Friday, December 30, 2016

December Holiday Books 14 & 15

This ends the PBT December Holiday Books series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found the books to be helpful in your ministry, teaching, or parenting.

Please consider donating to PBT via PayPal in the right top margin where it says “Show your gratitude. Buy me a picture book.” I invest long hours for you as a labor of love and hope for high quality spiritual learning. Any amount would be appreciated.      Thank you!   Hanna

Picture Book: The Third Gift
Author: Linda Sue Park
Illustrator: Bagram Ibatoulline
Summary: This clever book offers a back story to the gift of myrrh, the 3rd offering the magi give Jesus. A young boy is learning his father’s trade, collecting and selling hardened tree sap. He calls these pearls of sap “tears” and “the blood of the tree.” The tears emerge after his father has cut the shape of an X into the bark. The resin inside dries as the tears dry in the hot sun. Once dry and sold to spice merchants, they are sold again to be used for medicine or flavoring wine. The best tears are mixed with oil which is used to wash a body before burial. When the boy harvests a tear as large as a hen’s egg, 
it is sold to 3 men wearing fine robes in the spice merchant’s tent. They explain they already have 2 gifts, gold and frankincense, to give a particular baby. The boy thinks it strange to give such a gift to a child. The story ends with him wondering about the child.
Hanna’s Comments: There is nothing overtly religious in this story, but spiritual ideas can be found under the surface. Talk about the importance of offering gifts to God or others that are of high quality and sincerely given. Mention the boy's godly desire to learn from his father. Find the subtle connections to Jesus’ death. There is an extensive Author’s Note in the back to give you some great context to help make this book even more meaningful to your audience. 
Original Publisher & Date: Clarion Books, 2011
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up 
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: The scripture story of the Wise Men and their gifts are in Matthew 2:1-12.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in a lesson about the Magi’s visit and the 3 gifts for Jesus. 

Picture Book: The Story of the Three Wise Kings
Retold & Illustrated by Tomie dePaola
Summary: In this traditional story of the Magi who visited Jesus, the three kings are named and come from different places:
Melchior of Arabia
Gaspar of Tharsis
Balthazar of Saba.
They are all stargazers compelled to follow the new star that signifies a new king would be born. Each sets out to honor the young king, carrying one of the traditional gifts. They meet along the way. As they approach Jerusalem, they lose sight of the star so they go to King Herod. The rest of the text corresponds to the scripture in Matthew. This story ends with the exit of the kings “by another way.” Joseph’s dream and the family’s rush to Egypt is not in this book.  
Hanna’s Comments: I like this version of the magi story because it is simple and straightforward. It doesn’t have the magi at the nativity. Jesus is a little older and in a home. This corresponds well with the Epiphany season, the liturgical period that follows Christmas. Traditionally Epiphany is on January 6. The art here is beautiful and unusual as well. At the beginning of this book you’ll find A Word about the Kings which gives some literary and historical context. The last paragraph explains that dePaola has chosen to paint Mary and Jesus in a traditional pose found in many Roman paintings of the Magi story.
Original Publisher & Date: Putnam’s Sons, 1983
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: The scripture story of the Wise Men and their gifts are in Matthew 2:1-12.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in a lesson about Epiphany or the Magi’s visit and gifts to Jesus.