Monday, August 18, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Wizzy Gizmo

I have a daughter who loves to read therefore we spend lots of time at the library. As a parent I wish she had more access to books that promoted a Biblical worldview. That is why I was glad to have an opportunity to review one of the books from Wizzy Gizmo.

Wizzy Gizmo is a company that offers children's books that not only have a biblical worldview, but are actually about the Bible. Using a fictional narrative their characters end up in situations where they learn about and experience events from the Bible. For the purpose of my review Gess chose to read Book Two: In His Image.

Wizzy Gizmo derived their name from the main character in their books. The character Wizzy Gizmo is a science professor and an incredible inventor. His invention Gizmovision has the ability to make any book literally come to life. He uses this invention to help teach children about the most important book of all time, the Bible. Book One: Who Created Everything? was of course about the creation account from Genesis chapter 1. While I like starting things in order, Gess really wanted In His Image which focuses on the creation of man from Genesis chapter 2.

In this book a group of friends, Olive, Thomas, Summer, Eli, their robotic duck, and talking dog go to visit their favorite scientist Wizzy Gizmo to check out his latest invention. This time it was a Gizmoanycream which can make ice cream any flavor you want, and maybe some flavors you don't. I don't think I would have cared for the salad dressing ice cream myself, but the lemonade could be good. Anyway, the kids wonder how Wizzy became so creative and ask him about it. He answers that "being creative is one of the ways people reflect God's image." This leads into the theme for the rest of the book, that we are made in the image of God.

They then go to Wizzy's Gizmovision, turn the Bible to Genesis chapter 2, and place it on the machine. Suddenly the world around them seems to disappear as they end up surrounded by the spectacular view of the Garden of Eden. I have to comment here that I was a little concerned about the time travel aspect of the book but they did an excellent job treating the Word of God with great dignity and respect.

One thing I liked is that didn't use any magic to do it. There is no mystical force in play. It is a scientific contraption that makes the book somehow come to life. I don't think they actually travel but rather are made to feel as if they have just entered the surroundings of whatever book they just opened up. They also never interact in their surroundings. While they are transported so they can see it, they don't talk to anyone there and can't become part of the story. Since we are dealing with the Bible and topics that are sacred, I am really glad that they handled it that way.

I also loved how they handled the meat of the Scripture as well. The machine literally quotes God's Word. There is no paraphrasing or summarizing it. Each verse is quoted accurately from the NASB version of the Bible. They make it bold and have it stand out so you know that what you are reading is important. They talk about what it actually means and share many important aspects of the Word itself. I really like how they begin introducing children to theological concepts such as ex nihilo which means God made the world out of nothing and inerrent which means the Bible is without error. These key vocabulary words are placed in bold too which means you can find it's definition in the back of the book. We loved this part! Gess is always asking me what things mean. Anytime she finds a word she doesn't know, she asks. This allowed her to find the answer for herself.

The only problem I did have with the book was in regard to their character Pepe which is a dog that can both think and speak. The robotic duck I get. He's mechanical. It's artificial intelligence. They claim that Pepe's ability is also artificial. It was from Wizzy's invention of Anama-Gizmo-Logic but that really isn't explained in the story, just in the character information at the beginning of the book. And even if it was, it just felt really awkward when the point of this particular book was how man, not animals, were made in the image of God and therefore have the ability to do things like think and speak. They even laugh at the idea of animals doing certain things, like a monkey writing poetry, all while hanging out with Pepe who is a dog who appears to be able to do that if he wanted to.

The actual book itself is a paperback but it feels more durable than most and the print inside is large enough for children to read easily. That is always a plus for us since Gess really struggles with small print. While there weren't that many it did have some full color graphics that had a cartoon like feel to them.

Gess thoroughly enjoyed the story. I would find her laughing and getting into what was happening. We read it together but she also enjoyed reading it alone. She loved reading the Scripture content and as I mentioned earlier would often look up the new vocabulary words in the back of the book.

Book Two: In His Image sells for $12.99 and is for ages 4-12. This also works great as a family read along. The little ones will be compelled enough to listen and the older ones will actually be reading something on their level. Best of all, every child will learn and grow in their biblical knowledge from it and that is everything I could ever want in a book.

To learn more about the Wizzy Gizmo books and other products visit their website, or see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about it by clicking on the banner below.

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