Monday, October 15, 2018

Iowa Presentation: Book #2

Here's a re-posting featuring the 2nd book I offered at the CEF conference last week. In this post, I featured 2 books. The first is the secular book that I talked about in Iowa. Here's the post...

At present I’m writing a children’s curriculum for my church that connects to The Revised Common Lectionary. This week one of those scriptures is a portion of the story of Jonah. Jonah’s story is one of my favorites in the Bible so I thought I’d feature a couple of beautiful books, one secular and one sacred, that could be used in a lesson about Jonah. Enjoy!
Picture Book: The Boy and the Whale
Author & Illustrator: Mordecai Gerstein
Summary: In this powerful story, a boy and his father discover that a whale is caught in one of their nets. 
The father is concerned about his net which he cannot afford to replace; the boy is focused on the whale. 
They dive into the sea, assuming the whale is dead, 
and the boy remembers being caught in a net as a younger child. 
Then a surprise 
 and a rush for air!
Papa leaves, hoping to beg a relative for another net. Although the boy is forbidden to do so, he drives the boat out to the whale because he remembers how terrified he was to be caught in a net and how he needed his father to rescue him.
As the net is cut, the boy hopes the whale will wiggle to freedom, realizing how dangerous the situation is. 
He talks to the whale and apologizes for the net, explaining that fishing is "how we live." 
Looking again in the whale's enormous eyes, the boy begs the whale not to die. 
 The nets begin slipping away 
so the boy pulls the nets into the boat. 
Suddenly, the whale dives. As the boy stands, hoping to see the whale one last time... 
it springs out the sea, spinning and crashing again and again. The boy wonders if it is a dance of freedom or a dance of gratitude. 
When the boy returns to shore he realizes his father has been watching. After the boy admits to disobeying his father, his father simply says that what he did was foolish but brave. Then they go to repair an uncle's net.
Hanna’s Comments: One of the amazing aspects of Picture Book Theology is how children will be able to connect two very different stories. They've been taught to do this at school and may be more skilled at this than adults. The Jonah story could be presented via a children's Bible reading (it's a whole chapter in the Bible), another picture book like the one below, or by simply telling the story. Encourage them to find similarities and differences between these stories. They'll leave the lesson with a better understanding of Jonah in the Bible, and they'll have another great story in their experience. 
Original Publisher & Date: Roaring Brook Press, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: The Book of Jonah; Courage/God with us (Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10, Philippians 4:13, 2 Timothy 1:7); Breath (Psalm 150:6, John 20:22); Defiance as a sacred practice (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 2:23-28); Justice for the Captive (Luke 4:18, John 8:32, Galatians 5:1,13)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults and ask them to consider how defiance can be a spiritual practice and how Jesus models such action for us in the gospels. 

Picture Book: Jonah’s Whale
Author: Eileen Spinelli
Illustrator: Giuliano Ferri
Summary: This is the traditional story of Jonah told beautifully through the point of view of the whale. It begins simply: "God made Whale. God gave Whale a home in the blue-deep waters of the sea."
It focuses on the job God gave Whale and Whale's faithful response. But first, the whale is lonely so God gives Whale a family. Whale is hungry so God gives Whale "silvery sea-clouds of fish." 
God also gives Whale a "joyful song to sing" 
and the ability to move so that Whale can disrupt fishermen's lunches. 
And God gave Whale beauty.  
One evening a storm comes, and Whale spies a boat that is about to be torn apart by the waves. 
Whale hears a man confessing to his shipmates, saying that he is the reason for the storm. 
When the man jumps into the sea, God tells Whale to save the man so Whale does so in the way only Whale can. 
The man lands inside Whale, who burps and thinks, "Now what?" 
The first day, Whale does only gentle swimming for the sake of the man while the man prays in Whale's belly. Whale waits for God's instruction.
The second day, Whale becomes queezy and worries he might throw up. No instruction comes.   
By the third day, Whale becomes discouraged and knows the man must be discouraged too. Whale begins singing the song God has given him, hoping it will lighten the heart of the man. 
Eventually, "a whisper in the music" comes. God tells Whale to spit the man onto dry land. Whale does just that and then swims out to sea. 
Whale never forgets the man. Whenever he sees other boats in distress, he stays close and waits for requests from God. The man never forgets Whale either. Later, he walks beside the ocean and listens for Whale's comforting song.  
Hanna’s Comments: I hope you can see why I chose this book for my preschool lesson. It is beautiful and poignant. There are many picture books about Jonah ranging from board books for toddlers to this more complex tale. Choose wisely with the age and attention spans of your audience in mind. Also, notice where the story ends. In my opinion, the last part of Jonah's tale, the part where he is sitting outside of Nineveh feeling sorry for himself, is important. However, you'll see it left out of most picture books about Jonah. 
Original Publisher & Date: Erdman’s, 2012
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book about Jonah to a group of elementary children and challenge them to consider how they are like Whale and like Jonah.

Yesterday I received a gift from a reader. I was so grateful! It reminded me that it's been a while since I mentioned my PayPal Donate button in the upper right of this website. I do this work for you for free. I love it, but it takes a lot of investment of my time, energy, and money. Please consider showing me your gratitude with a donation so that I am encouraged to keep telling you about great picture books for your family, ministry, or classroom. Thanks! Hanna

Friday, October 12, 2018

Iowa Presentation: Book #1

I'm in Iowa this week at CEF's conference where I'll be giving 2 presentations. I've chosen 5 secular pictures to feature there. I'll help attendees see how I found over 25 ministry applications based on those 5 books! Also, I'll be modeling how to apply my 5 PBT questions for each book. Here's a re-posting of the first book I'll be presenting in Iowa. It's a favorite! The other 4 are newer books. Repeats of their posts will follow later.
Picture Book: All the World 
Author: Liz Garton Scanlon 
Illustrator: Marta Frazee 
Summary: This wonderful book follows a circle of human families of all kinds throughout a day of outside activities. 
When rain comes...
the families come together in another family’s restaurant. 
Then they relocate to a gorgeous home...
where they share songs and sweet good nights. 
Each beautiful double page spread emphasizes our connections with the natural world and other humans. 
Here's my favorite illustration:
Hanna’s Comments: Like looking at the night sky, when reading this book you'll feel as if you and your audience are small but significant pieces of humanity in the beautiful masterwork of the natural world. The meter of the poetry allows for slow reading and the pages are big on most versions so help your audience catch the details and inferences in these fabulous illustrations. Finding the blessings of connections, just like I do here at Picture Book Theology, seems to be the theme of this storybook, one of my all-time favorites. Here's a simple idea for a lesson: Have your audience find aspects of The Lord's Prayer in this picture book. There are many!
Original Publisher & Date: Beach Lane Books, 2009 
Age and Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: Tablet, A video of this book can be found on a Scholastic compilation of 4 picture book videos called: Children Make Terrible Pets and More Stories about Family
Scripture Connections: Creation (Genesis 1 or 2); Gratitude as a Sacred Practice (Psalm 118:24); Living abundantly (Jeremiah 29:11, John 10:10); phrases from the Lord's prayer such as Your kingdom come. Your will be done. (Matthew 6:7-13); Loaves & fishes given to many (John 6:1-15); The Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:18); Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book during a lesson on finding the Holy in the ordinary or how we are all spiritually connected.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Grab & Go #16 - Big Jabe

Below I've again featured a book from an earlier PBT post. The books in this series have such obvious connections to scripture that you can literally grab the book, read it to your audience, and then ask them what scripture connections they find. For children, you'll likely need to provide some prompting. 

Picture Book: Big Jabe
AuthorJerdine Nolen
Illustrator: Kadir Nelson
Summary: Addy, a young slave, discovers baby Jabe while fishing. Soon Big Jabe is huge & seems responsible for extraordinary, even magical feats. When the overseer blames other slaves for the changes, those slaves disappear, including Addy. Big Jabe moves on to other plantations continuing his work of lifting burdens in miraculous ways.
Hanna’s Comments: This author and this illustrator are two of my favorites! Their story is a tall tale with an American slavery context. There are at least 3 obvious connections with Bible stories and I'm not even counting the theme of slavery. It's an amazing but complicated and somewhat dark story that your children will love. There's a lot here to talk about, much of it biblical in nature.  
Publisher & Date of Publication: Amistad, 2005
Age and Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Moses in the basket (Exodus 2:1-10); slaves escaping (Exodus); loads of fish in the net (Luke 5:4-7); Peter & Silas have their chains loosened while in prison (Acts 12:6-11)
Idea(s) for Application: Besides a lesson at your church for elementary-aged children, teens, or adult, this book could enhance a fabulous homeschool or private school lesson on tall tales that would encourage some great Bible story reading.

Friday, October 5, 2018

All Things Bright & Beautiful

Recently I wanted to base a preschool lesson on this scripture: “Before God, no creature is hidden.” (Hebrews 4:13). During the first year of PBT in which I featured a new book every day, I had offered a picture book based on the popular hymn All Thing Bright and Beautiful. I was stunned to discover that now there are many picture book versions of this hymn. Two of them are board books, appropriate for toddlers & preschoolers. I’ve featured those below and shown you a few of others. [Here’s] my earlier PBT post which features my favorite version for school-aged children and older. 

Picture Book: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator: Dawn Machell 
Hanna’s Comments: Your youngest children will love these bright colors, busy pages, and the handle on the side for easy carrying.
Original Publisher & Date: Thomas Nelson, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Picture Book: All Creatures Great and Small
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator: Naoko Stoop
Hanna’s Comments: Notice the change in title. These illustrations are more subdued and seem to have an anime influence. Kids will think they're cool! 
This author has 2 other books inspired by the Bible: Love is Patient, Love is Kind and Jonah and the Big Fish. These are also board books. 
Original Publisher & Date: Sterling, 2012
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: None at present

Picture Book: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator: Katy Hudson
Hanna’s Comments: This is a big book full of illustrations children will enjoy. Some are quite beautiful. 
Unfortunately, the 3 characters are all white despite this book being published recently.
Original Publisher & Date: Worthy Kids, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Preschool and up
Formats other than Book: None at present

Picture Book: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator: Preston McDaniels
Hanna’s Comments: The illustrations here are more fantastical and complicated, but you and your children will have fun with them. This book may be harder to find.
Original Publisher & Date: Morehouse, 2000
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Preschool and up
Formats other than Book: None at present

Picture Book: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator: Bruce Whatley
Hanna’s Comments: In this book, the illustrations are more naturalistic and feature an older girl who lives on a farm. Beautiful
You'll also find the score to the hymn in the back.
Original Publisher & Date: Harper, 2001
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Preschool and up
Formats other than Book: None at present

Picture Book: All Things Bright and Beautiful:                                                                    A Collection of Prayer & Verse
Author: Cecil Frances Alexander
Illustrator: Helen Lanzrein
Hanna’s Comments: This book is quite different. It is a collection of poems. prayers, and pastoral illustrations that just happens to have the title of the hymn as it's own title. The version photographed above is a big, padded board book with card-stock pages. It's also available in paperback. One of the poems is Alexander's hymn. Here's that page:
It has some beautiful poetry and prayers and might be a nice baptism gift for a child. 
Original Publisher & Date: Magi, 2007 
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Preschool and up
Formats other than Book: None at present

Picture Book: The Berenstain Bears:                                                                    God's Wonderful World
Authors & Illustrators: Jan & Mike Berenstain 
Hanna’s Comments: Last and most confusingly is this Berenstain Bears book in which verses from Alexander's hymn... 
are found in the story of a teacher and her classroom going on a nature walk. The teacher shares the song. Some students know it.
 At book's end, all the cubs are singing along.
Original Publisher & Date: Zonderkidz, 2012
Age & Grade Appropriateness: and up, Preschool and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet