“All darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of one single candle.” – St. Francis of Assisi
“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” – Mrs. Whatsit from A Wrinkle in Time
Review and Comments
A Wrinkle in Time is an absolutely captivating and complex adventure. The peculiar and diverse characters and their incredible experiences will prompt quite a range of emotions for the reader: empathy, anger, sadness, wonder, confusion, fear, and finally joy.
The story centers on a young girl named Meg Murry. Her background story is difficult and at times even harsh. The emptiness and yearning for her mysteriously missing father is compounded by conflicts at school and her self-esteem. It has been a very long year wondering where her father is and if he will ever return. Her mother, also a scientist like her husband, is trying to hold the family together while researching her husband’s disappearance and continuing the tesseract research they started. Meg has three brothers, but her relationship with her younger brother, Charles, is very special. He is a unique boy with exceptional gifts that are revealed as the story progresses. Charles and Meg become friends with a lonely boy named Calvin O’Keefe. Calvin finally feels he belongs somewhere after he meets them and becomes their constant and faithful companion. Charles also introduces Meg to three curious characters named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Which, and Mrs. Who. These three know it is time to help “a very good man who needs help.” And so the partnership to save Meg’s father begins. Continue reading Nothing is Hopeless: A Review of ‘A Wrinkle in Time’
“God wrote “I love you”—He wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in the world to reflect Him like a mirror—to show us what He is like, to help us to know Him, to make our hearts sing.”— Sally Lloyd-Jones, from The Jesus Storybook Bible
This month we celebrate Easter and new life seems to be all around. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing trees blossom and birds build nests. What is dormant is now vibrant and full of life! It’s such a lovely time for us all to look around at nature since it is neither too hot nor too cold to be outside. Children love this time of year and they are so observant, aren’t they?! It is for this reason I’ve put together this list of books in which we can praise our Lord who has given us such beautiful gifts in the world around us, encourage our children to look carefully at the intricacies of what He has made, learn about people who have aided in His creative powers, and become inspired by what could happen when we make the tiniest effort to take care of His gifts for us. Loving our planet and all that it holds means nothing if we forget who gave it to us.
I’ve divided the list into sub-sections to help break it up a bit. Click on the picture of the book for our affiliate link!
In Praise of Nature and God’s Wonderful Creations
St. Francis sings of God’s love and all of the surrounding nature join him. Beautifully illustrated and poetic, Tomie de Paola never disappoints.
Using text from the Old Testament, Tomie dePaola praises all of God’s creations from the sky to the earth to under the water. It’s a celebration of nature. Continue reading 25 Picture Books to Encourage a Love of Nature
“A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.”—Alan Perlis
The draw of The Wild Robot is definitely its premise. We’ve all read stories of characters trying to survive in the wilderness in books like Hatchet and Robinson Crusoe. We’ve also read futuristic stories of robots who have evolved to act more and more like humans. Rarely, however, are the two instances put together as they are in this novel. Peter Brown brings us this intriguing situation and, I admit, this is what drew me to the book. Continue reading Into the Wild: A Review of ‘The Wild Robot’
“I am not capable of doing big things, but I want to do everything, even the smallest things, for the greater glory of God.” – Saint Dominic Savio
Reading Level: 3.1 (according to Scholastic)
AR Reading Level: 3.7
Review and Comments:
The Clown of God is a story about Giovanni, a remarkable Italian juggler, who performed for royalty and became very famous.
Giovanni’s early life was definitely a harsh existence. As a matter of fact, as a young boy Giovanni was an orphan who had to beg for food. It was when he witnessed an ensemble of actors performing before an audience that a yearning began to grow in his heart. He was begrudgingly given a chance to join the group after he demonstrated his amazing juggling skills. He then added a bit of flare to his act by dressing as a clown. Continue reading A Simple Gift of Love: A Review of ‘The Clown of God’
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” – St. Francis of Assisi
Reading Level: Grades 2-3 [according to common core]
Grade 3.3 [according to Scholastic – reflects the grade level at which a student reading on grade could read the book independently]
Review and Comments:
Wonder Horse by Emily Arnold McCully is a book about a horse named Jim Key who was truly a phenomenon because of his remarkable abilities. The story is also about the amazing and inspirational life of an exceptional man named Bill Key, the owner of the horse. Continue reading A Remarkable Phenomenon: A Review of ‘Wonder Horse: The True Story of the World’s Smartest Horse’
“Do not be afraid, for she was set apart for you before the world existed.” Tobit 6:18
Review and Thoughts:
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is a story about three hearts that still grieve after the death of a wife and mother– hearts that yearn to be filled with love once again. It is about another earnest heart searching for a place to entrust its love. Each character is waiting, tentatively looking to the future with hope for a new life as a family.
Continue reading A Mutual Gift of Love: A Review of ‘Sarah, Plain and Tall’
“For every animal of the forest is mine, beasts by the thousands on my mountains. I know every bird of the heavens; the creatures of the field belong to me.” (Psalm 50:10-11)
Review and Thoughts
There is nothing happier than a birthday party with balloons, cake, and presents for an eight year old boy. Wait! This present isn’t what the boy wants. It’s a goldfish named Norman, and he wants a very, very different kind of pet. Mentally, the boy quickly checks off all the requirements for his ideal pet. No, he’s sure this fish isn’t what he wants. He knows that fish are known to have a calming effect on anyone who watches them, but this present – this “pet” – is so far from perfect he decides to trade the goldfish for a good pet as fast as he can. Continue reading An Unexpected Pet: A Review of ‘Not Norman, A Goldfish Story’
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.”—St. Francis of Assissi
Suggested Grade Levels:
Review and Thoughts
The One and Only Ivan is a story of loneliness and redemption that is uniquely told through the thoughts of a silverback gorilla named Ivan. Having been raised by people in an urban setting his entire life, he remembers little of his childhood in the jungle of Africa. Now, Ivan is in a circus-themed mall where he is kept in his very small domain for visitors to come and witness his boring life. He has his friends around him (a small stray dog, a female elephant, the custodian and his daughter), yet still Ivan is lonely. As a silverback gorilla, he should be the head of a family, and since he has seen no other gorillas, he wonders if he is the last one on earth. Continue reading To the Shelter of Compassion: A Review of ‘The One and Only Ivan’
“The only way to have a friend is to be one.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Suggested Reading Level:
Review and Thoughts:
Hi! Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold is the first book in a continuing series, and what an enjoyable beginning it is! The story introduces the two main characters, Buzz and Fly Guy, on a quest to find different things. Buzz, the boy, is searching for an amazing pet to enter into a pet show while Fly Guy is searching for amazing food. Their lives change when they literally bump into each other. Circumstances aren’t perfect for Fly Guy at the start, but those change rather quickly. Buzz has one purpose for Fly Guy and that is to confine him and make him a pet. At first Fly Guy is mad, but after he makes it known he can say “Buzz,” everything changes. Buzz thinks he is the smartest most wonderful pet because he can say his name. The fact he can say “Buzz” also convinces Buzz’s parents that he is truly a pet – an amazing one. Fly Guy is happy and comfortable because of the care Buzz gives him, but the food doesn’t hurt with his settling in either. The final challenge is to convince the judges at that contest that Fly Guy is truly a real pet. Persuading the judges however is more difficult. Fly Guy is rejected as a contestant because a fly cannot possibly be a pet! Buzz tearfully decides to let Fly Guy free when he doesn’t measure up to the standards of the show. Fly Guy is a faithful friend and does not abandon Buzz but does tricks and again says Buzz’s name to try to convince the judges. He performs his final trick and is accepted as a pet. He even wins a prize in the contest. Buzz and Fly Guy are now a team and great friends. Continue reading The Beginning of a Friendship: A Review of ‘Hi! Fly Guy’