Thursday, November 20, 2014

Christmas books and movies

I look forward to November and December when it is fashionable to read Christmas stories and watch Christmas movies.  I have to be honest and admit, though, that I read and watch them throughout the year.  The characters in such stories are portrayed with more hope and there is a coming together, a reunion, of family and friends that isn't present at other times in the year as often (in books and movies).

Melody Carlson publishes a Christmas novel every year and almost every year for the past five years I've had a chance to review them.  This year's novel is The Christmas Cat.  The story is about
Garrison who inherits his grandmother's house--and her cats--after she passes away.  His grandmother was his only family and he feels lost without her.  He's struggling to recover from Malaria that he caught while working in Africa and is trying to get a job.  So, his trip home to take care of his grandmother's estate occupies his heart and mind.  The story follows his trials as he finds particular homes for each of the six cats left behind.  The end is like that of other Christmas stories.  It will make you smile and feel like you drank a cup of hot tea with a cinnamon stick in it.

The writing makes this story flow quickly and easy.  I didn't notice any major bumps in my reading.  I enjoyed it and quickly followed Garrison as he found his way in the story.

If you enjoy made for tv Christmas movies (which I have to admit that I do), you'll probably enjoy this story as well.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Books.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Next Installment

It's interesting to grow up with my kids.  When they were younger, we read many Bible storybooks to them.  But now, they are all old enough to read the Bible themselves!  I have realized the same thing is happening with the books they read.  We are moving into a new era or phase.

Magic Treehouse and Imagination Station have had their time in my girls' minds and on their shelves. But, it's time for these to be passed on to their little brother.  I think he'll probably be ready for them by the end of the year.

The Imagination Station is a fun and easy to read early chapter book series.  It's basically a Christian Magic Treehouse series.  I've written a few reviews about it before.  I remember loving the first few books of the series.  I was struck by how the young boy and girl treated each other and the people they came across on their adventures.  I was pleased by the series.  But, as the series has gone on, the writing hasn't seemed to flow as well as it did in the early books.  I'm not sure exactly why I feel this way.

The latest installment of this series, Surprise at Yorktown, is like the others.  As I read it, the story seemed to make bigger jumps than I remembered in previous stories.  The language is very readable for a second grader or first grader with a high reading level.  I appreciate the bits of history that are woven into each adventure the kids go on.  My kids were glad to read it, but their excitement waned as they began reading the first chapter or two.  Both girls finished it, but quickly moved on after they were done.  Usually, when my girls enjoy a book, they immediately start rereading it.  They didn't do that with this one.

For kids older than third grade, I wouldn't recommend this book.  For kids younger than that, they'll enjoy it.  The language is very simple and it won't challenge them or expand their vocabulary.  Kids in third grade and beyond need more meat.  Box Car Children, Encyclopedia Brown, A to Z mysteries...

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Tyndale Publishing.