Book Club, Girls’ Edition: “Mystery on Skull Island”

Disclosure Pic

Our family is studying pirates right now, so for book club the girls read “Mystery on Skull Island,” an American Girl History Mystery book.  It takes place in Charles Town, South Carolina, in the 1720s, just after pirates went from being popular to scary.  We learned a lot about colonial life from this story and decided to interact with that in our book club party.

Mystery on Skull Island

We started, of course, by summarizing the book and discussing it.  We all decided that pirates were really not fun people and that the girls in the story didn’t always make the best choices, though they did have good intentions.

Making Biscuits

Then we made mob caps.  Mob caps were ruffled hats that covered a girl’s head and were very common during colonial times.  Ours were not true to history, as we made them out of white t-shirts, but since that knit fabric doesn’t fray, this simplified the process greatly.  We cut large circles out of old white shirts and then used a large running stitch to sew about an inch in from the edge.  Each girl then gathered the cap and we tied off the thread. They were excited to wear their new caps and each chose to do so a bit differently.

Making Biscuits

The girls love to bake, too, so we made Grandma’s Biscuits.  They worked together well, as always, and ate the finished product with honey and jellies. 

After developing their own pirate names and designing their own necklaces out of string and plastic beads, it was time for the girls to head home.  We had a great time in the colonial era!

What are your kids reading right now?  How can you connect with it?

* This post was shared at:  Home to 4 Kiddos

“Tales of the Not Forgotten” by Beth Guckenberger

Tales of the Not Forgotten is a set of stories of children from five different countries written by missionary Beth Guckenberger.  Each one features a child facing an impossible situation when God shows Himself in a big way.  The publisher describes the book this way:


Follow these real-life stories as they take you on a journey to faraway lands and unknown faces. Travel through their challenges and see the hand of the great Storyweaver writing endings you’d never imagine!

Joel dares to ask for what he can’t have. Seraphina sacrifices what she can’t afford to give. Ibrahim looks for an answer buried out of reach. Christiana, saved by a mission, searches for her own.

These are the tales of the ones the world doesn’t see . . . the tales of the not forgotten.
In this collection of four real-life stories written for preteens, a compelling storyteller paints a picture of God’s dynamic movement in four foreign cultures, inspiring children to trust that God is weaving a story in their lives as well.

This resource will shrink the macro picture down to approachable, individual stories of real children and teach about fundamental survival issues. The stories address some of the challenging questions that kids have and weave God’s promises to orphans into each one.

The Tales of the Not Forgotten Leader’s Guide is a 6-session kids’ missions resource (sold separately) that walks adults through an easy-to-follow guide for making the abstract real and for designing an action plan to help others.

Preteens will be challenged to answer the questions:How do I pray? What can I give? Where can I go? Who will I serve?

The stories in this book are amazing.  I’ve always loved reading about how God works things out in just the perfect way, as only He can, but when He shows up for children who have so little, the stories can be difficult to read.  The cover of the book contains a warning under the author’s name that states that “These stories may change the way you see the world,” and it’s true.  I read this book on a lazy afternoon while watching my children play with friends, and I kept thinking that they were all going to wonder why I was crying over a book on a gorgeous summer’s day.  After reading these stories, it’s difficult to see the world as ‘out there’ instead of ‘next door’ and impossible not to want to help more children like these.

That’s where the leader’s guide comes in.  The leader’s guide is absolutely perfect.  Somehow I missed the boat and expected a video-like teaching series that could be part of a study, but what the CD actually contains is so much better.  It’s not a DVD at all but a data CD that contains everything you would need to turn this book into a series of mission lessons for kids.  It is a simple set of Word documents set up in a systematic hierarchy containing skits, memory verses, pictures of real kids to serve as visuals, recipes, math problems, activities to send home for families to use, and simple mission projects that the kids can do to take action within their own communities.  With this guide, you won’t need to search for ice breakers, printables, or ways to involve families, because it’s all here.  The research and planning has been done for you, so you can gather your children and begin.  It’s truly perfect for young youth groups, homeschool groups, Sunday School classes, etc.

That’s exactly what we’re going to do.  I knew after reading this book that it would be great to share these stories with my family for a few reasons:  they make great lessons of God’s faithfulness, and as a homeschooling family,  the format of the book is wonderful.  Each story is a separate chapter, and notes are spread throughout the book disguised as postcards and stamps that define foreign words and terms and help clarify customs that we might not understand.  In this way the book itself is very educational, but combined with the lessons and activities in the leader’s guide, it’s a complete class.  After sharing this information with my pastor, we’re meeting today to determine how we might use this resource best within our church.  I’m excited that our children will be doing this with their friends, but if that hadn’t worked out, we’d be doing it at home as a family.  Guckenberger has made it that easy – and it’s that important, too.

I read many great books, and some stick in my head for a long time afterwards.  Some I’m eager to share with my friends and family because I don’t want them to miss such a great read, but never before have I had plans to share a book with so many others within days of turning the last page.  As the cover states, your worldview will change as you read this book, but you also can’t help but want to be a a part of someone else’s story – to have a hand in helping them see that the God of the Universe has not forgotten them.

This book will show you how.

For more other reviews about Tales of the Not Forgotten, visit the blog hop here.  To go ahead and purchase your own copy of this book, click here.


Beth Guckenberger and her husband, Todd, are the founders of Back2Back Ministries (based in Cincinnati, OH) which communicates a lifestyle of service by sharing the love of Christ and serving God through service to others. Back2Back Ministries connects willing workers to open hearts through international and local ministry opportunities. Their ministry is currently caring and providing for orphan children and needy people in Mexico, Nigeria, India and most recently, Haiti.

Beth travels and speaks regularly at women’s and missions conferences, as well as youth gatherings and church services. Her topics include orphan care, missions, parenting, marriage/intimacy, and faith. Her story-telling style captures audiences, and she draws from her field experience as a missionary and parent for illustrations to biblical concepts. In addition to her latest release, Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing 2012), Beth has writtenRelentless Hope (Standard, 2011) and Reckless Faith (Zondervan, 2008).

The Guckenberger family lives and serves in Monterrey, Mexico where they have hosted thousands of guests on their ministry campus. Between biological, foster, and adopted additions to their family, Beth and Todd are raising nine children.

Learn how you can join Beth in ministry at www.bethguckenberger.com or www.back2backministries.org.


I received a free copy of Tales of the Not Forgotten from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

“Princess Stories” by Carolyn Larsen

Every little girl wants to be a princess, and this book operates under the theory that each one is – a daughter of the King Himself.  A devotional book in story format, author Carolyn Larsen tells the stories of nearly 30 women from the Bible.  She begins each story with an original Mirror, mirror poem and then tells that person’s basic story, written from a first person perspective.  Each chapter is two to three pages in length (in large typeface) and is followed by a Bible verse, a prayer, and three discussion questions, one of which focuses on the verse specifically. The best part is that each ‘princess’ is chosen for a different character trait, so that throughout the course of the book nearly 30 traits are explained, including those of wisdom, peacefulness, faithfulness, and bravery, just to name a few.

The last chapter of the book focuses on on Psalm 139 and the uniqueness with which God has created each one of us.  Larsen explains how God has created each little girl to be special and how they, too, can be God’s princesses!

This book is pink and purple and a little girl’s dream!  The artwork is colorful and glittery and though animated in many places, it draws in the viewer with the attractive and colorful pictures.  There are also drawings that are meant to be of the Bible characters and the readers, as well, and the readers are depicted as little girls of many different nationalities.

I LOVE this book!  It is difficult to find devotional books which interest both of my children – a girl and a boy – and incorporate Bible stories, scripture, and questions at a level which will excite them and challenge them, but this book does it all!

My children are eager to read their ‘princess story’ each evening and want to answer the questions.  They are excited to learn about each princess and anxious to relate the stories to their own lives.  Even my son, who is rather princess-phobic, is excited to participate.

The stories are written in language that my first-grader, though a super reader, is able to read on her own, and she is happy to do so.

What more could a mommy want than to find her children huddled together around a Bible book, so ready for Bible time that they’ll begin on their own?

If you have young children, this is a book you’ll definitely want to add to your library.

I received a free copy of Princess Stories:  Real Bible Stories of God’s Princesses from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

Author, dramatist, and actress Carolyn Larsen has more than 30 books in print, including the popular The Little Girls Bible Storybook for Mothers and Daughters.  She is the founder of the performing group Flashpoints, a group of five women who use drama and creative movement to inspire.  Married to her husband for nearly 28 years, they have three grown children and live in Illinois.

“My First Handy Bible” Review

My First Handy Bible: Timeless Bible Stories for Toddlers

When my kids were toddlers, we bought them toddler Bible story books that we were super excited about.  We were sure that they’d love them and would want to keep them forever.

They rarely wanted to keep them past the first week.

My First Handy Bible isn’t like the others.  This book they would’ve wanted to keep.

Unlike many other Bible storybooks, there are more than just three or four pages in this book.  There are lots – and the chosen stories go beyond Noah and Abraham.  Each page features a different Bible story, and a summary of the story is printed on each.  Your children will meet both Old and New Testament characters and will learn why each one is so important.

The variety of stories in the book is not the only characteristic that makes it stand out.  The illustrations are bold and bright, with big people, strong facial features, and dark lines.  They are designed especially to catch and hold a toddler’s attention.

The last feature that makes the My First Handy Bible perfect for toddlers is the strong outside covering.  It has a plastic handle on hinges, making it easy to carry from place to place.  While the inside pages resemble regular board book pages but are thinner, the outside cover is thick and sturdy, with a magnetic clasp that keeps the book closed when in transport.

If you’re looking for a great storybook for toddlers, this is a great option!

I received a free copy of My First Handy Bible from B&B Media in exchange for an honest review.

Tim McGraw’s ‘Love Your Heart’

Katie McGraw is getting ready for her school talent show. Which of her many talents would best be suited for the show – and will her dog Palio agree to go along with her plans? Katie’s daddy supports her every effort – funny and charming as they are. Who will win at the show – and is that what’s most important?

Little girls will love reading about the all of Katie’s talents. Although quietly confident, efforts don’t always proceed as planned, and readers will see that it’s the heart – not the final outcome – that determines a winner. Readers will relate to Katie’s diverse talents and laugh along with her struggle to find the perfect talent for the show.

With short conversations on each page and very colorful illustrations, this book can be read to the very young toddler and taught to older elementary students. This book is definitely a winner!

For more information about Love Your Heart, go here.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson.

“Life with Lily” by Suzanne Woods Fisher

 
 
Lily is six in this story, just starting first grade in a one-room schoolhouse in upstate New York. Her parents are busy building a farm, and soon animals join the family—Jenny the cow and Chubby the miniature horse. A baby brother arrives, too, which Lily has mixed feelings about. (She wanted a sister!) Aside from a mischievous friend like Mandy Mast, Lily is happy at school and even happier at home. 

 
Trouble is brewing at the schoolhouse and change is on the horizon for Lily and her family.
 
I loved Life with Lily!  It’s the perfect book for a young girl.  While the book itself is quite thick, the prose flows smoothly and with clear, colorful vocabulary.  Better yet, each chapter is its own small story within the context of the big book, so the the readers reach mini resolutions with each chapter.  For those readers not accustomed to reading full-length chapter books, this is the perfect way step on that ladder!


As a mom, one of my favorite aspects of this book is the wholesomeness of the book.  Lily is an adventurous, fun girl who enjoys simple beauty and helps her family.  She’s brave and kind, yet has problems that most young girls can identify with – with obeying her elders, with making wise friendship choices, and with fear of the unknown.  Her parents are wise and their instruction will teach young readers bold lessons.   

As a teacher, I love all the hands-on activities that Lily does in this book – because it presents myriads of choices for lessons and for exciting, real-life interactions with Lily’s life!  My daughter’s book club will be reading this soon, and we’re planning to do many of the activities that Lily enjoys in the story – like baking, making indoor windows, and sewing a quilt square.   

This a series that will definitely grace our bookshelf so that we can enjoy it for many years.  I can’t wait for the next installment!

To read other reviews on this tour, click here.

Suzanne Woods Fisher lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has one husband, four children, one son-in-law, a brand new grand-baby, and a couple of dogs. She graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California.

Suzanne has contracts with Revell for six more books about the Amish, both fiction and non-fiction. She is also the host of “Amish Wisdom·” on toginet.com, a weekly radio program featuring guests who are connected to Simple Living.Find out more about Suzanne at http://suzannewoodsfisher.com/.

 
I received a free copy of Life with Lily in exchange for an honest review.

“If I Could Ask God Anything” by Kathryn Slattery

If I Could Ask God Anything is just that – a series of questions and answers divided by topic and geared for children. The questions are open and honest, and the answers are, too. When an answer isn’t known, Slattery says that, as well as explaining how she knows the answers she does. She lists references for known answers and explains in simple, clear-cut terms.

I love the way that this book starts out with simple questions like “Did Jesus ever do anything wrong” and works up to harder questions like “If God loves people, why do bad things happen?” Slattery doesn’t dodge difficult questions and gives them the same honest consideration as the simpler ones. Written from a Christian perspective, the answers in this book are encouraging and appropriate for a child of any age who asks them. The scripture references make it easy to go back to the Bible and see for yourself, in context, what God has to say about any given topic. This book is a must for any parent who has a curious child asking those hard-to-answer questions.

Thomas Nelson has provided me with a free copy of this book. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I expressed are my own.

“How to be God’s Little Princess” by Sheila Walsh

What do princesses need to know?  It’s not all about the party dresses and tiaras.  In this princess-pink book, Sheila Walsh teaches girls the ins-and-outs of etiquette regarding clothing, dining, friendships, and hostessing.  While this may seem like any other Emily Post-like manner guide, Walsh takes her tips straight from the Bible and gears them toward young girls.  There are chapters about caring for your attitude, dressing modestly, and being smart on the Internet.

I love the way that this book is divided into chapters with interactive quizzes and games sprinkled throughout.  This is not a serious, study-guide type manual but is written more along the lines of a fun, girly mazagine that just happens to have a rigid spine.  The information is sound and basic and very relevant to young girls’ lives today.

The only issue I have with this book is with the princess theme.  This book is not watered down or written for toddlers; I would guess it would be most interesting and be useful for girls ages 5-9.  However, they are not all going to be able to read the text independently at that age, and after that many girls lose interest in the princess concept.  I think, though, that this book would be great if read with an adult and discussed together.

I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for an honest review.

“The God Puzzle” by Valerie Ackermann

 

The God Puzzle is a colorful, easy to use tool to help you communicate to your child the rich truths about God, His ways, His will and His love. The God Puzzle will help you address doctrinal themes of the Christian faith in a kid friendly way, present Bible lessons in an interactive way that will hold the child’s attention and deliver quality teaching with no preparation needed. 75% of children leave the church when they leave home. Something isn’t working. Sunday School isn’t doing it all. Kids need answers, good ones. And they need them from you, the parent. This book enables you to give them simple, clear answers.

 

What makes The God Puzzle unique?

  • ready made discussion questions for parent to ask their child in each lesson
  • can be done at any pace that works with your family . . . every night, once a week, 10 minutes here, 30 minutes there . . . it fits into realistic family life
  • puts the pieces together for a child to understand God, the Bible, and the Christian faith
  • in each lesson the responds to the truth so they understand their relationship to God is personal and life transforming
  • any parent, whether they know nothing, or a lot about God can start teaching their child today with no prep
  • deep theology put into language a child can understand
  • deeply Biblical, each lesson points to Christ
  • put in an order that starts with creation, and teaches the Bible as one story that all points to Christ
  • child stays engaged by filling in blanks, crosswords, drawing, matching and using their Bibles as they learn

 

The premise of this book is an important one:  to teach kids about how the entire Bible fits together.  We often teach individual Bible stories to little ones, but do we show them how far and wide and intricate the love story of the Bible really is?  How it’s not a bunch of separate stories but our history as God’s created and chosen people and how He has been patiently loving us since the time of Eden?

 

With that goal in mind, the chapters in the book walk kids step-by-step through a study of the important beliefs of Christians, and that’s a distinct difference from what I expected: it’s not a walk through the Bible, it’s a walk through God’s love story to us.  There is a great deal of scripture in each lesson; some for the kids to look up, some to think about, some to pray about, some to ponder, some to copy.  The scripture references do not go in either Biblical or chronological order, but are pulled out according to the topic that they address.  I think that this trait alone bumps up the difficulty level of this book. 

 

The readers are not unpacking just one verse, but instead studying how various parts of the Bible all support God’s plan of salvation for His people.  If the kids are not familiar with their Bibles, these lessons will be a bit time-consuming  as there are lots of scripture references to find, but then again, becoming familiar with the Bible is also a very good thing.

 

Each chapter is a lesson and takes about four pages of the book.  There is an activity for the kids to do in nearly every lesson – something like a word puzzle or something to color.  There are also review or discussion questions located at the end of each chapter.

I have only one big concern with this book.  While the lessons come straight from scripture, we know that different people interpret those scriptures differently – and one of the biggest differences among Protestants is how baptism is handled.  The God Puzzle takes a decidedly Baptist view on the issue, which may be very confusing for Methodists or those with similar ideas.  For those people, I’d recommend being prepared with your views and scriptural basis for why you believe what you do and be ready to discuss it thoroughly.  Isn’t that basically what we’re supposed to do, anyway?

 

According to the author, this book is geared for ages 7 to 12.  My Big Helper is eager to get started, and she’s 8 – but I do think that the lessons are very meaty and deep.  That’s a good thing – but it may be too much to do one lesson in one sitting.  I can see this book being a great resource for an upper elementary or middle school youth group.  It could be fun to have different groups of kids looking up different scriptures and then sharing their thoughts with the whole group – think-pair-share style.  I also thought of many art and extension activities that might help the lessons to stick for visual or kinesthetic learners.

 

As a bonus, the back of the book contains a list of scripture verses according to topic that kids can look up to find out what the Bible has to say about given things.  Worrying?  Scared?  There’s verses there for you.

 

The God Puzzle is a fantastic resource for parents at home and for young youth groups.  This book tackles the Bible in a way that even adults sometimes miss – and it shows how every piece of the Bible fits together like a puzzle to make up God’s plan.  As adults, we need to be studying this.  As parents, we need to be teaching this to our children.  We cannot neglect the big picture look at the fine details of God’s plan.

 

This is the perfect resource to help you do it.

 

Click here to read other reviews on this bloggy hop or here to purchase your own copy now.

 

Valerie Ackermann has a BA in Theology and has been a full time Children’s Ministry Director at Parkwood Community Church in California for over 10 years. She is also a weekly Sunday school teacher, wife, and busy mom of two boys ages 9 and 11. She has hands-on experience as a children’s ministry professional, teaching and leading children of all ages. Growing up in a Christian family in the small town of Saskatchewan Canada, she has wonderful memories of knowing God from an early age. She has a passion for kids to know the deep truths of God. 

Find out more at LeadMeToGod.com.

 

I received a free copy of The God Puzzle from LitFuse Publicity in exchange for an honest review.