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Amen and Amen

Amen and Amen by Gene Vickers is a simple but enchanting story set between the backwoods of Blairsville in northern Georgia and the elegant suburbs on its hilltop. While abject poverty and limited opportunities have kept one side of society barely scraping by, the other half lead extravagant lives filled with imported cars and vacation homes overseas. Long-buried secrets and animosity steeped in classism have divided the town for generations yet all that will start to change when the wealthiest boy in school befriends one of the poorest girls in the county. Their unlikely relationship will inspire a revolution throughout their town, leading to well-drawn lines in the sand becoming blurred as God and humanity intervene.

At its core, the book focuses on faith, family and football, first and foremost, and how those factors can come together to unite those who would be torn apart otherwise. Prepare to get swept away by interweaving tales that peer into the lives of the disenfranchised and the rich that prove that maybe the two have more in common than expected at a glance. Follow two disadvantaged adolescents in a heart-warming underdog story who join the elitist ranks of the football team in a move that upsets long-established social dynamics, for better or worse. Out on the gridiron, economics hardly even matter as the playing field is leveled to allow everyone’s God-given talent to shine through whether they reside in a trailer park or a mansion. Enemies can become brothers just as school friends can become lovers as long as everyone grows in grace and understanding.

Still, not everyone is without their faults and prejudices and, since the ages of old, the sins of the father can and certainly do come back to haunt his children so it’s easy to get caught up in the quaint town’s gossip mill and endless drama. Sinners and their descendants alike try throughout to reconcile with their past and present misdeeds from clandestine backroom dealings to unplanned pregnancies with only a hope and a prayer. However, with God’s eternal love comes forgiveness, culminating in a story brimming with vibrant characters, a touch of colorful language, and a whole lot of soul.

Amen and Amen is a twist on the classic boy-meets-girl theme yet the rags-to-riches theme can become repetitive. Some characters can feel one-dimensional at times as they heel-turn their previous convictions seemingly through faith alone and not necessarily hard work. Perhaps it just goes to show that humans are flawed and still God forgives all.

Read Amen and Amen if you want a feel-good Christian story filled with patriotic characters who, through their faith, prevail no matter what comes their way.

Pages: 357 | ASIN:  B08DL6FB5P

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Jam Sessions: Sometimes in Middle School, the best you can do is survive

Jam Sessions: Sometimes in Middle School, the best you can do is survive. by [Jerry Harwood, Myles Richardson, Timothy Sisemore]

Jam Sessions follows a middle school boy named Phillip who has to forge a new path for himself through a new school that he’s transferred to in the middle of the school year. Phillip struggles with bullies, but finds a creative outlet in Mr. Filter’s class where he starts the day with a writing prompt that sends Phillips imagination soaring. Now, if only he could apply that creativity and passion in his real life.

Jerry Harwood has created a cast of characters that are both easy to dislike and easy to empathize with. Chuck and his friends are easily unlikable and I loved Ashley, Daniel and Jaylan. I really liked all the teachers too, especially the language arts and P.E. teachers. I did feel like Phillips mom should have played a bigger part in the story, but it didn’t hurt the story in any way. From the first time we meet Chuck I thought that he was just a pain in the butt kid who likes to be a bully and embarrass people. Chuck and his gang of hooligans didn’t really evolve much but that honestly worked for the story because they continue to be the fundamental antagonists.

Jerry Harwood does a great job detailing what a panic/anxiety attack feels like, I could almost feel and see Phillip having his attacks. It was great that he found a way to cope with his attacks. Even at the beginning when the author is describing Phillip and his mom running away from home, everything is perfectly detailed. When Phillip is standing in the back of the room on the first day of school, you could feel him praying that he is invisible and then realizing that he really had been during that class because not one person had cared about him being there or noticed his presence. It was sort of sad.

The story flowed easily and was well written. I enjoyed the small cartoon characters at the beginning of each chapter and I liked how short the chapters were. I read the book in one sitting, because it was an enjoyable read and I loved that Phillip was able to turn things around which gave the book a feel good ending.

Pages: 214 | ASIN: B0868XNSH9

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What I Tell Myself About Talent

What I Tell Myself About Talent is a fun children’s book that places exploration and self actualization center stage. What are you good at? What’s your talent? How can you ever know until you try. This book helps kids make the connection between their current talents and their future jobs, whether it’s an innate talent or something they have to work at. Rather than telling children to be one thing or another, What I Tell Myself About Talent let’s readers know that it’s okay to not know, and exploring the possibilities is part of the fun.

Michael Brown has once again created a book on a topic that I have rarely, if ever, read about in a children’s book. Talent, and how to find it in everyday places with a little exploration, is accomplished in this book with simple rhymes and vibrant illustrations of diverse children doing different activities. This picture book will encourage readers to get out into the world and try things out. It will open their eyes to the idea that they can continue to do the things they like even into adulthood. From doctors to construction workers Michael Brown makes it clear that going out and finding what your good at is part of the fun. The ending of the book has Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which is a great opportunity for further discussion beyond the book. What I Tell Myself About Talent is a great way to start a conversation about finding talent in everyday activities.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B08CBQR6XJ

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A Catalyst for Change

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Regina M. Christian-Massey Author Interview

Co-Teaching: The Professional Behind the M.A.S.K. helps educators gain greater insight into each partner’s role within a co-teaching classroom. Why was this an important book for you to write?

There is a growing need for special education students to be placed with their peers in the general education classroom. In doing so, the gap that is faced by the special education students can decrease. This book is important as it serves as a catalyst for change in the collaborative relationship. Co-Teaching: The Professional will help readers M.A.S.K. The inevitable. Learn to MANAGE the stress, ACCEPT co-teaching as a valuable tool, STRENGTHEN your relationships, and create the KEYSTONES that will allow for personal growth.

What do you think is a common misconception educators have about co-teaching?

One misconception is that one of the teachers are not certified. Co-teaching is a classroom with TWO certified teachers that are charged with educating a group of students both special ed and general ed in the same environment. Each teacher adds value to the classroom. The general education teacher is considered the content/curriculum expert. The special education teacher is the strategist, they add strategy and technique to the content to make it accessible to all learning level. The two certified teachers work hand in hand to deliver the curriculum in a way that allows for learners to thrive.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your book?

One thing that I’d like readers to take away from Co-Teaching: The Professional is the need to effectively communicate with colleagues. Classrooms are not the only areas that collaboration is key to engagement and success. In every profession, the expectation is that there is a level of teamwork that increases productivity and efficiency. We should abolish the fixed mindset and embrace growth to meet the needs of the current generation. We must work together to discover the best approach for personal growth as well as company development.

What is your experience in the education field and how has that helped you write this book?

My experience in the education field has moved from managing front offices, working as a principals secretary to now teaching in the classroom. I have been an advocate for children for more than 20 years. I wrote this book based on my experiences in the coteaching classroom. As an advocate, it is my desire to enhance the coteaching classroom. Co-Teaching: The Professional will help guide the relationship into a collaborative experience that utilizes the talents and abilities of both certified teachers.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook

Discover the art of standing out professionally when challenged personally. Are you frustrated with the co-teaching experience? Does the thought of entering a new co-teaching relationship have you feeling overwhelmed? In this book, you will gain a greater insight into each partner’s role, the expectation of co-teaching, and moving forward in a purposeful relationship. Co-teaching classrooms have become the norm, a system of working collectively must be a reality. TMS’ goal is to lead the co-teaching relationship into a collaborative experience that utilizes both teachers’ abilities, talents, and expertise to meet the needs of the whole classroom. Increase effectiveness by:• MANAGING co-teaching stress• ACCEPTING co-teaching as a valuable tool• Learning how to STRENGTHEN relationships and• Creating KEYSTONES that allow for personal growth. “Learn to implement practical methods to develop a co-teaching partnership that focuses on shared outcomes of students achieving learning objectives through co-planning, co-instruction, co-implementation practices, and co-assessment design.”

What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection

What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection by [Michael Brown, Ilham Fatkurahman, Michele Mathews]

What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection is an educational resource for children, adults and educators. It teaches the reader through simple rhymes that danger lurks in the world and one must be prepared for it. It shows how different people, young and old, can get into scary situations that may be harmful to them. It then empowers them with the knowledge that they can protect themselves by fighting back, but also that it is okay to run away or call the police. It gives readers the tools necessary to take their safety into their own hands.

This is the most pragmatic picture book that I’ve read this year. It teaches children and adults valuable skills that might literally save their lives. It presents readers with various situations where the characters are in danger, and then shows them different ways they could protect themselves. Either by being aware of their surroundings, or dialing 911, running away, or by simply saying No and Stop. The art that accompanied each scene was clean, bright, and emotive. It reminded me of the D.A.R.E comic books that used to be distributed through schools. This is a great book for parents or educators to begin a conversation with kids about self-defense and when it’s acceptable to defend yourself. I appreciated how varied the talking points were. At end of the book readers are given a list where they can write down the contact information for different self-protection resources, which is a good resource to keep handy, or at the very least it’s a great opportunity to begin a discussion about each resource. Simply knowing that those people and services exist should help children understand that there are people in the world that will help them when needed. The book also provides a summary of a self-protection law case that helps give the books topic a real world reference, but may be more suitable for older readers. What I Tell Myself About Self-Protection provides practical advice that is easy to understand and simple to implement.

Pages: 30 | ASIN: B08BCNV9RB

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Jack

Jack is stuck at home with the measles, but he is still up for adventure. When his mother insists that he rest and takes away his television and game privileges, he is stuck with books–his least favorite things. Imagination, however, is stronger than even Jack realizes, and soon he finds himself lost in one world after another as he gazes out his window. Will Jack put two and two together and figure out what his teachers knew all along?

Jack, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Nina Mkhoiani, stresses the importance of books and the impact they have on our lives without ever stating it outright. Whaler uses Jack to demonstrate the effect stories have on children and how, when instruction is administered effectively, they never truly realize how much they are learning. The way in which Whaler uses the changing clouds to spark Jack’s imagination is quite ingenious. The illustrations by Mkhoiani are vibrant and eye-catching and convey the story line well.

I recommend this short children’s picture book to any teacher in grades K-3 who wants to impress upon students the fantastic wealth of information that can be found in books. This quick read would make a wonderful read-aloud to kick off the new school year.

Pages: 24 | ASIN: B07B2DNQPX

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BUTTERBALL Gets Lost

BUTTERBALL Gets Lost (Butterball the Poodle Book 2) by [Julia Seaborn]

Butterball Gets Lost by Julia Seaborn is a children’s picture book about a poodle named Butterball, with illustrations by Toby Mikle. After Butterball is left home alone when her owner goes shopping she digs under the fence and goes exploring. Butterball then sees an interesting hole and looks inside where she gets stuck. This is when the cute little bunny named Binky helps set her free. After Binky helps her get free, Butterball continues on and meets JillaRoo, a kangaroo. Later, Butterball ends up at the circus and realizes she doesn’t know the way home. Will someone be able to help her find her way home?

Butterball Gets Lost is able to capture the feel of adventure and exploration in a short picture book. The artwork was beautiful, with a soft color pallete and simple art, it easily captures your attention and inspires the imagination. I liked the illustrations, especially the colorful lizards and other animals that Butterball meets along the way. These creatures were all emotive and usually happy. This book teaches young readers about animals and counting while entertaining children with a fun story. The questions at the end of the story help children practice counting and assess comprehension. I appreciated the Fun Facts at the end of the book which provides more information about owls, although this section might require a slightly more advanced reading level than the story.

Butterball Gets Lost is the second book in the Butterball the Poodle series. This is a fantastic continuation in Jualia Seaborn’s children’s literature series. Beginning readers will be entertained and educated all in one book.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B08863JHJW

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Learn To Read From Sounds

Learn to Read from Sounds by [Barnes Florence]

Learn to Read from Sounds by Florence Barnes is an enriching children’s book that aims to help young kids learn how to read using the phonics system. It also includes an insightful question and answer portion at the beginning to clarify frequently asked questions regarding the phonics system and its effectiveness. This book serves as a very useful tool for teachers or parents looking to teach a child how to read. This is due to the numerous exercises on reading using the phonic system in the book. The reading exercises are also fun and are suitable for children.

Although I found this book to be educational and informative, I thought that the book was a little plain. I thought an addition of brightly colored illustrations or animals would help capture children’s attention. Otherwise this book does an excellent job of relaying educational information in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. I think that this book will significantly help children, or really anyone, who is learning to read. If you’re looking for a book that stays focused on the material then Learn to Read from Sounds is a perfect choice.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07P6MVW6M

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