The Christian Alphabet Book by Tracy Sands

ChristianAlphabetBook-400x500-240x300 The Christian Alphabet Book by Tracy Sands is beautiful inside and out. Inspired during a church choir program, Sands created this alphabet to help all teachers of children provide a fun, instructive way to grow in Christian faith.

The stunning artwork further deepens the tremendous meaning behind the text. Guided by “Love,” the dove from above, readers follow from A to Z through a spiritual alphabet that is complemented by definitions, symbols, prayers, Bible verses, poems and songs. Halfway through, the reader is asked to recite what she has learned and to sing “The Christian Alphabet Song,” which they can listen to on the book’s website. The symbols found on each page are explained in detail at the back of the book, and “Love,” the dove from above makes a final appearance with a special surprise.

I highly recommend this book to Christian families and educators everywhere. It’s a powerful and unique way to teach our children.

Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Love the Dove Publishing (October 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0985792809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0985792800
  • SRP: $19.95

I received a free copy of this book from the author through Pump Up Your Book. This review contains my honest opinions, for which I received no compensation of any kind.


Top 10 Middle Grade and Young Adult Books of 2011

I’ve had such a difficult time picking favorites this year. There are so many books that can make these lists–like I mentioned over at The Book Connection–when I posted my Top 10 for that blog earlier today. I didn’t read as many books in the middle grade and young adult categories as I would have liked to this year, but I’m hoping to focus a bit more on those in 2012. It all depends upon my schedule and the requests I receive.

Sometimes reviewers are lucky when compiling their Top 10, and one book stands out amongst the rest. That is certainly the case for this list. Once We Were Kings by Ian Alexander is my favorite in the MG/YA categories for 2011. It tells the story of an orphan boy and a peasant girl from opposing villages who must work to unite their kingdoms against a powerful enemy that  threatens to destroy them.  With wonderful, well-drawn characters and a superb plot, Once We Were Kings  takes top honors this year.

While not a huge lover of this genre, I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon excellent fantasy titles for young readers over the past couple of years. I look forward to finding more.

Here are other favorites from 2011:

2. Vorak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak T. Incomprehensible

3.  Horrid Henry Rocks by Francesca Simon

4.  Horrid Henry Wakes the Dead by Francesca Simon

5.  Bad Spelling by Marv Dasef

6. Peter Rock Star from Galilee: A Guided Bible Study for Teens by Sherree Funk

7. The Crypto-Capers in The Chest of Mystery by Renee Hand

8. Nana Takes the Reins by Kathleen Lane

9. Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz

10. True Grime by Natasha Deen

Look for  my list for favorite picture books coming soon!

Coming Soon! – Top 10 Books of 2011

I try to compile a list every year of my top favorite books that I’ve read. I didn’t make it last year because my book, Little Shepherd, came out in August and I was busy promoting it. This year, I was determined to go back to sharing my favorites. I read close to 100 books in the children’s, middle grade and young adult genres in 2011. Since I’ve read more picture books than anything this year, I decided to create two different lists: one for picture books and one for middle grade and young adult fiction.

I’m hoping to have both lists posted by the end of the weekend. In the meantime, can you share some of your favorite books in these genres?

Clip art from:

Favorite Character Halloween Books for Kids

Yes, I’m a bit early, but I figure if Wal-Mart can have their Christmas lights available for purchase in September, I can talk about Halloween books.

It’s Clifford’s first Halloween, and Emily Elizabeth dresses him up as the cutest little ghost ever. Clifford wants to try everything: trick-or-treating, candy apples, and homemade haunted houses. Discover Halloween with everyone’s favorite red puppy!

Clifford has been a favorite around here since my son was little. The girls are mostly past this stage, but every once in a while, a Clifford book is slid out of the shelf.

Avoiding a lecture from Mama Junebug, the kitty boy slips into his closet…and finds himself in ancient Egypt. His doggy pals, Los Chimichangos, want to visit Under Mundo—the underworld—where mummitos rest in peas. But they need El Skippito’s brains and courage to answer the riddle of the Finx and enter the mummy’s tomb. Our hero is up to the task, and he’s in for another grand and whirlwind adventure.

Skippyjon Jones is another Malandrinos household favorite. We had a Siamese cat for years. Plus, I like the level of imagination involved in this series.


Halloween is here, and Curious George is getting ready for the big night. There are so many costumes to try on, treats to share, and games to play! George has so much Halloween fun picking out the perfect pumpkin, decorating his house, and celebrating with his friends that he’s not sure he’s ready for the day to end. Follow the little monkey through his fun-filled day with this book of poems. Happy Halloween, Curious George is a sweet treat to help Curious George fans of all ages get in the Halloween spirit.

Is there a kid on the face of the planet who doesn’t like Curious George? When I began developing my Beatrice series–which I hope will get picked up soon–I designed her to be a female human Curious George. She’s morphed into something different now, but that curious, accidentally mischievous monkey still holds a place in  my heart.

No one knows Fancy like Nancy . . .

. . . and no one knows Halloween like Nancy!

Nancy has an exciting Halloween party to attend with her friend. Nancy gets fancy in a very special costume for the big event.

Each of the girls went through their Fancy Nancy stage. We bought some of the books for the Lil Diva and others for the Lil Princess. There seems to always be a Fancy Nancy book at the Scholastic Book Fair. They sell this book as part of a four-book series.

When I think of classic children’s books, The Berenstain Bears are right up there with some of the best. My girls never got into them much, but my son loved them. I have them saved in case he wants them for when he has kids. They have more than one spooky, Halloween type book, but Bears in the Night is one I used to read often.

Seven bears sneak out of bed, through the window, and across the dark countryside to investigate the source of a noise.  

Phineas and Ferb is one of my favorite cartoons. The brothers are determined to have an action-filled summer, while the goal of their older sister, Candace, is to get them in trouble with their Mom. They have a pet platypus named, Perry, who unknown to the family is a secret agent out to thwart the evil, Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Talk about a bowl full of imagination!

In Haunted Hayride, Phineas and Ferb have completely transformed their backyard into a giant corn maze for Halloween night. They’ve even built a wagon to take all of their friends on a haunted hayride! But little do they know that the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz has created a giant monster to destroy their town. And when the monster heads for Phineas and Ferb’s house, will Perry the Platypus–aka Agent P–be able to save the day? Or will this Halloween be a total fright night?

I have to admit I don’t understand the appeal of Junie B. Jones. She’s self-centered (not unexpected), loud, obnoxious and her English is atrocious. That said, my girls love her. I like that the series has grown with Junie B. She started out as a kindergartener and is now a first grader. She has new friends added to her old group, a new teacher, and different adversaries.

With Halloween approaching, Junie B. needs to find a costume that will scare off the real witches and ghosts that she believes will be out on the holiday.

The Lil Princess and I read this book together last year. It’s one of the funniest of the series.

I haven’t read any of the Magic Tree House books, but my girls have read them in school. I think the Lil Diva might even own a few. I like the time travel aspect of the books, in addition to the fact that this series is known to encourage reading. The Lil Diva is a reluctant reader, so if she talks about a book, I know it’s captured her attention.

Jack and Annie have traveled all over the world in their magic tree house. But they’ve never been anywhere like this. In the distance, a haunted castle looms dark against the light of the moon. No candles burn in its windows. No laughter rings through its halls.

What has happened to the castle and the people who lived there? Merlin the magician asks Jack and Annie to find out. But are they brave enough to brush the cobwebs aside and step through the creaking doors? And are they smart enough to solve the mystery of how the castle became haunted?

Find out in a story packed to the margins with magic, history, and adventure!

Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve, sounds like the perfect Halloween read to me.

Now that we’ve talked about our family’s favorite character Halloween reads, can you share some of your own?

2010 Favorite Books

Around the beginning of January I usually post about my favorite books from the previous year. I am holding off for a little bit because I still have one YA novel that I’ve had for a while that I would like to read before posting my favorites.

There will be a new From the Family Bookshelf column coming soon. Right now, the snow is falling fast and it’s possible I will lose my Internet connection. That storm that pummeled the Southeast is now up here in the north making a menace of itself.

If I have power and Internet access later today I’ll try to post my From the Family Bookshelf column then.

Stay safe everyone!