Tag: preschooler

Love is Patient, Love is Kind | Naoko Stoop

And just like that, she turned one.

Josephine, who yesterday was swaddled like a fleece burrito and cuddled into the crook of my arm, who chuckled in her sleep and spent her days with me in the corner of our bedroom, where we’d tucked the glider and a stash of books and chocolate—she turned one.

Josephine | Little Book, Big Story

I used to think that at some point, my children’s birthdays would grow less shocking. But they haven’t. Every one catches me off guard: I look at the baby who is clearly a one-year-old now and I do the math and I know that a year has passed. She army crawls around the room, adores her sisters, and hasn’t spent a day napping in my arms in months, but I’m still bewildered. I make plans for her birthday and still I wonder: When did that happen?

(I anticipate a similar sense of befuddlement in May, when Lydia turns nine. Nine. The single digits! Where are they going!)

Love is Patient, Love is Kind, by Naoko Stoop (review) | Little Book, Big Story

I think, though, that that confusion is part of what I love about celebrating my daughters’ birthdays. For a moment, I am brought up sharp and reminded that time is passing, and what seems like an repeated loop of breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleep is a loop that rolls us steadily forward. This is a season to be savored because it will not last, and because we move through it closer to the day when Jesus returns.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind, by Naoko Stoop (review) | Little Book, Big Story

Another thing I love about their birthdays: buying them books. My quest for a book that suits them right now, at this particular birthday, but that will also grow with them over the course of the coming year, is one I delight in. I start months before their birthday, checking books out potential candidates from the library, reading Amazon reviews, weighing the pros and cons of this board book over that one, before I land on what seems like the perfect birthday book.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind, by Naoko Stoop (review) | Little Book, Big Story

For Josie, that perfect birthday book is Love is Patient, Love is Kind, a sweet rendering of that passage in 1 Corinthians 13—you know the one. We so often hear it quoted at weddings, but it’s a beautiful picture of life in the body of the church that translates readily to life in the heart of a family, as the youngest of four sisters. Naoko Stoop’s illustrations are charming, and the board book format makes it a just-right first birthday book for our littlest daughter.

Josephine | Little Book, Big Story

Because, really: One? When did that happen?


Love is Patient, Love is Kind
Naoko Stoop (2017)

Look and Be Grateful | Tomie dePaola

When you’re growing your first baby, people are quick to tell you how that baby will change your life. They know; you don’t. So they feel free to share. One of the things strangers were most eager to tell me, in a doom-and-gloom, beginning of the end sort of way, was that I would never sleep again. Never. Which I knew was an exaggeration, but still: I like sleep. My eight hours have always been there, more or less waiting for me, as long as I got in bed in a timely manner and claimed them.

But then I had my first baby and realized that, when the childbirth class teacher said that babies need to eat every two hours or so, she failed to mention (or I failed to hear) that I may or may not get fifteen to thirty minutes of sleep myself between feedings. “Never” was an overstatement, but when I was in those first days of my first baby’s life, it didn’t feel that way: as I snuggled the child whose dark curls struck me with awe even as she hauled me out of sleep again and again, I thought (as much as I could think anything then), “My word. They were right. I’ll never sleep again.”

Look and Be Grateful, by Tomie dePaola | Little Book, Big Story

When I was expecting my fourth baby, though, folks were not quite as quick with the ominous warnings. I think they assumed that I knew what I was getting myself into, which was fair, but here’s the funny thing: we seasoned parents, we parents of multiple children, who have done this many times before, are surprisingly quick to forget what having a baby is like when we don’t actually have one. As the babies become toddlers, we forget about waking every few hours to cuddle, rock, pat, and shush. We forget what it’s like having an infant.

And then we have one, and we remember.

Look and Be Grateful, by Tomie dePaola | Little Book, Big Story

Having a baby is glorious in so many ways. I’m one of those obnoxious people now who revels in it, who likes the smell of my baby’s neck and who gets all starry-eyed every single time she sneezes, and who turns to mush in the presence of a friend’s newborn. I never thought I’d see the day—me, the one who had never changed a diaper until I had my first child and who babysat only when my mother made me do it—but there it is. I love babies.

I even love teething babies, which is fortunate, because I have one of those now. Growing teeth is hard work, and hard work, when you’re a baby, calls for mom-snuggles in the wee hours. But because I usually like to sleep during the wee hours, I find myself sleeping now in the less-wee hours. And that is when I usually write.

So that’s why this post is mostly about sleeping and not sleeping. I’m trying to tell you about Tomie dePaola’s beautiful book Look and Be Grateful, but all that’s coming out is paragraph after paragraph of nonsense, all of which could be summed up in four words: “People, I am tired.”

Look and Be Grateful, by Tomie dePaola | Little Book, Big Story

It is fitting, then, that this week I’m reviewing a book on gratitude—a very short, simply worded book on gratitude. Of dePaola’s many books, this one reminds me most of Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise: the gentle illustrations, the carefully curated text, and the small format make this book, too, one that is clearly meant to be held and savored by the littlest readers.

Open your eyes,
and look.
Open your eyes,
and see,
and say thank you

This is a quiet meditation of a book that does my soul good, even as I read it to Phoebe before her nap, even as I fight to stay awake while I read it to Phoebe before her nap. It is a book that I love sharing with all of my daughters, big and small, because I want gratitude and wonder and thanksgiving to saturate our days as a family. I want to take that gratitude and wonder with me, too, into the wee hours, when I wake with the baby again, but can still marvel at her dimpled hands as she nurses, can still wonder at the weight of her and the way we were meant to fit together. I can remember:

Today is a day, and it is a gift.
So, be grateful.

Look and Be Grateful, by Tomie dePaola | Little Book, Big Story

On that note

I’m taking next week off. All that baby-snuggling means I’ve had little time to write and little brainpower with which to string words together and no time to take photos of anything (except the baby, of course), so I’m going to give myself a week of grace to catch up on sleep and blog posts. I have a bunch of good books to share with you, though, so I’m excited to get back to work!


Look and Be Grateful
Tomie dePaola (2015)

The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats | Andrew Peterson

Remember my post about the nooks and crannies of Scripture? Well, no passages are more nook-and-crannyish than genealogies. And if you can’t think of an author bold enough to turn a geneaology into a children’s book, then you, my friend, underestimate Andrew Peterson.

The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats pairs Jesus’ geneaology from Matthew 1 with Cory Godbey’s animated illustrations and puts the whole list to music: the book comes with a CD of Andrew Peterson’s musical interpretation of that famous list of names.

The Ballad of Matthew's Begats, by Andrew Peterson | Little Book, Big Story

We have enjoyed all that, but more than anything, I love the fact that simply owning a book that makes a story (and song) of a genealogy gives our kids the idea that every part of the Bible is worth exploring—even long lists of names we can’t pronounce.

And if you’re still not convinced that a list of Old Testament names can be set to music worth listening to, I refer you to The Bentley Brothers of What’s in the Bible? (I have nothing but respect for songwriters who can find an elegant rhyme for Nebuchadnezzar.)

 


The Ballad of Matthew’s Begats: An Unlikely Royal Family Tree
Andrew Peterson, Cory Godbey (2007)

Sidney and Norman | Phil Vischer

It’s summer vacation! I’m taking the last month of the summer off, so I’m going to pull out a few posts from this blog’s early days, gussy them up, and share them with you (think of them as “summer reruns”). I hope you find some new titles among our old favorites! May your final weeks of summer be sprinkled with impromptu picnics, fresh tomatoes, and a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

Today’s post originally appeared on April 19, 2013.


Are you familiar with Phil Vischer? In the unlikely event that you’re not (as one of the original creators of VeggieTales, his work is hard to miss), I’d like to take a moment to explain to you why I hold him in such high regard.

In a time when many Christian artists simply knock off secular stuff and fill it with Christianese, Phil Vischer provides—through JellyTelly, What’s in the Bible?, and his children’s books—something new, wildly creative, and smart.

Have you seen What’s in the Bible? No? Go watch an episode now. I’ll wait.

You’ll notice that the writers of What’s in the Bible? don’t talk down to kids, but work steadily through the entire Bible, as though they think the Bible is something that kids can and should know from start to finish. They do not shy away from tricky questions like, “Why did  the Israelites have to kill everyone in Canaan?” but instead answer them with honesty, delicacy, and humor (where appropriate, of course), an approach which appeals to children, yes, but also to adults. My husband and I simply love watching this show with our daughters. (We cannot say the same of Dora the Explorer.)

So, Phil Vischer tackles projects that are high-quality, ambitious and uniquely Christian. In doing so, he connects with kids in a gracious, respectful way. Which brings me, at last, to Sidney & Norman.

Sidney and Norman | Little Book, Big Story

Sidney and Norman were two pigs, but they didn’t “oink or eat slop—no, this isn’t that kind of story. They wore suit coats and went to work.” So begins the tale of two pigs who live next door to each other, but who live very different lives. Norman is organized, punctual, and well-dressed, an award-winning sort of pig. Sidney, on the other hand, just cannot seem to get his act together, no matter how hard he tries, and he suspects that all the world—Norman included—must look down on him for his rumpled tie and clumsy manner.

But when both pigs are summoned for a meeting with God (at 77 Elm Street), they find that God views them both through a very different lens.

Sidney and Norman delivers a profound message, one that lies at the heart of gospel, and one that all of us—Sidneys and Normans alike—need to be reminded of often: God doesn’t love us because we are good. He loves us because we are his.

Expect interesting conversations to flow from a reading of this book. Expect to read it again and again. And expect to find yourself looking around for another book by Phil Vischer.

One last thing

If you’d like to learn more about Mr. Vischer, I recommend his autobiography, Me, Myself & Bob. I like to know a bit about the authors behind my favorite books, especially when I’m reading them to my children, and hearing Vischer’s story really changed my perception of VeggieTales, as well as Vischer himself. (And it introduced me to JellyTelly, which was, in the end, a very good thing.)


Sidney and Norman
Phil Vischer, Justin Gerard (2012)

The Sword of Abram | ND Wilson

For years I have followed a Bible reading plan that lures me into the nooks and crannies of Scripture. Without it, I’d be tempted to stick to the well-lit spaces: Ephesians, Luke, the Gospels. With it, I find myself greeting the day with a reading from Numbers, or forced to reckon with the strangeness of Daniel. I want the easily understood—Judges refuses to be that. But my reading plan takes me through Judges anyway. And through these lesser known, unsafe stories, I learn to love new facets of the Lord: I see his steadfastness in a new light, or come to understand a little more the way he works in lives of his people.

The Sword of Abram, by ND Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

The best story Bibles dive into some of these nooks and crannies. But I haven’t seen many picture books that move beyond the top five Bible stories: Genesis, Noah, Daniel in the lion’s den, the Christmas and Easter stories.

ND Wilson (author of 100 Cupboards) plunges off the well-trodden path of children’s Bible stories and writes about Abram, not yet Abraham. This isn’t the story of Abraham’s journey to fatherhood, but of Abram’s journey to faith. It’s a small book filled with battle and striving, and through it Wilson brings to life passages of Scripture often overlooked by adults and unfamiliar to children. Forest Dickison’s illustrations convey a sense of movements, and his paintings pair with Wilson’s language to craft a story of how the Lord works in a human heart.

The Sword of Abram, by ND Wilson | Little Book, Big Story

The Sword of Abram is a part of ND Wilson’s series, The Old Stories. I have yet to read the other two books in the series, but have high hopes for them, given the favorable review of In the Time of Noah on Aslan’s Library. Have you read any of the other books? What did you think?


The Sword of Abram
N.D. Wilson, Forest Dickison (2014)