Reviews

Mixed Media
documentary

Born into Brothels

reviewed by Kristy Quist

While in Calcutta to record the lives of red light district workers, filmmakers Zana Briski and Ross Kauffman found themselves teaching photography to kids growing up in the brothels. This Oscarwinning documentary follows their efforts to improve the lives of the children, who learn to express themselves through their photos. The R rating for this documentary is for language, which is not surprising given the context. The children’s stories are both sad and hopeful, and the film urges viewers to advocate for the marginalized people of the world. (THINKfilm)

videogame

Food-Force.com

reviewed by Ron VandenBurg

Food Force, a sim-character game created by the World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations, offers positive alternatives to violent commercial videogames. Players choose from six missions in which they can locate people displaced by civil war, devise a balanced diet based on the WFP’s 30-cent rations, organ ize food drops, gather resources from around the world, and drive trucks while facing difficult and dangerous challenges. Using strategies from the WFP, players can also help a village become self-sufficient. (Be sure to include the hyphen when typing in the web address).

fiction

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

by Lisa See

reviewed by Kristy Quist

At the ripe age of 7, Snow Flower and Lily sign a laotong contract, a lifelong emotional marriage that has no equivalent in our culture. They are “old sames”— sworn sisters. This novel portrays an intimate friendship in 19th-century China, where conventions deter close relationships and women are valued only for producing sons. Snow Flower and Lily marry into very different circumstances, and Lily is hurt when she finds that her friend has kept secrets. Lisa See submerses readers in another world and deftly demonstrates the destructive nature of pride and harbored anger. (Random House)

devotional

A Spiritual Field Guide

by Bernard Brady and Mark Neuzil

reviewed by Philip Christman

You won't rightly enjoy the world until you see God's wisdom in a grain of sand. Thus wrote Thomas Traherne, whose words are included in this fine book, which excerpts passages from many writers on nature to help readers meditate on nature's God. You have to admire the editors' taste in selections and their catholicity; Edward Abbey fits neatly into the same chapter as Mother Teresa. My only complaint is that it isn't longer. (Brazos Press)

young adult fiction

Listening For Lions

by Gloria Whelen

reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema

Thirteen-year-old Rachel Sheridan is comforted shattered by the sound of roaring lions near her home in British East Africa, thinking of them as “soldiers of the night, patrolling all the dark places.” However, her sense of security is shattered when her medical missionary parents die in the 1919 influenza epidemic. Rachel is duped by unscrupulous neighbors and coerced into going to England. Years later, she makes good on her promise to return to Africa and to rebuild her parents’ hospital. But before she does she discovers that only by confronting evil with truth can she be liberated from the web of deception others have forced her into. (HarperCollins)

picture book

A Apple Pie

by Gennady Spirin

reviewed by Jeanette Romkema

ABC books are a dime a dozen, but there is nothing common about A Apple Pie. The simple written text has been around since the 1600s, but contemporary artist Gennady Spirin has great fun illustrating this tribute to the traditional apple pie with delightful Victorian details and fanciful culinary artistry. Readers will laugh, look closer to check specifics, and find themselves extremely hungry. It’s a celebration of apple pie and the everyday, a meeting of the old and the new, and a feast for body and soul. (Philomel Books)

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