A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Kristin Stiles
What a pleasure it was to return to Mulberry Meadow and its woodland creatures in the Good News for Little Hearts Series. The staff of CCEF (The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation) has developed four more books in this series utilizing the endearing storytelling of Jocelyn Flenders with solid biblical truths from some of the most highly respected names in Christian counseling as editors. And if that’s not enough, the illustrations just put these books over the top.
Each book addresses a unique issue that children universally experience. The books present those issues through the lives of sweet forest creatures who struggle through a variety of sins and temptations. Not only do the young animals deal with these problems, parents, coaches, and other adults are having the same battles. A biblical perspective is applied to each situation and scripture is brought to bear on finding a godly solution. The characters re-evaluate their behavior and choices based on God’s word and are encouraged to memorize and meditate on verses that speak to their struggles. At the end of each book, there is a section for the parents which summarizes the problem and biblical solution along with several specific details that are presented in a question-and-answer format. Then there is a page of perforated verses that can be removed and kept for future reference when dealing with those battles in the future.
Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much – In this story, Gus the Raccoon is obsessed with sweets. He just can’t get enough of the good stuff. He hoards it; he hides it; he lies about it; and he even steals it. He’s not alone in his behavior, though. His mom is out of control with her desire to buy things for the home, and his father just can’t collect enough fishing equipment. The entire family has to confront their lack of control. They acknowledge that the things they want are good but wanting those things so much has made an idol of them. They love the things more than they love Jesus. At this point, they are able and willing to confess their sin and reset their priorities.
Halle Takes a Stand: When You Want to Fit In – Halle the Hedgehog has a group of friends, one of which has a special dislike for frogs. When Freya the Frog, Halle’s science lab partner, wants to join the group for lunch, mean ole Maddie chases her away and then taunts her. Wanting to fit in with Maddie and her friend group, Halle joins in the taunting even though she likes Freya. Her teacher overhears the exchange and confronts Halle and makes her parents aware of the situation. Halle confesses that she was more concerned with what Maddie thought of her than what Jesus thought of her. At the next opportunity, Halle stands up for Freya regardless of the consequences. Maddie does get mad at her, but that is short-lived as Halley continues to show love to Maddie as well.
Buster Tries to Bail: When You Are Stressed – Buster the Bunny has a huge race coming up. He is training to beat Freddie Fox in a foot race. To add to the stress, Buster’s coach is putting a lot of pressure on Buster, because a loss in this race will mean that the school will not qualify for the all-county spring competition and that he will lose his status as coach of the year. Both Buster and Coach Clifton are terribly anxious about the whole situation. They lose sleep, they lash out at others, and they are panicking. On seeing Buster so stressed, his father reminds him that we are to put our trust in God and not in ourselves or others. His father tells him that God is in control of the outcome and we can rest in Him and have peace. Buster gets to share these truths with his coach when everything goes wrong for the coach the morning of the race. (Spoiler alert) Buster doesn’t win the race, but he and his coach can accept the fact that they did their best and that the outcome is just fine.
Caspian Crashes the Party: When You Are Jealous – Caspian the Squirrel’s brother, Jax, is having a birthday party, and in Caspian’s opinion, every aspect of it is better than the party that was thrown for him. Caspian is jealous of the venue, the number of friends, the size of the cake, the number of presents, and the attention Jax is getting. Caspian decides to sabotage the party by disconnecting the air line on the bouncy house causing it to come crashing down on all the partygoers. It’s not until he hears a sermon on the contentment Paul expressed in his letter to the Philippians while in prison that Caspian is convicted of his sinful behavior. Having been reminded that we are to find our contentment in Christ and not in experiences or material things, Caspian is sorry for his behavior and apologizes to his family for his behavior.
There are several things that I really appreciate about this series. First, the author and editors do not just provide moralized stories. They don’t just tell children to try harder or be better. They point out specific areas of sin in our lives and point to the word of God for solutions and forgiveness. Second, the topics that they handle are so common to children (and adults). The way the stories are presented makes them very relatable to children. Third, I just love the illustrations. Joe Hox is amazingly creative in filling their homes and schools with various items that we can imagine they scavenged from humans. My favorite items were the trophies on Buster’s bookshelf made out of nail polish bottles, dental floss cases with safety pins attached as handles, and different game pieces from chess and Monopoly. I really enjoy looking carefully at the pictures and identifying the variety of items that he incorporates into this world. So creative!
This is really a great series and you can’t go wrong with any of the titles. I hope the team at CCEF continues to expand this series and that they will get widely circulated.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
GOOD NEWS FOR LITTLE HEARTS SERIES, edited by Paul David Tripp, David and Nan Powlison, and Edward T. Welch