Love You Always, written by Eileen Spinelli with illustrations by Gillian Flint, is the latest gift book for new babies or for Christmas. The verses are gentle and the repetition is soothing. The book aims to communicate to the child that he or she is loved – always – but a host of family members. Mostly by Mama and Daddy.
But other family members are included. Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie, and Uncle. Counsin and family friend even get a shout out. At first, this inclusion of extended family members is great. It is often rare to see Auntie and Uncle included in a children’s book. While the book seems to include a lot of the family tree, there is no inclusion of siblings or step-parents.
My Potty, Anita Bijsterbosch, Clavis Books, 2017.
At our house, we are in the midst of potty training. We have set a sticker system so that everytime Toddler J uses the potty, she receives a sticker. Once her sticker card is full, we take a trip to the Dollar Tree and she picks out one item (toy, coloring book, etc.)
During this phase of life, we are interested in books about using the potty. Something you never quite appreciate until you are a parent.
Anita Bijsterbosch’s board book My Potty is yet another book in this help-the-parent-out genre. While My Potty is no Daniel Tiger, it is a fun read. The illustrations are fun and bright. The animals in the story was a plus for Toddler J.
The Tiny Tale of Little Pea, Davide Cali, illustrated by Sebastien Mourrain, Kids Can Press, 2017.
“When he was born, Little Pea was tiny. Teeny-tiny.”
And the story of Little Pea begins. Little Pea is a tiny little, light-skinned human being the size of a pea. He never gets taller than half the length of a normal pencil.
Even though he is small, Little Pea does not let his smallness keep him from doing things. He climbs a lego tower. Little Pea rides a grasshopper as if it were a small horse. He reads and teaches himself how to swim.
From Far Away, Robert Munsch and Saoussan Askar, Annick Press, 2017.
For a number of years we have heard about the refugee crisis. Or, according to others, the immigrant crisis. We have seen the images of war torn areas that families are seeking refuge from. We have voiced outrage on social media when the most troubling images of children were brought to our attention.
But what about the children?
From Far Away provides such a perspective. Seven-year-old Saussan Askar writes a letter about leaving her war torn country and what life is like in her new country.
Punching Holes in the Dark: Living in the Light of the World, Robert Benson, Abingdon Press, 2016.
I have made it a spiritual practice to carry a journal with me, and use it to write down prayers and reflections. At times it is just a few random scribblings, at other times it is pages of recounting and reflecting on a slice of life. These journals are Moleskins, hardback, and leather bound. Some are plain, and others are adorned with superhero or cartoon characters.
No matter the kind of journal, it holds various scribblings that reveal my heart.
When I read Robert Benson’s Punching Holes in the Dark, it felt a little intrusive. It was like I was holding one of his journals and reading through his scribblings. And with each turn of the page, I began to see what was in his heart.
The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls, Book One: The Beginning, M. J. Thomas, Worthy Kids, 2017.
Mike (M. J.) Thomas was looking for a book for his nine-year-old son to read that would teach the Bible in a fun way. Unable to find such a book, Thomas decided to write it.
The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is that book, while books. The first in this new series is, appropriately, The Beginning, a good book for children ages eight to ten.
Peter, 9, and his 10-year-old sister, Mary (who was adopted from China), along with their smart dog, Hank, are sent to stay with Great-Uncle Solomon while their parents travel to Africa. Fearful of spending more days bored than entertained, the children wander through the old house.
When a Wolf is Hungry, Christine Naumann-Villemin, Kris Di Giacomo (illustrations), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017.
Edmond Bigsnout is a hungry wolf. He leaves the forest and heads to the big city to find himself a “grain-fed, silky rabbit.” He enters an apartment complex and finds the name of Max Omatose, miniature rabbit. It seems perfect.
Maybe too perfect.
Each time Edmond attempts to “prepare” his meal, a neighbor in the apartment building has a need for Edmond’s tool – his chainsaw, his rope, even his big pot. Each time Edmond shares his item and rides his bicycle back to the forest to get something else.
Finally, mistaken as the new neighbor in the building, he is invited to the roof. There all the neighbors who borrowed things from him were there, having a cook-out for him, the new neighbor.
The Biggest Story ABC, Kevin DeYoung, Don Clark (illustrated),Crossway, 2017.
A few years ago Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina, patterned with illustrater Don Clark to bring the Bible to color in The Biggest Story. It is a telling of the Bible in one big story, From Adam and Eve to the Resurrection to the End of the Story.
The duo has come together again to release a new board book for children ages 1 to 3. The Biggest Story ABC connects to great, big story of the Bible with learning the letters. Each page introduces a new letter of the alphabet with engaging and whimsical illustrations from Clark. The Biblical narrative is retold as one continuous story, much like The Biggest Story.
Watch: Wide-Awake Faith in a World Fast Asleep, Rick James, NavPress, 2016.
It is rare for me to start a book and not finish it. I started, and did not finish, this book twice. I’ll explain in a bit.
Rick James, a former ad-agency art director, who has a long engagement in collegiate ministry, sets out wake up sleeping Christians. Using the Gethsemane scene in the gospels where Jesus goes off to pray, returning only to find his disciples asleep. Jesus’ advice to them was to stay awake, or alert.
Channel of Peace: Stranded in Gander on 9/11, Kevin Tuerff, River Grove Books, 2017.
September 11, 2001 is a day that very few will ever forget. 9/11 is one of those dates where you will never forget where you were. I was a student at Randolph-Macon College and was walking across campus after my early morning class. As I crossed the lawn in front of the library, I overheard other students talking about planes being flown into a building.
In the car, driving home, I turned NPR on to listen for details. Once home, my mom and I watched as the news replayed, over and over, the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. There are not enough words to capture the gut reaction that we felt as we watched what was happening in New York, Washington, D. C., and Pennsylvania.
The unthinkable had happened.