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A One-Way Ticket to Salvation

Rapture Practice by Aaron Hartzler, (Little, Brown and Company, $17.99, YA), is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

RP-CoverWriting an engaging memoir is tricky business, and writing one about a personal faith-based journey even trickier. Aaron Hartzler manages to convey his coming-of-age story with an earnest, often funny and sometimes heartbreaking memoir, Rapture Practice. In it, he grapples with trying to be the young adult that his parents desire him to be while coming to terms with who he really is and living the life that he wants – no easy feat and especially so as he is raised in a strict Christian household. Seemingly innocent everyday activities such as listening to pop music, watching movies and hanging out with friends become causes for lying, hiding and rebelling. Whether he’s performing a taboo song at the school vocal ensemble, sneaking into forbidden movies such as Pretty Woman or secretly forging a friendship with an individual whose parents are divorced, Aaron earnestly tries to balance his desire to please his parents and to experience adolescence as he chooses. Ultimately, however, he knows that he cannot have one without imposing consequences on the other, and that is the heart of this book. Rapture Practice is a moving story and an important one for adolescents struggling with identity and parental expectations.

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God’s Creations

All Creatures Great and Small, illustrated by Naoko Stoop ($6.95, Sterling Children’s Books, ages 2 and up), is reviewed by the newest book lover on this site, Rita Zobayan. See her bio on our homepage.

I have a certain affinity for the Anglican hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” As a child growing up in London, I often heard this hymn sung during church service, on BBC period pieces, and on English television staple, Songs of Praise. Therefore, when I saw Naoko Stoop’s board book, All Creatures Great and Small, I was excited to take it home and share it with my daughters.

This children’s picture book version of the 1800’s hymn features a young girl and her monkey. The reader follows the pair as they observe and interact with the wonders of God’s creations: animals, flowers, landscapes and seasons. Stoop’s simple but charming illustrations infused with rich and warm hues invite the reader into the pictures, which look as if they have been painted on to a subtle wood grain background. My three-year-old daughter greatly enjoyed pointing to the pictures and naming the actions and animals.

At 20 pages, the book has readability. If you are familiar with the hymn, you can sing the verses and the refrain, which starts and ends the book. Luckily for the musically challenged (such as myself), young children are often forgiving of an out-of-tune, pitchy rendition when it’s sung by their parents. My daughters didn’t seem to mind my off-key warbling. I’m sure the book’s charm provided the sufficient distraction.

All Creatures Great and Small is a great fit for parents who are looking for an easy to understand, faith-based book to present to their young children.


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