Monday, July 31, 2017

PBT Series Grab & Go #10 - He's Got the Whole World in His Hands

I’m on vacation so I am featuring again a post from one of the best picture books that PBT has to offer for ministry. Last Friday and today, I’ve added to my Grab & Go series. These books have such strong connections to scripture that little planning is necessary. Their content is rich and their illustrations are gorgeous. Your audiences will enjoy them and find valuable meaning. 
Picture Book: He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands  
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Summary: This popular American spiritual and favorite song for children to sing is beautifully illustrated by one of my favorite picture book artists. He captures a loving family along with children’s drawings. This picture book celebrates God’s care and God's gift of the natural world. Nelson states that he wished to portray the world as a child might see it, vast and beautiful.
Hanna’s Comments: Kadir Nelson offers a historical note about this well-known spiritual and includes the score. The text is a little different from the words you may be used to singing which allows for some stunning illustrations. He includes:
He's got my brothers and my sisters...
He's got the rivers and the mountains...
He's got you and he's got me...
Publisher & Date of Publication: Dial, 2005 
Age and Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: Audible  
Scripture Connections: When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers (Psalm 8:3); The heavens declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1); For those who love God all things work together for good (Romans 8:28); For by him all things were created (Colossians 1:16)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to accompany a lesson on God’s gift of creation, especially its diversity and God’s loving care.

Friday, July 28, 2017

PBT Grab & Go #8 - Nova's Ark

Here's the latest book in my Grab & Go series. These are repeated posts about books that lend themselves to a super easy lesson because their content directly relates to biblical traditions or spiritual ideas.
Picture Book: Nova’s Ark 

Author & Illustrator: David Kirk

While playing with his family’s ancient treasure, a wooden ark and a set of wooden animals, Nova, a robot boy, misses his father who is on a space mission. Later, he accidentally rockets himself to a new planet (Nova is an engineering genius!) and uses his amazing talents to invent new mechanical animals to keep him company. After being reunited with his father who is injured, Nova & each animal sacrifice a component of their mechanics to save his father. Eventually father & son discover on this new planet the energy source that their planet desperately needs.

Hanna’s Comments: There is a great deal to talk about in this story. Encourage discussion among older listeners about connections between this tale and the biblical ark story. Ask about why this old story has various versions in cultures and media. What message does the old story (and this new one derived from images of that old story) have for us today? Younger listeners will simply enjoy the story and help you find connections to Genesis.

Publisher & Date of Publication
: Scholastic, 1999

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

Formats other than Book: None at present 

Scripture Connections: Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to children, youth, or adults to explore the power and themes from the biblical story of Noah’s ark.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Gathering Places

Picture Book: Out of the Woods: A True Story of an                                                    Unforgettable Event
Author & Illustrator: Rebecca Bond
Summary: The author's grandfather, Antonio Willie Giroux, loved to tell this amazing story:
In 1914 when he was almost 5, Antonio lived in a lodge near the edge of Lake Gowganda in Ontario. 
He lived with his mother who ran a 3-story hotel, a primitive lodge. 
Antonio often interacted with the lodgers. They included lumber jacks, those who worked at the lodge, trappers, sportsmen, and travelers. 
Antonio especially loved the gathering places. On the first floor was the large dining room. Antonio's room was in a little alcove.  
The second floor consisted of bunks where the travelers and sportsmen would stay briefly. He was fascinated by their equipment. 
The third floor was Antonio's favorite. This was another open space that housed the trappers, lumberjacks, and silver miners who stayed for months at a time. They played cards, told stories, and made music. 
Antonio liked to wander in the woods too, but the animals were well-hidden, too many trappers around. 
One day in the midst of a very dry summer, someone on the third floor spotted smoke. 
Quickly, all were warned of the very real danger and headed for the only place where they might be safe 
Lake Gowganda. All the people stood in knee deep water hoping the fire would turn.
It was another sort of gathering place where everyone waited and hoped to be spared while they stared at the flames. 
Remarkably, they were soon joined by the forest animals that had steered clear from them before. 
The threat of fire was bringing all sorts together. Another kind of fear, a common fear was taking over.
Enemies were side by side! Trappers stood with deer and moose. Foxes were beside rabbits. 
They were close enough to touch. The sky was black, the air was gray, and the living inhabitants of Gowganda were determined to survive beside one another through the fire.  
When it was safe to leave the lake, the animals of all kinds did just that. 
The lodge had been spared. The humans went back to their usual routines and Antonio too. 
He lived at the Lodge for several more years and never forgot the fire that created such an unusual gathering place at Gowganda Lake. This story of distances disappearing between humans and animals was his favorite story to tell his grandchildren. 
Hanna’s Comments: Right now many people are struggling with wild fires in Canada and here in the US. Australians had similar challenges during their last summer so this is a picture book that is evocative and relatable to many. People all over the world have stories of gathering places during disasters. Such events tend to bring out the best of humanity and apparently non-humans too. Connecting this powerful story to biblical images of diversity brought together in community would offer meaningful conversations about how fear and empathy change us and connect us. In the back of the book, you'll find an Author's Note and a photo of Antonio made about the time of this story. 
Original Publisher & Date: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up 
Formats other than Book: Digital
Scripture Connections: The Lord is good to all; the Lord’s mercy is over all that God has made (Psalm 145:9); Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 65:25); All flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:6)
Idea(s) for Application: People of all ages would find this story enjoyable and compelling. Encourage them to connect this story to images from the scriptures like Peaceable Kingdom, Holy Communion, and Pentecost to name a few. 

Friday, July 21, 2017

PBT Techniques #8 - Adapt for a Play

Now and then I read a book with illustrations that I think do the book a disservice. Below I’m featuring one of those books and giving you ideas about using this book’s great content in a different way.
Picture Book: The Want Monsters: And How They                                          Stopped Ruling My World
Author & Illustrator: Chelo Manchego 
Summary: Want Monsters just want to make people happy. The little guy in the illustration below explains that his Want Monster, Oskar, motivates him do GOOD things, but lately Oskar has gone a little crazy! 
He wants four cupcakes, not one. The narrator gives in 
and gets sick which leads to a lot of time in the bathroom! Oskar has grown some extra thumbs. He spends too much time playing games in front of a screen. 
Now the little guy's high fives hurt! 
 The desire for attention gives Oskar a crown, but
when the boy gets too much attention, no one else wants to be around him! 
Oscar gives the boy a flower with a caterpillar in it; the boy asks the caterpillar if he too has a Want Monster. 
The caterpillar explains that eating is already all he wants to do, 
but that is the way of caterpillars so they can become butterflies. 
He suggests that the boy tell Oskar "no." 
That won't always work so just let "Oskar be Oskar."  
When our narrator had ice cream the next day, Oskar insisted on the whole carton, but the boy stood up to him. 
Oskar tantrumed, the boy ignored, and both forgot about the want of ice cream. When the best video game ever, "Zombies Ate My Teachers" came out, both were happy. 
But when "Zombies Ate My Teachers TWO" came out just 10 days later, Oskar insisted that another trip to the video store was in order.
The boy explained that you can have too much of a video game. Besides, new games come out all the time and don't keep them happy for very long. 
Oskar tantrumed, but both eventually forgot about that particular want.  
When they saw a girl win a big contest on TV, Oskar got jealous and wanted his boy to win a contest on TV, but the boy responded, "We can't have everything we want." Oskar tantrumed. Eventually, Oskar forgot. Eventually, Oskar got much smaller. 
Renamed, Oskarcito, he is being trained to want things that make everyone feel good, like kindness and sharing. 
Everyone wants those and feels good afterwards!
Hanna’s Comments: The ideas in this book offer great potential for meaningful conversation with elementary-aged children about greed, gluttony, anger, and difficult relationships. Convert this story into a simple play that your kids act out. They will relate and be able to easily act out these emotions and respond to these situations. In fact, have your children help you write the play. You might want to have some of your girls help write a character who tells about how girls struggle with Want Monsters. Expand it even further by including some of their parents Want Monsters too! Be sure to cast kids for human and Want Monster characters. The best learning happens when we are synthesizing information. That means we take various aspects of what we have learned, combine, and make something new. Writing and producing a play about this book might be a great tool for making a difference in these issues that hit at the heart of modern family dynamics.
Original Publisher & Date: Shambhala, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. (Psalm 78:18); A greedy man stirs up strife. (Proverbs 28:25); Take care and be on your guard for covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. (Luke 12:15); You are God’s holy temple. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17); Their god is their belly…with their minds set on earthly things (Philippians 3:19); Keep your life free from love of money and be content with what you have (Hebrews 13:5); Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation…The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. (1 Timothy 6:9-10); The desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in posessions – is not from God but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)
Idea(s) for Application: Use this book as a basis for a play that your children act out. Connect the issues in this book to some of the many scripture verses about greed and gluttony.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Contemplative Wonder

Picture Book: Take Your Time: A Tale of Harriet, the Galapagos Tortoise
Authors: Eva Furrow & Donna Jo Napoli
Illustrator: Laurel Molk
Summary: Slow is the way of Harriet, an actual tortoise brought to Australia in the 1800s from the Galapagos Islands.
This story is about her ways on the islands of her birth. 
It includes her slow eating experiences, 
her long sleeps, 
and the puzzlement of other animals who claim she is missing out! 
Harriet begins to wonder what she's missing so she slowly ventures out. She always wanted to see the penguin parade on one of the other islands. 
That event happens in summer so Harriet leaves with months to spare. "She is in no hurry. There is plenty to see along the way," Hammerhead sharks, humpback whales, 
and giant rays. 
Harriet arrives just in time to see the penguins march 
and many other animals: pink flamingos, blue-footed boobies, and red-throated frigate birds are among them. Harriet offers a ride to some young iguanas, a ride so slow that the iguanas grow as Harriet takes them across the dunes. 
When the rainy season comes, Harriet digs a pool for her new friends: centipedes, snakes, and crabs. 
Once the year ends she decides it's time to head for home, slowly as always. 
Months later as she approaches her home island, a group of dolphins comment on Harriet's slow ways. 
They encourage her to jump on and experience "life in the fast lane." Harriet gives it a try. 
She is amazed by their fast pace and graceful ways, but soon the ride gets rough and water and salt are in her face. The thrill is gone. 
Harriet let's go and leisurely swims the last 5 hours to her home while savoring the beauty of the sun and the cool rhythmic waves. The long journey was glorious! 
Once home, Harriet reflects on the variety of movements she witnessed among the animals. She thinks it is so nice that everyone has their own rhythm like herself.  
Harriet slowly settles into the grasses of her home, steeped in wonder and satisfied.
Hanna’s Comments: Harriet is a contemplative figure. She reminds me of a wise old woman, who has much to teach us about slowly discovering the beauty and wonders of God over a lifetime. Perhaps she reminds you of someone in your family of faith or faith history. When Harriet died in 2006, experts said she was about 175 years old, the oldest animal in captivity. Check out the Author's Note in the back of the book for more about the real Harriet. Here's a link to a 2 minute video of her. What a face! There are many videos of giant Galapagos tortoises slowly swimming and walking. These would be great supplements to a program on contemplation or a lesson for young children about God's creative diversity. Ironically, these animals were thought to be poor swimmers until they were seen traveling from island to island, taking their sweet time. Galapagos tortoises are near extinction because of hunting so they are now protected and prized for their slow ways and long lives.
Original Publisher & Date: Henry Holt & Co., 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Digital
Scripture Connections: I love the place where your glory abides. (Psalm 26:8); The earth is full of your goodness, O God! (Psalm 33:5); Oh taste and see that God is good. (Psalm 34:2); With you is the fountain of life. (Psalm 36:9); Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10); My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast when I meditate on you in the watches of the night (Psalm 63:5-6); You make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy. (Psalm 65:8); Blessed be the Lord God who alone works wonders… may the whole earth be filled with the Lord’s glory. (Psalm 72-18-19); Yours is the day, yours also the night (Psalm 74:16); The whole earth is full of your glory. (Isaiah 6:3); I will show you hidden things that you have not known. (Isaiah 48:6); Awake, awake, put on your strength. (Isaiah 52:1); Happy are those who meditate on wisdom, who reflect in their heart on her ways and ponder her secrets. (Ecclesiasticus 14:20-21)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults in your faith family and explore the benefits of a slower pace, contemplation, and wonder at God’s beauty and glory. Another application is to read this book in a lesson for young children about God's creative diversity.