Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 346

Picture Book: You Call That Brave?

Author: Lorenz Pauli

Illustrator: Kathrin Scharer

Summary: With nothing to do, a mouse, a frog, a snail, and a sparrow decide to have a courage competition. The title question is what is heard when each animal announces their daring feat. First they are judgmental, but then they begin to understand. Because of their differences, what is easily done by one is brave for another. As each animal is brave and successful, the others are affirming. The sparrow’s choice is more subtle. Her bravery is in facing peer pressure, the expectation that she too should engage in a courageous task. She simply refuses to do anything. It takes a moment, but the other animals catch on and affirm her even in her non-compliance.

Hanna’s Comments: My summary doesn’t do this book justice. It is clever, the illustrations are marvelous (You will definitely laugh!), and kids will love it, adults too! There are many things to talk about here: refraining from impulsive judgement, trying loving empathy instead, being creative in your thinking, not succumbing to peer pressure, and especially being affirming when others are brave.

Original American Publisher & Date of Publication: North-south Books, 2014

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present, Originally in German titled Mutig, Mutig

Formats other than Book: None at present 

PBT Category: Fresh off the Press

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abilities, affirmation, authenticity, bravery/courage, challenges, competition, conformity, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, differences, difficulties, diversity, encouragement, fear, friends/friendship, judgement/judges/judging, participation, peer pressure, risking, variety 

Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified (Joshua 1:9); judge not, and you will not be judged (Luke 6:37); do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment (John 7:24)  

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or youth when talking about refraining from judging others and instead being empathic while affirming others’ efforts.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 345

Picture Book: Those Shoes

Author: Maribeth Boelts

Illustrator: Nah Z. Jones 

Summary: Jeremy longs for “those shoes”, the ones featured on the big billboard, the ones many other boys are wearing. He especially yearns for them when one of his shoes falls apart at school and he is given a pair of kiddie shoes from the guidance counselor’s box. His classmates laugh at him, but not Antonio. When Jeremy and his grandmother go shoe shopping, they discover the price is too steep. They search at local thrift shops and find a pair. They are tight, but Jeremy is thrilled anyway and takes them home, hoping they will stretch. They don’t stretch, and he gets sores on his feet. He has to resort to wearing the kiddie shoes again. Meanwhile, Jeremy and Antonio become friends. Jeremy notices that Antonio has duct tape holding his shoes together. When Antonio visits Jeremy’s house, he sees “those shoes” and asks Jeremy why he doesn’t wear them. Jeremy shrugs. The next morning Jeremy tries on the too tight shoes one more time and then secretly leaves them on Antonio’s stoop. At school, Jeremy has mixed feelings when Antonio shows up with those shoes on until Antonio quietly thanks Jeremy.   

Hanna’s Comments: This story gets to the heart of issues that many children and teens struggle with, consumerism, brand consciousness, and desiring what peers have. Usually, the crux of these matters are coveting, idolatry, and gluttony, all very human and very common problems that are addressed directly in scripture. I believe it’s good to talk with children directly about these issues, but be honest, not preachy. Confess that these issues don’t go away in childhood. In fact, they often get bigger, more expensive, and more damaging. Share honestly with the children in your faith family about how you personally struggle with status items, coveting, or consumerism. Then talk about confession and repentance. Give them hope for an abundant life that doesn’t involve jealousy, obsession, or being manipulated by marketing.  

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Candlewick Press, 2007

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

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Video

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book connects with: acceptance, adaptations/assimilation, choices/decisions, clothes/shoes, conformity, consumerism/consumption/riches, coveting/envy/jealousy, friends/friendship, generosity/giving/offering/stewardship, God’s will, grandparents, gratitude/thanksgiving, humility, idolatry, possessions, poverty, pride, sin, wisdom  

Scripture Connections: You shall not covet anything that is your neighbor’s (Exodus 20:17); you ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly to spend it on your passions (James 4:3); little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:21)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are learning about the struggles of coveting, idolatry, and consumerism.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 344

Picture Book: When God was a Little Girl

Author: David Weiss

Illustrator: Joan Hernadez Lindeman

Summary: A father and young daughter are on a long car trip. She wants a story about, “When God was a little girl.” Thus begins a father’s imaginative retelling of the creation stories from Genesis. The personified God here likes to do art projects, giggles a lot, loves to sing colors into being, and invites the humans she creates to be echoes of the divine while they create and sing the names of all of the earth’s creatures.

Hanna’s Comments: I was delighted to see this title on the storypath blog. You’ll find a link to that blog on my blog list here. My library didn’t have this book so I ordered it immediately. I was not disappointed! I love the artsy emphasis with both the music and the craft angles that children will enjoy. I especially appreciate how the young female images of God change in race and age. This is a wonderful book for expanding the image of God in a way that is non-threatening and delightful. Use it to consider other possibilities for expanding God’s image and encourage your audience to consider what these images have in common and what attributes for God are out of bounds for your group. Resources to supplement this book are at www.WhenGodWasaLittleGirl.com. At the back, the author and illustrator offer some details about their inspirations for this picture book.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Beaver’s Pond Press, 2013

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: God Book, Award Winner, Post 2K 

PBT Topics this Book connects with:  abundance/bounty, animals, art, awe, babies/children, beauty, beginnings/morning, Bible/scripture, choir/music/singing/songs, creation, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, discovery/invention, diversity, Earth/world, the environment/nature, fathers, God’s nature, humanity, identity/names, image of God, moon/space/stars/sun, parables/stories, play, stories, travel

Scripture Connections: The Creation Stories (Genesis 1 & 2)

Idea(s) for Application: Use this book to discuss and expand images of God in the Genesis creation stories and beyond. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 343

Picture Book: Let the Whole Earth Sing Praise

Author & Illustrator: Tomie de Paola

Summary: Here is the text of this beautiful book:
Sun and Moon, Stars and Comets in the Heavens.
Praise God.
Light and Darkness, Day and Night, 
Showers and Frost, Ice and snow.
Bless God.
Fire, Heat, Lightning and Clouds, 
Mountains, Hills, Seas, Rivers, and Fountains,
Praise God.
Fruitful Trees, Cedars, and all that Sprout upon the Earth,
Whales, Fish, and all Creatures that Move in the Waters,
Bless God.
Birds, Everything that Flies in the Air,
Dogs, Cats, All Animals and Creeping Things on Earth,
Praise God.
All People, Young and Old, Let Everything in Heaven and on Earth
Bless and Praise God.

Hanna’s Comments: In the Authors Note, Tomie de Paola explains that this book was inspired by two pieces of Old Testament scripture: The Canticle of the Three Young Men from the Book of Daniel and Psalm 148. He has purposefully made it like a children’s song. The illustrations are inspired by folk art designs of the Otomi people of Puebla, Mexico.  

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: Tablet

PBT Category: God Book, Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abundance/bounty, adoration, animals, awe, Bible/scripture, blessings, creation, diversity, the environment/nature, heaven/sky, humanity, moon/space/stars/sun, pleasing God/the Shema, prayer, response to God, unity, variety, weather, worship

Scripture Connections: Praise the Lord…Praise him, sun and moon… (Psalm 148); let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name (Hebrews 13:15)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children when teaching them about worship and praise to God.  

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 342

Picture Book: The Whispering Town

Author: Jennifer Elvgren 

Illustrator: Fabio Santomauro

Summary: In their basement, Anett and her parents are hiding two Jews from the Nazis in 1943 Denmark. When Anett brings their breakfast down, she relies on their whispers in the dark to guide and comfort her. As she desires items for them from the town’s merchants, she whispers, “We have new friends. Then the merchants give a few items. Each time Anett ventures outside, she sees Nazi soldiers looking for hidden Jews. The Nazis threaten to arrest anyone who is hiding Jews. Because the Nazi presence is increasing, the Jews must leave at night with no local escort to the harbor where a boat will be waiting for their escape. How will they find their way? Anett remembers how the whispers guide her to the basement and suggests that the townspeople, along the desired route, stand at their doorways and use whispered voices to guide the Jews to the harbor. This plan works. “This way,” is repeatedly whispered and guides the Jews as they walk to the harbor.

Hanna’s Comments: The Author’s Note in the back of the book gives the historical context of this story and explains that it is based on true events in the small fishing village of Gilleleje, Denmark. I have considered featuring a book on Anne Frank this month because it is the 70th anniversary of her death. However, I couldn’t find a picture book that balanced her heartbreaking story with her own statements of hope and faith in people. I encourage you to continue to look for that kind of book in your local library or simply tell Anne Frank’s story as a supplement and contrast to the book featured here. Anne Frank hid in an upper set of rooms in Amsterdam, Holland. Tweens and teens easily identify with Anne Frank’s story. There are reference books about her that will help you tell her story and show pictures. Also, there are many videos including the only known video of Anne Frank. She is looking out a window. Find it on Youtube.com. It is quite moving. Miep Gies, one of the protectors of Anne Frank and her family, has been interviewed many times. You'll find her story on Youtube as well. It is one of courage, humility, and sacrifice.   

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Kar-Ben Publishing, 2014

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, Audio CD 

PBT Category: Fresh off the Press, Non-fiction

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abuse/abuse of power, action, adaptation/assimilation, aliens/immigrants/refugees/strangers, anxiety/worry, body/body of Christ, bravery/courage, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, caring/tending, challenges, commitment, communication, community, cooperation, cruelty, danger, darkness/evening/night, dependence, difficulties, encouragement, enemies, ethics, Europe, evil, exile/separation/walls, fear, goodness, helping, hiding/isolation, homelessness, hospitality, listening, neighbors, partners/teamwork, presence, prisons/prisoners, problems/problem solving, protecting/protection, rebellion, resisting evil, risking, safe place/sanctuary, secrets, sharing, unity   

Scripture Connections: I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more (Psalm 71:14); abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9); welcome one another… for the glory of God (Romans 15:7); if one member suffers, all suffer together (1 Corinthians 12:26a); now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book and consider telling the story of Anne Frank to older elementary or youth who are learning about concepts of faith, hope, and reliance on others in difficult times. This book also easily connects with spiritual concepts such as discernment, particularly discernment through the guidance of others, and the power of community.   

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 341

Picture Book: Nana in the City

Author & Illustrator: Lauren Castillo

Summary: A young grandson goes to stay with his Nana in the city. He loves his Nana, but not her city. It is too loud, busy, and therefore scary. He is worried that Nana should not be living in such a place, but Nana loves the city. She says it is the perfect place for her to live because it is so extraordinary. During the night when he can’t sleep because of the city noises, Nana promises to show him the wonders of her city. Nana doesn’t go to bed. She knits instead. When her grandson wakes, she has made a red cape for him to wear as they explore the city. Once she places the cape on him, he feels brave. As they tour the city, it is still loud and busy, but it is not filled with scary things after all. It is filled with extraordinary things! A few days later as he prepares to leave, he drapes the cape onto his Nana and says, “This will keep you brave,” knowing that even though the city is loud and busy, it is the perfect place for Nana.

Hanna’s Comments: Besides the sweet story this book offers your audience, it also offers you the opportunity to talk about what children must be equipped with to face the world and what your faith community offers your children to insulate them from the damage stresses and fears can do. This book could be read to children and followed with a discussion about what the cape symbolizes in the story. Then have them share what they do to dispel their fears. Be sure to mention memorizing and reciting scripture, prayer, being in community, and religious beliefs that bring comfort in fearful times such as a belief in God’s constant presence. You could also use this book in a parenting class and have a similar discussion. What should parents do to equip their children for fearful or stressful times? How does being a person of faith influence these strategies? A key aspect of this for parents will be modeling faithful courage. Discuss how parents might do this? Talk about how resilience can be grounded in community, faith, and hope.  

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Clarion Books, 2014

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

# of Pages: 40

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: Tablet, Audio

PBT Category: Award Winner, Fresh off the Press 

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abundance/bounty, adaptation/assimilation, anxiety/worry, armor, babies/children, Bible/scripture, bravery/courage, comfort, community, companionship, confidence, danger, differences, encouragement, exploration, family, faith, fear, God’s presence, grandparents, hope, insecurity, noise/sounds/voice, nurturing, prayer, reassurance, risking, safety, security, strength in God

Scripture Connections: Even though I walk through dark valleys, I fear no evil for You are with me (Psalm 23:4); God comforts us in our affliction so that we may comfort those in any affliction (2nd Corinthians 1:4); put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18); I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this to a group of children or parents. Then follow with a discussion as described above in my comments. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 340

Picture Book: Eight Days: A Story of Haiti

Author: Edwidge Danticat

Illustrator: Alix Delinois

Summary: On the first page of this extraordinary book, Junior is being interviewed on camera. He has just been pulled out of the rubble that was his home prior to the 2010 Haitian earthquake. Junior explains that while he was trapped and afraid, he missed his family but he was brave too. In his mind, he played. Each double page spread that follows chronologically takes the reader through the memories of play that Junior clings to from the first day to the eighth day when he is rescued. These imaginings help Junior survive. In many of his pretend memories, Junior plays beside his friend Oscar, who is with him in the rubble. On the fifth day, during a memory of playing soccer with Oscar, “Oscar felt very tired and went to sleep. He never woke up. That was the day I cried.” Two more days of beautiful memories follow, memories of a pre-earthquake Haiti that no longer exists.

Hanna’s Comments: Before reading this book, explain to your audience that the days of activities that Junior engages in are pretend memories that help him cope as he waits in the rubble to be rescued. Also, tenderly warn them of the death of Alex, likely beside Junior as they wait. Be sure to point out to your audience that Junior is not an actual person, but he symbolically represents not only the many who were trapped and rescued because of the earthquake, but the entire nation of Haiti. A Note from the Author in the back gives context to the earthquake. Why do I offer such a heartbreaking story for you to read to children or youth? Because I believe such stories build compassion, empathy, and resilience. Talk about how Junior’s good memories of the Haiti he knew before the quake, may have kept him from giving up and likely kept him strong as he waited.

I would also highly recommend these books about Haiti: Hope for Haiti by Jesse Joshua Watson, also about children after the 2010 earthquake, and Selavi: A Haitian Story of Hope by Youme, a book written before the earthquake about orphaned children who together create a children’s radio station, Radyo Timoun, which is still in operation today. There are also several non-fiction books about Haiti and the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Orchard Books, 2010

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: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book connects with: adaptation/assimilation, anxiety/worry, armor, aspirations/dreams, bravery/courage, brokenness, challenges, creativity/imagination/ingenuity, danger, death/loss/grief, difficulties, disaster, emotions/feelings, fear, found, friends/friendship, hope, loneliness, memories/remembering/ritual/tradition, miracles, North America, patience, perseverance, play, prisons/prisoners, resurrection, strength/strength in God, survival, tragedy, victims, waiting    

Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous… for the Lord your God is with you (Joshua 1:9); oh Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7); they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength… (Isaiah 40:31); fear not for I am with you… I will strengthen you… (Isaiah 41:10); 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 to a group of elementary or middle school children who are learning about how to faithfully respond to fear in challenging circumstances. Or Read this to a group of people going on a mission trip to Haiti.  

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 339

Picture Book: The Knight and the Dragon 

Author & Illustrator: Tomie de Paola

Summary: What the title two characters lack in ferocity they make up for in determination. They are inexperienced in fighting so they each do some reading. The knight builds his armor and weapons while the dragon practices his tail swishing and mean faces. The knight rehearses his jousting while the dragon improves his fire breathing. Invitations are sent, and a time is set to fight. Their first confrontation ends with them missing each other completely. Their second meeting lands one in a tree and the other in a pond. Meanwhile, the castle librarian, who has been watching their failures, suggests an alternative endeavor for both. She gives the dragon a book for cooking outdoors and the knight an instruction manual on how to build a barbeque. Together they open a new eating venue, K & D Bar-B-Q. The story ends with them serving happy customers.

Hanna’s Comments: This twist on a medieval tale can encourage the children in your family of faith to talk about why human beings do what they do even when it feels unnatural or wrong. These two characters seem to be going against their natures. Fortunately, the librarian is intuitive and nurturing enough to see where their passions and skills might lead to productive results rather than destruction. Not only does this book offer commentary on violence, but it also speaks to humans questioning what is expected and assessing how they can best use their inclinations and gifts for the greater good.  

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1980

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, acceptance, action, adaptation/assimilation, aspirations/dreams, authenticity, beginnings/morning, call/calling/vocation, challenges, competition, conflict, conformity, danger, difficulties, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, disputes/fighting/opposition, encouragement, enemies, gifts/talents, kingdom of God/reign of God, labor/work, nurturing, pacifism/peace/peacemakers, power, prejudice, self-discovery, violence, war/war veterans, wisdom, witness

Scripture Connections:  Ask what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8); seek ye first the kingdom of God… (Matthew 6:33); do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or youth as a part of a lesson on discerning your talents and desires despite what the world seems to expect.   

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 338

Picture Book: Owl Babies

Author: Martin Waddell

Illustrator: Patrick Benson

Summary: Three baby owls wake up one night and are surprised that Mama Owl is gone. As the night continues and their fears grow, they huddle together to wait, and a pattern emerges in their thoughts and words because, “Owls think a lot”. Sarah, the largest and always the first to speak tries to be reassuring. Percy, the older brother, agrees with his sister. But baby owl Bill simply says, “I want my mommy!” Finally, when Mommy comes back, she reminds the three that she always returns. Sarah and Percy say they knew she was coming back. Bill ends the book with, “I love my Mommy.”  

Hanna’s Comments: I like this simple tale because it comically offers a very real problem for young children and considers their fears of abandonment tenderly and deliberately. At first the two older owls engage in encouragement, hope, and positive self-talk which are smart emotional approaches when afraid. Each of these represent faith in their Mommy. Then they huddle together which helps too, especially when you are imagining terrible possibilities. When their fears are expressed, their fears grow. Lastly, they close their eyes and wish their mother present. This is a sort of prayer. When Mama Owl arrives, there is much flapping and dancing in relief, a celebration. She offers reassurance. Sarah and Percy become a little self-defensive about their doubts. However, little Bill offers authentic and loving affirmation. Be sure to allow your audience to talk about how they respond to fear and what strategies are most reassuring for them. Tie in concepts of faith and prayer when you can. 

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Candlewick Press, 1992

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Yes

Formats other than Book: Tablet, Audio Cassette, Video

PBT Category: Pre 2K 

PBT Topics this Book connects with:  affirmation, anxiety/worry, authenticity, babies/children, belonging, bonds/connections, bravery/courage, commitment, companionship, darkness/evening/night, dependence/interdependence, doubt, emotions/feelings, encouragement, family, fear, hope, love, mothers, parents/parental love, perspective, prayer, presence, reassurance, security, unity, waiting  

Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous; do not be terrified (Joshua 1:9); oh most high, when I am afraid, I put my trust in you… (Psalm 56:2b-4); the Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. (Hebrews 13:6)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this picture book to a group of young children in a lesson on fear and how to rely on God through faithful, positive self-talk and prayer.   

Sunday, March 22, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 337

Picture Book: What Makes a Rainbow?

Author: Betty Ann Schwartz

Illustrator: Dona Turner

Summary: After a rainstorm, Little Rabbit’s mother says that soon they will see a rainbow. Little Rabbit asks the title question, and a series of animals help his mother explain. This is a Magic Ribbon Book which means that as you turn the page, a ribbon of a particular color drapes across the double page spread. In this case, ribbons of the colors of the rainbow are revealed each page turn. The book ends with Little Rabbit declaring the 3 things needed for a rainbow: rain, colors, and sunshine.

Hanna’s Comments: If this book is too immature for your audience, you’ll find lots of books about rainbows in the library some of which will emphasize the science behind the phenomenon which is always a nice addition to a lesson for children. You might want to teach the children in your audience the song, I Can Sing a Rainbow which is available on ITunes. This author and illustrator have another Magic Ribbon Book which you may want to consider. It’s called What Makes Music?

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Piggy Toes Press, 2000

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

# of Pages: 14 

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present, but you’ll find plenty of videos on Youtube.com on how a rainbow is made or describing how to do a science experiment about rainbows or light refraction. 

PBT Category: Post 2K

PBT Topics this Book connects with: ancestors/patriarchs & matriarchs, attentiveness/observation/seeing, awe, beauty, covenant/promises/vows, the environment/nature, God’s presence, heaven/sky, light/morning, rain, rainbows, water, wonder

Scripture Connections: God said this is the sign of the covenant between me and you… I have set my bow in the cloud…. (Genesis 9:12-13) 

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are learning about signs of God’s covenant or the story of Noah and the Ark.   

Saturday, March 21, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 336

Picture Book: We Shall Overcome: The Story of a Song

Author: Debbie Levy

Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton 

Summary:  Inspiring the African-American Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s is just one component of this song’s rich history. The lyrics serve as part of the illustrations to the story of the song. The book begins by explaining how American slaves sang to soothe their suffering and to declare that they were human beings. It goes on to explain that once slavery ended black people in America were not really free. Believing their circumstances could get better, they still sang and they began protesting. A church song, I Will Overcome, was adapted and heard by Martin Luther King, Jr. who took the song as he worked for civil rights. Many important events of the Civil Rights Movement are mentioned here, including the sit-ins and the march in Washington D.C. I had not known of the Freedom Singers, who traveled all over America singing in places such as high schools, concert halls, and even jails. The book goes on to explain how the song traveled to South Africa to fuel the movement against apartheid. It traveled to other places in the world, wherever people longed for a better life and wanted to sing their determination. The book culminates in 2008 when this song was very present as Barak Obama was elected president of the United States.  

Hanna’s Comments: This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights March from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL, just down the highway from my home. Surely this song was sung many times as they walked. I salute them today with this small offering of a book that celebrates their work. Even as a middle class white woman, I know I have been richly blessed by the courage, efforts, and sacrifices of those marchers. I especially thank them for the spiritual context that many of them gave to their struggle. In the back of this book, there is an informative timeline, noting important milestones in the life of this song. Also, you’ll find a list of sources, suggestions for further reading, and links to recordings of the song.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Jump at the Sun, 2013

Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? Not at present

Formats other than Book: None at present for this book, but you’ll find many videos of this song being sung on-line.

PBT Category: Song Book, Post 2K  

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abilities, abuse/abuse of power, action, America, art, aspiration/dreams, bravery/courage, brokenness, bullying/martyrs/persecution/oppression, challenges, change, choir/music/singing/songs, civil rights, commitment, confidence, cruelty, difficulties, disabilities/handicaps/limitations, discord, disputes/fighting/opposition, encouragement, equality/inequality, exclusion/inclusion, faith/faithfulness, freedom, heroes, hope, injustice, integration, intolerance, justice, leadership/servant leadership, non-violence/peaceful resistance, passion, patience, perseverance, power, prayer, race relations/racism, rebellion, segregation, sin, slavery/slaves, social justice, steadfastness, strength/strength in God, unity 

Scripture Connections: Seek the Lord and the Lord’s strength… (1 Chronicles 16:11); ask what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. (Micah 6:8); suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character… (Romans 5:3-5); blessed is the one who remains steadfast under trial (James 1:12);  

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children who are learning about modern religious heroes or how music, as a tool in worship or elsewhere, can inspire work for social justice and political change. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 335

Picture Book: Whose Eyes are These?

Author & Illustrator: Elizabeth Burman Patterson 

Summary: In this book of riddles and enchanting paintings of animals’ eyes, a simple question is asked, “Whose eyes are these?” Thus the beautiful and distinctive attributes of a variety of species are offered for amazement and contemplation while giving God the credit for such wonderful designs. The introduction explains that readers are about to go on a sight-seeing safari. The answers are surreptitiously given in upside down text on the page. You’ll also find a mirror at the end for your children to gaze into their own eyes and think about their perfect design. 

Hanna’s Comments: There are other books with this title that are similar though they use photographs rather than paintings. I like this one because I can consider it a “God book” since there is an introduction by Rev. Bern Brunsting, and in one of the animal riddles you’ll find, “God made me just right,” a phrase I suggest you have your audience repeat after each animal description.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1997

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

# of Pages: 28

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: None at present

PBT Category: God Book, Pre 2K 

PBT Topics this Book connects with:  abundance/bounty, animals, attentiveness/observation/seeing, awe, beauty, blessings, bonds/connections, contemplation, creation, difference, diversity, the environment/nature, reverence, variety, vision, wonder

Scripture Connections: God created every living creature that moves (Genesis 1:21); Who teaches us more than the beasts? (Job 35:11); the Lord’s mercy is over all that the Lord has made (Psalm 145:9)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are learning about animals and God’s wonderful design for them. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 334

Dynamic Duo: Book 2
Picture Book: You are My Sunshine

Author: Jimmie Davis

Illustrator: Caroline Jayne Church 

Summary: This is a board book with the lyrics of the chorus to this fun song. In case you don’t know it, here are those lyrics:
You are my sunshine,
My only sunshine.
You make me happy when skies are gray.
You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away.

Hanna’s Comments: This is a 2nd PBT Dynamic Duo offering. The subtitle of yesterday’s book is the title of today’s book and a popular American song. Long ago, I learned this fun song at church camp where we loved to sing it in a variety of silly renditions. The song was first recorded in the 1930s as a country song, but it has been covered by so many singers and sung in various contexts that it is more like an American folk song now. The verses are a little more mature than the chorus and are about romantic love so it makes sense that only the chorus would be offered for young children, but don’t limit the application of this idea to just young children. If a board book is inappropriate, simply offer the song via a different method. We sang the first verse at my church camp. It was a fun, non-threatening way to sing about romantic love with fellow adolescents in an environment awash with Christ’s love. Check out the verses by watching one of the many versions you’ll find on Youtube.com.

I don’t say this often enough: Many of the books I offer and conversations I encourage here at PBT can be enjoyed at home with a parent/grandparent and child. This is a perfect example. Read the Toot and Puddle Book offered yesterday. Sing You are My Sunshine, if you have the book or not. Then talk about how God’s love shines on and through all of us when the skies outside are gray or blue and whether we are feeling blue (or even a little gray).

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Cartwheel Books, 2011

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

# of Pages: 12 

Available in Spanish? Not at present but there is a nice video of the song being sung in Spanish on Youtube.com.  

Formats other than Book: There are many videos of this song on Youtube.com though they are not related to this book.

PBT Category: Song Book, Post 2K 

PBT Topics this Book connects with: affirmation, bonds/connections, choir/music/singing/songs, commitment, dependence/interdependence, gladness/happiness, joy, love, moon/space/stars/sun, parents/parental love    

Scripture Connections: The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you (Numbers 6:1b); arise, shine, for you light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. (Isaiah 60:1); Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. (John 8:12a); …now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8b);   

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book when doing a young children’s lesson on how God’s light shines through us, Jesus is the light of the world, or how love between people can be like a sunshine.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 333

Dynamic Duo: Book 1
Picture Book: Toot and Puddle: You are My Sunshine 

Author & Illustrator: Holly Hobbie

Summary: It’s beautiful day, but Toot is moping. When Puddle asks about his sadness, Toot is unable to explain. When Tulip points out that the sky is blue, Puddle explains, “That doesn’t matter when you are blue too.” Toot’s moping continues, and he begins complaining to Puddle about his physical features. Puddle makes Toot’s favorite dessert and suggests an adventure, but these don’t help. Puddle invites friends over. They sing You Are My Sunshine and play a game, but Toot is still sad. On Sunday morning a severe storm comes; all are afraid but Toot. Afterwards, the air feels fresh and new, and Toot is himself again. Toot and Puddle decide that sometimes you need, “a big whopping thunderstorm to clear the air.”

Hanna’s Comments: Being able to identify and understand feelings are important social-emotional skills. Still, the source of some feelings remain a mystery. It’s also important for children to learn to accept how others are feeling and not require explanations. Everyone has a right to their own feelings and privacy. However, there is nothing wrong with offering opportunities for emotional shifts as long as no one is forced. Having a conversation about such matters would be beneficial in a classroom, religious community, or family. You can make this a theological conversation by asserting that God accepts our feelings. In fact, God made us creatures who have an assortment of feelings. God is willing to listen no matter how we are feeling. Even when we can’t put our feelings into words, just being in God’s presence in prayer will help. This book is a sequel to Toot and Puddle which is a wonderful book about how friendship knows no boundaries. I chose this book because I liked the way the plot carefully introduces the subject of sadness or depression to children. Tomorrow I’ll offer a second book in this PBT Dynamic Duo that is the lyrics to the song You are My Sunshine, an element of this book’s plot. Consider pairing them and having a conversation with children about feelings, particularly sadness.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Little, Brown, & Co., 1999

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: acceptance, authenticity, brokenness, caring/tending, change, choir/music/singing/songs, companionship, depression/despair/sadness/sorrow, difficulties, emotions/feelings, encouragement, friends/friendship, fruit/fruit of the Spirit, healing/healthcare, mystery, patience, prayer, presence, rain, renewal/restoration, respect, storms, tolerance, transformation, waiting, weather  

Scripture Connections: The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed spirit. (Psalm 34:18); the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness… (Galatians 5:22); Is anyone among you hurting? Let them pray. Is anyone among you cheerful? Let them sing praise. (James 5:13)

Idea(s) for Application: This book and tomorrow’s book could be components of a lesson on feelings, particularly accepting the feelings of others and how we can always bring our feelings, even when we don’t understand them, to God.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A Picture Book a Day for a Year: Day 332

Picture Book: The Hare and the Tortoise

Author: Based on a fable by La Fontaine

Illustrator: Brian Wildsmith

Summary: This is a classic version of a well-known fable. In this version, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. Other animals gather round to see the race. They expect it to be over quickly with the hare winning easily. Only the wise owl suspects they might be surprised. Once the rooster starts the race, the hare takes off and the tortoise moves slowly and steadily. The hare becomes too confident and is easily side-tracked by stuffing himself with food and then taking a nap. The tortoise is steadfast and committed, despite being worn out, and passes the sleeping hare. The hare wakes just as the tortoise is about to cross the finish line. Once he wins, the tortoise explains how his slow and steady pace had won the race despite the hare’s superior speed.  

Hanna’s Comments: There are multiple versions of this fable in picture book form. I like this book because it is big and illustrations are vibrant. If you need to choose another version, note that sometimes the tortoise is listed first in the title. How does this relate to spirituality or our Holy Scriptures? Think of verses about patience or perseverance. Another angle is to use this book to help your children explore how we each have individual strengths that are blessed by God and intended for good work. You could also use this book in a lesson on Paul, focusing on the race he writes about it 2nd Timothy 4:7.

Original Publisher & Date of Publication: Oxford University Press, 1966 

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

# of Pages: 32

Available in Spanish? There are Spanish versions of this fable, but I couldn’t find any of this particular picture book.

Formats other than Book: There are videos of this fable, but I couldn’t find any of this particular picture book.

PBT Category: Traditional Tale and Classic

PBT Topics this Book connects with: abilities, challenges, commitment, competition, confidence, differences, difficulties, hope, individuality/uniqueness, labor/work, patience, perseverance, steadfastness, surprise, underdogs

Scripture Connections: Suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character… (Romans 5: 3-5); rejoice in hope; be patient in tribulation… (Romans 12:12); let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9); I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. (2 Timothy 4:7); blessed is the one who remains steadfast under trial (James 1:12)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are learning about patience, perseverance, being steadfast, or human individuality.