Movie Review Monday – Christmas Oranges

Penny Zeller, Christian Author
This week’s Movie Monday family movie suggestion is Christmas Oranges…

IMG_0002 (6) As a movie reviewer on a quest to find wholesome family entertainment, I’m always thrilled to find a heartwarming movie that I hadn’t heard much about and discover a gem in the process.

Such is the case with Christmas Oranges.

Rose was abandoned as a baby on the steps of Greenwoods Orphanage. The motherly caretaker, widow Mrs. Hartley, takes Rose in to the orphanage and raises her, along with the other children of the orphanage, as if they were her own. The children enjoy a loving environment and all is well until the unspeakable happens.

Rose is then transferred to Irongates Orphanage, a place opposite in every way from the Greenwoods Orphanage. Under cruel Mr. Crampton’s direction, the children at Irongates are under strict rule with no love and very little attention.

Rose is immediately grateful for the new friends she finds at Irongates, as well as, Mr. Crampton’s kind brother Joe, and Polly, the cook. She hears of the stories of what happens on Christmas – the only day Mr. Crampton allows the children to have any fun. It’s on that special day that Joe brings each child an orange – oranges he has hung on the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. Rose finds it difficult to wait for Christmas Day.

Along the way, Rose encounters difficulties at every turn with Mr. Crampton. When she discovers he harbors a secret, will her gentle spirit sway him to realize the mistakes he’s made and that it’s never too late to start anew?

Christmas Oranges has quickly become one of my favorite films. Delightful, heartwarming, and humorous in parts, I was thrilled to have stumbled upon it. Christmas Oranges is not a Christian film, but it does have some wonderful lessons for discussion. For example: love despite biological ties, loyalty, friendship, forgiveness, grace, and serving others. There is nothing objectionable in this movie.

But I will give you one word of caution: you may need a kleenex. I know I did.

I highly recommended this movie for all ages for Christmas and for any time of the year.

I am passionate about finding movies suitable for families. For a complete listing of family movie suggestions and an archive of past reviews from a Christian worldview for Movie Monday, please go to my Mom-Approved Movies Page.

For an archived list of movie reviews, go to my newly created Archived Movie Reviews page. This page will be updated regularly to show all movies included in Movie Review Monday.



Movie Review Monday – Sue Thomas F.B. Eye Series

Penny Zeller, Christian Author 

This week’s family movie suggestion is a series – Sue Thomas F.B. Eye Series.


Sue Thomas is a deaf woman who can read lips and speak. She’s lived a sheltered life for the most part, so when she’s accepted for a job with the F.B.I. hours from her hometown, she knows she’s embarking on an adventure.

Based on a true story, this series is one of the best I have ever seen and is on my top-ten favorites list of all time.  Sue Thomas F.B. Eye  has everything that makes a movie good – a touch of romance, drama, humor, action, and adventure. What’s more, the writers and producers managed to pull off this feat without the use of the distasteful Hollywood variety of violence, crass humor, foul language, and sexuality.

Sue Thomas F.B. Eye is a wholesome show, but it’s far from dull. Each episode includes the latest case to solve by Sue’s F.B.I. team, which includes:

Sue, a talented lip reader who helps solve many cases, but who struggles with being accepted because of her disability;

Jack, the lead investigator (with a dash of romance between he and Sue);

Lucy, Sue’s best friend and roommate, and the administrative assistant for Sue’s F.B.I. team;

Bobby, the Australian agent with a flair for fighting for the underdog;

Tara, who can figure out just about anything on the computer and is the technology guru of the group;

Demetrius, the serious, yet kind, agent who learns a lesson the hard way about how his workaholic tendencies affect his family; and

Miles, the annoying know-it-all who has it out for Sue in the beginning.

Some of the episodes include some scary parts that may be inappropriate for those under 10 only because of the theme.  One episode “Simon Says” is particularly scary and may frighten those younger than teens.

However, there is nothing objectionable in any of the episodes and Sue Thomas F.B.Eye is a perfect series for the entire family and one of our family’s favorite shows of all time.

I highly recommend purchasing the entire set. As of this review, there are five seasons, but I’m hoping they’ll make more soon!

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see

Join me each week for a new movie suggestion of recommended movies suitable for the entire family with reviews written from a Christian worldview.

Movie Monday – The Jensen Project

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s Movie Monday Movie Suggestion is The Jensen Project…

Picture 138

Full of on-your-seat adventure, special effects, and an intriguing plot best describes The Jensen Project, one of the several Walmart movies released for families.

Claire, her husband Matt, and their son Brody become part of an effort by a secret research group known as the Jensen Project to save mankind from being implanted with nanobytes. What happens when Brody is implanted with a nanobyte? Will the team succeed in their mission before it’s too late?

While not my favorite of the Walmart movies (my favorite is actually Tackling the Past, which I’ll be reviewing later), The Jensen Project is fun family fare that will appeal to all ages, with the exception of the very young who will likely be scared by the nonstop action/adventure scenes. There are some lessons to be learned along the way:

Brody doesn’t succeed very well at following this command. He lies to get out of school and sneaks off on a mission with a Jensen Project teenage apprentice. While the movie could have done a better job at reprimanding Brody for his disobedience, The Jensen Project did a great job at showing a true-to-life family struggling with managing busy workloads and in turn putting family on the back burner. It is this depiction of not making family a priority that shows the importance of showing the ones you love most how important they are to you.

There is nothing objectionable in The Jensen Project, and I would recommend it for your next family night for ages eight and above.

For a listing of movie suggestions, please see

For an archived listing of reviews for recently-reviewed movies, please see

Join me each week for a new movie suggestion of recommended movies suitable for the entire family with reviews written from a Christian worldview.


Movie Monday – African Cats

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s Movie Monday movie suggestion is African Cats.

Picture 108African Cats, a documentary from Disneynature, takes viewers into the lives of two lion prides and a cheetah family. The first lion pride, with its leader, Fang, is comprised of several lionesses and lion cubs. The second, led by Kali, includes Kali’s four sons. A duel ensues. There can only be one winner. Who will rule over the both lion prides? Enter into the picture Mara and her mother, an aging lioness. Will she be able to protect her daughter? And when she is injured, will the pride have mercy on her and wait while she heals, or will they forge ahead in search of much-needed food?

Viewers are also introduced to Sita, a single mother cheetah and her children. Can she protect them from hyenas and other dangers until they are full grown and able to survive on their own?

Enter the animal world, filmed on location in Kenya.

While there is no excessive violence, this is a film about nature, and it is realistic. Young ones will be frightened by a few scenes and the death of a parent might frighten smaller children.

After you’ve finished watching African Cats, don’t turn off the power button. The credits, where still shots of the “actors” (animals) are shown, is well worth the watch. It includes humorous titles for each of the animals in the film and is sure to draw a laugh.

Full of beautiful scenery, edge-of-seat-scenes, action, drama, and educational, African Cats is a winner and well-worth the watch. Highly recommended for those ages 8 and older.

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see

Join me each week for a new movie suggestion of recommended movies suitable for the entire family with reviews written from a Christian worldview.

Book Giveaways This Week…

Happy Wednesday morning! I hope you are all having a great week.

A couple of announcements to share (including a couple of freebies at the end of this post!)…

McKenzie2Today is the last day to have a chance to win a copy of McKenzie on Amada Chavez’s awesome blog at Amada interviewed me and asked some fantastic questions about the writing life, including how I started writing, where I write, and how I came up with the idea for McKenzie. So…if you didn’t have a chance to download McKenzie while it was free on Kindle last week, here’s another chance for you to get your hands on a copy!

slide fam smSecondly, anyone who has read my books will notice that I’m a huge supporter of adoption. As such, when my fellow writing friend Jessie Gunderson told me of the dream she and her husband have of adopting two precious children from Ethiopia, I knew I had to help.

Jessie and her husband are attempting to raise $1,800 to begin their dossier to bring their children home. She is offering everyone who makes a donation a chance to be entered to win a first place prize of Disney Tickets. There is also a second place prize – a choice of one of any of five of my books (paperback form of McKenzie, Kaydie, Hailee, 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference, or Hollyhocks). All of the details are at Jessie’s blog. Please consider a donation of any size to assist in giving two children their forever home.

77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference

jake and jesusThird, don’t miss the awesome birthday celebration! My fellow author friend, Kelly Hagen, is celebrating the two-year anniversary of her delightful children’s book Jake & Jesus and you’re invited! When you purchase her book, you will have a chance to win an autographed copy of Kaydiebook #2 in my Montana Skies Historical Romance Series. You’ll also receive valuable savings off Amanda Beth’s books You Can Have a Happy Family and The Love Walk (both books I would highly recommend!) and a discount off JBAM Candles. All of the details are at Kelly’s blog.


If you’d like to read the review I wrote of Jake & Jesus, you can find it here. The review I wrote for Amanda Beth’s You Can Have a Happy Family can be found here.

You Can Have a Happy Family is also free on Kindle today and tomorrow. The Love Walk is free tomorrow for Valentine’s Day.


Lastly, join me in the coming weeks for a revamped blog, including some changes on my Movie Monday postings. I’m looking forward to sharing some more fantastic movie reviews with you and some hilarious and inspirational posts. Stay tuned! In the meantime, feel free to check out my Mom-Approved Movie Listings for some fantastic ideas for your next family night.

Planning on a get-together? Find out how to host your own Sisters in Christ Community Girls Night Out.

Have a fantabulous rest of your week and join me later today for my annual Valentine’s Day post.

Movie Monday – A Song for the Season – 11/12/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

Today’s Movie Monday movie suggestion is A Song for the Season * (released by Feature Films for Families).
Fern has recently lost her parents and is living with her uncle Cal, who travels around the United States looking for ways to cut school budgets and save schools from closure.  Fern despises the constant traveling to new towns so her uncle can fulfill his job requirements. So when Cal accepts a job in the small town of Bethlehem, Kentucky where her WWII veteran grandfather lives, Fern is none too thrilled.

Lily Waite gave up her career as a professional musician years ago to care for her mother in the tiny town of Bethlehem, Kentucky. Now Lily is a beloved music teacher at Bethlehem High School.  She has changed lives for the better through a love of music and is thrilled to embark on yet another Christmas production. What will happen when she discovers the school is looking for ways to streamline its budget and that some programs will have to be cut? Will her music program be among the programs deemed “unessential” so that the school can continue to stay open? Throw in the complicating issue that she is drawn to Cal and enjoys spending time with him and that Lily has taken Fern under her wing and the plot thickens.

A Song for the Season is an enjoyable watch with themes of sacrifice, forgiveness, and finding hope after a loss. It is a story of priorities, investing our time in the lives of those struggling, and using the gifts and talents God has given us.

While A Song for the Season is not a Christian movie, it was great to see Christmas songs performed in the school. It was also refreshing to see veterans, such as Cal’s dad Jake, honored for their service to our country.

A Song for the Season features Gerald McRaney, Naomi Judd, and Andy Griffith among its cast. The version I watched, released by Feature Films for Families, contained nothing objectionable (however, there was a strange song at the Christmas dance). I would recommend this movie for those ages 9 and over.

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see

Join me each week for a new movie suggestion of recommended movies suitable for the entire family with reviews written from a Christian worldview.

Movie Monday – The Penny Promise – 11/5/12

Penny Zeller, Christian Author

This week’s Movie Monday suggestion is The Penny Promise (Feature Films for Families)…

Picture 136Will is an honest man. In short, he never breaks a promise. He strives to do the right thing in all circumstances and his kind, trustworthy, and laidback personality make him popular with his students.

Will is also on a quest to marry Annie Farnsworthy, the woman he loves. However, before he can marry her, Annie’s wealthy father makes Will promise to save $10,000.  Will is poor and works as a teacher, but he is determined to save the money to win Annie’s hand in marriage. What Will doesn’t bank on is some competition from a wealthy young rival who also wants to marry Annie.  Can Will compete with someone who is deemed to be more worthy of Annie’s hand just because he has a well-paying job and a fancy car?

Will also doesn’t count on a misunderstanding that lands him in court and turns those he cares about most against him. Can Will prove his innocence? Can he do so without breaking a promise to a friend?

The Penny Promise is a fun movie with some humorous parts and some great lessons. It is quirky (and slightly unbelievable) at times, but full of good intentions. Themes include: honesty, keeping promises, doing the right thing, setting a good example, being a mentor, helping those in need, standing by someone in all circumstances, integrity, the importance of good character, bullying, lying, and dishonesty. Great discussion questions abound in this film. For example:  Is it ever all right to lie? If no one even recognizes that you are an honest and upright person, is it even worth it to be one? What are the most important attributes in a person’s character? What would you do in Will’s situation? In Dusty’s situation?

As we watched this movie, two Scripture verses came to mind: Proverbs 12:22, which states, Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who are faithful are his delight and Proverbs 19:1 Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool.

I highly recommend this movie for all ages. There is no objectionable content (please note that we watched the edited Feature Films for Families version). In all, a great movie for Family Night for all ages!

For a listing of movie suggestions, followed by archived movie reviews, please see

Join me each week for a new movie suggestion of recommended movies suitable for the entire family with reviews written from a Christian worldview.