The Oprhan’s Wish: A BookLook Blogger Review

Melanie Dickerson has done it again! I completely adored this adaptation of Aladdin from page one. Dickerson’s fairy tale renderings to justice to our love for the classics while removing the mystical instead replacing it with characters who develop and grow in their faith. Aladdin, a young orphan, is rescued from a life of forced crime in the Holy Land and raised by a kind man of God who offers him a new opportunity. Once in Germany, Aladdin finds new purpose in life and discovers his many talents. As this favored young boy grows, so does his friendship with Lady Kirstyn. Intrigue, peril, and mystery flow throughout this tale and will leave you captivated from start to finish!

I love that Aladdin was the central figure for this tale. Lady Kirstyn is definitely important, but the shift to telling his story at the start is perfect for our times. We sadly live in a world where human trafficking is a common practice and children around the world are stuck in situations not of their choosing. This novel, although taking place in the 1400s, reminded me of the need to pray and support those who are rescuing these children. 

One of the things I adore about this author’s writings is I never feel as if she is trying to teach me a biblical message, yet I’m always left with that. She is a masterful storyteller and if you have not yet read her other fairy tale adaptations you need to do so! They are excellent summer reading. Make sure you have plenty of blocked time to read. You won’t want to put it down! 
Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible: A BookLook Blogger Review!

I love all the new resource Bibles now available for kids! I had a Precious Moments Bible when I was a kid and a Teen Adventure Bible when I was in middle school/high school. Do you remember those? One of my favorite parts of those Bibles was the “extra” features. There were little tidbits that let you dig deeper into various parts of Scripture. There were also beautiful pictures I very much enjoyed just looking at over and over again. The key with a resource Bible it to give kids the desire to dive in on their own. This is exactly what the NIV Kids’ Visual Study Bible does.

One look at the cover and my kids were ready to dive into the pages. They are very busy pages for sure. This is not a bad thing, but if your child is easily distracted or needs a simpler reading experience, keep this in mind. My girls really enjoyed finding out the history. I did note, however that in Sunday School they would often forget to listen to the teacher (Sometimes me, sometimes not) because they were reading all the extras. Again, it’s just good to know if this would best suit your home environment or church.

The one thing I do not prefer is that it seems to be only available in the NIV. I’m not anti different translations, and I do know this is one of the easier to read versions for younger kids, but we do all of our studying out of a different translation. It is nice to keep things consistent through AWANA and school as much as possible. NIV is not mine or my husband’s preferred version for a few reasons, but this is the only version option. I would like to see this and other Bibles provide at least a few translation options. I realize there is a cost factor to it, but I do think your audience is limited when you provide a beautiful resource Bible like this but only use one specific translation. The side elements should still relate and be the same as cultural and historical facts won’t change from one translation to the next.

Overall my kids loved this and I do recommend it as a great resource for studying more in depth about life and times of the Bible.

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran: A BookLook Blogger Review! 

Grace is in 2nd grade and has always loved the Bearenstain Bears! Every time we have a chance to read a new title she jumps at the chance. In fact she has a collection at both our house and my parent’s house. 

This sweet little title,  The Berenstain Bears Bless Our Gramps and Gran, is perfect for our girls. They are very close to both sets of their grandparents. The basic premise of the story is the three bear cubs working together alongside their parents to celebrate their Gramps and Gran. They want to give them a memorable Grandparents Day and put a lot of love and effort into the preparations so their grandparents feel just how appreciated they really are. This is an excellent way to introduce Grandparent’s Day as a holiday and plan your own celebration of family with your kids!

 So many extended families are struggling with relationship problems. Family gatherings are full of tension and pain and very real hurt. Our family isn’t perfect. We have tension and conflict, but in the end we do what we can to keep our relationships in tact, and that makes us more than a little bit unique. Having precious children’s book that depicts healthy relationships is so wonderful and needed. Children need to see a happy family depicted so they can see it is possible. 

I love the family friendly and sweet values consistently portrayed in this series. The family attends church and Sunday School and problems are dealt with in a healthy manner. I’m never disappointed when I hand a title to my Bear-loving 8-year-old. You will love it too! 

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Love Letters from God – Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart: A BookLook Blogger Review

Our family tries to have family devotions as many nights as possible during the week. Usually we skip Sunday and Wednesday nights because we are already at church, but we do our best to include this as a family tradition the rest of the time. Since Rose (who is almost 12) was just an infant we started doing this by reading children’s devotional books. We have read many, many books and were excited to have the chance to go through Love Letters from God: Bible Stories for a Girl’s Heart. 
All of the girls have really enjoyed it, but Beth (10) and Grace (7) have enjoyed it the most. It is written to elementary aged girls and gives them the perspective of what God would want them to know from many of the wonderful historical accounts of women presented in the Scriptures. The retelling of the stories is accurate. Although some details may be skipped over, it is not inaccurate. I appreciate that the reference to the original account in Scripture is given. 
After each story there is a sweet letter as if written by God to the little girl reading. Grace in particular likes this part. She always wants to be the one to read it aloud. It is sweet and reflects exactly the promises we hold dear in God’s Word. 
The only small issue I had with this was the extra verse given. I love it when more Scripture is included, but sometimes the verses were reworded so much from the original verse the meaning felt different from what was intended originally. I do understand younger children may have a hard time understanding everything in the Bible, but I think we ought to give children the opportunity to grow and learn. They often surprise us in what they can comprehend and eve if they do not, there is nothing wrong with still taking the time to teach and explain. Eventually they will! 
Overall I thought this was a very sweet book. I would recommend it to families with elementary aged daughters. We have been reading the extra verse straight from the Bible instead of reading the abridged version from the book. This has worked nicely and takes care of the only issue I have. I hope you will take some time to check it out for a little girl you know! 
Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book as a part of BookLook bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. 

Light Up New York: A BookLook Blogger Review

We were delighted to have the chance to read Light Up New York, the next in the Glimmer Girls series by Natalie Grant! My middle daughter, Beth, is 9 and absolutely loves these books. They are a sweet, modern fiction series that points girls to Christ through their adventures.

The premise is about three sisters who travel around the world with their singer mother. It is modeled after Natalie Grant’s own family which is sweet. I know it is easiest to write what you know and she does this in a lovely way! They also have a nanny who is fun-loving and a little wacky.

I really like this series because so many of the books written for young girls these days focus on girl-power or getting back at someone. My girls see enough of that in real life without needing to read about it! I want my girls to engage with books which will lift up their spirits and encourage them. At the very least I do not want them to contradict the values we are teaching from God’s Word. This series does even more by continually pointing them back to Scripture and their parents to know how to deal with problems. 

Here is what Beth has to say:  
I like that it is a mystery and that it has three girls in it. I like that because there are three girls in our family. It was easy to read and fun. I would let my cousin read it because it has a mystery in it. 
If you have girls ages 8-12 who are looking for fun chapter books, this is a great option for them!

Disclaimer: I received this title through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. 

The Beautiful Word Devotional: A BookLook Blogger Review

Because of the grace and creativity of our Creator we can express our faith in a variety of ways. Not everyone enjoys writing. While it is encouraged to take notes during sermons, Bible studies, and personal quiet times, not everyone retains information that way the best. I encourage my daughters to use their church journals to write or draw pictures based on the sermon their daddy is preaching. They love this and I love seeing what they draw! There are times when their illustrations bear great insights for ones their age. The Beautiful Word Devotional is one way to help you creatively express while studying God’s Word. 
I’m not personally into the drawing-inside-of-your-Bible craze. I’m somewhat artistic, but this has never appealed to me. Drawing what I’m learning in my faith, however, is appealing in many regards. It is a different way to engage with the Holy Spirit and if we believe all creativity comes from God, then this is a lovely way to express oneself. 
This particular devotional correlates with a Bible by the same title. Just as with the Bible there is room for journaling or drawing on the sides of each page. I really like this option. The devotions are short and simple, focusing on one or two verses at a time. This is not what I would use for my only source for time with God, but on the days when I’m rushed or unable to spend my normal time this is an excellent option.
While I don’t draw in my Bible, the idea of artistically showing what God is teaching me is a fresh thought. So often we read through Scripture hurriedly. Using a devotion like this can be beneficial to force us to slow down and really ponder what we are reading. 
As with many devotions, I would like there to be options for further reading. While I definitely see value in focusing on a short passage for the devotion, I like when I have handy references to see what else the Word has to say on the same topic. 
Disclaimer: I received this title through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. 

Bloom Where You’re Planted: A BookLook Blogger Review

Sometimes the Lord blesses us with deep Christian friends whom we can talk to regularly and help us along the way. During other seasons it feels like no one around us is like-minded. Bloom Where You’re Planted is like sitting down with a mentor and friend as you read. 
We all have moments of frustration with whatever our current life-path is. Sometimes it is hard to forget God has placed us where we are for a very definite purpose. Although each devotion focuses on a different area, the theme is the same: You aren’t where you are by accident. Seek God fully and see what He has in store for you there.
The style is conversational and easy to digest, although the content is not surface material alone. I felt everything had a solid biblical undertone and appreciated the way theological truths were taught in a simple, yet full way. Although themed together, many different areas of the Christian walk were also addressed. 

The only negative I saw was that the reader is not encouraged to open the Bible for themselves. It is nice for the Scripture to be printed in the book and that can be beneficial in some circumstances, but I like my devotionals to encourage me to get into the Word on my own.

I do recommend this title as the content is biblical and encouraging as well as being more than just surface faith. I would, however, not read this as my only daily time with the Lord because it does not spend much time in Scripture or encourage the reader to look in their own Bibles. 
Disclaimer: I received this title through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. 

Berenstain Bears Easter Fun Sticker and Activity Book: A BookLook Blogger Review

Grace loves anything about this sweet bear family! I grew up reading their books from the library and it is fun to see my daughters enjoying them too! The recently published Sticker & Activity book series has been a huge hit with her! 
She loves the stories, mazes, stickers, games, and more! With Easter coming it was fun to have this new book for her to use. She often likes to use these when we have our afternoon quiet time after lunch. 
She tried a few different ways to color the black and white pages. We found that crayons didn’t lay down very much color, markers tended to smudge before they dried, but standard colored pencils were a perfect fit for the glossy pages! 
Grace’s favorite part of this book was the stickers. She did have some trouble pulling them off the initial page and tore a few, but she didn’t get upset by this! I believe she completed all of the sticker pages before anything else. She also enjoyed coloring once we found a good medium to use. 
There are Easter egg baskets, but the focus in this book is celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ! It is really exciting to have such a sweet book series which helps my daughter focus on the reason we celebrate every spring. Some of the events which are highlighted are Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, the women at the tomb, and the resurrection. The bear family attends church together and celebrates Easter as a family.
I highly recommend this for early elementary or preschool children who are celebrating Easter!

The Jesus Storybook Bible : A BookLook Blogger Review

I was very excited to receive this special edition of The Jesus Storybook Bible to review. I have known about this Bible for several years, but we had never had opportunity to own it. After hearing rave reviews I couldn’t wait to see it!
Grace is 7 and is almost at the age where Bible story books are too young for her, but I’m thankful she isn’t there yet! She enjoyed looking at the pictures which are very unique. My older two girls thought the illustrations looked funny. The reality is they are drawn in more of a rustic style rather than being cartoonish or realistic. I personally like this style and the unique hand-crafted feel it gives to the pages. 
We used the Bible for our evening devotions for a few weeks. Grace enjoyed cuddling up in my lap and wanted to help read the story much of the time. She also asked to take this Bible to church with her on Sundays and she liked reading it during the service. She is still young enough that I do not mind if she read a Bible book during the service if she is not listening to her daddy preach. 
Here is a quote for 7-year-old Grace:
The pictures are my favorite part! 
What I really liked about this particular book was how every story told points back to Jesus. This is how we are already teaching our girls about the Scripture. It is so wonderful when we have resources which also reflect this point of view. It also presents Scripture as historical, which is not always the case. Some lesser known stories are also included which is nice as well. 
Parents should be aware that there is a lot of embellishment to the stories compared to how they are written in Scripture. I see this as the author taking come creative license to add what someone might have thought or said. This seems to be an attempt to retell the story in a fresh way. For the most part I think it is well done but there are a few instances which seem to steer a little too far from the original intent in God’s Word. My older girls in particular have spent a lot of time studying the Old Testament for school so as I was reading through some of the early Genesis accounts they burst into laughter at the way it was portrayed. This did not exactly lend itself to good discussions about what we were reading afterwards. 
I’m not saying this is a bad resource, but to be aware that there is some creative license with regard to how some of the stories are portrayed and you may want to consider this before using it with your children. 
Disclaimer: I received this title from BookLook in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to give a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Melanie Dickerson has done it again! I was captivated by this newest title from the first page to the last. Her retelling of classic fairy tales crates the backdrop for delightful new stories. I love not knowing which tale her stories are based on and then figuring it out as I read. This newest tale takes a privileged yet essentially imprisoned maiden on a journey to discover who she really is and who she wants to become.

The heroine, Evangeline, is the cousin of the king and an illegitimate relation as well. She is so closely guarded that very few even know she exists and she is never permitted off the castle grounds where she lives. In a desperate attempt to avoid a dangerous marriage arranged by the king she fleas in disguise along with her maid. Together they attempt to hide in a far away town. To do so she must deceive the chivalrous man who provides them sanctuary.

I found myself spellbound as I read. I cheered both the heroine and hero on to find real love. I also enjoy the way faith in God is presented. One or more characters are always on a journey in Dickerson’s novels, and they seek to know God, not just accept what a bishop or priest is telling them. Quiet often the one joy in their day is simply reading from God’s Word. What a blessing to be reminded of how precious the Word of God should be to us!

As soon as I finish each of Dickerson’s novels I’m anxious to find out when the next will be published. There are few authors who delight me novel after novel, but Melanie Dickerson is definitely one of them!

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.