animals, children, classics

Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears

Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Julie Clay
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Children / Classic
ISBN: 978-1-68412-760-3
Price: $12.99

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A big sleepy bear and a little sleepy bear are settling in for the night. One at a time, they each give a big yawn, a big stretch, and climb into bed. Heads on their pillows, they close their eyes and sing softly. And then they go to sleep.

This classic from Margaret Wise Brown encourages sleepy little ones to willingly climb into bed and mimic the bears’ actions. I especially liked the revised version of the bedtime prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep” which has angels keeping watch and no mention of death.

Cute and cuddly bears, sweet words, and a soft and gentle rhythm make Sleep Tight, Sleepy Bears a perfect addition to your child’s bedtime routine. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, nature

The Gift of the Deer

Author: Helen Hoover
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press
Genre: Nature / Outdoors
ISBN: 978-0816631285
Pages: 224
Price: $16.95

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Every so often I long to read a book simply about wildlife or nature in general. The book has to have good story, entertaining characters, and a satisfying ending. It is necessary that the tale comes alive in my mind and stimulates my imagination. The Gift of the Deer does all this and more.

Helen and Adrian (Ade) gave up life in the city to move to a remote cabin in the wilds of northern Minnesota. On one Christmas Day during a particularly brutal winter, they noticed a new visitor out among the usual birds and squirrels they feed outside. The fully mature buck was thin, blind in one eye, and obviously struggling to survive winter’s harsh treatment. Deciding to help this deer survive became a decision that would affect the lives of Helen and Ade forever. For four years afterward, they had the privilege to observe and get to know a growing family of deer throughout the seasons. Hoover’s vivid descriptions are presented with the eye of a seasoned naturalist, and her husband’s illustrations further bring the imagery to life.

By reading these personal accounts that cover four captivating years, the reader has the opportunity to see nature in its purist form and learn a side of deer behavior that is very rare indeed. The Gift of the Deer is a golden opportunity to absorb a good story and exercise the imagination. I recommend this book to nature lovers of every sort.

Reviewer: Gene Berger


Fish Sandwiches

Author: Troy Schmidt
Publisher: NavPress
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-63146-841-4
Pages: 196
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
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The feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand are two miracles of Jesus that we hear about often. Beginning with just a few small loaves of bread and a couple of fish, Jesus was able to multiple a meager meal to feed all those men, not including women and children. But what do the stories mean to us today?

Unpacking the scriptures, Troy Schmidt demonstrates some of God’s promises: knowledge of our needs, provision, spiritual health, community, fulfillment, blessing, eternity, as well as others. While some folks find themselves in need of actual food sustenance, most of us are looking for more. We need “every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” (Deut 8:3)

Along with personal anecdotes and stories, Schmidt provides Biblical sustenance in a fun and easy to read manner. I highly recommend Fish Sandwiches to all who want to go deeper into God’s word.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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

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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