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.
The Prayer Box, Jennifer Berry, Dog Ear Publishing, 2017.
Rosetta is a little girl who enjoys spending time with her mother. One day, her mother tells her about the little box that sits on her dresser. It is her prayer box.
Rosetta learns that prayer is a way of talking with God.
But, she is curious about what prayers her mother has put in her prayer box. Eventually, curiosity gets the best of her, and she peeks inside. She is surprised to find that none of the prayers in the box are for her.
Little Miss Liberty, Chris Robertson, Xist Publishing, 2017.
The Fourth of July holiday is upon us. Families and friends will gather for cookouts and fireworks. No doubt tourists will visit the sites of early America, including the Statue of Liberty, a gift given to the new nation from its ally France.
Little Miss Liberty, recently republished in paperback and digital format, chronicles the statue’s life, beginning with her “birth” in Paris. She grows incredibly fast, that her parents can only wrap her in a sheet.
Sleepless Nights and Kisses for Breakfast: Reflections on Fatherhood, Matteo Bussola, Penguin Group TarcherPerigee, 2017.
Fatherhood, I have learned in the past two years, is a true gift. Sure, there are moments when the whining and the fussing gets a little weary, but hey, we all whine and fuss, right? All of those moments are pushed to the shadows when your little girl climbs in your lap to give you a kiss. Or when she makes a joke and then laughs at herself.
Being a dad has been the best calling on my life.
And it’s one of those callings that you only realize how powerful it is until it happens. I remember church members telling me after it was announced that we were expecting, that my life would never be the same.
Daddy’s Girl is a new picture book from author Helen Foster James and illustrator Estelle Corke great for children ages 2-5. Jame’s rhymes make the story of a little girl preparing her tea party approachable for young ears. Corke’s illustrations make use of pink and yellow as the primary colors, ensuring that each page is bright and colorful.
As the little girl, whose accessorizing includes a crown, pearls, and a boa, has tea with her teddy bear and Daddy, she realizes she has more than enough to share with others. She invites other stuffed animals to the tea party. The story concludes with a father and daughter hug, as the daughter expresses, “I love that you are here.”
Be a Star, Wonder Woman!, Michael Dahl, Capstone Young Readers, 2017.
Ever since I first read Bedtime for Batman to Toddler J, it has become a nightly ritual. After Good Morning, Superman, my hopes of a little girl version of these superhero books would become a reality. Michael Dahl delivers in Be a Star, Wonder Woman!
The sun has risen, and now it is time to get ready for school. The little girl in the story book uses her superpowers of being prepared, kind, brave, honest, and strong to make the day a great one! Just as with Batman and Superman, this little girl’s day mirrors a day in the life of Wonder Woman. As Wonder Woman fights off monsters, the little girl uses problem solving skills to master monster situations.
Wade’s Wiggly Antlers, Louise Bradford, Kids Can Press, 2017
Wade is a young moose who enjoys playing with his friends. One day, while playing, his antlers begin to feel a little wiggly. When the wiggle doesn’t stop, Wade hurries home to his mother, who reminds him that he will loose his antlers, but new ones will grow.
Even though Wade and his mother had talked about the change that Wade would experience, he is still worried about it. He chooses not to play with his friends in an effort to keep his antlers. Then, once he looses them, he feels freer. He is able to do things he was not able to do before, like win at hide and seek.
Lent is right around the corner. In a few short days, we will gather for Ash Wednesday in churches, on sidewalks, and in coffee shops to confess that we have not been as faithful as we could be, and to begin this journey we call Lent toward the empty tomb of Easter.
Here are four books I’ve read recently that would be great resources for small groups, sermon series, or individual devotional time.
Stop Feeding’ da Boids!, James Sage, Kids Can Press, 2017
Swanda is new to Brooklyn. If you have ever been to Brooklyn, you will know that it is full of diversity, thick accents, and pigeons. Lots and lots of pigeons. Swanda, a compassionate little girl, sets up some feeding stations on her fire escape to feed the birds.
And it works. The birds come!
Things get a little chaotic on the city block with all the birds. The cooing assembly leaves their mark on the sidewalks and neighbors. The reality of what is happening reveals itself in a double-page spread featuring the amazing talent of illustrator Pierre Pratt. In vibrant pastels the reader is faced with an array of birds, feathers, and round, yellow eyes against the accents of the fast-moving city life.