Tag: preschoolers

Music from Our Lord’s Holy Heaven | The Pinkney Family

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That old adage isn’t really about books, I know. But at its simplest level, where it is about books, I don’t like it, because I do judge books by their cover. Every time I pick up an unknown book in the bookstore or click through to its listing on Amazon, I do it because the book’s cover caught my eye, because something about it piqued my interest enough that I wandered over to that shelf and picked up that book (and not the one next to it). From there, I can judge the book by its book reviews or blurb or even content, but if I don’t connect with the cover then I won’t make it as far as the table of contents.

The cover of Music from Our Lord’s Holy Heaven had that tractor-beam affect on me when I saw it at the library. I may have dropped another book rather abruptly in my compulsion to pick up this one, I don’t remember, but it seems likely. I have long admired Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations (and have already featured his book, Noah’s Arkhere on the blog), so that was part of the cover’s pull—once you’ve encountered his distinctive illustrations, it’s hard not to recognize them when they cross your path again—but I was also intrigued by the book’s byline:

Music from Our Lord's Holy Heaven, by Jerry Pinkney and family | Little Book, Big Story

“Gathered and Sung by Gloria Jean Pinkney * Art by Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Myles C. Pinkney * Prelude by Troy Pinkney-Ragsdale.” Clearly, there is more to this book than story and pictures, and the making of it was a family affair.

I brought the book home, we loved it, and I later purchased a copy of our own. Music from Our Lord’s Holy Heaven is a richly illustrated collection of African-American spirituals, presented alongside photographs of families worshiping together and verses that relate to each song.

The book comes with a CD of Gloria Jean Pinkney singing the songs, simply and in a rich alto, so the girls love listening to the songs in car while taking turns holding the book. We recognized many of the songs as hymns sung in our own church, but there were plenty of new songs to learn and the girls jumped into them with gusto, singing “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” with hearty enthusiasm, while marching around the kitchen (or walking down the block, or sitting on the couch . . . ).

Music from Our Lord's Holy Heaven, by Jerry Pinkney and family | Little Book, Big Story

Music from Our Lord's Holy Heaven, by Jerry Pinkney and family | Little Book, Big Story

For all that, though, what I like best about Music from Our Lord’s Holy Heaven is the fact that it gives a clear picture of how one family uses music and art to worship the Lord together. From their involvement in the making of the book to the closing essay by Gloria Jean Pinkney about her own history with music, how she grew up with it and shared it with her children, the book is a testament to the idea that worship is something a family does together—music is a way that we can come alongside each other and rejoice in the Lord through housework or hardship. It is a way that we can rejoice in the Lord on on a daily basis—not just on Sundays—and it is a way that we celebrate holidays like this one, raising our voices together to sing his praise.

Music from Our Lord's Holy Heaven, by Jerry Pinkney and family | Little Book, Big Story

Music from Our Lord’s Holy Heaven
Gloria Jean Pinkney, Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, Myles C. Pinkney, Troy Pinkney-Ragsdale (2005)


In honor of Good Friday (and because I can’t get enough of making little playlists for you), I put together a short playlist of some of our favorite Good Friday and Easter songs. The first three are songs that we sing together as a family and church body on Good Friday; the last is the one that I blast through the house every Easter morning. Enjoy!

Questions With Answers | Songs for Saplings

This is not a review of a book. It is, instead, a review of some music written about a book—the book—and it is music that I think you and the little ones in your immediate vicinity would enjoy, so I am including it here, for your sake, for mine, and for the sake of those little ones.

Questions With Answers is a series of six albums by Dana Dirksen, who takes the Westminster Shorter Catechism and puts it to music. That means that while you run errands or cook dinner or take lengthy road trips, you and your children can memorize not only the catechism itself but various verses that relate to it (but will you ever be able to answer the catechism without singing? I don’t know. We certainly can’t).

Questions With Answers, by Dana Dirksen: music and theology for families | Little Book, Big Story

That is the good and wholesome answer to the question “Why should you listen to Questions with Answers?” But if you’d like an honest answer to why we have folded these into our family’s daily life and culture, here it is: they’re just really, really fun. You might be tempted to think—as I was—that six albums of any one musician could get old over time, but Dana Dirksen is a creative songwriter, and she pulls in just about every genre of music as she writes (just about: I haven’t heard hip hop in there yet, but then, we only have Volumes 1-4). And it doesn’t sound like she explores different genres because she’s trying to keep us listening: it just sounds like she’s having a great time. That joy produces the best music, I think.

These CDs have traveled with us halfway across the country and back. They have gone with us on the first day of kindergarten, down the Washington coast, over the Cascades, and across town. My daughter’s school used them as memorization tools last year; we have gifted them to missionary friends on the hunt for great preschool materials. We received them as a gift and love to give them to others.

That is the long answer to the question, “Why should you listen to Questions with Answers?” If you’re still on the fence, here is a short playlist of some of our favorite songs in the series:

 

And if you go to their website, Songs for Saplings, you can download all six albums for free! How compelling is that?


Questions With Answers, Volumes 1-6
Dana Dirksen, Songs for Saplings

Song of the Stars | Sally Lloyd-Jones

We take cake pretty seriously around here. And we take any excuse to bake cakes, especially when we find an excuse that looks like this:

Little Book, Big Story

This weekend, we’ll celebrate Phoebe’s first birthday with pancakes and snuggles and a gift bag full of tissue paper (what more could a baby ask for?). We’ll celebrate St. Lucia’s Day, too, and our twelfth anniversary. So you see, we could make as many as three cakes if we wanted to. But I think we’ll stick with just one:

Birthday Cake | Little Book, Big Story

And we’ll keep rolling along with Advent, and I will keep pulling books down from the attic every so often so we can read them anew. This week, I’ll unveil one of my very favorites: Song of the Starsby Sally Lloyd-Jones (a regularly featured author here at Little Book, Big Story).

Song of the Stars | Little Book, Big Story

I bought this book based on Lloyd-Jones’s name alone, and if I’m perfectly honest, I’ll admit that my first response went a little like this:

Opening pages: Is that snow? (Aren’t we in Israel?) Do I see deciduous trees?

Mid-book: Are those . . . whales? And stallions? (Where are the camels?)

Closing pages: Tears. Sniffles.

Song of the Stars | Little Book, Big Story

At first, I didn’t get it. In her illustrations, Alison Jay departs from the standard Christmas-book livestock of ox and ass and camel and takes readers around the world, showing how Christ’s coming wasn’t only a local event for Israelite animals but something that the whole world—every nook and cranny of creation—was preparing for. Somehow that wide-ranging perspective made for a striking contrast to the fact that all of this deep anticipation, felt by birds and beasts alike, was met in the coming of a baby—a seemingly ordinary baby who was overlooked by most of the people he had come to redeem.

Hence the tears and sniffles. The beauty of this book runs deep, so it will appeal—I’d hazard a guess—to all members of your family, regardless of age (and possible predisposition to cry over picture books). And if you’re anything like me, it will be one that you look forward to each season with, perhaps, an enthusiasm much like the one you feel for cake.


Song of the Stars
Sally Lloyd-Jones, Allison Jay (2011)