Reviews: family entertainment, documentaries, resources, books, music
AFA Staff
AFA Journal staff reviews movies, books and other resources

August 2019 – New children’s books from Phil Vischer teach timeless values
After his success with VeggieTales, creator Phil Vischer moved on to a new series of children’s media called Buck Denver Asks…What’s in the Bible? Newly released to supplement the DVD series is a collection of books that add to their extensive repertoire of resources based on the Buck Denver series.

Four of the new releases, written by Hannah C. Hall, are smaller cardboard books for preschoolers. This series features Clive and Ian, two brothers from the Buck Denver DVDs. Each book teaches the young boys one biblical principle.

For example, in God Made the World, Clive and Ian go on a picnic and learn about how God created everything. In others, they visit the zoo, spend a rainy day inside, and go camping, each story illustrating a specific element of creation.

Two other books written by Vischer feature many characters from the main cast of the series, including Buck Denver himself. These books showcase beautiful full-color illustrations and are aimed at a preschool to 3rd grade audience. In Buck Denver’s Giant Robot Suit: A Lesson in Friendship, Buck tries to help others by using a robotic suit. When that fails, Granny and Marcy teach Buck about friendship.

In the second book, Buck Denver’s BAD, Bad Day: A Lesson in Thankfulness, Buck tries to wear a huge mask that makes him look happy in order to make up for a bad day. When he ends up scaring people away, Granny and Marcy help him learn from a Bible story.

Two new coloring books follow stories from the Old and New Testaments. Many pages include Bible verses for children to memorize.

These and other products from Vischer’s Jellytelly Press are available at online and retail booksellers.

Canada Burns

Pray Momma Pray
Pray Momma Pray is authored by a former prodigal who grew up in a close-knit home as a pastor’s kid. David Ball’s upbringing went by the wayside as he looked for fulfilment in sports, girls, and popularity.

A college quarterback and student body president, Ball was wearing himself out running from God. Still, the last thing he wanted was to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Meanwhile, Ball’s mother travailed in prayer as she watched her son destroying himself in sin.

“A while after my mom thought that I had fallen asleep,” Ball wrote, “this tiny warrior of God silently walked into my room. She knelt beside my bed and began to pray in a very soft whisper that was louder than anything I had ever 
heard before.”

That prayer turned Ball toward a genuine relationship with Christ. He proceeded to a successful 19-year career as a high school coach. But God had plans for him – following in his dad’s footsteps.

Ball now pastors a church that aggressively reaches out to the community and the down-and-outers, and where his mother heads the prayer ministry. Available at online bookstores.

Anne Reed

Core 52
In today’s fitness-focused culture, many people work out at a gym daily. Author Mark E. Moore believes people also need a daily spiritual exercise plan. He writes that 80% of people surveyed admit they need to know the Bible better, and 60% of those people are unchurched.

In Core 52: A Fifteen Minute Daily Guide to Build Your Bible IQ in a Year, Moore offers an easily achievable goal of greater Bible literacy. Focusing on 52 powerful Scriptures, Moore maps out a weekly strategy for 15 minutes of daily Bible study.

Day 1 of each week introduces a thought-provoking essay, followed by a day of Scripture memorization. Days 3 and 4 focus intently on key principles of the week’s Scriptures. Day 5 is for questions, quiet contemplation, and deciding how to apply the Bible to 
daily life.

Moore also challenges lay leaders to assume a greater responsibility for imparting biblical truths to their communities. Available at online and retail booksellers.

Joy Lucius

Slugs & Bugs
Singer/songwriter Randall Goodgame and his lyrically loveable Slugs & Bugs are at it again. This time, Doug the Slug and his best pal, Sparky the Lightning Bug, star in a pair of delightful new books: Are We Still Friends? and Who Will Play with Me? Don’t let the frivolities of Goodgame’s colorful characters fool you; there is a definite scriptural message in each tale.

Are We Still Friends? uses Ephesians 4:32 to teach early elementary readers that forgiveness is a true part of real friendship. Demonstrating Philippians 2:3, Doug and Sparky remind readers in Who Will Play with Me? that playtime is more fun when friends put each other’s needs first. Learn more or purchase at

Joy Lucius

Palau: A Life on Fire

Palau: A Life on Fire: The Spiritual Memoir of Luis Palau is the intimate autobiography of one of today’s most influential Christian leaders. From meager beginnings in Argentina, Palau began a ministry that has reached over one billion people with the gospel. His memoir shares details of his journey. Though readers may not be aware, Palau was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer more than a year ago. He tells his life story with an earnestness and sincerity that reaches off the pages and into the reader’s heart.

Written with Paul J. Pastor, Palau uses personal stories backed with scriptural truths to impart a foundational spiritual lesson in each chapter. He writes with the ease of a natural born storyteller, but each anecdote has a plan and a purpose, guiding the reader toward Christ.

A collection of family and ministry photos complement the story. Available at online or retail booksellers.

Joy Lucius

If ... What If?
Written by a father-son duo, Tony and Daniel Myles, If ... What If? is a daily devotional intended to encourage families to spend more time together. The short devotions provide a quick and easy way to challenge kids and strengthen families. Myles said, “Spending time doing something meaningful like this only takes 10 minutes a day. The gains of that throughout your life, though, are timeless.”

The Myleses discuss a variety of topics ranging from the definition of a godly marriage to how to deal with death. The theme of the book is “There is Hope.” Using this as an acrostic, topics range from the Trinity to eternity, revealing that through every season, there is hope in Jesus. Biblically based, the devotional is easy to read, applicable, and encouraging. Available at online and retail booksellers.

Hannah Harrison

Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West
Fostering over 30 children (5 with special needs) and 2 biological children, Stacey and Darren Gagnon are no strangers to issues children face. In Cowboy Joel and the Wild Wild West, the Gagnon family shows that the best way to fight bullying is to see yourself the way God sees you as “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Targeting their message to elementary age kids, the Gagnons teach how to combat bullying with bravery. Inspired by Joel, one of the Gagnon sons, the family decided to write this book based on his struggles with Goldenhar Syndrome. In this creative narrative, Cowboy Joel learns how to live with his challenges and enjoy life.

The book is inspiring and has beautiful illustrations. It is perfect for any cowboy or cowgirl needing a reminder of where their worth is found. Available at

Hannah Harrison

A Visual Theology
Pastors and authors Tim Challies and Josh Byers collaborated on A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible to create an excellent resource that those in ministry and lay people alike will want to add to their library. Divided into three parts, the book offers an overview of the entire Bible and helps the reader understand how – through 66 separate books – the Bible is one big story of the redemptive plan of God through His Son Jesus Christ.

The book also addresses tough questions such as “What makes the Bible unique?” and “Can we trust the Bible?” Visual learners will enjoy the colorful infographics that make facts and figures come to life in ways that text alone simply cannot. Challies and Byers have produced a work that can serve as a great introduction to the Bible for new believers and an excellent reminder of the richness of God’s Word for seasoned saints. Available at retail and online booksellers.

Matthew White

Thumbs up from
The live action remake of Disney’s classic 1992 cartoon Aladdin is “wonderfully entertaining as the original cartoon, with many positive messages celebrating truth, honesty, justice, compassion, courage, humility, freedom, family, and doing the right thing.” There are no language issues or sexual content.