Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Spirit Of God Illustrated Bible - A Review

Our family is full of book lovers, and so we welcome most opportunities to purchase and/or review books of all sorts. When the book in question is faith based, we are even more interested. As I look at my overflowing bookcases, as well as the piles of books on the floors (ha), I think we may need to add a few more storage solutions.

We've been enjoying a look at the Spirit Of God Illustrated Bible over the past month. This is  lovely, sturdy, hardcover book from Zonderkidz, for ages preschool and on up. Complete with over forty stories, young children will learn the Bible stories that followers of Jesus treasure. From the story of Creation, and Adam and Eve, to Moses, to the life and death of Jesus, and the young Church, children will lose themselves in the beautifully illustrated pages of this book.

I will clarify, this is a Bible story book, not an actual Bible. They feature the most memorable Bible stories, but not every book in the Bible. This bothered my twelve year old at first, lol, because she expected this to be a Bible in the traditional sense. She understood it better after I explained that this was kind of an introduction for little readers. Having said that, whether you are three years old, or ninety years old, you'll enjoy perusing these stories. I absolutely love the whimsical pictures alone. This book makes it into my Sunday School book bag for the littles to enjoy during free time. This will make a welcome gift for those on your birthday, holiday, or just because list.  Do take a moment and follow the link to catch a view from this book.

Enjoy the description and bio's of the author and illustrator:

Description: The Spirit of God Illustrated Bible brings to life more than 40 Bible stories that help readers understand that God’s Spirit has been with us since the beginning of time and continues to be with us today. From the glory of creation through the powerful letters of Paul, God’s Spirit is living in his people. Old and New Testament stories such as Adam and Eve, Abraham, Joseph, the Baptism of Jesus, and Pentecost come alive with dramatic illustrations by Fernando Juarez and moving text by Doris Rikkers. With a cover that sparkles and shines with foil, this is a special storybook Bible that will appeal to both children and parents alike.

Author Bio:   Doris Rikkers is a freelance writer and editor who has written many bestselling children’s books and Bibles. Although she loves the ocean, she lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, surrounded by her books, her flower gardens, and her family and friends.

Illustrator Bio:  Spanish artist Fernando Juarez illustrates children’s books and works as an art supervisor at the Madrid studio Ilion Animation. The company produces 3D feature films for children. Fernando has three kids himself, and if he has any time left after work and family, you might catch him playing guitar in a rock band.

Learn more about the Spirit Of God Illustrated Bible , and see a sample by clicking the link.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Captain Sun Adventures - Rescue Me! - A Crew Review

What is it about comics that makes them so appealing? Some of my favorite memories involve a Sunday morning, a bowl of cereal, and the weekly comic strip. Now, I'm on the other side of the fence, watching my daughter enjoy the simple pleasure of a comic book. It's comforting to see that some things in life remain constant, even if only a cartoon, lol. So, my daughter whooped with joy as The Captain Sun Adventures provided us with their book, Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About The Power Of Faith to review.

The theme: Superhero Captain Sun is trying to thwart bad guy Blackout's attempts to cover Capital City in darkness. 
Rescue Me! has all of the makings of the classic comics that you enjoyed as a kid. Kids will be presented with good vs. evil, superheroes, bad guys, all with a spiritual theme. The author describes this book as "part comic book, part kids' devotional. I would also add that it's also part tract. It isn't "Christian" per say, although that element is very present throughout the book. This glossy, softcover book is beautifully illustrated with bright colors and appealing graphics that kids will love. 
It is available in print and kindle versions. We have been enjoying a printed copy.
There is an introduction page that welcomes kids and parents to the series, and explains the goal of the book, that is, to point readers to the real and ultimate Hero- Jesus Christ. Yes! Love it! Then there is a note to parents that offers suggestions in how to approach the book, depending on the age of the reader. 

There are eight chapters, each being divided by a practical lesson that features Bible verses and discussion questions. At the end of the book are a series of questions to think about and again, discuss. The chapters are very short, about three pages, so yes, it's an easy read. This is the first in a series of three books. I love how they hint at the continuing story, by adding the question mark after The End.

My 12 year old approaches the books she reads with a critical eye. If there is material that looks questionable, she brings it to me for my take on it. This comic was a great read for that reason. There is no questionable content, no gory or disturbing images. I would be comfortable with anyone picking up this book and looking through it. I can imagine using this in a variety of settings, whether it be home, youth groups, Sunday School, Awana… It's a fun, creative way to get out the message of Jesus.
Rescue Me! was a great hit in our home. Graphic novels are a favorite of my girl, and it even inspired her creative side to make an appearance. She decided that she would create a comic of her own, and I must say, I'm impressed with her level of detail. She's been working on a black and white draft for a little over a week, with plans to create a final, color version, with a sequel already in the works! Don't you love when a book or other resource spurs your kid on to create for themselves?

Suffice it to say, this comic is a hit in our home. My daughter has requested the next two books in the series. These are great for both avid and reluctant readers. Pick up a copy for your kids!

Cool, a signed copy!

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Rescue Me! What Superheroes Can Teach Us About the Power of Faith {The Captain Sun Adventures Reviews}

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Apple Picking

We chose this lovely weekend to make our annual trip to the apple orchard. It seems that everyone else in the state wide area decided to do the same thing- it was packed! A good time was had by all, here are some photos...

Friday, September 14, 2018

Tori Kelly - Hiding Places

In a world of Auto-Tune, and endless means of technology to make a singer sound better, it's a wonderful experience to hear a truly gifted singer bless us with her naturally beautiful, God given, voice. Tori Kelly's latest album, Hiding Places, introduces us to a new genre for Kelly, Gospel/R&B.

 In Ms. Kelly's words:

"I always thought that I would do something like this, but I thought it would be much further down the line," she says. "It's been in my heart for some time, but the timing didn't feel right until now. I didn't think I'd get the chance to work with someone like Kirk just yet, and that people would be so excited and accepting." And though the album marks a stylistic departure from her work in the pop world, a commitment to uncompromising artistry carries through all of Kelly's music. "No matter what genre you're working in, there should be a level of excellence, and Tori definitely brought that excellence to this album," says Franklin. "A lot of artists out there will rely on Auto-Tune or studio tricks, but there's no button you can push for emotion, and there's no button for skill. Tori is excellent in everything she does, because she's a real, pure artist."

I couldn't say it better myself. I have associated Tori Kelly with the pop world, so I was very excited to hear what she would do with a gospel album. I wasn't disappointed either. As stated in her bio above, her passion, her emotion, come through so clearly on Hiding Places. The music arrests your attention, and pulls you in. Take a listen:

My 14 year old is a HUGE Tori Kelly fan, so when this review opportunity became available, she was stalking the mailbox. A budding music aficionado, she couldn't wait to hear this departure from pop. Her reaction? In short, she loves it! Since I've had to search her CD collection to grab this album back just so I could listen for awhile, I would say that she approves. It's a beautiful, soulful, relaxing album, and I enjoyed simply playing it throughout the day. Her voice is so clear and lovely, a definite standout in a world of screeching. I enjoyed them all, but my favorites were Masterpiece (with Lecrae), Soul's Anthem (It Is Well), and who can resist Never Alone, when it features Mr. Kirk Franklin?

These are the tracks:

1.) Masterpiece (feat. Lecrae)
2.) Help Us To Love (feat. The Hamiltons)
3.) Sunday
4.) Just As Sure (feat. Jonathon McReynolds)
5.) Psalm 42
6.) Questions
7.) Never Alone (feat. Kirk Franklin)
8.) Soul's Anthem (It Is Well)

Two thumbs up from our family, go grab a copy!

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Roman Roads Media - Picta Dicta - A Crew Review

Within the last few years, we've added Latin to our homeschool curriculum, much to the delight of my daughters, ha. We have a curriculum that we've been using that we love, but I'm never one to turn down an opportunity to add a supplement that may help us in our lessons. Roman Roads Media graciously provided us with one of their programs to review, Picta Dicta Vocabulary Builder . I say supplement, but this is no lightweight resource. 

This self paced program is appropriate for junior high, high school, college, and adult students. You can expect to learn to read and comprehend over 1,000 vocabulary words in this course. It has been designed to work for students with varying learning styles, as it implements seeing, speaking, and hearing in its lessons.

The creators of this program have made it very easy to set up. There is an easy level, and a normal level, which is a little more advanced. Once  you have your students signed up, and logged in, their progress is displayed on the screen. The program records their information, so they will simply click the icon at the top right of their page, and pick up at the last lesson completed. There are a few steps involved in completing a chapter. They are, learn, choose, spell, forms, and test forms. All of these steps need to be finished before moving on to the next. The first, Learn, is where a series of vocabulary words are introduced, only about five at a time. For each word, the picture is displayed, spoken, and used in a sentence. The next page quizzes the student to see if they can remember the word and the correlating picture by choosing from a series of pictures. 

After "Learn", students move on to "Choose". This is where they will need to remember the word and its meaning, because they will choose from a series of pictures and select the correct one. It sounds simple, but it's challenging. Following this level is "Spell". This is where, you guessed it I'm sure, you'll spell the words that you've learned. The picture is presented on the first page, and you spell it on the next. Before the chapter test, you'll work through the "Forms" section. This is where the variations of the vocabulary words are practiced. Again, they are simple, but challenging. In order to move on to a different level, the prior one must be completed. No line jumping! But, you can redo a level if you aren't please with your progress. I've done that, as have my two daughters, who have been working through this with me.

Each lesson is graded with stars, ranging from 1 to 5. As you work through each page, you'll also see the current percentage that has been earned. It's a very easy to follow program. Instructions are offered at the beginning of each section, so you'll know what to do. You should plan on working through this at least three times a week.

The three of us, that is,  me, my 12 year old, and my 14 year old, have been working through the "Normal" level of this program, averaging 3 days a  week, although my 12 year old has done a little more than that. Personally, I love learning languages, as does my 12 year old, so we've enjoyed this program a lot. It's challenging, but very enjoyable. My 14 year old is not as much of a fan of well, most language curriculum, so as I expected, she was more neutral on the program, but did say that as programs go, it was alright. Thanks for the lengthy comments, sweetie, lol. 

Thoughts from my 12 year old:

" I love this program! I love the format. It doesn't flood you with too much information at a time. There is a little bit of information learned, and then a quiz. I learn more that way. I like the colorful pictures. The voice of the narrator is great, but I wish it was a girl. I really like this program."

As I wrap up, I'll say that this is a fantastic program, and I love it. I Agree with my 12 year old, the way that the material is presented in small bites is ideal for maximum retention. Now that the school year is underway for us, I'll be increasing the amount of time that we work on the lessons. I know that my 40 something brain needs more frequent exposure to the content. You can use this as a stand alone course, or in partnership with the Latin curriculum of your choice. A great pick all, around, check it out!

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Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Barbour Publishing - A Crew Review


Our family loves books, and if they are faith-based as well, it's all the better! So, we were more than happy when Barbour Publishing graciously provided us with not one, but two books from their Kingdom Files series, Who Was Jonah? , and Who Was Mary, Mother of Jesus? 
These two titles are two of six Bible biographies written by Matt Koceich, who is an elementary teacher and father. Kids ranging from eight to twelve years will enjoy these books, and they are conveniently available in print, digital, and Kindle format. Each book is set up in a similar way. Throughout the pages, are four components:
The Fact File: Contains the basic information relating to the character- who they were, where they                              were from, their personal timeline, their role in history.

The Action File: A kind of synopsis of their live as portrayed in the Bible.

Clue Boxes: Sprinkled throughout the pages, these offer bits of information and how it applies to our                       lives.

The Power File: These are found at the end of the books, and there were ten in both of these books.                               They contain practical ways to apply what has been read, as well as memory verses                             for each file.

Now, about each book:

If you've spent any amount of time in Sunday School, you'll be familiar with Jonah, the reluctant prophet. Sent to the city of Ninevah, with the command from God Himself, to preach their impending destruction, Jonah instead runs from the Lord, boarding a boat headed for the port town, Tarshish. Well, what God wants, God gets, and He wasn't about to allow Jonah to flee without consequences. He sent  a great storm, which puts everyone aboard the ship in great peril. Long story short, the crew of the ship toss Jonah overboard, and what is waiting for him? Yep, that famed "Great fish", which swallowed him up, and there he stayed for three days. Surprise of surprises, he has a change of heart, and when the fish spits him onto dry land, he finally obeys the Lord. Well, the people repent, great news, right? Not in Jonah's opinion, and rather than rejoicing, he skulks off to pout in the hot sun. It doesn't really have a happy ending- for Jonah at least, but it is a wonderful lesson for all of us. 

The book is written as a sort of adventure story, and the reader is the detective. The Files throughout the book, complete with the memory verses, can help kids learn to delve deeper into Biblical truths, and apply it to their lives. Author Matt Koceich writes in a conversational way, and often includes quotes from Scripture. Simple but very nice black and white illustrations also add interest. There are a few pages in the back of the book for taking notes.

This title is set up like Jonah. Readers are presented with a quick bio of Mary's life, and her (important) place in history. Again, if you have any familiarity with the Bible or Sunday School class, you'll recognize this obedient servant of God, who said yes to Him, in spite of the scandal, challenge, and heartache that she would subsequently face because of that wonderful decision. You'll  become reacquainted with her visit from the angel, Gabriel,  her marriage to Joseph, visit with cousin Elizabeth, and that long, difficult journey to Bethlehem as she was about to give birth. The story doesn't end there, as the events of Jesus' life, miracles, crucifixion, and resurrection (Hallelujah!), are retold in a kid friendly manner. As with the previous book, there are Scripture quotes, memory verses, and applications, and pages at the end of the book for notes. 

Our thoughts:

This series is written for ages eight to twelve. I read the books, and had my twelve and fourteen year old read them independently, without sharing our personal opinions, at first. Interestingly, as I talked to my girls individually, we had the same thoughts. The stories are good, but we all felt that the age range spanned across too many ages. We all think that these books are better for mostly the eight to (maybe) ten year old range. As a teen and almost teen reader, the large font, and simpler text felt too easy for their ages. They both also felt that the information presented was a bit "vague" (my 14 year old's word). They would have liked to have a more in depth presentation, that digs into the Bible more. But, all in all, they thought that these were a good set to use in combination with the Bible. I know that after my girls read these, I had them take another look at the actual book in the Bible, and compare. As an introduction to the stories, these could be a good resource for parents, teachers, Sunday school leaders, and more. pick up a copy- or more, and see what you think! 

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Kingdom Files {Barbour Publishing Reviews}