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"In a world where action games, special effects, and sensational stories are all competing for the minds of kids, The Red Boat is a simple yet engaging story of beautiful and lasting truth. Dylan is a young boy who decides to build a toy boat, sacrificing time with his friend in order to make the boat perfect. Unfortunately, on the boat's maiden voyage, it is swept down the river. Dylan's perfect boat, the result of hours of painstaking and loving effort, is gone. The story of how he finally gets his boat back is likened to the story of how God created each of us in His image, how we got lost, and how He bought us back. It is powerful and memorable.

The colorful illustrations by Jan Naimo Jones complement the story well. They are realistic enough to capture the essence and emotions of the scenes, but they don't overpower the message. Along with the medium-sized soft-covered book is a CD of Uncle Charlie reading the book. His voice is comforting and interesting for kids and adults alike. The CD can be used with the book or on its own.

The Red Boat is a "Summer" volume from Keys for Kids Ministries' Seasons of Faith series. Each "Season" represents a different phase of a Christian's walk with faith. Summer is "the season when faith grows under God's love and care." So far, there are seven books, priced at $10 each, all of which are available on CBH's website. The books seem to be aimed primarily at children 5-10 years old.

The uses for this book are plentiful indeed. In a homeschool setting, it could be included in Bible study, reading, or read-aloud story time. It would be well used as part of a homeschool co-op, Christian school, Sunday school, or children's church. It would be a great addition to a babysitter's bag or tricks or as a gift for a child learning to read. The Red Boat is a wonderful and non-threatening way to share the Good News with children.

The last page of the book, along with the last message on the CD, walks the reader through the steps in salvation: admit, believe, and choose. Scripture passages are provided for better understanding.

Pros: I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book myself and listening to the CD. It was even more effective when I interrupted my boys, ages 7, 9, and 11, who were drawing super heroes. They became quite still and thoughtful as they listened to the CD and looked at the illustrations. They all gave it a thumbs­-up. The more I thought about the story, the more people and situations came into my mind that I know would benefit from its everlasting hope and truth.

Cons: A soft-cover book has its advantages in cost and storage space. However, a story such as this--one that will be read over and over again--might just deserve a hard cover.

I highly recommend this book for all kids--even the grown-up ones--because we could all use a reminder that though we sometimes feel lost at sea, God loved us enough to pay the ultimate price to redeem us right back to Him, the Rock."

Krystin Corneilson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2010

"I like the clarity of the gospel message, and the way Becky works it into everyday conversation. We can all recognize the beauty of creation, and this is a non-threatening way to introduce the topic of God. I also like seeing Becky pray and ask God for an opportunity to share her faith with Sarah and her parents.

The watercolors truly are spectacular and transport you to a Montana ranch in summer. The sky alone is breathtaking, and the horses are strong and well-proportioned. The girls look friendly and inviting, and Sauber does a good job matching their facial expressions to the situations they are in."

Erin Cronin, Christian Children’s Book Review
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"Very well done. A great story with a great message. I love the family values (reminds me of the old Golden Book Lassie stories) and the easy way faith is shared. This is a feel-good story without a heavy-hand at all. Readers will jump right in and want to know what happens next. I can't think of a better way to share the faith."

Lisa Barker,

"The detailed watercolor illustrations by Robert Sauber enhance the text by providing a visual guide to the story.

What I Like: Everything.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent."

Christine Irvin, Christian Children’s Book Review
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"The way Adam explains his faith to Zack, and then how Zack in turn explains faith to his mother, is superbly done. The message fits into the story seamlessly, never robbing the reader of the pleasure of the story while introducing the faith in a meaningful way. Loved it. Well done."

Lisa Barker,

"The illustrations, by John White, are very realistic and life-like. This story is written about an important subject: the lesson of forgiving. It’s a lesson everyone needs to learn."

Christine Irvine, Christian Children’s Book Review
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"A very good story about forgiveness. What is especially appealing about this series is that the faith lessons are shared in a way that is so easy to grasp. Kids will relate to the situations and identify with the characters. I heartily recommend these books."

Lisa Barker,

"This is a very difficult story dealing with the age-old questions: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" and "If God is all-powerful and all-loving why does he allow bad things to happen?" Not only is there a Christian message of hope, but the warmth of family and the faith they share envelopes the main character and the reader delivering a powerful message of God's love, providence and faithfulness. A must read especially if your kiddo/family is struggling to deal with very trying circumstances like an illness or job loss."

Lisa Barker,
Keys for Kids Ministries
2060 43rd Street SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508

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