Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review/Giveaway: The Apologetics Study Bible

How do you answer the hard questions?

  • If God is real and we can’t see Him, why don’t you think mermaids are real?
  • If angels can become invisible, why can’t humans?
  • I know God created the world, but what do I tell other people who insist science and Creation are not compatible? Why do they think that?
  • How is Christianity different than other religions? Are the differences important?
  • My friend isn’t a Christian because her dad thinks it’s stupid, and he’s an atheist. But she’s a nice person. What should I say to her?
  • Why were people killed in the name of Christianity?
  • Why does God allow people to get sick and die? Doesn’t He want us to be happy?Apologetics

One of the challenges of raising Miss Esmé has been getting bombarded with such questions since she was 3yo. I love that she thinks about such things, but I don’t always have ready answers.

That’s where the Apologetics Study Bible for Students HCSB comes in handy!

Synopsis of Book

The Apologetics Study Bible for Students anchors younger Christians in the truths of Scripture by equipping them with thoughtful and practical responses for whenever the core issues of their faith and life are challenged.

Multiple research studies have shown that spiritual focus often weakens among teenagers as they head into the attention-dividing realm of young adulthood. Up to 66 percent of them leave church altogether. The Apologetics Study Bible for Students works against that trend by helping this audience begin to better articulate its beliefs. In addition to the complete HCSB text and dozens of articles collected from today’s most popular youth leaders, including editor Sean McDowell, this new study Bible also includes:

Two-color design-intensive layout on every page for the visual generation Sixty “Twisted Scriptures” explanations, fifty “Bones & Dirt” entries (archaeology meets apologetics) Fifty “Notable Quotes”, twenty-five “Tactics” against common anti-Christian arguments Twenty “Personal Stories” of how God has worked in real lives Twenty “Top Five” lists to help remember key apologetics topics.

Age Recommendation: High school/college 
Genre:  Study Bible 
Physical Description:  Formats available include black/tan, steel blue, or dark brown/coral imitation leather, as well as hardcover and paperback
List Price:  For Indexed Hardcover: $44.99. Currently on sale for $31.49 (30% savings)
To Buy:
For More Information:

Mom’s Review:

  • The Translation. I found this to be a very “readable” version. This was an introduction to the Holman Christian Standard Bible for me. It is a modern language translation that combines word-for-word with thought-for-thought philosophies to allow for a smooth reading experience. In the instances where it veers from a literal translation, footnotes allow the reader to still access that literal translation.
  • Articles, Twisted Scripture Notes (60), Challenges and Tactics (25). These segments, interspersed throughout the Bible, are the parts that answer all those questions Esmé pops up with. There is an index at the front if you’re looking for a specific topic, but it’s also fun to just start up a discussion on whatever shows up on the Bible section we’re reading. These are written by a variety of authors, and it’s interesting to see similar topics addressed from different angles.
  • Bones & Dirt Notes (50). If your student is into history, these are interesting to read. You can see how current events and places relate to the Bible text.
  • Personal Stories (20). This would probably be Esmé’s favorite aspect. Twenty personal stories make scripture obviously applicable to today’s youth.
  • Book Introductions. These are narratives in a conversational style meant to reach the student in a modern culture. The “What in the world is going on?” section is my personal favorite as it pulls together historic details from around the world. For example, while Psalms were being written, not only was the Iron Age beginning, but the “chiefs of the Olmecs, a pre-Columbian people group in southern Mexico, play an extremely violent, ritualistic ball game juego de pelota.”  It just intrigues me.
  • Index Tabs. The format of the book we have includes index tabs to help Bible students find the books of the Bible. We found that quite useful.
  • Formats. Speaking of formats, look at this pretty Espresso/Coral cover! Lots of format choices to meet your student’s preferences!

Some Precautions:
This isn’t a fit for everyone. If you fall into one of the following categories, think seriously before purchasing.

  • Politically Correct. The notes are mostly written from a socially conservative perspective. They tackle abortion and homosexuality pretty directly, for example. One of the articles that was most pertinent to me was “Do Christianity and Politics Mix,” and I agree with the point that trying to keep secular and sacred separate essentially pigeonholes God.
  • Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness. There are sections that take on the biblical veracity of Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness beliefs head-on.

The notes go into doctrinal issues in depth, and there were a couple here and there with emphasis that didn’t exactly line up with my personal beliefs, for example, on the topic of hell. Overall, however, I found the notes to be insightful and a great resource for strengthening my daughter’s Christian beliefs and positions in a world that seems less and less tolerant of those positions every day.


Yes, I can offer one blessed reader an Apologetics Study Bible for Students HCSB! We’re going simple with giveaway entries here: just enter a comment of any kind on this post, along with your email address or other way for me to contact you. A winner will be randomly selected on August 19. You must have a US or Canada mailing address to win.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Free Weekly Resources!

The good stuff isn’t over yet! There are some great video resources available to you for free! Maybe you’re interested in how to answer the accusation that the Bible demeans women. Or you’re not sure what to say to the media-favorite question: should abortion be allowed in the case of rape? Or perhaps you have a smarty-pants kid like mine who wants to know if God can make a rock so big He can’t lift it. You’ll find all these topics and more at

ApoSB_ChurchLeaders_Banner300x250 (1)

You’ll also have a chance to win the Confident Faith Sweepstakes – a free Bible, a mini Apologetic Library, or even a free trip for two to hear some Christian apologetics at NCCA! Apo_eBlstSB_SwpLogo_2 (1)

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for coordinating this book for review and providing the giveaway prize. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win this giveaway!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Passport2Purity

This past winter, I kept seeing these little signs that it was time for “the talk.” That birds-&-bees-&-so-much-more talk. I wasn’t ready for it, so I pretty much ignored them.

Then I got this review opportunity in my email. I wasn’t ready for it. I ignored it.

It showed up again.

OK, God, I get the point. I signed up for the review. I still wasn’t sure if this would just be something I skimmed through and reviewed, waiting for the right time for “the talk.”

As the review deadline got closer, I tentatively made plans for “the talk.” I was all ready for God to intervene and cancel the plans.

He didn’t. Instead, there were more signs.

So we had “the talk.”

Out of respect for my daughter’s privacy, I won’t be giving a lot of details on “the talk.” I just want to say that God’s timing is always right. If you’re seeing the signs, don’t delay!P1130176

Synopsis of Kit

A life-changing getaway with your preteenPassport2Purity® Getaway Kit

Your child begins the journey into adolescence in a world of sexting, bullying, online stalking and moral defiance. Innocence is under attack, and you cannot win the battle with a single awkward talk or a strict set of rules. The primary defense for your child is a strong relationship with you and with God.

FamilyLife has developed Passport2Purity® (P2P) to assist you in building heart-to-heart communication with your preteen while laying a foundation of purity that will prepare them for the turbulent years ahead. Through the shared listening experience, object lessons and guided conversations of a P2P weekend getaway, you can set your son or daughter on a journey of moral integrity—and strengthen the bond between you.

Passport2Purity® is designed to be used by a mother and daughter or a father and son when the child is a preteen. It is suggested that the materials be completed over a weekend away from home, as the child may be more open to discussing the topics away from his or her normal environment. If this isn’t possible, the material can be completed over a period of four or five weeks.

About the Author
Dennis and Barbara Rainey cofounded FamilyLife®, an international ministry to families and marriages, located in Little Rock, Arkansas. Dennis hosts FamilyLife Today®, a nationally syndicated broadcast bringing help and hope to nearly 1000 communities in the U.S. They have six adult children and a growing group of happy grandchildren.

Age Recommendation: Parent with preteen 
Genre:  Christian parenting
Physical Description:  one Tour Guide (parent), one Travel Journal (preteen), and eight CDs (5 sessions, scripture memory songs & MP3s that can be downloaded from the CDs)
List Price:  $39.99
To Buy:
For More Information:
On Facebook:

Mom’s Review: The Good 
This worked for us! Here are some of the things I appreciated:

  • The Special Event. There are step-by-step instructions to make this a memorable event for your child. If you follow them, this is something that will stick with your child forever.
  • The God Focus. It’s all about Him, and He is definitely a factor in all the sessions and discussion.
  • The Ease of Use.
    • Honestly, this isn’t the most comfortable topic! Having a third party bring up the topics and important factors via CD (not face-to-face!) takes away most of the stress, both on the part of the parent and child. The child doesn’t feel as singled out – other kids are going through this. Questions and discussion are much easier.
    • The sessions are lined up to cover easier subjects first and work into the more difficult ones later, so you can easily dive right in on a comfortable topic and float along for the ride.
    • Preparation is only as complicated as you want it to be. There is a separate to-do and supply list you can carry around as you get it done. The supplies are mostly items you probably already have, and a quick trip to the dollar store will wrap it up.
  • The Parents’ Role. This wasn’t a presentation with all the answers. There was a lot of emphasis on communicating with parents throughout the adolescent journey and respecting their boundaries and input.
  • The Interesting Presentation. Sound effects, audio skits, illustrations, personal experiences from a variety of people, and comments of other preteens keep the listener intrigued and engaged throughout all five sessions.
  • The Projects.  They seemed a bit simple to me at first, but they are memorable, give a nice break from the audio presentation, and the kids like ‘em.
  • The Scripture Songs.  These are inserted at various points throughout the presentation and add another bit of a break. Even if they are not your style of music, they grow on you and are very effective. I wasn’t particularly enamored with the theme song at the beginning, but it is stuck in our heads now and comes out at the oddest of times.
  • The Versatility of Experience Range.  The presentation gives enough information for those who haven’t a clue, but also has good content for those who have thought a lot about the subject already. I think it would be most effective at the beginning stages of pre-puberty.
  • The Grace Component. While the focus is on abstinence until marriage, there is a section covering those who may have slipped on the journey. I think this is vital to keeping the communication lines open with your child through the journey to adulthood.
  • The Follow-up Devotionals. Some of the best discussion happens after the event is over and information has had time to sink in. I like the extension given by the 25 student devotionals.

Some Precautions:
This isn’t a fit for everyone. If you fall into one of the following categories, think seriously before purchasing.

  • The Non-Weekend. Yes, this can be adjusted to fit your schedule, such once a week over a period of 4-5 weeks. But the presentation makes numerous references to your “special weekend” – so if you choose to schedule differently, prepare your child for the references and let her know why you’ve chosen to do it differently.
  • Abstinence as an Option. If you’re wanting a sex-ed presentation that covers the options and pros and cons of each option, e.g. gives information on safe sex and alternatives to sex, this isn’t going to do it for you. It presents abstinence until marriage as the right choice and draws the line pretty early in the physical relationship.
  • Nontraditional Family Structure. There are lots of references to family members in the intact nuclear format. If you have a nontraditional family structure, e.g. are a single parent, be prepared to deal with that.
  • Diehard Feminist. There is a little section that addresses how girls’ actions can influence the way boys react and treat them. I personally think this is a great topic to cover with my daughter, but I could visualize the nostrils flaring on certain people I know.

Overall, this was a perfect fit for our family, and I highly recommend it for yours.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to FlyBy Promotions for coordinating this kit for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Day 1: Swimming with Guppies

The first day of our trip from Oregon to Missouri breaks forth bright and sunny as we finally settle down to the stressful business of packing. Which means Mom and Dad run helter-skelter around reminding each other of what the other needs to pack while forgetting what we are packing ourselves. While Miss 8yo Esmé stresses over what color hair tie to wear, what lip gloss to put in her purse, starts reading the first of the 8 books her Mom said she had to take on the trip, transfers everything to a bigger purse, or wanders around the yard talking to moths or pretending to be a raccoon.Books

Finally all packed, in the car, driving around the backyard, I say, “I see the lawn maintenance guy you organized is at work already – good job! It’s gonna take him the the whole two weeks we’re gone to get through the whole yard.” Deer

And then, “Have you seen the cat?”

“No, that was your job to keep track of him,” is the response.

So we drive back around to the front door and take a check inside to make sure Mr. Flamey isn’t locked up in the bedroom, where he will die since his food and water is set up in the utility room. We don’t find him there, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t there, since he is a master hider when he chooses not to be found (as opposed to a master loud nuisance when he demands your attention). He has free access to the outdoors, so he could be anywhere. I make a few circles around the yard with no Flamey sightings. And I am doomed to live the entire trip in fear that we will find a dead skeleton of a cat in our bedroom on our return.

Finally, on the road several hours later than planned (if you can call anything we do “planning”), heading east along the North Umpqua River, wondering if anything else along this road trip can compare to its beauty. A few obligatory calls to Esmé to “Look out the window, for Pete’s sake” as we pass Mt Thielsen and Diamond Lake. Unfortunately, she can see absolutely nothing on the left side of the road since we have luggage piled up high, so I’m hoping most of the sights will be on her right. Daddy keeps forgetting and tells her to look anyway, so we revisit this issue numerous times. I snap another grainy picture through the windshield for your viewing pleasure.Road

As we approach the T junction on the other side of the mountains, we debate the merits of going north through Bend and Idaho or south through Nevada with the destination of Salt Lake City by Sunday evening. South is a half hour shorter, so it wins, even though it means Esmé will never in her life get to check Idaho off her “states visited” list.

It turns out to be a beautiful choice. We figure out how to get on Hwy 140 heading towards Winnemucca, Nevada. Eastern Oregon is surprisingly green along this road, which follows a beautiful little river a ways through forest and countryside.

A few hours into the trip, Esmé is ready for it to be over. At least for an opportunity to get out and stretch her legs a bit. So we pull over in a turnout – not much in the way of rest areas and shops and parks on this road. Esmé can’t find her flip flops. I start pulling out the luggage that is stacked at her feet and next to her, looking for them. Then Dad asks her, “Did you even bring them?” Apparently, just before leaving, she’d been cavorting through our yard, full of stickers and burrs, barefoot, which she never does. And I, stupidly sensibly, didn’t pack her flip flops because I assume she’ll sensibly wear them to the car. So I repack everything I unpacked and loan her my flip flops for the day, because we’re not going to get very far if she doesn’t stretch her legs. How much sadness can a mother take?Barefoot

I have a pair of flats, but they are packed in the very back of a suitcase in the very back of the trunk, so I’m pretty much car-bound unless I wear Dad’s size-13 boats.

She decides that she really likes oversized flip flops and claims my flip flops for her own. So much for painting my toenails yesterday.Shoes

We eat the sandwiches I’d packed and head on, making sure to buy gas regularly since we never know where the next station will be and cell service is sketchy as best. By this time, we are the only car on the road for miles at a time. It is still quite pretty, just in a different “dry” way.

Esmé is proving not to be a long-distance traveler at this point and regularly claims carsickness. We stop again for a leg-stretch break near Warner Canyon Ski Area, pretty deserted at this time of year – as we head into the Great Basin.P1120551P1120558

We stop and take the obligatory photos at the state line into Nevada. Much ado at this first border crossing – and it’s not like we’re holding up traffic! (And yes, we will be back soon, Oregon.)OregonNevada

Realizing Winnemucca is too far away if we want to camp, I do a search in a rare spot with cell service and locate Virgin Valley Campground, in Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge two hours short of Winnemucca. We have no idea what it will be like and are almost hesitant to turn off, since we are in the middle of desert-y nowhere with nothing around but sagebrush and hills.VirginSheldon

Immediately on the turnoff, we realize this is right choice. An opal mine, obsidian (and apparently geodes) lining the road, it is a rock hunter’s paradise. There are ponds all along the drive filled with fowl of the best kind, pretty orange heads, mallards, and much more. We find the campground with a nice assortment of other campers, and it’s free!

After finding my second pair of shoes, pitching the tent (surprisingly complete with no missing parts) and liberally applying OFF, Esmé digs for gold with a tent peg.P1120565

Then we make the discovery of the night. There is a geothermal pool filled with guppies, bass, and tadpoles. The water also feeds a couple of showerheads so you can soap up and shower afterwards. So Esmé has her first swimming experience of the trip in quite the memorable place, catching guppies and watching tadpoles dart up and snatch them for snacks. And I have my first spa pedicure as the guppies nibbled the dead skin on my feet. Lovely.P1120567P1120569

We survive the night with only a few mosquito bites and wake up ready for breakfast and the next day’s drive.P1120574

I take a photo of the pool in daylight, as well as a nearby building.P1120578P1120577

Then, because our car isn’t heavily loaded enough, we stuff nooks and crannies of our overloaded car with rocks choice obsidian specimens, though we don’t come close to the 7- pound-per-person limit. Then we head on down the road to Winnemucca, vowing to come back for a full weekend of camping sometime soon.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jesus!


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Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Fragment: T I A Part 2

Originally posted July 27, 2008

Esmé pours rocks inside a plastic bag with no bottom. Her girlfriend had had this wrapped around her foot, and when she took it off Esmé was quite fascinated with it. She tried putting the plastic bag on her foot, too.

And girlfriend found some ribbon from a cassette tape in the rocks and was "flossing her teeth" with it. Esmé had to try that, too!
Another little girl who found plenty of entertainment in a piece of tape!
There is JOY in Africa, friends! Found amidst the rocks, plastic bags, cassette ribbon, and tape.

[Click here to continue reading]

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Fragment: T I A

Originally posted July 25, 2008

You know that joke about the employee who takes time off because he would like to attend his mother-in-law's funeral, only to ask for time off again the next month for the same reason? (The punchline is that she isn’t dead yet.)

Well, in Mozambique I don't think people would get the joke.

For starters, people refer to extended relatives as brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers. So when someone tells you his “sister” has died, it might be his cousin. And his “mother” might be his mother’s cousin. Seems sweet, but it’s a little disconcerting from an employer’s perspective when one tries to be sympathetic and keeps giving time off and funds for employee family funerals.

Remember our gardener, Antonio? The beanless guy? Yesterday he informed me that his wife just died, and he needs 2 weeks off and some travel money to fetch his son.

What? His wife died late last year – he took a month off then. Did he marry again already?

No, no. That wife was his second wife, his Maputo wife. His primary wife lived 3 days travel up north. And his son now has no one to care for him. The grandparents are dead, too.

How many more wives does he have????

Just these two. No more. Now he has no wives left.

My heart grieves for the motherless son. And once again I’m troubled by my lack of sympathy and compassion as an employer.

[Click here to continue reading]

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Fragment: What Esmé Needs

Originally posted July 23, 2008

    Here’s how it works – Google your name followed with a verb like “needs." Copy the first few results and add your own commentary.
    So here are our Thursday Thirteen for this 15-month-old bebe:

    1. Esmé needs to go date about 3 different guys and have the time of her life. Okay – I can do this, but I’m not sure Mommy and Daddy would approve until I’m a little older, say 16 months?
    2. Esmé needs her story now. Did you know there was a song by Jawbreaker about me? Neither did I! It’s not exactly kiddie music, though, so I’m not linking.
    3. Esmé needs love. Definitely! I’ve got plenty of it, thank goodness.
    4. Esmé needs to address her bank accounts. And which ones might those be? I got a piggy bank full of change – maybe I should bank it?

[Click here to continue reading]

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Fragment: How to Make Raisin Pie

Originally posted July 14, 2008
  1. Have a 15-month-old child.
  2. Buy a 2 kg bag of expensive raisins, since they’re cheaper in large quantities.
  3. Open the bag and use a few.
  4. Place the opened bag on the bottom shelf of the pantry.
  5. Leave the pantry door open.
  6. Discover 15-month-old in a pile of raisins on floor of pantry, happily eating away.
  7. Cry over spilled raisins.
  8. Pick up raisins off pantry floor, carefully separating them from onion skins also on pantry floor.
  9. Wash raisins.
[Click here to continue reading]

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

WW: Summer Days, Tea Parties, and Books

Tea Party

Nothing like starting a lazy summer day off right with a tea party, methinks…

And then follow it up with a reading marathon, since a good stack of books are due back at the library in two days and we want to get through as many as possible.  (Yes, our eyes are often bigger than our brains when checking those books out for three weeks.)

So this is supposed to be Wordless Wednesday and all, but I love reading others’ book lists at this time of year, so I figured we’d give you our summer list so far…
  • Gooney Bird Collection by Lois Lowry.  A four-story audiobook collection that is probably Esmé’s all-time favorite this summer.  Having an out-of-the-mold girl myself, I happen to be a little in love with 2nd-grader Gooney after listening to a couple.  She’s smart and different and stands up for the others when needed.  I want my daughter to have her teacher....
  • The Lemonade Crime by Jacqueline Davies.  This is a follow-up to The Lemonade War, which we had enjoyed on audiobook, so Esmé was quite ready to pick up the book and read on her own.  I wrapped up the last two chapters as a read-aloud so I wouldn’t be left in the dark. I like the series not just for “moral” lessons, but for the explicit vocabulary lessons and the fact that one of the characters has skipped a grade and deals with some of the same issues Esmé has gone through.
  • About Average by Andrew Clements.  Listened to audiobook.  If Mr. Clements wouldn’t write so many books, we would probably get through them all this summer.  They all seem to have extremely relatable kids in an extremely relatable school setting who are a bit outside the “normal” box, even in this book about “average,” and the writing is very engaging.
  • The Report Card by Andrew Clements.  The chapter book currently in Esmé’s paws as I type.  I haven’t read yet, but it’s probably a sure bet due to the author.
  • We the Children (Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School) by Andrew Clements.  I’m encouraging Esmé to pick out one book on her own at the library each week, and this is her latest (and most ambitious) personal pick.  She’s a few chapters into it and won’t let me borrow it to read myself yet. The history/mystery genre is a bit different from his other books, so I’m curious as to whether we’ll like this series.
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio.  Listened to audiobook.  I can understand why this book seems to be really popular this year, though it is quite long.  I work with people with disabilities, and the emphasis is always on how we are more the same than different, no matter how visible the disability.  This book brings home that understanding to young minds.
  • A Girl Called Tommie by Thelma G. Norman.  We swap-read this chapter book.  It’s a throwback to my childhood that I found while visiting my parents, and I love that Esmé loved the same stories. Lots of little adventures and lessons for young girls…
  • Rush Revere and the First Patriots:  Time Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans by Rush Limbaugh.  A look into American history from a pro-American viewpoint. I’m enjoying it more than Esmé, so we’re using it as a history-lesson read-aloud.  The illustrations are fabulous and the magical time-traveling horse is downright funny.
  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan.   Listened to audiobook.  We’ve done studies on the Great Depression before, and this is a good tie-in from a different perspective.
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg.  Listened to audiobook.  I admit this had me concerned from the get-go – would it inspire Miss Esmé to plan a run-away-from-home excursion?  But we stuck it out and mostly enjoyed it, and it fits in nicely with Esmé’s summer art camp adventures. I was amused to see it is on Esmé’s 4th grade curriculum list (one of three novels), so she’ll get to enjoy it a bit more over the next year.
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.  Listened to audiobook.  To be honest, I swapped several times between not enjoying and enjoying the writing style of this book, but Esmé wanted to listen to the whole thing, so we did.  In addition to being about an amazing kid with remarkable survival skills, it deals with a lot of racial issues.  I do like the ending, so am glad I stuck it out.
  • The Otter, the Spotted Frog & the Great Flood by Gerald Hausman. A read-aloud picture book.  We’d studied how the Flood turns up in ancient tales across civilizations, and this was an interesting illustration in point.  Speaking of illustrations, it was also a good example of interesting Native American art.
  • No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young.  A read-aloud picture book.  I like the fun storyline with two little bookworms with kid-appealing humor on each page.  And while it is a fun book, it’s even more an educational book about the many creatures who contribute to your chocolate bar, including, yes, the brain-eating coffin fly.
  • Beauty and the Beast by H. Chuku Lee.  A read-aloud picture book. I like books that tell a familiar story or fairy tale from a different cultural perspective, but to be honest, this wasn’t a particularly stand-out one except for the illustrations.
  • The Boy Who Loved Math:  The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman. A read-aloud picture book.  Let’s face it: Esmé was a crazy math lover as a little thing, but Common Core has sucked it right out of her.  I don’t expect her to be another Paul Erdos, but I’d love to spark that math love again, so I’m looking for books like this that illustrate the fun of it.
  • Simeon’s Gift by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton.  A read-aloud picture book.  A whimsical tale of music and love.
  • Amelia Bedelia Means Business by Herman Parish.  Just a fun early chapter book on Esmé’s book list that’ll make Amelia Bedelia fans smile.
  • Never Girls #1: In a Blink by Kiki Thorpe.  The first in a Disney early chapter book series that fed Esmé’s fairy fetish for a bit.  Esmé read and recommends it, though it probably wouldn’t make my list.
  • Stink and the Freaky Frog Freakout by Megan McDonald.  Another Esmé-recommended popular series book that I didn’t read and probably wouldn’t put on my list.  Though she keeps bringing up amphibian fact tidbits that she supposedly learned from the book.
  • Rainbow Magic Princess Fairies (and more) by Daisy Meadows.  Yes, this would be the year of the fairy series for Miss Esmé.  Thanks to her cousins’ book supplies, she is well stocked with these whenever she needs a quick enjoyable read to meet her reading quota for the day…
  • Imagination Station Books (Adventures in Odyssey series).  To balance things out a bit, I bought a 16-book set of these that also fit into Miss Esmé’s reading lineup this summer.  A bit like the Magic Tree House series with its history lessons, but with Adventures in Odyssey characters and a Christian theme.