Saturday, April 30, 2016

Books by Author Max Lucado

Today’s PBT offering is a sampling (7) of Max Lucado’s picture books. Lucado is an American Christian theologian and minister whose numerous books for children and adults have been on bestseller lists for decades. Many can be found in various media devises and formats such as tablets, video and audio.

Picture Book: The Boy and the Ocean
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: T. Lively Fluharty
Summary: This story centers around a family with a young boy while on a beach vacation. As they explore the vast beauty that surrounds them, the boy is inspired by the beauty and his discoveries. His parents offer him theological teachings about the glory of creation and how it expresses our Creator’s unmatched love. Here’s an example of one of these teachings:
"God’s love is like the ocean, my little boy," she said.
"It’s always here.
It’s always deep.
It never ends.
God’s love is special."
Hanna’s Comments: The beauty of Fluharty’s illustrations are one of the strengths of this book. Because this is a large book, sharing it with a group would work well. Be sure to connect the beauty of this world to the beauty of the world that is present to your audience.
Idea(s) for Application: Consider taking this book on a family vacation (beach or otherwise) to read to a child or grandchild before bedtime. You could also use this book with a group of adults to help them better understand contemplative prayer.
Original Publisher & Date: Crossway, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

Picture Book: You Are Special
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Sergio Marinez
Summary: Punchinello is one of the small wooden creatures (Wemmicks) who spend their time either sticking each other with gold stars or gray dots depending on how beautiful or talented that Wemmick is deemed to be. Punchinello gets only gray dots for he can do little and has many scratches. He is amazed by a new friend, Lucia, who wants neither stars nor marks. She suggests Punchinello befriend Eli, the Woodcarver, who tells Punchinello that what other Wemmicks think doesn’t matter; only what the woodcarver (Creator) thinks matters. The Woodcarver thinks Punchinello is “pretty special” simply because “your mine.” He goes on to explain that the stickers only stick if they matter to you.
Hanna’s Comments: Lucado has several picture books featuring the world of Wemmicks and Eli the Woodcarver. This is the first in the series. This allegorical world offers children another context to explore God’s love and human relationships.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in a homeschool or private school setting who are learning about basic literary concepts such as symbolism and allegory. In these settings you can share your faith. 
Original Publisher & Date: Crossway, 1997
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up

Picture Book: The Oak Inside the Acorn
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: George Angelini
Summary: An acorn asks questions of his mother tree regarding his purpose. She tells him that within you is a great oak. Just be the tree God made you to be. Later he is planted and becomes a large oak tree. Big Oak wonders what he is meant to do since he is the tallest and widest tree. He discovers that he is meant to provide the limbs for a young girl to swing. Then he watches her grow and change to become the person God made her to be.
Hanna’s Comments: I really like this metaphor that Lucado cleverly uses to encourage children (and adults) to consider and claim that within all of us there is a capacity to become what God intends. I do believe this issue has to be handled carefully though. We don’t want folks to see God’s intentions as simple or singular. Instead, I believe that God encourages our capacities no matter the circumstances we find ourselves. I believe vocation is about loving orientation, generous practices, and self-knowledge of our gifts. Vocation is not a guessing game with only one answer that pleases God. This book offers that kind of open possibility for the girl character.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or teens who are approaching or in the midst of confirmation or post high school experiences.
Original Publisher & Date: Thomas Nelson, 2006
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up

Picture Book: All You Ever Need
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Douglas Klauba
Summary: This story is also an allegory, but at its center is a Jesus figure in addition to a God figure. Tobias, the Watermaster, has a wellspring in the desert which he shares with all. His son, Julian, helps people access the water. When Tobias and Julian leave the well, they put Elzevir in charge. Elzevir did as directed until he noticed the people were not grateful so he decided to give water only to those who were grateful. Then he required that they be nice to neighbors and animals. As Elzevir found more fault with the people, the villagers grew sad and angry. Eventually a stranger comes who reveals himself to be the adult Julian who has come to share his Father’s water with all. The people want revenge, but Julian says, “My father’s water is a gift to all. He instructs everyone, ‘Freely you have received, freely give.’
Hanna’s Comments: This book can be quite powerful if you help your audience translate its implications into modern applications. Notice here that neither confession nor a statement of belief is necessary to receive the water.  
Idea(s) for Application: This book would be a great tool for delving into social justice issues with youth and adult groups.
Original Publisher & Date: Crossway, 2000
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 

There is a version of this book with the focus on a young boy.
Picture Book: Just in Case You Ever Wonder
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Toni Goffe
Summary: At the beginning of this book, a mother says to her daughter that “God made you like no one else” and “God sent you to just the right family.” As the girl grows, her father continues the words of affirmation and comfort by promising that “I’ll always be there for you.” The book ends with positive descriptions of heaven. 
Hanna’s Comments: This book offers an opportunity for parents who struggle with how to communicate their faith to their children. For many parents, this is a very real need. Reading these words to their children may lead to more confidence in speaking about faith and future faith conversations.
Idea(s) for Application: This would be a great book to give to families when a new child arrives, when they attend a church-sponsored parenting class, or when they graduate from a literacy program assuming they have young children or grandchildren.
Original Publisher & Date: Thomas Nelson, 1992
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up

Picture Book: With You All the Way
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Chuck Gillies
Summary: This knight’s tale involves 3 knights trying for the hand of a princess. The prince explains they must journey to the King’s castle via Hemlock, a dark and deadly forest where they will encounter Hopenots, small clever creatures. Each may choose a companion. The prince shows them an ivory flute and explains that they will be guided by the King’s song from an identical flute. The King will play it at the castle 3 times a day.  The knights choose their companions and leave. Later at the King’s castle, 2 men stumble out of Hemlock. It is Cassidon, the wisest, not the strongest or the swiftest, and his chosen companion. He tells of the treacheries of the Hopenots, who would imitate the flute song of the king. “How did you hear my song?” the King asks. Cassidon explained that he asked the prince to be his companion because he held the other flute and was the only one who knew his father’s song. In learning the song, Cassidon was able to distinguish it from the imitations and find his way through Hemlock to the castle. This story was originally published as The Song of the King so you may find it with that title.
Hanna’s Comments: This book uses the symbolic idea of “hearing God’s song” but it is up to you to interpret what that means to your audience. Keep in mind that young children will have difficulty with abstract concepts. Talk about abstract ideas by pairing them with what they look like. Children will understand a behavior before they understand an idea.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book during an elementary Sunday school class and talk about discernment and/or Christian discipleship practices.
Original Publisher & Date: Crossway, 2000
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up

Picture Book: Because I Love You
Author: Max Lucado
Illustrator: Mitchell Heinze
Summary: The setting is a wonderful village, built by Shaddai, for the children he loves and knows completely. Around the village, Shaddai builds a tall wall to protect the children from the dangers beyond. When young Paladin finds a hole, he reports it to Shaddai who compels Paladin to stay where he is safe, adding, “If you leave, you will not find the way back.” Shaddai explains that the hole is necessary. Shaddai wants them to “stay because they want to, not because they have to.” Still Paladin squirms through the hole, wondering what Shaddai is keeping from him. The wilderness doesn’t seem dangerous until Paladin realizes that the hole has disappeared. In desperation, he yells over the wall, apologizing and pleading for Shaddai to come help him. Shaddai is already on his way to rescue Paladin.
Hanna’s Comments: This is a story with and open ending, hopeful but not settled. Encourage your children to offer an ending. Then find some modern examples of dangers that faith families hope their children will not explore. Talk in age appropriate ways how these dangers can seem tempting and enticing, but they offer consequences that can be detrimental to their quality of life and relationships with the Holy.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a confirmation class when considering theological issues of temptation, confession, and forgiveness.
Original Publisher & Date: Crossway, 1999
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up