Friday, October 30, 2020

Book Review: Dugout Devotions (devotions by Major League Baseball's best)

Dugout Devotions, Inspirational Hits form MLB's Best, by Del Duduit (Iron Stream Books, 2019, 146 pages. $12.99)

Dugout Devotions is a handy little book if you are not a follower of professional baseball. If you are a follower of professional baseball, this may very well be a very handy little book to carry with you - it's just the right size, too.

What is it?

Thirty days of devotions by MVPs and Cy Young Award winners, All-Star players, World Series champions, coaches, managers, scouts, and just plain old major league baseball players telling of their personal challenges and how they overcame them with the help of their belief in God. Each day begins with a verse, a story, and a scripture reading followed by On Deck, a section that compares your life to that of the baseball 'guy' with questions you can answer.

Finally, each chapter ends with a number of steps you can take to study specific passages in the Bible, who to talk to and what to bring up, and just plain ol' common sense, bringing us back to the day's author for a final word.

What's Next?

Award-winning sports writer and author Del Duduit has put together a unique book. I just hope he continues the series with golfers and tennis players and. . . . 

Caveat: This book was sent to me for review.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Book Review: Good Night, Fireflies

Good Night, Fireflies, by Janet Christensen (Little Lamb Books, 2019, 34 pages, $15.95, Grades K-4) (Juvenile Christian Fiction)

We have all read Good Night, Moon countless times - and love it. Some of us have even memorized it or read other Good Night books like Good Night, Zoom; Good Night, Scranton; or Good Night, Monsters. Some Good Night books mirror the original story and illustrations while others merely do a take on the title and perhaps the cover illustration.

Good Night, Fireflies has an adorable watercolor cover, by a very talented undergraduate, don't you think? With a young boy in his jammies and cute little bear slippers, in his backyard at night saying "Good Night" to a firefly in a jar before letting her go.

The Lesson of the Fireflies

Little Landon doesn't want to go to bed so, after one excuse after another that do not work, he finally admits there are spookies and creepies in his bedroom at night when he is alone, even though he knows God is always with him (so he is never really alone). His wonderful dad takes him outside to see the fireflies and the lesson they can teach.

Another wonderful watercolor artist who makes a lovely bedtime story come to life.

Caveat: This book was sent to me for review.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Book Review: (OT) Uniquely You (little red-haired girl, lesson from Mom)

Uniquely You, by Michelle Lazurek (Elk Lake Publishing, 2018, 24 pages, $9.99)

Plain Jane?

"Plain Jane lived in a plain white house in a plain neighborhood."

And so begins the saga of a beautiful little red-haired girl who believes she has no talents that there is nothing special about her, nothing unique like all her friends who are all so different in their own ways, each with their own special talent or gift.

The Value of a Snowflake, Fleeting but Unique

Jane is feeling down in the dumps. Not only is she picked last in gym class but all her friends are extremely good at something different - gymnastics or singing or guitar or soccer or. . . .but her mother loves her very much and shows her a snowflake. When Jane realizes each snowflake is different, she also realizes that each person is unique and has different gifts and talents. Read on to find out what Jane's gifts are!

Plain Jane No More!

Uniquely You is a special little book that your own little girl will love to read on a day when she needs to feel special - and to re-read later whenever she needs a reminder of her specialness.

Caveat: This book was sent to me for review.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Book Review: (OT) Flutterfly (children, comforting)

Flutterfly, by Carolyn Hughes (self-published, 20 pages, 2020, $9.99) 

Flutterfly is the lovely story of a caterpillar who becomes a butterfly, an allegory of life, comforting those who have lost someone, perhaps for the first time. 

Our little butterfly starts out as a playful 'pillar with her fellow 'pillars, helping them learn and grow with a good heart, but then, for unknown reasons and suddenly when her work is done, one day spins a cocoon where she can sleep - with time to think. 

One day she wakens as, in her words,  "a brand new me." She again meets friends and family (other butterflies) and looks down upon caterpillars having fun and growing and learning.

Love Never Ends

She speaks to the reader and the caterpillars below, telling them with a smile in her voice that she will always be looking over them even when they cannot see her. She will always listen and care and she ends with: "Do not worry about me, everything here is OK. After all your work is done, you'll see me again some day. Love never ends, it only changes."

Beautiful Cover!

The cover is especially lovely with part of half a butterfly showing (Monarch, most likely) on the front cover and continuing on with the other butterfly half on the back cover. Each watercolored page background is similar to the one preceding and the one following, until they change with each change in life from caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly.

Flutterfly will comfort a grieving child and spark age-appropriate conversations.

Caveat: This book was sent to me for review.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Book Review: Jon and the Toymakers of Toymakerville: Another American Christmas Story

Jon and the Toymakers of Toymakerville: Another American Christmas Story, by Arthur Morton (September Writer, 2018, $19.95, 102 pages, ages 3-12)

Jon and the Toymakers is two books in one: first, we follow Jon and his perfect family as they find and chop down the perfect Christmas tree, bring it home and decorate it. Secondly, we follow Jon as he sneakily opens a gift early (that he was not supposed to), is transported on a scary midnight adventure then returns home to try to make up for his misdeed in order to save Christmas. Lessons learned are obvious yet stated and re-stated many times.

The finding-the-Christmas tree half reads like a middle-schooler's report about how he spent his summer vacation - chronologically to the nth degree, with missing literary magic.

The second part of the book reads a bit more interesting but again is told as it happens (perhaps the author has a day job writing how-to instructions?) with way too much detail and repetitive repetition. The reader can easily guess what comes next.

The two morals of Jon and the Toymakers are exceedingly obvious and I fear the readership will be exceedingly bored. The reader will re-learn about the value of family, love, obedience and being kind to others.

However, some of the illustrations are intricately wondrous - those of scenery rather than of people. They are lovely watercolor depictions of the season.

We were interested in this book because our family has both a Jon and a Harper (but our Harper is a boy not the girl).

Caveat: We were sent a paperback copy for review and found the large size just a bit too unwieldy to easily read by one (aged 12) or even two together (aged 3 and someone older). It would, however, be fine in hardback or, even better, as a very short Golden Book.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Book Review: The Poetical Institute's Peculiar Powers of Vegetables & Fruits (OT)

The Poetical Institute's Peculiar Powers of Vegetables & Fruits, by Sharada Keats and Jiajia Hamner (Tiny Tree Children's Books, 91 pages, 2019, $25.52)

How to Get Your Child to Eat Veggies? Have Him Read This Book!

Do you have an anti-veggie child or two? This book of mostly veggie-inspired poetry will not only entertain him/her but humorously educate him and have him eating out of your hand, so to speak. Young readers will focus on the wonderfully intricate pictures and fun, rhyming words and phrases: they will quickly commit several to memory and increase their vocabulary.

The combination of veggies and animals makes for a priceless chapter with fennel flamingoes, mushroom monkeys, pomegranate pronghorns and more. You can even take this book to the zoo or aquarium and get double your money's worth in education as you search for a few good exotic animals - or to the supermarket looking for kale kraken or passionfruit or paw-paw or dragonfruit dreams. 

With references to Alan Turing even, the authors also include words that the average adult will have to look up (aubergine, vermillion, prehensile, gossamer)

"Fig fairies have sparkle and pizzazz galore. . . They can transform a newt to an ichthyosaur."

Detailed illustrations are worth of keeping if they had been posters - beautiful watercolors of very imaginative accompaniments to veggies of all colors and sizes (even their insides).

More Power to the Veggies! (and those who eat them)

The juxtaposition of veggies (or some fruits) with superpowers that one imbibes or ingests upon eating makes for a fun collection of 50 poems easy to digest and remember. The crowded front cover drawing does not do justice to those inside, but I bet your child will be able to identify each fruit and vegetable depicted plus name all the varieties of tomatoes and mushrooms (cherry, plum, beefsteak - canned, sweet, sour and portobello, oyster, shiitake, button).

It's a good thing Peculiar Powers is a hardback - it will be well-read - and often.

Caveat: This book was sent to me for review and I have only one question: where is the artichoke?