Down to Earth: The Hopes & Fears of All the Years Are Met in Thee Tonight, Mike Slaughter & Rachel Billups, Abingdon Press, 2016.
In this book for the Advent season, pastors Mike Slaughter and Rachel Billups explore what it means for love, joy, peace, and hope to come down to Earth. The book accompanies a four-week Advent study that opens up Christmas to examine how one helpless baby changed everything.
What makes this a great read during Advent this year, is how relevant it is to current events. While it was written before we had two primary presidential candidates or even an election, reading it post-election is food for the soul. Slaughter and Billups acknowledge that we put too much attention on the wrong things. They write, “Or in arguing about things such as red cups, sexual identity issues, who we voted for, and where refugees should go, are we allowing these issues to create dividing lines between us?”
Russel Hoban has written some of the best classics in children’s literature. Bread and Jam for Frances and Bedtime for Frances are two of the most loved.
In 1966, Hoban wrote Charlie the Tramp, illustrated by his wife Lillian Hoban. Charlie is a young beaver who wants to grow up to be a tramp. His parents, much to the dismay of Charlie’s grandfather, allow him to experience the life of a homeless beaver. During this experience, Charlie hears, like young Samuel in the night, the call to his life’s work.
Miss You Like Crazy, Pamela Hall, Tanglewood Press, 2014.
Walnut is a little squirrel who is going to miss his mom when she goes to work. They agree that it would be a lot of fun if he could go to work with her. They imagine the adventures they could share. Even though they cannot have these adventures all the time, Walnut’s mother assures him that he is always on her mind. Together they find ways to have a presence for each other when at work or school.
The story is light-hearted and fun. The illustrations are cheerful and eye catching. Toddler J enjoyed hearing the story, but I think she might have enjoyed the pictures of the squirrel family more.
The Redemption of Scrooge, Matt Rawle, Abingdon Press, 2016.
There are a few things that are a must at Christmastime. The tree with treasured ornaments. The rich aromas of holiday cooking. The time spent revisiting old memories.
For me, Christmas is not complete without watching Christmas movies. At our house, it’s A Christmas Story, Elf, and Christmas Vacation. And some version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. (My favorite is still the Mickey Mouse version.) Dickens’ Carol has captured readers for centuries. His story has been retold on stage, in film and television. Quite possibly because the story of Ebenezer Scrooge is timeless.
The Littlest Star, Richard Littledale, Lion Hudson Plc, 2016.
Have you ever wondered how many stars there are in the great, big sky?
Richard Littledale’s book, The Littlest Star, is the story about the littlest of all the stars. This particular star was not as sparkly or exciting as the other stars, but on one holy night, it had the biggest, most important job of all.
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education, Raphaele Frier, Charlesbridge, 2017.
In October of 2012, Malala Yousafzai was tossed into the mainstream media after the Taliban attempted to take her life. Malala was targeted because he was a girl receiving an education. Her father was targeted because he not only allowed her to get an education, he ran the school for girls.
After recovering from her injuries, Malala became a force to be reckoned with. She used her young voice to advocate for girls’ education. At the age of eighteen, she became the youngest person awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
I Wanna Be a Great Big Dinosaur, Heath McKenzie, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2016.
A few weeks ago, Toddler J came home from school roaring and stomping around the house.
It was a bit bizarre at first.
They were learning about the letter “D” that week. . . . . and dinosaurs. Remember the joy and excitement you had a kid when you were learning about dinosaurs? They are these mysterious beasts that roamed the earth. It was so unexplainable as a child, but we were so fascinated by the creatures.
Say & Pray Devotions is a hard, soft cover book perfect for toddlers beginning to form words. Each spread contains a one sentence devotion, such as, “God is big, and He made a big world!” There is a Bible verse and short little prayer.
The added bonus to this devotion are the words scattered across the pages. The “God is big” devotion, for example, features a beach scene and the words correspond to the pictures – dolphin, sand, seagull, ocean.
At our house, Toddler J flips through the book and asks us to “read.” We read the devotional sentence, the scripture, the prayer, and then she points at the different objects in the picture and we say the words. Some of them, she repeats.
No Place to Pray, James Carpenter, Twisted Roads Publications, 2016.
Perhaps sparked by the tensions in our country over the last several years regarding race relations, Carpenter’s novel is timely and compelling.
Two young men, one bi-racial and the other white, meet in an overnight lockup, thus beginning a shared twenty-year downward spiral into alcoholism and homelessness. LeRoy and Harmon work together, drink together, and brawl together. As Harmon suffers from his final illness, they both bed Edna, a wealthy widow who — out of pity, curiosity, and loneliness — takes them into her vacation home by the river.