Tuesday, August 23, 2011

THUNDER DOG: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero. By Michael Hingson with Susy Flory

I looked forward to reading this book and it didn’t disappoint. I highly recommend Thunder Dog.  

Together Michael Hingson and his guide dog, Roselle, escaped from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center’s North Tower on Sept. 11, 2001.  Their flight to safety is a harrowing tale in itself, yet this book also educated me on the blind in our society and how remarkably competent they can be … usually are, in fact. 

Roselle’s story, too, is one of love and loyalty. Although terrified of thunder storms, Roselle remains valiant and focused throughout their long descent down stairwell B amid heat, suffocating fumes, and lack of water.  

Those climbing down the stairwell are isolated from any knowledge of what happened or why. Their cell phones don’t work. All they can do is keep moving downward and hope to reach the lower level and out of the building. All they know is that there was a horrible loud noise, and that their building listed before righting itself. Heat and smoke tell them there is fire above, and Michael Hingson recognizes the smell of jet fuel, giving him a hint that a plane probably hit their Tower. 

Roselle not only carefully guides Michael down the 78 flights of stairs, once outside, the  collapse of Tower Two endangers their lives again. It is Roselle who finds shelter from the swarming, choking ash by leading Michael into one of New York’s underground subways.

Michael Hingson portrays the dramatic events as they unfolded in a sympathetic, matter-of-fact way that makes it difficult to put the book down. Yet, much of the book also discusses how he and his family have dealt with his blindness. The book is full of optimism regarding blindness and helped me to see it in a whole new way.  Michael calls blindness a “nuisance,” and “an annoyance,” rather than a “handicap.” He believes that the blind can compete equally with the sighted and should always be given that opportunity.

This is a wonderful book on two fronts. There is the captivating story of some who escaped the Twin Towers on that horrible day, and there is an excellent insight (no pun intended) into the world of the blind and all that they are able to accomplish in spite of being blind.

The book also contains “Resources for Blindness,” and a “Glossary of Terms Related to Blindness.” Buy a copy. You won’t be sorry you did!

Our gratitude to BookSneeze for providing a review copy. We thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated reading Thunder Dog.
— Gail Lewis

Hardcover: 234 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Language:  English
ISBN-10: 140020304X
ISBN-13:  978-1400203048


Some of you may recall our review of a pair of delightful young reader’s books, In Grandma’s Attic and its companion More Stories from Grandma’s Attic. In both of them, author Arleta Richardson shares stories her grandmother told her about how things were when she grew up…in the good old days.

Originally released in the 1970’s, Richardson’s wholesome and entertaining tales have enchanted over two million readers worldwide. Now this timeless series has been revised and re-released with all new artwork giving another generation of girls the opportunity to read and enjoy these marvelous tales. Tales that transport the reader to a time when things moved slower, life was simpler, and family was close by and treasured.

You may also recall my mention of further volumes to come. Well, today I have some good news to share. Two more books in the series were re-released the first of this month. Today we’re looking at the third volume, Still More Stories from Grandma’s Attic.

Children love the captivating stories that recount childhood memories of mischief and joy. I encourage you to find a comfortable chair, gather the kids or grandkids around you and take a trip back into yesteryear with Arleta Richardson and her Grandma, Mabel. She’s a natural born storyteller and these short, but heartwarming tales, are sure to bring a smile to every child’s face.

I had an opportunity to test one of the books when my eight-year-old granddaughter visited this summer. I was interested in seeing whether she could read them by herself. She’s a big fan of the Little House TV series and I wanted to see how she reacted to Stories from the Attic. I can happily report success on both counts. She had no trouble reading them…although she also liked having Grandpa read them at bedtime. Since the stories are short, he was happy to comply. She enjoyed the book and hinted it would be nice to find some more under the tree this Christmas.

In a few days we’ll look at the fourth volume Treasures from Grandma’s Attic. We thank Audra Jennings of B&B Media for providing us with the opportunity to review these books.
— E G Lewis

Product Detail
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; Reprint edition 
ISBN-13: 978-0781403818

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


There are some books that, as soon as you hear about them, you know you must read them. For me, Across the Wide River was one such book. Having grown up in Southern Ohio and lived and worked in and around the Ripley area, I can validate Stephanie Reed’s accurate portrayal of the region.

Though a novel, Across the Wide River is loaded with factual information. Stephanie Reed presents history in a close-up, personal way. The main character, Lowry Rankin, and his family were real people involved in a true struggle against a pervasive evil of their time. Relying on their deep-seated faith and Christian principles, they chose to take a stand on the side of a disenfranchised and down-trodden people. By telling the story behind the story she highlights the motivations and risks individuals of that era faced.

Much has been made of the way in which Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, galvanized the abolitionist movement in the United States. While certainly true, this overlooks the fact that people like the Rankins were already on site and hard at work well before Stowe’s novel appeared. Driven by their sense of justice, they had banded together to form the loose federation known as the Underground Railway.

The book is rated YA, or Young Adult. This in no way bars an adult from opening the cover. Rather, it simply guarantees the book contains no offensive language, sexual references, or violent episodes that would make it unsuitable for a younger reader. Adults can, and should, read Across the Wide River. They’ll find it an enjoyable experience. Here’s a suggestion on how to go about accomplishing that. The book makes a great gift for a child or grandchild. Buy if for them and, if you’re lucky, they may let you read it when they’ve finished. —E G Lewis

Product Information:
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Kregel Publications
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-0825435768

Sunday, August 14, 2011

YOUNG AND IN LOVE, Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage by Ted Cunningham

Young and in Love is a book that encourages young people who fall in love to examine themselves and each other, but not delay marriage. If they believe they’re right for each other, go ahead and marry rather than delay marriage for years. This book encourages teamwork in marriage, avoiding promiscuity and avoiding living together outside of marriage. It validates fidelity to one’s spouse and encourages couples to commit to, and support one another.

The book is filled with questions for young couples to consider, and offers ideas on what to watch out for. Journal entries lead a couple to examine themselves and their potential spouse. The book helps young people commit to a lasting, successful relationship via marriage, while not allowing others to discourage them.  

Pastor Ted Cunningham uses Biblical validations throughout the book. He is a young father, with teenagers yet to come. The one place I disagreed with him was how he expects to speak to the young men his daughter will date. Those teen years will teach him much.  Parenting a teen is very different from going through teen years yourself.

Other than that, however, most of Mr. Cunningham’s premises are sound, and I’d like my grandchildren to read this book. I hope they will avoid the political correctness that could rob them of the joy provided through a large, supportive family.  By beginning married lives young, our odds of enjoying grandchildren and great grandchildren increase exponentially.

As a grandparent, I look back on my life and realize in my youth I bought into the political thinking about marriage and children.  I no longer agree with any of it.  I married later and limited myself to two children. It saddens me that my children are having their children later, and are also limiting their number. The greatest gift in life is family. Yet, the last three generations were encouraged not to marry young and not to have more than two children. Why? Possibly greed. Children are expensive. But, what is a car, a monstrous house, or an exotic vacation worth next to a child? Objects and trips don’t bring us love and joy. Loved ones do.

Mr. Cunningham’s arguments are clear, concise and accurate. I strongly recommend Young and In Love, Challenging the Unnecessary Delay of Marriage to all young people, and to parents who still buy into the myth that marrying late carries some advantage. 

Our gratitude to Audra Jennings at B&B Media for providing us with a review copy.
—Gail Lewis
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0781404479
ISBN-13: 978-0781404471

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

TOMBSTONES AND BANANA TREES, A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness by Medad Birungi and Craig Borlase

This is a true story that promotes forgiveness and reconciliation. However, it’s not that message that makes this book such a captivating read. The unbelievable cruelty and poverty that Birungi experienced as a child in Uganda is chilling.

Birungi is his father’s first son by the first of his several wives. The man is violent toward them, and eventually he abandons Birungi’s mother and all her children when Birungi is only six years old. He leaves them with nothing. Their home is gone, as are all of their possessions. One might expect other relatives or neighbors to help, but assistance rarely comes.
Was Birungi bitter about it? Of course. Does he remain an angry, bitter person? No. Follow the life of a little boy whose pain and struggle will amaze you. Watch him survive, find redemption, and learn to forgive.  Through his own forgiveness of others, he has a positive impact on the lives of many people, including his father.

The back cover of the book says that Medad Birungi is now “a Bible teacher, lecturer, pastor and the founder of World Shine Ministries,” an organization in Uganda that “evangelizes, disciples, and intercedes in prayer in Uganda and around the world. Medad and his wife have five children and live in Uganda.”

 To learn more about this charitable, Christian organization, visit here:  WORLD SHINE FOUNDATION

We are grateful to Audra Jennings of B&B Media for providing us with an advance reading copy. —Gail Lewis