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Jennifer Bogart "@ Quiverfullfamily.com" (Alberta, Canada)

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NIGHTMARE
NIGHTMARE
by Robin Parrish
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Not What I Expected, June 30 2010
This review is from: NIGHTMARE (Paperback)
Maia Peters has had an unusual upbringing. As the child of two prominent paranormal investigators her life has been filled with first-hand experiences of ghost-sightings, but she's hoping to put that behind her as she moves on with her chosen course of study in college. She is dragged back into familiar territory when a Jordin Cole, a wealthy student at her college enlists her help in exploring the paranormal for herself first-hand.

When Jordin appears to Maia as a spectre at a new amusement park, Maia realizes that something has gone dreadfully wrong and embarks on an investigation alongside Jordin's fiancé (and aspiring pastor) to discover Jordin's fate. Told in an alternating flashback manner, the search for Jordin is interspersed with Jordin and Maia's past adventures 'ghost-hunting'. In all honesty, the search for Jordin was more compelling than the ghost-hunting scenes, which tended to become repetitive after a while ' more of the same, more of the same.

Robin Parrish writes in some of my target genres, so I was excited to see that his latest release ' Nightmare ' held potential to fall squarely within one of my top reading areas; Christian supernatural suspense. I've enjoyed some of Parrish's writing in the past (Offworld), and while I find his tendency to spin some pretty improbable conclusions to require a bit too much suspension of disbelief, I was looking forward to his latest read.

Nightmare is a lightning fast read, it's written in very simple language (which I believe is written to mirror the thinking/speaking style of the main character Maia), but which also lacked descriptive depth due to its straightforward simplicity. This is the sort of story that keeps readers going with the promise of a mystery unfolding ' and there's certainly that in spades.

I'm disappointed however that Maia's perception of the paranormal seems to trump that of a Christian worldview, hers is written much more strongly, and though she claims belief in God, we really don't see a lot of evidence of that in her life. Coming from a background in the occult, I tend to be wary of stories that glamorize communication with spirits, or that could develop a fascination with the subject. While I won't say that Parrish has gone that far, he's definitely treading on the line, and I'm definitely not comfortable with that.

As a result, I won't be recommending Nightmare to anyone. There is far too much emphasis and fascination surrounding ghosts in our culture already. I was hoping that Parrish would come down with a decidedly more biblical point of view in this novel, but there's just too much room for distraction and being led astray within its pages.

The Greatest Hits
The Greatest Hits
Price: CDN$ 17.05
6 used & new from CDN$ 11.43

4.0 out of 5 stars Good overview for newcomers, Sept. 2 2009
This review is from: The Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
Over the past thirteen years Avalon has become a mainstay in CCM. Their blend of pop, dance, and R&B inflected songs that invariably bring the honor to God are both infective and musically solid. Newcomers to the group can't go in wrong in starting with The Greatest Hits, a generous sampling of sixteen of their most well known offerings.

Hard-core Avalon fans already in possession of the groups previous hit-filled compendium -Testify to Love: The Very Best of Avalon will find a large amount of overlap between the two discs. As a newcomer to the group myself, each song is fresh and previously unheard, but loner time fans will find only five tracks difference from the previous collection. In fact, the tracks that were recorded specifically for The Very Best of Avalon such as 'New Day,' and 'Everything to Me' have been taken from that disc directly into this one.

Still, dedicated fans may be able to justify the purchase. A new song, 'Still My God,' proves to be a real tearjerker, highlighting God's unchanging nature through our trials and challenges. The last four tracks on the disc: 'All,' 'You Were There,' 'Orphans of God,' and 'In Christ Alone' have been swapped in from previous albums.

'Orphans of God' is a particularly moving inclusion from Stand ' a symphonic, tender song of reassurance that celebrates God's unending grace. 'All' is a somewhat more two-dimensional tune, exhibiting a bounty, R&B influence. 'You Were There' is an introspective, mellow song with a surprisingly forceful chorus.

'In Christ Alone' draws from the vein that is ever popular amongst CCM artists ' covering traditional hymns with their own distinctive arrangements. A beautiful rendition, Avalon's take on the hymn features heart-plucking harmonies, big, bold vocalizations, and poignant guitar accompaniment in the simpler sections that bursts into an array of strong percussion back up during the chorus.

The classics that were previously included in the last greatest hits collection are clearly appearing again for a reason. 'Testify to Love' is an addictive headliner that pops into my head throughout the day and demands to be sung. 'Knockin' On Heavens Door' proves itself as a perennial favourite on account of it's chorus that depicts the insistent, never-ending prayers of a believer confident in her position as a child of God.

Personally, I could have passed on 'Give It Up' from the oldies but goodies section of the disc ' somewhere between the heavy reliance on synthesizers and the embellishing 'na na na's' I tune out. Likewise the dance-style rhythms of 'Wonder Why' generally leave me cold. 'New Day' rounds out the trio of tunes that I wouldn't have missed if they'd been left out of the compilation.

There are some true Avalon classics included that make the album. 'Take You At Your Word' is an insanely catchy, upbeat song that catches me every time and finds me belting out the chorus at full volume. 'Can't Live a Day' makes me cry more often than not as I'm reminded of my complete dependence on Jesus, 'The Glory' is a story song that recalls Jesus' life and sacrifice, and 'Adonai' is a slow song with understated accompaniment that nonetheless a heart-rending cry to the creator.

I'll admit that at first listen, the music struck me as somewhat fluffy, but after repeated listening many of these songs have become woven into my life. I've come to appreciate their theologically sound, yet still entertaining perspective (not always present in CCM), the variety of represented moods, and the clear vocal abilities of the group's performers.

Avalon: The Greatest Hits is indeed a highly pleasing album that provides not only an enjoyable listening experience, but one that leads its audience into an interactive state of worship. I'd be hard pressed to number the times the songs I initially viewed as simple have led me to tears of repentance and rejoicing. This resulting emotional response and turning towards God in a listener should be the highest praise an album can receive.

Maggie Can't Wait
Maggie Can't Wait
by Frieda Wishinsky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.75
11 used & new from CDN$ 8.25

5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Adorable, Aug. 30 2009
This review is from: Maggie Can't Wait (Hardcover)
Maggie Can't Wait ' tomorrow is the big day her family has been waiting for. They will finally be able to pick up her new baby sister from the adoption agency. Wanting to share her joy with her fellow classmates Maggie ' an young orange tabby ' brings a photo of her new sibling to class.

When Kimberly ' the class verbal bully ' mocks the appearance of her new sibling, and even Maggie's best friend Sam can't find something nice to say, Maggie is thrown into a tailspin of confusion and ambivalence concerning the newest member of her family.

Continuing to build upon Maggie's story that began in Give Maggie a Chance, author Frieda Wishinsky has penned a tale that will delight Maggie's existing fans, as well as those new to the challenges she faces as she grows. Very accessible as a stand-alone read, I wouldn't have guessed that it was a picture book sequel. My children have never noticed either; this title has become a fast favorite of theirs.

Dean Griffiths' charming, old-timey illustrations entranced my little ones through the use of colorful vintage apparel and delicate, feathery texture. The gentle, muted, watercolor palette is given the soft, rich texture through the careful use of pastels. Griffiths' work is somewhat reminiscent of Janet Stevens early work in her anthropomorphic versions of classic children's stories such as The Princess and the Pea. While Griffiths' characters are indeed more slender they hold the same degree of fascination for my little ones that I beheld Stevens' work with as a child.

As I read through Wishinsky's story I found myself deeply moved emotionally. Though the text is simple, and age-appropriate, I found myself relating with Maggie and her peer-induced confusion and distress. Maggie is certainly a character who children will easily relate to ' whether they have experienced mixed feelings revolving around the arrival of a new sibling, or been the victim of verbal put-downs.

Readers watch Maggie reveling in the heights of elation as she looks towards her new sisters arrival and the rapturous attention with which she imagines this new darling will be greeted with, ''She's wonderful!' everyone would coo when Maggie wheeled her sister down the street.' Followed by her descent into a degree of doubt-filled anguish that only the young seem to possess, 'She'd rather eat a barrel of worms than see that new baby's big ears tomorrow.'

Wishinksy's subtle message that the taunting of verbal bully's is irrelevant, and that the arrival of new siblings always works out in the end, is one that will reassure and delight young readers for years to come. Thankfully the arrival of the sweet little calico eventually wins Maggie and Sam over. Her bright smile transformed a countenance that was in truth, not so terrible after all, into something absolutely adorable. 'What a cute baby kitty!' my daughters cried ' they too have been won over by Maggie's new little sister.

Music Makes Your Child Smarter: How Music Helps Every Child's Development
Music Makes Your Child Smarter: How Music Helps Every Child's Development
by Philip Sheppard
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.08
20 used & new from CDN$ 2.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, comprehensive introduction, Aug. 29 2009
When musician, parent, and music educator Philip Sheppard undertook the writing of Music Makes Your Child Smarter his working title was Can Music Make Your Child Smarter? Though already intensively involved in music in all areas of his life, Sheppard wanted to explore the question from a position of skepticism. As he researched and wrote, however, he came to the undeniable conclusion that forms the book's current title.

Presented in two parts, Sheppard lays out the evidence for the effect of music upon the developing minds of children, with a particular focus on those ages seven and under. Sheppard isn't talking about a Mozart Effect approach, which Sheppard points out is founded upon questionable research data. The evidence he shares about the effects of music upon the growing mind are most evident when music is actively explored, played with, and experienced first hand ' not through passively listening to classical music in the background.

The first half of the book, wherein Sheppard lays out his arguments, combines research findings with his own personal anecdotes as teacher, musician, and parent. I found the writing in this section to be somewhat choppy, at times repetitive, and, due to the lack of footnotes, sounding more like personal conviction than a quantitatively measured argument.

The book does include a research list and bibliography in the appendix, but without end notes it is difficult to line up research papers with the points that Sheppard has made in the text. Still, no parent reading his arguments will be able to walk away without a niggling feeling that they must do something to encourage the development of their child's natural capacity for music before the crucial age of seven.

The second half of Music Makes Your Child Smarter explores activities from pre-birth to early elementary (up to age nine), with a brief introduction to the options available for formal music lessons as children grow.

Eschewing the popularly held belief that passively listening to the classics will somehow make your baby smarter, Sheppard's goal is to instead encourage parents to step up and fill the role as first music teacher by engaging children in active music making, musical play, integration with art, and a wide array of other simple activities.

Broken into age groups, Sheppard starts with simple lullabies sung by parents to unborn children, moves into musical games, finger plays, and motion songs, then into homemade instruments, spontaneous composition games, body percussion, and children increase in age. A parent armed with the suggested activities found within the pages of the book and the samples on the included CD (with cello performances by Sheppard himself) will be able to jump in with only this resource at their disposal and start enjoying music with their children.

An oddity that I noticed was that some of the longer songs in the book ' some with several pages of lyrics ' were not included on the CD, though the tunes were unfamiliar to me. In many cases the tunes are provided, and, for some that are very well known, the lyrics serve as a reminder to parents who may have forgotten classics from their own childhoods ' no tunes necessary.

For parents whose children are ready to move into formal instruction, Sheppard provides a breakdown of the most popular instruments, along with ratings for 'startability,' expense, and his own commentary about versatility, transition to other instruments, and any special considerations to take into account. Sheppard also moves far beyond the classical range with suggestions for additional listening from genres ranging from jazz, rock, disco, and the classics, too, of course.

The combination of Sheppard's text with the accompanying 53 track CD provides a comprehensive introductory-level overview to early-childhood music education for parents. Any parent who puts the exercises held within to use with their children is sure to be met with an enthusiastic response from their little ones and lay the foundation for a life-long appreciation of music.

M Is For Maple: A Canadian Alphabet
M Is For Maple: A Canadian Alphabet
by Michael Ulmer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 15.12
44 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern classic in a growing sub-genre, Aug. 26 2009
The alphabet book has nearly become a genre of its own within the world of children's literature. With every child's bookshelf containing one or two alphabet books that proclaim, 'A is for Apple, B is for Banana' or alternately, 'A is for Ant, B is for Bear,' it's easy to see how the elegant and informative alphabet titles from Sleeping Bear Press are redefining the genre.

M is for Maple: A Canadian Alphabet by Mike Ulmer is quickly becoming the quintessential Canadian version of the alphabet book. Illustrated in rich, glowing oils by accomplished artist Melanie Rose, and covering a broad range of topics that are woven deeply throughout the culture of Canada, this beautiful book is both appealing and useful in a wide variety of age groups and settings.

Each letter of the alphabet is introduced through rhyming text that draws out one symbol, historical personage, location, people group, sport, and so on, that helps to capture the spirit of Canada as a whole.

So instead of a simple, 'A is for Anne,' readers are treated to:

'A is for Anne ' that's Anne with an E
a red headed orphan who loved Avonlea.
The Cuthberts had thought they were adopting a boy,
But that red headed girl would be their pride and their joy.'

Informative sidebar text that digs into the presented subject matter provides background information, facts, and trivia ' leaving readers 'in the know' about important Canadian topics. Adding to the educational element, Sleeping Bear Press also has a free downloadable teaching guide available for grades 2 ' 6, helping teachers dig deeper into the presented materials with their students. Literature, geography, social studies, research, writing, and history extensions are provided to accompany each letter and topic as it appears in M is for Maple.

Depending upon the age of the audience, this versatile work can be read several ways. Preschoolers will enjoy the rhyming text and vibrant illustrations that appear in either two-page spreads or on single pages ' it is even available in a board-book edition for the tiniest Canada lovers. Early elementary students can dig into the informative sidebars as well, and children who are familiar with basic mapping, reading, and writing skills can delve into a fuller unit-based study of Canada with the book and teaching guide serving as a spine.

Far from being limited in interest to children ' the handsome hardcover makes an irresistible coffee table book ' relatives have nabbed our copy whenever we visit with it on hand. My twenty-something sister exclaimed in delight over, 'B is for Banting, B is for Best,' and my seventy-something grandmother has poured over it several times.

It was her eagle eyes that happened to catch two small errors in the factual text that could have easily been caught by a good fact checker. Downtown Winnipeg is well known for having the windiest corner in Canada, but not the coldest and Cape Breton Island is part of Nova Scotia, not New Brunswick. Thanks Grandma. Other than these two counts, the remainder of the information presented seems sound.

NOTE: These errors have since been corrected in the current version.

In only 26 letters, Ulmer's introduction to the alphabet and Canada covers a large territory both geographically and in the number of foundational 'pegs' for children to hang additional knowledge on as they grow. From coast to coast to coast, from city to field, from past to present, the broad selection of topics join together to form a tapestry familiar to all who know and love Canada. Whether in the library, schoolroom, or home, M is for Maple is sure to hold onto its status as a classic in Canadiana for children for years to come.

The House In Grosvenor Square
The House In Grosvenor Square
by Linore Rose Burkard
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.87
39 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Strays from the traditional regency style of the first novel, Aug. 24 2009
here are some novels I have enjoyed reading almost entirely too much. Before the Season Ends, Linore Rose Burkard's first Regency Inspirational Romance was one such title. Captivatingly addictive, true to period language and form, the story of beautiful, young outspoken Ariana Forsythe and the wealthy, stand-offish Phillip Mornay quickly became a fast favourite, and prompted an all-night reading spree. When the sequel The House in Grosvenor Square arrived I was almost afraid to open it for fear that it wouldn't live up to the first book.

As the book opens we find Ariana Forsythe amidst the plans for her wedding to Phillip Mornay. Deeply in love and delighted by her betrothed's blossoming newfound faith all should be pure bliss. However, trouble stirs ' her beloved is distant, his servants are plotting against her, and there are dastardly knaves plotting her abduction for unknown reasons.

Ariana and Phillip's relationship matures as it goes through trials and temptations. Reading of their deepening attachment and affection for one provided both a warm glow of love throughout the tale, and periods of angst during miscommunications and conflict.

Where Before the Season Ends was spot-on Regency with a distinctive Christian influence, The House in Grosvenor Square strays towards an amalgam of historical romantic suspense. While still set in the Regency period and bearing all of the earmarks of the fashion, slang, and social mores, the novel jauntily heads down a much more modern path of plot development than the ancestors of the genre ever took.

By including multiple kidnappings and one mysterious development after another, Burkard draws her young couple out of the insular dance of courtship, card parties, and gossip and into the realm of mild-mannered adventure. The continued emphasis on propriety, appearances, and purity still provide a small dose of the typical Regency escapism though not as much as the first novel contained. Oddly, the suspense-based plot also resulted in slower pacing than the romantic tension found in the original.

I have just recently noticed a developing trend in Christian publisher Harvest House's inspirational regencies. Both Linore Burkard's and Kaye Dascus' Ransome Trilogy series approach the genre with fairly traditional opening novels before diving into plots that are quite adventurous by Regency standards in the subsequent volumes. I'm afraid that I can't say I'm thrilled by the change in emphasis in these modern examples.

I'm not about to give up on the new approach however. Perhaps I'll develop as much of a taste for derring-do in jolly England as I do for stories of adventurous speculative fiction. To be fair, Burkard still includes plenty of loyal butlers, wardrobe changes, and blundering suitors to take us away to another time. Let's wait and see what she brings us next, shall we?

Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East
Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East
by Tom Doyle
Edition: Paperback
15 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Unveiling a previously untold story, Aug. 23 2009
One needn't be a newshound to experience a daily bombardment of negative news from the Middle East. Suicide bombings, riots, armed rebellion; these are only some of the aspects that contribute to the seemingly interminable conflicts between Muslims and Jews. There is however a growing, untold story of hope to be found in the midst of the pain and conflict. A story that revolves around the Prince of Peace, and the work that He is accomplishing in the hearts of the adherents of two warring religions.

As the Middle East director for e3 Partners (a global church planting ministry, you may have seen their EvangeCubes), this unfolding story is one that author Tom Doyle is quite familiar with. Yet despite growing numbers of Muslims and Jews coming to faith in Jesus and putting aside their hatred and fear, Doyle's seen the mainstream media remain completely quiet on the topic. Many in the western church are largely unaware of the growth of a thriving, vibrant, and often persecuted church in the Middle East.

In Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East Doyle brings the amazing stories of the immense increase of believers in the region by focusing in on the personal testimonies of many who are now serving in ministry. The book's main thrust highlights Muslim-background-believers, interspersing their stories with the history and tenets of Islam and comparing its beliefs with Christianity.

A single chapter is devoted to exploring the change of heart experienced by Jews who are coming to recognize Jesus as their Messiah alongside a modern introduction to the faith and culture. An abbreviated history of the church in this region, and of historical interactions between Jews, Muslims, and Christians is also touched upon to ground readers contextually and dispel common misunderstandings.

While unapologetic in his stance for Jesus and the truth, Doyle's genuine love for the Muslim people is evident throughout his work. He writes with genuine appreciation of Middle Eastern hospitality, loyalty, passion, and dedication. He emphasizes that the vast majority of Muslims are peace-loving people who only want to raise their families in safety. They are good people who are often very open to discussing the claims of Christ.

Written conversationally, Doyle's work is both engrossing and emotionally moving. It's far too easy to fall into a mindset that revolves around fear, confusion, fatalism, and reliance upon military actions and diplomacy to achieve peace. Doyle quickly shifts the focus to Jesus, the only one who can bring lasting peace. This shift in focus quickly takes the real war out of the physical realm and into the spiritual. A rallying call to arms, Doyle also provides prayer points for the growing Middle Eastern church.

God is certainly busy drawing His children to Him through visions, dreams, and the personal witness of faithful members of the body. It's high time we jump into the fray with the most effective weapon available to us as believers ' prayer. Breakthrough will show you where to sign up, and which positions to take ' the rest is in His hands. God speed.

Coral Reef
Coral Reef
by Donald Silver
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.76
26 used & new from CDN$ 3.14

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, Aug. 22 2009
This review is from: Coral Reef (Paperback)
Without the benefit of scuba diving classes and a collection of rented equipment, most children will not grow to see the coral reefs of the world in person. Brought vividly to life in the imaginations of children through the major animated film Finding Nemo and the short, live action segments that make up 'Come See the Sea' on children's television programming, the coral reefs of the world serve as a sticky point of interest to delve into the life cycles of the creatures who make this fascinating ecosystem their home.

In Coral Reef - part of the One Small Square series for six to nine-year-old children, an in-depth, vividly illustrated journey travels through a small portion of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. Focusing in on an three-dimensional section of reef measuring four feet to a side and extending down in a rectangular column roughly twice that in length, series author Donald M. Silver guides young readers through the intricacies of reef flora, fauna, reproduction, nocturnal creatures, inter-species cooperation and many other fascinating features of this vibrant ecosystem.

With such a treasure of interesting animals and plants to work with, Silver unearths a plethora of fascinating trivia, facts, and foundational premises for life in the reef. From fish that cover themselves with slime at night to mask their aroma, to those who masquerade as friendly helpers in order to steal a bit of flesh, a wealth of memorable encounters are brought vividly to life through the visual pictures crafted through a vivid use of descriptive prose.

In Silver's trademark style the dangers in currents around reefs for divers is briefly pointed out, as well as some short safety tips. Although Silver realizes that children aren't likely to be making a hands-on exploration of the reef themselves, the series-wide emphasis on appropriate safety precautions makes its presence known in this title as well.

Due to the improbability of children exploring reefs in diving equipment Silver has substituted hands-on observational activities and experiments that illustrate the scientific concepts explored from the perspective of reef life. For example, after the observation of nocturnal reef life through the pages of Coral Reef, Silver encourages children to record their own findings regarding nocturnal plant and animal life in their own backyards. Instructions for a simple reef diorama, building a reef with Lego, observing the grooming habits of domestic animals and many other educational activities are also provided to turn the book into a multi-sensory educational experience.

Patrica J. Wynne's incredibly detailed illustrations draw children into the exotic world of the reef ' filled with colour, motion, and incredible complexities. Her work is realistic and stands out as the work of a truly talented artist in the school of natural observation. Though created for children, her elaborate reconstructions of reef life on the page can compare favorably with the work of any other naturalist.

Our entire family, young and old, admired the artwork; my three-year-old was particularly taken in by the visual glossary of each creature mentioned in the text at the back of the book. We read the book in bite-sized chunks ' though written in a form more narrative than textbook, there is still a great deal of information to be digested.

Whether your child's interest in reefs has been sparked by a famous film or visit to the fish section of a local pet store; whether you are preparing for a visit to a public aquarium that feature displays which recreate life in the reef or planning a unit study on coral reefs. No matter how you approach it, Coral Reef is sure to fascinate.

Nana Star
Nana Star
by Elizabeth Sills
Edition: Hardcover
8 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A sweet start to a new series, Aug. 19 2009
This review is from: Nana Star (Hardcover)
'Once upon a time in a land of swaying green grass and wildflowers, there was a little girl.'

With this soothingly familiar opening sentence, readers of all ages are swept into the sweetly idyllic world of a little girl with a love-filled heart who takes on the role of guiding a lost star back to the heavens. Nana Star is the first in a series of collectible picture books for children which trace the journey of Nana Star, her little lost star-friend, and the characters who help them along the way.

The Nana Star series is a family-oriented project inspired by the original stories of Elizabeth Owens as told to her grandson Vance. Owen's granddaughters ' Elizabeth Sills and Elena Patrice ' have brought her stories to the printed page, while her daughter Linda Saker provided the illustrations.

Designed as a continuous series, each picture book shares a brief portion of Nana Star's story. Be prepared to buy the first two titles together ' Nana Star and Nana Star and the Moonman ' or your little ones are likely to be disappointed by being left at the beginning of a grand adventure at the end of the first book. Nana Star only introduces us to the two main characters and familiarizes readers with the whimsical world they inhabit, while Nana Star and the Moonman moves the pair along and introduces them to the comforting, ever-present Moonman.

After we read the first title my six-year-old daughter protested, 'Mommy, it's too short, and it doesn't make sense.' By the time we'd read the second title though she said, 'Oh Mommy, I really like these books, can we get the next one?' The third installment, Nana Star and the Blue Wolf, is expected to release sometime this summer.

Unlike most picture books for young children there were some pivotal plot turnings that weren't explained within the text. The reason for the little girl becoming Nana Star weren't clear to my daughter, nor was the reason the stars shimmered in the Moonman's presence. I made some spontaneous suggestions, but I always prefer my child's natural questions to be expected by the author and then answered in the text itself.

Each lovely hardcover is accompanied by a CD which contains the Nana Star theme song and a recording of the story. When the gently lilting song and flowing reading are combined with the idyllic watercolour illustrations, an innocent, peaceful feeling results. My three-year-old would have the stories and songs on repeat all day long if the decision were hers.

Each title also features its own plush toy. Nana Star is a poseable plush doll with long legs, and all the removable accoutrements we find her with in the stories: a blue dress with a pocket (with bonus pantaloons), a star, a tree branch, a handkerchief, mittens, and slippers ' encouraging young fans to play out her story. Moonman is now one of our family's favourite bedtime toys. When the star on his stomach is pressed his big, round moon-head glows gently and he plays an instrumental version of the Nana Star theme song. He is a bit tricky to get started, but is a big hit for cuddling at night, and for soothing our little ones to sleep. For that reason I love him just as much as my girls do!

The Nana Star series is very sweet, and particularly well suited to little girls with tender hearts. I know one inparticular who is eagerly awaiting the release of the next title, and who looks forward to joining Nana Star's 'Little Twinkles Club' (details included in each book).

Some gentle comprehension and discussion questions are available for parents to use with children from the age of three-years-old and up at the Nana Star website. A portion of the proceeds from all Nana Star sales goes toward helping the children of inner city schools and terminally ill children through the Nana Star Foundation.

Lucy Maud Montgomery
Lucy Maud Montgomery
by Elizabeth MacLeod
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.65
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a reader!, Aug. 13 2009
This review is from: Lucy Maud Montgomery (Paperback)
My six-year-old daughter knows Anne Shirley very well. Having watched the made for television Anne of Green Gables series several times, and meeting Anne within the pages of the original Anne of Green Gables, my eldest has developed quite a love for the red-headed orphan girl who has captured the hearts of so many readers worldwide.

Anne's creatrix Lucy Maud Montgomery is a figure who my daughter is much less familiar with. Settling in to read Lucy Maud Montgomery ' a Kids Can Read Level 3 reader (designed for children just starting to read alone) from the Inspiring Lives series ' I kept Maud's identity a secret. Drawn in by the beautiful illustrations, and simple but flowing narrative, my daughter beamed with delight when she discovered that Montgomery wrote the Anne series.

Following Lucy Maud Montgomery's life from birth to adulthood, Elizabeth MacLeod's introduction to the author focuses tightly upon her journey to successful publication and the emotional forces in her life that led her to writing.

While written as part of a leveled reading series, this charming title should in no way be relegated to a space between the often-inane readers for young children. Instead it offers an excellent read-aloud for sharing with early elementary students before or after an introduction to Montgomery's work, inspiration for young girls with a literary bent, and a lovely visual experience.

For independent reading, children will need to be able to tackle some advanced vocabulary and longer sentences while not having repetitive words and visual clues to guide their way.

Without becoming bogged down in facts and detail, Macleod's simple juvenile biography of one of Canada's most beloved authors has enchanted our family. Macleod's strong emphasis on Montgomery's emotions concerning her solitude and desire to be published provide a very personal glimpse into the author's life.

Arranged in typical reader style ' text and illustration clearly separated ' artist John Mantha's oil paintings clearly place Montgomery in mood and time. Softly pastoral nature scenes, period appropriate attire and hairstyles, and a lightly muted palette combine to evoke a distinctly historic air. It's truly a delight to find a reader filled with such lovely artistic compositions

If Lucy Maud Montgomery is a representative example of the quality to be found in the Inspiring Lives sub-series of Kids Can Read titles, I strongly recommend parents, educators, and librarians to consider adding these titles to their libraries. This series installment has certainly found a permanent home in our collection. The historic significance, wonderful art, personal narrative biography, and of course the opportunity to practice newly formed reading skills mark the series as one to watch for.

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