Sunday, August 23, 2009

BJU Press Exclusive

"Brain Games" by Sharon Hambrick is an interesting book about an academic Olympics, so to speak. A teacher who is dying of cancer has one last wish--for her students to win this competition. When no students volunteer, they are hand picked (much to their surprise). The students do not want to compete, but they have a change of heart when they learn of why their teacher is so adamant about the competition. Faith in God is a theme encouraged, as is loving those who hate you. The characters are identifiable, from jocks to beauty queens. Kids will relate to this book as they learn about stepping up, taking action, and doing what is right. The academic questions themselves aren't mentioned heavily, but some are. The book flows quickly and is easy to follow. This is a fun book for high schoolers that want more than the predictable teeny-bopper novels.

"Farmer Dillo Shapes Things Up" by Jesse Adams is a fun book for little ones. Farmer Dillo, who is actually an armadillo fixes things that are misshapen around his farm. This is an excellent idea for little ones in terms of righting wrongs and cleaning up. When he fices each individual item, the reader is asked what shape the item is in and what it needs to be. The shapes are obvious and really hone in basic geometric skills for little children. The illustrations by Julie Speer and Bruce Polhamus are computer generated but still capture imagination. This book highlights the notion of doing what is right just for the sake of doing what is right.

"Girl in the Mirror" by Michelle Grover is a reflection book for teens, specifically teen girls. It centers on Proverbs 31 and many questions of self esteem / self worth. Each chapter starts off with an opener. This is usually a story, prompt, or some question directed to the reader. Next, there is a Focus Passage from the Bible that the teen is urged to look up. Facing the Facts is next. This is where teens assess what they just read and answer questions (lines are provided to write on). Then, the Closer Look dives more into the analytical and less into the details. The Time to Reflect segment takes the Bible theme and applies it to real life--specifically the teen girl's real life. An Additional Study passage is given for girls to look up if they are hungry for more. Finally, there is a Memory Verse for girls to either highlight or copy. While the topics tend to be similar and the Bible verses similar, this book is more of a journal for girls.

"Mumsi Meets a Lion" by Kim Stegall is a great book. It tells the story of an African boy whose family tells him never to flee from a lion. When he does encounter wild beasts on a trip, he flees. However, when he encounters a lion, he faces his fears and does not run away. Mumsi prevails in the end. While there is no specific mention of God, there is a between-the-lines theme of trusting God and obeying parents (one of the ten commandments). Due to the setting and rich culture, children will enjoy this unique book. Kimberly Batti's painted illustrations will also keep kids' attention with bright, vibrant colors, and realistic depictions. This book is short, colorful, and fun--a must-have for those just learning how to read.

"Where I Belong" by Rebecca Kenney is about Miu. She is an Egyptian girl living contently with her family when she is one day whisked away by bandits. Treated terribly and seen as a slave, she is beside herself. Then, Abraham of the New Testament comes to buy her. While she is still a slave, she is treated better by Abraham than by the bandits. She comes to know Sarah, Hagar, Hagar's son, and other servants. Tensions rise when Sarah has a child. Then, Hagar's son (is seen as son of Sarah due to the concubine) is angry because he is not longer the heir. Young readers will be intrigued by Miu's journey as she learns about God. Her questions of why God allows slavery and why bad things happen to good people are answered in a most appropriate way for youngsters to understand. She learns that things happen for a reason and that, while she may not see the end picture, God does, and He knows best. Times may get tough, but God never leaves.

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