Monday, July 19, 2010

The New Bicycle by Michael McNeilly

This book is very good book to teach kids the importance of work for something you want. Kids these days think we owe them everything. Little bit a work doesn't hurt anyone. Makes them value and respect it after they get it then. Amos in the story has fun while he works for a bike. There are discussion questions at the end of the book you can use with your child after reading the book. Good important memory verses to memorize too.

Book Recap
Amos McCool doesn’t own a bicycle, but he desperately wants the bright red bike hanging in the hardware store window. As he works to earn money for his dream bicycle, Amos learns important lessons about being responsible. Faced with an unexpected choice to give his new bike to someone less fortunate, Amos discovers the joy of showing generosity.

Author Bio
Michael McNeilly is the director of content development at Crown Financial Ministries, an international nonprofit ministry that teaches biblical financial principles.

A resident of Gainesville, GA for more than 35 years, Michael and his wife, Amy, have two daughters. Their 10-year-old was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at age 3, and in the ensuing years, the family has learned to live each day God gives them with purpose.
They are active in CF fundraising and parent support groups.

The author of Guide to College Majors and Career Choices and contributing writer to
the new film learning experience, God Provides (both from Crown Financial Ministries),
Michael is involved in financial coaching ministry in his church and community. He enjoys
cycling, running, triathlons, hiking, camping, and remote control airplanes. Visit Michael
at, or his blog at

Your book’s main character, Amos McCool, originated in your own family over 30 years ago. Tell us about how Amos was created.
Yes, more than 30 years ago, my grandmother made up Amos McCool when she told my brother and me bedtime stories at night. When my children were old enough I passed on this tradition and began telling Amos McCool stories too. The kids instantly liked Amos and asked for more stories each night - so I began writing them down. Many of the stories come from my childhood, friends, and good times we've had as a family.

What makes Amos McCool so cool?
Amos is cool because he has fun, isn't afraid to try new things, but more so because he does the right thing when opportunities arise. Often kids are made fun of or teased because they are nice, treat others with kindness, obey their parents, or when they make good decisions. Amos shows kids that it is cool to do the right thing - even if people don't understand or make fun. God is pleased with them and they don't have to give in to the peer pressure kids often face.

In The New Bicycle, Amos uses an Idea List to brainstorm ways to earn money so he can buy a bike for himself. What is an Idea List and how can kids use it?
Amos’ Idea List is a tool used to identify four major things:
1. Jobs I can do
2. Things I can sell
3. People that can help me.
4. People who I can help.
Parents and kids can use this simple tool to begin brainstorming about ways to earn extra money to purchase the things they want. They can also identify people they can help along the way.

How can the Adventures of Amos McCool serve as conversation starters for parents to discuss important issues with their children?
One good way is through bedtime stories. The book has discussion questions designed to help parents engage their children about the lessons they just read in the story. I let my kids talk openly and "dream" about things they want to do or what the story meant to them. There are several key Bible verses in the discussion times too that are good to focus on.
Our family also does "Family Fun Night." We will make dinner, tell stories (such as Amos McCool), discuss for a while, and play games. It's a lot of fun and kids learn too!

What tips can you share to help parents creatively instill values into their children?
1. You have to act. Do something memorable that take kids out of their comfort zone. For example - visit nursing homes, go Christmas caroling, give money/items to a single parent, homeless person, or volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Let your kids take part in it.

2. Look for simple teaching moments in every day life. Examples are:
Look at the moon/stars and say “Wow, God is a really cool creator huh?” What do you think is His greatest creation?
Around the dinner table – say “We are about to eat more tonight than some families eat in an entire month.” We are truly rich aren’t we? What can we do to share with others in need?
Read the Bible together. Example - Hebrews 4:12 – explain how the Bible is living and active. That's cool isn't it? What does that mean? Explain how it is the only book that actually “reads us.”

3. Share stories of your youth with your kids. Kids LOVE listening to stories of their parents when they were kids. Share things you learned, how you failed, what you did as a boy/girl. How you became a Christian. What you felt. Things that were hard for you to grasp. Be open and vulnerable.

4. Have recurring moments that you share as a family. Bedtime stories, dinner time rituals – i.e. name one thing God did for you today that made you happy?

Bottom line – Instilling values takes action on a parent’s part – it just doesn’t happen all by itself. We must lead kids to experience the moment on their own - often allowing them to get out of their comfort zone. God gives us great teaching moments all around us. We just need to be sensitive to Him and look for ways of sharing in a genuine way.

One of your daughters has a serious illness. How has her illness impacted your family?
When Grace was 3 years old she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. CF is a genetic disease that seriously affects the lungs and digestive system. Medically speaking the average lifespan of those with CF is 30 years of age. It can be a difficult condition to manage with the constant medications and respiratory therapy required.
God has been very close and tender to our family. He continually shows us that He is in control. We walk with Him daily and are putting our trust in Him to heal our little girl. We are teaching our girls to have a strong faith in God and to enjoy every moment to its fullest.
This condition has influenced my writing style in the stories as I seek to share lessons "that truly matter."

How has your 15 years of employment at Crown Financial Ministries influenced the creation of the Amos McCool series?
I just ended a wonderful 15-year career at Crown Financial Ministries. I was blessed to start work at Crown at the age of 23 years old. I was mentored by people such as Larry Burkett, Ron Blue, Howard Dayton, Lee Ellis, and Crown’s new CEO Chuck Bentley. These godly men have impacted my life in a very positive way and I take serious the verse that says “to whom much is given, much is required.”
The teachings of Crown are straight from the Bible. There are over 2,350 verses in the Bible dealing with money and possessions. I have been a budget coach and speaker for Crown for many years. I have personally seen the joy in working hard, living on a budget, and putting God first through giving. I have a strong desire to teach this to kids (and parents) through the Amos McCool stories.

Are more Amos McCool books in the works?
Yes, I have 5 stories written so far and several other ideas for future Amos McCool stories. Future stories are about Amos exploring the outdoors and camping, the value of having a best friend, dealing with bullies, and having to learn responsibility. I think kids will like one story in particular about one of Amos’ pets. Amos has a special pet (a snake named Harold) that accidentally goes to him to school – hidden away in his backpack. All sorts of things happen when the snake gets loose and Amos has to take responsibility and apologize.

For more information about this book click here.

A copy of this book was provided for review by WinePress Publishing


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