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Reviews Written by
JenniferB "@" (Alberta, Canada)

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Grammar [With Book(s)]
Grammar [With Book(s)]
by Rock 'n Learn Editorial
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 16.77
17 used & new from CDN$ 10.11

4.0 out of 5 stars Covers the Basics, July 1 2016
This review is from: Grammar [With Book(s)] (Audio CD)
Rock N Learn's Grammar CD and included workbook cover the basics of grammar in fun (if cheesy) tunes for audio learners. The 32 page workbook reinforces the songs and provides some visual learning to accompany the 35 minute CD.

The program doesn't cover a LOT of grammar, but if your child needs the basics (and let's be honest - many schools don't formally teach grammar much anymore), then this might work to get the basics covered.

Tracks include:
Introduction to Nouns
Practice with Nouns
Proper Nouns
Noun/Pronoun Practice
Introduction to Verbs
Practice with Verbs
Linking Verbs
Practice with Linking
Verb Tense
Practice with Verb Tense
Verb Practice and Review

Tunes lean towards 80s/90s pop/rock cheese...but we all know that can be catchy!

I received a free copy of this item to review - all thoughts are my own.

SciQ: Complete Box Set by Smithsonian Networks
SciQ: Complete Box Set by Smithsonian Networks
DVD ~ na
Offered by JnP Store Canada
Price: CDN$ 51.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Stuff!, May 13 2016
SciQ is one of my children's favourite DVD series! Sure, teenage hosts Paula, Andrew, and Pemma are completely goofy (especially the corny co-star competitiveness of the first two), but my kids eat it up.

The complete series includes four volumes:

1 - CSI, Spies, Movie Magic, and Sound
2 - Underwater, Snow, and Flight
3 - Poop (a family fave here), Bugs (also great), and Robots
4 - Food, Human Performance, and Wild Wheels

Each of the subtopics is an episode, and the total play time of the four DVDs is almost 6 hours. In each episode, Paula and Andrew go on different quest type, real world science exploration, adventures (often two per topic, sometimes they do team up), while Pemma explores an offshoot topic in an intermission style break in the action. As a result, each topic is explored from a variety of hands-on, real world angles.

We've watched each and every one of the DVDs multiple times, and while we sometimes have an extended break from the series, we've often 'rediscovered' it, resulting in binge-like watching.

Fun science, a good mix of high interest topics, and goofy hosts. SciQ is just a lot of fun!

I received a free review copy of this title, all thoughts are my own.

Uumajut: Learn About Arctic Wildlife
Uumajut: Learn About Arctic Wildlife
by Simon Awa
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 9.95
14 used & new from CDN$ 0.18

5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful ink and watercolour illustrations are found without, April 20 2016
Written in Inuktitut and accompanied by an English translation, Uumajut: Learn About Arctic Wildlife presents Inuit knowledge of animals of the tundra and sea. Five tundra animals and five animals of the sea and ice are included. Soft, beautiful ink and watercolour illustrations are found without. These lush illustrations are certainly the heart of the book. Animal details are given in both Inuktitut and English - one paragraph of each, with a full page picture opposite the text. This gorgeous book is highly appealing, and a high interest introduction to the animals of the north.

eebee's Mix & Mash: Adventures in the Kitchen for Baby & You
eebee's Mix & Mash: Adventures in the Kitchen for Baby & You
by Inc. Every Baby Company
Edition: Board book
13 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars the kids all like the cute baby puppet on the DVD and large, April 20 2016
There are six recipes included for baby food for the 6 months crowd that you can involve your baby in making. One is tofu-basically (we don't eat it), two others include turmeric and blueberries (staining!). I don't know - we never made any of the recipes. I have seven children and we basically feed them what we eat...even as babies, as appropriate and in slightly modified textures and sizes. I guess I don't really get the whole 'baby food' concept, so I'm probably not the right audience for this book.

That said, the kids all like the cute baby puppet on the DVD and large, bright boardbook. The real babies are even better! we really need video instructions on how to smash watermelon cubes?

All in all, the whole production seems like baby-driven consumerism. Do you need this? Not too likely.

I received a free copy of this in exchange for my honest opinion.

Shack, The
Shack, The
by William P. Young
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.00
234 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Meh..., Jan. 22 2016
This review is from: Shack, The (Paperback)
Well, who hasn't reviewed The Shack? This will just be a drop into the massive bucket that is online reviewing, but here goes.

If I've said it once, I've said it at least 5 or 6's terribly hard to do teaching fiction well. It always comes off sounding a little bit cheesy. In that respect, The Shack is to Christians what the Celestine Prophecy was to the New Age movement a couple of decades ago. Will we look back communally on our fascination with this title and wince once a few more years go by? It's certainly possible (although Christian readers are perhaps a bit more loyal.)

I was a bit late to the scene of The Shack, reading it a couple of years after it's release. It was honestly hard to see what all the hoopla was about. This book isn't great literature, it isn't a spectacular allegory, and it isn't great theology. To compare it to Pilgrim's Progress as an editorial review does here, is...well...rather misguided.

Another point to consider is that if you don't deal well with topics of child loss, you may not be able to stomach this book. I told my husband he probably shouldn't read it. He'd rather avoid that kind of content because we have seven children who he frets over.

I won't dig into the theology. Google Challies' huge in depth PDF review if you want some of that.

The Shack ultimately has some warm-fuzzy moments about God, and perhaps the biggest takeaway here is that Jesus is a real person, one you can have a real, authentic, loving relationship with. I'm not sure that reminder justified reading the whole book in my case, though there are probably seekers out there who will be pointed to Jesus through the popularity of this work.

If I enjoyed teaching fiction more, I'd rate this work higher, but as it is....meh, I can't really see the cause for all the applause.

I received a review copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

The Priest's Graveyard
The Priest's Graveyard
by Ted Dekker
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.89
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, Jan. 21 2016
The Priest's Graveyard follows two vigilantes of different stripes on a journey from self-justified righteousness to something closer to the truth. It isn't entirely the through though, and that's where my largest concern lays.

I won't be doing a plot summary, there are plenty of those available here. I will say that it's a surprising read.

While I found some of the content disturbing and unrealistic, my main concern was the presentation of love and grace WITHOUT the person and work of Jesus. Instead, this love, grace, and forgiveness was offered only by another flawed (and mentally disturbed) human being. Dekker came close to presenting the truth, but yet he fell oh, so very far away from the mark.

As such, I didn't feel that the trip into darkness was worth the emotional cost. The light offered at books' end was a false one, with no true redemption on offer. Perhaps Dekker was trying to steer mainstream on this one, I was disappointed in any case.

I received a review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

VeggieTales - Pistachio: The Little Boy That Woodn't
VeggieTales - Pistachio: The Little Boy That Woodn't
DVD ~ Mike Nawrocki
Price: CDN$ 14.95
10 used & new from CDN$ 11.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Good, Jan. 18 2016
Pistachio is the VeggieTales where Qwerty gets his upgrade and the VT gets a spiffing up in Extreme Re-Do Crying Edition. We then move along into the veggie-take on the classic tale of Pinnochio, starring Larry as Gelato, Pistachio's (played by Junior) dad.

Gelato is an adoptive father to three obedient ducklings whom Pistachio (with his tendencies towards rebellious willfulness) is clearly contrasted once he is carved. Nobody made him, he doesn't need to listen to anyone, and he can be the boss of himself regardless of instructions from his father/creator.

The classical story of Pinocchio is set up with a simple re-telling of the parable of the lost sheep. This parable is, of course, mirrored by Pistachio's own straying from the flock of his family and Gelato's un-ending quest to recover him.

While VT comes short of fully tying this story of redemption to God the Father's unending love and pursuit of His children, the depiction of fatherly love in the face of disobedience is still moving.

The Pinocchio retelling is very gentle, if not entirely accurate. There is no turning into a donkey (which some of my kids insisted should be in there). The meatball bros certainly weren't in be original, but I think they are funny. The emphasis is slanted more towards filial obedience than honesty, though that's in there as well (with he nose and all).

The CG is lovely with detailed wood textures. The silly song "Where Have All the Staplers Gone" just isn't as catchy for kids (and big kids) as they normally are, though there is some nice, if melodramatic, harmonizing.

The DVD also includes the standard audio commentary track, a discussion guide, art gallery, and "Larry Visits a Marionette Theater' bonus feature.

Close as a Breath
Close as a Breath
by Callie Grant
Edition: Board book
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Story, Jan. 13 2016
This review is from: Close as a Breath (Board book)
Close as a Breath is an 'Absorb' board book title for 0-8 year olds in the Graham Blanchard series of books, indicating that the book is written to help children connect facts about God with their inner lives.

The story follows a father and daughter on an outdoor walk. The daughter asks a variety of simple questions and the father offers answers. He eventually offers that God is in all places and the closing scripture passage explains how God is made known through His creation.

The work is lushly illustrated with large, softly blended landscapes by Sarah Ackerley. The text by Callie Grant, while simple and child-appropriate, does seem a bit forced into a semi-repetitive, somewhat inconsistent rhyming scheme. This is a strong preference of mine, that text be either prose or clearly consistent poetry, and not somewhere in between.

I love the beautiful nature scenes and the theme of God being known through His creation. Ultimately, the message didn't seem to come all the way home for its intended age group (my 9-yo seems to resonate the most with it, but the text and format are overly simple for her).

I received a review copy of this title. All thoughts are my own.

Five Star 09735 Poly Wireless Composition Notebook, College Ruled, 7x5-Inch, 1-Subject, 100-Sheets, Assorted Colors
Five Star 09735 Poly Wireless Composition Notebook, College Ruled, 7x5-Inch, 1-Subject, 100-Sheets, Assorted Colors
Price: CDN$ 3.84

3.0 out of 5 stars Not my fave, Jan. 12 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I prefer the hardback composition books (iScholar), these are smaller, expensive, and the spine is only tape on plastic. Not the best.

Annoyingly, it doesn't lay very flat and if you try to fold it back to write on it in your hand, it doesn't go back into a flat shape when you close the book, it stays slightly open.

Fool Moon Rising
Fool Moon Rising
by Kristi and T. Lively Fluharty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.43
32 used & new from CDN$ 4.12

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Idea, But..., Jan. 12 2016
This review is from: Fool Moon Rising (Hardcover)
Fool Moon Rising is a simple story about a cocky moon who brags about his brightness. Most if the book depicts the moon making all sorts of wild claims about his prowess. Near the book's end he comes to learn that his light is only a reflection of the sun's and from that point on, points to him as the source of his light.

As an adult, this parable is instantaneously understandable. Any goodness in us is due to God's glory and we should always point to Him. To children...this message is a bit more veiled and needs to be drawn out by the parent explicitly in order for children to understand it.

As a parent of seven, I must admit that the book fell a bit flat with its intended age-group here at our house. Reading it out loud, the text is child-appropriate, but the deeper message (while unarguably a good one) is a bit harder for kids to dig out. It's the type of book adults like the idea of, but the actual reception by children may be less than enthusiastic.

I received a copy if this title for review. All thoughts are my own.

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