Monday, December 19, 2016

December Holiday Books 10 & 11

Picture Book: Oskar and the Eight Blessings
Author: Tanya and Richard Simon
Illustrator: Mark Siegel
Summary: This is a beautiful story of a child who immigrates alone into New York City on December 24, 1938. His parents have sent him to an aunt after the devastating Kristallnacht. On November 9 & 10 of that year, Nazis destroyed thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses and over 30,ooo Jews were placed in concentration camps. The date is also significant because it is the last day of Hanukkah and Christmas Eve. As Oskar walks the 100 plus blocks of Broadway to the address of an aunt he doesn’t know, he encounters historical figures (First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and jazz musician Count Basie) and other anonymous strangers. All welcome and bless him in 8 various ways as he eventually makes his way to a loving aunt.  
Hanna’s Comments: This is a perfect book for talking in your family or faith family about hospitality, refugees, and generosity across religious traditions. It won the 2015 National Jewish Book Award for Children’s Literature. A map of Manhattan Island showing Oskar’s route, an Author’s Note, and short glossary are all in the back.
Original Publisher & Date: Roaring Brook Press, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native (Leviticus 19:34); whoever receives you receives me (Matthew 10:40); see to show hospitality (Romans 12:13); do not neglect to show hospitality to stranger (Hebrews 13:2); show hospitality to on another (1 Peter 4:9); The story of Hanukkah is based on stories in 1st and 2nd Maccabees in the Hebrew Bible and in some Christian Bibles.
Idea(s) for Application: During December, read this book to a group in your faith family who are interested in hospitality to refugees or relationships across religious traditions. 

Picture Book: The Message of the Birds
Author: Kate Westerlund
Illustrator: Feridun Oral
Summary: An old owl tells fellow birds the story of Christmas. The coos of the Christ child are viewed as a blessing of joy and good will for all. When a robin asks why the birds no longer sing the story, the owl explains that the humans stopped listening to the song. Then together the birds create a new strategy: sing the story to the children of the world. Perhaps they will listen. The birds fly far and wide singing their message of hope. Birds they meet continue their mission. The children do listen and what unfolds is a coming together of the world’s children in a circle to celebrate the Christ child and honor the possibility of peace.
Hanna’s Comments: For me, this book seems like a mash up of Old Turtle by Wood and Chee (see the post [here]) and Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas. This story has beautiful illustrations of various birds. You’ll want to spend some time identifying them with your audience. Then explore how Jesus life and teachings connect with the idea of peace and why in December, peace is particularly desired.
Original Publisher & Date: Minedition, 2011
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: For unto us a child is born…his name shall be called…Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6); The angel sang, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace (Luke 2:14)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in your faith family to explore how the Christ child was a promise of peace for all.