October 5, 2014

Weird & Wonderful Creations - A Review

When our oldest was seven, we went to his activities and stayed home most afternoons. Our schedule was straight forward.

Eight years later, our schedule is not so cut and dry. We have four active children, who enjoy out of the house activities. While we do limit time out of the home by consciously choosing the best activities for our time, we do tend to be out of the house often.

From time to time, our youngest has had to attend activities for his older siblings. He has been learning to watch and wait. Now at seven years of age, he generally does well waiting for an activity to be finished. However, some activities, like watching a volleyball game in an enclosed gym, limits his ability to run and roam. In these times, I try to bring along a new-to-him activity or book. Most of the time this is a great idea. It keeps him engaged and extends his ability to sit still.

So, when I had the opportunity to review Weird & Wonderful Creations: 4 Books in 1, I thought this may be a good book to pursue courtside. I was wrong. It just didn't hold his attention for long. He did find it interesting, and thumbed through most of the book. {He skipped the section on spiders claiming they were creepy.} He was able to read the main text and supplemental facts easily and commented on a few of the facts and pictures. Overall, he liked the book, but it wasn't a book which held his attention.

Several days later, I reintroduced the book to him. Because he is studying plants in science, I opened to the section entitled Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants. Reading the text to him, I maintained his interest by interacting with the pictures and adding a few opinions and facts to the dialogue. It was easy to do as the samples of plants were perfect for a young boy. Plants which smell like rotten meat or eat bugs are excellent choices for a boy.

Though the text did not hold my son's interest, I still think it an excellent introduction to the world around us. Young children of preschool and Kindergarten age will greatly benefit from this book. The photographs are amazing and the easy text will allow for children to get to know wonderful and weird creatures God has made. It could also be used for beginner readers.

In fact, to get the most out of the book, I would recommend introducing the book to toddlers. This would allow for years of viewing and readings. Toddlers could look at the pictures while grown ups or older children comment on the photograph's contents. As a child ages to preschool years, the book could easily be read aloud and used to help foster reading skills. Kindergarten and first grade students would be able to read through the book on their own. All the while, children would be learning about the amazing world God has created. For our copy, we'll be donating it so others of a younger age can enjoy and learn about God's creation.
~ Dorie

Fine Print: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. All expressed opinions are my own.

October 4, 2014

Thrive: Student Edition - A Review

This has never happened to me. In the four plus years of blogging and occasionally reviewing of books, I have never received a book for review which I had to pry from my two oldest children's hands. Literally.

It arrived one afternoon at the end of September with the UPS delivery man ringing our bell and our dog barking. After being shuffled through multiple hands, the package landed in mine.

What book is it? they wanted to know.

Ripping back the brown wrapping, I revealed the cover.

"Oh, I love that song," my youngest daughter sighed as she read the title.

"Yes, this is a book about the meaning behind the song," I explained.

"Mine!" shouted one of the older two children.

"I want to read it first," declared the other.

"Hold on," I laughed. "This is for review. I need to read it and write about it first, before either of you get it."

"Then I'll read it," one persisted. "I read faster."

"Alright," the other consented, admitting it was true.

"Mom, can I see it at least?" one asked while reaching for ripping the book from my hands.


With this kind of pressure, I read the book in two days. Actually, I think I would have read it quickly without my teens constantly asking for the book. It was compelling. I enjoyed the personal antidotes and the practical teaching it contained.

The Book
Split into two main sections, Thrive: Student Edition concentrates on helping teens dig deep and reach out. In the "Digging Deep" section, Hall explains how to have a flourishing relationship with Jesus. The second section: "Reaching Out" covers how to serve others and share God's love. Taken together, the two sections offer a balanced approach to living the Christian life.

These two sections are divided into a total of 30 shorter chapters. The book would lend itself well to a devotional style reading of one chapter reading per day. Each chapter includes one main "Point to Remember," which would serve well as thoughts to ponder throughout the day.

Topics such as looking at life with a Biblical view and evangelism are covered thoroughly with everyday language and personal allegories.

Overall, Hall's approach is relational and it reflects in his writings. Students will feel validated in their experiences and challenged to thrive in their lives by knowing Jesus better and reaching out to others.

As someone who works with youth in a youth group setting, I appreciated Hall's way of relating to teens in this book. It was real and heartfelt. He communicated strong truths effectively.

More importantly, as a parent, I am quite excited to hand this book over to my two teens. Each will have the opportunity to read and ponder Hall's words about thriving. It is my hope and prayer for each of my children...that they will grow ever closer to Jesus and continue to reach out to others sharing His love.
~ Dorie

Fine Print: I received this book in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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