Bergers Book Reviews

Sophie’s Animal Parade

Sophie's Animal Parade
Author: Amy Dixon
Illustrator: Katia Wish
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-63220-403-5
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
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Sophie has a vivid imagination, so when she feels lonely, she decides to draw a friend. But the polar bear who now sits in her room prefers the cold. Drawing an igloo solves the problem, but now the bear needs a playmate. As she continues to draw more animals to join them, chaos ensues. Finally, Sophie meets a boy with a sense of adventure and the two enjoy their animal parade together.

Sophie’s Animal Parade is pure fun for kids. Animals, friendship, laughter, and bright cheery colors fill the pages of this delightful book. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 25, 2015 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

The Truth About Lies

The Truth About Lies
Author: Tim Chaddick
Publisher: David C. Cook
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0524-2
Pages: 176
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Jesus spent time in preparation for his ministry by praying and fasting in the desert. After 40 days, Satan came to tempt him. While most of us would probably agree that the temptation to turn stones into bread might be one we’d fall for, the other two temptations seem far less threatening. Worship Satan? No way! Jump from the top of the temple? Hmm, no, I’ll pass. But in all three temptations, Satan was attempting to divert Jesus from his mission in doing the Father’s will.

Satan still tries to tempt us today, and as surprising as it may seem, we see variations of these three in our own lives. Craving certain things to make us happy? We need to learn how to pursue them in the right way. Feel passionate about your religion? We must be careful not to misuse it and hurt others. Looking for success? Even when pursuing great religious goals, our motives may not always be pure.

It’s easy to think that good Christians don’t fall into sin. If we just read the Bible, pray and go to church, we’ll have it made. But Satan preys on those who become complacent and forget that he’s the father of lies. Jesus needed to face temptation to strengthen him for his mission. Maybe Christians also need it to strengthen their faith. And with a strong faith, we can draw others to God through our words and actions. The Truth About Lies shows you how to discern the lies you’re facing and break their hold on you. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 21, 2015 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Celia

Celia
Author: Christelle Vallat
Illustrator: Stéphanie Augusseau
Publisher: Peter Pauper Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4413-1536-6
Pages: 36
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

Celia spends all day on Sunday listening to the people as they come to her to share their worries and problems. When they leave, each feels lighter and happier. And in exchange for her services, they pay her one seed.

Celia then begins a week of sowing these seeds of kindness into bright balloons, flowers, fruit and stars. On her journey one day, she discovers a lone seed, lost by a boy who never had the chance to share his worries with Celia. She seeks him out and together they plant his seed. Every day, he visits Celia to see how his seed is doing, and while he is there, they talk about many things. And when his seed finally grows into a small flower, his spirits have been lifted.

In a world where everyone is tied to electronic devices or just too darned busy, it’s hard to find a special someone who is willing to listen to your worries and concerns. Celia demonstrates the power of a kind, sympathetic ear. The story’s accompanying illustrations follow the theme, as they go from black and white to bright and cheerful, as Celia takes away the gloom and spreads her magic throughout the village. Celia is a delightful read for children of all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 17, 2015 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Mr. Samuel’s Penny

Mr. Samuel's Penny
Author: Treva Hall Melvin
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Genre: Mystery / Teen
ISBN: 978-1-9293-4504-5
Pages: 264
Price: $10.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Lizbeth Landers is spending the summer of 1972 with relatives in Ahoskie, NC. Soon after arriving, she finds herself at the Danbury Bridge, looking on in horror as Mr. Samuel and his baby girl are pulled from his submerged car. His hand clutches a penny, which mysteriously vanishes from the police evidence the next day. The two deaths are determined to be murder.

Collecting pennies is Lizbeth’s passion, and she realizes this particular penny is special. After witnessing Mr. Samuel’s widow’s grief at losing her husband and baby, Lizbeth is determined to find the missing penny and discover the murderer. There are plenty of places to search for pennies, and she won’t rest until it’s in her possession.

Mr. Samuel’s Penny is not just a clever murder mystery, but also gives the reader a glimpse of the south during a time of racial unrest. As a black girl, Lizbeth feels discriminated against by some of the white members of society. Over the summer, she discovers that not everything is exactly as it seems.

Full of interesting plot twists and side stories, Mr. Samuel’s Penny is an enjoyable read. I look forward to reading more books in this new Elizabeth Parrot Landers mystery series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 17, 2015 Posted by | mystery, teen | Leave a comment

Martian Mustache Mischief

Martian Mustache Mischief
Author: Brian Rock
Illustrator: Joshua Dawson
Publisher: CreateSpace
Genre: Children
ISBN: 9781514777589
Pages: 30
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
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Mars is beginning to lose its red color, and soon fuzzy, ketchup-eating, caterpillar-looking Martians arrive on earth. When the earthlings laugh at their demand to turn over all their ketchup, the Martians try a new tactic.

Soon everyone in town is wearing a Martian mustache. And as the Martians devour all the ketchup, they turn red. How can the people stop them? Well, you’ll just have to read Martian Mustache Mischief to find out!

This cute tale will have kids giggling and attempting to try out the tongue twister, “Martian Mustache Mischief” along with the main character. They might even find themselves wearing their own ketchup mustache.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 11, 2015 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Summer by Summer

Summer by Summer
Author: Heather Burch
Publisher: Blink
Genre: Teen / Romance
ISBN: 978-0-310-72963-1
Pages: 288
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
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Summer is working as a nanny for a couple vacationing in Belize. When their oldest son, Bray, arrives, Summer takes an instant dislike to him. Bray is a college party guy, and Summer is a conservative and modest girl. Their values are far too different.

When a violent storm strands them alone together on a remote island, they’re forced to get along in order to survive. Both discover hidden depths in each other as they work through challenges in finding food, water and shelter. As the weeks progress, they find themselves falling in love.

Being a teen romance, Summer by Summer is full of drama and physical attraction between Bray and Summer. Since their whirlwind romance takes place over a mere month, there is little substance to their relationship. Summer’s faith in God and a purity promise hold them back from taking things too far, but Bray has no such restrictions, other than his respect for Summer.

Maybe I’m just a little too old for teen romances, or maybe the drama in this book is a bit too much. But although this is a fast and engaging read, the story left me feeling unsettled at the end. Summer and Bray are both too immature to be making a lifetime commitment.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 10, 2015 Posted by | romance, teen | Leave a comment

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

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