Bergers Book Reviews

The Hand Manual


Author: Sung Eun Kim
Illustrator: Ji Won Lee
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-939248-15-2
Pages: 34
Price: $17.95

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Young children may not realize just how important their hands are. The Hand Manual gives kids an overview of this fascinating body part and all the amazing things it can do.

Illustrations show how hands can be used for everyday actions like brushing their teeth, scratching their back, pressing a button, or measuring the weight of an object. Hands are also needed to play games, create art or music, communicate, and share emotions. Kids are reminded to take good care of these hands by washing them well, wearing gloves when it’s cold, and keeping fingernails neatly clipped.

Preschools and Kindergartens will enjoy having this “hands-on fun” resource in the classroom.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 24, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Mary: Seeing God through the Eyes of a Mother (Drawn In Bible Study)


Author: Eugene H. Peterson
Publisher: NavPress
Genre: Bible Study / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63146-785-1
Pages: 96
Price: $7.99

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Mary is the mother of Jesus, but the Bible is surprisingly quiet about her role in raising Him. However, the small glimpses we do have of our Blessed Mother are very illuminating. This Drawn In Bible study focuses on important moments of her life, such as the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Wedding at Cana, and the Crucifixion.

Using the Message translation, Peterson guides us to notice details in the story to ponder in our own hearts what Mary might have been thinking and feeling. Then we’re asked to see how these words affect our own lives today. Coloring pages are included so we can pause and contemplate the ideas we’re studying. A helpful guide to facilitating a Drawn In Bible study makes up the final chapter.

As a Catholic, I was immediately drawn to this book on Mary, and within the scope of an introductory four-week Protestant study, it delivered what it promised. Using the Message gives a slightly different perspective on the words we may have become overly familiar with, but the scripture references are provided if we want to use a more traditional translation for our study. The price is also attractive to small groups on a budget. After completing this study, Catholics who would like a more in-depth look at Mary might want to look at studies by Edward Sri or Scott Hahn.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 23, 2017 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

Finding the Narrow Path: Patterns, Faith and Searching


Author: Lin Wilder
Publisher: Wilder Books
Genre: Catholic / Memoir
ISBN: 978-1-942545-54-5
Pages: 151
Price: $13.50

Author’s website
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Lin Wilder grew up in a family where mother and children went to church on Sundays, and all the standards of morality were practiced. So when she suddenly realizes she doesn’t believe anything she’s ever learned and rejects the Bible as a myth, she feels lost and bereft. Throwing herself into her work, with ever increasing responsibilities, she determines to make a good life for herself.

Adrift without a strong moral compass, Wilder attempts to navigate through several troubled relationships, hoping to find happiness with a man. At a crucial turning point in her life, she receives good advice to clarify her intentions about what she’s really searching for. This finally opens the door for Wilder to discover the Catholic Church – to finally come home.

Finding the Narrow Path is a love story, but not in the traditional sense. Jesus Christ allows Wilder to drift along aimlessly, never staying far from her, finally inviting her back to Him and into his Church. And when she does return, she finds a love she couldn’t imagine existed, that thrills her more than anything she has ever experienced.

As a Catholic convert myself, I had to smile as I read of Wilder’s overflowing joy at becoming Catholic. Those who have converted and those who are maybe only thinking about converting will really enjoy this book. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, memoir | Leave a comment

How to Avoid the Fearsome Cat


Author: Yoon Jeong Choi
Illustrator: Hyun Kyeong Shim
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children / Mathematics
ISBN: 978-1-939248-14-5
Pages: 38
Price: $16.95

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Fifteen mice living in a storage shed on a farm watch the blizzard raging outside. Inside it’s cozy and warm, and there are boxes stacked around them, filled with food. So when the cat delivers a message that he intends to eat the mice for dinner, they are understandably upset. How can they continue to live in their cozy shed while avoiding the fearsome cat?

One elder mouse remembers a story about another cat long ago and how the mice defeated him. It involved hanging something around his neck. But what was it? As the fifteen mice debate, many ideas are discussed and they don’t all agree. So they begin to vote on their choices, recording their votes in various ways. They line up in rows, gather chestnuts into a pile, and draw chestnuts in a column. In all three discussions, it’s clear which choice is the winner. And when they do come up with a terrific plan, the fearsome cat troubles them no longer.

How to Avoid the Fearsome Cat is a great resource in teaching kids graphs and mathematical thinking. Using various techniques in the story, as well as exercises in the back pages, kids are asked to determine the results of the data they collect. Kids will have fun learning their graphs while watching the mice defeat the fearsome cat.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 18, 2017 Posted by | children, mathematics | Leave a comment

Jesus Christ, Money Master: The Wisest Words Ever Spoken on Money


Author: W. Neil Gallagher, PhD
Publisher: Brown Christian Press
Genre: Christian / Finance
ISBN: 978-1-61254-220-1
Pages: 264
Price: $19.95

Author’s website
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Blessed are the poor… You cannot serve God and Mammon… The love of money is the root of all evils…” These and other verses imply that Jesus Christ frowns on money and would like his followers to be poor. But is this what He’s really telling us? Maybe not.

Using the Bible as a reference, W. Neil Gallagher shows us passages where Jesus teaches us about money. Using parables like the prodigal son, the dishonest steward, and the talents, as well as numerous other stories, he explains that Jesus doesn’t really want us to be poor. In fact, it’s only from a position of wealth that we can afford to be generous toward those most in need. Gallagher also explores various investment options and their pros and cons, and encourages us to look at our own financial planning to see if it aligns with our goals. If not, we need to take immediate action to correct it.

W. Neil Gallagher, PhD, is an expert in money management, as a former stockbroker now running a billion dollar investment practice. Aligning his expertise with the words of Jesus, he guides the reader toward better financial decisions. I highly recommend Jesus Christ, Money Master.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 16, 2017 Posted by | Christian, finance | Leave a comment

Juan’s Sweet and Spicy Memory


Author: Hee Jung Yoon
Illustrator: Christopher Corr
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children / Mexican culture
ISBN: 978-1-939248-12-1
Pages: 38
Price: $17.95

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Juan is excited to spend the day with his friend Pancho, celebrating Cinco de Mayo. He begins the day by eating tortillas that his mother and grandmother prepared by hand, and then goes to the plaza, where people are enjoying the festival. Soon he and Pancho meet a tourist family, and they decide to give them a tour of some of the places they enjoy.

First, they visit Juan’s father at the taco restaurant. Next stop is an art museum, followed by Tequila village. More food and a mariachi band ends their fun-filled day. When the tourists leave, Juan is sad to see them go.

Juan’s Sweet and Spicy Memory has Juan leading “tourist” readers on a colorful journey through Mexican culture. Fun facts about Mexico and its cuisine are included within the story itself and in the back pages. Kids will enjoy making this journey with Juan and the tourist family.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 10, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Tina Nordström’s Recipes for Young Cooks


Author: Tina Nordström
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Cooking / Children
ISBN: 978-1-5107-1706-0
Pages: 112
Price: $16.99

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Kids throughout the ages have always been able to whip up a batch of cookies, but how many have tackled an entire gourmet meal? For those who have always wanted to try, Tina Nordström’s Recipes for Young Cooks gives them the tools to do it.

Before they get started, Kitchen Basics 101 covers what kids need to know to navigate the kitchen. Tools, terminology, and techniques are provided that will help them master the 28 recipes. These are categorized by Good Morning!, Cooking Weekday Meals, Dazzle the Grownups, Hanging Out With Friends, and Sweets. Each recipe covers a two page spread with photos of the finished product as well as ingredients lists and simple step-by-step instructions.

Adults would also find this cookbook useful, since the recipes are for meals enjoyed by all. However, those who don’t have access to specialty grocery stores might be limited in finding some ingredients. Kids can do these (mostly) by themselves, but they might enjoy getting together for a cooking session with friends or preparing a meal with a parent. I highly recommend Recipes for Young Cooks.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 8, 2017 Posted by | children, cooking | Leave a comment

When Bunnies Go Bad (Pru Marlowe Pet Noir #6)


Author: Clea Simon
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0533-0
Pages: 264
Price: $26.95

Author’s website
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Pru Marlowe is understandably upset when she visits a cottage to see about rabbits chewing through wires and discovers a dead body. She had observed the man the previous evening, and although he made a bad impression, she hardly wanted to see him dead. But soon she has a new concern – where is the little dog that had been barking upon her arrival?

Pru has a unique gift – she can communicate with animals. Not in complete sentences, but in thoughts and impressions she picks up from them. When she finally has the chance to meet the missing Spaniel, and attempts to find out what happened to his owner, nothing he’s telling her makes any sense. Despite the fact she didn’t know the man and doesn’t want to be involved, his family and other acquaintances all seem to want to drag Pru into their business. When she discovers another dead body, she wonders how safe she is, and if she’s doomed to be the next.

When Bunnies Go Bad diverges somewhat from a traditional whodunit. Instead we get to know Pru a bit better, as we see and feel how she intuitively talks to the animals she’s working with. As an animal lover, I found this vicarious communication delightful. I highly recommend this book and the Pru Marlowe Pet Noir series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 5, 2017 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Eureka! 50 Scientists Who Shaped Human History


Author: John Grant
Publisher: Zest Books
Genre: Science / Biography
ISBN: 978-1-942186-17-5
Pages: 224
Price: $14.99

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Throughout the ages, there have been many people who made an impact on how we view the world. In Eureka!, John Grant has compiled a group of fifty scientists who shaped human history. This list includes modern and ancient men and women from all over of the world.

Reading somewhat like an encyclopedia, Eureka! gives a brief overview of each person’s contribution to our scientific knowledge base, while also sharing some interesting personal details. Each fun and engaging mini biography is three to five pages long, and includes a reading/video list for further exploration.

Teenagers and adults will enjoy this easy-to-read journey through our science heritage, while probably taking a few side trips to learn more along the way. I highly recommend Eureka!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 3, 2017 Posted by | biography, science | Leave a comment

Moon’s Messenger


Author: Virginia Kroll
Illustrator: Zuzanna Celej
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-84-16147-20-5
Pages: 24
Price: $16.95

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Moon is relaxing by the sea when she suddenly sees Green Turtle. He is frowning and beckons her to follow, as he has an important message for her. They head out immediately on a journey around the world.

Along the way, they find oil spilled on the beach, men setting traps to catch minks and foxes, and a town meeting where people complain about the damage wild animals are doing to their landscaping. When they return home, Green Turtle offers some hope to Moon, who is determined to try to change things while she still can.

Man often has no regard for the animals who share the planet with us. Moon’s Messenger reminds kids that they have a responsibility to care for the earth. This is a timely message for all of us.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 1, 2017 Posted by | children, nature | Leave a comment