Tag: childrens book (page 1 of 2)

Found | Sally Lloyd-Jones

This review might seem a little redundant. I did just write about another Sally Lloyd-Jones book, after all, and I reviewed a book about Psalm 23 not long ago. I even went on about books on Psalm 23 in that post, saying that they were nice and all, but that not many were worth sharing.

But the next month Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago released a book on Psalm 23, and of course it’s worth sharing.

Found, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

Found is a bigger-than-usual board book that pairs the text from The Jesus Storybook Bibles Psalm 23 with Jago’s illustrations of a shepherd and his sheep. Of course, that’s the approach that I ultimately shrugged my shoulders at in my January post, but Jago’s interpretation is anything but bland. His shepherd is tender with his sheep in a way that seems just right for a book aimed at the littlest readers.

Found, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

An aside: I love Jago’s illustrations in The Jesus Storybook Bible. But his newer work is amazing—take a look at his Etsy shop and you’ll see what I mean. This book, like Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, is done in that newer style, and I love it.

Found, by Sally Lloyd-Jones | Little Book, Big Story

So, once again, Sally Lloyd-Jones and Jago, the super group we know and love, have illuminated a well-worn passage of Scripture in both word and image. I tucked this beauty away and will give it, I think, to Phoebe for Easter, because it’s just perfect for giving to little people for Easter. What will you do with your copy? (Because you’re buying this right now, aren’t you?)


Found
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Jago (2017)

All The Colors of the Earth | Sheila Hamanaka

With one brief exception, I have lived in this city since I was a toddler. I take my children to play in the same parks where I played as a child; we make our weekly excursion to the same children’s section of the same library I haunted as a girl (it hasn’t changed much since then). I went to college here, got married here, and can see my childhood home from our front porch.

This is a beautiful city, but I have learned that there is a sort of culture shock for people moving here from out-of-state: The annual Naked Bike Race. The independent circus. The organized disorder of the Friday afternoon protests. These can take some getting used to if you’re from a place where folks dress up from time to time and have a well-developed sense of propriety.

But when I ask new friends how they’re adjusting to life in this corner of the country, I almost invariably something about our near-complete lack of racial diversity. It’s very white here, one friend from the southeast said. And I suspect she was right, but I can’t really confirm it: this very white place seems normal to me, and that makes me nervous.

That means that I probably have a blind spot as a parent.

All The Colors of the Earth, by Sheila Hamanaka | Little Book, Big Story

We want our children to pursue God’s call, no matter where he takes them. And if he calls them away from here, then they will (we hope) find themselves living among people who differ from them in many respects, including skin color. We don’t want that to seem strange to them as adults. We’d much rather they learn to value those differences now, when they’re forming their understanding of the world.

So when that particular blind spot began to take shape for me, I tackled it the same way I tackle almost any issue that comes my way: I made a plan and bought a pile of books. (Note: I am trying to revise this strategy. I’d like to tackle issues by first praying for wisdom—and then making a plan and purchasing a pile of books. But it’s a process.)

All The Colors of the Earth, by Sheila Hamanaka | Little Book, Big Story

I suppose I should have said it earlier, but this post is really about two books: All the Colors of the Earth and the book that led me to it, Jamie C. Martin’s Give Your Child the WorldHer vision for giving her kids a global perspective helped clarify my desire to open our daughters’ eyes to the fact that people all over the world are beautifully different: not all adult men wear plaid and go on at great length about artisan beer. Not all cities have a population of folks who could easily have come from this video.

And not all children have fair skin made extra pale by the long gray winters spent indoors.

With that in mind, I bought my pile of books, and this one was at the very top. All the Colors of the Earth is a slender picture book that opens with the line, “Children come in all the colors of the earth.” Sheila Hamanaka goes on to describe the many varying shades of skin color in terms of nature:

The roaring browns of bears and soaring eagles,
The whispering golds of late summer grasses,
And crackling russets of falling leaves . . .

My girls loved this book. I got a little sniffly, too, as I read it, because it was a beautiful affirmation of God’s work in making each one of us different: rather than lumping us into groups without subtlety, Hamanaka treats skin color as a spectrum with gradients and variation. My daughters, by this book, are not “white” but “the tinkling pinks of tiny seashells by the rumbling sea.” And I hope that as they befriend children whose skin color varies from their own, they think not in terms of “black” or “brown,” but in words like “cinnamon, walnut and wheat.”

All The Colors of the Earth, by Sheila Hamanaka | Little Book, Big Story

Sheila Hamanaka uses the choicest language (and the sweetest illustrations) to describe the children of the world, and in doing so, she affirms the beauty of each child as an image-bearer of God. This is a timely message and one that I’m delighted to pass on to our daughters.


All the Colors of the Earth
Sheila Hamanaka (1999)

Give Your Child the World
Jamie C. Martin (2016)

The Storm That Stopped | Alison Mitchell

Dear reader, this book brings me such joy. I can’t pinpoint the moment when I fell for it—was it the illustration of the disciples pulling their boat out into the sea?

The Storm That Stopped, by Alison Mitchell | Little Book, Big Story

Their expressions during the storm?

The Storm That Stopped, by Alison Mitchell | Little Book, Big Story

Or was it only at the end, when Mitchell brought the story to its beautiful conclusion, that I knew I’d fallen whole-heartedly in love with The Storm That Stopped?

I can’t say. But the book became one of my favorites to read aloud almost immediately.

The Storm That Stopped, by Alison Mitchell | Little Book, Big Story

What Scripture presents as a fairly simple narrative, Alison Mitchell shares with the energy of a good bedtime story. She tells not only what happened but why it was important: When Jesus calmed the storm with just a few words, what did it mean? What did that tell the disciples about who Jesus is? After reading the book, my husband said, “It’s a little like a sermon,” meaning that Mitchell doesn’t stop at telling the story, but goes one step further and tells us what the story is about.

Catalina Echeverri’s illustrations add yet another layer to the story and, if I’m perfectly honest, are what really got to me. You’ve seen her work already in The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross, but she is at her best when illustrating the disciples: she shows how genuinely frightening it must have been to face the storm, but she does it in a way that is funny and endearing. My daughters and I giggled quite a bit over the disciples’ response to the storm, but a few short pages later, I found myself tearing up again—this time not from laughter but from wonder.

The Storm That Stopped, by Alison Mitchell | Little Book, Big Story

Mitchell and Echeverri make a marvelous team and I am glad, because this isn’t their only book together. I’m already itching to read the others!


The Storm That Stopped
Alison Mitchell, Catalina Echeverri (2016)

Miracle Man | John Hendrix

I imagine reviewers for large publications opening white-covered galley copies of newly released books, their minds empty of expectation. I imagine—wrongly, I hope—that they read with a sort of professionalism, exploring major themes and images with an air of detachment, and I laugh. Because I enjoy being a highly-biased reviewer: I get to dive whole-heartedly into a book by a beloved author, announcing to myself as I do so, “I want to love this book.”

If I know nothing about the author, then it’s usually the illustrations that provoke this longing in me: a beautifully illustrated book makes me desperately want the story to do them justice.

Such was the case with Miracle Man.

Miracle Man, by John Hendrix | Little Book, Big Story

I wanted so badly to love John Hendrix’s book—the cover alone was persuasive—and oh, dear reader, I do. I love it. I love Miracle Man so much that I bumped it up eight spots on my publishing schedule just so I could share it with you immediately.

Miracle Man follows the life of Jesus through his miracles, showing an interpretation of who he was as an incarnated man that fits well with Scripture but creatively reveals aspects of how his nature as the Son of God may have overflowed the bounds of humanity. Hendrix renders Jesus’ words as part of the illustrations, not part of the text, so everything Jesus says arrests your eyes and causes you dwell on every letter of every word. He made the deliberate choice to portray Jesus himself and infuses the illustrations with details that (I’m not ashamed to admit it) made me cry because they are so awe-inspiring.

Miracle Man, by John Hendrix | Little Book, Big Story

My favorite example:

Miracle Man, by John Hendrix | Little Book, Big Story

Jesus’ footsteps are filled with live, growing things, as though the sole of his foot is so infused with life that its imprint causes the earth to burst into flower out of season.

Yes, I wanted to love this book. I wanted to so badly that I would have overlooked some slightly lackluster prose for the sake of those stunning illustrations, but I didn’t have to. There was nothing lackluster to overlook.

Miracle Man, by John Hendrix | Little Book, Big Story

And now, I want desperately to love every other book Hendrix has written.


Miracle Man
John Hendrix (2016)

The Complete Brambly Hedge | Jill Barklem

Late pregnancy and winter. Those two forces lean heavily on both my shoulders, keeping me mostly content to nap and read my way through January, one volume of Sherlock Holmes stories at a time. But every now and then, a breeze sneaks in the door when I let the cat out and it smells like life, little and green. Sometimes, that smell inspires me to bundle little girls into winter coats and froggie boots and take a stroll through the neighborhood, where forsythia buds stud certain lucky branches and the puddles look blue in the morning light.

Sometimes, that happens. The rest of the time, there’s Sherlock Holmes, tea, and fleecy blankets.

The Complete Brambly Hedge, by Jill Barklem | Little Book, Big Story

Oh, and Brambly Hedge. A few months ago, I asked folks in the Read-Aloud Revival forum for their favorite book recommendations from past episodes of the podcast, and the response was amazing—like asking a room full of kindergartners their favorite color and receiving a response that includes every color known to man and a few not yet invented.

That forum thread cost me a lot of money in new books—really excellent new books that wound up in everyone’s stockings at Christmas (Sarah MacKenzie compiled the list of recommendations for a “Best of Read-Aloud Revival” post on her blog, so you can see for yourself how great some of these recommendations are!).

The Complete Brambly Hedge, by Jill Barklem | Little Book, Big Story

One of the clear favorites among readers at our house was Jill Barklem’s The Complete Brambly Hedge, a collection of stories about English mice living in a hedge near a stream and having all kinds of cozy and seasonally charming adventures, perfect for reading together with tea and fleecy blankets. Barklem illustrates the stories in Potter-esque watercolors, complete with cutaways that show the mices’ homes in detail: these were easily our favorite pages, and we took our time poring over them (and wishing that we were smaller and lived in tree stumps).

The Complete Brambly Hedge, by Jill Barklem | Little Book, Big Story

From the moment I opened this book I knew that my daughters would love it, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much they loved it: Lydia and Sarah now answer to Shell and Primrose and Phoebe (the poor third daughter who ends up being Olaf to their Anna and Elsa) is Shrimp. They have taken these mice into their hearts and adopted them as their own—the best seal of approval they can give.


Brambly Hedge
Jill Barklem (1980)

God Made All of Me | Justin and Lindsay Holcomb

I hate it that books like this one exist. I hate the fact that sexual abuse is something that we need to protect our children from and that it’s something we need to teach them about. But because it does exist (and because it happens shockingly often), I am thankful for authors like Justin and Lindsay Holcomb who are willing to take on a challenging and emotional subject and equip parents to handle it with grace.

God Made All of Me, by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies | Little Book, Big Story

But even though God Made All of Me addresses a dark and painful subject, the authors center the subject in a loving family discussion, so the overall tone of the book feels warm and secure. In the “Note to Parents,” they write,

“We wrote this book as a tool so you can explain to your children that God made their bodies. Because private parts are private, there can be lots of questions, curiosity or shame regarding them. For their protection, children need to know about private parts and understand that God made their body and made it special. The message children need to hear is: “God made all of you. Every part of your body is good, and some parts are private.”

That emphasis places the book not just within the context of a secure family but within the context of a secure worldview: God made us and he made us for good things. We have to be wary of those who would distort those good things and use them to their own ends, but we don’t have to view those good things with suspicion or fear. That’s a message I want my children to grow up knowing well.

God Made All of Me, by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb | Little Book, Big Story

God Made All of Me focuses on equipping children to recognize dangerous situations and to respond to them well. We do our best to protect our children, but there will be times when they are outside our protection and vulnerable to abuse, and when those come, our children need to know what to do. And so the authors discuss the difference between secrets (bad) and surprises (good!), and emphasize the fact that you don’t have to allow anyone to touch you:

“If you don’t want to be hugged and kissed or give a high five or a handshake, just say, ‘No, thank you.’ . . . . we don’t always want to be touched even if it’s by someone you love. If the person doesn’t listen to you, ask for help right away.”

One of the children even raises the question (wisely), “But what if you or Daddy or my teacher are too busy to talk?” And the parents help him work out how to respond.

God Made All of Me, by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb | Little Book, Big Story

The book puts just enough emphasis on teaching children that they are in charge of their bodies, but it doesn’t stop there: it presents that information in a way that shows that they have a support network around them of parents, teachers, and doctors to talk to, so even though they are in charge of their bodies, they are not alone in protecting them.

This is a little book, but it’s one worth reading to your children. And while I hate having the conversations that remind our children that there are people out there who would hurt them, I’m thankful for a book like God Made All of Me that helps me share that information in a way that feels complete, empowering, and grace-centered. It becomes not something I tell them, but something we discuss together in the light of Scripture.


God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies
Justin S. Holcomb, Lindsay A. Holcomb, Trish Mahoney (2015)

Easter | Fiona French

I have reviewed quite a few different Easter books since starting this blog, and most of them approach the story of Christ’s death and resurrection from a fresh perspective: through the lens of history and tradition, perhaps, or by letting a typically peripheral character tell the story.

It wasn’t until I read through Fiona French’s book, Easter, that I realized that the one thing our library of Easter books lacked was a simple, straight-forward telling of the Easter story—no frills, no fresh perspective. Just the story itself.

Easter, by Fiona French | Little Book, Big Story

French centers her book around text from the RSV, and the text informs her illustrations, which are “inspired by” (and I quote the dust jacket here) “the glorious English cathedral windows of Ely, Lincoln, York and Canterbury.” They are done in the style of stained glass windows, which lends a beautiful sobriety to the narrative of the events of Christ’s life between the Triumphal Entry and the Ascension.

Easter, by Fiona French | Little Book, Big Story

As Protestants of the reformed stripe, we don’t have much experience with elaborate stained glass windows—not on a weekly basis, anyway—so I loved giving our girls the opportunity to explore them through the pages of Easter. Between the clean, direct text and the beautiful illustrations, I can already tell that this book will be a staple in our house from year to year.

Easter, by Fiona French: an ornately illustrated yet simply told version of the Easter story, from Triumphal Entry to Christ's Ascension | Little Book, Big Story


Easter
Fiona French (2004)