At home in Trinity series / by Delia Parr. 5.24.2017

The Midwife’s Tale / by Delia Parr. (At home in Trinity, 1)
Bethany House ISBN9780764217333

The Midwife’s Choice / by Delia Parr. (At home in Trinity, 2)
Bethany House ISBN9780764217340

The Midwife’s Dilemma / by Delia Parr. (At home in Trinity, 3)
Bethany House ISBN9780764217357
Adult Rating: 4

Martha Cade comes from a long line of midwives, proud of this satisfying work and hoping to continue her vocation for many years to come. She loves ushering new life into the world and ministering to the mothers, but a consequence of being in so many homes and at a rather intimate time is that Martha knows all the secrets of her small Pennsylvania town–a blessing yet a burden at times.

Martha has been long widowed and raising her headstrong daughter Victoria can be a trial. She had hoped that this daughter would take over her midwifery practice in the future but Victoria has her sights set on a more worldly endeavor. At the onset of the first book in the series, The Midwife’s Tale, Martha has not heard from her daughter in months and is distraught, wondering where she might be. Will there be reconciliation?

The story continues in The Midwife’s Choice and The Midwife’s Dilemma. Throughout the series, other events also weigh heavily on Martha. This is the 1830’s and times are changing. The obstetric methods of a new young doctor in town are threatening her job, causing pregnant women to seek him out for their care instead of the traditional midwife. And there is romance in the air. As a young woman, Martha’s beau was Thomas Dillon, now the town’s mayor. Although each of them married another, now that they are both widowed, Thomas is determined to make Martha his bride.

Martha trusts the Lord and although her faith is often tested, she turns to Him again and again for strength and guidance. All three titles in Delia Parr’s At Home in Trinity series are enjoyable inspirational fiction.

Ceil Carey, CLJ

Our Great Big Backyard/ by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager; illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. 5.19.2017

HarperCollins Children’s Books ISBN 9780062468352

PRI PS-Grade 3 Rating: 4

Former first lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush Hager introduce the wonder of our national parks in Our Great Big Backyard.

Young Jane is planning to spend her summer watching movies and playing video games, until her parents announce “The Great American Road Trip” through some of America’s iconic parks. Initially Jane is too absorbed in her tablet to notice the passing scenery, but a meteor shower in Big Bend, Texas finally gets her attention.

As her family explores the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, Jane comes to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors, swapping electronic games for real hands-on adventure (and even enjoys writing a postcard instead of sending an email to her friends).

Artist Jacqueline Rogers uses pen, ink, watercolor, gouache, and marker to produce lively scenes of the parks as well as busy images of a classic family car trip and a fun-to-study map inside the front and back covers. Rogers cleverly includes details from the children’s imagination, such as wearing moon suits as they traverse the desert and seeing a spaceship blasting out of Old Faithful.

With minimal text, Our Great Big Backyard is quickly paced and suited to early readers. It is hard to overlook Jane’s ill-mannered attitude at the beginning of the story (mom and dad allowing her to use a tablet while canoeing in the Everglades is also questionable!). Parents might use the opportunity to talk with children not only about our national parks and about traveling as a family, but about the distraction of electronics and the many other ways to have fun.

The publishing of Our Great Big Backyard was well-timed with the 2016 centennial of our national park system. The distinguished authors include a list of parks by state and several websites for further information.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story / by Michael Horton. 5.18.2017

Zondervan ISBN 9780310525066

Adult Rating: 5

Westminster Seminary professor and theologian Michael Horton seeks to help the Christian reader to invite others into solid theological truths. Horton’s Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God’s Story puts together systematic theology, biblical theology, and practical theology into one discussion. The twelve chapters of the book cover four themes: the drama of redemption, the doctrine of Scripture, doxology (praise/worship), and discipleship.

One particular strength of this work is the author’s emphasizing that it’s not so much that God is a part of our stories, but that we are a part of His. Another is the practical approach on what believers should be doing until Jesus returns, with a look at serving in our various callings—a discussion enabling believers to be more direct in handling challenges and doubts. A lingering consistent theme is Horton’s persistent focus on God and His Word. He is clear about enabling believers to know what they believe and why. Those having read Basic Christianity by John Stott will enjoy this clarifying work.

The discussion is well worth the time in reading. The print is somewhat small, with the font in the sidebars somewhat difficult to read. Younger believers can also consult Surprised by Faith by Don Bierle.

Leroy Hommerding, CLJ

12 Children Who Changed the World / by Kenya McCullum. (Change Makers) 5.16.2017

12-Story Library ISBN 9781632351463

YA Grades 5-8 Rating: 4

12 Children Who Changed the World is one of six books in 12-Story Library’s Change Makers series for middle grade readers.

This small format book introduces 12 remarkable youth, some famous (Anne Frank) and some lesser-known (Samantha Smith), from ancient times (King Tut and Joan of Arc) to modern (education advocate Malala Yousafzai). All achieved a place in history by being leaders, challengers, and creators of change.

Six girls and six boys are featured for their involvement with issues including apartheid, the holocaust, racism, AIDS, and child labor. Others have made enduring contributions to math (Blaise Pascal) and music (Wolfgang Mozart).

Author Kenya McCullum provides engaging biographical details, along with significant facts and related social and cultural background. Each of the 12 children is presented over two pages highlighted with photographs.Helpful extras include “Think About It” questions, a glossary, and a list of books and internet resources. Readers are invited to “go beyond the book” for additional content on the publisher’s website.

12 Children Who Changed the World would be a compelling volume for a home or classroom library, manageable for younger readers, but with a range of topics that may be more suited to grades 5 and above.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Turning Points in History series / by Lois Sepahban and by Angie Smibert. 5.15.2017

12 Incredible Facts about the D-Day Invasion / by Lois Sepahban. (Turning Points in History)

12-Story Library ISBN 9781632351289

12 Incredible Facts about the Moon Landing / by Angie Smibert. (Turning Points in History)

12-Story Library ISBN 9781632351302

YA Grades 5-8 Rating: 5

12 Incredible Facts about the D-Day Invasion and 12 Incredible Facts about the Moon Landing are two of eight books in 12-Story Library’s Turning Points in History series for middle grade readers. These small format books provide historical and political background, along with significant dates, places, people, and details. Each of the 12 “incredible facts” is expanded over two pages of compelling information, highlighted by related sidebars, maps, and photographs.

Lois Sepahban’s 12 Incredible Facts about the D-Day Invasion presents events leading up to the D-Day Invasion, the planning and strategy, the battle itself, and the aftermath. Contemporary photos illustrate wartime conditions including weaponry and the holding of prisoners.

Angie Smibert’s 12 Incredible Facts about the Moon Landing reviews the “space race,” the early U.S. space program, and the Apollo missions. Both triumphs and tragedies are included, along with thoughts about what the moon landing meant for America.

Each volume offers a great synopsis of a significant event in U.S. history, jam-packed with facts and figures, eye-catching page design, and helpful extras including a list of key dates, glossary, and references. The publisher also offers interactive content, videos, and updates on its website.

The Turning Points in History series would be well-suited to home or school reading. These concise books are manageable for younger history buffs, yet there is enough depth to the material to elevate the reading level for older students.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History / by Karen Blumental. 5.8.2017

Feiwel and Friends ISBN 9781250060143

YA Grades 10-12 Rating: 4

Karen Blumental’s Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History is in many ways a book about firsts. Clinton was the first student commencement speaker at Wellesley College. She was the first woman to become a full partner at Rose Law Firm. She was the first female U.S. Senator from the state of New York. She was the first woman to be a presidential candidate in every primary held in each state. She was the first former First Lady to seek the presidency. In her life, Clinton has blazed her own path in pursuing the things that are important to her. She has also made some shifts–she began her political activism as a Goldwater girl, but by the time she started coming into the limelight, she had become a staunch Democratic operative.

Blumenthal also attempts to show the side of Clinton that perhaps is not seen so much by the public. This includes her surprise when she discovers that some women do not like or feel insulted by her, and also the information that she carries a Bible with her everywhere she goes. For someone who is wondering where to start to learn about Mrs. Clinton, this book is a great place to start. It is comprehensive without getting bogged down in minutiae. It offers a portrait that shows the complexity of its subject and is at the same time fair. This book would be a welcome addition to a public library.

Michael Wilhelm, CLJ

Broken Ground / by Karen Halvorsen Schreck. 5.5.2017

Howard Books ISBN 9781476794839

Adult (YA)      Rating: 5

Ruth envisions an idyllic life with the man she loves, going to college, and becoming a teacher. When a terrible tragedy shatters her life, Ruth must decide how much she wants to live–and how to escape a domineering father. Her choice propels her on a journey through America’s 1930s western landscape dotted with Hoovervilles and plagued by state-sponsored racism.

After an assault and a false accusation derail her dream of school and uproot her again, she embarks on a new journey into the world of Mexican workers fighting illegal deportations. In the midst of her own grief and struggles, Ruth rises above herself and discovers the redeeming qualities of service to others that transforms her life and that of those around her. Teaching the Mexican children, she learns that every child should feel content, that education is a universal right, and that God is the God of all cultures and languages.

Through thoughtful narrative, engaging dialogue, and descriptive scenes, Karen Halvorsen Schreck portrays a little-known part of American History. In addition, Broken Ground is a powerful reminder of the redemptive quality of suffering that leads to fruitful growth in God, and that proves that all things do work together for good, if you are open to God’s call and willing to go wherever that takes you.

Veronica Jorge, CLJ

Waves of Mercy / by Lynn Austin. 4.27.2017

Bethany House ISBN 9780764217616

Adult Rating: 4

Award-winning author Lynn Austin pens a turn-of-the-century story of two women: one a young Chicago socialite, the other an older Dutch immigrant. Their lives intersect when Geesje recounts her immigration story in preparation for their town’s 50th anniversary.

In Waves of Mercy, 23–year-old Anna Nicholson flees to Holland, Michigan after her wealthy fiancé ends their engagement. She befriends Derk Vander Veen, a seminary student working part-time at her hotel. Their conversations lead to a friendship that brings her in contact with Geesje, his neighbor. Derk sees a similarity between the two women.

In 1846, 17–year-old Geesje de Jonge crossed the ocean with her parents and other immigrants from the Netherlands to settle in the Michigan wilderness. In 1897, she is asked to write a memoir of her early experiences. As she recounts her experiences, no one expects the secrets revealed when the two women meet.

Anna suffers from nightmares she has experienced since she was a young girl; she dreams of drowning as a ship sinks. When she travels with her mother to Holland via steamship, she relives those dreams when they face a raging storm just before arrival. Geesje has had her share of hardships. Though her faith may have wavered, it stands the test of time, something she shares with Anna through her story.

Austin tells the story of two women, identifying the speaker at the beginning of each chapter. The stories are interwoven with the theme of family secrets, religious persecution, hardships, joys, and God’s faithfulness through it all. Austin’s characters are believable, as is her central theme: nothing can separate us from God. He is always with us, and has a plan for our lives.

Recommended for public libraries and Lynn Austin fans.

Carol R. Gehringer , worthy2read.wordpress.com

The Lion Storyteller Book of Parables / by Bob Hartman; illustrated by Krisztina Kállai Nagy. (Lion Storyteller Series) 4.25.2017

Lion Children’s Books ISBN 9780745964461

PRI K-Grade 5 Rating: 5

The Lion Storyteller Book of Parables presents 26 of Jesus’s parables retold in illustrated storybook format.

Author Bob Hartman prefaces the book with an explanation of what the parables are, how Jesus used them in His teaching, and how one can still listen for their meaning. Hartman invites adults to share these lessons with their children and provides ideas for group discussion at the end of the book.

Each parable is concisely told in one to four pages, with the first paragraph setting the stage and the final few lines summarizing the message. Hartman’s use of descriptive and conversational language keeps the content alive and relatable. Children will be easily engaged, whether as readers or listeners.

Wonderful bright artwork by Krisztina Kállai Nagy invigorates the pages. The gestures and facial expressions of her characters are delightful; even the animals seem to have personality. A final scene shows Jesus surrounded by a group of attentive children—a perfect image of the spirit of the parables.

The book’s table of contents includes the biblical references for each story. The Lion Storyteller Book of Parables would be a treasured gift for a child and a lasting addition to the family bookshelf.

Nina Ditmar, CLJ

Beyond suffering Bible NLT: Where Struggles Seem Endless, God’s Hope Is Infinite / by Joni and Friends, Inc. 4.21.2017

Tyndale House ISBN 9781414392028

Adult Rating: 5

2017 is a year of special significance to bestselling author, artist, singer, and radio host Joni Eareckson Tada–it marks the 50th anniversary of her journey in a wheelchair. One of the ways she has chosen to commemorate is by publishing the Beyond Suffering Bible, a special edition of God’s word for individuals who are struggling with disabilities as well as for families struggling to care for suffering people. The volume is a labor of love, reflecting Mrs. Tada’s desire to reach more people and to encourage and strengthen their walks by sharing the insights that have gotten her through the past 50 years.

With Mrs. Tada as its general editor, the Beyond Suffering Bible features the work of many distinguished contributors, including the experts at Joni and Friends Christian Institute on Disability. It is a study Bible with many valuable features, including book introductions with an emphasis on key suffering and disability themes, profiles of biblical persons who lived with a disability or acted as a caregiver, devotionals that tackle some of the toughest questions about suffering, and thousands of “Connection Points”–study notes that delve into verses in the context of suffering. There are essays that take an in-depth look at specific topics, written by people who also know suffering. For example, Stephen F. Arterburn’s article on accidental drug addiction is excellent, as is the article on living with chronic pain written by Dr. Michael Easley, president emeritus of the Moody Bible Institute.

The Beyond Suffering Bible may have been created specifically for people who are dealing with disabilities or illnesses, but would be a comfort and invaluable resource for anyone who has ever suffered–which is everyone.

Valorie Cooper, CLJ