Posts Tagged ‘Christian’

The Cat That Made Nothing Something AgainGenerally, I think it is of poor taste for an author to do a review of his/her own story.  But a recent article was written about my book in the “Minnesota Christian Chronicle,” and as great as that is, they removed the mention of where my book is available for purchase. That and they misspelled my name (James Mason not Maxon) in one instance.

Thankfully they mentioned this blog, booksforyouth.com, therefore, motivations of self grandeur aside, I’m adding this post to make it easier for anyone who is genuinely interested in finding out where to purchase a copy.

It can be purchased on Amazon.com at this link for $6.99 .

Below are some excerpts from the article:

“Since the 1990s, American children have been growing up in a wired world. By the time they enter Kindergarten many kids already know how to use a mouse to navigate through menus on a computer. Not to mention they are proficient at playing videogames, downloading music and even sending text messages.

While these are skills children will eventually need to learn, Dr. David Walsh, president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, says parents need to make sure exposure to technology doesn’t replace brain building activities like reading, imaginative play and storytelling during a child’s preschool days.

James Maxon, 31, of Maple Grove, Minn., has witnessed the effects overexposure to technology has on children first hand. While watching his wife’s Godson grow from a child to a teenager he noticed how little imaginative play the boy engaged in.

Realizing that children have so many activities that are easier to do than reading vying for their attention these days, Maxon says he purposely made the book [The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again] easy-to-read with short chapters that are designed to help children stay interested. ‘They need to be able to pick up a book, knowing that if they only read for a few minutes they will be able to easily put it down without feeling like they never got anywhere.'”

Click here for the full article.

Here is a quick synopsis:

The Cat that Made Nothing Something Again, published in Dec. 2008, is a whimsical tale about a nameless cat that is bored in a land of dry everything – people, trees and land. He remembers a time when the landscape was green, flowers bloomed and people cared about him and each other. He wants to experience the joy he remembers so well again, so he sets out on a journey to figure out who sucked the moisture from his world and get it back.

Along the way he meets some colorful characters, including a wise old turtle, a seemingly sinister troll, a smart little bird, an overwhelmed mayor and a simple seed who remind him how important it is for people to do what’s right and take care of each other. Other Christian-themed messages delivered in the book: if you know something is wrong you must do what you can to make it right; don’t worry about that which you cannot change; it is better to serve than to be served; and faith is an important tool for getting through difficult times.

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The Cat That Made Nothing Something AgainWriter’s Journey gave a nice review of “The Cat That Made Nothing Something Again” and is doing a giveaway. Make a comment at http://www.lynnettebonner.com/blog/?p=208 to win a free 1st edition, signed copy.

From the Web site:

“If you are looking for a fun chapter book for your 7-9 year old to read, this should be on the list! All you have to do is comment at the end of this post [not at Books For Youth, but on the site mentioned above], to have your name entered. The drawing will be held on Friday the 3rd of April. So jump right in! This is a cute, fun story!”

RedwallI remember one Saturday morning, as I was surfing channels, I happened across a cartoon called “Redwall”. There were mice walking around on their back legs and talking as if they were human. At first I was a little unsure of what to think, but after sticking with it for the entire half hour, I found myself enjoying what I saw. Several weeks and episodes later I was hooked.
 
One day, while browsing a table of books at an “Animal Humane Society” rummage sale, I saw a cover with a little mouse holding a sword and shield. The name “Redwall” jumped out at me and I instantly remembered the cartoon. It was then that I realized the story was first published as a book series, and needless to say, I purchased it right away–for only a buck too. Shortly after, my collection began to expand with other titles from the series.

Story overview:

A horse drawn hay cart, out of control and filled with a band of nasty rats, ends up toppling over not far from a peace loving Church.  However, these rats are anything but peace loving, particularly the evil-one-eyed warlord, Cluny, the Scourge, and so they invade the Church and capture it, taking the residents prisoner.
 
Not far away is, “Redwall Abbey”, which is a place of prosperity and good natured animals. One of which is an awkward little mouse named Matthias.
 
Cluny realizes that the “Redwall Abbey” would be a great fortress, and so he gathers rats, ferrets, stoats, and weasels to take it over. However, the inhabitants, though uneducated in the ways of war, fight to keep the invaders from breaking through their Abbey walls. As Cluny and his gang lay siege, Matthias goes on a mission to recover a legendary weapon to use against Cluny. During his journey, Matthias creates bonds with various animals and finds himself up against many unexpected trials.
 
My thoughts:

This is a cute story. I enjoyed the characters and situations they were put in, particularly the scavenger hunt (to find the legendary sword) that takes place in the Abbey, along with the antics of Basil Stag Hare.
 
Things to consider:

I would say that this story would be good for both girls and boys around the age of eight. There are some violent scenes–much more vividly depicted in the book than in the cartoon, deaths (not in the cartoon that I remember), and a few instances of excessive drinking, but otherwise this is a nice, clean story.
 
Opportunities for discussion:
 
You could share with your children, that even though they may feel a little clumsy and unsure of themselves, God can use them for great things. Also, you can share your thoughts with them on drinking and the need to kill (not murder) in situations of war when protecting the lives of those around you.

inkheartThis is a book that was recently released as a movie. I can’t say anything for the movie, as I have yet to see it, but I can say that the book was very intriguing.

Story overview:

The events take place in a “real world setting” as a twelve-year-old named Meggie, who lost her Mom at a young age, lives with her Father, Mo, who happens to be a skilled bookbinder. They both love and enjoy reading books, however Mo insists on never reading Meggie a story out loud.

A strange man shows up at their house and his presence forces Meggie and Mo to flee their home. They stay with Meggie’s Aunt, Elinor, who is an avid book collector, but not one who is particularly fond of children.

Mo is captured by the men that, all these years he was trying to hide from, and the mysterious guest, Dustfinger, who acted like a friend, ended up being an accomplice to Mo’s abduction. However, Dustfinger comes to help Meggie and Elinor find where Mo was taken and they discover Mo’s hidden secret: when he reads a written story out loud, things, even people, come out of the pages. The only problem is that when something does, one thing from the real world also goes in.

The mystery of the disappearance of Meggie’s mother, Mo’s strange captors and Dustfinger’s motives for aiding the villains are all reviled. Several other mysteries are introduced and the relationships between the characters grow.

My thoughts:

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It brought a unique touch to the fantasy genre, and did so without any major loopholes. The characters are interesting, particularly Dustfinger, and the story keeps you wanting to read more. See my thoughts on the similarities between this story and A Wrinkle in Time.

Things to consider:

There are some elements that could be considered frightening for younger children, but there are no inappropriate sexual references that I can recall. There are also a few mild curse words, mostly used by Aunt Elinor.

Opportunities for discussion:

This book can give you an excellent opportunity to discuss the consequences of toying with the lives of others for your own personal gain. It can also be a good time to let your kids know that the actions of heartless people only hurt those around them.

Other reviews in this series:

1) Inkspell (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 2)
2) Inkdeath (Inkheart Trilogy, Book 3)

MagicA common question I hear from Christians is whether or not it’s “evil” to use magic in stories.

To quote a fellow writer: “I think a lack of understanding and the continual problem of confusing fantasy magic and myth with the real world continues to plague many Christians. Pretty much every fantasy book I’ve read deals with a fantastic sort of magic that absolutely has no real world component.”

I look at fantasy magic as just another tool. If I pick up a rock I have a decision to make: Do I drop it; do I keep it for decoration; do I throw it at someone walking by? The rock itself is just a rock, a tool. How I use it is based on my “will to use it”. As the rock leaves my hand and cracks the skull of my victim, what becomes evil is my will to throw it.

Magic’s appeal is that it provides a more powerful tool for exercising one’s will, and in a fantasy setting, it adds depth to the story. The main difference between using fantasy magic and a rock is the source of its power. One can throw a rock by their physical body; flexing their muscles and tendons. How one manipulates fantasy magic is really left up to the author. In my Wizard story, I intend to demonstrate the power behind magic from two different sources: evil and good. In doing so the character may find that the power of evil is easier to tap into, but it corrupts, contorts and darkens the individual’s soul. But in the end, the character will discovery that it’s all about doing the will of God, not their own.

It is the responsibility of each and every parent to inform their child/children of the difference between real-world and make-believe situations. Stories teach our kids important lessons in life, and they have the great advantage of being able to use elements unnatural to our world. Christ told stories—parables—so that people could understand the ways of God in a format they would relate to. So let’s stop looking for the next “witch hunt”, where we point fingers and say, “it’s evil, it’s evil! It uses magic!!”, and start to use these opportunities to expand important lessons in our Childrens lives.