Wild Thing

Twelve-year-old Winnie Willis loves horses—just like her mother did. But since her mom died two years ago, Winnie, her sister, Lizzy, and her father have moved five times. Winnie never cared much—until now. She has a chance to buy the horse of her dreams at an upcoming action—but how will she even earn enough money? More importantly, how can she possibly convince her dad not to move them to another town. . . again?

After the death of Winnie’s mother, Winnie feels as if the accident that killed her mom was her fault. But when Winnie begins working with a frightened horse, Wild Thing, Winnie uses the same methods that her mother taught her. As Winnie shows Wild Thing unconditional love and trust, Winnie begins to process her own feelings. With the help of new friends, Winnie learns that “God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. Jesus didn’t die for nothing!”

Told from Winnie’s perspective, Wild Thing explores themes of friendship, death, unconditional love, and trust. Through prayer, Winnie explores her conflicting emotions. In addition, Winnie explains the methods that she uses to “gentle” Wild Thing. The connection between Wild Thing’s healing and Winnie’s healing is made clear—both of them need to learn that they are loved, and they can trust God.

One positive aspect of the story is that Winnie explains horse terms in a simple way that readers will understand. As Winnie works with the horse, she explains the horse terminology in a way that naturally blends with the text. Plus, the back of the book includes a diagram of the parts of a horse, a dictionary of the different ways horses talk, and includes other horse-related terms.

Wild Thing is an easy-to-read story that blends horse action with Winnie’s personal struggle. Along the way, Winnie meets a variety of people who are all a little bit quirky. While none of the supporting characters are well-developed, their kindness shows how a community of people can help each other. Through Winnie’s prayers and Bible verses, the story highlights God’s unconditional love without being preachy. Wild Thing will entertain readers as well as reinforce Biblical truths.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • A character is called an idiot three times. For example, when Winnie accidentally throws manure on a girl, the girl asks, “Did you see this idiot throw Towasco’s manure all over me?’

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • Winnie believes in God and often thinks about his words. For example, Winnie’s mom used to say, “Winnie Willis, in the beginning God created heaven and earth and horses. And sometimes I have to wonder if the good Lord shouldn’t have quit while he was ahead.”
  • Often, Winnie prays to God telling him about her emotions and her wants. For example, Winnie prays, “I know we haven’t had much to say to each other lately, since Mom’s. . .well, you know. . .it’s tough to talk to you. So I’m sorry to be coming just because I want something. But I guess you already know—I want that Arabian. I want to love her. I want her more than anything in my whole life. . .except for wanting Mom back.”
  • Winnie gives a prayer of thanks four times. For example, when Winnie thinks God answered a prayer, she prays, “Did you do this, God? If you did, thanks.”
  • Winnie and her sister have two framed needlepoints hanging on their wall. One says, “For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. –Psalm 57:10.” The other needlepoint reads, “God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. Jesus didn’t die for nothing!”
  • When a neighbor drops by to see Winnie, the woman says, “I’ll be praying for you and that horse!”
  • Winnie doesn’t think God understands her pain. Her sister tells her, “Jesus lived inside skin like ours, so he’d understand. He knows, Winnie. And he loves you. You have to believe God loves you.”
  • When Winnie worries about the cost of raising a horse, her dad says, “Your mother always said God’s love could see us through anything. All things are possible with God, right?”

 

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger

Mortimer Mouse needs a new house—a house that’s not so cold, cramped, and dark. Where can he go?

Mortimer sees a huge tree covered with twinkling lights. And next to the tree, a mouse-sized house. And inside the house, a wee wooden manger just Mortimer’s size. But statue people already seem to live there! One by one, Mortimer lugs and tugs the statues out of the house—only to find them all put back in their place each evening! What is Mortimer to do?

It’s not until he overhears a very special story that Mortimer realizes whose house he is sharing and where Mortimer himself belongs. It is the story of Christmas and the night the baby Jesus was born that warms Mortimer’s heart in this magical holiday story.

Readers will enjoy following Mortimer as he leaves his dark, dirty home and searches for a new home. While Mortimer doesn’t understand the significance of the decorations or the manger, younger readers who celebrate Christmas will recognize the common holiday decorations. Suspense is created as Mortimer sneaks into the living room, climbs the Christmas tree, and moves the people out of the nativity. While Mortimer doesn’t know how the people get back into the house, the reader will see a little boy gently placing the people back into the house.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger introduces the story of baby Jesus. The detailed full-page illustrations use Christmas colors and show Mortimer’s viewpoint. While most of the illustrations do not show Mortimer’s emotions, the words will help readers understand Mortimer’s hopes and feelings. Even though the story is a picture book, parents will need to read the story to their younger children. Some of the pages are text-heavy and many of the sentences are complex. The amount of text will make Mortimer’s Christmas Manger a longer story to read and children may have questions about the Christmas story.

Mortimer’s Christmas Manger is a beautiful story about Mortimer learning the Christmas story and coming to understand the significance of the nativity scene. The conclusion shows how God answers prayers and provides for his people.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • The story of baby Jesus’s birth is retold.
  • Mortimer says a prayer, “Jesus, you were born to save the world. Perhaps you could also bring me a home?”
  • After Mortimer’s prayer, he sees a gingerbread house and moves into it. Mortimer prays, “Thank you, Jesus. You’ve made room for me, too.”

Mortimer’s First Garden

Winter is just ending, the sky is gray, and the ground is brown. Little Mortimer Mouse munches on sunflower seeds and longs to see some green.

Upon overhearing the story of how springtime rain and sunshine nurtures little seeds to grow into great big green plants, Mortimer is skeptical, but decides to plant one of his seeds just to see if such a miracle really can happen. Mortimer finds a perfect spot to plant the seed, and then. . . he waits. And waits. And waits.

Impatient, Mortimer thinks nothing is ever going to happen to the little seed. But then something does happen. Something wonderful. Something divine. Something green! Mortimer discovers the miracle of springtime.

Mortimer’s First Garden is a wonderful story about discovering the wonders of gardening. As he waits for his sunflower to appear, Mortimer weeds, waters and cares for his growing plant. Through Mortimer’s experiences, readers will discover the joy of planting and caring for seeds and the excitement of growing a garden.

Mortimer’s environment comes to life in colorful, full-page illustrations. The illustrations are colored with muted spring colors and show the beauty of spring. Readers will fall in love with the little mouse, as he waits for his flower to grow. Readers will relate to Mortimer’s impatience, and smile when Mortimer tells God, “I wouldn’t mind a friend to help me eat these [seeds].” Just when Mortimer needs it, a friendly spider appears and the two friends snuggle down to sleep. Some readers may wonder why a spider would make a good friend for Mortimer. However, this would be an excellent opportunity to discuss the beneficial qualities of spiders.

Each page of Mortimer’s First Garden has 1-6 simple sentences that use repetition, onomatopoeia, and alliteration. The simple story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently. Both the text and the pictures combine into an engaging story that highlights the miracle of a seed. Parents who are looking for more books that encourage children to plant a garden should also read We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • Mortimer hears a voice whisper, “Wait.” At first, Mortimer doesn’t know who spoke. But then, “Mortimer felt warm and protected. Then Mortimer knew the voice. Mortimer bowed his head. ‘I will wait, God. But please, make my seed grow.’”
  • When Mortimer’s seed begins to grow, he says, “Thank you, God!”
  • When Mortimer sees the sunflower, he says, “It is a miracle! Thank you, God!”
  • After all the seeds have been harvested, Mortimer prays, “And please, God, I wouldn’t mind a friend to help me eat these.”

Peril in the Palace

Beth and her cousin Patrick go to China in 1271 where they have to find the golden tablet of Kublai Khan. Once in China, the cousins are kidnapped by Mongol warriors, who think they are evil. Only the friendship of fellow traveler Marco Polo saves them from harm.

At the Shangdu palace, Kublai Khan dislikes Beth’s and Patrick’s gifts and the message about Christianity. Next, the Mongol magicians challenge the cousins to a spiritual power showdown. The cousins are again locked up. But then they meet Genghis Khan’s great-great-granddaughter. However, Beth and Patrick are not safe, so they escape from the palace.

Before the cousins are able to make it safely away from the palace, two giant birds swoop down and grab them. The birds take them to their nest where hungry chicks wait for a meal. A mysterious knight appears and helps the kids make it back to the Imagination Station.

Peril in the Palace is the third book in the Imagination Station Series. Each book’s plot builds on the previous book so the stories must be read in order. Like the previous books in the series, history is incorporated into the story. However, Peril in the Palace’s plot is not as well developed and the conclusion has several events that are unrealistic.

Despite this, readers will appreciate the fast-paced plot which shows the importance of sharing the Christian faith. When the Mongol shamans use “magic,” Beth is able to show how the shamans are really using magnets to perform the magic. While the religious message is not as strong as the previous books, the story of Jesus is incorporated into the story.

The large text and illustrations make the story accessible to readers ready for chapter books. Black and white illustrations of varying sizes are scattered throughout the book. Parents who are looking for a wholesome book that incorporates the Bible into the story will find the Imagination Station Series a good choice. Readers who want more time traveling fun should check out the Time Jumpers Series by Wendy Mass.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Beth and Patrick are kidnapped. “A horse came alongside them. The rider leaned sideways and grabbed Beth under the arms. He pulled her up onto the saddle.” The cousins are saved by Marco Polo.
  • A wounded warrior comes to report to Kublai Khan. “Koke’s tunic was soaked in blood. An arrow had been shot through the man’s shoulder.”
  • Giant eagles called rocs pick up Beth and Patrick and take them to their hungry chicks. “One of the beaks grabbed Beth. . . The bird caught the edge of her dress.” Beth’s leg is injured. A Knight appears. “Suddenly a silver sword slashed the air above them. The sword hit the bird’s claws, and the bird cried out.”
  • The adult rocs swoop down and try to swallow the kids. “The knight turned just in time. He swung the sword with both hands. Bam! The sword hit the roc’s beak—and bounced off. The kids are able to escape.

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • Kublai Khan asks a group of foreigners, “Why doesn’t your God help the Christians? Why doesn’t the Christian God smash your enemies?” Patrick explains, “Jesus Christ destroyed death. He rose from the grave! Those who believe in Him will live forever.”
  • Kublai Khan believes that he will “go to the afterlife as a warrior. The Mongols will bury him with arrows and horses.”
  • Beth gives a young girl a Bible.

I Will Rejoice

Based on Psalm 118:24, I Will Rejoice teaches how to find joy in each day God has made. We can appreciate the simple, everyday things we do, from a “warm, cozy lap,” to being glad “in the evening light.” There are lots of reasons to rejoice. The story follows one little girl’s day as she plays with a friend, takes a nap, and wrestles.

Beautiful pictures in muted colors illustrate one girl as she goes through her day. The illustration highlights the many people (and the teddy bear) that love the girl. The story focuses on small delights such as being able to play, snuggle, and listen to a story. I Will Rejoice will help young readers appreciate the many simple blessings they receive each day.

Each page has a rhyming couplet and most pages begin with, “I will rejoice. . .” The repetition and rhyming that appear in each short sentence, make I Will Rejoice the perfect book to read aloud. Each page contains 1-4 sentences. Even though I Will Rejoice is a picture book, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for a child to read it for the first time independently.

I Will Rejoice combines beautiful pictures and poetry to create a picture of all of God’s blessings.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

 Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • I Will Rejoice focuses on celebrating Psalm 118: “This is the day the Lord has made, and I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Many Waters

When identical twins Dennis and Sandy accidentally mess with their father’s scientific experiment on faster-than-light travel, they are transported to a desert wasteland. Stranded and confused, the two boys meet the locals—dark-skinned people who are only four feet tall. Between the strange people, the miniature mammoths, unicorns, and manticores, Sandy and Dennis are convinced they’re on a strange planet on the other side of the universe. After nearly dying from heatstroke, they are taken in by Grandfather Lameck. When they meet Grandfather Lameck’s son, Noah, the twins realize they have been thrown back in time and are on Earth in the time right before the Great Flood. But the flood is coming—will the twins find a way home before the rain starts to fall?

To make matters more complicated, humans are not the only intelligent beings to deal with. There are seraphim, a tall and beautiful winged people who know many things—maybe even how to get the twins home—but the seraphim do not like to interfere with the lives of men. Then, there are the nephilim, just as tall and beautiful as the seraphim, but they spend their time seducing women with worldly pleasures and extravagant treasures. The nephilim are suspicious of the twins’ sudden appearance, and they will do anything to find out what they are up to.

Once again, L’Engle spins a magical tale that centers on the battle between good and evil. Yalith and Jephath, two of Noah’s children, are kind people that do all they can to help the twins. But most people who live in the oasis are corrupt and evil, abandoning tradition to pursue pleasure and to get ahead in life. The twins and Yalith are all tempted to give in to worldly pleasures. While conflicted, all three reject temptation in exchange for kindness, unicorns, and listening to the stars.

While there are good and bad characters, several members of Noah’s family and Noah himself are more ambiguous, showing that even godly people are not perfect. While God is mentioned several times as “El,” the story centers more around the twins as they adapt to the time period and try to find a way home. The seraphim and the nephilim are revealed to be angels and fallen angels, respectively. They add intrigue and excitement to the story. Overall, Many Waters is a fun tale with a unique twist on the story of Noah’s Ark that will leave readers satisfied.

Sexual Content

  • In Noah’s time, bothmen and women only wore loincloths. Therefore, Sandy and Dennis see several women’s breasts, but none are described graphically. When meeting Yalith, Sandy notes “the girl, who wore only a loincloth . . . was gently curved, with small rosy breasts.”
  • Yalith kisses Aariel, a seraph, much as a child kisses a parent. “Like a child, she held her face up for a kiss, and Aariel leaned down and pressed his lips gently against hers.”
  • Yalith sees her sister with a nephilim. Her sister was “gazing up at him adoringly, leaning against him so that her rosy breasts touched his pale flesh.”
  • Japheth kisses his wife several times. Once, “Japheth leaned to her and kissed her on the lips. Dennis . . . thought that it was a nice kiss. It was the kind of kiss he had seen his father give his mother. A real kiss. If he lived through this, he would like to kiss someone like that.” Another time, Japheth’s wife “bent toward him to kiss him.”
  • A girl from the oasis flirts with Sandy. She “bent closer and brushed her lips against his.” Later, she tries to seduce him. “He was not prepared to have the light suddenly darkened by Tiglah’s face as she pressed her lips against his . . . he knew what she wanted, and he wanted it, too; he was ready, but not, despite her gorgeousness, with Tiglah . . . her breathing mingled with his. He knew if he did not break this off, he would not be able to. With a deep inward sigh, he pulled away.”
  • Sandy thinks about taking Yalith to the future with him. Sandy “looked at Yalith’s small and perfect body, barely covered by the loincloth, her breasts delicate and rosy, and had a moment’s absurd vision of her in one of the classrooms at the regional high school.”
  • When saying goodbye, “Yalith nodded, then reached up to Sandy and kissed him on the lips. Then Dennis. Full, long kisses.”

Violence

  • Sandy is kidnapped. “He tried to wriggle out of the clutch of whoever was carrying him, and a fish crashed into his belly, winding him, and something sharp pricked his arm.”
  • When Japheth tries to rescue Sandy, “the older man swooped on him with the spear, and despite Japheth’s quick reflex, the spear cut across his ribs, and a trickle of blood slid down his side.”
  • Japheth comes home with “an ugly bruise on his cheek where an angrily thrown stone had hit him.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Noah has the “largest and best vineyards on the oasis . . . the fame of his wine had spread to many other oases round about.”
  • A man is sick from drinking too much. Afterward, “the smell of Ham’s sickness mingled with the smell of wine, of meat form the stewpot, of the skins of the tent.”
  • Yalith remembers how her sister had a wedding with “far too much wine, inferior, at that.”
  • When Noah reconciles with his father, he “handed his father a small wineskin. . . The old man held the wineskin to his lips, then smacked them in appreciation.” Sandy also takes a small sip.

Language

  • When a woman’s family kidnaps him, Sandy thinks, “you slut.”
  • An angry man says, “Auk’s nuts to you.”

Supernatural

  • Sandy and Dennis accidentally mess up their father’s scientific experiment and are sent back in time. “Dennis groped through a pervasive mist, his hands touching nothing. Came a great sonic boom. Then absolute silence.”
  • In the past, there were miniature mammoths. “From behind the outcropping of rock came something grey and sinuous which the twins at first thought was a snake. But it was followed by a head with small, bright, black eyes, and great fans of ears, and a chunky body covered with shaggy grey hair.”
  • There are manticores in the past, which try to eat the mammoths several times. The manticore had a “man’s face with filthy hair. . . From the mat of hair came two horns, curved downward, with sharp points like boar’s teeth. . . The rest of the creature pushed into the tent. The head did not belong to a man’s body but to a lion’s . . . the lion did not have a lion’s tail but a scorpion’s.” The manticores can only say the word “hungry!”
  • There are unicorns that flicker in and out of existence. They can flicker out of existence in one place, then be called into existence miles away instantaneously. “On the horizon to the far left, moving toward them, appeared a creature which shimmered in and out of their vision, silvery in color, as large as a goat or a pony, with light flickering out from its forehead.”
  • There are seraphim (angels) and nephilim (fallen angels). Both have “Great wings. Much long hair. . . The seraphim are golden and the nephilim are white, whiter than sand.”
  • Both the seraphim and the nephilim can turn into animals; each has their own animal they transform into. One of the seraphim is a scarab beetle. “Grandfather Lameck took it on his palm, a scarab beetle, glinting bronze in the lamplight. The old man stroked it gently with a trembling forefinger, and closed his palm. Then came a vivid flash of light, similar to that of the unicorn’s horn, and a tall presence stood in the tent, smiling at the old man…Hair the color of wheat with the sun on it, brightly gold, long, and tied back, falling so that it almost concealed tightly furled wings.” One of the nephilim is a giant desert lizard. “As the lizard neared her, it rose straight upward to a height of at least six feet, and suddenly [its] arms were outstretched above the head; the tail forked into two legs, and a man came running toward her, a man of extraordinary beauty, with alabaster-white skin and wings of brilliant purple.”
  • Yalith shows Dennis how to listen to the stars. “He listened, listened, focusing on one bright pattern of stars. Closed his eyes. Listened. Seemed to hear a delicate, crystal chiming. Words. Hush. Heal. Rest. Make peace. Fear not. He laughed in excitement. Opened his eyes to twinkling diamonds.”

Spiritual Content

  • A woman tells the twins, “We don’t have any men on the oasis who are as tall and like gods as you are.”
  • The twins discover that Grandfather Lameck’s son is Noah, from the biblical story of Noah and the Arc.
  • Yalith recounts her family lineage, which includes the biblical figures Methuselah and Enoch. “Methuselah, my great-grandfather, lived for nine hundred and sixty-nine years. And his father was Enoch, who walked with El, and lived three hundred and sixty and five years, and then El took him.”
  • The people in Noah’s time call God “El” and El sometimes speaks to them, though his words are never shared directly in the story. Noah says, “Yesterday, when I was working in the vineyard, the Voice spoke to me. El told me that I must find wives for you.”
  • Japheth mentions a curse on the land. “When our forebears had to leave the Garden, they were told, Accursed shall the ground be on your account. It will grow thorns and thistles for you. You shall gain your bread by the sweat of your brow.”
  • The seraphim mention the pattern. They say the twins “are part of the pattern,” but “the pattern is not set. . . It is fluid, and constantly changing.” They always maintain that the pattern “will be worked out in beauty in the end.”

by Morgan Lynn

A Wind in the Door

When six-year-old Charles Wallace tells his sister he’s found dragons in the pasture, Meg doesn’t want to believe him. But lo and behold, Meg and her friend Calvin discover the enormous creature with hundreds of wings and thousands of eyes. A giant man claiming to be their Teacher tells them the dragons—which are really one creature, a cherubim—is one of their classmates. They’ve been brought together because evil creatures called Echthroi are trying to destroy creation—from the largest stars down to the tiny mitochondria in Charles Wallace’s cells. With her brother’s life on the line, Meg must learn how to love even her enemies or the Echthroi will succeed in destroying her brother and perhaps all of creation.

What follows is a fantastical conflict between the forces of good and evil; a struggle of life and love against hatred and destruction. Meg, Calvin, and the cherubim must work together to save Charles Wallace’s mitochondria from the Echthroi that would destroy. They are transported into Charles Wallace’s cells and meet the farandolae that lives inside his mitochondria. The farandolae have been led astray by the Echthroi and are refusing to grow up, killing the mitochondria. Meg and her classmates have to show the farandolae a better way and rescue them from the Echthroi, before the misguided farandolae kill the mitochondria, Charles Wallace and themselves.

Once again Meg complains and resists the tasks that are given her, but she rises in the end and learns how to look for the good in people even if she doesn’t like them. A Wind in the Door is more complex than A Wrinkle in Time and may be confusing for younger readers as it deals with mitochondria and the relativity of space and size. Still, for readers able to grasps its more complex topics, A Wind in the Door is a fun read that imparts the importance of loving your enemies and looking for the good in everyone. While A Wind in the Door doesn’t discuss religion directly, its storyline and themes are allegorical. For instance, the cherubim and Teacher explain that there is a battle between life and darkness, and to save Charles Wallace the children must protect the ‘song of creation’ from evil forces that would disrupt it.

A Wind in the Door is not a science book, but it does combine quantum physicals and biology to show that people are galaxies unto themselves. In order to accomplish this, the main character is reduced to the molecular level, which is made believable through L’Engle’s use of imagery. Besides being an interesting story, the reader learns about the importance of compassion, friendship, and love. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the nature of human relationships should read A Wind in the Door.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • The farandolae don’t want to grow up so they suck the nutrients from adult farandolae, called fara, killing them in the process. “A group of farandolae whirled about a fara; fronds drooped; color drained. The dance was a scream of laughter, ugly laughter.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Meg has a run in with an Echthroi impersonating Mr. Jenkins. Mr. Jenkins, “rose up into the night like a great, flapping bird, flew, screaming across the sky, became a rent, an emptiness, a slash of nothingness.”
  • Meg meets a cherubim. “Wings, it seemed like hundreds of wings, spreading, folding, stretching—and eyes how many eyes can a drive of dragons have? and small jets of flame.”
  • Meg’s teacher is a “huge” man whose “long robe seemed chiseled out of granite.”
  • A large black garden snake acts strangely human, bowing to Meg’s new teacher. While the snake never speaks, it’s said that she too is a “Teacher.”
  • Meg is shown how the Echthroi destroy matter; how they turn it into nothingness. “Across the sky, where the stars were clustered as thickly as in the Milky Way, a crack shivered, slivered, became a line of nothing-ness.”
  • Meg learns how to kythe, a form of mind-to-mind communication. “It’s how cherubim talk. It’s talking without words, just the same way that I can be myself and not be enfleshed.”
  • Farandolae, things that live inside mitochondria, are depicted as “a small, silver-blue mouse…[that] spoke, but with neither a mouse’s squeak nor a human voice. The sound was like harp strings being plucked under water.” Meg and her friends are transported inside a mitochondria, to help the farandolae.

Spiritual Content

  • What Charles Wallace thought were dragons turns out to be a cherubim.
  • The cherubim tries to explain exactly what the Echthroi are. “I think your mythology would call them fallen angels. War and hate are their business, and one of their chief weapons is un-Naming—making people not know who they are. If someone knows who he is, really knows, then he doesn’t need to hate.”
  • When Meg tries to stop the Echthroi, she sings the song of creation, “Sing for the glory of the living and the loving the flaming of creation sing with us dance with us be with us Be! They were not her words only. They were the words of Senex, of the Deepening Sporos…the cherubim and seraphim, wind and fire, the words of the Glory.”

by Morgan Lynn

A Wrinkle in Time

Meg’s father is a physicist. Or at least he was, before he disappeared. While her mother insists that he will come back, Meg and the rest of the town doubt he’ll ever return. It doesn’t help that Meg is having trouble at school and thinks that her curls, glasses, and braces make her a “moron.” In fact, Meg is convinced that her life will be terrible forever–until Mrs. Whatsit blows into her kitchen one stormy evening.

Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which definitely aren’t from Earth, and Meg doesn’t trust them. But her little brother Charles says they’re alright, and Charles has always been able to see below the surface of people. When Mrs. Whatsit says they can help the children find their father, Meg doesn’t care what they are, as long as they can help. Suddenly Meg finds herself traveling to other planets with Charles and their friend Calvin. Together will the three of them be able to rescue Meg and Charles’ father? Or will they too become lost?

A Wrinkle in Time has memorable characters that will quickly find their way into readers’ hearts. Meg is very relatable to young readers, as she deals with her fears, her braces, and with not fitting in at school. Watching Meg struggle, grow, and find her inner strength will leave readers cheering for her. The beautiful, imaginative planets that Meg journeys to will awe and delight.

Throughout A Wrinkle in Time, Meg will glimpse a cosmic battle between good and evil, light and darkness, and knowledge and ignorance. While rescuing her father is just a tiny piece of this battle, Meg’s journey is filled with gravitas. Numerous lessons are learned along the way: Meg learns how to be brave, how to take responsibility rather than blaming others, and she discovers the one thing that the Shadow doesn’t have: love.

Sexual Content

  • The rumor is that Meg’s father “left your mother and [went] off with some dame.”
  • When Meg has to go into mortal danger to save her brother, she says goodbye to Calvin. “Calvin came to her and took her hand, then drew her roughly to him and kissed her. He didn’t say anything, and he turned away before he had a chance to see the surprised happiness that brightened Meg’s eyes.”

Violence

  • Charles thinks a man is a robot, so he “darted forward and hit the man as hard as he could.” When he realizes the man is not a robot, he says, “I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
  • The mind in charge of a planet that has been lost to the Dark Thing tells Meg, “We let no one suffer. If it is so much kinder simply to annihilate anyone who is ill . . . Rather than endure such discomfort they are simply put to sleep.”
  • When Charles is hypnotized, Meg tries to knock him back to his senses. “She hurled herself at him. But before she could reach him his fist shot out and punched her hard in the stomach. She gasped for breath.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • Charles says, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
  • Moron is used often. The town thinks Charles is a moron because he never talks, and Meg calls herself a moron several times. When Charles speaks to Calvin, Calvin is surprised. “Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to be the moron?”
  • Calvin calls Charles and Meg “dope” several times as an affectionate nickname. “Look, dope. I just want to get things straight.”
  • Ass is used once. Mrs. Who says, “And old ass knows more than a young colt.”

Supernatural

  • Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which are not from earth, though they can appear in human form. It’s never directly stated what they are, but it’s mentioned that Mrs. Who is a “paltry few billion years” older than Mrs. Whatsit, and that Mrs. Which is even older.
  • At one point, Mrs. Whatsit morphs into a new form. “Outwardly Mrs. Whatsit was surely no longer a Mrs. Whatsit. She was a marble white body with powerful flanks, something like a horse but at the same time completely unlike a horse, for the magnificently modeled back sprang a nobly formed torso, arms, and a heard resembling a man’s but a man with a perfection of dignity and virtue.”
  • The children tesser across space (a form of faster than light travel) several times with Mrs. Which. “All light was gone. Darkness was complete . . . Just as light and sound had vanished, she was gone, too. The corporeal Meg simply was not . . . She was lost in a horrifying void.” They visit several different planets and meet the occupants of those planets.
  • The children visit the “Happy Medium,” a very happy woman who can see the entire universe through a crystal ball.
  • The children visit a planet that has been lost to the Shadow. There, they find a man who is possessed by IT, the mind in charge. “His eyes were bright and had a reddish glow. Above his head was a light, and it glowed in the same manner as the eyes, pulsing, throbbing, in steady rhythm. Charles Wallace shut his eyes tightly. ‘Close your eyes . . . He’ll hypnotize you.’ ”
  • The children finally meet IT and realize, “It was a brain. A disembodied brain. An oversized brain, just enough larger than normal to be completely revolting and terrifying. A living brain. A brain that pulsed and quivered, that seized and commanded.”

Spiritual Content

  • On one of the planets they visit, centaur-esque creatures are singing a song of pure joy. Mrs. Whatsit tries to translate the song into words: “Sing unto the Lord a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles; and the inhabitants thereof. Let the wilderness and the cities thereof lift their voice; let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them shout from the top of the mountains. Let them give glory onto the Lord!” When Meg hears the song, she “felt a pulse of joy such as she had never known before.”
  • The children learn their father was taken prisoner while fighting the Dark Thing. Meg sees the Dark Thing, a huge shadow stretched across space. “What could there be about a shadow that was so terrible that she knew that there had never been before or ever would be again, anything that would chill her with a fear that was beyond shuddering, beyond crying or screaming, beyond the possibility of comfort?” When they ask what it is, Mrs. Which says, “Itt iss Eevill. Itt iss thee Ppowers of Ddarrkknesss!”
  • The children realize that many people have fought the darkness on Earth for years. Mrs. Whatsit says, “They’ve been lights for us to see by.” They include Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Bach, Pasteur, Madame Curie, Einstein and more.
  • Meg’s father said, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
  • When struggling to describe Mrs. Whatsit to aliens, Calvin says they are “Angels! Guardian angels! Messengers! Messengers of God!”
  • Before Meg goes to confront It, Mrs. Who tells her, “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble men are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are.”

by Morgan Lynn

 

 

Because I Love You

A long time ago, Shaddai built a village for the children to live in. The children were safe to play and spend time with Shaddai, who was always near. Shaddai would sing to the children and tell them stories. He knew everything about the children—who was shy, who was afraid, and who was curious.

One day Shaddai built a wall around the village. He loved the children and wanted to keep them safe. But Paladin was curious. He wanted to see what was on the other side. Despite the warnings of danger, Paladin crawled through a hole in the wall and was soon lost in the dark forest.

Because I Love You is a parable about God’s love. Shaddai, like God, listens, protects, and loves his children. Even though Paladin chooses to do what is wrong, Shaddai loves Paladin and goes to finds the lost boy. Although the message of God’s love will be clear to adults, the story’s message may need to be explained to younger readers. The story explores the idea of free will as well as God’s desire for us to do what is right. Some readers may not understand why Shaddai created a hole in the wall that Paladin could crawl through or how the hole closes once Paladin goes through it.

Beautiful full-page illustrations show scenes from the village and make Shaddai’s caring nature shine.  Even though Because I Love You is a picture book, parents will need to read the story aloud because of the text heavy pages and difficult vocabulary. For parents looking for a book that teaches about the Christian faith, Because I Love You would make an excellent addition to a child’s library. Readers will enjoy looking at the pictures over and over again as well as having the story read to them aloud.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Race to Victory Mountain

Adam Raccoon is excited to run in a race. He is confident that he can make it to the finish line. King Aren, the ruler of the forest where Adam lives, reminds Adam to stay on course. But along the way, Adam gets distracted. Adam soon finds that the sun is quickly setting, and he might not be able to finish the race. When someone offers Adam a map that shows a shortcut, Adam welcomes the chance to save some time. Will the shortcut help him finish the race or will it led him into danger?

Much like the tortoise in the parable the Tortoise and the Hare, Adam is confident he can finish the race, so there is no need to hurry. He allows temptation to distract him from the set course. Along the way, Adam often stops to enjoy himself. Children will understand the message about the importance of staying on course and following God’s word. King Aren reminds Adam, “It’s easy to get off track. But when you do, get back on course and finish the race.”

Adam Raccoon is a lovable character who has a knack for getting into trouble. The simple story, with full-colored illustrations, will appeal to readers. The cartoonish pictures show how temptation comes in many forms. As Adam Raccoon explores the course, the illustrations portray him in funny situations and shows his changing emotions.  Each page has one to two sentences of text, which makes Adam Raccoon: The Race to Victory Mountain an excellent bedtime story. However, the story is intended to be read aloud to a child, rather than for the child to read it for the first time independently.

Readers will relate to Adam Raccoon as he struggles to do what is right. His story is engaging, fun, and teaches a lesson about temptation. In the end, King Aren saves Adam from his despair and helps him win the race. Adam Raccoon’s actions are never portrayed as bad. The cause and effect of Adam’s actions are easy to understand.  Young children will enjoy reading about Adam’s adventures because the story uses humor to create a lovable, relatable raccoon.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

 

Attack at the Arena

Mr. Whittaker finds a mysterious letter inside the Imagination Station. The letter leads Patrick and Beth to fifth-century Rome on a quest to find a special cup that belongs to a monk. The cousins jump back in time and end up at the Roman Colosseum.

Before long, Beth and Patrick are separated. Patrick meets Telemachus, a monk, who believes fighting is wrong. Telemachus wants the emperor to end the gladiator battles. Telemachus guides Patrick as he looks for his cousin.

Meanwhile, Beth is mistaken as a slave and is sent to serve in the emperor’s palace. As the Emperor’s servant, Beth must attend Emperor Honorius’s gladiator battle. Patrick also attends as a monk’s apprentice but is captured and sent to fight in the arena. Will Patrick be able to survive?

History is incorporated into the story through Telemachus, Emperor Honorius, and the arena fighting. The story describes the horrors of the arena fighting in child-friendly terms and leaves out graphic violence. After reading the story, many may want to know more about ancient Rome.

Attack at the Arena has a fast-paced, action-packed plot with a strong message of faith. Since lessons in faith are delivered through the monk Telemachus, the lessons do not come across as preachy. Instead, readers will see how Telemachus lives his faith. Through Telemachus’s actions, the reader will learn that, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for a friend.”

Readers who enjoy The Magic Tree House will want to add Attack at the Arena to their reading list. Both series have likable characters, mystery, and time travel. However, Attack at the Arena teaches how God can change people. This book is the second installment of The Imagination Station Series; as each book builds on the previous story, readers should read Voyage with the Vikings first. The interesting plot will keep readers turning the page until the very last page.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • When Patrick and Beth go back in time, they land in an arena with a tiger. The tiger “crouched down like a cat searching for a mouse. Its eyes burned bright. It ran straight toward Patrick.” Someone uses a whip to scare the tiger away.
  • A soldier sees Beth and “picked her up and threw her over his shoulder.” He takes her to the palace to work as a slave.
  • A soldier thinks Patrick is trying to help Beth escape. The soldiers “grabbed his arms. They roughly pulled him back.” One of the soldiers “pulled out a shiny sword. . . He pointed the sword at Patrick.”
  • A man hears soldiers coming to capture him. When the monk tells the man to hide, the man instead “pulled the knife out of his belt. He pointed it at Telemachus (the monk).” The man steals a chalice and then flees.
  • A soldier thinks Patrick is trying to help Beth escape again. He “picked him up and threw him into a wood cart. . . Patrick fell onto the bottom of the cart. His face was in the mud and straw.” Patrick is taken to the arena.
  • At the arena, “Slaves fought the wild creatures. The men screamed and ran when the animals attacked.”
  • Patrick and other prisoners are forced to fight in the arena. At the emperor’s signal, “prisoners began to fight each other. Each man battled for his life. An old prisoner quickly knocked Patrick’s knife out of his hand.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Mr. Whittaker has an Imagination Station that allows Beth and Patrick to travel back in time. When they get into the Imagination Station, “the machine jerked forward. Patrick felt as if he were on the subway. . . The machine whirled. Suddenly, everything went black.”
  • Mr. Whittaker also has a ring that “you can only see it when my hand is in the machine.”

Spiritual Content

  • The monk tells a soldier, “All children belong to God.”
  • The monk tells Patrick, “God may let you find your friend later.”
  • The monk tells Patrick that he is in Rome because “God told me to come here.” The monk didn’t know why God wanted him in Rome, but “it is for me to obey and go.” Later, the monk goes to the arena for the same reason. The monk says that God told him to go, “in my prayers this morning.”
  • The monk tells Patrick, “there are no what ifs? with God. When He speaks, we’re to listen and obey.”
  • The emperor, Honorius, says he is Christian and that “by law the emperor must be a Christian.”
  • The monk tells the people watching the fighting, “In the name of Jesus who shed His blood for us. . . don’t take pleasure in the bloodshed! Stop—in the name of Christ—stop!”

 

Forever Falls

Adam Raccoon’s favorite activity is swimming. He loves floating on his back and playing with his friends. King Aren, the ruler of the forest where Adam lives, has forbidden anyone from swimming in the pool above Forever Falls. Adam wonders if King Aren’s rule is really meant to keep the forest animals safe. How could a quick swim hurt? Adam can’t resist temptation. Will a quick swim turn into a dangerous trip downstream?

Adam Raccoon is a lovable character who has a knack for getting into trouble. The simple story, with full-colored illustrations will appeal to readers. The cartoonish pictures show Adam’s facial expressions, which allows readers to see his changing emotions—defeat, happiness, confusion, etc. Each page has one to two sentences of text, which makes Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls best read aloud to a child, rather than for a child to read it for the first time independently.

Readers will relate to Adam Raccoon as he struggles to do what is right. His story is engaging, fun, and teaches a lesson about salvation. At the end of the story, Adam realizes that his actions have consequences for himself as well as for others. The story gives an example of how Jesus (King Aren) died for us and then was resurrected. Although the story is a parable with a message about Jesus, younger children will be able to understand the message and enjoy the story.

Adam Raccoon’s actions drive the story, but King Aren is clearly the hero. The ending of the book has a brief explanation of why we use parables to teach and the deeper meaning behind the story. Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls is an engaging story that teaches about God’s love. Readers will want to read the story again and again because of the engaging story, amusing illustrations, and lovable characters.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • None

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • This story is a parable about God’s love.

The Prodigal Cat

Mittens thinks highly of herself. She is smart and beautiful. Mittens is so proud of her beauty that she thinks her family should pamper her with the best of everything. One day Mittens gets upset at her family and hides from them. She thinks she can manage everything on her own.

Once Mittens is on her own, she realizes how much her family had done for her. Lost, alone, and scared, can Mittens learn to depend on others? Can Mittens learn the importance of being humble and letting others help?

Mittens’ story begins when she is a kitten. She goes from living with a family to living in the pound. Watching Mittens grow from a kitten hoping for a family to a proud cat gives the story depth. Younger children will enjoy the interplay between Mittens and the family dog. Mittens’ bad behavior begins when she tries to get the dog in trouble so that he will be sent to the backyard. As she grows older, she becomes completely focused on her appearance.

Adorable colored illustrations will engage readers and help bring Mittens’s personality alive. The Prodigal Cat is a cute story that teaches the importance of appreciating others and being humble. The message never feels preachy, but instead focuses on how pride causes Mittens to struggle. The ending brings Mittens back together with her family, but it also has a satisfying surprise.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • A dog jumps at Mittens, and “she gave a swipe with her paw and tore through the house.” Later, Mittens tries to hide from the dog, but when she can’t she “took a swipe at his nose. . .”
  • When Mittens tries to cross the road, “she looked up just in time to see a car heading straight for her, and everything went black!”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • None

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None

If Only You Knew

Summer love isn’t supposed to be complicated. But then Joe meets two great-looking guys on the same day, and her life gets complicated fast. One guy makes her heart skip a beat, but can he be trusted? The other guy is trustworthy and totally outrageous, but is he still hung up on his crazy ex-girlfriend? With both guys demanding her attention, Jo’s not sure who to trust with her heart.

Then in a strange turn of events, someone begins stalking Jo, and she wonders if it’s connected to the horrible accident she witnessed last summer. With her life in danger, she’s not sure who she can trust. And to make matters worse, she has no job, no future plans, and no idea what her next steps should be.

At the beginning of the book, Jo’s story is slow-paced. However, suspense is added when Jo tries to solve the mystery of the accident she witnessed. Jo is a loveable character who many teens will be able to relate to—she is confused about life, love, and her place in this world. The ending leaves the reader with a surprising, sweet, and satisfactory conclusion.

Some readers may be turned off when the pastor in the book spends two to three pages preaching about the Bible. However, the characters in the book do not come off as preachy, perfect people, but as regular people—some who have a firm belief in God, and others who question God’s motives.

Sexual Content 

  • There is some kissing between Joe and her boyfriend. The scenes do not go into much detail. For example, “All I know is that somehow out lips found each other and in that instant everything else in the world disappeared and all I knew was that Sam’s mouth was on mine.”

Violence 

  • In one scene, two men try to hurt Jo and her friends with a baseball bat. Then the two men chase them with a vehicle and ram them off the road.
  • In another scene, Jo is walking when the two men (from above) follow her in their vehicle catcalling and threatening to kill her and her friend. One of the men yells, “How ya think. . . those legs of yours will look flattened under the wheels of my car?”

Drugs and Alcohol 

  • Jo discovers that her boyfriend had been in jail. Before his jail time, the boyfriend describes the night he tried to kill someone, and while he was drunk, high, and scared, he turned himself in to the police.
  • Jo’s boyfriend also talks about how he used to, “drink too and use some drugs and stuff. . .”
  • One of the character’s father is a recovering alcoholic.

Language 

  • Jo said that she cussed, but there are no actual cuss words.

Supernatural 

  • None

Spiritual Content 

  • Throughout the book, the characters discuss their relationship with God. Some characters have a positive relationship with God, others do not.
  • In one church scene, the preacher discusses Philippians Chapter Two and how one should obey God. The pastor then goes on to explain how people should examine God’s word.
  • One of the characters talks about how she is waiting for God to bring the right man into her life.
  • At a wedding the pastor discusses the meaning of the Bible verse, “Love is patient. Love is kind.”
  • At one church service, the pastor talks about Jesus’ crucifixion.
  • In one scene the church is practicing a play that reenacts John Chapter Four, the “The Lady at the Well,” story.
  • Towards the end of the book, Jo accepts Christ and then later one of Jo’s friends explains how she cannot be separated from Christ’s love.

Voyage with the Vikings

Mr. Whittaker uses the Imagination Station to send cousins Patrick and Beth back to the time of the Vikings. Mr. Whittaker asks the cousins to bring back a sunstone, but they don’t know what a sunstone looks like. Even if the two knew what they were looking for, finding the sunstone would be difficult. Once they arrive in Greenland, Erik the Red accuses them of being spies and threatens to enslave them. Patrick and Beth wonder if they can complete their mission and find the sunstone without angering Erik the Red and becoming his slaves.

Full of action, Voyage with the Vikings introduces young readers to the life of a Viking. Although the reader gets a glimpse at Erik the Red’s violent temperament, there is no actual fighting. Part of the storyline shows the difference between Vikings and Christian beliefs.

This story gives the reader a view into another time period and creates suspense that will keep the reader wanting to know what happens next. Voyage with the Vikings is easy to read with kid-friendly language. The end of the book will leave even the most reluctant reader wanting to pick up the next in the series.

Sexual Content

  • None

Violence

  • Erik the Red threatens to kill Patrick. When Erik the Red goes to throw his spear, a polar bear roars, and he is thrown from his horse.
  • Erik tells Patrick, “I would kill you if I could.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • The Vikings throw beer onto the fire as a sacrifice to a Norse god.

Language

  • None

Supernatural

  • Patrick and Beth use the Imagination Station to travel back in time.

Spiritual Content

  • Leif’s father, Erik the Red, is angry that his son went to trade and brought back, “a new God. The God of the Cross.”
  • Leif explains that the Vikings worship the Norse gods and offer sacrifices to them.

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