Book Review & Deal: Lost Years of Merlin, For $3.46

You know when you’re looking for a book to capture your kids’ imagination, or find one that’ll make them realize that they actually like to read? Maybe you make your kids keep their brain’s active during the summer, like me, or you have a child that’s a voracious reader and are struggling to keep up with their demand for books. Or maybe you’re an adult looking for a fanciful read yourself. For all of you, I recommend Merlin: The Lost Years, Book 1 by T.A. Barron. It’s one of those books that is just fanciful enough to enchant even the most recalcitrant reader, but plenty fanciful for those who like a good escape. I read it for the first time as an adult a few years ago, and enjoyed it alot. Merlin: The Lost Years, Book 1 is a great book for which I found a great deal.

What Is Merlin, The Lost Years About?

From Goodreads:

A raging sea tosses a boy upon the shores of ancient Wales. Left for dead, he has no memory, no name, and no home. But it is his determination to find out who he is – to learn the truth about his mysterious powers – that leads him to a strange and enchanted land. And it is there he discovers that the fate of this land and his personal quest are strangely entwined. He is destined to become the greatest wizard of all time–known to all as Merlin.

Who Would Like The Lost Years And Why?

The Lost Years reminds me slightly me Penric’s Demon by Louis McMaster Bujold, as well as The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge. They’re mysterious, rural, a little bit moody, with young protagonists. It also shares a lot of elements with The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper, which I also highly recommend; it’s about kids on a quest that brings them in touch with ancient powers. If you or your kids like “quest” books (think 39 Clues), books about kids with powers, or books set in wild, old England, you’ll like this book. There are seven books in the series, mind you, so if you get started with one, you’ll probably have to read the rest.

What’s The Deal?

If you buy The Lost Years from Amazon, it’s $7.10 to $8.99, depending on whether you want a Kindle or paperback copy. has a copy, however, for $3.46 with free shipping. That’s a $3.62 difference.


Book Review: Quiet As A Church Mouse, an Imaginative Picture Book

Looking at a children’s book from the perspective of my children is always a tricky thing because their reading tastes continually change as they get older. What appealed to my oldest, who is now a teenager, when he was quite young, is not the same thing that has ever appealed to my youngest, who is now nine. Yet, I believe I’ve read enough of them (hundreds) by now, with them, that I can say that not all picture books are created equal. For one to be good, it needs to provoke the imagination, both with text and illustrations, engage as many senses as possible, and basically, just be fun. If it provokes thought, that’s a bonus. I Can Be Quiet As A Church Mouse, written by Stephen Bevan and illustrated by Jeff Harvey, is a picture book that does pretty good on both counts.

What Is Quiet As A Church Mouse About?

“I used to have trouble sitting reverently,” reads the first page of the book, “so my mom said I should be as quiet as a church mouse.” The rest of the twenty-seven pages of this book strive to answer the question in terms of what young Stephen Bevan imagined a church mouse to be. “Is it a spy?” he asks on one page. “Is it sneaky?” he asks on another. Each illustration depicts a mouse in the various scenarios he imagines, and they really are cute illustrations that are just detailed enough to draw in a 3 – 6 year-old child without overwhelming him or her. The question itself is a good one to provoke imagination in a child, since no one actually seems to know what a church mouse really is.

If there were one thing that might confuse a child, it is that the author refers to himself as “I” at the beginning. The fact that it’s the author speaking, as opposed to the main character of the book, a red-headed little boy, isn’t clear. As an adult, and someone who’s conversed with the author via email, I understand that, but a child might not.

Who Would Like Quiet As A Church Mouse?

Anyone, no matter the Christian denomination, who has kids who are toddler age on up to about 6 or 7.

Do You Want to Win a Copy of Quiet As A Church Mouse?

I’ve got an extra copy I’ll give away to a random entrant who uses the Rafflecopter form below and completes the steps:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And, if you’d like a “behind-the-scenes” look at the book and Stephen’s writerly process, subscribe to my newsletter!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher, Cedar Fort, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Book Reviews: I Can Love Like Jesus, and “A” is for Adam

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve been looking for “comfort reads” lately, and I found two more that meet that criteria, although for different reasons than Love Remains did. I Can Love Like Jesus, written by Heidi Poelman and illustrated by Chase Jensen, and A is for Adam, written by Heidi Poelman and illustrated by Maggie Coburn, are Christian children’s books, and the simple truths I believe they contain and the beautiful ways in which they’re expressed brought peace to me.

I Can Love Like Jesus

This page from I Can Love Like Jesus demonstrates both the simplicity and beauty of the whole book:

It says: “When a blind man asked Jesus for help, Jesus blessed him and gave him sight. I can respond when someone needs help, like Jesus.” Having taught children in various LDS congregations for almost 20 years, I can attest to how difficult it can be to translate ethereal, abstract spiritual concepts, like striving to be like Jesus, into concrete actions that they can see themselves doing. But those lines of text, and the accompanying picture do that easily. You’ll notice in this picture that Jesus healing the blind man is depicted in the clouds behind the girl helping the younger girl who scraped her knee; every page has a similar depiction that relates to the text of that page. This is a book that my 8-year-old read easily; its 350 word count and engaging, well-done illustrations would make this a good read for any child from first grade on up, or for the parents of such a child.

A is for Adam

This book, a child’s compendium of Bible heroes, reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book, only with a little bit more text and, of course, more religion. That was one of those books that both of my boys, when they were in their preschool and kindergarten years, loved to have me read to them over and over. Each page represents a letter of the alphabet, and each letter a hero of the Bible. “S,” for instance” is for “Shadrach.” A brief paragraph explains who each person was and why he or she was a hero. Halfway through the book, and again at the end, there is a summary page of half of the alphabet and what each letter in that half stands for.

It’s also similar to Brad Meltzer’s Heroes for my Son, which I reviewed here.  I feel like I could easily make multiple family home evenings using those two books, to spark conversation about what kinds of actions makes a person be the kind that other people look up to.