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Book Review

Listed in alphabetical order:


Baby Bear Sees Blue

Ashley Wolff (author/illustrator); published by Beach Lane Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

Summary: Baby Bear wakes up in the den, and his mama helps him discover the brilliance of color. He sees the sunlight and understands the color yellow; the oak tree leaves help him discover the color green. He discovers blue found in jays, brown found in trout, red found in strawberries and orange found in butterflies. They hurry home once a storm approaches and discover the colors found in a rainbow. Baby Bear closes his eyes to sleep and returns to the color black.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Mama Bear is always seen by Baby Bear's side when walking through the woods and explaining the colors. She is there as his teacher and protector. She explains the colors of objects before Baby Bear goes off alone to look at the color. Mama keeps Baby away from the dangerous storm and gently guides him back to the den to sleep.


Because Your Mommy Loves You

by Andrew Clements (author); R. W. Alley (illustrator); published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Summary: A mom and son interact through a series of hiking experiences. The son gets lost in a camping store, carries his own backpack, erects his own side of the tent and roasts his own marshmallows. When the evening gets cold, his mother encourages him to use the flashlight to look in the dark tent and find his sweater. She hugs the boy at the end of the evening and tells him that she loves him.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: The mother teaches her son how to be responsible by showing him how to do activities and then allowing him to complete them alone. She could carry her son's heavy backpack or put out the campfire for him, but she wants him to understand the importance of independence. She frequently gives him affection after the completion of his actions.


The Berenstain Bears Get Involved

by Jan and Mike Berenstain; published by Zonderkidz, the children's division of Zondervan 

Summary: Brother and Sister Bear belong to a club that participates in fun activities such as playing baseball and basketball, and singing in the church choir. However, the main purpose of the club is to help those in need: cleaning up playgrounds, bringing food to homebound bears and assisting in fixing old houses. They eventually realize the importance of working as a team when they help rescue family members whose homes are flooding. When the work is complete, the Bears return to the chapel to warm up, dry off and eat homemade food.

Christian beliefs: The Bear children participate in activities that glorify God through helping others. There are Scriptures throughout the story, reinforcing the importance of becoming involved in other bears' lives: "Always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else" (1 Thessalonians 5:15). Sitting together at the end of the story, the Bears see the ceasing of the rain and the display of a rainbow as a blessing from God.

Authority roles: Preacher Brown is the leader of the club and works with them to serve others. Father and Mother Bear also work with Brother and Sister to help dam the floodwaters and prepare food for the volunteers. In the end, the Bears understand the value of working to help others.


Crafty Chloe

by Kelly DiPucchio (author); Heather Ross (illustrator); published by Aetheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division

Summary:  Chloe is not talented in sports, video games or dancing. However, she is talented at making all types of crafts, from coffee-filter hats to dog clothes. Chloe's best friend, Emma, invites Chloe to her birthday party, so Chloe begins to think about what she can bring as a present. Emma likes Flower Girl dolls, but another girl named London buys Emma a new Flower Girl doll as a present; she makes fun of Chloe for even considering that she will make Emma a present. Chloe becomes insecure and tries to skip the party, claiming she has chicken "pops." Eventually, she makes her best friend a doll bed and a "perfectly purple dress." London arrives at the party and falls, which tears Emma's present — the dress of the new Flower Girl doll. Chloe suggests that London use the purple dress she made for the doll, and they both present Emma with the dressed doll and the doll's bed.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Chloe's mother is concerned that Chloe will miss the birthday party, so she checks Chloe's temperature when she claims to have the chicken pops. She encourages Chloe to attend Emma's birthday party, because there will be a pony ride and Emma is her friend. Her words show concern for Emma's needs, even though she appears to be quite busy serving dinner, talking on the phone and taking Chloe's temperature. Chloe's father reads the newspaper.


Each Kindness

by Jacqueline Woodson (author); E. B. Lewis (illustrator); published by Nancy Paulsen Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Summary: The principal at Chloe's school introduces a new girl, Maya, to Chloe's class. She is wearing somewhat ragged clothes and ripped shoes. Maya reaches out to Chloe by smiling at her and trying to play with her on the playground, but Chloe refuses to smile back and ignores her. Chloe and her friends whisper about Maya's clothes and her food, and they decline her invitation to play with her. They give her the name "Never New" because her clothing looks used. The day that Maya misses class, Ms. Albert (the teacher) brings a lesson to the class about how kindness "makes the whole world a little bit better." Chloe reflects on her own behavior toward Maya and yearns for Maya to return to class so she can show her some kindness. Maya never returns, and Chloe feels saddened by the fact that she will never be able to reach out to Maya again.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: The principal introduces Maya to the classroom, exhibiting a guardian position by being by her side and holding Maya's hand. There is no authority figure during the time that Maya is rejected by Chloe and her friends. However, once Maya leaves the school, Ms. Albert, the teacher, brings a needed lesson to her class about the importance of kindness. She teaches them that just one act of kindness affects others. Because of that lesson, Chloe changes her view on how she has treated Maya.


I Couldn't Love You More

by Jason Ingram and Matt Hammitt (authors); Polona Lovsin (illustrator); published by Tyndale Kids, the children's division of Tyndale House Publishers

Summary: Illustrations of animals (e.g., ducks, bears, pigs and rabbits) help children understand that Jesus is always with them. A bunny and a kitten begin the book by looking into the night with the words, "In the night He is with you." Similar words and pictures follow throughout the book, such as "in the morning," "when we are fearful," and "when no one is around." Although not many words are used, children are reminded that Jesus loves them and that He is always present.

Christian beliefs: Matt Hammitt, the lead singer of the band Sanctus Real, uses this book to express the unconditional love that God has for all of His children, including Matt's son who was born with a congenital heart defect. The words, "You are mine for a moment / But you are His / Forever His," explain the premise of the book by showing that God's love for children is ever-present and eternal

Authority roles: Animals love and cuddle with their offspring. The animal parents tenderly and affectionately hug their offspring in bed, in the forest and near a tree.


Llama Llama Time to Share

by Anna Dewdney (author/illustrator); published by Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

Summary: Llama's new friend Nelly Gnu comes over to his house to play while the two moms share a cup of tea. Llama watches as Nelly plays with all of his toys and makes a tower and a moat. He decides to join in the fun with his stuffed animal, Fuzzy Llama. Once Nelly begins to play with Fuzzy, Llama decides he does not want to share and accidently rips off Fuzzy's arm. By the end of the book, Mama helps Llama learn about sharing, and he willingly shares his toys and invites Nelly to visit with him again.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Llama's mom urges Llama to share his toys once Nelly arrives at their home. When Llama decides not to share and tears off Fuzzy's arm, his mother sews it back on, leaving Fuzzy on the steps until Llama learns to share. She discourages Llama's selfishness and encourages Llama and Nelly's friendship.


Too Tall Houses

by Gianna Marino ( author/illustrator ); published by Viking, an imprint of the Penguin Group (USA), Inc.

Summary: Rabbit and Owl are good friends, living in two small houses beside each other. Rabbit enjoys gardening, and Owl enjoys the view of the forest. Once Rabbit's garden grows too high for Owl to see the forest, he builds his house higher, which casts a shadow on Rabbit's garden. Frustrated with each other, they build their houses higher and higher until Rabbit's house is too tall to water his garden and Owl's house is too tall to see the forest. Soon, their houses are blown away by the wind, and they end up working together to build and to share one small house.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: None


When Dads Don't Grow Up

by Marjorie Blain Parker (author); R. W. Alley (illustrator); published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Summary: Feeding doughnuts to birds, drinking through straws and throwing rocks into fountains are examples of how dads enjoy time with their children. From a child's perspective, they think that their dads have never grown up. Their dads read comics, watch cartoons and check for monsters in the closets. The children of these dads feel lucky because they can still play with someone they love: racing shopping carts, spending time outdoors and playing indoor sports. These dads can be serious and silly. Because these dads are able to have fun with their kids, doing things that these kids like to do, the children see their dads as never growing up and being the "world's best dads."

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: The dads are painted as spending time with their children, loving them and having fun with them. They put their children to bed by reading funny bedtime stories and tucking them in under the covers. The dads cook silly pancakes for breakfast, fix broken lamps, eat hamburgers in the back of the truck and take their children to the doctor's office. They are involved in their children's lives and enjoy spending time with them.

zoe-gets-readyZoe Gets Ready

by Bethanie Deeny Murguia ( author/illustrator ); published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.

Summary: Zoe begins Saturday knowing that it is the only day of the week that she can pick out her own clothes to wear. She spends the day not only choosing her clothes, but also choosing the corresponding activities determined by the clothes. Zoe chooses one outfit with pockets to collect treasures, one with leaves on her head to hide in the trees and another with boots to run through the fields. Her mother urges her to be ready for the day, and Zoe responds by saying that she is working on it. By the time she leaves with her mother, Zoe is wearing most of the clothes in her closet.

Christian beliefs: None

Authority roles: Zoe's mom urges Zoe to prepare for the day, and she discourages her from making a mess in her room. Zoe takes her time and empties her closet of all the neatly hung and folded clothes. Her mom finally comes to her room, with a purse and younger sister in her arms, telling Zoe that she needs to be ready to leave the house.

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We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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