Monday, October 24, 2016


Picture Book: Come Home Angus
Author: Patrick Downs
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Summary: Kulikov's illustrations are crucial to the power of this story, even on the first page. 
Angus is a young child who wakes up with the kind of anger that is big, huge even. No reason is given for his anger. 
He responds badly to his “slow” dog, his “loud” canary & cat, and his mom who expects and apology.  
Great line here, “In this house, being angry doesn’t let you be rude.” 
After a verbal tug of war, Angus packs a full bag and heads out the door. His mother says, “I’ll miss you.” Angus replies, “No, you won’t.” 
As he walks away, his size diminishes while buildings grow so that eventually he is little, lost, and afraid. 
Angus sits on a bench and realizes he’s forgotten his lunch. 
Just as strangers surround him, his mom brings his lunch (and pets) and asks if he’s ready to come home. 
Is he ever!
Hanna’s Comments: This book reminds me of Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are and 2 PBT books by Molly Bang: When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry and her sequel When Sophie’s Feelings Are Really, Really Hurt. See a post about those last 2 [here]. What does this book have to offer ministry more than Bang’s books? First, you have a beautiful maternal image of God, God as provider & comforter and God as one who is expecting more from us than we offer. 
Secondly, you have a perfect visual representation of our human tendency to think we are big deals and shove God away. Daniel Erlander in his brilliant book for adults Manna and Mercy, calls sin “trying to become a BIG DEAL.” See more about this book and the children’s curriculum I’ve written based on it in Other Resources by Hanna, a tab above. It is when Angus realizes he is not such a big deal, that he becomes lost, afraid, and wanting his mom. 
Thirdly, Angus thinks all his “stuff” will comfort him, but it doesn’t. 
Instead, he needs his important relationships with his mom and his pets, all of whom love him unconditionally.
Original Publisher & Date: Orchard Books, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: In Your presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11); for me it is good to be near God, my refuge (Psalm 73:28); where shall I flee from Your presence (Psalm 139: 7); neither death nor life… shall separate us from the love of God… (Romans 8: 38-39)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children or adults and talk about these human inclinations: our tendency to separate from God although God is always present, our tendency to try to be BIG DEALS, or our tendency to be oriented to our “stuff” rather than our loving relationships. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

From the Front Porch

Picture Book: Homer
Author & Illustrator: Elisha Cooper
Summary: Homer is sitting on the front porch, looking toward the beach. He’s considering what to do today as family members pass on the way to the beach.
Chase his fellow dogs around the yard? No
Go exploring with his girl? No
Walk on the beach? No  
Swim or go to the market? No
Instead he watches his family delight in their day.
As all return, they greet Homer, who is still on the front porch, and tell them of their experiences. 
He is glad to hear and see the results. When asked if he needs anything, 
Homer realizes he has everything he wants right there. 
Hanna’s Comments: This beautiful book is about an old dog who is an integral part of his family. 
Despite the limits of his body and his inclinations, he is happy gazing at his family’s fun at the beach and being surrounded by them as they enjoy the afternoon. At end of day inside, Homer finds the busyness of a loving family 
and a way to again be in the midst of them. 
The book ends with gratitude for having such a loving family and lovely place in the world. It is no coincidence that the word home is in Homer's name. As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think of those in my church who are less able to do the meaningful church activities of their past. Instead, they encourage those of us who are more able to go and do, and they pray for our success and well-being. I am very grateful for them and see this book as a way to encourage children and adults to offer appropriate inclusion, hear their stories, and consider their ministry needs.
Original Publisher & Date: Greenwillow Books, 2012
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man (Leviticus 19:32); do not cast me off in the time of old age… (Psalm 71:9); when you serve the least you serve Jesus (Matthew 25); Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him (1 Timothy 5:1)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults in your faith family who are planning a particular ministry for their senior adults or shut-ins.

Monday, October 17, 2016

PBT Techniques Series #2

Choosing Portions of a Picture Book 
Today I offer the 2nd post in a new PBT series about atypical methods for using picture books in ministry. I hope to stretch possibilities for you. If you have other ideas, please share them in a comment!

Using only portions of a picture book story or illustration is what I’m proposing today. When might you do this?
-When a picture book is too long. That is the case of the book I feature below.
-When you are in the midst of a lesson and you’re about to run out of time.
-When a small portion of a picture book (a sub story, a particular scene, or an amazing illustration) is significantly better than the rest of the book.
 Picture Book: One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of WWII
Author & Illustrator: Lita Judge
Summary: This beautiful book is about the author-illustrator’s family who responded to suffering in Europe after WWII. Judge learned of this story after discovering hundreds of tracings of feet in her grandparents’ attic. The old story, from a young girl’s point of view, begins with a letter from friends in Germany who are starving. 
Judge’s family sends food, clothes, and shoes. In another letter, the recipients thank them, urge them to help others, and include tracings of feet from 10 families. 
More letters follow with tracings of feet enclosed. Judge’s family asks others to help. They translate and mail the letters to friends who also respond generously with shoes that will fit, sometimes going without shoes for the summer. 
Meanwhile, socks are knitted and a rag doll is sewn and sent. 
The doll’s new owner sends a thank you with a photo of herself. Other photos appear throughout this book as does beautiful collage. 
The text is divided into many small chapters highlighting themes that describe the poignancy of many stories and the sacrifice of Judge’s family, friends, and neighbors.
Hanna’s Comments: This picture book would be too much information for a group to hear all at once. Read the first few pages and then pre-select the chapters and illustrations that your audience will most likely respond to. I like to use Post-it Notes and paper clips to mark pages. Consider inviting someone in your family of faith who remembers WWII to come and be interviewed by you. Steer your questions to emphasize the Biblical theme you have chosen to connect with this book. There are many possibilities. It's best to give your guest the questions ahead of time. After the book is presented and your friend is interviewed, read your chosen scripture. Then close with a prayer.
Original Publisher & Date: Hyperion, 2007
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord (Proverbs 19:17); when you serve the least, you serve Jesus (Matthew 25); give to the needy (Luke 12: 33); Jesus washes his disciples’ feet (John 13:4-14).
Idea(s) for Application: Read portions of this book during a lesson on generosity, responses to poverty, or Jesus washing his disciples’ feet.