Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 315

Dynamic Duo: Book 2
Picture Book: Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Author: Katherine Applegate

Illustrator: G. Brian Karas

Summary: The first 7 pages of this picture book are about Ivan’s idyllic life with his gorilla family in Central Africa. Then a poacher takes Ivan and another baby gorilla and transports them inside a small crate to Tacoma, Washington where an owner of a shopping mall had placed an order for them “like a couple of pizzas.” They were named Burma and Ivan after a Name the Baby Gorillas Contest. Sadly, soon after their arrival Burma died, and Ivan was alone. For his first three years in America, Ivan lived in a human home and was cuddled and played with by humans.  Eventually he was placed in a cage in the mall where he grew into a silverback gorilla. He had a TV and a few toys, but mostly he watched the people through a window. Shoppers began to react negatively to Ivan’s lonely life, but it wasn’t until he had lived in his cage for 27 years that he was gently moved to Zoo Atlanta where scientists helped him adapt to a more jungle-like lifestyle. There are a few photographs of the gorillas in the back of the book along with some more facts and even a painting by Ivan.  

Hanna’s Comments: This second PBT Dynamic Duo offering about rescued animals is quite different than those offered yesterday. Because this story is beautifully animated and reads less like a documentary and more like a children’s story, the realities of Ivan’s life are not as harsh as my summary might suggest. Do consider the sensitivities of your young audiences though when choosing non-fiction stories or videos about animals that are mistreated. I could have featured many more picture books like these some of which involve cross-species relationships that fascinate scientists. Here are a few others:
Terra & Bella: The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends
Suryia & Rosco: The True Story of an Unlikely Friendship
Kate & Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story
Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Captivated the World

Publisher & Date of Publication: Clarion Books, 2014

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

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, The back of this book explains that you can access a slideshow about Ivan at

PBT Category: Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abuse/abuse of power, adaptation/assimilation, Africa, America, animals, brokenness, cruelty, the environment/nature, exile/separation, fear, greed/selfishness, growing up/growth, loneliness, neglect, new home/relocation, pets, poaching/stealing/theft, rescue, respect, victims

Scripture Connections: Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6); love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4); let all you do be done in love (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Idea(s) for Application: Use any of these picture books about animals when talking about God’s creative design of various species and how humans have been encouraged to be their caretakers. OR Use these books to speak about the various ways love can be demonstrated, even across species. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 314

Dynamic Duo: Book 1
Picture Book: Owen & Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship

Author: Isabella Hatkoff, Craig Hatkoff, and Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Photographer: Peter Greste

Summary: A 130 year old giant tortoise, Mzee, and a baby hippo, Owen, develop an amazing father-son relationship after the hippo is orphaned during the December 2004 tsunami. The book begins by explaining how Owen is rescued through the efforts of many Kenyan men and taken to an animal sanctuary, Haller Park. There he is placed in the same area as Mzee, who is known for keeping to himself. Afraid and exhausted, Owen immediately scrambles near Mzee, seeming to hide behind Mzee like typical hippos do with their mothers for protection. At first Mzee is resistant, but Owen is determined and faster. Within a day, Mzee seems to accept his new relationship and Owen is snuggled up beside him. Wildlife experts had never heard of a reptile-mammal bond such as this. Eventually the two are inseparable, and this bond seems to help Owen heal and flourish. Despite the possibility of both animals to injure the other, their interactions are gentle and affectionate. Photographs of the pair’s developing relationship spread around the world, and they became quite famous.

Hanna’s Comments: Several other children’s books about this story have been published about Owen and Mzee, some are by the same author and photographer. One is a sequel to this book that goes into more detail about how they seem to communicate. Its title is Owen & Mzee: The Language of Friendship. These 2 books have an abundance of information in the back including a link to a free discussion guide. The other 2 are board books for young children with some of the same photographs. Those titles are Owen & Mzee: A Day Together and Owen & Mzee: Best Friends. There are other books about this pair of animals by other authors. The ones featured here have photographs of the animals. A group of these and other authors have more recently published Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own. Another favorite for young children with drawings rather than photos is A Mama for Owen. Tomorrow I will complete this PBT Dynamic Duo about rescued animals with a more recent story about a gorilla.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Scholastic, 2006

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

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Yes

Formats other than Book: This book states that a documentary and several television programs about this pair are available. There are several videos on as well.

PBT Category: Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with:  affection, Africa, animals, bonds/connections, brokenness, caring/tending, comfort, companionship, dependence/interdependence, disaster, the environment/nature, fear, friends/friendship, gentleness/meekness, healing/healthcare, home, language/literacy/reading, love, mentors/teachers, new home/relocation, nurturing, pets, poaching/stealing/theft, rescue, respect, safety, safe place/sanctuary, security, shyness, transformation, trust/trustworthiness

Scripture Connections: Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6); I will not leave you orphaned... (John 14:23)

Idea(s) for Application: Use these books in lessons about loving communication with those who are different or the concepts of “peaceable kingdom” in Isaiah or “sanctuary.”

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 313

Picture Book: What a Family! A Fresh Look at Family Trees

Author & Illustrator: Rachel Isadora

Summary: Ollie navigates his family tree with Grandpa Max’s help. This book offers a unique way to help children understand a family tree and how various attributes are inherited. It represents one particular family and demonstrates how features such as freckles, hair texture, and skin color are passed on through generations and shown across generations. It also explains the difference between a first cousin and a first cousin once removed. To help with understanding Ollie’s family composition, the end papers offer the diagram of his family tree.

Hanna’s Comments: This book can serve as a fun entrance into conversations on the concept of genetic inheritance and blessing. The concept of “inheritance” doesn’t have to be limited to genetics. Consider talking about these words in ways that are connected to our Holy Scriptures. We have parables and stories that mention these concepts, and we have a rich inheritance from our biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. Even those who are unnamed in the scriptures have passed on a tradition of precepts, stories, and wisdom that benefit and orient us thousands of years later. Don’t forget to talk about the most valuable aspects of our inheritance: faith, hope, and the greatest of these… love. These are all a part of our inheritance/blessing. Then consider what the younger members of your family of faith are now gaining from your older generations. Perhaps there are observable attributes or passions that are shared. Certainly there will be beliefs and religious practices. All of these are a part of your community’s rich inheritance.

Publisher & Date of Publication: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2006

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Non-fiction, Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, ancestors/patriarchs/matriarchs, babies/children, belonging, blessings, bonds/connections, dependence/interdependence, differences, family, grandparents, heritage, identity/names, individuality/uniqueness, legacies, relationships, variety

Scripture Connections: Parables and stories that mention "blessing" or “inheritance” such as Jacob’s stealing Esau’s blessing (Genesis 26:34 - 27:38) and the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this story to your children in a homeschool or private school lesson when studying the science of inheritance/genetics. Expand this lesson to consider your children’s religious inheritance and blessings as described in my comments above.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 312

Picture Book: Mandy

Author: Barbara D. Booth

Illustrator: Jim Lamarche

Summary: This story is from the point of view of Mandy who is visiting her grandmother. Mandy’s deafness becomes apparent as she reflects on what the world must be like for those who can hear. After enjoying a dance, the cookies, and a family photo album, Mandy and her grandmother go for a walk through a nearby woods and into a grassy field. Suddenly, Mandy’s grandmother realizes that her treasured pin, a piece of jewelry from Mandy’s late grandfather, has fallen off. They search desperately, but the pin isn’t found. At dark, they return home. Mandy, aware of her grandmother’s crying, wants to help so she considers how the silver of the pin might reflect the light of a flashlight in the dark. Mandy hates darkness; it limits her senses even more, but for her Grandmother to be reunited to this family treasure, Mandy is willing to search in the darkness. She grabs a flashlight and leaves. As a storm brews, Mandy carefully retraces their route. Lightning flashes, but Mandy continues her search. Eventually, she trips and falls. Lying on the grass, she sees the pin, picks it up, gets up, and runs to her grandmother who is coming out to look for her. Mandy presents the pin to her grandmother, and they hug affectionately. All is well.

Hanna’s Comments: Recently I lost a precious piece of jewelry that was miraculously found. Perhaps that’s why I was so moved by this story. As I read, I thought of connections to scriptures like the parable of the lost coin. I also thought of scriptural allusions to darkness and having the courage to bring in the light. Children will respond to Mandy’s heroic story. Emphasize her connections to the lost pin and the pain she feels in seeing her grandmother suffer. Talk about empathy versus sympathy and how sometimes we are lucky enough to alleviate someone’s suffering through our own courage and skill. It is a myth that those who can’t hear have improved vision. What they actually have is better visual focus and less distraction from sound. Use this book to talk about listening with your eyes as Mandy does when she imagines her grandmother’s favored music, love for her grandfather, and then her grandmother’s heartbreak.  

Publisher & Date of Publication: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1991

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 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: abilities, action, affection, artifacts, attentiveness/observation/seeing, bonds/connections, bravery/courage, brokenness, communication, darkness/evening/night, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, family, fear, found, grandparents, helping, heritage, heroes, intercession, journeys/migrations/pilgrimages/quests, light/morning, noise/sounds/voice, possessions, power, quiet/silence, risking, searching, storms

Scripture Connections: Fear not, for I am with you… I will help you (Isaiah 41:10); the lost parables (Luke 15); the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children when learning about the parable of the lost coin or sheep. Be sure to relate this to its metaphorical meanings of God’s desire to be in relationship with us and for us to bring light into the darkness of the world, particularly to help the lost be lovingly found.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 311

Picture Book: Cat and Bunny

Author & Illustrator: Mary Lundquist

Summary: Born on the same day, Cat & Bunny have always been together, just the two of them. They have even made up a game together: The Made-Up Game. When another character, Quail, wants to play too, Bunny is welcoming, but Cat is not. Others join the game. As Bunny’s attention is on the new friends, Cat wanders away, sad and hoping Bunny will come to find her. Instead a kitten approaches and wants to play. Cat begins playing a new Made-Up Game with the kitten. Then Giraffe asks to play. Cat, no longer pouting, says, “Of course.” Then the earlier group of children ask to join the new Made-Up Game. Cat welcomes them all, especially her friend Bunny.

Hanna’s Comments: It’s not clear here if Cat & Bunny are twins, neighbors, best friends, or all of the above. Also, what’s with the costumes?! Are these human children who each have a different animal costume or is this an original world this talented first time picture book author has created? It’s a mystery that I especially like. This will not be a problem for young children who are used to dealing with unknowns. You don’t need to answer all of their questions. Here you have the theme of sharing attention which is a big issue for many young children. Also, one of my favorite spiritual disciplines is offered here in simple terms: hospitality. This book encourages little ones to consider that being open to new friendships and shared fun doesn’t have to be threatening. In fact, community sharing can even enrich your experiences. I also like that Cat’s strategy of wandering away and pouting doesn’t get her the attention she so desires. That’s the psychologist in me. At first Cat doesn’t get her way, but what she does get is a new set of friends that don’t deplete her rich relationship with Bunny, and she discovers the delights of shared joy in community.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Balzer & Bray, 2015

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 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: abundance/bounty, acceptance, adaptation/assimilation, belonging, change, choices/decisions, community, companionship, depression/despair/sadness/sorrow, exclusion/inclusion, friends/friendship, hiding/isolation, hospitality, integration, loneliness, openness, outsiders, perspective, play, segregation, sharing, shyness, unity

Scripture Connections: They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share (1 Timothy 6:18); do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2); do not neglect to do good and to share what you have (Hebrews 13:6); above all, keep loving one another earnestly … show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:8-9)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to young children when wanting to encourage the sharing of attention, toys, games, and/or relationships. This book would also be an excellent tool for beginning to teach the concept of empathy.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 310

Picture Book: A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat

Author: Emily Jenkins

Illustrator: Sophie Blackall

Summary: Across four family stories and centuries (1710, 1810, 1910, 2010), this book explains how one recipe (Blackberry Fool) and the methods and tools for making it have evolved over time. In the back pages, you’ll find a Note from the Author and a Note from the Illustrator. Both explain their preparatory research for the book. The author also explains how she subtly included issues of craftsmanship, hardship, slavery, and gender roles leading to the last story which is of a hopeful, diverse, and inclusive community.

Hanna’s Comments: There’s a great deal to talk about in this book!  One of the advantages of using rich secular picture books in ministry is to bring in valuable historical and cultural information and then encourage connections to faith concepts. These connections encourage deeper, more meaningful learning. Before reading, be sure to ask your listeners to notice how things change from story to story and what stays the same. For younger audiences have them focus on three changing aspects: 1. How did receiving ingredients change? 2. How did the tools change? and 3. How did the racial/gender roles change? After this conversation, use these stories to connect many of the elements in the making of Blueberry Fool to elements of worship. These too have changed. You may have to do a little research on the history of worship in your faith community or denomination. You could talk about music, behavior, dress, schedules, sermons, locations, and racial/gender roles. At the heart of your lesson, like the author does with her story, there are aspects of worship that continue relatively unchanged, such as a focus on God, prayer, praise, teaching, and loving community. Emphasize these, and talk about how meaningful worship can be just as yummy as Blueberry Fool! If you are able, I strongly suggest enjoying some of the dessert. Having the children help you make it is even better.

Since the initial writing of this blog post, this book has become controversial so I want to make you aware of this and give you the link to a New York Times article which explains the controversy. Judge for yourself.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Schwartz & Wade Books, 2015

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

# of Pages: 44

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: Fresh off the Press, Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abundance/bounty, America, ancestors/patriarchs & matriarchs, babies/children, blessings, bonds/connections, change, consumerism/consumption/riches, family, fathers, feasting/food/hunger/nutrition, fruit/fruit of the Spirit, goodness, gratitude/thanksgiving, helping, heritage, home, joy, labor/work, mothers, parents/parental love, partners/teamwork, slavery/slaves, transformation, worship

Scripture Connections: Oh come let us worship (Psalm 95:6); sing praises to the Lord for the Lord had done gloriously (Isaiah 12:5)

Idea(s) for Application: As explained in my comments above, use this book as a metaphor for how worship has evolved, but like when making this dessert, at that heart of all worship are loving relationships.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 309

Picture Book: Doctor White

Author: Jane Goodall

Illustrator: Julie Litty

Summary: At the beginning of this story, it seems Dr. White is a typical doctor, arriving late for work at a hospital. Quickly you realize that he is instead a small white dog who has an uncanny bedside manner, particularly for the sickest children. He lies beside them; then they usually get better. When the health inspector comes and bans Doctor White from the hospital, Doctor White stays outside near the door, hoping for entrance. Then the health inspector’s own daughter becomes very ill and is admitted to the hospital. In desperation, he allows Doctor White to come in and be present with his daughter. Sure enough, she recovers, and Doctor White is allowed to continue his valuable practice.   

Hanna’s Comments: This story is based on an actual London hospital that adopted a dog who had an unusual manner with the sickest children. Pet therapy is a documented reality. The kind of unconditional love and hope that is inspired by dogs and cats can be a healing influence. It’s important to note that world-renowned scientist, Jane Goodall, is the author of this story which gives it more credibility. Healing should not be a taboo topic for children's ministry. Yes, it's mysterious. You won't be able to explain it, but children deal with the unknown all the time. They are more comfortable with mystery than most adults. When we proclaim God and God's work as mysterious and beyond our understanding, then we are in a sense humbly praising God. Declaring ourselves to be less than God which is a good thing.

2021 Update: I recently read a beautiful novel about pet therapy. It's about an very ordinary female chaplain and the "presence" (when alive and after death) of a dog who companions her during her rounds. If you want to be enriched by a mysterious short novel, I recommend One Night Two Souls Go Walking by Ellen Cooney. 

Publisher & Date of Publication: Minedition, 2014

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

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: Non-fiction, Fresh off the Press

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: affection, animals, belonging, bonds/connections, brokenness, call/calling/vocation, caring/tending, companionship, dependence/interdependence, dying, encouragement, Europe, exclusion/inclusion, exile/separation/walls, healing/healthcare, helping, miracles, mystery, pets, poverty, power, presence, renewal/restoration

Scripture Connections: The healing stories of Jesus, especially the story of the healing of Jairus' daughter (Matthew 9:18-26)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book when talking with children about healing, particularly the mysteries of healing and the effects loving presence can have on someone’s recuperation. If you are connecting this to Jesus’ stories of healing, be sure to delineate the power you attribute to Jesus or God versus the power this little dog seems to have in the story. The dog has been gifted by his loving creator to be an instrument of healing for these children. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 308

Picture Book: Saving Strawberry Farm

Author: Deborah Hopkinson

Illustrator: Rachel Isadora

Summary: Is one penny enough to save a farm? During America's Great Depression of the 1930s, young Davey’s home life has changed greatly. His dad, like so many others, has lost his job. Mom tries to cheer them up with a 4th of July picnic so she sends her children to the store for supplies. Davey helps Miss Elsie, owner of a nearby strawberry farm, with her groceries, and she gives him a penny. Then she explains that she will be losing her farm because the bank will be auctioning it off that night. Inside, the store owner explains the concept of a penny auction to the children, where bids are kept low to allow the owner to again purchase the property. Davey decides to use his penny to inspire a penny auction so he tells his neighbors on the way home. At the auction, Davey bravely starts the bidding with a bid of one penny. Low bids follow until Miss Elsie bids $9.50. The bidding stops. A hat is passed to help Miss Elsie purchase her farm again, and she invites them all to come pick free strawberries next summer. Davey saves his penny for another day and hopes to work for Miss Elsie next summer.

Hanna’s Comments: Children need to hear stories of other children making positive differences in the world. They long to know that their lives have meaning but don’t want to wait until they are adults to realize their power and influence. The Holy Scriptures encourage us to use our power to bring about positive changes in our community and broader society. This book can encourage a conversation with your children about what they might do to positively affect their families, neighborhoods, faith communities, schools, and even broader contexts.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Greenwillow Books, 2005

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 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: action, America, babies/children, body of Christ, community, cooperation, dependence/interdependence, friends/friendship, goodness, helping, home, money, neighbors, poverty, power, problems/problem solving, relationships, unity

Scripture Connections: And a little child will lead them (Isaiah 1:6); What does the Lord require of you? Do justice, love mercy... (Micah 6:8); the story of the widow’s mite (Mark 12:41-44); the boy who shared his loaves and fishes (John 6:1-15); for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book when teaching a lesson on the power and positive influence children can have in their communities and among their friends and family. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 307

Picture Book: Wall

Author & Illustrator: Tom Clohosy Cole

Summary: This is a dark but beautiful story about the Berlin Wall. When the wall goes up, the narrator’s father is in West Berlin and therefore separated from his family. The mother consoles her son by telling him that his father’s life is likely better than theirs. The boy witnesses others’ attempts to cross over. Some are clever, lucky, and successful. Others who try to cross are caught and shot. The boy is determined to risk it so he begins digging a tunnel near the wall in a field. On the night when they try to cross over, they are confronted by a guard who becomes sympathetic after seeing the father’s photo. He allows them to continue. They arrive in West Berlin and find the father just as he is about to enter a tunnel he has been digging to reach them.

Hanna’s Comments: This book was written in response to the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and is based on true stories of successful crossings. You may want to gather some historical information on the wall to give this book more context before reading it. There are not many words here so make sure your audience can easily see the compelling illustrations. You may have to explain them, and more than one copy of the book may be required. When discussing the book, focus on the love between the father and his family. Emphasize that no circumstances, would have been able to diminish the love that this family had for one another. Talk about how they were willing and compelled to work hard and risk everything to be together again.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Templar Books, 2014

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: Fresh off the Press, Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abuse/abuse of power, action, belonging, bonds/connections, bravery/courage, brokenness, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, choices/decisions, commitment, danger, difficulties, Europe, evil, exclusion/inclusion, exile/separation/walls, family, fathers, fear, freedom, journeys/migrations/pilgrimages/quests, labor/work, land/mountains/soil, love, obstacles, perseverance, risking

Scripture Connections: Nothing can separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children, youth, or adults when talking about love, the kind of love that we have in our families which is inspired by God’s love for us. Despite difficult circumstances and long separations, love often strengthens and makes us even more determined to be together.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 306

Picture Book: Flossie and the Fox

Author: Patricia McKissack

Illustrator: Rachel Isadora

Summary: In rich dialect, McKissack offers a folktale from her story-telling grandfather. When Big Mama asks young Flossie to deliver some eggs to the neighboring farm, Flossie sets off toward the neighbor’s house with a basket of eggs. Flossie wonders what a fox looks like. When Fox approaches interested in the eggs, Flossie insists she'll not be afraid until Fox offers proof that he is indeed a fox. Fox's pride is hurt so he lists all the reasons he is a fox. For each argument, Flossie insists that Fox is instead another animal. Eventually, Flossie lures the fox to the road where a neighbor's hound is waiting. As Fox runs from the hound, Flossie confesses that she recognized Fox all along. Flossie heads toward the neighbors farm with the eggs, having outfoxed the fox.

Hanna’s Comments: I love a tale with a smart female at the center! Her youth is an additional benefit. Even young children will identify with her. Consider steering your audience’s conversation towards issues of bravery and intelligence in the face of evil. Take Fox's point of view and talk about how temptation and pride lure us into trouble. Flossie handles her fears cunningly, but the fox’s greed and pride tempt him to wander into a dangerous situation. 

Publisher & Date of Publication: Dial Books, 1986

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Audio download, An amateur video is on

PBT Category: Pre 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: arguing, bravery/courage, challenges, communication, confidence, danger, enemies, evil, fear, identity/names, journeys/migrations/pilgrimages/quests, pride, survival, suspicion, wisdom

Scripture Connections: Eve’s conversation with the snake (Genesis 3); be strong and courageous… for the Lord is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)

Idea(s) for Application: Consider using this picture book when teaching the story of Eve’s temptation by the snake in Genesis. Draw connections between the fox’s pride and Eve’s pride. Praise Flossie’s self-determination and cleverness. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 305

Picture Book: I Love You Nose! I Love You Toes!

Author & Illustrator: Linda Davick

Summary: This fun rhyming book celebrates the body parts that most interest young children, from the tops of heads to the tips of toes and such things as freckles, dimples, and ribs in between. Even parts that are often not mentioned are here. “I love the parts my friends don’t see; the parts that poop, the parts that pee.” This book ends with a warning to look before leaping and a good night to body parts.

Hanna’s Comments: This would be a delightful book for exploring what amazing creatures God has made us to be! Be sure to encourage identification and movement of the body parts as you read. If it’s not bedtime and you want to skip those 2 sections, I suggest using Post-it Notes or paper clips to mark the pages. The rhyme won’t be affected, and the children will never know.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Beach Lane Books, 2013

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler 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: abilities, action, affirmation, awe, beauty, body of Christ, dance/dancing, gratitude/thanksgiving, humanity, joy, life, play, power, safety, self-control, variety

Scripture Connections: Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? (1 Corinthians 6:19); Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (1 Corinthians 12:27); the whole body, joined and held together… when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:16)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this picture book when celebrating with a group of young children the wonderful gift God has given us in the perfect design of our bodies.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 304

Picture Book: Mr. George Baker

Author: Amy Hest

Illustrator: Jon J. Muth

Summary: From the point of view of a young child who is learning to read, this beautiful story draws connections between the young narrator and his 100 year old neighbor. Both characters greet the day with rituals on George’s porch as they wait for the school bus to take them to school, where both of them are learning to read and agree, “reading is hard”. The narrator is especially proud that Mr. George Baker always sits with him on the bus. Mr. George Baker is a famous drummer whose fingers still go tappidy on this knees, but he never learned to read before now. “That must be corrected,” says George. This intergenerational relationship is both compelling and heartwarming.

Hanna’s Comments: It is always beneficial for children to hear that learning is a life-long pursuit. This books offers the added benefit of having a character who has regrets about his lack of education and is motivated to overcome his learning deficits, despite his age. Perseverance despite many years and a difficult task, seems to be a theme here. No doubt George is an inspiration to the young narrator. The morning rituals encourage and even stronger relationship. As I read this book, I thought of Abraham and Sarah in the Hebrew Scriptures who were open to new learning and God’s desires for them. Despite their age, God had plans for Abraham and Sarah, as I suspect God would have for any one like Mr. George Baker who never gives up on their inclination to learn and grow intellectually and spiritually, even when it’s hard.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Candlewick Press, 2004

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: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: abilities, affection, aging, ancestors/patriarchs/matriarchs, aspirations/dreams, bonds/connections, change, commitment, community, differences, difficulties, education/learning/school, encouragement, friends/friendship, gentleness/meekness, gifts/talents, goodness, grace, hope, kindness, neighbors, perseverance, race relations/racism, relationships, transformation, unity

Scripture Connections: The story of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 12-23)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this picture book to a group of children who are learning about the perseverance, even at their old ages, of Abraham and Sarah. OR 
Read this story when talking to children about the importance of building relationships and finding connections across generations in their families and their community of faith.

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 303

Picture Book: Words Are Not for Hurting

Author: Elizabeth Verdick

Illustrator: Marieka Heinlen

Summary: These picture books gently and simply explain how words can be both helpful and harmful. They also explore the importance of apologizing when words have been used in a unkind manner. In each situation described here, the children are encouraged to be less impulsive, less selfish, and more responsible for their words and actions. Thinking before speaking is emphasized and feelings of all parties are explored.

Hanna’s Comments: Pictured above are 2 versions of this book. The one on the left is a simpler board book with Spanish alongside English. The book on the right has no Spanish translation and is for older children. Also, you may find it has a different cover than the one shown. There are other books from this publisher with similar messages and formats: Hands are Not for Hitting, Feet are Not for Kicking, Teeth are Not for Biting.

Publisher & Date of Publication: Free Spirit Publishing, 2004

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up (book on left), 4 and up (book on right)

# of Pages: 24 (board book), 40 (other book)

Available in Spanish? The board book has a parallel Spanish translation.

Formats other than Book: Tablet (both books), videos are on

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book Connects with: action, affirmation, anger, arguing, choices/decision, communication, confession, conflict, discord, disputes/fighting/opposition, emotions/feelings, encouragement, golden rule, goodness, kindness, language/literacy/reading, mistakes, regret/repentance, self-control, sin

Scripture Connections: Let the words of my mouth… be acceptable to You, God (Psalm 19:14); gracious words are like honeycomb (Proverbs 16:24); let no corrupting talk come from your mouth, but only talk that is good for building up (Ephesians 4:29).

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children in your home, classroom, or faith community when hurtful words are becoming a problem. Tie the concepts here to the commandment to treat others as we want to be treated, building empathy and kindness in even young children.