Monday, October 31, 2011

Little Shepherd- Cheryl C.Malandrinos

Little Shepherd
Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Illustrated by Eugene Ruble
Guardian Angel Publishing

Dedicated to his flock, shepherd boy Obed is frightened when a bright light fills the sky and an angel appears. The Angel brings good news of the Christ child being born.
The Angels urge the shepherd to go and find the Christ child. Obed is hesitant to leave his sheep without a caretaker. His Father ensures him that they will be fine. Thoughts of his flock wrestle with Obed as they journey to the new child. Father seems exuberant in his happiness to see the young one, as Obed struggles with hearing wolves in the distance and not being near his flock. Why isn’t Father worried about the sheep?
Not a sheep is missing upon Obeds return and Obed begins to understand the significance of the Christ child. He realizes that there is much more than just the sheep and his caring for them, but a higher being to care as well.
The storyline is a lesson in trust and knowing our heavenly Father will take care of us. A Christmas story told from the perspective of a young shepherd boy.

 The illustrations though interesting in a caricature, cartoon style, were inconsistent in knowing how old Obed was.
 Cheryl writes that he is 5 years old and a couple of the pics show a younger Obed, though still older than 5. Later in the story Obed appears to be a teenager,  nearly as tall as his father. The inconsistencies threw me off in reading the book as I wasn’t sure how to picture Obed.
 The storyline worked fine, but the illustrations need fine tuned.
Cheryl Malandrinos is a freelance writer, children’s author and editor. Her first children’s book, Little Shepherd, was released in August 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing. She is also a member of the SCBWI.I received a copy of this book from Pump up Your Book for a Virtual tour, in exchange for an honest review.
Cheryl is a Tour Coordinator for Pump Up Your Book, a book reviewer, and blogger. She is also a former contributor for the Writer2Writer eZine. Ms. Malandrinos lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two children. She also has a son who is married.
Visit Cheryl at her newly redesigned website or visit the Little Shepherd book blog at

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Little Town of Bethlehem

Little Town of Bethlehem
A Documentary by director Jim Hanon

Sami, Ahmad, Yonatan come from radically different backgrounds in a land of unending war. Yet, against all odds, including some within their Israeli and Palestinian communities, they are able to find common ground. They walk a path of nonviolent struggle in lockstep with Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. For them courage is found not in taking up arms, but setting them down once and for all and extending a hand in peace.

From the award-winning team that brought you End of the Spear (2006) and Miss HIV (2007) comes director Jim Hanon’s latest documentary, Little Town of Bethlehem. Unscripted and unrehearsed, discover the humanity lurking behind an ancient cycle of violence.

I was given a dvd on discussions on nonviolence inspired by the film. Not the actual film, so my review is based on the 10 minute video alone.
Spinning of the nonviolent traits of Gandhi and Martin Luther King JR, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has shown that violence is the problem, not the solution. Though revenge and retaliation are part of our human nature, there is a growing movement between both the Israelis and the Palestinians for a non-violent, peaceful resolution.  Peace being that you do not feel threatened by your neighbor.
Featuring: Sami Awad, Ahmad Al’Azzeh, Yonatan Shapira. Music Produced by: Kirk Whalum. Film Design by: Mike Galloway and Mark Arnold. Produced by: Mart Green. Written, Directed and Filmed by: Jim Hanon. Feature running time: Approximately 77 minutes. This film is rated PG-13, Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13, for some violent and disturbing images.

Lonely Hearts- Amanda Stephen Book Launch 11-1

Lonely Hearts Book Launch with Amanda Stephan

WHEN: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
TIME: 24 hours
RECEIVE: Free e-gifts with purchase on launch day ONLY

Win a Nook ~ Kindle ~ iPod Shuffle + get LOTS of FREE eGifts on November 1st!Lonely Hearts ~ a sweet Christian romance
by Amanda Stephan

One lonely mother. Two matchmaking kids. Three eligible bachelors, and some very yummy apple pie!
When widow Becky Callis moves to a new town, she thought it would be easier to start over in a place where she's not reminded of her dead husband. Her kids on the other hand, take it as a chance to help their mother start over romantically. The only problem is, there seems to be quite a few eligible bachelors they can choose from! They soon realize it's easier to find someone to like their mother than it is to figure out which man is best for her.
Even though this handsome cowboy is younger than Becky, Scott makes his interest plain and starts courting her almost immediately to the delight of both kids.
Jack and Becky have been friends since childhood. When they're reunited years after their lives have taken very different paths, this lonely preacher begins to wonder if God has brought her back into his life for a reason. 
Pearce Morgan is a single parent raising his young daughter. Divorced and disillusioned, an unlikely friendship arises between him and Becky when his shy daughter decides she loves Becky and her kids.
True love is harder than it looks!

Lonely Hearts, a story of second chances, choices, and yummy apple pie will be released in October through TreasureLine Publishing. Exclusive Apple Pie recipe included!

About Amanda:

Amanda Stephan is just a normal, everyday country girl. She resides near Columbia, TN with her husband and children, three cats, one dog, and multiple roosters that love to roost under their bedroom windows. She loves to laugh and have a good time, and loves to read a good book. 
     Out of love for her family and love for God, she finds writing to be an opportunity to share God's love for others in a fun and entertaining way. Her first novel, The Price of Trust, was published in May of 2010, her second novel, Lonely Hearts, is due for release at the end of October, 2011, and her Slade series was just picked up by TreasureLine Publishing.
      If you were to ask her to share one thing about herself that most people don't know, she'd have so many to choose from that she'd probably hesitate for a moment. Not quite a recluse, she's rather camera shy, doesn't like to be in the spotlight, and absolutely LOVES to have her feet tickled. But she would say her most interesting accomplishment is that she laughs like Scooby Doo.

You can usually find Amanda lurking in several online places at once like her 
Facebook fan page 

her Facebook author page
her website or 
or her personal blog

Be watching for my review of Lonely Hearts coming Soon!!

Dear Baobab- Cheryl Foggo

Dear Baobab
Cheryl Foggo

Illustrated by Qin Link
Second Story Press

Seven year old Maiko must leave his African village and beloved Baobab trees to go live with his Aunt and Uncle in North America. Feeling connected with the 2000 year old, grounded tree, Maiko feels lost and uprooted in his new surroundings. Uprooted and moved unlike the Baobab tree he loves.

Now surrounded by spruce trees, Maiko is trying to fit into his new school and new home. One little spruce tree that is also 7 years old that Maiko calls "tree, same age as me", comforts him as he hears the wind sing through its leaves.
The little spruce tree is growing too close to the foundation of the house and Uncle Peter plans on cutting it down, not realizing how special it has become to Maiko.
Maiko is able to find the courage to tell Uncle Peter and a new plan for the tree is devised.
Change is hard on anyone but for such a young one to loose his parents and move to a completely different culture and way of life is exceptionally hard.

I feel many children will relate to Maiko feeling out of place and being moved from what he knows and love. In our very transient society it isn't uncommon for children to move several times in their young lives.

I have always had a fascination with the Baobab trees and this book illustrates and describes them so well. I loved how Maiko could feel connected and comforted by the big tree and had to transfer that love to another and through that he was able to realize that "We can't always grow where we are planted. But we still can grow somewhere else".

Loved the original concept with the Baobab tree, and the universal concept of children having to move and try to fit in.
Beautiful illustrations by Qin Leng who was born in Shanghai, China before moving to Montreal.

Cheryl Fogo is a journalist, screenwriter, poet and playwright. She is the author of two books for young adults. This is her first picture book. Cheryl has a particular interest in history of Black pioneers on the prairies. She live in Calgary.

I received a copy of this book from in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Doodle Sketchbook, Art Journaling for boys

Much more than a basic sketchbook!!
Suggestions for decorating the pages with collages, photos, clipart, rubber stamping, and a wide variety of mediums to make the book your own.
Thicker pages allow for attaching other paper and designs right to the book.

Geared for boys to let their imagination run wild. Decorate an ipod drawing, learn urban alphabets, doodle a sci fi world, draw creatures, design with stickers and more. Original in the journaling prompts and designs. Boys are going to love this small book they can throw in their back pack.
Great boredom buster.
Great gift giving idea for any boy ages 8 and up.
I received a copy of this book from Gibbs-Smith in an exchange for an honest review.
Grab your copy from Amazon at

Pocket Doodles for Princesses

Pocket Doodles for Princesses
Anita Wood
Drawings by Jennifer Kalis
Gibbs- Smith

A little girls dream doodlebook!
All things princess related from oriental, Spanish, snow, beach and other kinds of princesses.
Become a fairytale artist as you design your dreams from the perfect castle to the shows and tiara you will wear.
Princess ABC’s to draw through the alphabet from Angels to necklaces to unicorns.. all girlie prompts.
Marketed for ages 8 and older for the finer details of drawing and being able to read the intro to each page.
Darling book to tuck in the little princesses’ bag for car trips, long waits and or even sitting on the couch watching a show. Perfect size for a stocking stuffer for all the little princesses in your life!
I love the transportable size, not big and bulky. Fantastic sentence and drawing starters to let their imagination run wild.

5 Stars for Sure
I received a copy of thiss book from Gibbs- Smith in exchange for an honest review
Buy your copy here

Thursday, October 27, 2011

God Makes Lemonade- Don Jacobson

God Makes Lemonade

Created by Don Jacobson

True Stories of hope amidst dire situations
Stories as serious as cancer, kidney disease and other health scares to those less life threatening like job loss or relationship problems.
Each story contributed by regular folks like you and I and compiled into a refreshing collection of hope and inspiration.
A great collection that continues to point us to the Creator, the one who will never leave us or forsake us.

Great compilation of stories, encouraging and beneficial for lifting up.

I received a copy of this book from Glass Road in exchange for an honest review.

Don Jacobson's twenty-five years in publishing included serving as the president and owner of Multnomah Publishers, where he oversaw the production of more than 1000 titles, including the five-million-plus-selling series Stories for the Heart. He's had the pleasure of working with such best-selling authors as Randy Alcorn, Joni Eareckson Tada, Henry Blackaby, Robin Jones Gunn, Karen Kingsbury, Andy Stanley, and Bruce Wilkinson. Don's wife, Brenda, has been mentoring mothers for more than a decade.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Spirit Who Speaks- Peter Lawrence

The Spirit Who Speaks
Peter H. Lawrence
David C Cook

“It is much easier to claim that God has spoken and God will speak than God speaks.”
The Bible shows God speaking to His people. Does God speak to us today in more than just his written world?
The spirit of God continues to speak into His people today, but are we listening for it and hearing it when it happens?
The spirit speaks words, sometimes well in advance of the event it mentions. “We aren’t all going to get a word from God for other people, certainly not every day”.

Peter Lawrence highlights people in the Bible who heard from the spirit and their reaction and what their encounter was like. God has not changed and can still meet with people in the similar ways outlined in scripture.

Deeply charismatic and spiritual leaning toward Pentecostal. He uses many scripture references and real life stories as evidence for the spirit speaking.

Using discernment and scriptural insight I didn’t find anything lacking from this book. I think it will be beneficial for those seeking more of the characteristics of a charismatic relationship with the Spirit through prophesy and speaking in tongues. It may be a little too deep for some and a bit ‘out there’ for others.

I received a copy of this book from B & B media in exchange for an honest review.

The Opposite of Art- Anthol Dickson

The Opposite of Art
Anthol Dickson
Howard books

Artist Sheridan Ridler expresses himself in faceless art. In love with Suzanna, he is unable to verbalize how much she means to him. As a Christian she comes back to her relationship with Christ and realizes her relationship with “Danny” is unhealthy. He chases after her and ends up in Harlem. Attentive on his mission Danny doesn’t not see the car driven by his own agent Talbot, intentionally hit him and throw his lifeless body into the river.
Sheridan awakes after being unconscious on the bank of the river, after basically being dead, and see the Glory of God before him.
He never realizes he was hit by a car, let alone by Talbot. Pronounced dead by the world, Ridler paintings skyrocket in value.

Ridler having seen what he calls “Glory” seeks out on a pilgrimage to find Glory again and paint it. Over the years he ends up in a variety of countries, trying to find it within Buddhism, Islam and Judaism and Christianity. All in search of the Glory he saw that he cannot shake.

Excellent descriptions of different religions and how Sheridan was unable to find the Glory in them until he found the True God. It got a little dry for me at times, not as fast paced as I like. Artists will appreciate Sheridan and his internal struggles. Beautiful Ending.

Athol Dickson is the publisher of the popular news website,, and the author of seven novels and the bestselling memoir, The Gospel according to Moses. His novels of suspense and magical realism have been honored with three Christy Awards and an Audie Award, and compared to the work of Octavia Butler (by Publisher's Weekly) and Flannery O'Connor (by The New York Times). He and his wife live in Southern California.

I received a copy of this novel from Glass Road in exchange for an honest review

Monday, October 24, 2011

GIVEAWAY Homegrown and Handmade

I am offering my copy of this book in a giveaway as I have such an abundance of wonderful resources, I want to be sure to bless someone else with a copy.

Homegrown & Handmade
A practical Guide to More Self-Reliant living
Deborah Niemann
Published by New Society Publishers

This book starts with a 25 page introduction, valuable information on the whys of eating homegrown. From the Health stance, nutrition differences, the quality of the food, and its sustainability. In addition, she touches on the frugalness of eating home grown and finding pride in ones work. Very good information on chemicals and how much of the food we eat today is extremely unhealthy for us.

The book is divided into 5 parts, each with a Planning, Growing, and Cooking sections.
Backyard gardening is first with helpful hints on planning a garden that fits nicely into the space you have, and not becoming overwhelmed. To plan according to your future needs and utilizing the fruits of your labor.
The orchard is next with the ins and outs of planting, and when and how of harvesting then making delicious jams and other recipes with your fruit.
Caring for poultry for both eggs and meat production. Includes housing recommendations and types of poultry.
Of course my favorite, your home dairy! From planning on which livestock, caring for them, to processing your milk into cheese and soap.
She even includes a section on raising fiber animals!
Covers all the basics and is a great resource for helping someone get started with farming, even in their small backyard.
The only thing I had wished was that the pictures would be in color, but I know that isn’t always practical either.
Great book, a great starter, but includes enough depth for even seasoned farmers to utilize the information.
Thanks to the Author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment at the end of the review, including your Email address. Sorry this is only open to US residents. I will select a winner with random. org on Nov 4
Good Luck!

The Secret Life of Backyard Bugs- Judy Burris & Wayne Richards

The Secret Life of Backyard Bugs
Judy Burris & Wayne Richards
Storey Publishing

Stunning photography!
Every living thing progresses through life cycles, often with bugs we only see the adult stage. In awe filled photography we are able to see complete life cycles of insects and spiders from eggs to larvae, pupa to adult.
There is a description of each insect, order it belongs to, and trivia facts for each insect displayed. This is by far one of the most interesting bug books I have ever read.
It also includes a top host and nectar plant guide, comparison guides for each stage of the life cycle, and briefly touches on plant and soil life.
Again, Amazing photography, simple yet very informative for all ages! Detailed descriptions and photographs make this book interesting even for those who aren’t overly found of insects.
I received a copy of this book from Storey in exchange for an honest review.

The Pub Across the Pond- Mary Carter

The Pub Across the Pond
Mary Carter
Published by Kensington

Ronan McBride loses the family Pub in a gambling debt. Uncle Joe will turn it into a tanning parlor if Ronan doesn’t give him a hundred thousand euros within the month. The ‘half dozen’, Ronan’s 6 sisters devise a plan to raffle of the pub for $20 per ticket to Americans to ensure the livelihood of their family’s legacy.
Carlene Rivers, always very unlucky, buys one ticket and ends up winning the pub. She in on her way to Ireland, leaving her OCD father behind to run their boxing gym.
The “Yank” makes a go at the pub though the locals go to great lengths to let her know she doesn’t belong there.
Innovative storyline, incorporating some Irish lore and history. Love isn’t far off when Carlene meets ‘bad boy’ Ronan and tries to not fall for the stunning Irishman.

Unfortunately there was an abundance of cursing and sexual language in the book which made it very difficult to read despite the good storyline. I can not recommend this as a family friendly book.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Farmer's Wife Pony Club Quilt Sampler- Laurie Aaron Hird

The Farmer’s Wife Pony Club
Sampler Quilt
Laurie Aaron Hird

The title of this book immediately caught my eye as a Farmer’s Wife, and a quilter! I was quite excited when I contacted Laurie with an offer to review a copy of her latest book.
The book surpassed what I even imagined it would be like.

My all-time favorite quilting book!! And quite possibly my favorite book reviewed this year!

The combination of the letters from the Lucky Pony Winners of 1915 sponsored by Webb Publishing company, and fantastic quilt block designs for each letter, the book spotlights 90 beautiful blocks to be put into a sampler.

Original concept, fantastic photos, brilliant historical recollections, and absolutely beautiful quilt blocks.

One of the plusses of this book is that regardless of your type of quilting; using templates, foundation piecing, or rotary cutting, the directions are written for each. A CD is included with the book that provides cutting instructions for each block and the assembly diagrams. This book can easily be used by a beginner through advanced quilter and the options for color design, or placement are endless for your finished quilt.

The history alone from these Pony Winning kids, born in the early 1900’s and the photos along with many of the letters makes this a fantastic read even for those who don’t personally quilt.

A MUST for anyone you know who quilts, or loves to look at quilting books. Laurie has outdone herself in this book, and to think she did it all with young ones still at her side, and a home to take care of.

I can’t say enough about the historical aspect of the book, and the merging with the design of the quilt blocks to represent each letter.
You can find out more about Laurie Aaron Hird on her website

I so would have loved to sit down with Laurie and interview her over a cup of tea (definitely not coffee as you will read later) but we live too many states from one another so I had to settle with an email interview. If I can choose one person I would love to meet, I think it would be Laurie!! I hope you agree after this review!

My Interview With Laurie:

You said you are a self-taught quilter. What age did you start learning to quilt, and what was your motivation to learn on your own?

            I was about 40 years old when I made my first simple quilt. (I'm 55 now.)  Desperation was my motivation for learning to quilt on my own! For years and years I had wanted to take a quilting class, but with nine children at the time, and almost always a nursing baby, I could never leave my family long enough for such a luxury.

Where has most of your collection of The Farmer's Wife magazines come from?

            My entire collection of magazines has been purchased from Ebay.

Do you find there is still advice in the magazine that applies to farmer's wives today?

            There is a great deal of good advice in the magazine, and I post many of my favorite articles on my blog:

            The advice that sticks out most in my mind is to take every opportunity to enjoy the beauties of nature in God's world.

How do you find time to quilt and write with your busy household?

            We only have the younger “half” of our eleven children at home now.  The youngest is 10 years old, so I am not up all night with babies anymore. It is amazing what one can accomplish with the luxury of having a full night's rest!
            In my younger days, I used to think that there were really “super moms” but I no longer believe that to be true. Each woman simply trades one thing for something else. For an example, I have traded free time (I have very little), home baked goods (three daughters have taken over that job) and clean closets (they are not pretty, trust me!) for time to work on the books.
            My sewing time is in the evenings in the living room with my family. If I had to go into a separate room to sew, I never would complete a quilt.

Do you homeschool your children and if so what bent of curriculum do you lean towards?

             I would call our homeschooling bent “traditional.” Our curriculum consists mostly of Rod & Staff, Christian Liberty, and ABeka books. We began homeschooling in 1983, when nearly all curriculum companies would only sell their books to traditional Christian schools, not homeschoolers. I have never varied much from what we did in the beginning. 

What kinds of animals do you have on your farm? A pony by any chance?

            We live on a 6 ½ acres of land; pasture, woods, orchard and gardens. Currently we have one dog; two cats; ten laying hens; and a few weeks ago we had 80+ meat chickens, but they are in our freezer now. In the past we have had a cow and several dairy goats. We hope to have goats again soon. The milk is wonderful! Even though I am not an “animal person,” I really want a Shetland pony. The Lucky Pony Winner children have convinced me!

Have you been able to follow up on any of the letters from the Pony Club giveaway, to talk to the winners or descendants?

            I have estimated that The Lucky Pony Winners that are included in my book were born between 1895-1910, so I do not expect to find that any of them are still alive. However, I have been able to uncover some very interesting information about the children as they grew to be adults. I plan to add this information to my website every Monday. I have also been in contact with a daughter-in-law of one of the winners. I have researched less than 10% of the children so there is much still to learn. 

Any plans in the works for another sampler book?

            I do have ideas for more books, but only time will tell if they ever materialize.  

What method of quilting do you prefer?

            I much prefer to trace and cut out my templates with scissors, and sew by hand.

Do you have a history of what became of the Webb Publishing Company?

            The Webb Publishing Company and particularly Edward, the publisher, has fascinated me. My research shows that he was a godly Christian man who was very concerned that his publications were operated on the highest standards of honesty and integrity. His obituary is briefly announced in a 1916 issue of The Farmer's Wife magazine. It stated that after his family was financially cared for, the remainder of his wealth was given to a Missionary Society. The publishing successors to Edward Webb continued his good reputation and high standing. The magazine ended when it was sold to The Farm Journal in 1939. The Webb Publishing Company was sold in the early 1980s to a non-publishing company. The Webb Publishing buildings in St. Paul, Minnesota, that are shown on page 145 of The Pony Club Quilt book are unfortunately, no longer standing.

Do you prefer coffee or tea?

Tea! I am violently allergic to coffee!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Falling to Pieces- Vannetta Chapman

Falling to Pieces
Vannetta Chapman
A Shipshewana Amish Mystery

When I first saw the cover of this book, and read its description I just had to contact the author for a copy to review! Amish mystery in Shipshewana sounded like such a great story, and a new Amish Fiction writer to spotlight. Vannetta’s first novel A Simple Amish Christmas was a bestseller and this series is well on its way to joining it!

Daisy’s Quilt Shop is a hub for not only the tourists in Shipshewana during market days, but for the Amish ladies who gather to quilt and fellowship with one another. When Daisy is found deceased out in the garden she loved, Niece Callie inherits the shop. Having no desire or knowhow to run a shop, Callie hopes for a quick sale and to get back to her so called life in TX. She soon realizes that nothing is beckoning her back to TX and to sell her aunts shop may be easier if the shop reopens. Along with new found Amish friend Deborah, Callie reopens the store and makes some changes and upgrades by putting some of the Amish quilts on ebay for a higher selling price, much to the chagrin of the Amish Bishop.

Local newspaper editor Mr. Stakehorn slanders Callie and her attempts to help sell the Amish quilts making for an uprising in the small community. Callie doesn’t take it standing down, insults Mr. Stakehorn and threatens to get back at him. Later that night Mr. Stakehorn is found dead…. Of course Callie is a prime suspect!!

Along with her Amish friends, new newspaper editor Trent, and the officers of the local police force, Callie seeks to find out the mystery behind Mr. Stakehorn’s death and the recent burglaries.

I loved the combination of the quilt shop, Amish and a good mystery. I have been to Shipshewana during market days when the town swells to 30,000 people and it was so fun to be brought back there to the small town setting and the friendships that developed between the English and Amish. Despite difference in living style, clothing, religion, Callie and her Amish friends came together with a mission in mind, and that helped to grow their relationship with each other, and within themselves. Deborah’s influence on Callie was a blessing to her working through some past issues that needed resolved.

So excited that this was just the first in a 3 part series! Excited to join Callie back in Shipshewana for the next book A Perfect Square.

Pumpkin Prayer Winner

Congrats to Andrew and his new little one on winning A Pumpkin Prayer!!
I have sent out an email to him and Tommy Nelson will get the book right out to you!!
Thanks to All who played!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sunrise on the Battery- Beth Webb Hart

Sunrise on the Battery
Beth Webb Hart

Beth Webb Hart stars each novel’s development with a question she then works through within the novel.  She writes,  “For Sunrise on the Battery, here is the questions I had in mind before I ever wrote the first word of the story.:
            What would it look like if we really loved each other? If we had no inhibitions about sharing our faith and our lives with a hurting world? How would we really spend our time and our money? And what impact would this have on our families, especially our children? What impact would it have on our communities, our country and our world?”

She uses the novel to answer this question in the lives of Mary Lynn and Jackson Scoville. High school sweethearts, raised in the country with little means, they make it their mission to climb the social and economic ladder to give their 3 daughters the life they never had. After 10 years in Charleston, the Scovilles have arrived to the top of the social elite. Private schools for the girls, music and language lessons from the best, prestigious home and possessions, and wealthy friends.

Mary Lynn attends a Bible Study, and has for a couple years with a friend. Jackson is fine with it, but doesn’t have any desire to go to church or hear about her ‘religion’. She begins to see God’s hand in her own life when she is out jogging and injures her leg. She realizes her great desire to accept Christ and for Jackson to know Jesus as his own.

Mary Lynn is not ready for the radical changes in Jackson that occur at his conversion, and answer to her prayer. Jackson shows a newfound jubilance for God and desire to share with all he meets. For him it is ‘all or nothing’. His family is having a hard time jumping off the fence as readily as he is.

So true in all our lives, whether we are ‘rich or poor’ financially or socially. The hesitancy to jump off that fence separating the world from those who are Christ followers. We don’t want to give up what we have accomplished, or what we have to be sold out believers, and are often critical of those who do. Jackson models an excited, new believer in Christ who has had a life changing revelation. We all would do well to follow suit with Jackson and despite the things we have, the social suicide that could happen, that we take a radical step for Christ.
I love how the book is told in multiple person so that we can see what Mary Lynn is thinking and feeling, as well as Jackson before and after his acceptance of Christ. Even the daughters get a voice in the book and we can see the struggles that come with each stage of their parents desire to know God more.

The book answers the question that Beth Webb Hart poses at the beginning of her thoughts on the writing the novel in a way that will speak to all who read it!!

Thanks to B& B media for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five Little Ducks- Nikki Smith

Five Little Ducks
Illustrated by Nikki Smith

Nikki has done a beautiful job illustrating a favorite children’s song in Five Little Ducks. I so love when the songs I remember as a child are turned into a book to pass along to my own children. What better way to instill in them the love of art and music than by having a book that emphasizes both. I love that Nikki raised little ducks that she photographed and utilized in her artwork. She had a definite attachment and feel for the Mama duck in the story.
 An Interview with Nikki!
Do you have a Bio written up that I could include in my post of 5 Little Ducks?
This is what I have in my Amazon bio:
Nikki is an artist and a first grade teacher. She enjoys using a variety of artistic media. Currently, her illustrating technique combines the use of watercolor, collage, and graphic design. Her children's books bring together her experiences with children and art. Nikki spends most of her free time as a "lake girl," or enjoying the ocean. She slalom water skis on a lake in Michigan where her family lives and she has been scuba diving in Bonaire, Puerto Rico and Roatan. Nikki has cared for many wild creatures including: robins, frogs, fish, turtles, butterflies and ducks. Her work is inspired by her love of water, animals and family.

What medium did you use to create the artwork in 5 little ducks?
The ducks from Five Little Ducks are actual photographs of ducks I raised.  The photos were then stylized and combined with water color illustrations and graphic designs.  

What led you to decide to capture Children's rhymes into book form?
The first children's book I created was I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly.  I wanted to use the story in a lesson I was writing for a college education class, but I could not find a version I liked.  So, I decided to illustrate my own based on the song the way my mother sang it to me as a child.  I loved illustrating it so much, I started looking for other children's songs in the public domain.

Do your 1st graders inspire you to continue illustrating children's books?
My first graders inspire me to create many things!  When Five Little Ducks was completed, my students demanded I bring more copies to school for them, and that definitely encourages me to keep illustrating.  I have also created activity guides and teacher materials based on what is successful with my students.  Most recently, I have been creating videos with educational songs.  It is very rewarding to see my students excited to learn and begging for more.  

Which of your works is your personal favorite?
I tend to favor my most recent work, but each of my books means something different to me.  I Know an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly was my first project and it holds memories of my mother singing the song to me as a child.  I sang Five Little Speckled Frogs to children when I taught swim lessons; I had a clear vision of how I wanted the frogs to look, and they turned out exactly how I intended.  Five Little Ducks was inspired by the ducklings I saved and raised.  When I look at the book, I can identify the ducks by name and I remember them waddling to follow behind me.

Thanks to Nikki for sending me a copy of her book to review on So Many Books.. So Little Time!
You can find her book on her website