culprit and to restore her reputation. With a few suspects in mind, Emily is determined to uncover the truth, but she isn’t prepared for the secrets she and the Search and Rescue dogs sniff out in the process. This exciting mystery is filled with twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats and have them pining after a Search and Rescue puppy of their own!

Review:  While this particular book was based on characters from the Rock Harbor series for adults, I did not have any trouble following the characters in Ms. Coble’s “Search & Rescue.”  This was an enjoyable book to read for the targeted to the 8-11 age group, I believe primarily more girls than guys would like this book, simply because the main characters are girls working to solve the mystery of stolen jewelry.

I enjoyed this book and will probably read other books written by Colleen Coble, but there are a couple of things that keep me from giving this book a 5-star review, based on the targeted age reading group.

First, Emily struggles with her fears of local stories of the Windigo monster.  This is a frequent fear throughout the book, and though Emily realizes that there is no such thing and that her faith in Christ should be stronger knowing that Christ is with her always, she struggles with the Windigo legends.  This particular facet of the book may be disturbing to young readers who may have night-time fears.  

Second, Emily, who is only 13 years old, is a little boy crazy and has two major “crushes” during the story and even finding herself alone on several occasions with one of the “crushes.”  Yet, the author never gives any type of spiritual direction for Emily’s character to “wait on God to send the right young man.”  My particular viewpoint of this aspect of Emily’s character may seem old-fashion, I believe it is critical, in this day & age, that we take every opportunity to instill the attitude of waiting on God when dealing with boy/girl crushes.  I could even go as far as to say that the author is encouraging young people to seek out a relationship because the biblical side was neglected in the story resolution..

A strong point of the book…Emily wants a rescue puppy of her own and her parents are willing to help her out with this goal; but she has to work and spend some of her own money on the puppy.  I hate to sound old fashion again, but so many kids today are just handed whatever they want.  They don’t understand the value or life lesson in working for what you want.

All this being said, I did like this book and would have no reservations about reading other books written by Colleen Coble.  I enjoyed the mystery side and the detective work of the Emily and her sidekick Olivia. (rev. P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Rock Harbor Search and Rescue was provided by BookSneeze on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishers and the author, Colleen Coble for the purpose of our review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Hunt for the Devil’s Dragon" (The Imagination Station #11) by Marianne Hering and Wayne Thomas Batson

About the book:  If you’re brave, follow cousins Beth and Patrick to Libya in the 13th century. The town of Silene is being terrorized by a vicious animal that is eating livestock. The townspeople believe it’s a dragon sent by the devil. In order to appease the beast, the people believe they must offer a human sacrifice—a young girl named Sabra. When Beth tries to help Sabra escape, she too is tied up as an offering for the dragon. Meanwhile, Patrick and a new friend named Hazi join Georgius, a Roman knight who is serving in Africa to keep peace. Georgius decides to find the dragon and kill it. Georgius’s plans go awry when Beth and Sabra beg him not to kill the dragon. The girls know the true secret of Silene—the dragon isn’t its worst enemy.

Review:  If you have ever watched the Focus on the Family Adventures in Odyssey videos, you will be anxious to read this wonderful story.  While the book is designed for middle elementary age children, readers old and young will find the book filled with mystery, adventure and wonderful character lessons.  The story tells of cousins Beth and Patrick who go on a trip through the Imagination Station and find themselves transported to the 13th century town of Libya with its knights, maidens and dragons.  The cousins soon become friends with a girl named Sabra and boy named Hazi.  The four are swept into an adventure, along with the noble knight Georgius, that they would have never dreamed possible as they face the prospect of being eaten by a ferocious fire-breathing dragon, or was the dragon the real danger all along? 

Read to find out how this Imagination Station adventure ends and what wonderful life lessons are taught about standing up for truth and right.  I can highly recommend this book to be read by children or to be read aloud to children.  I would recommend getting every book in the series.  The adventures are captivating and the character lessons taught are priceless. (reviewed by J.La Tour)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided to facilitate our honest review by Tyndale Blog Network on behalf of Focus on the Family, Tyndale House Publishers, and the authors. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

"Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton" by Warren L. Woodruff

About the book: When the dark musician Jedermann and his fierce Seirens of Dis gain control of the legendary Gold Baton, Tyler, his sister Christina, and their friends are drawn into a perilous adventure foretold by an ancient prophecy.  Guided by the mythical Dr. Fuddle, the explorers must leave earth and journey to Orphea. Will the Messengers of Music be able to save the world of the immortal composers from chaos and destruction? For them to have even a chance at victory, they must master the most difficult instruments of all—themselves. Both children and adults can enjoy this delightful tale of the beauty and power of music. Both educational and entertaining, readers are drawn into an experience with composers, instruments and music that are in the end victorious.

Review:  Children of all ages would enjoy this book, but it is especially suitable for upper elementary readers.  This novel is a wonderful mix of fantasy and information about classical musicians and their works.  The book reminds me in many ways of the C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books or the mystical world of Harry Potter.

The story centers around Tyler and his sister Christian along with three of their friends who have been swept into a perilous adventure foretold by an ancient prophecy.  Dr Fuddle guides The Messengers of Music as they work to be able to save the world of the immortal composers from chaos and certain disaster.  To be victorious, the explorers must master the musical instruments they have been chosen to play, but more importantly, they must learn to master themselves.

Throughout the novel the reader is introduced to famous classical composers from ages past as well as a myriad of instruments and musical terms.  The reader finds him/herself learning much about music history and theory through the pages of this book.  I would recommend this book with the warning that the reader needs to be aware that it indeed is a fantasy filled with beings and notions that are not reality in this world. (reviewed by J. La Tour)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Dr. Fuddle and the Gold Baton was provided by the author, Warren L. Woodruff to facilitate our review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"If You Were Me and Lived in Mexico" & "If You Were Me and Lived in France" new cultural series by Carole P. Roman

Former Social Studies teacher and award-winning author, Carole P. Roman (Captain No Beard series - see my reviews, please) has written a new series of straight forward geographical/language introductory books for the young child. The If You Were Me and Lived In....... series begins with Mexico as book 1 and France as book 2.

Illustrated with simple, brightly colored line drawings of a boy and girl who are the narrators will appeal to children for the simplicity and colorful detail.  The two children instruct first of all on the locale of Mexico and France. Once you understand where the country is located, you begin with some basic terms or words: France - your mommy is Maman and your daddy is Papa. They would pay in Euros (money). You might eat crepes (thin pancakes) or play with your poupĂ©e (doll). And then in Mexico - Mommy and daddy are Mama and Papa (Oh, not so different, you say?). For money you would use a peso. A favorite food might be a tamale - but we can get them here in the USA, too.  And your doll is know as a muñeca.

Carole Roman is dedicated to helping children learn - good conduct, good behavior, and social studies. All this is well presented in her very enjoyable books Captain No Beard series and this new series If You Were Me and Lived in..... Her interest in children learning is further illustrated in her continued creation of enjoyable materials for families to read to their children.
When my children were growing up, the study of geography was sadly lacking in the school classroom, so I did a bit with them at home. We used a World globe to learn location and sizes of countries and how to identify the continents on which each were located. We also intensely read the National Geographic magazines (kept the old copies for extended reference and learning) and studied the accompanying maps. Ms. Roman's new books are a step in the right direction for young children to immerse themselves with geography, customs, and beginning language.

At the end of each of these books is a glossary of the new language words used in the book. It would be so much fun to read the Mexico book and then go to a "Mexican" restaurant and order tamales.  And then to also "speak a few words in your new language" with some of the native Mexican waiters. Why not try it?

DISCLOSURE: The author provided a copy of each book to facilitate my honest review.  Opinions expressed are solely my own.

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Aflloat" by Erin Healy

ISBN: 978-1-4016-8552-2
About the book: Who will you trust when dark waters rise?

Eagle’s Talon is an architectural marvel—shining residential units afloat in a protected cove of the gorgeous Rondeau River. The project is nearly complete, partially occupied, and ready to make investors rich when a sinkhole gives way. Then torrential rains and a flood leave a ragged collection of builders, investors, and residents stranded in one floating building, cut off from the rest of the world.They’re bitterly divided over what to do next.
Architect Vance Nolan insists they should sit tight and wait for rescue. Developer Tony Dean wants to strike out into the darkness. And single mom Danielle Clement, desperate to protect her young son, Simeon, struggles to hold their motley band together.

Power failure, a pall of unnatural daytime darkness, explosions in the distance, then a murder ratchet tensions to a boiling point. But Danielle’s young son, Simeon, has spotted something strange underwater—beautiful, shifting lights in the dark water below.

In this watery world where everyone's secrets will eventually come to light, Salvation may mean more than just getting out alive.

Exploration of the human spirit and supernatural possibilities from best-selling author Erin Healy.
Review:  I must confess…I didn’t read this book in its entirety.  In fact, I couldn’t finish this book.  I found it very difficult book to follow and I actually had to read the first few pages about three times and still could not visualize what the author was trying to describe.  Her story centers around apartments that have been built (or are being built) on water and they give the effect that they are floating.  There is an unusual accident which causes a domino affect to unfold.

She introduced several characters which I also could not keep straight in my mind and I feel that there were too many storylines she was trying to develop in the first 50 pages for anyone to adequately follow.  I’m sad that I couldn’t get through this book, because description on the back cover of the book was intriguing and I was looking forward to reading.  (rev. P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: We received a complimentary copy in exchange for our honest review from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Thomas Nelson Publishing and author, Erin Healy. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.
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