Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Building a child's faith journey home library: Zacchaeus, Jesus, Hands for Jesus [Review & Giveaway]

What are you doing to build your child's home library that will aid in his faith journey? Start young! Start with truth and faithfully rendered Bible story books.

The Man in the Tree & the Brand New Start: A True Story about Zacchaeus & the Difference Knowing Jesus Makes by Carl Laferton & illustrated by Catalina Echeverri

Buy Here
Free Activity Downloads

My thoughts: 
This is a New Testament Bible story that is always a favorite of young children and they most always respond wonderfully to it's telling. In this author's and artist's retelling of Zacchaeus' story, it begins with three things to know about Zacchaeus - he was short, he was very rich, and he was not happy. And then one day Jesus came to town.

The illustrations are super cute and colorful. The presentation is several small scenes and short paragraphs of text of each page that will engage the young reader or listener. And Zacchaeus in the tree is really something to see. And then Jesus saw him and what a change.

The book then segues to a modern home and applies it to life for today. Beautifully told and a sure winner for building your child's faith library.

About the book: Zacchaeus was very short, very rich, and not very happy, but his encounter with Jesus changed everything. 

In response to the grace Jesus showed him, Zacchaeus was transformed from the inside out. He repented, treasured Jesus above everything else, and showed kindness and generosity to others like never before.

Use this story to teach children that only following Jesus will make them truly happy and fulfilled, and that genuine repentance and faith is demonstrated by loving others. Secret word: library

Little Me, Big God: Stories about Jesus: Eight True Stories from the Bible by Steph Williams & illustrated by Steph Williams

Buy Here $19.99

My thoughts: 
This is truly a wonderful compilation of Bible stories about Jesus for the young child. Each story is told in an engaging manner and the illustrations capture the attention of the child. I love that there are eight stories in one book instead of separate books. The book is a little more hefty than young children's books usually are, but not too large or heavy for a toddler to handle. It gives the child an opportunity to request a specific favorite to be re-read to him. And each story has more detailed explanation and Scripture references at the end of the pictorial story. A real plus.

The "Stories About Jesus" is a series of books (see here) and you can purchase single stories ($4.99) or the volumn of eight ($19.99). A wonderful addition to a child's faith journey library.

About the book: 
  • How many people did Jesus feed with one boy's lunch?
  • Why did a dad run down a road?
  • What happened when Jesus's disciples stopped some children who wanted to talk to him?
  • And why did Jesus die on a cross?

Enjoy reading eight Gospel stories, retold in a faithful and fun way for 2-4-year-olds. Toddlers and preschoolers will love the colorful, exciting illustrations, and older ones can get to grips with the "extra bits" that go deeper into each story.

This hardback collection of eight stories from the "Little Me, Big God" series is a great addition to any young child's bookshelf or children's ministry range.


  1. The House that Went Splat (Luke 6)
  2. The Boy Who Shared His Sandwich (Luke 9)
  3. The Best Thing to Do (Luke 10)
  4. How Can I Pray? (Luke 11)
  5. The Dad Who Never Gave Up (Luke 15)
  6. Never Too Little (Luke 18)
  7. The Man Who Would Not Be Quiet (Luke 18)
  8. The Easter Fix (Luke 22 – 24)

Your Amazing Hands by Abbey Wedgeworth, illustrated by Emma Randall

Buy Here

My thoughts: 
The illustrations depict young elementary but the book will also appeal and be appropriate for young toddlers as well. The illustrations are also very inclusive showing children of a variety of skin colors, etc. Written with a delightful rhyming text that flows energetically from page to page telling the story of how our hands are wonderfully movable, strong, creative, helpful, loving, kind. 

Hands are amazing and they are made by our amazing, creative Creator-God. And then the text goes on to tell us that sometimes our hands don't do what they should do and how that problem can be solved.

An amazing book about our amazing hands created by our Amazing God. Another wonderful addition to your child's faith journey library.

About the book: This charming rhyming book celebrates God’s good design for our hands, motivating children aged 3+ to use their hands to glorify God.  

Children will be inspired by all the creative and interesting things their hands can do—they can even use them to bring comfort and joy to others! They’ll discover that Jesus had hands just like ours and that he always used his hands in the most amazing ways, including to save us. 

Click to see inside

Not only that: the way that Jesus used his hands means that we can be forgiven when we use our hands in the wrong way. Children are invited to pray for forgiveness when they make mistakes, and for help to use their hands in the ways God intends. The book’s fun rhyming style and colorful illustrations make it easy to engage with this life-altering message of repentance, forgiveness, and grace-fueled obedience. 

Your Amazing Hands is part of the Training Young Hearts series, which consists of board books for toddlers as well as rhyming books for children over 3. All the books in the series train young hearts through the gospel, both by showing Jesus as an example and by explaining how his grace enables us to change. Parents, teachers, and other loved ones can refer back to these resources when specific behaviors need to be both corrected and connected to forgiveness, grace, and growth.

3 Books for 1 Winner
Begins May 20
Ends June 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.

And just for fun..... clips of songs from youtube Zacchaeus Was A Wee Little Man and The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rocks

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions expressed are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided by and mailed directly to the winner by The Good Book USA or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, May 17, 2024

"Behold the Hummingbird!" & "About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children" books to introduce children to birding [Review & Giveaway]

Behold the Hummingbird by Suzanne Slade & illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez

My thoughts: 
A simply beautiful book that will bring the beautiful hummingbird family of birds to children and teach and delight as they turn page after page of gorgeousness. Simple text in large print on one side for the young readers and listeners with more indepth information on the adjacent page to further educate the readers. 

What a delightful way to engage children and help them understand these beautiful and delight creatures. Be prepared, though, they will want to plant hummingbird attracting plants and place bird feeders around to draw these awesome birds to their own yards.

A delightful addition for home libraries as well as school and public libraries.

About the book: Lyrical text and gorgeous illustrations take flight in this exploration of the tiny, gorgeous hummingbirds and its astonishing abilities.

Hummingbirds are tiny and pretty, so you might find yourself taking them for granted. But these little birds are remarkable, fierce, and talented. In Behold the Hummingbird, readers will learn about species that can hover like a helicopter, fly backwards and upside down, and consume half their body weight in a single day.

About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill & illustrated by John Sill

My thoughts: 
The "Sill combo" of author and illustrator has brought another beautiful and captivating study of the natural world to children in this About Hummingbirds: A Guide for Children book. (Click HERE for more of my reviews of The Sill's books.)

The illustrations are simply beautiful and accurately capture the subject, the hummingbirds, and their particular environment. Deftly drawn and painted, each illustration has a special charm to draw the reader's interest. The text is simply written for young preschoolers as well as elementary grades. The back matter presents more indepth information and a short glossary. 

Another delightful book for bird lovers as well as libraries of all types. Secret word: nectar

About the book: An award-winning first glimpse into the world of hummingbirds.

In this addition to the acclaimed About... series, author and educator Cathryn Sill uses simple, easy-to-understand language to teach children what hummingbirds are, how they look, how they move, what they eat, and where they live.

Behold the Hummingbird 
(1 book, 1 winner)
Begins May 17
Ends June 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from the publisher to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize copy is provided and mailed directly to the winner by the publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

The world beyond us... "I'm a Black Hole" and "Cosmic Collisions: Asteroid vs Comet" STEM Reading (Mom's Rock Giveaway Hop) [Review & Giveaway]

Scroll down for terrific giveaways you can enter.
Bloghop hosted by MamaTheFox

I’m a Black Hole (Meet the Universe) by Dr. Eve M. Vavagiakis from MIT Kids Press

My thoughts:   
Simplistically written in rhyming text, a child can envision himself in space and contemplating a black hole. The narration states that black holes are condensed matter or collapsed mater and are extremely dense. Also, the idea that a black hole can swallow anything within the boundaries of its "event horizon" is presented, but our young space traveler need not worry because he can't get close enough to be swallowed up.

Truly an interesting introduction to the mysteries of the universe and what a black hole is. This will make an interesting read for older elementary children as well as middle grade readers. The book's back matter has terms defined and explained a bit more comprehensively yet still quite elementary.

A good addition to home libraries for space-minded readers and for school and classroom libraries. MIT Kids Press does such a good job of science education for young readers.

About the book: Journey to the event horizon in this playful, mind-bending introduction to one of our universe’s most mysterious marvels—narrated by a black hole itself.

Lurking at the center of our galaxy and in the farthest reaches of space are black holes. Once unseeable and unknowable, these cosmic devourers—sometimes born from the death of stars—swallow even light itself. What exactly is a black hole? And how do we even know they exist? In a kid-friendly, rhyming narration, the elusive astronomical object introduces itself as both a behemoth star-eater and a shy, rarely-spotted phenomena. Physicist Eve M. Vavagiakis’s approachable text is paired with Jessica Lanan’s imaginative depictions of a young astronaut venturing where no human has gone before, along with stunning renderings of our fascinating narrator and the final frontier. Endnotes expand, spread by spread, on the fascinating science behind black holes and the cutting-edge experiments used to study them. This second entry in the Meet the Universe series will light readers’ curiosity and have them racing to discover more secrets hidden among the stars.

Cosmic Collisions: Asteroid vs. Comet by Dr. Marc J. Kuchner from MIT Kids Press

My thoughts: 
The image of a cosmic collision involving Earth and an asteriod is mind boggling and terrifying. In this book Cosmic Collisions: Asteroid vs. Comet, the author describes the opponents - Asteroid vs. Comet - and the lead up to their impending battle or collision. The reader will learn what an asteroid is, it's orbit, it's composition, and it's possible impact on Earth. Information about a Comet is also provided about the Comet's composition, speed, orbit, and the impact it's collision would have on whatever it collided. 

The reader is given information and then asked to determine what the outcome of an Asteroid vs. Comet collision would be. It might surprise the reader to learn the real outcome.

This is another interesting science read from MIT Kids Press and one that will stretch the imagination and comprehension of young readers.

About the book: What happens when two massive hunks of hurtling space debris slam into each other? Welcome to round one in the Cosmic Collisions series—an exciting children’s debut from an expert astrophysicist.

There’s a comet speeding in from the outer solar system, and it’s about to slam into an asteroid. Who will be left standing after this interplanetary smackdown? The pockmarked asteroid, a veteran fighter who’s already seen some action? Or the dazzling comet, with its incredible velocity and a tail that stretches millions of miles? Kicking off a dynamic series on cosmic collisions, Asteroid vs. Comet starts by comparing the two opponents, then offers hints and context to encourage readers to use real science to form a hypothesis. Action-packed full-color illustrations with a graphic, comic-book feel will attract reluctant readers and kids who love smash-and-crash, along with budding scientists. Curious readers can find back matter addressing the question of fact versus fiction, how to become a citizen scientist, and comets and asteroids in the news. Secret word: collision

I'm A Black Hole (1 copy, 1 winner)
Begins May 16
Ends June 1 @ 12:00 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations. Click links below to enter other giveaways.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from the publisher, Candlewick Press / MIT Kids Press to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely expressed. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Kregel's Bible centric books help toddlers & preschools understand Scripture [Review & Giveaway]

My Toddler Bible (Timeless Stories for Little Ones) board book ISBN: 9780825448669

Buy it on Kregel Publishing

My thoughts:  An adorable little one's board book with a convenient handy handle for their ease in carrying about. The illustrations are attention grabbing, fun, brightly colorful, and aid in understanding the story.

The text is lengthy enough to tell the story adequately for the intendended age audience with a vocabulary that is not "dumbed down for age." 

Kregel Publishing's children's books have always been winners for engagement, accuracy, design, and lasting quality. I highly recommend.

About the book: A perfect Bible for little hands

Filled with rich and colorful illustrations and simple text faithful to the Bible, My Toddler Bible is perfect for children ages 1 to 3. The twenty-eight Bible stories include Scripture references and are taken equally from both the Old and New Testaments to form a complete arc of God's story.

Toddlers will love the built-in handle to carry their Bible with them everywhere--including church! And parents and grandparents will love that its compact form and bright pictures will inspire their little ones to engage with Scripture from an early age.

My Bigger Search and Find Bible ISBN: 9780825448478

Buy it on Kregel Publishing

My thoughts:  Children simply love search and find books and educators (and parents) love them, too. They engage the child with the book and the content of the book. True, some of the items the child is to find have very little to do with the story, it keeps them engaged. In My Bigger Search & Find Bible children journey quickly through the Bible with brief encounters with characters and stories. While doing so, they learn of God's being bigger than their problems. As an aside, you'll note that each story page opens out to four times the book's size. Again "bigger." 

I highly recommend this engaging search and find Bible story book for children. Again Kregel Publications has a winner.

About the book: Fun-filled way for kids to learn how BIG the love of God is...

From the very first page, this fun book is designed to help kids ages 4 to 6 understand that God's love for us is bigger than we can imagine!

Each page expands to four times its size. And in every colorful Bible scene, a child can search and find Bible friends, animals, and other items for even more interactive fun. Secret word: Bible

Packed with cheerful illustrations and a world of play, children will want to come back to this unique Bible over and over, fostering a love of God's Word and a new understanding of his expansive love.

2 Children's Bible books from Kregel Publications
Begins May 3
Ends June 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary books to facilitate a review. Opinons are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize books are provided and mailed/shipped directly to the winner by Kregel Publishing or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

The Encountering God Study Bible NKJV (Review & Giveaway]

Encounter God through the Scriptures as you are guided by the wisdom and experience of the Blackaby family. Product page.

The deepest need of every human heart is to encounter God. To meet with God, to be changed by Him, and to become more like Him as a result. For decades, the Blackaby family has dedicated their ministry to helping believers address this deepest need. Now you can learn from their insights to experience deeper encounters with God as you develop a regular routine of Bible reading and study in the Encountering God Study Bible.

The Encountering God Study Bible is the crowning work of the Blackabys. Featuring their trusted approach to Bible study, explanatory notes, word studies, biblical character sketches, historical encounters with lives of exemplary faith, articles highlighting the creative nature of God, and other articles defending the faith, you will be encouraged to see that you can encounter God in His Word—and that He wants to encounter you through it.

Features include:
  • Presentation page allows you to personalize this special gift by recording a memory or note
  • Encounter Notes highlighting how God might choose to encounter you in His Word
  • Articles highlighting the creative nature of God by Daniel Blackaby
  • Articles defending the lasting truths of the faith by Mike Blackaby
  • Rich explanatory notes explaining ideas, events, people, and places in the text to make the meaning clear
  • Word studies, character studies, and biographical sketches of church history figures all written by members of the Blackaby family
  • Word studies shed light on key terms and important meaning from the original Greek and Hebrew
  • Character profiles give overviews of key men and women in the Bible
  • Biographical sketches give examples of people who faithfully encountered and followed God in their life
  • Book introductions setting the scene for each biblical book and its importance for encountering God
  • Timeline of the biblical narrative for a better understanding of how historical and biblical events fit throughout history
  • A succinct harmony of the Gospels details the life and ministry of Jesus in chronological order showing where each event and teaching occur in the Gospels
  • Chart of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus as Messiah provides Old Testament prophecies and where they have been fulfilled in the New Testament
  • Reading plans guiding you through the entire Bible in a year
  • Center-column reference set allow you to find related passages quickly and easily
  • Full NKJV concordance provides an alphabetical listing of important passages by key words
  • Words of Christ in red quickly identify verses spoken by Jesus
  • Index to easily find word studies, character studies, historical encounters, apologetic, and aesthetic articles
  • Ribbon markers make it easy to navigate and keep track of where you were reading (Secret word: Holiness)
  • Clear and readable NKJV Comfort Print® in a 9-point print size
Click Here to purchase Encountering God Study Bible NKJV
Several bindings to choose from.

My thoughts: Firstly, my translation preference is the King James Version but this Encountering God Study Bible in the New King James Version (NKJV) runs a very close second in my preferences. The bible (in black Leathersoft™) is absolutely beautiful.The type font is a new one from Thomas Nelson and is classic and so very readable. Readability is not only in size of font, but also in the way the font is shaped and clarity of the font. This one is superb. The layout of the verses is also classic and makes it particularly easy for me as a lifetime KJV version reader.

It is wonderfully endowed with study aids that are easy to access and understand. There is an abundance of study assistance given in this Bible to aid the reader and they are clearly laid out. The Words of Jesus in red ink is another helpful asset. 

Inserted on the pages, and in clear, readable print, are various study aids. Example: 1) Character Study 2 Chr. 3:2 Absalom, and 2) in the same area "Encountering a Creative God" 2 Chronicles 3: God Values Art and Beauty. There are also short "Encounter Notes" such as "God's Awesome Presence."

Beautifully bound with gold edged pages and ribbon markers, this soft cover Bible in a treasure. I highly recommend.

Encountering God Study Bible NKJV
Open to USA addresses only
Begins April 30 
Ends May 9 @ 12:00 Midnight EDT
DISCLOSURE: Many thanks to Harper Collins Christian Publishing for providing a sample of the product for this review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. Winner's prize copy of this Bible is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher, Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The movie "Unsung Hero" about the band FOR KING + COUNTRY & their struggles [Review]


Tickets available for EARLY ACCESS NIGHT

About the movie: When David Smallbone's successful music company collapses, he moves his family from Australia to the United States in search of a brighter future. With nothing more than their six children, their suitcases, and their love of music, David (for KING + COUNTRY's Joel Smallbone) and his pregnant wife Helen (Daisy Betts) set out to rebuild their lives from the ground up. Based on a remarkable true story, a mum's faith stands against all odds; and inspires her husband and children to hold onto theirs.

My thoughts: Though I'm not a big fan of contemporary Christian music, I'm more of a traditional music lover, I found I was very interested in the history and story behind the Smallbone family and their foray into the business of Christian music.

This film consists of some very good acting, good cinematography, and true-to-life realism in costuming and design. The portray of their riches-to-rags-to-riches struggle is extremely moving and not real-to-life. As a mother of a family of five children, I found myself truly aching deep within my being at the mother's struggle to keep it all together, provide what was needed, and live a day-to-day life somewhat normal.

The bitterness, depression, deep hurt of betrayal that David Smallbone experienced and his plumet from being a glad-handing promoter to a penniless dad is heart breaking. 

The resilience of the children, especially the youngest, is uplifting and encouraging. They truly win the day.

And most of all, their deep faith and reliance of the God of miracles reminds viewers that we are not alone in our struggles and fight. 

A film worth seeing!


Tickets available for EARLY ACCESS NIGHT

Giveaway: $10 Amazon Gift Card
 Limited to US winners only.
Begins April 9 & Ends May 2
DISCLOSURE:  Secret word: song - Many thanks to Kingdom Faith Marketing Services, LLC for providing a sample of the movie for my review. Opinions are 100% my own. This is a sponsored post. Giveaway prize is provided by publicist or Momentum Influencers and emailed directly to winner by provider. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

These Tangled Threads: (A Southern Historical Fiction Book Set on the Early 1920's Biltmore Estate) by Sarah Loudin Thomas [Revies & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780764242014
Bethany House
Paperback $17.99
My thoughts: Set amidst the beauty of the North Carolina Smoky Mountains, the story is based primarily on the little village at the foot of the estate of the Vanderbilt's "Biltmore Mansion." The story, though primarily in the village, touches on the relationship of workers in the village with the mansion properly. It meanders through the mountains of North Carolina and even touches West Virginia a bit.

The period of 1916 through mid-1920s was presented as a hard life in the Appalachian mountains, the pre-depression era, and after a major flood hit the area sweeping away much of life. The author creates characters appropriate for the time period who have been rescued from being orphans whose parents simply threw them away to kind clergy and gracious lady-of-the-manor persons.

The creativity of reclusive Appalachian ladies whose artistic weaving is at the heart of the story as is their hard-scrabble life. The author's descriptions of the designs woven into the fabric by these artists and the source of their design makes one wish to actually see and touch the cloth.

The story employs split timelines which does confuse the reader at times. I would prefer a more straightforward read as far as the time element goes. I felt this a deterrent to my personal enjoyment and the reason for my slow reading of the book.

Though all the characters were well fleshed out and knowable, I frankly only liked one character, Arthur, the now grown man who was an abandoned orphan raised by the local clergyman. He was kind, generous, smart, and a gifted artisan.

I have visited Biltmore and it is a beautiful place. The surrounding mountains envelope one with their majesty. The mansion is stunning. The gardens lovely. It has been said that the mansion was built in the style of English manors where there was a village that provided workers for the manor.

About the book: Set in the shadow of Biltmore Estate, a poignant tale of friendship, restoration, and second chances.

Seven years ago, a hidden betrayal scattered three young friends living in the shadow of the great Vanderbilt mansion. Now, when Biltmore Industries master weaver Lorna Blankenship is commissioned to create an original design for Cornelia Vanderbilt's 1924 wedding, she panics knowing she doesn't have the creativity needed. But there's an elusive artisan in the Blue Ridge Mountains who could save her--if only she knew where to begin.

To track down the mysterious weaver, Lorna sees no other way than to seek out the relationships she abandoned in shame. As she pulls at each tangled thread from her past, Lorna is forced to confront the wounds and regrets of life long ago. She'll have to risk the job that shapes her identity, as well as the hope of friendship--and love--restored.

About the Author: Sarah Loudin Thomas (sarahloudinthomas.com) is the author of numerous acclaimed novels, including The Finder of Forgotten Things, The Right Kind of Fool, winner of the 2021 Selah Book of the Year, and Miracle in a Dry Season, winner of the 2015 INSPY Award. She worked in public relations for Biltmore Estate for six years and is now the director of Jan Karon's Mitford Museum. A native of West Virginia, she and her husband now live in western North Carolina. Secret word: tangled

Where to purchase
Read to an excerpt

Begins April 21
Ends May 20 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone, and are freely given. Winner's prize copy is provided and mailed/shipped directly to the winner by author or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.