Firstborn, By Tor Seidler
Atheneum, $16.99
Middle grade fiction, survivor, realistic animal fantasy
ages 8 and up

Firstborn, By Tor Seidler
Atheneum, $16.99
Middle grade fiction, survivor, realistic animal fantasy
ages 8 and up


Let me begin by saying the reason I picked up this book is because my 11-year-old daughter came into my room, hugging the book to her chest, and said, "This is the best book I've ever read. You have to read this book, Mom."
   Naturally, I had to read it. In one sitting as it turned out! Animal fiction is not my favorite genre. Don't get me wrong, I've read Watership Down and most of the Redwall series just to name two. Animal fantasy is just not my favorite genre, and I have a "to-read” pile that I will never get through. However, I knew from the first page that Firstborn, by Tor Seidler, is something special. (I say that with tingles, because it's that powerful.)
   Told from the point of view of Maggie the Magpie, who hates her name and would rather explore than search for sparkly stuff like most magpies. Gradually Maggie befriends a cantankerous old crow, who stands on the weathervane every day, looking out and speaking to no one. Through the old crow's influence, Maggie explores her surrounding world, which is how she comes to befriend Blue, the first-born son of the his pack's alpha. Blue is magnificent! Bigger than most, strong and wise, Blue is the perfect heir to pack leadership. Except Blue also doesn't conform to the behavior expected of him, especially when he befriends a coyote--considered a lesser breed and detested and scorned by the pack. Maggie and Blue experience many adventures together, like Blue's capture and escape from taggers at Yellowstone National Park. Along the way they meet different animal friends, and through these different animal characters, children will understand and relate to the book's themes of death, forgiveness, self-sacrifice, identity, self-discovery, and why exactly a name matters. 
   I expect this book to become a classic, in part because of its beautiful, prose-like writing, yet simple language and suspenseful moments that will appeal to boys and girls and reluctant readers. Destined for "classic" status? Time shall tell. But Firstborn will forever be one of my All-time Favorites, childressink.com. 

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Since I was one of the editors blessed to work on this project, I have an intimate knowledge of its contents. And I am testifying today that this book helped me lose 37 pounds and become more physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy.


I've said before, there have been times in my editing life when I am working on a book and realize, This is going to powerfully affect livesBody & Soul, by Bethany Hamilton, is one of those books. Bethany's inspirational story only serves as a backdrop, in that she shares how she had to overcome obstacles to remain an award-winning surfer, such as regaining her balance with only one arm. In Body & Soul,  Bethany addresses issues girls face with self-esteem and perceptions of girls portrayed in the media. Bethany stresses for girls (and everyone) to view themselves as God does. From there, she offers healthy lifestyle tips, with exercises specially developed by her personal trainer for teens, plus recipes, nutrition information, and so much more. Bethany offers a way to healthy living, which includes spiritual health as well as physical.


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Children's Books and More

Body & Soul, by Bethany Hamilton, Zondervan, $15.99
Nonfiction, ages 8 and up

Healthy living, Physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness