Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Good News Express -- Passkey Foundation --A Reflective Review

I heard the story 8 times . . . consecutively and loudly.
I heard it 8 times in a confined space--the Loser Cruiser, on a very rainy day. I don't like driving in the rain. It makes me tense.

They really liked the story. They being Mr. Smackdown and Mr. Me-Too.
What story, you ask?

The Birthday Gift by Tony Salerno, published by Passkey Publications.


This is the tale of a little bear, Bramwell, who is about to attend his eagerly anticipated birthday party. He is greedily dwelling upon the presents he will receive as he takes a short cut through Fiddle Field due to The Good News Express arriving late. In the field he meets Brengle. (What is up with these names?) Brengle is new to town and appears to live in squalor. Brengle becomes embarrassed at being invited to Bramwell's birthday party, and lacking the shoes to attend he runs away on presumably callused paws. Bramwell arrives fashionably late to his own party and is obviously bothered by his encounter with the stark realities of life, much like I was bothered at the poverty I viewed when living in India. Troubled, he sulks throughout his party, even acting ungrateful at the wonderful gifts he receives until he opens the pair of coveted shoes. In an incredibly generous gesture, Bramwell seeks permission from his parents to give his shoes to Brengle. The entire birthday party hunts Brengle down and he is invited into the fold, overwhelmed at this goodwill offering of love. Both Bramwell and Brengle learn monumental life lessons that can easily be translated into an applicable Bible story.

The short of it is . . . though the dialogue of the book appears forced to me at times, it is delightful to children, especially my children. My husband and I became thoroughly annoyed with the CD, but then again, we listed to it to the point of insanity.

And the long of it is . . . admittedly, I tend to gravitate towards simplistic and classic stories that have been time tested. I was annoyed by the bears' names. I didn't understand why Bramwell wasn't at home and wondered what exactly the Good News Express was (I can surmise, though.) I was irritated at his impolite attitude towards his party guests and his insolent behavior towards his parents. He should have been somewhat grateful. As a result, I wanted to dismiss this book as a weak, feel good book that teaches my children annoying songs.

However, upon further reflection . . . I think that this book certainly explores the area of character. A person, or bear, of good character does what is right even when no one is looking. The way I see it is that Bramwell had an inciting event that caused him to do something meaningful and important with his life. Recognizing his good fortune, he chooses to bless another in a needier state, sacrificing his own desires. As a result he discovers that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

This book inspired conversation. Characters don't have to be perfect. We aren't perfect. Not everyone can be Jesus. I don't think that Bramwell appeared very grateful at his birthday party with his lukewarm statements of thanks, but I understand his disillusionment. In the end, Bramwell showed good character. He was kind to Brengle when no one was looking and he extended goodwill towards Brengle.

This book provides an excellent opportunity to discuss with your children an opportunity where you can give away a toy, or provide a gift to a friend in need. Perhaps it is time to sponsor that Compassion child?

If you have a headache don't listen to the included CD in the car. However, if you seek to entertain your children for an hour or so, put the CD on repeat and they will be happy as clams.

There are several other books in the Good News Express series featuring topics such as cheerfulness, friendship, and thankfulness in addition to sharing. The four books can be purchased as a bundle for $20 or individually for $7.50 at The Passkeys Foundation website.

Click on the Homeschool Crew banner to read other reviews on these products.

As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I was given this product to review,
and I do not have to return the product to the vendor. I was not paid for this post.
All opinions expressed in this post are mine with the help of my children.