Bergers Book Reviews

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

Make and Move: Shark

Author: Jen Green
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Children / Animals
ISBN: 978-1-62686-490-0
Pages: 28
Price: $19.95

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There are many kinds of sharks and most of them are harmless to humans. These fascinating sea creatures come in many interesting shapes and sizes. Illustrations and descriptions of some of these sharks are included in this guidebook, which details the features that make them unique. Skeleton, skin, size, fins and tails, as well as other body styles and behaviors are described and explained.

In addition to reading the shark guidebook, kids can make a model shark from heavy-duty cutout cardboard pieces. Make and Move: Shark is a fun book for all kids who love to learn about animals.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 27, 2017 Posted by | animals, children, nature, science | Leave a comment

Guided by His Light

Author: Susan Jones
Illustrator: Pauline Siewert
Publisher: Good Books
ISBN: 978-1-68099-282-3
Pages: 64
Price: $9.99

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A good book to read at bedtime can quiet and soothe a tired child. And what could be better than a gentle, rhyming prayer book? Guided by His Light is a collection of short poems that remind children of God’s love. Illustrations of happy families, animals, and the natural world accompany these prayers.

Each prayer has a title, and some of these include God’s Words Bring Comfort, God Gives Me Strength, My Heart Is Full of Joy, and God’s Love Is Perfect. Each is crafted to provide comfort and reassurance that God loves and forgives his precious children.

This hardcover has a special glow-in-the-dark cover to encourage bedtime reading. Kids and parents will love this sweet evening prayer book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 26, 2017 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

Stories on the Journey: A Homiletic Biography (Cycle A Homilies)

Author: Rev. Peter G. Jankowski
Publisher: Lighthouse Christian Publishing
Genre: Catholic / Christian
ISBN: 978-1532765834
Pages: 292
Price: $11.95

St. Patrick’s Church of Joliet, IL
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During his 20 years as a parish priest, Father Pete Jankowski has faced his share of joys and struggles. Sharing these stories in the form of homilies, he encourages and educates his parishioners on a weekly basis. Now these Cycle A homilies have been compiled into Stories on the Journey

Each of the homilies includes the designated Sunday title, as well as the scripture readings for that Sunday’s Mass in Cycle A. Father Pete expands on the Gospel readings each week, sharing stories of his own experiences as priest, as well as his interactions with parishioners. These homilies are warmly written and encouraging in style, sometimes challenging his listeners to respond to the words of Jesus and what He demands of us. But they’re also down-to-earth and meant for the average reader who doesn’t have a theology degree.

There are several typos in the text, and a good proofreading would have helped prior to publishing. But if the reader can overlook this small flaw, the messages in each homily are really enjoyable to read. I will adding be adding this book to my reading list during each Cycle A year. This is part of a planned four-volume series, which includes Cycles B & C, as well as special homilies. Father Pete will be donating proceeds from the sales of Stories on the Journey to benefit St. Patrick’s Church.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Catholic, Christian | Leave a comment