Monday, April 24, 2017

I Run Away I Run Away

 Picture Book: I Will Love You Anyway
Author: Mick Inkpen
Illustrator: Chloe Inkpen 
Summary: The dog in this story is bad, sooo bad, but lovable and loved unconditionally.  
The desire to please, to do the right thing, is evident but the follow through? Not so much.
He's adorable in his sweat bands, perhaps worn because he never stops. He's constantly running away
  or chasing 
 or being chased. 
 Running away is a major issue with this little guy. 

Then there are the other problem behaviors... 
 that lead to some disgust and further chasing. 
There is one lesson that Doggie seems to have learned 
the hard way. 
The dog's master overhears his parents' plans to make a change. 
Bargains follow and all are sad. 
 But a loud noise leads to another escape, 
 a long night of missing and longing and waiting
 and another reunion. 
The family decides to keep the mischief-maker   
despite his bad behavior, simply because of unconditional love. Good thing, 
 because some things never change. 

Hanna’s Comments: This tale of unconditional love is from a father (words) daughter (illustrations) duo. Makes sense! There are lots of picture books that involve unconditional love, but this one has the added benefit of a plot with some definite connections to the parable of The Prodigal Son (i.e. the running away and the big embrace upon being found). Also, there’s the overall sense that this little pup wants to please its master but just can’t seem to overcome urges to make messes and run away. I can relate!
In Paul’s Letter to the Romans, similar frustrations are confessed. Paul doesn’t explain what behavior he wants to avoid, but it sure is nice to know that, even a man who saw Jesus in a vision, never stops struggling with his own temptations.
Original Publisher & Date: Aladdin, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet 
Scripture Connections: The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); I don’t do the thing I want and do the very thing I hate… (Romans 7: 15-17,19-20)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this adorable book to a group of children in your faith family who are learning about God’s unconditional love, Jesus’s parable of The Prodigal Son, or Paul’s frustration with his own behavior in his Letter to the Romans (listed above).

Friday, April 21, 2017

PBT Grab & Go #8 - Just a Dream

Below is a revised post featuring my favorite PBT book about environmental concerns. Tomorrow is Earth Day and here in The States there will be a nation-wide (perhaps world-wide) March for Science. Here are links if you want to know more about [Earth Day] or [The March for Science]. 
Picture Book: Just a Dream 
Author & Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg 
Summary: Walter is a present-day litterbug with futuristic optimism grounded in his love for science fiction (SF). He doesn’t bother to recycle and sneers at Rose next door who has asked for a tree for her birthday. Then a dream has his bed traveling through a series of scenes in the future. Walter doesn’t find the SF-infused future he longs for but a polluted, ugly, and treeless future instead. Walter wakes converted and immediately begins sorting the trash. He even asks for a tree for his upcoming birthday. Later he has another dream with a revised future in which he and Rose’s 2 trees thrive under a clear sky, thanks to the behavioral changes humans have made to preserve the environment.
Hanna’s Comments: Though this message is heavy-handed, its simplicity will speak to children who, for developmental reasons, tend to view controversial issues such as environmental issues like climate change with black & white tones. As expected from Van Allsburg, the illustrations are striking and offer much potential for conversation about our God-ordained role in environmental concerns and God's hope for our planet and all its creatures. I recently heard an interview with biblical scholar and seminary professor Ellen Davis on On Being, my favorite podcast. Dr. Davis and host Krista Tippett discuss Genesis 1:26, where we read the command God gives humans at their creation. Dr. Davis explains that the verb in the Hebrew language that has traditionally been translated "to have dominion" actually means "to exercise skilled mastery." She describes this act as a sort of craft or art in which we are privileged to have responsibility for our earth. [Here's] the link to that interview entitled The Poetry of Creatures. Fascinating and inspiring because along with it you get to hear some of Wendell Berry's beautiful poetry!
Publisher & Date of Publication: HMH Books, 1990 
Age and Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections
: Humankind has been blessed with the role of exercising skilled mastery over creation (Genesis 1:26); God gives…and it was good (Genesis 1:29-31), Zacheaus converts (Luke 19:1-10) 
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in a private school’s Arbor Day program or at a kickoff for a church’s recycling program.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Harvesting Hospitality & Generosity

Picture Book: If You Plant a Seed
Author & Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Summary: This beautiful picture book is made fabulous by pairing a simple tale with stunning illustrations. 
Nelson begins with a simple situation: tomato, carrot, and cabbage seeds are planted by a rabbit and a mouse. 
While giving their garden loving attention, 
they patiently wait while their harvest grows and grows. 
They are delighted by their harvest 
and savor their crops 
until some neighbors drop by. 
They're not particularly subtle about what they want. 
Like the seeds before, their selfishness grows and grows 
 “into a heap of trouble” and mess.
Eventually Mouse reconsiders 
and then decides to plant another kind of seed, a seed of kindness. 
Suddenly, more friends come but this time 
they don’t bring just their desires, they bring fruits of kindness in the form of showers of flower seeds which also grow
and grow while all patiently tend and wait, forming a community.
All the fruits are sweet and beautiful, 
 especially the kindness and the community.
Hanna’s Comments: I just read in Anne Lamott’s new book Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy: “God is the welcome and the welcomers” says a priest she knows. So true! Hospitality and generosity are holy acts, commands from the Hebrew scriptures and fruits of The Holy Spirit in The New Testament. In this big beautiful book, these holy endeavors bring about a surprising level of joy and communion as parts of the tasty harvest. Kadir Nelson is responsible for the illustrations (and sometimes the words too) in some of my favorite PBT books. Check out Nelson Mandela [here], Henry’s Freedom Box [here], and He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands [here].
Original Publisher & Date: Balzer & Bray, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Treat the stranger as the native among you (Leviticus 19:34); Show hospitality to one another (Hebrews 13:2 & 1 Peter 4:9); listing of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of preschoolers or young elementary students in a lesson on kindness, generosity, and hospitality as faithful practices and fruits of The Holy Spirit.