A Servant Like Jesus By Lee Ann Mancini

Charlie the crab is another one of Ms. Mancini’s charming characters. He is very shy so the first day of school is somewhat daunting to the little fellow. While other kids embrace the special day or are crying for their parents, he decides hiding behind the sink and watching is the best choice. When he witnesses students having trouble getting along he is able to tell the teacher what really happened. The teacher is then prompted to ask him to be her special helper. This was just the ticket to bring Charlie out of hiding. Immediately he quotes his resume of special crab skills that he knows will come in useful. Later that day on a field trip a fellow student accidentally falls into a fire coral and is stung. Without hesitating, Charlie alerts the teacher, and rushes to his classmate’s side, to comfort and pray with him. Thanks to his quick actions the student receives first aid. As the day goes on Charlie realizes not only has he had fun, but that he is brave and able to be a servant like Jesus.
New experiences and places can be overwhelming to youngsters. It might be the first day of school, first time to be left at day care, Sunday school or junior church. Some are so incredibly shy like Charlie that it is painful. Children can relate to the cute, colorful Sea Kids facing the same situation. The little crab’s special abilities were needed and helpful to others. I was amused at all the values Charlies sees in his little “crabby” skills, especially walking sideways! I find this a wonderful illustration to point out each child’s unique God given abilities can be a blessing to those around them and can be used to serve the Lord. Prayer is a powerful message in the story, showing kids they can ask God for help, not only for themselves but others anytime and anywhere. Furthermore young readers can see it is okay to pray out loud in front of others. I also noticed another important encouragement for children to do right. When Charlie told his teacher about the students fighting he demonstrated there is a right time to go to those in authority with a problem. Too many youngsters fear being a “tattle-tale”. This is a wonderful point to discuss with your child the difference between tattling and the responsibility to share important information. This little red crab will help kids realize it if fun to serve others!
This book is another blessing in the series! I love how the author doesn’t just focus on just moral character but Christian values based on God’s word! My youngest Grandson is almost 1 year old and loves books. Red is his favorite color right now so I feel quite sure Charlie the crab, will be his favored Sea kid!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own.

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God’s Gift By Lee Ann Mancini

What a unique children’s holiday book! I have never seen one like it before. The story opens with the sea families preparing for the holiday by decorating their caves and yards. Christian and Mary turtle are putting up their tree and lights getting ready for Christmas. Jacob and Jeremiah starfish are decorating for Hanukkah with their menorah. At the playground the friends begin to bicker about which is better, Christmas or Hanukkah and which yields the most gifts (a very important topic with children). As you can imagine nothing is resolved and the fuming kids go home. Arriving home they immediately vent their anger to their parents. The wise turtle and starfish parents arrange a meeting at each other’s houses to learn about the meanings of their very different celebrations. The young sea creatures learn many valuable lessons and respect for one another’s faith.
This book impressed me on many levels. First of all children of both the Jewish and Christian faith can enjoy it and gain understanding about beliefs and traditions unlike theirs. This is the one thing I feel makes it one of a kind! I was amazed that from the very beginning, Ms. Mancini shares the foundation of each faith’s holiday celebration in one sentence! Throughout the book there is the Star of David and a cross to find.
I appreciated there was no Santa Claus mentioned as I believe that takes away from our celebration of Christ’s birth, especially in the mind of a young child. I also applaud her for tackling the subject of kids overwhelming focus on receiving gifts! The sea parents help the children realize that presents are not what they celebrate and their true gifts are much greater. The parents are once again emphasized as those giving direction and wisdom to the youngsters. Of course as with all of the author’s books, prayer is a central part of the story.
This book took me back to my 2nd grade year. I had a dear friend, which I am still in touch with, that was Jewish. She belonged to my Bluebirds group too. I see now our mothers were wise women as we had a Christmas and Hanukkah party at separate times. It made our holiday celebrations very natural though unalike. Yes, I was focused on gifts and remember asking my mother if I could convert to Judaism as I was sure 8 days of festiveness would yield more loot than just one! I shared this recently with my dear friend 50 years later and we both had a good laugh.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own.

God’s Gift By Lee Ann Mancini

What a unique children’s holiday book! I have never seen one like it before. The story opens with the sea families preparing for the holiday by decorating their caves and yards. Christian and Mary turtle are putting up their tree and lights getting ready for Christmas. Jacob and Jeremiah starfish are decorating for Hanukkah with their menorah. At the playground the friends begin to bicker about which is better, Christmas or Hanukkah and which yields the most gifts (a very important topic with children). As you can imagine nothing is resolved and the fuming kids go home. Arriving home they immediately vent their anger to their parents. The wise turtle and starfish parents arrange a meeting at each other’s houses to learn about the meanings of their very different celebrations. The young sea creatures learn many valuable lessons and respect for one another’s faith.
This book impressed me on many levels. First of all children of both the Jewish and Christian faith can enjoy it and gain understanding about beliefs and traditions unlike theirs. This is the one thing I feel makes it one of a kind! I was amazed that from the very beginning, Ms. Mancini shares the foundation of each faith’s holiday celebration in one sentence! Throughout the book there is the Star of David and a cross to find.
I appreciated there was no Santa Claus mentioned as I believe that takes away from our celebration of Christ’s birth, especially in the mind of a young child. I also applaud her for tackling the subject of kids overwhelming focus on receiving gifts! The sea parents help the children realize that presents are not what they celebrate and their true gifts are much greater. The parents are once again emphasized as those giving direction and wisdom to the youngsters. Of course as with all of the author’s books, prayer is a central part of the story.
This book took me back to my 2nd grade year. I had a dear friend, which I am still in touch with, that was Jewish. She belonged to my Bluebirds group too. I see now our mothers were wise women as we had a Christmas and Hanukkah party at separate times. It made our holiday celebrations very natural though unalike. Yes, I was focused on gifts and remember asking my mother if I could convert to Judaism as I was sure 8 days of festiveness would yield more loot than just one! I shared this recently with my dear friend 50 years later and we both had a good laugh.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own…

I’m Not Afraid! By Lee Ann Mancini

Ms. Mancini has hit the mark on understanding another issue little folks face: Fear. With her colorful and whimsical characters she grabs their attention and helps them relate. Children avoid at all costs letting their friends know they are afraid . . . of anything! Possibly being made fun of and their childhood pride can’t bear the thought. When you think about it they are afraid of admitting they are afraid!
Susie shark finds herself in this exact same predicament at the Undersea Amusement Park with her friend Rachel octopus. Rachel wants to ride the new roller coaster ride but Susie is afraid. (Even adults can relate to this!) She makes excuses and tries to distract her friend from the idea with carnival games, less scary rides and binging on fair food. When Susie runs out of tactics her friend confronts her and uses the accusation every child dreads hearing: Scaredy-Cat!
Time is up! After making a call to her mom for advice and praying she faces her fear and as with most fears she finds out there was nothing to be afraid of! To add to the fun, there is a Bible symbol to look for throughout the book.
One thread runs through all of this series that I love is: Prayer. Some children are taught to pray before meals, but few are taught approach God with all of their needs. This teaches them to pray about everything but shows them that nothing is too small for the Lord to care about. The book reassures little ones that they are the only ones that are fearful, but best of all it shows them how to face it with prayer. I also liked the example of Susie calling her mom for advice. After conquering her roller-coaster fear, she realizes that with the Lord she has nothing to fear. This is a great lesson for children and adults alike! An exceptional book in every way!
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own.

What a Bragger! By Lee Ann Mancini

I am so impressed with this author and series!! Each book focuses on the compassion we should have for others and our relationship with God. Big ideas for such little readers, but Ms. Mancini shares them in delightful and memorable stories.
Adults and children alike have trouble tolerating someone who is always bragging and tooting their own horn. The author helps young ones and adults look at this through God’s eyes. Corey and his friends have had it up to their gills with Melissa blowfish always boasting about her possessions and superiority to the others. This goes on every day. In anger, Corey goes home and shares Melissa’s irritating attitude with his parents. I love that his parents just didn’t agree and join in his gripe session. They gently guided their little boy in showing God’s love and kindness. Upon following her home the next day he finds she is very poor and has nothing. This prompts him to realize his many blessings and thank God for them. With Melissa’s birthday coming up and the teacher planning a surprise party, Corey and his friends pool their money to give her a special gift. What a beautiful example for kids to follow; love and the joy of giving sacrificially! Melissa is overwhelmed by her surprise. She in turn brings thank you notes to all the students. I like this because children don’t write thank you notes anymore; they must be taught to show gratitude. At the end of the book she thanks the Lord for her friends and family. The colorful bright illustrations are attention getters. As with the other books there is a hidden Christian symbol of the fish (cute!) to find. The books are of superior construction and materials and made to last for a long time. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own.

Fast Freddy By Lee Ann Mancini

Every child wants to be accepted and liked by their peers. Since no one is exactly alike (thank goodness!) differences in appearances, talents, and skills will in variably surface. If these are obvious, a child can easily be singled out, made fun of, bullied and rejected. This delightful story addresses the problem of children not accepting those who are not like them.
Freddy is starting a new school and like any new student is nervous he might not fit in. Being an octopus is very different than the other sea students. Everyone shuns him until the teacher talks to the children. She points out she and Mr. Seahorse Janitor are very different yet the class likes them. The students take heed and become his friend. Everyone is surprised and happy to find out Freddy has a hidden talent that benefits all of them.
There were many things I liked about this book. First of all Freddy prayed asking God’s help on his first day and at the end of the book thanked Him for His blessings. Children can learn that we are to ask God for our needs and thank Him for all He does.
There was also a strong lesson in not looking on outward appearances. This reminded me of 1 Samuel 16:7 where God tells us He looks at the inward person and their heart. If God does it then it must be very important and we need to also. Freddy shows young readers that if we judge someone without getting to know them, we may miss valuable hidden qualities they have to contribute.
Good Christian children’s books are difficult to find, especially for younger children. The illustrations are vibrant, colorful and detailed. Each page has so much to look, just the ticket for keeping a little one’s attention. High quality is found in every part of the book, from the sturdy washable cover to the durable page; something that will last and be passed on to the next generation.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. The opinions stated are my own.

The New You By Nelson Searcy and Jennifer Dykes Henson

For as long as I can remember I have always heard we physical, mental, emotional and spiritual beings. These cannot be separated are divided, it is what makes us complete. The world, even ourselves try to compartmentalize these in dealing with life. It doesn’t work that way.
This is a wonderful book that shows you how to address each of these 5 areas for better overall health. The chapters for each section share vital information you need to know to make the needed changes, baby steps on how to achieve your goals, ideas, advice, and personal accounts you can relate to. Some of this I already knew, but needed to hear again. It was made more relevant to me in the light of having help to apply it not just know it and seeing it through the Bible. What I like most about this book is all these changes are made with God and His Word as our focus. Apart from Him we can achieve nothing lasting. All are approached from a biblical and scriptural perspective. The Lord created every part of us and His plan and guidance cannot be ignored if we truly want the best for all areas of our health.
This is not a book to rush through but to study and digest. The end of the book entitled “The Small Steps Challenge” lines out a how to implement what you have learned over the course of 4 months. You might be saying, “Four months! That is too long!” It isn’t a race. Taking it gradually will ensure that these habits are ingrained and with a Christian outlook.
I am excited to study, learn and change!
I received this book free from Baker Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

Made for the Journey By Elisabeth Elliott

I read Ms. Elliot’s first book, “Through the Gates of Splendor” when I was in my mid-twenties. From that very first book, I found a great respect for her and her writings. She does more than just put words on a page. They go deep into you and teach you spiritual lessons, also reaching you on a deep emotional level. I have never read any of her books that I have not walked away with something life-changing. Therefore I was excited to read this book.
Her spiritual strength and close relationship with God is shown in following His calling to be a missionary in the jungles of Ecuador as a young woman. I guess it is my own stereotype but I picture those serving on mission fields as older. Even with her maturity venturing out so young, had to make it even more of an eye opening experience.
Culture shock does not even begin to describe her experiences there. The Colorados Indians did not request they come there and introduce Christ. It wasn’t like a visiting preacher coming for a revival and hospitality abounding. I don’t think we realize all the sacrifices God’s servants make to do his work is such remote places. She brought it all to life, not just existing there but the gamut of emotions that she felt.
In each chapter of the book you are a companion to Elizabeth as you walk beside her experiencing different parts of her work and all she saw and did. My favorite chapter was “Jungle Housekeeping”. All food and drinking water was a laborious task, not just from obtaining it but also to protect themselves against nasty diseases and parasites. And there is more. They had to live in primitive, dirty places forever prey to wild animals and un-American bugs. Travel was precarious at best and they were oddities as white women in the strange land. They faced death and medical emergencies in the most primitive conditions and which they had no training for. To add to all the work and distractions she had to learn the language not only to communicate but to write a Bible for the Colorados. They had no written language!
As I put myself in her place I felt exhausted, discouraged and at times frightened. Yet she and her fellow missionaries served with all their hearts. Here Christians in America have conveniences and comforts beyond what they need, yet if problems arise or busy times, their church attendance suffers! Shame on us! This is an incredible read you won’t want to miss.
I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Bride of Ivy Green By Julie Klassen

I have been very fortunate to read the 2 previous books in the Ivy Green series. While I have enjoyed them all I think this one is the very best! I must admit I am very sad it is the last.
I truly believe you could read each book as a standalone, but I wouldn’t. Each one builds on the other. Having read the previous books made this one so much more enjoyable, knowing Jane, Rachel’s and Mercy’s history in Ivy Hill and as friends. I found previous incidents popping into my head from their past. It gave so much depth to their present interactions and experiences in this book.
As with the other novels Ms. Klassen’s attention to detail in setting and experiences made me feel like I was a part of Ivy Hill. Whether it be strolling down the streets or in one of the characters homes, the 1820’s was brought to life.
Old romances are renewed and moved forward, and new ones bloom. The story for me focuses on Jane and Mercy and a new character, Victorine. I found the latter a very exciting and interesting young lady.
Each of the ladies learns valuable lessons in letting go of the past and embracing a new future. As with any prospect of change, they must work through their fears and doubts. I liked how Jane and Mercy both sought God when they did not know which way to go.
I draw pictures in my mind of the characters and mine somewhat changed concerning Mercy. I pictured her as a homely, gaunt, hawk nosed woman. As the story unfolded I realized this was her view of herself as she has not one but two men that find her beautiful! Mercy is also the one that faces the greatest trials and difficulties. She was inspiring with her great faith in God and wanting His will no matter what she thought the outcome might be.
A delightful book! Ms. Klassen doesn’t write any but the best! I hope upon hope that these books will be turned into a TV series!!
I received this book from Bethany Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.

The Sound of Distant Thunder By Jan Drexler

This book is a very unusual historical fiction. Many of the Amish steadfast beliefs are well known and one of those is non-resistance concerning military service. Any form of violence even self-defense is avoided. The story is centered around the time of the Civil War. When men in Jonas’s community were drafted the elders received permission to pay $200 per man to excuse them from fighting. Twenty year old Jonas has been hearing a lot about the war on slavery, even sneaking newspapers to learn more. His heart becomes conflicted between the principles his faith holds dear and what he believes God would have him do. His brother, Samuel, boasts that if he were drafted he would not pay the fine because it would be contributing to the war. You guessed it, his name is drawn. His bravado turns to fear. Not only would he have to leave his wife and children, but if he went to fight he would be shunned. Jonas having settled what he should do tells his brother he will take his place.
Jonas has no doubt he is doing the right thing, but his sweetheart Katie is heartbroken. All that stood between them being married is her 18th birthday and him finishing their home he is building. As with any man going to war it is horrific for his family, but in this case the family is even more distraught because they believe the young soldier is sinning against God.
I admired Jonas’s courage not only to go battle but also facing his family’s disapproval to do as he felt God led him. The historical detail was incredible. What had a great impact on me was seeing the eyes of not only the world but war’s horrific experiences through the eyes of an innocent, sheltered young man. My heart ached for Katie, waiting at home, fearing the worst and facing some battles of her own without her beloved Jonas. I saw both of them grow up quickly in many ways. There are also unexpected twists and turns you won’t want to miss. A wonderful heartfelt read.