children

Stress Stinks


Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa M. Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-46-4
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Amelia is seriously stressed out. School homework and tests, friend issues, and softball practice are upsetting her and she’s ready to snap. Her mom realizes she’s feeling too much stress, and encourages her to do something to change her thinking from negative to positive. Counting to ten, having a healthy snack, listening to some good music, and tensing and releasing are some of the methods she shows Amelia. Soon Amelia is handling stress so much better and she can demonstrate these helpful ideas to her classmates.

Stress Stinks shows children positive ways to manage the stress in their lives. Tips for parents and educators are included in the appendix. I highly recommend this helpful book for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

Random God Sightings


Author: Kelly Hanes
Publisher: Columbus Press
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63337-265-8
Pages: 194
Price: $14.95

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If it feels as if God is out of reach and that we need to strive to find him, maybe we’re going about things all wrong. Kelly Hanes believes that God is all around us, and He’s just waiting for us to notice Him. In fact, He may be hiding in that random stranger you’ve just met but have a funny feeling about.

Random God Sightings is a collection of stories of Kelly’s moments with God. In these 26 interactions, Kelly shows us how she recognized God in each stranger she meets, and why she believes it really was God. Although He doesn’t reveal himself to her in these exchanges, each brought a smile to her face and a glimmer of recognition to her heart.

God cares about us, and it makes perfect sense that He might still be present with us in our daily lives. Random God Sightings is a reminder to us to look for Him every day. We just might find him at the bus stop or in the coffee shop when we least expect him.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, history

So You Want to be a Roman Soldier?


Author: Georgia Amson-Bradshaw
Illustrator: Takayo Akiyama
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 978-0-500-65183-4
Pages: 96
Price: $14.95

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If you’ve dreamed of being powerful, earning lots of money, traveling the world, and retiring rich, the life of a Roman soldier might be for you. But are you sure you really want to be a Roman soldier? This handy illustrated guide shows kids exactly what’s involved in this dangerous warrior life.

Kate, Eddie, and Angus are in a museum, looking at the display on ancient Rome. Soon they are transported back in time to the year 100, and are advised by Junia, who explains what they can expect if they really want to be Roman soldiers. First they’ll need to fill out their application form, pass the entrance exam, and take the military oath. Military gear needs to be selected and cleaned carefully, along with their weapons. Finally they’ll need to decide on joining the cavalry, the auxilia, the navy, or the Praetorian guard. Avoiding punishment and knowing their enemies will be useful skills to ensure survival on military campaigns.

The Roman military life comes alive in this tongue-in-cheek look at how to be a Roman soldier. I found it highly entertaining, and it will be a big hit with kids – especially boys – who will enjoy the gruesome humor. (Spoiler alert: yes, there are cartoon severed body parts and smelly things.) I highly recommend So You Want to be a Roman Soldier?

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Little Fish



Author & Illustrator: Emily Rand
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65162-9
Pages: 10
Price: $24.95

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Two tiny orange goby fish are frolicking in the waves when suddenly a giant shoal swims by and sweeps one fish away. Little fish is alone on an adventure, visiting a turtle, avoiding a hungry grouper, darting quickly away from a shark, and finally arriving safely back at his home.

This unique carousel picture book actually folds out completely, anchored by a ribbon that holds the two covers together, inside out. Children can follow the scenes in 3-D, as animals and scenery pop out from the page. (See image above.)

Bright colors, a happy ending, and a fun cut-out pop-up book will delight small children, as they follow the little fish around and around each scene. I highly recommend Little Fish.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

Christian

A Prairie Devotional


Author: Wendi Lou Lee
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian / Devotional
ISBN: 978-1400213269
Pages: 192
Price: $16.99

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Wendi Lou Lee played the character of Baby Grace, along with her sister, Brenda, on the TV series, Little House on the Prairie. In A Prairie Devotional, Wendi shares memorable quotes from the show, along with her thoughts on how they relate to her own life. After surviving a brain tumor, Wendi wanted to share her Christian faith, in the hope that she could inspire others through her writing.

This unique devotional book contains 91 daily readings of about two pages long. Each is centered on one scene or episode in the TV show, and Wendi expands on it, telling stories from her time with the show and also from her life. She shares some snippets of information about the cast, but mostly writes about herself and her family. Even though she was once a TV star, Wendi is very down to earth, and readers will relate to her ordinary life stories.

Wendi’s strong faith in adversity shines as a light for others who might also be going through trying times. A Prairie Devotional would make a great gift for any Little House on the Prairie fan.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Button & Popper


Author & Illustrator: Oili Tanninen
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65201-5
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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Button and Popper live in an apple tree with their parents and ten siblings. But the weather is turning colder and there are no more apples to eat. The pixie family must find a new home. Mother and Father try to find a new place to live, but no one wants to let a pixie family with twelve children stay there.

Taking matters into their own hands, Button and Popper set out to tackle the problem themselves. After nearly exhausting all the possibilities, they spy Professor Prilli at the fish market. A basket switcheroo lands them in Professor Prilli’s home – a very nice home that would make the pixies happy. They’re shocked when the Professor announces he’s going on a long journey, and the pixie family is most welcome to stay there while he’s gone.

Button & Popper was originally published in Finland in 1964, during a time the author despaired of finding a suitable place to rent with two small children. She only used three colors in illustrating it, so it would be cheaper to print, and therefore more affordable to people who wanted to buy it. The cute story and happy ending will leave children smiling.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

journal, self improvement

Dream Big: A Five-Minute Goal Journal


Author: Karl W. Gruber
Publisher: Althea Press
Genre: Self-improvement / Journaling
ISBN: 978-1-64152-763-7
Pages: 156
Price: $14.99

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Setting a big goal takes determination and focus. It often helps to put our thoughts and desires on paper, in order to crystallize our thinking. Dream Big: A Five-Minute Goal Journal gives us the space to do this.

This goal setting journal walks us through five steps. First, we need to clarify our ideas, then affirm our possibilities, strategize for success, and express our gratitude. Finally, there is a series of daily questions designed to focus our intention on goal realization and gratitude. This makes up the majority of the book, as it reminds us to focus on our goals every day.

The author is a Law of Attraction Life Coach, and Dream Big is consistent with this way of thinking. By focusing on what we want and expressing gratitude, we can attract the goals we seek. If you’re looking for a positive approach to goal setting, this journal could be just what you need.

Reviewer: Alice Berger