Featured Reviews Christian List

Featured Reviews from our March Christian List Newsletter 2024:

Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Eve Tharlet
ISBN: 9781400236862
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
Release date: 27 February 2024
Reading age: 3 to 6 years

Book Description: Even children experience lonely moments. When they do, this book reminds them that you will always be there, and God is right there too. Max Lucado's comforting words reinforce the thought that no matter what happens--the good and bad, the firsts and lasts--children will never be alone ... just in case they ever wonder. To a child, a day can last forever, and hurt feelings sink in deep. Whether they're having trouble making friends, struggling to learn something new, or just having a sad day, children need daily reminders of how much they're cherished. Just in Case You Ever Feel Alone soothes away loneliness by promising children that their parents or caregivers will always make time for them--they will squeeze away the sad and welcome back the glad every single day.

Representations: Contains a positive representation of Christianity. Written from a Christian perspective.

Novel Insight Short Review: If you ever feel alone, there are important things to remember. God knows everything about you and has given you people who love you. This beautifully illustrated story shows the relationship between a big bear and a baby bear. In rhyme, big bear repeatedly reassures baby bear that they will always be with them. Whenever baby bear feels sad or low, they will never have to be alone. No matter the problems, they will have someone to hold their hand. Even if they seem too busy, big bear can make the time to chat. But even better, God is with baby bear too. He never sleeps or goes away. He is always with you and just a prayer away.

Author: Colleen Chao
ISBN: 9780802430922
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Release date: 2 May 2023
Reading age: 8 to 12 years

Book Description: Ten-year-old Pax Griffin doesn't know if he'll make it to his next birthday. He has cancer. And he's about to embark upon an unforgettable adventure. At their favorite climbing tree, Pax and his best friend Jayni meet Wilmer-a comical bellbird who introduces them to a magical realm of delightful and bewitching creatures. The children sail a vast sea, navigate a frightening forest, and summit a perilous mountain in search of a mysterious man who might be able to heal Pax. Will they be thwarted by the malevolent weeping willow, a horde of Bandersnogs, or the dragon snake? The kids face their fears and the lurking evil that threatens to destroy them. And they also contend with their own inner struggles: Pax, wounded by Jayni's ignorance of suffering, and Jayni, resentful of how Pax's illness has changed him. Will the mysterious man meet their dreams and expectations? Pax and Jayni return to their world with newfound joy and hope-and a keen awareness of the very real magical world that lies within their shadow world. In Out of the Shadow World, Colleen Chao masterfully weaves a tale of suffering and joy. Children will be captivated. Readers develop empathy and a theology of suffering that equips them to both face difficult circumstances and love others who are experiencing hardship.

Representations: Portrays a Christian perspective on heaven through a fantasy world.

Novel Insight Short Review: After meeting a bellbird, two friends, Pax and Jayni, venture through a tree and enter an alternate world in search of the healing man. Pax is suffering from an illness, and Jayni resents the way it has changed him. The children travel across the sea and over a mountain, meeting multiple new friends, but there are many obstacles along the way.

Author: Y. K. Willemse
Illustrator: Ruth Germon and Tristan Fisher
Series: The Fledgling Account #1
ISBN: 9798800824360
Publisher: Independent
Release date: 27 April 2022
Reading age: 12 to 15 years

Book Description: Your name will change your life forever. When Rafen was four, the Tarhians branded him with three little numbers: 237. King Talmon of Tarhia forced Rafen to work in the coal mine with his other slaves. Yet at twelve, Rafen is desperate to escape and find the phoenix feather he has dreamed about for so long. However, even if he does leave Tarhia, will he ever know true freedom? For Rafen’s name links him to a legendary figure in ancient prophecies, and the sorcerer the Lashki Mirah means to kill him for it.

Content Insight: Contains depictions of magic, but is fairly black and white with who is evil and who is good. Magic is portrayed as nothing more than a resource or weapon that particular people wield for good or bad. Contains some violent scenes, but isn't graphic for the sake of being graphic.

Representations: Differences in ethnicity are represented. A traditional family is depicted, albeit with a troubled marriage. Slavery is portrayed. PTSD and childhood trauma responses are depicted throughout the novel. It takes place in another world with a central deity that is represented in a Christian light.

Novel Insight Short Review: In a world called the Mio Pilamùr, created by the sacred phoenix, there is a boy called Rafen. Because of his name, Rafen was made a slave to King Talmon at four years old. King Talmon is the tyrannical ruler of their country, Tarhia. Unbeknownst to Rafen, his name bears a meaning even the most powerful sorcerer on the Mio Pilamùr fears. Because he fears Rafen’s name, the Lashki Mirah plans to make Rafen a personal puppet for himself and the much-dreaded demonic force, Nazt. If Rafen fights this fate, the Lashki will murder him. Rafen’s only friend Philippe, a humble boot-shiner, knows the meaning of Rafen’s name by chance. Philippe works desperately to free Rafen before it is too late.

Author: Edited by Cindy Williams, R. A. Stephens and Amanda Deed
ISBN: 9781761111150
Publisher: Rhiza Press
Release date: 4 October 2023
Reading age: 13 to 18 years

Book Description: From Noah’s Flood to the imprisonment of Paul the Apostle, this collection of thirteen short stories by various authors will take you on a journey through Bible times, seen through the eyes of characters you may or may not recognise, as they face decisions and experience life-changing encounters.

Content Insight: Contains stories depicting Jesus' death and times of hardship in history.

Representations: Contains Biblical stories and history. Written from a Christian perspective.

Novel Insight Short Review: This collection of thirteen Biblical stories spans from Noah’s Ark to the imprisonment of Paul the Apostle. Each story varies in length and highlights the perspective of a character from Biblical history, such as the servant girl who directed Naaman to Elisha or the child who came to see Jesus. Some characters are less recognisable than others, but each faces hard decisions and has life-changing encounters.

Author: Anne Hamilton
Illustrator: Various
ISBN: 9781925380521
Publisher: Armour Books
Release date: 31 July 2023
Reading age: 13 to 18 years

Book Description: Was the curse Joshua pronounced on the reconstruction of Jericho ever revoked? Who received the prophet Elijah's mantle after John the Baptiser died? The answers to these questions are tucked away in the folds of familiar episodes in the life of Jesus. They peek out at us, trying to hook our attention, but so often we overlook them as tiny, irrelevant details. This book is the first in this series to move beyond Jesus' own lifetime and examine the way He set up events so that His disciples could continue His work of healing history, mending society and repairing the world.

Representations: Contains Biblical stories and Jewish history. Written from a Christian perspective.

Accessibility: Highly illustrated with photographs and lots of white space. These are in large picture book format but designed as a study.

Novel Insight Short Review: The four gospels in the Bible, written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, contain stories about Jesus and his life on Earth. In this devotional book, these stories are retold in biblical fiction while remaining faithful to the original text. From the perspective of a tax collector called Zacchaeus, learn about Jesus bringing healing to Zacchaeus and to the ancient curse on Jericho from the Old Testament. From the perspective of Simon the Tanner, learn about the valued conversion of the Gentiles to followers of Jesus through the stories of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, and Hazael, the Aramean general.

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