Friday, December 19, 2014

Book Review :: Let There Be Light by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, illustrated by Nancy Tillman

Let There Be Light is a new book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu (illustrated by Nancy Tillman). Let There Be Light is available as a hardcover, a board book, and is also available for Kindle. (I received the board book edition to review.)

Author Archbishop Desmond Tutu is a Nobel Peace Prize Winner. Illustrator Nancy Tillman has illustrated books such as On The Night You Were Born and Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You
Let There Be Light is a beautifully written biblical story of creation (written in story form, not quoted from the Bible). It is written in a way that maintains the awe and wonder of the creation week. 

The illustrations in Let There Be Light are interesting. The illustrations seem to be a mixture of paintings and photographs that have been retouched for a "painted" feel. Many of the illustrations contain a hint of a human (Jesus?) form, which is often portrayed with a glow. I thought this was an interesting addition to the pages. 

All in all, I think Let There Be Light is a beautifully done story of creation to share with children. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Book Review :: NASB Note-taker's Bible by Zondervan

The Note-taker's Bible is now available in many versions: KJVNKJVNIVNASB, and Amplified. I received the hardcover edition of the NASB version of the Note-taker's Bible to review, but it is also available in imitation leather

The cover image you see shows the dust cover image for the NASB Note-taker's Bible. Underneath the dustcover, the hardcover is a full-coverage black/dark grey (with a linen texture look) - it simply says "Holy Bible" on the front cover and spine (with additional NASB and Zondervan logos on the spine). The NASB Note-taker's Bible is approximately 1 1/4" thick (as opposed to the 3/4" thick NASB Thinline Bible). 

Inside, the NASB Note-taker's Bible basically looks like a Bible that was trimmed incorrectly, which is where the note-taking space comes in. The text is all toward the top and spine of the Bible, with unlined margin space on the sides and bottom of the text. 
As you can see from the pictures, the side margins are 1 3/8" wide (space on the left-hand side for left pages and on the right-hand side for right pages) and the bottom margin is 1 5/8". I wish the margins were a bit bigger (2" would be great), but these will definitely give me space to write and draw. 

Here you can see the NASB Note-taker's Bible compared to the NASB Thinline Bible:
(This is the particular NASB Thinline Bible shown in the picture - after being used for a few years.)

As you can see, the NASB Note-taker's Bible has the same size text and the same page layout as the NASB Thinline Bible, just with the addition of side and bottom margins.

The NASB Note-taker's Bible has black text (including headings) with the words of Christ in red, laid out in two columns. This is the NASB version of the Bible. The text is standard size - not large, but not extra small. There are no study notes in the NASB Note-taker's Bible, but it does contain some basic footnotes. There are no maps like you might find in many Bibles. 

At the back of the NASB Note-taker's Bible is a concordance (45+ pages), a list of abbreviations for the books of the Bible, and a few variety of suggestions for reading. The suggestions for reading include: "Promises from the Bible", "Perspectives from the Bible", "Ministry of Jesus", "Teachings of Jesus", "Miracles of Jesus", and "Parables of Jesus". The margins for the sections at the back of the Bible are not the same as the margins in the Scripture portion of the Bible - the text of the pages are centered (in all directions), leaving some room at the top, both sides, and bottom of each page.

If you are looking for an NASB with wide margins, but prefer a single column format, you may want to check out the NASB Wide Margin Bible (which I believe is out of print, but still available if you search for it). 

The pages of the NASB Note-taker's Bible are not the very thin rice paper type pages of many Bibles, but they are not as thick as a regular piece of printer paper, either. The recommendation from Zondervan (given on the last page of this Bible) is that you should use a ball-point pen or a pencil to avoid bleed-through with your notes/artwork. (If you are planning to use this Bible for Bible journaling, art journaling, or like to use a variety of writing instruments in your Bibles, this page at the back of the Bible would be a great "tester" page.)

I am excited to start using the NASB Note-taker's Bible for some Bible journaling
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Book Review :: DIY Type: 50+ Typographic Stencils for Decorating, Crafting, and Gifting by Dana Tanamachi

DIY Type by Dana Tanamachi is not so much a book, but rather a collection of two sets of stencils behind a beautiful cover. 

For the  actual book portion of DIY Type, there are a total of 13 pages. The 13 pages include: a page showing 8 sample letter/fill treatments (shown on both a white background and a black background), a 2-page introduction, a 2-page spread photograph showing some useful supplies, and 8 pages describing and showing sample photos of how stencils can be used to decorate notebooks, parties, clothing, and your home. The rest of the "book" is 20 stencil pages (each separated from the next by a piece of black paper).

The cover of DIY Type mentions that there are 50+ stencils included. 
Let me break that down for you:
  • 26 large (approx. 6" tall) alphabet stencils (capital letters A-Z)
  • 26 small (approx. 2" tall) alphabet stencils (capital letters A-Z)
  • 6 bonus/decorative stencils:
    • one exclamation mark (!) sized to work with the small alphabet stencils (approx. 2" tall)
    • two decorative corners (approx. 2" x 2")
    • two decorative border pieces (approx. 1/2" tall x 3 1/4" long)
    • one accent (slightly less than 2" x 2")
(Note: If you get creative, I think the cover of this book could also be used for stenciling. Most of the flourishes shown on the cover are actually cut-outs.)

The small alphabet stencils are the font style of the "DIY" on the cover of DIY Type, but as they are stencils, they do have a portion as needed to hold the stencil together on letters such as the "D" (which is not shown on the cover font).

The large alphabet stencils are the font style of the "TYPE" on the cover of DIY Type, but (again) as they are stencils, they do have a portion as needed to hold the stencil together on letters such as the "P" (which is not shown on the cover font).

Bonus/accent stencils shown here:

The large alphabet stencils come 2 to a page (with a dotted line to guide you in cutting them apart) and the small alphabet stencils come 4 to a page (with dotted lines to guide you in cutting them apart). The bonus (non-alphabet) stencils are included on the small alphabet Y and Z page, with two sections (each containing 3 stencils per quarter-page piece).

The stencils in DIY Type seem to be made from a thick, coated cardstock. (I held a stencil next to some 130# uncoated cardstock that I have for making card bases and the stencil was slightly thicker.) The coating gives a sheen to the surface that should be helpful when using the stencils with something like paint or spray mists that you may want to wipe off. Since the stencils are made of paper, I wouldn't expect them to stand up to frequent use of paints/liquids like you would expect from plastic stencils.

Personally, I enjoy the font used for the small alphabet stencils, but I don't care quite so much for the font used for the large alphabet stencils. With a retail price of $22.95, I wouldn't say that DIY Type is worth it unless you really love both fonts and plan to do a lot of at 6" tall and 2" tall  stencil lettering. 

FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through the Blogging for Books book review bloggers program. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, December 12, 2014

JOY to the {whole wide} world (& FREE mason jar topper printable!)

Today's project is a recipe, craft, and gift...all wrapped up in one. I wanted to create something to give to our church family and neighbors for Christmas gifts, but also knew the time was ticking to be able to get everything made and passed out before people start their holiday traveling. I decided on making a salted caramel sauce in a decorated canning jar.

I started with the basic recipe for salted caramel sauce that I heard about from my crafty friend, Joscelyne, found here. I did make a few slight adjustments in the ingredients: I used 1 tbsp. molasses as a substitute for the 1 tbsp. Karo syrup and I used ½ tsp. vanilla extract in place of the ½ tsp. vanilla bean paste.

So, the ingredients I used were:
1 ½ c. pure cane sugar
⅓ c. water
1 tbsp. molasses
1 ¼ c. heavy whipping cream
½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. sea salt
The sauce-making process was very easy and probably took less than 30 minutes from start to finish.

I made a quadruple batch (to have plenty to give away as gifts)...it was a total of about 3 ½ quarts of salted caramel sauce - yum! I filled twenty 4 oz. jelly jars (for gifts) and two 16 oz. pint jars (to keep at home), but if you are wanting to divide it evenly you can make a quadruple batch to fill: 7 pint jars -or- 14 half-pint jars -or- 28 4 oz. jelly jars.

Once I had cooled the sauce, it was time to decorate the mason jars. I created these "JOY to the {whole wide} world" jar toppers (which I am sharing with you) and wrapped the lids with some of The Twinery's twines. (I designed the printable toppers to coordinate with The Twinery's CaribbeanSolid CaribbeanHoneydewSolid Honeydew, and Ocean twines.)
Get the FREE canning jar topper printables here:
{Note: Make sure you do not choose the printing option "fit to page" - the sizing will be off.}
Printables are for personal use only.


There are two printable choices which are sized to fit regular mouth canning jars and wide mouth canning jars, respectively. Simply print, cut around each design, and insert into the metal rim. Then, add the metal lid beneath the topper, screw onto your jar, tie with twine...and you are done!
For twenty handmade gifts - these came together rather quickly. 
Quick, homemade, and delicious...it's a win/win/win!

Thank you for stopping by today!

Supplies: 
Printable: Tifany DeGough / InkBlotsbyTRD.blogspot.com (Joy to the {whole wide} world);
Cardstock: Discount Cardstock (Brilliant White 110#);
Twine: The Twinery (Caribbean, Solid Caribbean, Honeydew, Solid Honeydew, Ocean);

Tools: Fiskars (Scissors);
Other: Ball (Mason Jars);

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Book Review :: The First Christmas Ever illustrated by Dennis Jones

The First Christmas Ever is a small paperback book geared toward children, ages 4-8. 

The illustrations in The First Christmas Ever are by Dennis Jones, who has also illustrated the Read With Me Bible and the NIrV Super Heroes Bible. Although the caricature-like cartoon style is not my personal favorite, the illustrations are entertaining. 
Despite the humorous/cartoonish style illustrations, the story in The First Christmas Ever is serious. The writing does take liberty (it is a story, not quoted from the Bible), but it remains accurate overall. (The only thing that immediately popped out to me as possibly inaccurate was the mention of "three" wise men, but that is minor, in my opinion.) The story is divided into two sections: "Jesus Is Born" (pages 4-29), and "Jesus Grows Up" (pages 30-31). 

With a retail price of $1.99 - I think The First Christmas Ever is a must-have (and is a great gift option, too!).
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Book Review :: Yuletide Ice Cube Fair (Veggie Tales) by Karen Poth, illustrated by Ron Eddy and Robert Vann

Yuletide Ice Cube Fair is a new Veggie Tales book from Big Ideas Books and Zondervan/Zonderkidz. The age range for this book is 4-8, but I am guessing that is mainly due to the fact that it is a paperback with paper pages. I think younger kids would enjoy this book as well.

As you would expect from any Veggie Tales book, the illustrations by Ron Eddy and Robert Vann in Yuletide Ice Cube Fair are cute, colorful, and entertaining. Gotta love Veggie Tales!
The Yuletide Ice Cube Fair is a story (written in rhyme) of an ice carving contest showcasing each participant's depiction of what Christmas means to them. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the moral of this book. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the point was made (clearly, yet in a fun way) that Christmas is not about Santa, elves, trees, food, or shopping - but that Christmas is about Jesus coming to earth. 

I think the Yuletide Ice Cube Fair is a fun book and a great story to share with children. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review :: The Christmas Story for Children by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee, and Karen Davis Hill, illustrated by Fausto Bianchi

The Christmas Story for Children is a book written by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee, and Karen Davis Hill and illustrated by Fausto Bianchi that is geared toward the 4-8 age range. The cover and the list of authors gave me high hopes for this book, but unfortunately, my expectations weren't fully met.

The illustrations by Fausto Bianchi in The Christmas Story for Children are interesting, but some are odd at times. (For example: the angel named Gabriel very much appears to have the face of a female. My kids pointed this out to me, confused, as I was reading.) Overall, though, the illustrations are well done. 

The storyline in The Christmas Story for Children was where I wished for more (or maybe...less?). There was literary liberty taken in the telling of the story, but I wish it had stuck more to the biblical facts. There was a portion of the book, for example, where Joseph and Mary are complaining about going to Bethlehem for the census. I felt that was unnecessary and could taint my kids' views of the God-fearing people that Mary & Joseph were. 

I did appreciate that The Christmas Story for Children not only included the birth of Jesus, but also his baptism and the beginning of his ministry. 

I think that The Christmas Story for Children is a fine book to read and discuss with your kids, but if you only are able to choose one Christmas story book, I personally wouldn't choose this one. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Book Review :: The Legend of St. Nicholas (A Story of Christmas Giving) by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

The Legend of St. Nicholas (A Story of Christmas Giving) is another book in a long line of "The Legend of..." books by Zondervan/ZonderkidzThe Legend of St. Nicholas is written by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by Richard Cowdrey. Dandi Daley Mackall has authored over 450 books and Richard Cowdrey has illustrated a large number of books, the Marley series being the most popular. 
The Legend of St. Nicholas is a hardcover book with a dust jacket (the snow on the dust jacket is embellished with glitter), and is written with the 4-8 age group in mind. The illustrations in The Legend of St. Nicholas are big, colorful, and beautiful to look at. 

Like other "The Legend of..." books that I have read, The Legend of St. Nicholas is a story within a story. This story follows a boy (Nick) who is more interested in getting than giving during the Christmas season. Nick is out Christmas shopping with his dad when he hears a "store Santa" telling the story of Saint Nicholas. Through the story of Saint Nicholas, the boy (Nick) learns about the joy of giving. 

I think The Legend of St. Nicholas had some wonderful morals, but overall, I think the most important ideas in the story got overshadowed by something less important. I loved the idea in the story that if people receive anonymous gifts, since they don't know who to thank - they thank God. I also loved the ideas of helping others in need and the idea that God has given us the greatest gift of all - Jesus. I wish those ideas had been emphasized more, but the moral that gets more attention in this story is "giving gifts to others is fun". While some children (and adults) love giving gifts, not all do, and I think it may be misleading and even possibly discouraging to some to say that giving gifts is a joy. Even if everyone does love giving gifts, that still keeps the focus on one's self, rather than focusing on others and the true joy of the season. 

If you are looking for a Christmas story that focuses on Jesus, this is not it. Although Jesus is mentioned, the focus of The Legend of St. Nicholas is the story of Saint Nicholas. 

What I love about The Legend of St. Nicholas is that the story is focused on a child (young "Saint Nicholas") who sees the needs in other, less fortunate children...and acts on it. I think this is a great example for children. 
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Book Review :: Our Presidents Rock! by Juliette Turner

Our Presidents Rock! was written by Juliette Turner. Juliette Turner is a 16 year old who is the National Youth Director for Constituting America (of which her mom, Janine Turner, is founder & co-chair). As the book claims, Our Presidents Rock! was "written for kids by a kid". (Juliette Turner also authored Our Constitution Rocks!)
Our Presidents Rock! covers all presidents (Washington through Obama). The book includes an overview for each president: their life, presidency, accomplishments, and views. There is also information about how each president has impacted our lives today and why we should learn about them. In addition, there are timelines, election results, and some fun facts for each president. I particularly enjoyed the "Presidential Height Chart" at the end of the book.

Our Presidents Rock! is a great book - and would be especially useful for homeschoolers. It is interesting and informative. The layout of the book is eye-catching, but it may lean a bit toward the "busy" side as far as the design is concerned. 

In my opinion, Our Presidents Rock! is a step above other presidential history books because it has that element of fun (& relevance) that keeps you wanting to learn. My kids enjoy this book and I look forward to using it in our schooling.  
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Book Review :: Weird & Wonderful Creations {Made By God}

Weird & Wonderful Creations is a great new book to share with a 4-8 year old who loves to learn about God's creation. (This book is a similar format to Curious Creatures, which I have reviewed previously.)

This book is a compilation of four titles in the I Can Read! Made By God series: "Spiders, Snakes, Bees, and Bats", "Big Bugs, Little Bugs", "Sea Creatures", and "Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants".

In Weird & Wonderful Creations, each of the 4 sections of the book focuses on 4 different creations.

Here is the breakdown:
Spiders, Snakes, Bees, and Bats:
- Spiders
- Snakes
- Bees
- Bats
Big Bugs, Little Bugs:
- Butterflies
- Goliath Beetles
- Lightning Bugs/Fireflies
- Praying Mantises
Sea Creatures:
- Jellyfish
- Sea Horses
- Sea Turtles
- Whales
Poisonous, Smelly, and Amazing Plants:
- Fly Agaric Mushrooms
- Corpse Plants
- Venus Flytraps
- Trees: Redwoods and Giant Sequoias

I do not own any of the 4 individual titles, but just from looking at previews, I believe this compilation is a larger format. The cover of Weird & Wonderful Creations measures approximately 9 1/2" x 9 1/2".

The pictures are large, clear, and colorful. (There is at least one picture on every two-page spread, but generally there are two pictures per two-page spread.) The text is large and easy to read, and the bonus facts on the side of each page are interesting. Weird & Wonderful Creations is informative and I love that it always comes back to how God created everything and it is all good.

And at less than $10 - Weird & Wonderful Creations is a book that is a perfect choice for a gift.
FTC Declaration: The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. This does not change the fact that I will give my honest opinion in my reviews.