Monday, June 30, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 72

Picture Book: The Quiet Book

Author: Deborah Underwood

Illustrator: Renata Liwska

Summary: This is a charming book in which hilarious illustrations of cute animals remind us of the many moments in which we are quiet. This picture book explores unique kinds of quiet such as a “Coloring in the lines quiet," a “Top of the roller coaster quiet,” and a “Before the concert begins quiet.”

Hanna’s Comments: This book would be a wonderful addition to a conversation with children about why we are quiet during times of worship. It also lends itself well to instruction in various kinds of prayer.

Publisher & Date of Publication: HMH, 2010

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, Amateur videos on Youtube

PBT Category: Award Winner (School Library Journal Best Book of the Year), Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: gentleness/meekness, listening, prayer, quiet/silence, reverence, self-control, shyness, worship

Scripture Connections: Be still and know (Psalm 46:10); Jesus leaving the disciples to pray

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book when explaining to children why we worship and why being quiet is an important component of worship. Use in a lesson on contemplative prayer.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 71

Picture Book: A Cook Drink of Water

Author: Barbara Kerley

Photographs from Multiple Photographers are used.

Summary: Water is so crucial to life that it unifies people all over the world. This photographic essay beautifully reveals the variety and commonality of drinking water in various geographic cultures. How water is accessed is the central subject here as well as numerous means of holding water in places as varied as the Canadian Rockies, an Australian desert, and an island in Indonesia.  

Hanna’s Comments: This author has a series of educational picture books comprised of her stunning National Geographic photography. Be sure to check out the map in the back of this book as well as the article on water conservation. You can also visit

Publisher & Date of Publication: National Geographic, 2006

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: dependence/interdependence, desert, differences, diversity, Earth/world, geography, humanity, survival, treasure, unity, variety, water

Scripture Connections: With joy you will draw water (Isaiah 12:3); Living water/Woman at the well (John 4:4-42)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book as part of a scripture lesson in which water is a key component or in a lesson on how our basic human needs connect us across the world. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 70

Picture Book: Peach and Blue

Author: Sarah S. Kilborne

Illustrator: Steve Johnson with Lou Fancher

Summary: Blue is a blue-bellied toad. On a cloudless day, he is surprised to feel raindrops. He looks up to find a crying Peach. Peach explains that she is ripe and about to fall or be picked. Instead she yearns for adventure, longing especially to see the beauty of the world. Blue gathers his many siblings and creates a tower to free her. Then they bring her a bowl to float in so that she will be comfortable while they explore the pond. Blue thoughtfully cares for Peach, and thanks to Peach, Blue sees more clearly the beauty of the world. The 2 friends commit to staying together, despite Peach admitting, “I don’t think I’ll last forever.” Blue responds, “That’s okay. Not many folks do. But until then, you have me and I have you.”  

Hanna’s Comments: The illustrations in this book are lush and unusual, as is the idea of 2 very different characters from nature having such a loving relationship and human-like features, feelings, and responses. This book will grow on you, offering striking images of loving-kindness, empathy, and attention.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Knopf, 1994

Age Grade Appropriateness:  3 and up, Pre and up                                                
# of Pages: 32                                                                                           
Available in Spanish? Not at present                                                              

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: attentiveness/observation/seeing, beauty, body of Christ, caring/tending, commitment, community, cooperation, differences, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, encouragement, exploration, fear, friends/friendship, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, gentleness/meekness, God’s care/providence, goodness, helping, journeys/pilgrimages/migration/quests, kindness, leadership/servant leadership, listening, loneliness, love, mission, obstacles, outreach, outsiders, partners/teamwork, patience, rescue, respect, savior/saving, servant hood/service/serving, steadfastness, vision, wonder

Scripture Connections: Blessed are the meek (Matthew 5:5); Paralyzed friend lowered through the roof to be healed (Luke 5:18-26)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book as an illustration of the power of empathy when relating to those with illness or disabilities and how those we care for can often teach us to view our world differently. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 69

Picture Book: Unlovable

Author & Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino 

Summary: Because of how he looks, Alfred, a pug, has to put up with the taunts of his family’s cat, bird, and neighborhood animals. The cat has even taught the bird to call Alfred, “Unlovable.” Alfred comes to believe he is unlovable. When a family moves in on the other side of the tall fence, Alfred communicates with a potential new dog friend, Rex. Relieved that he can’t be seen and desiring a friend so badly, Alfred says he is a golden retriever. Once their friendship grows, Alfred regrets his lie. When Rex digs under the fence to meet Alfred face to face, Alfred’s lie and their shared breed is revealed. The 2 pugs then discover what true friendship is all about.   

Hanna’s Comments: This simple tale has a lot to say about how words can hurt and shame can jeopardize potential friendships. Too often harsh words & negative labels are accepted in families and in religious communities. Shame is a heavy burden that affects long-term. This book offers an opportunity for children to talk about social bullying and the harm it can do. Having these kinds of conversations in your religious community offers a way to frame this issue with your community’s values in mind. 

Publisher and Date of Publication: Scholastic, 2001

Age and Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up

# of Pages: 32                                                                                             
Available in Spanish? Not at present                                                         
Formats other than Book: None at present  

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abuse/abuse of power, acceptance, anxiety/worry, beauty, bonds/connections, brokenness, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, cruelty, depression/despair/sadness/sorrow, difficulties, disception/dishonesty/lies/lying, exclusion/inclusion, friends/friendship, hiding/isolation/separation/walls, identity/names, injustice, insecurity, intolerance, judgment/judges/judging, justice, loneliness, neighbors, prejudice, relationships, secrets, self-acceptance/self-image/self-esteem, surprise, truth

Scripture Connections: God’s instructions to Samuel to not judge based on looks but based on the heart instead (1 Samuel 16:7); Judge not that you will not be judged (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37)

Idea(s) for Application: as part of a lesson on judging others and the harm it can do to individuals and community; part of a lesson on unconditional love 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 68

Picture Book: The Giving Tree
Author & Illustrator: Shel Silverstein 
Summary: “Once there was a tree and she loved a little boy.” So begins the story of a lifelong relationship. At first the 2 friends delightfully play together, but as the boy grows, he is often absent, his desires change, and the tree sacrifices parts of herself so that he will be happy. But he doesn’t stay happy. Eventually the tree is just a stump, and the boy is an old man, once again satisfied with just her company. “And the tree was happy.”
Hanna’s Comments: This tender story of loving sacrifice was introduced to me at church camp as a teen. When asked about an example of a secular picture book with potential for ministry, this is usually the example I offer. All those years ago, I viewed this story as a metaphor for Jesus’ crucifixion. As a parent, this story seems all too familiar. Introduce the youth & children in your faith community to the power of Silverstein’s illustrations and storytelling. Then offer your own interpretations and listen to those of your audience.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Harper & Row, 1964                
Age and Grade Appropriateness:  6 and up, 1 and up
# of Pages: 64
Available in Spanish? Yes, and there is a Hebrew version
Formats other than Book: tablet, audio CD, videos on Youtube
PBT Category:  Classic
PBT Topics this Book Connects with: affection, bonds/connections, brokenness, care of creation, commitment, consumerism/consumption/riches, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, the environment/nature, flowers/leaves/trees, friends/friendship, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, gifts/giftedness/talents, God’s care/providence, God’s nature, growing up/growth, helping, hospitality, humanity, kindness, loneliness, love, manna, parents/parental love, perseverance, relationships, sacrifice, steadfastness, time/timing/over time, transformation, treasure, unity, victims
Scripture Connections: Christ died for us (Romans 5:8); the sacrificial willingness of Mary, mother of Jesus (Luke 1:38); present your bodies as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2)
Idea(s) for Application: Use this book in a lesson on how relationships, particularly our relationship with God, offer life-long satisfaction in contrast to the short-term pleasures of consumerism.   

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 67

Picture Book: The Top of the Pizzas

Author & Illustrator: Bill Basso  

Summary: An ugly pizza maker, called Ogre Pizza-Ola because of his looks & his skill at pizza-making, was hidden in the kitchen of a popular pizzeria. He loved the children who delighted in his pizzas, but he stayed hidden as directed. Eventually a nosey woman discovered him and panic followed. After being fired, he set off to another city. Alas, the only job he could find was as a substitute gargoyle atop a tall skyscraper where its owner hoped tourists would come for the best view of the old city.  After weeks, only 1 family came, exhausted and hungry. Ogre Pizza-Ola asked permission to make pizzas for the tourists, though there was nowhere to hide. The first group to visit was led by a teacher who fainted when seeing Ogre, but her children did not. They loved him immediately because they saw his kindness. After a taste of the pizza, the teacher was won over too. Many customers followed to taste the pizza and see the pizza making ogre at the city’s newest and most intriguing pizzeria, The Top of the Pizzas.

Hanna’s Comments: The photo above reveals how much my students, children, and I have loved this book over the years. I especially like the way it gives children the credit for seeing beyond Ogre’s name and looks. Appearance is too often a place of judgment or obsession. This book offers an opportunity to talk about those who don’t fit your culture’s idea of beauty. Then consider how your faith instructs you to treat such people.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1977 

Age and Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up                                                  
# of Pages: 32                                                                                              
Available in Spanish? Not at present                                                         
Formats other than Book: None at present  

PBT Category: Rare but Worth the Search

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, acceptance, babies/children, beauty, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, dreams/aspirations, exclusion/inclusion, exile/separation, fear, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, gifts/giftedness/talents, hatred, hiding/isolation/separation/walls, injustice, intolerance, judgment/judges/judging, justice, outsiders, prejudice, purpose, social justice, stereotypes

Scripture Connections: unless you become like children (Matthew 18:3); Jesus interacts and heals a bent-over woman (Luke 13:10-17) and lepers (Luke 17:11-19)

Idea(s) for Application: Consider using this book when talking to children about judging others especially for their appearance.  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 66

 Picture Book: Knots on a Counting Rope

Authors: Bill Martin Jr. & John Archambault

Illustrator: Ted Rand   

Summary: A Native American boy begs his grandfather to tell the story of the boy’s birth once again. Through prompting, the birth story and more are told: During a wind storm, the boy was born sickly & blind, but a pair of horses seemed to give him strength so he was named Boy-Strength-of-Blue-Horses at his naming ceremony. When a foal was born, it was given to the boy so he learned to swiftly ride through the trails despite his blindness. In a horse race, the boy and his horse do not win, but many spectators are amazed. At the end of the book, you learn that each knot in the rope represents a re-telling of the story until the boy can tell it himself.

Hanna’s Comments: This is a complicated but beautiful story that illustrates several themes: the loving bonds across generations, the importance of owning our origin stories, the power in a name, and the resilience of those who courageously adapt to their limitations. This would be a powerful story for grandparents to read to their grandchildren before sharing birth/origin stories. Faith and scripture stories could easily follow.                     

Publisher & Date Published: Holt & Company, 1987 

Age and Grade Appropriateness:  5 and up, K and up                                                 
# of Pages: 32                                                                                              
Available in Spanish? Not at present                                                         
Formats other than Book: Audio Cd, videos on Youtube (one version read by 2 professional actors)  

PBT Category: Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, acceptance, ancestors/patriarchs & matriarchs, attentiveness/observation/seeing, birth/birthday, bravery/courage, challenges, darkness/evening/night, difficulties, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, grandparents, identity/names, listening, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, obstacles, parables/stories, perseverance, questioning/questions, reassurance, reflection

Scripture Connections: scripture stories in which a character is named or re-named; Saul becomes Paul (Acts 9) & Barnabus becomes his helper (Acts 13)

Idea(s) for Application: when teaching the importance of repeating faith stories such as at Passover or Eucharist/Communion

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 65

Picture Book: Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

Author & Illustrator: Kevin Henkes 

Summary: Lilly especially loves her teacher, but he’s not a big fan of her new purse and its contents which Lilly wants to show everyone, even during lessons.  When her beloved teacher takes Lilly’s purse away until after school, Lilly becomes quite upset, and eventually she gets very angry at him. She writes him a nasty note and puts it in his bag. Meanwhile, he too writes a note and puts it in Lilly’s purse along with some snacks. His note says, “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better.” Feeling terribly guilty, Lilly confesses to her parents, sits in the uncooperative chair for a while, and then writes & illustrates a new note in which she apologizes and compliments him profusely. At school Lilly delivers her note, some snacks, and a verbal apology. They agree to throw away the earlier note, and Lilly enjoys showing off her purse & its contents at Sharing Time.

Hanna’s Comments: Often children really struggle with some of the issues in this story (obsession, materialism, lack of impulse control, pride, and disrespecting authority). Adults too! What better place to explore these issues than in a religious context in which loving teachers can offer the Holy Scriptures as a guide and comfort to children.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Greenwillow Books, 2006                                          

Age and Grade Appropriateness:  4 and up, Pre and up                                                   

# of Pages: 32                                                                                           

Available in Spanish? Yes                                                           

Formats other than Book: Audio cassette, Amateur videos on  

PBT Category:  Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: acceptance, anger, challenges, change, confession, conformity, consequences/punishment, consumerism/consumption/riches, cooperation, disappointment, disobedience/obedience, education/school, emotions/feelings, forgiveness/justifying grace/mercy/redemption, grace, guilt, hope, idolatry, mentors/teachers, mistakes, possessions, pride, rebellion, regret/repentance, resisting evil, self-control, sin

Scripture Connections: Joseph’s coat (Genesis 37:1-36); the building of the golden calf (Exodus 32:1-35)

Idea(s) for Application: Include the reading of this book in a lesson for children on materialism/idolatry or prayers of confession.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 64

Picture Book: Bear Has a Story to Tell

Author: Philip C. Stead

Illustrator: Erin E. Stead

Summary: This book begins, “It was almost winter, and Bear was getting sleepy.” Bear has a story to tell before he hibernates so he approaches each of his animal friends and asks, “Would you like to hear a story?” Each animal is unavailable or busy preparing for winter. Bear helps them with their tasks. Then each animal friend scurries away or to sleep before hearing Bear’s story. Bear hibernates. At the onset of spring, Bear greets each of his friends and asks again if they would like to hear a story. At last, they are ready, but Bear can’t remember his story. With his friends encouraging the narrative, Bear begins as this book begins: “It was almost winter, and Bear was getting sleepy.”

Hanna’s Comments: At first reading, my interpretation of this book was that Bear forgets his original story because he no longer needs to tell it. Time and helping others has allowed him turn loose of that story; a kind of healing of his need to be heard has taken place. Instead, Bear tells the story of how he patiently set aside his need to be heard and helped his friends prepare for winter. Now I see so many other possibilities for theological or spiritual reflection and connection. This is truly a rich story especially if you're nearing Lent, a liturgical season remembering Jesus 40 days in the wilderness. The hibernation of Bear and his friends is an easy connection. This Author/Illustrator duo has another book here at PBT. It is a treasure as well and was featured [here] at PBT on Day 9.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Roaring Book Press, 2012 

Age and Grade Appropriateness:  2 and up, Toddler and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present                                                               
Formats other than Book: Audible, Amateur videos on Youtube  

PBT Category:  Award Winner (Kirkus Review), Post 2K                                      
PBT Topics this Book Connects with: acceptance, action, belonging, community, dependence/interdependence, difficulties, encouragement, evangelism, friends/friendship, fruits of the spirit, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, gentleness/meekness, golden rule/great commandment, helping, healing/healthcare, humility, labor/work, listening, neighbors, parables/stories, patience, presence, quiet/silence, respect, servant hood/service/serving, transformation, waiting   

Scripture Connections:  scriptures about waiting or time apart; Jesus in the wilderness; Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42); scriptures about the importance of telling your story

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book as part of a lesson on the spiritual practice of listening or how evangelism should be as much about listening as telling. OR Read this book before Lent to encourage folks to take time away to grow spiritually or heal. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 63

Dynamic Duo: Book 2
Picture Book: My Heart Will Not Sit Down

Author: Mara Rockliff

Illustrator: Ann Tanksley

Summary: In 1931 Camaroon, Kedi, who loves her American teacher, is particularly moved by his descriptions of the suffering of his fellow "villagers" in New York City because of the Great Depression. Kedi knows how it feels to be hungry so she speaks of these suffering people to her mother and the elders in her tribe. Initially they tell her they have no coins to share, but eventually they do give because “our hearts would not sit down until we helped.” Based on a true story, more details are found in the Author’s Note.

Hanna’s Comments: I am especially struck by the way in which compassion is expressed in this story and its Dynamic Duo partner from yesterday. In 14 Cows for America, the African storyteller states in his Afterward, “My warrior heart could not sit still in me.” The title of this book is “My heart will not sit down” and the narrator says Kedi’s “heart stood up for them in sympathy.” Perhaps Africans who refer to compassion in this way can teach others a new way of speaking about heartfelt concerns. These two stories offer a young, convicted generation inspiration for their future hard work and generosity for the betterment of others in the world, particularly those who are suffering.

Publisher & Date Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012

Age and Grade Appropriateness:  5 and up, K and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: Non-fiction, Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, Africa, aliens/immigrants/refugees/strangers, America, anxiety/worry, body of Christ, bonds/connections/connectedness, brokenness, choices/decisions, depression/despair/sadness/sorrow, difficulties, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, golden rule/great commandment, helping, kindness, money, outreach, poverty, power, response to god, righteousness, sacrifice, sharing

Scripture Connections: giving freely & generosity (Proverbs 11:24-25), the Widow’s Mite (Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book as a part of a youth program on teenage role models that make a positive difference in the world.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 62

Dynamic Duo: Book 1
Picture Book: 14 Cows for America

Author: Carmen Agra Deedy

Illustrator: Thomas Gonzalez

Collaborator: Wilson Kimeli Naiyomah

Summary: Months after the World Trade Towers were destroyed, a Kenyan student, who was in New York City on that day, returned to his beloved Maasai tribe and shared the story. Greatly affected by the terrible events, Kimeli asked the elders to ceremoniously bless the giving of his only cow, a valuable gift. For the Maasai, the cow is life. This ritual is seen as a way of taking on some of America’s pain. Moved by the story, the elders agreed. When an American diplomat came to the blessing ceremony, his country was given not 1 but 14 cows. This true story of international compassion and generosity has been shared around the globe and continues to inspire. 

Hanna’s Comments: Although this story is about Kenyan Maasai and the USA, it is a story that can bless those in any community in which international connections are valued and compassion ignores borders. Be sure to read Kimeli’s Afterward. This book is the first in a PBT Dynamic Duo. Tomorrow’s PBT offering is another picture book involving an African tribe’s desire to give to a suffering New York City during The Great Depression of the 1930s.  

Publisher & Date of Publication: Peachtree Publishers, 2009

Age and Grade Appropriateness:  7 and up, 2nd and up                                          
# of Pages: 36                                                                                        
Available in Spanish? Yes                                                                            
Formats other than Book: An amateur video is on, more information may be found at, including a Teacher’s Guide and news of the flag commemorating this gift which is to be at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.                          

PBT Category: Non-fiction, Post 2K, Award Winner (Caldecott Honor)

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, Africa, aliens/immigrants/refugees/strangers, America, animals, anxiety/worry, body of Christ, bonds/connections/connectedness, brokenness, choices/decisions, depression/despair/sadness/sorrow, difficulties, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, golden rule/great commandment, helping, intercession, kindness, outreach, poverty, power, response to God, righteousness, sacrifice, sharing

Scripture Connections: Giving to the poor (Proverbs 19:17, 25:21, 28:27), To the least of these (Matthew 25), the Gentile churches give to the suffering in the Jerusalem church (Romans 15: 22-29, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, 2 Corinthians 8: 1-15)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book as part of a sermon or lesson about giving across international borders when a community is suffering.