The Rainforest Friends is a new series that features some animals in the rainforest written by Cheryl Crouch and illustrated by Kevin Zimmer. We really like the main character, Troo, and his friends in these high interest leve 2 readers. Mistakes are made, and lessons learned. The animals are likable, but have the same problems that many children do. Both of my children love these books. I like them because of their unique location (the rainforest) and animals (tree kangaroos, water rat, and cuscus), and basic lessons. Though published by a Christian publisher, I do want to say that other than a Bible verse on the copyright page (appropriate to the story's theme), the God-focus is minimal, though the themes are biblical. The final page of each book explains what each character's animal is. Not only that, each book features at least one plant, insect, or animal in the book (often through an illustration), and then on the last page it tells just a bit more about it in a sentence or two.
- In Troo's Big Climb, Troo, a tree kangaroo learns the hard why obedience is so important. His safety is in danger when he climbs the biggest tree in the forest.
- Troo's Secret Clubhouse is the story of Troo learning that just because he is older than his sister, it doesn't mean that they cannot have fun together.
- Selfishness is the theme of Troo's Big Splash when he is desperate to go swimming and doesn't think of the consequences to other creatures when he makes a dam.
Zonderkidz also has some Bible stories in the I Can Read series. These are written for beginner readers (level 1), though they still remain to bring these Bible stories to life. Written by Crystal Bowman and illustrated by Valerie Sokolova, these stories tell the different stories from the Bible. I like the accuracy and drawings, despite that most (all?) of the people are represented as Caucasians (which I don't think is accurate). We were sent four titles. The Prodigal Son, Jesus Raises Lazarus, Joshua Crosses the Jordon, and Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand. We like them all. My daughter's hands-down favorite is Jesus Raises Lazarus. I suspect that she is amazed at the miracle and relates to the sadness that Jesus feels when Lazarus is dead. The language is simple, and the stories explained well.
We appreciate all of these books that were sent to us for review from Zonderkidz. I will definitely be looking for more titles in the I Can Read series!