children, self improvement

What’s the Problem?

Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa M. Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-38-9
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

Executive FUNction Series
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Braden and Blake argue all the time. Savannah and Mary are having a misunderstanding. Braden wants to play sports, but his teacher has given him schoolwork. What do all of these have in common? A problem.

In this “Executive FUNction Series” book, kids are introduced to the SODAS steps to problem solving. They are encouraged to identify the problem, come up with options for dealing with the situation, weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and choose one option as the solution.

In each of the three given scenarios, the reader sees how kids analyze the problem and identify possible ways to handle it. Since the characters are real kids, some of the options are terrible, but they soon realize the disadvantages of these bad ideas. The SODAS process is described in a positive way that works in action.

When good problem-solving skills are not modeled in the home, kids will react in less than favorable ways. But when they learn the proper way to deal with these situations, they will be successful at home and school. And these skills will help them long beyond their school years. I highly recommend What’s the Problem?.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian, finance

Beyond Blessed

Author: Robert Morris
Publisher: FaithWords
Genre: Christian / Finance
ISBN: 978-1-5460-1009-8
Pages: 272
Price: $22.00

Author’s website
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If you’d like to be more generous with your church or favorite charitable organizations, but find that you’re struggling to pay your bills, you may be wondering why God won’t bless your efforts. In Beyond Blessed, Robert Morris explains why it’s important to first get control of our own finances before we can help others.

Using biblical references and his own and others’ stories, Morris shows us exactly what we need to do to clean up our finances. Budgets have their place, and strategies are given in how to utilize them. But sometimes we’ll see miraculous intervention, once God sees our hearts are in the right place. We need to show Him that we are good stewards before He will bless us with more.

Beyond Blessed is not a boring and dry personal finance book. Instead, the reader will be excited to put these ideas into practice in his or her own life. While blessings of abundance are never promised, the peace of mind in conquering financial stress will be well worth the effort.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, birds, children

Greta the Great Horned Owl

Author: Christie Gove-Berg
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-59193-815-6
Pages: 32
Price: 14.95

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Greta the Great Horned Owl is out hunting one evening when she spots her prey. Intent on catching the field mouse, she doesn’t see the train coming her way. In a flash, she’s pinned against the front of the train, unable to move.

When the train stops moving, she frees herself and drops to the ground. But her wings hurt and she’s unable to fly. Greta is fortunate that someone sees her plight and carries her away. Soon she’s in a facility that cares for injured wildlife. She has a broken leg and wing, and the veterinarians are going to mend them for her. Once Greta is fully healed, she is released back into the wild where she can live out the rest of her natural days.

Greta the Great Horned Owl shares a wonderful rehabilitation story that kids will enjoy reading. The great horned owl facts at the end of the story, as well as the many spectacular photos, will be helpful in learning about these magnificent birds of prey. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Middle School Misfits: The Stained Glass Tree

Author: Leona Lugan
Illustrator: Kyle Merriman
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Middle grade
ISBN: 978-1-944882-35-8
Pages: 128
Price: $8.85

Author’s website
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Jilly is starting at a new school – again – and she’s understandably stressed. Her first moments there don’t go very well, and she has to face up to the consequences of her actions. But what she doesn’t understand is why some of her classmates have taken an immediate dislike to her.

Despite her rough start, Jilly finds a few friends, especially Anton, who feels like he’s also a misfit. She spends a lot of time with him, as she introduces him to her unusual family – a depressed mother, no father, and a little sister. Life at home is rocky, and she’s grateful that he doesn’t judge her or her family. And soon she realizes she can lean on him and his family when things are especially rough.

Middle School Misfits: The Stained Glass Tree gives middle graders the chance to look at Jilly’s actions and ask themselves how she’s handled the situations in her life. At the end of every chapter, questions are provided in thinking critically about what they’ve read, and there is also a space for notes. This is not only a well-written story with an engaging plot and very real characters, but it also provides a wonderful opportunity for classroom discussion. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


Eat, Live, Thrive Diet

Authors: Danna Demetre and Robyn Thomson
Publisher: WaterBrook
Genre: Health / Diet
ISBN: 978-0-525-65316-5
Pages: 272
Price: $18.99

Author’s website
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Aging comes along with its share of challenges, which often includes weight gain. But with the proper diet and exercise plan, women don’t have to suffer from a spreading middle. Eat, Live, Thrive Diet provides women some options that will help keep the weight off and give them more energy.

Beginning with the preparation chapters, Demetre and Thomson introduce the concepts they’ve developed for a healthy eating plan. Then the elimination diet program is presented, with three levels from simple to comprehensive. This two-week phase prepares the body for the reintroduction of potential problem foods in a controlled manner. By the end of this program, women will most likely see some weight loss and possibly discover some trigger foods that play havoc with their bodies.

The final section of this book is a series of recipes that follow the plan. But they are so amazingly healthy and tasty that they can easily be added to your normal meal choices once this program had concluded. Using the recipes provided, it would be relatively easy to follow this program, but you might find some of the restricted foods (like coffee) to be a bit difficult to live without.

I can’t comment on the effectiveness of this program since I have no training in this field, but if you believe you may be suffering from a food intolerance, you might find it very helpful. I know you’ll enjoy the delicious recipes!

Reviewer: Alice Berger


New York Day & Night

Author: Aurélie Pollet
Illustrator: Vincent Bergier
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-3-7913-7378-2
Pages: 30
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
Illustrator’s website
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New York City is the city that never sleeps. Sandy the cat introduces the city at night, while Frankie the squirrel shows us the city during the day. Both have a very different perspective of the sights they see.

When Sandy is exploring, a plastic sheet covers the page, showing the images from her nighttime perspective. But when kids lift the sheet, they see the same place during the day, and Frankie explains it as it really is. Sandy’s imagination leads her to see spaceships and monsters, but these are just ordinary places in daylight.

New York Day & Night is a fun, interactive look at New York from two very different viewpoints. Kids will enjoy seeing the sights with Sandy and Frankie.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, dogs

Stay Benson!

Author & Illustrator: Thereza Rowe
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children / Dogs
ISBN: 978-0-500-65153-7
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
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Before she leaves for school, Flick tells Benson to stay. But as soon as she’s gone, Benson runs outside to play. As Benson explores, the cat reminds him that he’s supposed to stay, not play! The day ends too quickly and Benson must rush home to be there when Flick arrives.

Creative page cut-outs allow the reader to see scenes from before and after the current page, and the artwork is minimalistic in bright colors. Kids will enjoy this whimsical day in the life of a disobedient pup.

Reviewer: Alice Berger