Bergers Book Reviews

That’s What You Think!

That's What You Think!
Authors: Jan Van Holleben, Michael Madeja, Katja Naie
Publisher: Little Gestalten
Genre: Children / Science
ISBN: 978-3-89955-725-1
Pages: 184
Price: $24.95

Buy it at Amazon

Our brains are the computers in our heads that allow us to think, move, and keep our bodies functioning properly. But what exactly is a brain made up of, and how does it work?

That’s What You Think! shows us many facets of the brain in short, one-page or less snippets, each focusing on a single concept. What does a brain feel like? How does the brain send commands around the body? How do we store knowledge? Does the brain switch itself off at night? These and many more questions are answered in this book. Clever photos of kids in various positions imitating brain function are interspersed between the narrative sections.

This is not a true science book, although it does touch on scientific concepts. There is no bibliography or cited sources of any kind. As a result, I felt unsure of some of the statements it made, such as, “Scientists don’t exactly know if [a concussion] causes any real damage to the brain.” With all the discussions lately about sports safety and traumatic brain injury, this doesn’t seem to make sense. The book also attributes the creation of animals and humans to “nature” rather than God, which Christians will find objectionable.

If approached casually, this book is an easy read and interesting overview of how the brain works. But for serious study, it would be wise to consult a true science book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 30, 2015 Posted by | children, science | Leave a comment

The Secret of the Shamrock (Chime Travelers #1)

The Secret of the Shamrock
Author: Lisa M. Hendey
Illustrator: Jenn Bower
Publisher: Servant
Genre: Children / Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-61636-847-0
Pages: 128
Price: $5.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Patrick and Katie are working on their church’s cleaning team one Saturday morning when Patrick steps into the confessional. He discovers a copy of Butler’s Lives of the Saints and opens it to March 17th, the date of his patron saint. After closing his eyes for a short nap, he hears the church bells chime and the floor begins to rumble.

Patrick awakens in Ireland to find himself among some sheep being herded by a shepherd. He quickly realizes he’s hopelessly lost, and he’s even more surprised to find out that the shepherd is St. Patrick himself. But how will he ever get back home? Will he have to pray like St. Patrick does, so that God will provide the way?

When The Secret of the Shamrock opens, Patrick expresses some concerns about his Catholic faith to his sister, Katie. His experience time traveling forces him to look at his doubts and actions and decide what he needs to do about them. When he finally arrives back in the present, he has a much better outlook on his faith.

Kids will find Patrick refreshingly honest and likeable, and will be cheering for him to make it back home. Although this book has a great Catholic message about prayer, the Holy Trinity, and the sacrament of reconciliation, they have been presented in a non-preachy manner that children will relate to. I look forward to seeing more of the Chime Travelers series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 29, 2015 Posted by | Catholic, children, Christian | Leave a comment

The Mystery Hat

The Mystery Hat
Authors: Rune Brandt Bennicke & Jakob Hjort Jensen
Illustrator: Jakob Hjort Jensen
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-62914-621-8
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

Beaver, Crow and Pig are out for a winter stroll through the woods when they discover a knitted hat in a puddle. Crow notices the hat looks familiar, and the three friends immediately think about the possibilities of how it got there. Finally, Pig solves the puzzle.

The Mystery Hat is a brilliant children’s mystery. The characters are adorable, the problem is kid-sized, and the possible solutions are amusing and creative. And even when kids know the ending, they will keep reading this cute story over and over again, just because it’s so much fun! I really love this one!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 28, 2015 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Brimstone

Brimstone
Author: Hugh Halter
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0653-9
Pages: 192
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

How many times a day do you find yourself judging others? If you’re being as honest as Hugh Halter, it’s enough to be embarrassed about and to want to change. But doesn’t the Bible hold us accountable to point out others’ sins? Why should we keep silent when people do things that we perceive to be wrong?

As the text opens, Halter presents the following scenario: “In a small town there is only one bakery. Jesus is the baker. Two gay men walk in and ask Him to bake a cake for their wedding. Would Jesus bake the cake?” Throughout this book, Halter makes reference to the current controversy over same-sex marriage and the Christian response to this dilemma. But he takes this question much deeper when he explores the various ways Christians and the Church judge others and why we need to stop.

Jesus was the ultimate example of holy non-judgment. In Brimstone, Halter reminds us of our primary role of leading others to Jesus through our loving actions. If we study the gospels, we see that Jesus drew people to Him by the way He cared deeply about them and their problems. Studying this book will help Christians to emulate Jesus. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 24, 2015 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Moscow Bound

Moscow Bound
Author: Adrian Churchward
Publisher: Silverwood Books
Genre: Mystery / Suspense
ISBN: 978-1-78132-200-0
Pages: 336
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Scott Mitchell is an English human rights attorney living in Russia. When wealthy Ekaterina Romanova seeks his assistance in finding her missing father – a man she believes is being held against his will – Scott’s interest is piqued. But Ekaterina refuses to fully cooperate with him and withholds information he needs to help her in her quest.

After placing themselves at the site of a gruesome murder, Scott and Ekaterina find themselves dodging General Pravda, who is intent on discovering their motives. Pleading client confidentiality only goes so far in Russia, and Scott knows he could face a prison sentence. But when they uncover a highly confidential document, they suddenly find their lives in danger. Scott is determined to help Ekaterina find her father, no matter what it takes.

It’s evident that author Adrian Churchward is highly knowledgeable about Russian government actions, given the complexities of intrigue in this plot. The story is fast-paced and compelling, if at times a bit confusing to the average reader. Moscow Bound is the first book in The Puppet Meisters trilogy, and I look forward to seeing more in this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 20, 2015 Posted by | mystery, thriller | Leave a comment

ABC Universe

ABC Universe
Created by: American Museum of Natural History
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Children / Science
ISBN: 978-1-4549-1409-9
Pages: 18
Price: $7.95

Buy it at Amazon

A is for Astronaut, B is for Black Hole, and C is for Comet. Readers will discover this is no ordinary ABC board book. As children recite their alphabet along with the American Museum of Natural History, they’ll also be studying astronomy. Each letter corresponds to space phenomena or equipment used in exploring the universe. Stunning photos accompany the narrative text.

ABC books can be pretty boring and repetitive for both kids and adults. While ABC Universe is not really suited for very young children, it will help foster curiosity about the universe as they get older. And parents will find it a much more enjoyable read than A is for apple.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 19, 2015 Posted by | children, science | Leave a comment

The Flying Birds

The Flying Birds
Author: Eun-sun Han
Illustrator: Ju-kyoung Kim
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children / Mathematics
ISBN: 978-1-939248-05-3
Pages: 38
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

An old carpenter walks through the woods, listening to the birds sing. He suddenly has an idea and gets to work quickly. Soon he has built several birdhouses, each attracting a pair of birds. And when the birds mate, there are eggs and baby birds.

In this unique mathematics picture book, kids will be multiplying the number of bird houses by the number of birds or eggs inside. Then they will be shown the same calculation as a repetition of addition. The last pages explain the math concepts shown and give teachers some activities to share with their students.

Math doesn’t have to be boring or hard. The Flying Birds repeats multiplication and addition scenarios over and over, making sure kids understand the concepts by the conclusion of the text. Counting birds and their young is much more enjoyable than working with abstract numbers and kids will appreciate learning math skills with this fun educational book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 14, 2015 Posted by | children, mathematics | Leave a comment

The Pirate and the Firefly

The Pirate and the Firefly
Authors: Tara McClary Reeves & Amanda Jenkins
Illustrator: Daniel Fernandez
Publisher: B&H Kids
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4336-8120-2
Pages: 32
Price: $12.99

Buy it at Amazon

Oliver is disturbed when his swashbuckling pirate friends steal candy from Mr. O’Bryan’s store. And he thinks it’s mean when they overturn a little girl’s wagon. But he really wants to be a pirate, and he doesn’t like the idea of walking the plank in Captain Cole’s treehouse.

As questions of right and wrong spin around in his head, his firefly friend reminds him that he doesn’t have to follow the pirate captain’s orders. Instead, he should turn to the Bible for guidelines on how to be a good pirate leader. And once Oliver makes the right decisions, life is so much better.

The Pirate and the Firefly shows kids what happens when they follow along and do the wrong things. Going against other kids’ wishes might lead to unpleasant consequences, but the Bible is clear about how to treat people. Following its teaching will always lead to happiness, even if life gets bumpy for a while. This cute book shares a positive message without becoming preachy, and also gives Bible references on how to be a good friend. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 7, 2015 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

Always There Bear

Always There Bear
Author: Trudi Granger
Illustrator: Gareth Llewhellin
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-63220-434-9
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

Everyone needs a friend, and teddy bears often make the very best buddies. Whether sitting quietly and watching the rain, playing outdoors, riding a bike, or cuddled up in bed, you can count on your teddy bear to always be there with you.

Always There Bear reminds kids of this simple truth through soft illustrations and rhythmic language, showing children in various situations with their teddy bears keeping them company. If a child has had a bad day or just needs a friend, reading this book with teddy by his side is sure to brighten his mood and bring a smile to his face.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 6, 2015 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Swing

Swing
Author: Philip Beard
Publisher: Van Buren Books
Genre: Literary fiction / Baseball
ISBN: 978-0-9862474-1-5
Pages: 324
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

For Henry Graham, there is no better joy than watching his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, and he plans to share many baseball seasons with his father. But when his father unexpectedly walks out on his family, he is left to watch the 1971 playoffs without him. Fortunately for Henry, he meets an unlikely friend in John Kostka, a man with no legs. John has amazing connections to the Pirates team, and introduces him to many of the players. But mostly, John is there for him when Henry most needs an adult male support in his life.

Alternating between 1971 and the present, Swing shares Henry’s life as he attempts to cope with the changes that took place when his father left. Struggling to avoid turning out just like his father, Henry tries to follow his own path until a sudden temptation throws a monkey wrench in his plans. As his career hangs in limbo and his wife struggles with a health crisis, he needs to keep his focus and stay true to his values.  And although there are more questions than answers when the story reaches it conclusion, it mimics real life so well that it feels complete.

Baseball fans, especially of the Pirates, will really enjoy the play-by-play of the 1971 World Series, which places the reader fully in the thrill and excitement of the game. And the characters are so real that one almost feels a part of the family interactions taking place. I highly recommend this well-written and enjoyable novel.

And by the way, if you’ve got a hankering to read even more about the Pirates 1971 World Series team, you might also want to check out A Pirate for Life by Steve Blass.  Let’s go Bucs!!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 3, 2015 Posted by | literary, sports | Leave a comment

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