Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh No!) and the Amazing Cast That Fixed It, By Judith Wolf Mandell– Illustrated by Lise C. Brown – A Book Review

Sammy’s Broken Leg (Oh No!) and the Amazing Cast That Fixed It

By Judith Wolf Mandell– Illustrated by Lise C. Brown


Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

The Fall, the Break, the Cast, the Whooshing Kisses, and the Recovery

Sammy (Samantha) ignites friendships through her rebounding spirit, response to love, her resolute determination, and her encouraging empathy for others.

Judith’s story telling skill and whimsical approach draws the reader’s and the child’s attention, stimulates their imagination, and teaches valuable lessons; on the benefits of following the doctor’s instructions, and on the importance of giving and receiving. . I especially enjoyed the “Whooshing Kisses” symbolic of the thoughts and prayers, and of love and concern family and friends. The book is filled with the concept of comfort, the need for patience, relief from anxiety, and reality of suffering.

The story prepares kids for the stages of recovery and recuperation from a broken bone, a short or long term illness, or any emergency department or hospital situation.

Lise C. Brown’s clever colorful artwork magically depicts the action of the story from Sammy’s waking “YAWN and s-t-r-e-c-h,”  the excitement of going “higher and faster” on the trampoline, Mommy’s warning, the painful fall, arrival at the emergency room,  right up to the time  the doctors wrapped Sammy in a wet fiberglass cast, and sent Sammy and her parents’ home with “The Rules for Sammy’s Cast.”

The whimsical nature of Judith’s writing adds a note of family fun, togetherness, and lighten the “emotional hurt” and physical pain of recovery. “Sammy’s Broken Leg” is encouraging, educational and entertaining.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Harpeth Ridge Press, Nashville, TN

978-0997444919, 2017

Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart – A Book Review

Some Kind of Courage,

By Dan Gemeinhart

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Courageous Journey While Finding Home

“Some Kind of Courage” is an action adventure story filled with drama and suspense for readers ages 8 – 12 in grades 3-7. Gemeinhart reveals amazing insight and understanding into the feelings of his target audience.

Young Joseph Johnson has lost is dad in an accident, his mom and young sister through illness, and when an evil man stole and sold his Indian pony to an unscrupulous trader, Joseph vowed to get her back. “Some Kind of Courage” is the story of Joseph’s efforts to find and reclaim his pony and of the lessons he learned on the trail to finding family and home.

Dan Gemeinhart’s writing is highly imaginative, delightfully entertaining while stimulating character building traits and ideals. He demonstrates a depth of feeling, gripping the heart of the reader with a tenderness, and compassion, seldom captured in preteen fiction. His characters are believable, his protagonist, young Joseph Johnson, is multi-dimensional revealing growth and development by carrying out the core values of bravery, trust, honesty, loyalty, and always hope. His descriptions are vivid

“Some Kind of Courage” is ideal for family night reading. The story is rich in material for stimulating questions for application and discussion for children of all ages. Heartwarming, deeply moving adventure, a page turner, highly recommended.

Scholastic Book Service, 557 Broadway, New York, N. Y. 10012, 978-0545665834, $ 16.99, 2016, 240 pages





Double Trouble in the Everglades, by Mary Morgan – A Book Review

Double Trouble in the Everglades

By Mary Morgan

Buttonwood Press, LLC, P. O. Box 716, Haslett, MI 44840, 978-0996556200, $ 7.95, 2015, 144 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

The Cooper Twins Uncover Trouble in the Everglades – Secrets of the Slough

Fast moving dialog adds to intrigue and mystery of the suspense filled plot in “Double Trouble in the Everglades,” the fifth in the “National Park Mystery Series.” Mary Morgan blends her gift of storytelling with an incredible understanding of a young reader’s spirit of adventure.

The Cooper twins were selected by Twins for Life Magazine to participate with twenty-five sets of twins in the, spring break, Everglades National Park Triathlon.

Ben and Bekka’s curiosity, instinct for mystery, and tenacity for following up on clues, enable them to uncover vital information in solving an ingenious conspiracy of robbery and deception during the Twins Magazine Everglades Triathlon.

Clever extras in the book include Bekka’s F.Y.I. (For Your Information) Florida Facts, with trivia questions, facts about the Everglades’ National Park, photos of wildlife in the Everglades, and illustrations by Dawn McVay Baumer add to the enjoyment of the story.

Morgan’s wonderful alliteration, sense of humor, fascinating trivia and detailed data capture the young reader’s imagination with a balance of fiction and fact, entertainment and information.

“Double Trouble in the Everglades” is designed for readers, ages seven through eleven, and is ideal for home school assignments, public school libraries, and for fun filled family reading of all ages. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of the book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.


Let’s Learn About the Lord’s Prayer by Catherine DeVries – A Book Review

Let’s Learn About the Lord’s Prayer

By Catherine DeVries, Illustrated by Ryan Jackson

David C. Cook, 4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80919

978-0781412698, $ 10.99, 2015, 12 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Emma Introduces Two of Her Special Friends to New Preschool Friends

Four year old Emma enters into a dialog with her preschool friends in this wonderful board book, written by Catherine DeVries and illustrated by Ryan Jackson. Emma’s innocence and openness allows her to freely talk about prayer, her friend Jesus with a sense of childhood awe and genuine love.

“Let’s Learn About the Lord’s Prayer” will be enjoyed by toddlers through early readers and their parents and grandparents as they delight in the bonding experience of learning about Emma’s friend Jesus through words, pictures, and music. Ryan’s illustrations enhance Catherine’s story line and become unexpected openers for those impromptu teaching moments.

Every church school preschool class should add “Let’s Learn About the Lord’s Prayer” to bookshelves and on their suggested list of books for family reading at home.

Catherine DeVries is an award winning author, an associate editor of children’s resources at David C. Cook, and has written over 20 books.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks by Mary Morgan – A Book Review

Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks

By Mary Morgan – Illustrated by Dawn Baumer

Buttonwood Press, LLC, PO. Box 716, Haslett, Michigan 48840

978-0982335130, $ 7.95, 2014, 120 pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake
Sunken Ships, Stolen Treasures – A National Park Mystery Series for Kids

Pictured Rocks National Park was known for its multicolored sandstone cliffs 300 feet above Lake Superior, its waterfalls, hiking trails, a famous logging slide, and sand dunes. It is also known for sunken ships and the many items that have floated ashore after a storm. The Cooper family from Lansing, Michigan had chosen this site for their summer vacation. Ben had visions of finding important treasures, like a cannon ball, a piece of gold, or other historical relics of importance, along the 40 mile shoreline.

Bekka had her camera along and was eager to get scenic pictures of Lake Superior the Park’s unique rock formations, wild life, and family memories. It wasn’t long before the two met a new friend, Eli, who was on a kayaking trip with his dad. Family fun, campfire dinners, and roasting “s’mores” became a shared adventure.

Plans were made for a visit to the Miner’s Castle, kayaking with Eli, and completing the suggested activities in their Junior Ranger book while they learned to preserve nature and observe the many birds and animals throughout the park. A trio of mysterious acting strangers came to their attention and before long the Cooper family became involved in some fast moving action of a serious nature. As the activities of the mystery men heightened Becca, Ben, and Eli, covertly watched from a distance. Soon the family was in danger as the men realized they had been discovered.

Mary Morgan knows how to build suspense, involve her reader, and keep them guessing. Her writing is informative, filled with core values, significant history, and quality family entertainment. Illustrator Dawn Baumer captures the fun and reinforces Mary’s delightful dialog, story line, and word pictures.

Readers will also enjoy the added features: Recipes for Hobo Dinners and S’mores, the poem “the Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Semaphore Alphabet, and facts about Lake Superior, with pictures of Maritime artifacts which have drifted on shore from some of the 350 recorded shipwrecks in Lake Superior.

“Stolen Treasures at Pictured Rocks” is an ideal book for gift giving, for family reading, as well as for home schooler’s, and for Christian school libraries.




The Face at Mount Rushmore – National Park Mystery Series by Mary Morgan – A Book Review

The Face of Mount RushmoreThe Face of Mount Rushmore – National Park Mystery Series

By Mary Morgan, Illustrated by Dawn McVay Baumer

Buttonwood Press LLC, P. O. Box 716, Haslett, Michigan 48840

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake,

The Cooper Twins Uncover Clues to a Cryptic Plot by Some Shady Characters

“The Face of Mount Rushmore” is the second book in Mary Morgan’s “National Park Mystery Series.” The Cooper twins, Ben and Bekka, are excited about an uncharacteristic request from Uncle Paul to join him for a 4th of July fireworks celebration at the Rushmore National Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Excitement is in the air as preparations are made for a family vacation of camping along their way to meet Uncle Paul. Bekka keeps the family up-to-date on what to expect as she quizzes them with important “For Your Information” (FYI) quizzes, using her tour book as a source of reference. As they near their destination plans are made plans to pan for gold at the Thunder Mountain Gold Mine; dig for dinosaurs, follow the 1874 expeditions of Colonel George Custer, to hike along the Presidential Trial, and to check out the Junior Ranger experience offered at the Rushmore National Monument.

Ben was stunned when he overheard two suspicious looking men alluding to a cryptic plot to detonate dynamite at a time when the fireworks would muffle the sound of an explosion. Tension continued to heighten as the mystery unraveled and the intrigue continued to build to a “dynamite” conclusion.

Morgan’s unique writing style, genuine characters, and love for story provide the preteen reader with elements of adventure, history, and family values, using a balance of humor, entertainment, inspiration, and informative data.

“The Face of Mount Rushmore – National Park Mystery Series” should be on the reading lists of elementary school, church, and home school family libraries. Preteen readers will enjoy each mysterious adventure in the series. Highly recommended.





Mylo by Sheila Jaxland, Illustrated by Victor Guiza – A Book Review


By: Sheila Jaxland with illustrations by Victor Guiza

Outskirts Press, 10940 S. Parker Rd -515, Parker, CO 80134

978-0578126029, $ 18.95, 2013, 32 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Mylo’s Destiny – A Journey with Jesus from His Birth to His Resurrection and Ascension

Sheila Jaxland tells Mylo’s story in her book by that name. Mylo, a donkey colt, abandoned by his owner, feels sad and useless, alone in the middle of the Sinai Desert. Victor Guiza captures the feeling of the heat, dryness and vastness of the wide expanse of the arid Sinai desert and the hopelessness of the circumstances surrounding Mylo’s situation in his full color illustrations. The brightness of the background highlight the sudden alertness of Mylo as depicted by a sense of listening, revealed in the brightness of his eyes upright ears as he listens for the voice of God instructing him in with the plan and purpose for his destiny.

Sheila Jaxland delightful story tells of the Mylo’s obedience to the call of God. This imaginary story of Mylo follows the time line of the Biblical account of Joseph and Mary on the road to Bethlehem, the birth of Jesus, his years in Galilee, his baptism by John, his ministry and message of the Gospel leading up to the day Jesus rode on his back through the streets of Jerusalem as his followers carpeted his path with palm branches proclaiming Him as their king.

A week later Mylo was nearby as Judas, one of the twelve, betrayed Jesus with a kiss as a sign to a crowd of soldiers, who arrest him. He follows Jesus as he is taken to the cross to be crucified. He is there to see the empty tomb and later to see his ascension.

Guiza’s colorful paintings illustrate each of these important scenes from the life of Christ and bring Sheila’s narrative to life. Sheila’s love for animals, children, and for Jesus come through in her sensitivity and heartwarming writing style.

Mylo is ideal for gift giving as the Christmas season approaches as well as for any other occasion. Parents will be blessed as their children follow along with the powerful story and as the pictures come alive on the page. Highly recommended.

A copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.


Tales of the Defended Ones by Beth Guckenberger – A Book Review

Tales of the Defended OnesTales of the Defended Ones

By Beth Guckenberger

Standard Publishing Company. Cincinnati, Ohio, 978-078474736975, $ 8.99, 2013, 208 Pages

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Stories of Promise, Protection, and Purpose

“Tales of the Defended Ones” is the second in the Story Weaver series. These real life juvenile fiction stories are heartwarming and life changing, challenging the reader to look beyond themselves to become a part in someone else’s life and their story.

The book follows the format of the first book which includes a story that introduces a child in need, from different countries around the world. There is a parallel story that introduces individuals and organizations that minister to orphans, matching them to homes and families moved by God’s love and compassion to reach out demonstrating that love while meeting specific individual needs.

In the six chapters of the book Beth Guckenberger introduces the Story Weaver, the Defender God, the work of Back2Back Ministries and the stories of five children from four counties; Ben and Joseph, orphans from Ethiopia, Antonio from Mexico, Caitlyn, a foster child from Ohio, in the United States, and Jorani from Cambodia.

Beth is a natural story teller and a gifted communicator. Each story relates the struggles challenging one of these children, and their circumstances.  She goes on to show how their story provides the opportunity to demonstrate God’s working in their life and to offer hope and protection as He works out His purpose.

A leader’s guide is available for use as a resource or curriculum guide for teaching children missionary vision, compassion for others, and to introduce other cultures. “Tales of the Defended Ones” is engaging, ages graded for children eight years and older. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed a my own.



Work Work Work by Nan Baker – A Book Review

By Nan Baker

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Nan Baker captivates and enchants her young audience by using a poetic story form that stirs the creative imagination of the reader. “Work, Work, Work” is a read aloud coloring book. The clever illustrations depict the action of the story and help the reader visualize the word pictures of the narrative.

The story features the hard working Cedric Mouse and his neglected, but faithful friend, Miss Mandy Mouse. Cedric’s hard work and enterprising activity pay dividends in financial reward and success for his factory called Chamberlin’s Shed. Cedric make a discovery – something is missing.

Settled by Henry Chamberlain in 1850 it was originally called Chamberlain’s Siding and later changed to Three Oaks. “Work, Work, Work” is a tribute to Henry Chamberlin. Dedicated to the hundreds of children Nan has taught, the book is written as a reminder to the citizens of the Three Oaks community and their children, and for the generations of children, yet to come of the importance of balancing hard work while putting friendship first.

It is my understanding that none of the original oak trees remain today. Although the oaks are gone Chamberlain’s solid brick home remains. According to Nan some say, “Behind the brick house stands a wooden shed.”

Let’s Eat: Maji Teaches Mongo What It Means to Eat Clean! by Dr. J. Renae Norton, Illustrated by Steve Hayes – A Book Review

Lets EatLet’s Eat: Maji Teaches Mongo What It Means to Eat Clean!
By: Dr. J. Renae Norton
Illustrated by: Steve Hayes
Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
978-1934759615, $ 17.95,2013, 40 Pages
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Learning what it means to Eat Clean

“Let’s Eat” is the second in the Maji and Mongo Series written by Dr. J. Renae Norton, clinical psychologist and director of the Norton Center for Eating Disorders. The series is designed to provide children with an understanding of the importance of learning how to develop a healthy lifestyle.

Maji and Mongo represent individuals with differing preferences. Maji helps Mongo discover healthier foods and health habits that lead to a growing up stronger. Norton uses a rhyming lyrical writing style that is a favorite of the young reader. Steve Hayes’ imaginative illustrations reinforce the message of the story as it unfolds.

Children are quickly attracted to the friendliness of the Maji and Mongo characters.
The valuable information and pointers for parents and sound teaching techniques resonate with parents and educators.

The Maji and Mongo series is fast becoming a favorite with children and parents. In a day when childhood obesity is taking on epidemic proportions “Let’s Eat” is an important book for the Children’s section in every school and public library. The attractive illustrations, quality binding, and positive message make the book ideal for gift giving. Parents and children will both want to get all of the books in the series.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.