Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 164


Picture Book: The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story

Author: Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Illustrator: Linda Wingerter

Summary: Chiru, animals that look like small antelope, are found only in the northern part of Tibet, a very cold region called Chang Tang. Having the softest, warmest wool on Earth, these animals are sought. Unlike sheep, they must be killed if their wool is taken. For these reasons, chiru have been victims of poachers and are endangered species. This is the story of George B. Schaller, a conservationist who was determined to protect the chiru. After failing several times himself in the 1990s, he recruited 4 mountain climbers to follow the chiru 200 miles to find their secret calving grounds. This was necessary so that Schaller could lobby the Chinese government to protect the chiru.  Although a very difficult journey, the 4 men were successful, resulting in a large protected area being set aside for the chiru to thrive, The Chang Tang Reserve.

Hanna’s Comments: This beautiful story is told in a compelling narrative and illustrative windows with interesting facts. This is a modern adventure story with 5 heroes, the scientist and the 4 mountain climbers. It is a story of determination and perseverance in a harsh climate for a small, meek animal species. I suspect many faith traditions want to encourage these kinds of selfless, protective acts for our most vulnerable animals who, like us, were created by God for a divine purpose.  Photographs of the men and some chiru are at the end.  

Publisher & Date of Publication: Houghton Mifflin, 2010

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

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, There is a great short video on Youtube.com of the author talking about her visit to the Chang Tang Reserve in Tibet. It includes some photographs of the Chiru.

PBT Category:  Non Fiction, Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, adventure, animals, Asia, aspirations/dreams, attentiveness/observation/seeing, bravery/courage, care of creation, challenges, commitment, creation, cruelty, danger, Earth/world, the environment/nature, exploration, faith/faithfulness, found, gifts/giftedness/talents, heroes, hiding/isolation, intercession, journeys/pilgrimages/migrations/quests, labor/work, mystery, non-violence/peaceful resistance, obstacles, partners/teamwork, passion, patience, perseverance, poaching/stealing/theft, power, protecting/protection, reverence, risking, sacrifice, savior/saving, searching, secrets, servant hood/service/service, shyness, sin, steadfastness, survival, unity, vision, wilderness

Scripture Connections: God made the wild animals of the Earth of every kind… and God saw that it was good (Genesis 1:25); let everything that has breath praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book with teens when talking about their God-given vocations. Emphasize that one of these heroes was particularly strong in mind and the other 4 were strong in body. Together they saved a vulnerable species and blessed the world.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 163


Picture Book: Abuela’s Weave

Author: Omar S. Castaneda

Illustrator: Enrique O. Sanchez

Summary: Young Esperanza has been working hard to learn her Abuela’s (grandmother’s) weaving skills, but they are both anxious about the upcoming market. Will they have enough finished items and will people purchase them? Abuela is known for her extraordinary patterns, but sadly she is also known for her facial scar. Recently, the kids at the market started a rumor that Abuela was a witch so that some people were afraid to purchase her items. There was also the competition from machine-made products. On market day, Esperanza must carry their goods all on her own while Abuela walks several paces behind her, covered by a black shawl, disguised as a woman in mourning. There is little room to lay out her goods, but once she does, the customers flock to them. All of the pieces are sold. Esperanza and her Abuela go home satisfied and proud, ready to work for next month’s market.

Hanna’s Comments: Besides learning about beautiful Guatemalan textiles, this book is a rich story of hard work, personal endurance, family pride, and cross-generational collaboration. Consider using it as a conversation starter in which you consider what older members of your faith community can teach younger individuals.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Lee & Low Books, 1993

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Yes

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Award Winner, Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, affirmation, ancestors/matriarchs & patriarchs, anxiety/worry, art, awe, beauty, bonds/connections, bravery/courage, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, call/calling/vocation, Central America/South America, challenges, commitment, companionship, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, dependence/interdependence, differences, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, disciples/discipleship, education/learning/school, exile/separation/walls, family, gift/giftedness/talents, God’s nature, God’s presence, grandparents, heritage, hiding/isolation, hope, humility, intolerance, journeys/pilgrimages/migrations/quests, labor/work, legacies, mentors/teachers, money, partners/teamwork, perseverance, poverty, prejudice, preparation/preparing, satisfaction

Scripture Connections: These words that I command shall be on your heart. Teach them diligently to your children (Deuteronomy 6:6-7); that you bear much fruit (John 15:8)

Idea(s) for Application: Consider using this book to inspire mentors in your church to serve children who need inspiring role-models. Encourage them to teach their spiritual practices and tell stories of their personal faith struggles. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 162


Picture Book: In Our Image: God’s First Creatures

Author: Nancy Sohn Swartz

Illustrator: Melanie Hall

Summary: This picture book offers a new reflection of verse 26 in Genesis One. Because something is missing from this new creation, God says, “Let us create humans in Our own image.” The “Our” in this case refers to the other creatures that God has already made. God encourages these creatures to help design humans by suggesting which of their own traits these new beings should have. The animals offer suggestions that are cleverly similar to their own inclinations. “’Make them lazy,’ yawned the lizard. ‘Keep them busy’, buzzed the bee.” When God declares the dominion of the humans, all the animals run and hide in fright. Then God explains that they should not fear humans for God is making them in God’s own image as well. The goodness and loving kindness that is God’s will belong to the humans. Humans will also have the gift of reason to discern the best decisions for Earth's creatures. Then the humans are made and God sees that it is very good.

Hanna’s Comments: This book, which is endorsed by Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish religious leaders, is a positive view of Genesis 1:26. O how I wish humans lived up to God’s expectations in this re-consideration of our origin. The reading of this PBT God book would likely result in a lively discussion on human responsibility and culpability in the crises that Earth’s environment is experiencing.    

Publisher & Date of Publication: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: God Book, Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, abundance/bounty, animals, beginnings/morning, care of creation, creation, diversity, Earth/world, the environment/nature, ethics, free will, God’s will, humanity, image of God, legends/myth, power, variety, wisdom

Scripture Connections: The making of humans (Genesis 1:26); who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth? (Job 35:11); the Lord’s goodness is over all that the Lord has made (psalm 145:9)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book with a youth group that is considering how your faith tradition informs your response to the issues of climate change or treatment of animals.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 161


Picture Book: What is My Song?

Author: Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Matthew Linn

Illustrator: Francisco Miranda

Summary: Deo, an East African boy, begins this story by asking, ”When did I become me?” Then he explains it happened when his mother first had an idea of him. She listened in her heart until she heard “the special song of me.” She shared it with his father and the other women of the village so that the first thing Deo hears in life is the women singing his song. Everyone learns his song. When he is crying, they sing to him. When he saves his baby brother from fire and his sister from drowning, they sing to him. His song is about protecting people. When in anger Deo throws a stone at a boy and blinds him, Deo cannot remember his song. Instead of retribution, his community surrounds him and sings his song to him so that he will remember he is a protector. He does and pledges to be the boy’s eyes if his friend’s sight does not return. Deo explains that his song never leaves him even if he forgets it for a while. It is sung to him at other milestones, and when he dies, it will be sung to him as he returns to God. This book ends with: “Who are you? Put your hand on your heart. Can you feel your heart beating? Take deep breaths and listen deep inside your hear. Can you hear your song?”

Hanna’s Comments: This traditional East African tale is beautifully told. The idea of having a song seems to be offered as a metaphor for a God-given purpose, present even before birth and after death.  Check in the back for A Note to Parents and Other Caregivers that explains that we don’t need to teach our children their special purpose in life. Rather, we need to help them remember what they already know.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Paulist Press, 2005

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 8 and up, 3 and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Traditional, Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: Africa, babies/children, beginnings/morning, belonging, birth/birthday, call/calling/vocation, choir/music/singing/songs, communion/Eucharist, community, dance/dancing, emotions/feelings, encouragement, family, forgiveness/justifying grace/mercy/redemption, grace, growing up/growth, guilt, identity/names, life, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, milestones, mistakes, nurturing, participation, power, protecting/protection, purpose, reassurance, regret/repentance, renewal/restoration, righteousness, self-control, self-discovery, sin, violence

Scripture Connections: The Lord is merciful & gracious... (Psalm 103:8); It was You who formed my inward parts (Psalm 139); You are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13); stir up one another to love and do good works (Hebrews 10:24)

Idea(s) for Application: A friend of mine read this beautiful book as a part of a homily on Community at the Academy for Spiritual Formation. It was perfect. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 160


Picture Book: Squeak’s Good Idea

Author: Max Eilenberg

Illustrator: Patrick Benson

Summary: Squeak’s good idea is to go outside. No one else in his family is interested, but he’s willing to go it alone. Because he is a cautious fellow and in case the weather turns bad, he puts on his mittens, jacket, scarf, hat, raincoat, warm pants, extra socks, and carries an umbrella. He thinks he might get hungry so he packs a picnic lunch. It takes him a while, but finally he is ready. In his bundled state, he steps outside and slowly discovers the beauty of nature and the fine weather so he peels off his extra clothes. About that time, his family joins him for the picnic. He’s prepared enough food for all of them. “It’s lucky to be on the safe side,” Squeak declares. They all agree.

Hanna’s Comments: This is a silly story of over preparation and the daring of a young character to risk going into the unknown alone even if that unknown is just outside his house. You can’t help but love Squeak’s caution and determination. I’m glad he gets affirmed by his family in the end. He obviously wanted them to come with him all along, but he still ventured outside on his own.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Candlewick Press, 2001

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

# of Pages: 48

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, adaptation/assimilation, adventure, affirmation, anxiety/worry, armor, bravery/courage, clothes/shoes, comfort, commitment, the environment/nature, family, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, God’s presence, journeys/pilgrimages/migrations/quests, joy, mission, perseverance, preparation/preparing, presence, protecting/protection, rain, risking, security, weather   
Scripture Connections: God’s presence with the Israelites (Exodus 33:14); the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18); I am with you always (Matthew 28:20)

Idea(s) for Application: This would be a perfect book to read when teaching the “whole armor of God” verses in Ephesians or the broader concept of the Holy One being present with us at all times, no matter where we venture. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Picture a Day for a Year: Day 159


Picture Book: Amazing Grace

Author: Mary Hoffman

Illustrator: Caroline Binch

Summary: Grace is an imaginative girl who loves drama, stories, and pretending. When she gets her heart set on the role of Peter Pan in a musical at school, she is told by one classmate that she can’t be Peter Pan because she is a girl. Another classmate says she can’t be Peter Pan because she is black. Grace becomes determined especially when her Nana and mother lovingly remind her that she can do anything. Nana then takes her to see a professional prima ballerina from Trinidad, their home country. Grace is inspired to reach for her dreams despite what her classmates say. Grace blows away the competition in the audition and proudly becomes Peter Pan.

Hanna’s Comments: This wonderful book was read to me and a group of women in my church many years ago. We were delighted that its protagonist defied the prejudices in her classroom. We were also delighted that such high quality children’s literature was being published. The title of this book is the title of a popular Christian hymn, but this is not a Christian story. However, it is a story rich with possibilities for conversation in a religious context. You have the topics of defying social barriers (think the Canaanite woman begging Jesus to heal her daughter), embracing creative expression (think Tabitha/Dorcas or Priscilla), and confident determination and pride in your ethnic group (think Esther). 

Publisher & Date of Publication: Dial, 1991

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Yes and a Spanish video version is in the collection below, other translations are available such as the one pictured above which is in Arabic and English

Formats other than Book: Audio CD & cassette, In the video collection: Shrinking Violet & More Stories for Young Performers

PBT Category: Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, affirmation, art, aspiration/dreams, chosen, competition, confidence, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, encouragement, exclusion/inclusion, freedom, grace, grandparents, individuality/uniqueness, judgment/judges/judging, justice, mothers, parents/parental love, participation, passion, play, prejudice, race relations/racism, social justice

Scripture Connections: Esther approaches the King (Esther 5); the Canaanite woman who begs Jesus to heal her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28); Tabitha/Dorcas’ good works & acts of charity (Acts 9:36); Priscilla re-teaches a man who was preaching inaccurately (Acts 18:26)

Idea(s) for Application: As mentioned above, this story is rich with possibilities for discussion with adults and children about overcoming prejudices, the importance of creative expression, and the value of celebrating your ethnic characteristics and individual talents. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 158


Picture Book: Me I Am

Author: Jack Prelutsky

Illustrator: Christine Davenier

Summary: Prelutsky, a well-known children’s poet, has adapted a clever poem for this picture book. The verse that follows is presented 3 times with illustrations of 3 very individual children at play: “I am the only ME I AM who qualifies as me; no ME I AM has been before, and none will ever be. No other ME I AM can feel the feelings I’ve within; no other ME I AM can fit precisely in my skin. There is no other ME I AM who thinks the thoughts I do; the world contains one ME I AM, there is no room for two.” It wraps up with the 3 children meeting and joining a collection of children engaged in delightful play, all declaring: “I am the only ME I AM this earth shall ever see; that ME I AM I always am is no one else but ME.”

Hanna’s Comments: This fun book can be used as a tool to discuss some profound Bible stories with children (see list below). Be sure to emphasize not only each person’s value and individuality, but also focus on the importance of respecting and celebrating the uniqueness of others. As you affirm each person as a child of God, encourage them to do the same for each other. The poem in its original form is in the back of the book. You may want to have multiple copies so that they children can see all the wonderfully detailed illustrations. Make it interactive as you read by signaling to the children whenever you're ready for them to shout, "ME I AM."

Publisher & Date of Publication: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007

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: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, authenticity, body of Christ, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, differences, diversity, emotions/feelings, gifts/giftedness/talents, goodness, identity/names, image of God, individuality/uniqueness, joy, play, satisfaction, self-acceptance/self-image/self-esteem, self-discovery, variety

Scripture Connections: Each of us is made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27); God answers Moses, “I am that I am.” (Exodus 3:14); I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book in any lesson for young children that emphasizes that each of them is uniquely made in God’s own image. Tie in God’s answer to Moses’ question about God’s name. Reinforce your lesson with Psalm 139:14. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 157


Picture Book: Talking Walls

Author: Margy Burns Knight

Illustrator: Anne Sibley

Summary: This unusual book is an overview of various walls around the world that were built to separate, to commemorate, to protect, or for prayer. Fourteen different walls are described here. Their histories and purposes are explained as are some of the cultural contexts then and now. Among them you’ll find The Great Wall of China, The Western Wall in Jerusalem, The Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, The Great Zimbabwe, and Cuzco, Peru where there are many Incan walls intact. In the back you’ll find a world map placing the walls and more details.

Hanna’s Comments: Consider checking out the sequel to this book: Talking Walls: The Stories Continue or better yet, the newest edition which combines these two texts in a more read-aloud friendly format: Talking Walls: Discover Your World. The last page of the book I’ve pictured here asks a series of questions that encourage deeper thinking on the theme of walls: Do you know about other walls? Are they visible or invisible? Are they monuments? Do they tell stories? How are walls built? Do they need to stay up or come down? Do you build walls? Would you tear them down? Can you imagine a world without walls?

Publisher & Date of Publication: Tilbury House, 1992

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 8 and up, 3 and up

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Non Fiction, Award Winner, Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: Africa, America, ancestors/matriarchs/patriarchs, anxiety/worry, armor, art, artifacts, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Central America/South America, community, creativity/imagination/beauty, diversity, Earth/world, enemies, Europe, exclusion/inclusion, exile/separation/walls, fear, geography, heritage, hiding/isolation, humanity, insecurity, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, Mexico, North America, prayer, protecting/protection, religious differences, reverence, safe place/sanctuary, time/timing/over time, worship

Scripture Connections: Marching around the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6); nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38-39)

Idea(s) for Application:  This book and the later editions would be great to use in a homeschool or private school where you are allowed to comment on the religious nature of some of these walls and compare & contrast them with your faith traditions. For a church, this book would be a good resource for anyone planning a series of lessons with the theme of walls or a lesson on the wall of Jericho from the book of Joshua. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 156


Picture Book: When Lions Roar

Author: Robie H. Harris

Illustrator: Chris Raschka

Summary: This book begins: “When lions roar! When monkeys screech! When lightning cracks! When thunder booms!” The list of loud fears continues. In the middle: “The scary is near! The scary is here! So I sit right down. Shut my eyes tight. ‘Go away,’ I say. ‘Scary go away.’ And then - the quiet is back. So I open my eyes. And stand right up.” What follows is a list of quiet sounds. Then the ending, “The scary is gone. And I go on my way.”

Hanna’s Comments: This comforting story dramatizes some great emotional intelligence. This boy knows the source of his fears, and demonstrates strategies to deal with them. Afterwards he is able to reassure himself by focusing on the quiet, non-threatening aspects of his life. Dealing with fears is a crucial part of childhood. Being able to talk about good strategies is a valuable part of faith development particularly when learning to rely on the comforting presence of God and loving adults in your religious community.  

Publisher & Date of Publication: Scholastic, 2013

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: Fresh off the Press

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: adaptation/assimilation, anxiety/worry, armor, bravery/courage, comfort, danger, emotions/feelings, fear, God’s presence, insecurity, noise/sounds/voice, non-violence/peaceful resistance, power, prayer, quiet/silence, reassurance, reflection, safety, safe place/sanctuary, self-control, storms, strength/strength in God, transformation

Scripture Connections: Elijah in the cave (1 Kings 19); fear not, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:10); God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control

Idea(s) for Application: When I read this book, I immediately thought of Elijah struggling with his fears, searching for God to comfort him, and listening for God in the quiet. It is a powerful scripture story that should be taught to children. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 155


Picture Book: In God’s Hands

Authors: Lawrence Kushner & Gary Schmidt

Illustrator: Matthew J. Beck

Summary: Jacob and David live very different lives in the same small town, but both men think little of miracles. Jacob, a successful baker, sleeps during most of his synagogue's worship services. David, a janitor in the synagogue, urgently prays to God to help him feed his large family. While sleepy during the reading of the Torah, Jacob hears the words of Leviticus compel him to bake 12 loaves of bread and present them to God. Believing this to be the voice of God, Jacob complies, brings 12 loaves to the synagogue, and places them in the Holy Ark. Soon after, David in his desperation finds the bread and takes it home to his family. This pattern repeats itself for months until the Rabbi realizes what’s happening. The Rabbi calls in both men who have come to believe in miracles and explains to them that in this case, the miracle is the way in which God’s hands have become their hands. They are doing God’s work and it must continue.

Hanna’s Comments: This is a thought-provoking traditional Jewish tale that weaves together the struggles of two men and God’s call to all of us to be the working (and receiving) hands of God. There is a lot to consider here such as issues of trust, prayer, worship, discernment, devotion, and human relationships. According to a list in the back, this book, along with several others, is multicultural, nondenominational, and nonsectarian and is endorsed by Protestant, Catholic and Jewish religious leaders. 

There is another picture book based on this traditional Jewish tale that has a young boy at the center of the story. It is Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis and illustrated by Dusan Petricic.    

Publisher & Date of Publication: Jewish Lights, 2005

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: Traditional Tale, God Book

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: acceptance, action, anxiety/worry, Bible/scripture, blessings, bonds/connections, brokenness, call/calling/vocation, choices/decisions, commitment, dependence/interdependence, differences, disobedience/obedience, faith/faithfulness, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, found, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, God’s care/providence, God’s nature, God’s will, holiness, hope, humility, insecurity, labor/work, legends/myths, manna, miracles, mystery, outreach, parables/stories, place of worship/the Temple, pleasing God/the Shema, poverty, power, response to God, sacrifice, safe place/sanctuary, savior/saving, secrets, servant hood/service/serving, word of God

Scripture Connections: Trust in the Lord, do good…befriend faithfulness (Psalm 37:3-4); When you do it to the least of these, you do it to me (Matthew 25); Be doers of the word, not merely hearers (James 1:22)

Idea(s) for Application: This book offers an opportunity to discuss with adults the extent to which their eyes are open to the ordinary, everyday miracles we facilitate and encourage as we do faithful, God-ordained works.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 154

Terrific Trio: Book 3


Picture Book: God’s Dream

Authors: Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Douglas Carlton Abrams

Illustrator: LeUyen Pham

Summary: Along with his co-author, Archbishop Tutu’s offers young children his vision of God’s dream for all people. Sharing, caring, and reaching out to hold hands are a part of God’s dream for us, but so is saying sorry and forgiving when we hurt each other or are hurt by someone. The authors explain that we all carry within us a piece of God’s heart so that when we love each other, God’s heart becomes whole. God wishes everyone would see themselves as brothers and sisters across the globe even when they are different in their looks, languages, and ways of speaking to God.  How do you make God’s dream come true? By simply knowing we are all one family of God’s children.

Hanna’s Comments: This 3rd book in PBT’s Terrific Trio is a book for young children co-written by the man who is the focus of this and the previous 2 blog posts. This picture book offers Archbishop Tutu’s vision of young children living out and leading the way towards God’s dream for humanity, a dream of empathy, tenderness, respect, forgiveness, reconciliation, and joy.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Candlewick, 2008

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

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: God Book

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: affection, affirmation, aspirations/dreams, body of Christ, bonds/connections, caring/tending, community, differences, diversity, family, forgiveness/justifying grace/mercy/redemption, friends/friendship, God’s nature, God’s will, golden rule/great commandment, goodness, hope, humanity, image of God, joy, kindness, kingdom of God/reign of God, love, openness, pacifism/peace/peacemakers, pleasing God/the Shema, rainbows, relationships,  religious differences, respect, sharing, unity, variety, vision

Scripture Connections: Love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18 & Matthew 7:12); God’s plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11)

Idea(s) for Application: This would be a great book to use for young children who are learning about The Golden Rule.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 153

Terrific Trio: Book 2

Picture Book: Desmond and the Very Mean Word
Authors: Archbishop Desmond Tutu                                        & Douglas Carlton Abrams
Illustrator: A. G. Ford
Summary: This story from Bishop Desmond Tutu’s childhood is a very honest look at the obsessive desire for retribution when wronged and the struggle to forgive. While riding his new bike, Desmond is called a mean word by 3 white boys in pre-Apartheid South Africa. Desmond's response of shouting at them with mean words is not satisfying to him. Father Trevor Huddleston, mentioned as a mentor in yesterday’s biography about Bishop Tutu, councils Desmond to try to forgive the boys rather than contributing to an escalation of hatred. Father Trevor says, “When we hurt someone, it hurts us too.” Desmond struggles with how to forgive them when they are not sorry. After Desmond witnesses one of the boys being mistreated, he decides to try an apology and forgiveness. The white boy doesn’t apologize, but Desmond experiences a sense of relief and freedom from his anger and obsession. Note: the “mean word” is never revealed.
Hanna’s Comments: What I especially love about this story is the detailed way in which Desmond’s feelings are honestly explored over a period of days. The tender care and council that Father Trevor offers Desmond is mirrored in this text as the struggle and change in feelings on the part of both boys is explicit. This is rare in children’s books especially with boy protagonists. Also, there is not a “happily ever after” ending. The cultural limits of racism in South Africa are still very real for the two boys as this story ends. Tomorrow’s post of the 3rd book in this Terrific Trio, offers Archbishop Tutu's beliefs about God’s dream for us to be empathetic, forgiving, and joyful human beings.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Candlewick, 2012
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
# of Pages: 32
Available in Spanish? Not at present
Formats other than Book: Tablet
PBT Category: Non fiction
PBT Topics this Book Connects with: acceptance, action, Africa, anger, brokenness, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, call/calling/vocation, challenges, choices/decisions, conflict, cruelty, differences, difficulties, discord, emotions/feelings, encouragement, enemies, forgiveness/justifying grace/mercy/redemption, freedom, golden rule/great commandment, hatred, joy, judgment/judges/judging, pacifism/peace/peacemakers, perspective, power, race relations/racism, relationships, resisting evil, self-control, temptations, victims, wisdom
Scripture Connections: Peter asks how often he should forgive (Matthew 18:21-22); Be kind, tenderhearted, & forgiving of one another (Ephesians 4:32)
Idea(s) for Application: Forgiveness is an important subject for children to honestly explore in the safety of their faith communities. This book would be a valuable addition to any lesson relating to forgiveness. Consider explaining the remarkable Truth and Reconciliation Commission on which Bishop Tutu was a member.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 152

Terrific Trio: Book 1


Picture Book: Desmond Tutu: Bishop of Peace
Author: Carol Greene
Summary: This children’s biography of Desmond Tutu begins in 1984 when Bishop Tutu received The Nobel Peace Prize. The story moves backwards to his birth in 1931 South Africa, through his struggles with the changes brought on by Apartheid, and then to his achievements as a teacher and minister. As Tutu’s reputation as a peace activist and author grew, the tensions and violence in South Africa increased. Highlighted is his relationship with his minister, friend, and mentor Trevor Huddleston, a white Anglican priest. His international profile became heightened when he served as the Secretary General of the South African Council of Churches and began asking the United States and European countries to stop trading with South Africa in response to Apartheid. Tutu’s negotiations with the South African government to avoid violent clashes and many deaths are mentioned as well as an incident in which he used his own body to protect a white police officer from an angry mob.
Hanna’s Comments: This book begins a terrific trio of books. The first two are about Bishop Tutu; the third he authored. Although this is a picture book, it has significantly more text than typical picture books. Rather than reading this book aloud, you may want to tell Bishop Tutu's, adjusting the level of detail depending on the age of your audience. I encourage you to research more recent events in Bishop Tutu’s work, especially since the end of Apartheid and the beginning of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The internet will have video and articles about him. I found one other children’s biography of Desmond Tutu that is more recently published, but it is significantly longer and for older children. It is Desmond Tutu by Samuel Willard Crompton and part of The Modern Peacemakers series of books. 
Publisher & Date of Publication: Children’s Press, 1986
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 8 and up, 3rd and up
# of Pages: 32
Available in Spanish? Not at present
Formats other than Book: None at present, You can easily find info. on Bishop Tutu on the internet or in libraries, including a 2014 feature film, “Children of the Light.”   
PBT Category: Biography
PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abuse/abuse of power, acceptance, action, Africa, anger, brokenness, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, call/calling/vocation, challenges, change, choices/decisions, civil rights, commitment, conflict, cruelty, differences, difficulties, discord, encouragement, enemies, exclusion/inclusion, forgiveness/justifying grace/mercy/redemption, golden rule/great commandment, hatred, heroes, injustice, intercession, intolerance, justice, leadership/servant leadership, non-violence/peaceful resistance, pacifism/peace/peacemakers, power, race relations/racism, resisting evil, segregation, servant hood/service/serving, social justice, victims, violence
Scripture Connections: What does the Lord require of you but to do justice... (Micah 6:8); Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9)
Idea(s) for Application: Children need to hear about present day heroes who live out scriptural truths and make the world a better place. Bishop Tutu is a perfect example and subject for a children’s lesson in any faith community that values the work of justice and peace.