Monday, November 27, 2017

PBT Redux # 15 December Holiday Books

As we approach December, here are shortcuts to the 2016 PBT series in which I featured Christmas and Hanukkah books. Below find photos and then links to those posts. Look for such books again this year. I look forward to finding new December treasures to help you use picture books in ministry, at bedtime, or in your classrooms. May your December be safe and especially meaningful this year.

 Link to PBT December Holiday Books for 12/2/16

 Link to PBT December Holiday Books  for 12/5/16

 Link to PBT December Holiday Books for 12/9/16

  Link to PBT December Holiday Books on 12/12/16

Link to PBT December Holiday Book on 12/16/16

 Link to PBT December Holiday Books  on 12/19/16

 Link to PBT December Holiday Books on 12/23/16

Link to PBT December Holiday Books on 12/26/16

Link to PBT December Holiday Books 12/30/16

Friday, November 24, 2017

PBT Redux #14 – Brown Bear’s Wonderful Secret

Because we are approaching the Christian season of Advent, I reached back into the PBT archives to feature again a fabulous secular book that connects with anticipating the birth of Jesus or any new life in your faith community. Children across religious traditions and contexts will love this story of joyful expectation! But shhh! Like most birth narratives, this story begins as a secret.
Picture Book: Brown Bear’s Wonderful Secret
Author: Caroline Castle
Illustrator: Tina Macnaughton
Summary: Brown Bear’s wonderful secret is that she’s going to have a baby, but this is not revealed until the end of the book. As she begins to tell her animal friends about her secret, they interrupt her with guesses about the secret’s characteristics. The conversation takes riddle form: She wouldn’t want to eat it, but she might lick it. It doesn’t fly, but she might throw it up in the air and catch it. The animal friends are not able to solve the puzzle before Brown Bear must hibernate. The wonderful secret is revealed to them when spring comes and she has a babe in her arms. Brown Bear’s friends agree, it certainly was a most wonderful secret!  
Hanna’s Comments: This is a perfect book for Advent, a Christian liturgical season that gets overwhelmed by the pre-Christmas madness. Advent, like this story, encapsulates the anticipation and joy of waiting on a new birth. Expecting the birth of a new member is a delightful aspect of being a part of a loving faith family. Like Brown Bear, I hope you are able to anticipate and fully experience the joys of your winter holidays and any new births coming your way.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Scholastic, 2006
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: The birth narratives of Hannah (1 Samuel 1 & 2), Elizabeth (Luke 1), or Mary (Luke 1 & 2).  
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are anticipating the Christ child during Advent or a new member of your faith community any time of the year. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

God Gave Us...

Below I feature another meaningful book for autumn, especially the Thanksgiving season. Following those details, I list the other books in the God Gave Us series, all of which involve loving animal parents exploring questions their young child asks about the nature of God. The animals' experiences and questions will be very meaningful to young human children and invite some great faith conversations.
Picture Book: God Gave Us Thankful Hearts
Author: Lisa Tawn Bergren
Illustrator: David Holm
Summary: Little Pup is sad that winter is about to arrive because many of his friends will be hibernating. That means less fun and more boredom. 
So Mama takes Little Pup on a walk and begins to point out the benefits of Autumn. 
She gets a little push back from her son who does eventually admit that less skunks and bees are something to be thankful for. 
There's the wonderful way God paints the forest, Mama points out. 
Little Pup counters with complaints about poison ivy and his pack buddies who play too rough. 
Mama offers some wisdom:
The trick to having a thankful heart
is thinking about the things
that make us happy,
rather than the things that don’t. 
For example, Mama is very thankful for her Little Pup! 
Little Pup admits that he too is thankful for Mama and Papa. When he sees Papa with a fishing pole, he exclaims that he's very thankful for fishing! 
As they fish, Papa explains that even on days when they don't catch any fish, they should praise God for all that is given such as time together and the beauty of the river. 
Little Pup adds that he is thankful for the harvest festival but quickly complains about getting lost in the corn maze. 
Mama agrees that getting lost can be scary but she's thankful to God for showing them the way out. Little Pup adds that God is always with them, even in scary times. Mama affirms his thankful heart. 
The family all share their gratitude for apples and then list the ways they can be enjoyed. 
On the way home, Mama shares her deep thanks for the freedom to roam in such beautiful country.  
Once home, they enjoy the apples they picked and express gratitude for other healthy food on their table. 
Little Pup is especially thankful his home will be warm during the winter. 
Then he expresses one last great thanksgiving as they take him up to bed. He is thankful that God has given him a thankful heart. 
Sleep comes as Little Pup lists the many ways God has blessed him. 
Hanna’s Comments:  This is a great series for younger children! There’s also some great cognitive psychology here when Mama points out a positive orientation. Check out the other books in the series that feature either Little Pup or a young polar bear, Little Cub. There is such good substance here which can lead to important and meaningful faith conversations at home or in the midst of your faith family. Check out my list of other books in the God Gave Us series at the end of this post.
Original Publisher & Date: Waterbrook, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: I will give to The Lord the thanks due The Lord’s righteousness… (Psalm 7:17); Give thanks to The Lord, for The Lord is good… (Psalm 107:1); They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42); Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young children in your faith family to explore the spiritual practice of gratitude or as a part of your Thanksgiving programming.

God Gave Us series (as of November 2017):
God Gave Us Family - Newly published, this story has Little Pup asking questions about why his family looks so different from other families.

God Gave Us Christmas - When Little Cub asks if God is more important than Santa, his parents lovingly explain the reason for Christmas.

God Gave Us Easter - Little Cub asks questions about the Easter season in this beautiful book for Christians. 

God Gave Us Love - Here Little Cub asks why he must love otters when they are so annoying.

God Gave Us the World -  A trip to a museum has Little Cub asking, "Why didn't God make us all the same?"

God Gave Us You - Little Cub crawls into bed wondering, "Where did I come from?"

God Gave Us Two - "Why do we need a new baby?" is the question that begins this story about the arrival of a sibling for Little Cub.

God Gave Us Sleep - This book has Little Cub asking why sleeping is so important.

God Gave Us Angels - Little Cub asks, "What do angels do all day?"

God Gave Us Heaven - The question "What is heaven like?" begins the polar bear family's conversation with Little Cub.

God Gave Us So Much - This is a box collection of three of these marvelous stories: God Gave Us the World, God Gave Us Love, God Gave Us Heaven.

Friday, November 17, 2017

What a Woodsy Thanksgiving!

This next week in the USA, we celebrate Thanksgiving so I'm featuring a new picture book that describes the 20-year Thanksgiving tradition of a family in New York State in which over 200 friends and family are invited to celebrate in the woods.  
Picture Book: Thanksgiving in the Woods
Author: Phyllis Alsdurf
Illustrator: Jenny Lovlie
Summary: From the point of view of a young boy, this story builds with emotion as he prepares for the Thanksgiving tradition his grandparents have established.
His parents are excited too. Everyone gathers their outdoor clothes, some musical instruments, and treasures that make the season's rituals all the more pleasing. 
They drive a long way and finally meet up with Grandpa. 
The grandson climbs into the cab, and they're on their way to set-up for the feast and fun. 
They arrive at a clearing where cousins, aunts, and uncles are already busy preparing for the crowd to come. 
Bales of straw and wooden planks for makeshift tables are unloaded. A bonfire is prepared for lighting. 
The family gathers for a quick breakfast the next morning, anxious to get to the woods. 
Upon arrival, the kids start scrambling for kindling. Everyone needs to help with the preparations. 
A tractor arrives with a stately pair of grandparents in tow along with some other guests and pots loaded with foods for the feast. 
Hundreds of folks begin arriving with more food and a spirit of gratitude and anticipation. 
When the time is just right, all gather and sing the song Simple Gifts
Plates are piled high. 
The children have built a special fort for their own smaller Thanksgiving in the woods. 
The festivities end with a huge circle of singing around a warm bonfire. The young narrator joins in with his recorder. 
Marshmallows are roasted amid the glow of the smokey fire. Yum! 
The days' experiences linger as the evening comes to a close. Folks pack their gear and head to nearby cars or homes. 
From atop Daddy's shoulders, the boy and his immediate family make their way back to his grandparents' house, full of good food and marvelous memories. 
From behind he hears a few voices around the fire still.
'Tis the gift to be simple.
'Tis the gift to be free.
'Tis the gift to come down 
where you ought to be. 
It's a perfect ending to a woodsy Thanksgiving tradition. 
Hanna’s Comments: This is a secular view of an annual holiday that is grounded in faith for so many. It's a celebration of community, hospitality, and joyful feasting which are all important rituals and sacred practices in most faith communities. The song that is sung is an old Shaker hymn. The score for "Simple Gifts" is included in the back. 
Original Publisher & Date: Sparkhouse Family, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: I will give to The Lord the thanks due for The Lord’s righteousness… (Psalm 7:17); Give thanks to The Lord for The Lord is good… (Psalm 107:1); They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42); Let us consider how to stir up one another in love and good works, not neglecting to meet together… (Hebrews 10: 24); Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book as a Thanksgiving treat for your faith family.