Book Review Series: Christmas Bells and Hero Tails

Christmas Bells and Hero Tails


This book immediately appealed to me; I thought reading a children’s Christmas book together as a family would be a fun way to start getting excited about the holidays. My husband agreed, and we planned to read one chapter of this book a night with our daughters. This did not go to plan. After every single chapter, my ears met the most sincere and desperate pleas, “One more chapter, mum…. Pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaassssse! I’ll be so good. I’ll share, I’ll eat my whole dinner….please just read one more chapter. I need to know what Buddy does next! Please, mum! Please?”


I had fantasies of my children eating broccoli without argument. Dare I try Brussels sprouts? But no. Although the story was excellent, it was not powerful enough to result in major broccoli-eating.  I didn’t even try the spouts (which is okay, because I don’t like Brussels sprouts). But it did improve in small broccoli bites, which was only one of the delights that came from reading this tale.

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Book Review Series: Understanding Your Endowment

Understanding Your Endowment

This book is written by Cory Jensen and published by Cedar Fort, Inc. All of the author’s proceeds from this book are being donated to Mentors International and other global charitable organizations. 


I confess that as I read the title of this book, I became uncomfortable. The temple is without argument, a sacred place. But it can also be a place of hurt, a place that is so symbolic that it is problematic, and a place that becomes so routine we become bored. I know more women who do not enjoy the temple than those who do enjoy it, so wanted to try to keep them in mind as I read and reviewed the text. And having just read and reviewed  First Principles And Ordinances, I wasn’t sure I was in the mood to read or review another temple book.


But, oh! I am so glad that I did. I really loved this book. The ideas and thoughts presented by the author are clearly motivated by love, and I thoroughly appreciated the lense in which he discussed the temple, especially the initiatory and the endowment. Cutting to the chase, this is one of my favourite treasures:


Recognise the temple endowment as your own personal Liahona. Consider anew a well-known scripture: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the spirit of God dwell within you? (I Corinthians 3:16, emphasis added).” You’ve likely heard this scripture repeated often. Pause and think about it carefully. What if Paul wasn’t just employing an analogy? Perhaps he meant exactly as he said: You are the temple of God. What if your real endowment is your life? (64)

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Book Review Series: First Principles and Ordinances

Brown-First-Principles-Cover-Final-Web-Hires-188x300This was an unusual book for me to review. First off, our own Rachel had already done a review of it. Secondly, my own physical location made the book an unusual thesis for examination as one of the concepts of the author is that of the church as a community. I live a three hour drive each way from the nearest church branch, so we have ecclesiastical permission to share the sacrament at home as a family. I am not officially in any branch, I have no official calling, and am far enough from a temple that regular attendance is impossible. Yet I found Samuel Brown’s Mormon communal exegesis as one of my favourite parts of the book. He refers to the church a community of saints who strive in varied pulses creating an interdependent ‘body of Christ’ that is in need of all of the variations of church goers:

“[The church is] a hospital for sinners instead of a museum for saints. The church, both a hospital and a museum, allows all of us to be both sinner and saint in a state of continual interdependence.”(7)

Brown was careful to not limit this, the body of Christ in terms that related only to individual families. Thus, he places all of us- including the oft-neglected unmarried or childless saints — in a single, unified, eternal family, striving as a community in Christ. This community is a combination of hospital and museum, where we are individually healed, and often simultaneously set examples for others who strive mimic our positive traits. In this light, I recalled the death of my own father; he was a convert who smoked heavily in his pre-church days, and possibly even in his post-conversion days. Though he had stopped smoking well before I was born, the seeds that would later grow lung cancer still took his life. In the time of his dying, the faith-inspired museum that became my mother was yet broken, but empowered by the healing balm of those “hospital workers” who brought us meals and supported our family in ways that helped to heal us at such a difficult time. This is one type of the combination of hospital and museum Brown envisions the church, and I liked it. 

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Exponent Book Review Series and Cyber-Monday Giveaway

Here at the Exponent, we love books! And we love Christmas! So today we areyou-cant-buy-happiness-but-you-can-buy-books-and-thats-kind-of-the-same-thing introducing the first-ever Exponent Book Review Series and Cyber-Monday Giveaway. From 15 November 2015 to Cyber Monday (30 November, 2015), we will be reviewing books for you (peppered as always with lesson plans).

What lesson plans, you ask? The Exponent blog has happily been creating lesson plans for Relief Society Lessons and Young Women Lessons, in both French and Spanish. If you have not done so before, please check them out. You (and your class), will be happy that you did!

Now, just as President Monson has a “Christmas Treasury of Books,” we have an Exponent Treasury of books some of our bloggers have written, such as Mormon Women Have Their Say, Candy Canes and Christmastime, Mormon Feminism, and Baptism and Boomerangs. (Check out the amazon widget on our homepage for more titles!)

But why are we doing this? Certainly one of my very favourite things to read, and to give, and to receive at Christmastime– are books! And for those whom I love best, I gift a subscription to the Exponent magazine (lucky!). So this is about helping our readers to make happy choices for gifts to friends, family … and self.  This series will give honest reviews of non-fiction books, fiction books, inspirational books, informational books, cookbooks, gardening books, and children’s books — all to help you make inspired choices for Christmas.

PLUS! In grand combination of love, and literature, and love of literature, a combination of book authors, publishers and we– are giving away many of the books to YOU. For free. Because it’s Christmas!

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Teaching, No Greater Call Series: “Horrors of Teaching” Halloween Thread

We all know that sometimes, something horrifying, spooky, creepy or just plain silly suprisedhappens when we are in a classroom. Sometimes it happens as a teacher, sometimes it happens as a student. In honor of Halloween, we give you a collection of teaching horrors from the Exponent backlist…. please add your own in the comments section below!


I was the primary music chorister and for some reason I was telling the kids about the Nauvoo temple and how it was destroyed.

I said, “And then mobs came and destroyed the temple.”

This adorable little blond-haired sunbeam look absolutely crushed and said, “WHY would MOMS want to destroy the temple??”


When I was a Primary chorister, I planned an activity that involved playing a recording of the same song multiple times while playing a game to learn the lyrics.  Unfortunately, that was the day the ancient CD player from the media center broke.  It wouldn’t pause and restart in the same place and the track number display gave out.  After each round, I had to find the song on the CD again by hitting and releasing fast forward exactly 11 times.  I counted out loud and got the whole Primary involved in counting with me, like a Sesame Street episode.  By the end of sharing time, even the Sunbeams were quite proficient at counting to 11, but I doubt anyone mastered the song I was trying to teach.

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