Friday, December 7, 2018

December Holiday Books #3 and #4

Two brand new (and gorgeous!) Christmas books are featured below. Want to see more PBT December holiday books? Go to the Blog Archive which is to the right and down in the web version. If you're on a smart phone, click on "view web version," near the Home button. Then click on December of a year other than 2015 (I took a break then) and explore previous posts.

Picture Book: Mouse’s Christmas Gift
Author: Mindy Baker
Illustrator: Dow Phumiruk
Summary: Mouse lives in the sanctuary of a village church from long ago. Puzzled that the Christmas decorations are not in place, Mouse finds his favorite - the creche. After much effort, Mouse has the delicate figures in place where he will sleep with them in view. Then Mouse scurries to the living quarters of the pastor and his wife. The pastor is sick. His wife places a notice on the church door that states “Christmas Eve Service Canceled.” Mouse has an idea to light a candle in the window, hoping the village will be inspired by the light. Various villagers do bring decorations for the church door and nearby evergreen. A blacksmith creates a star. A woman bakes a sweet treat. On Christmas Eve, they gather, not sure what will happen. They find the church door mysteriously unlocked, so they enter and create their own Christmas Eve service. The pastor and his wife enter the sanctuary and realize that Christmas has come.
Hanna’s Comments: There are many Christmas themes in this beautiful story. Here are a few I see: humility, small acts of service, faith and trust in God's Spirit, hope for meaning and healing, loving community, and the joy that is ours when we participate for the common good. Let your audience find their own meaning here and be inspired to make this Advent and Christmas a time of participation in Christian community and service to those who need us most.
Original Publisher & Date: Zonderkidz, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: This book connects with any scripture about light or scriptures that encourages us to get involved, such as those about The Body of Christ and those about being servants.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to inspire your audience to step up and be a part of The Body of Christ during this season in which we celebrate Christ's birth.

Picture Book: I Got the Christmas Spirit
Author: Connie Schofield-Morrison
Illustrator: Frank Morrison
Summary: You’ll want all your church family to meet this "spirited" young girl! She’ll teach them what Advent & Christmas are all about. She hears the spirit in the air and sings the spirit in her heart. All her senses are in play as she tastes and skates and sees the spirit in the sparkling lights and many more signs of the season. BUT this wise one is not just about having Christmas fun. Outside a store, she sees a homeless mother and child and “feels the spirit deep down in my soul.” Then she promptly goes in to let Santa know something must be done! Santa and a small crowd bring gifts to the family that needs help. On those pages, you read, “The spirit is here! The spirit is you!” 
Hanna’s Comments: I’m so glad I discovered this new book. It was perfect for my 3rd Advent lesson in Trinity Treasures, the lectionary-based preschool curriculum that I’m writing. The theme for that day is “A Noisy Time” which I connected to Isaiah 12:5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for God has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth." And Zephaniah 3:14 "Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!” My lesson that day involves lots of singing and making joyful noises! Notice that here spirit is written with a lower-case s. Consider with audiences older than preschoolers how the story’s meaning would be different had the publishers chosen to use an upper-case S. Then explore all the ways the word "spirit" shows up this time of year. 
Original Publisher & Date: Bloomsbury, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up 
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Besides the 2 scriptures mentioned above, connect this book to any verses about being spiritually inspired to spread love and joy.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this fun book to a group of children during Advent and have them explore what The Holy Spirit inside them encourages them to do and be and feel and sense during this holiday season. Then offer lots of noisy, spirited praise!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

December Holiday Books #1 and #2

Advent is almost here so I’m going back to my simple format from my first year at PBT. That will allow me to feature more December holiday books. These two are a lesson in contrasts. One is brand new – my favorite discovery this season so far! One has been around for a while and was a recommendation from a webinar listener. Thanks for that! I’m sorry I didn’t catch your name. 

Here they are…

Picture Book: A Savior is Born:                                                                              Rocks Tell the Story of Christmas
Author & Photographer: Patti Rokus
Summary: This book will delight and amaze your audience! Rokus has managed to artistically explore the story of Jesus’ birth in rock collage, pairing each creation with a familiar scripture. In the video mentioned below, she says she found all the rocks on one hiking excursion! There is something about these faceless images direct from our Earth that gloriously speaks the Truth of these stories within the one great Story of Christmas. You may never look at rocks the same way again. Look for me to feature her Easter book come spring.
Hanna’s Comments: As is true for most PBT books, this jewel could be enjoyed by any age group because the art is stunning and so unusual. For very young children, you may want to focus on only a few double page spreads.
Original Publisher & Date: Zondervan, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet, Check out the 2 informative videos on the Amazon page. Fabulous!
Scripture Connections: Scriptures make up the text of this book.
Idea(s) for Application: Share this book with a group of children and offer a variety of rocks so that they too may create images that correspond to Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany stories.

Note: You may find this book with a different cover. 

Picture Book: Room for Little One: A Christmas Tale
Author: Martin Waddell
Illustrator: Jason Cockcroft
Summary: There are many picture books that cleverly have Jesus' birth told from animals' points of view. This one is special in that a series of animals offer invitations, share the warmth and comfort of the stable, accommodate differences, and even cuddle beside a species that might be thought of as an enemy. After each invitation, you find the sentence: There's always room for a little one here. Old Dog is welcomed by Kind Ox who later invites Stray Cat. Small Mouse is encouraged to come in by Stray Cat. Despite her fears, she enters. When Tired Donkey needs a place for Mary and Joseph, Kind Ox again offers hospitality so that Jesus, a little one so vulnerable, is born among selfless animals and loving parents. Beautiful!
Hanna’s Comments: This book may be written for young children, but the heart of the message is for us all. Will we make room for the message of Christmas amidst the chaos of the holiday? Will allow inside those we disagree with? Those who are very different from us? Those who make us uncomfortable? Even our enemies? These are burning questions for many in the world today and they relate to the themes of Luke's gospel message. For some fun, ask your audience to think about which character they most identify with and what kind of animal (or who in their lives) would they have the most difficulty inviting and accommodating. Invite those who will to share. You might be surprised at how profound their personal reflections are. I suspect we all imagine ourselves peering into that manger. Complicate those imaginings this year with this challenging story of hospitality and accommodation.
Original Publisher & Date: McElderry, 2004
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, Toddler and up
Formats other than Book: Audio Cassette
Scripture Connections: Luke 2:1-7
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of adults and then encourage them to go into their neighborhood and invite all they meet to your Christmas Eve service. 

Friday, November 23, 2018

PBT Theme List: Peace

Today is Black Friday in the States, a day of Christmas shopping in excess. I woke up to headlines that there was a shooting last night in a mall walking distance from my home. When did the shootings become so ordinary?! Lord have mercy on us all! Forgive our violence and help us with our fears. 
Perhaps you too are in search of peace as we anticipate Advent and The birth of the Prince of Peace. Here is a nice variety of 6 secular books about peace. Scripture connections and ideas for applications in your ministry are at the end of the post. 

Picture Book: A Little Peace
Author & Photographer: Barbara Kerley
Summary: This is a collection of photographs of people from various parts of the globe who are enjoying “a little peace.” Images of peace range widely from two English men in the snow tipping their hats to one another to a group of whirling Buddhist monks worshiping in Bhutan and then to an American military doctor cuddling a child who had been caught up in a battle. In the back you’ll find a world map and an explanation of each photo including details and location. The book ends with a note by Richard H. Solomon, President of the United States Institute of Peace.   
Publisher & Date of Publication: National Geographic, 2007
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at present 

Picture Book: The Peace Book
Author & Illustrator: Todd Parr
Hanna’s Comments: For thoughts about peace with elementary or preschool children, consider Todd Parr's fun exploration of what peace looks like. 
He also offers a global and even ecological perspective, often with a bit of humor and some meaningful situations for young children. His books often connect directly to scripture, sometimes with a little twist. Peaceful acts can lead to life-long aspirations for world change. Parr finds peace in simple, fun gestures and big, hard work. His characters are sometimes surprising, often human and animal, but very relatable. Your children will love his whimsy and his heart. As usual, Parr ends this book with a letter to his readers.
Original Publisher & Date: Little, Brown & Co., 2004
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

Picture Book: Peace, Baby!
Author: Linda Ashman
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Summary: Conflict resolution in verse is the appeal of this delightful picture book. Here young children’s situations of conflict in the home or classroom are used to illustrate more peaceful alternatives than verbal or physical aggression. With each offering is the suggestion to try or say, “Peace Baby.” Eventually the arenas of peacemaking broaden to interactions with all sorts: parents, teachers, strangers, and all of creation.
Hanna’s Comments: This is a fun, clever book aimed at reducing conflict among young children by giving them conflict resolution and peacemaking strategies along with a new, fun phrase. Being able to deal with strong feelings is a crucial skill that will benefit everyone in your religious community.   
Publisher & Date of Publication: Chronicle Books, 2013
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet 

Picture Book: Let There Be Peace on Earth                                                            and Let It Begin with Me
Authors: Jill Jackson & Sy Miller
Illustrator: David Diaz
Summary: This picture book’s text is a song familiar to many. Written in 1955, it has been recorded by many famous singers. It is a clarion call for world peace as well as interpersonal peace. Besides the song lyrics, you’ll find an audio CD which includes 11 other songs by these writers. The illustrations feature international symbols of peace which are explained in the back of the book. Other features include historical aspects of the song and its writers as well as the musical score.
Hanna’s Comments: If you are bothered by the masculine terminology, particularly “With God as our Father, brothers all are we.” Adapt to “With God, our creator, children all are we.” For “Let me walk with my brother,” change to “Let us walk with each other.” Use sticky notes to replace the words on the pages. Simply explain to your audience that the meaning and use of language changes sometimes and give your reasons for making the changes.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Tricycle Press, 2009
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 5 and up, K and up
Formats other than Book: None at Present, On the internet, there are many videos of this song being performed.

Picture Book: Peace is an Offering
Author: Annette LeBox
Illustrator: Stepanie Graegin 
Summary: These simple rhyming phrases explore the concept of peace via ordinary, loving gestures in a neighborhood, the place where young children would most understand peace. Generous acts like visiting and serving someone in need and enjoying God's gifts of nature with friends all instruct young children to notice how peace is abundant. This book explains in simple terms that gratitude and contemplation are important tools for peace, as is affection 
and being at table together. This diverse community of children (and sometimes their parents) are shown engaging in thoughtful acts, companionship rituals, hospitality, play, and even strategic avoidance of violence. You’ll find a reference to 9/11/01, but it is subtle and isn’t likely to be disturbing to young children. Hope and joy are interwoven in this text and the images are comforting. 
Hanna’s Comments: These are fear-ridden times. Sometimes the loudest messages of fear come from faith families and are overheard by children. Instead, I believe the place where children first worship and learn about God should be grounded in peace and love. We have many children riddled with anxiety. Their worship communities can address some of their fears and offer God's hope instead. The key to this heartwarming book are messages of abundance and calls to be sensitive to another’s needs while contemplating with gratitude the beauty of our world. Here be reminded that when loving acts occur, peace can be found. Opportunities for such acts are everywhere, especially in your neighborhood, but also with those you love most, like those in your faith family.
Original Publisher & Date: Dial, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

Picture Book: Growing Peace: A Story of Farming,                                               Music, and Religious Harmony
Author and Photojournalist: Richard Sobol
Summary: This story begins and ends in Africa in the village of Namanyonyi, near the border of Uganda and Kenya. Namanyonyi is unusual. In this small Ugandan village live Christians, Jews, and Muslims. They live in harmony, but they used to live more separately. Here you see children from each religion enjoying futbol. (The hats identify the boy in the middle as Jewish and the boy on the right as Muslim. Since one villager's witnessing of 9/11, they live more cooperatively and productively. J. J. Keki, a musician and coffee grower, happened to be in New York City on his way to The World Trade Center on 9/11. He emerged from the subway station in time to see one of the planes hit a tower. His life, like so many others, would never be the same. 
He came home and realized his village offered a perfect opportunity to model interfaith cooperation. Most families have a garden for food but also grow coffee for export. (They prefer to drink tea.) 
Through contacts made in his village via his children's many friends, Mr. Keki met with village farmers of all 3 religions: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
Together they created a farming cooperative so that they can import their coffee at a better price and highlight their cooperation despite their village's religious diversity.  On the sign below find the word "Kawomera." It means "delicious." The Delicious Peace Growers Coop was born and has transformed this community! A model of interfaith cooperation was been born thanks to one man's determination to counteract religious hatred! 
J. J. Keki has even written songs celebrating the extraordinary peace and joy that his village now experiences. Besides a detailed account of this story, you'll find the process of growing coffee beans. Children and adults are photographed demonstrating the steps: the harvesting of coffee cherries, the drying of their seeds, the shaking to remove skins, the bagging, and the transporting to a Kenyan sea port. Growing Peace offers a wide but pragmatic perspective on peacemaking, integrated with economic cooperation. 
Hard work is celebrated here as well as the joy of living in the diversity that God ordains through nature and humanity.
Hanna’s Comments: There is so much text in this book that I highly recommend reading it over a couple of sessions or telling (rather than reading) this powerful story while showing the photographs. Find in the back an Author's Note and lots of resources including a glossary which will help with pronunciation. The music behind this story is available [here] and you can purchase the fair trade Delicious Peace Coffee [here]
Check out other PBT books about Africans' responses to September 11, 2001 [here] and [here].
Original Publisher & Date: Lee & Low, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 7 and up, 2nd and up
Formats other than Book: This story is told in a feature-length video available at [Youtube]

Scripture Connections For All These Books: For unto us a child is born… his name shall be called… Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6); Peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6); Those who plan peace have joy (Proverbs 12:20); Two are better than one, because they have good reward for their toil. If they fall, one will lift up the other. (Ecclesiastes 4:9); Blessed are the peacemakers (Matthew 5:9); Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace among those with whom he is pleased! (Luke 2:14); Give and it will be given to you (Luke 6:38); I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. (John 16:33); peaceably with all. (Romans 12:11); may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing (Romans 15:13); the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:12); Now may the lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. (2 Thessalonians 3:16); Strive for peace with everyone (Hebrews 12:14); Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17); peace and pursue it.(1 Peter: 3:11)
Idea(s) for Application For All These Books: For a discussion within your faith family, talk about the confusing concept of “peace.” It will help ground them in rich meaning, even if they exit the conversation without being able to verbalize an exact definition of peace. Also, explore what peace looks like in community, school, home, or your faith family. Read Peace, Baby! in a religious childcare center along with a lesson on God’s desire for us to live peacefully. After reading Let There Be Peace on Earth, consider singing it as well then talk about conflict and reconciliation. Read Growing Peace to a group of older children or adults and consider how scripture encourages cooperative community, even across religious traditions. 

Friday, November 16, 2018

A Few More PBT Books about Gratitude

In last week’s post, I listed many of the books about gratitude here at PBT. Below are a few more. Just click on the titles to get to those posts. If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving this next week, may it be blessed. If not, eat some good food anyway and be grateful!

Thank You God by Gold & Halperin 

For the Beauty of the Earth by Pierpoint & Fleming

The Happy Owls by Piatti 

God Gave Us Thankful Hearts by Bergren & Holm

Friday, November 9, 2018

PBT Webinar & Gratitude Books!

Ever wondered how best to navigate the PBT website? Good news! Practical Resources for Churches (PRC) is featuring this website in their series Our Favorite Websites. It's live this Thursday night (11/15/18, 7-7:30 Eastern). Even if you have a conflict, register via the link below. PRC will send the video of the webinar to you. Tell colleagues who would like PBT. This is an opportunity to get acquainted with the work I do and the fabulous work of PRC. They create about 50 webinars a year to encourage meaningful church ministry! Here's where you can register:

We are nearing the Thanksgiving holiday hear in The States. It’s my favorite holiday so I’m anticipating the joy (& great food) with a list of links to the best PBT books about gratitude. Click on the titles and the 1 post full of these books to read about them. Be reminded that gratitude is a spiritual practice that truly blesses us. 

Give Thanks to the Lord by Wilson & Bates

Thank You, God by Wigger & Jago 

Thanksgiving in the Woods by Alsdurf & Lovlie

Circle of Thanks by Fower & Catalanotto

Bear Says Thanks by Wilson & Chapman

Gracias Thanks by Mora & Parra

This post lists several books at the end about giving thanks. Here are some of their covers.

May the spiritual practice of gratitude bless you today!

Friday, November 2, 2018

PBT Favorite Posts #6

Here’s a hypothetical: Let’s say your faith community is planning around a  sermon series on the concept of The Holy Trinity. You want your whole faith family to explore this concept together organically, but it’s a tough concept for children. It’s a tough concept for adults! Remember, learning about The Trinity is a life-long journey so offering activities that connect with the sermons will enhance their learning journey if you consider their ages and experiences.

Picture Book Theology (PBT) is a big proponent of organic church programming that has folks in various settings talking about the same ideas. PBT encourages you to explore even complex theological concepts via literature that children (and adults) can connect to and relate to meaningfully. Encouraging children to experience the idea of The Holy Trinity in various contexts and within a variety of activities will lead to better understanding and richer meaning. Isn’t that what we all want in religious education?

The book I’m offering today is such a book. At the surface, One Family is a fun book about counting and collective nouns – those words that stand for a group of persons, places, or things. The numbers 1-10 are explored in order, but 1 is emphasized. Here’s a taste of the text pattern:

One is one. One lamp. One clock. One book to share.
One is two. One pair of shoes. One team of horses. One family.
After the number 10 is explored...
One is one and everyone. One earth. One world. One family.
The Holy Trinity is a collective noun so here a book about numbers and language can be transformed into a profound lesson about The Holy Trinity. 

In your lesson, read the book first, then connect it to the concept of The Holy Trinity. While reading, point out the collective nouns (you might want to call them “group words”) in the text. In later pages, let your children locate those words. After reading, continue with the pattern and play of the text to bring in the concept of The Holy Trinity by saying...
One is three.
Creator, Jesus, Holy Spirit (Use your terminology here.)
One is God.
One is the Holy Trinity. (Repeat.)

To teach these lines, present them visually and use movement in creative ways.  Eventually have them say the phrases with you. Explain that “Trinity” is a group word too. The children will more easily see the link if you make those connections with the text of the book in overt and subtle ways, such as in your voice tone, rhythm, and finger play. Refer back to the page in the book about the number 3. Offer other examples of threesomes that are seen as one (a Neapolitan ice cream cone, 3-leaf clovers, a fleur-de-lis, triangles of all sorts, etc.)

When talking about The Holy Trinity, be sure to get a sense of what the children know already. Build on that knowledge and reassure them. This concept is hard! If this picture book is too juvenile for your tweens and teens, go ahead and check it out because while reading it, you might be creatively inspired to design programs appropriate for those ages.
There are several aspects of this book that I especially love. It emphasizes the power of “one” which in turn emphasizes the power of unity. Such is The Body of Christ and The Trinity! Also, this is a great book for practicing counting with young children. Engage them in some choral counting while you read the book. 

I use phrases like “family of faith” or “religious family” a lot here at PBT. This is an important value for me and this book fits nicely with that idea. If you share this value and use similar phrases, mention this in your lesson. 

One last benefit I’ll mention here is the way this book presents diverse families, diverse in membership, color, and culture. It is crucial that children’s books represent children’s realities so that the connections to self can be more easily made.
Picture Book: One Family
Author: George Shannon
Illustrator: Blanca Gomez
Original Publisher & Date: Frances Foster Books, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet

Monday, October 29, 2018

You get what you don't pay for at PBT!

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “You get what you paid for.” That’s not true here at PBT! I do this work out of love for God, for building God’s Kingdom, and for all who do the hard work of ministry and teaching. This website is all about freely sharing and giving, sharing about wonderful new picture books and giving you ideas of how to best use them. If you are grateful for my hard work, let me know by donating via the PayPal link to the right. Not a PayPal user? Send me a donation at 2029 Weeping Willow Lane, Birmingham, AL 35216. What's PBT worth to you?

Here’s one more share: I promised those who attended my workshop in Iowa that I would make the PowerPoint slideshow available. The contents represent months of work. You can access it via the tab above that says Other Resources by Hanna. There you'll find all sorts of goodies, including info. about PBT lessons and my passion for doing PBT workshops & presentations.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Iowa Presentation: Book #5

Below is my initial post about the last of the 5 books I talked about at my presentations in Iowa. It may be a personal favorite because it is so weird and wonderful. I hope you find ways to use it in your ministry among the many suggestions I've given you below. Here's that post:

One of the benefits of PBT is bringing high-quality secular stories to audiences of faith. Encouraging connections between that story and scripture boosts faithful responses for several reasons. Check out my Picture Books in Ministry tab for more about this. There is so much "below the surface" of these secular picture books!
Children's literature is getting better and better! Some stories are so good, you want your audience to explore them thoroughly, like the PBT book I'm featuring today. This new picture book has 2 protagonists so I encourage you to do what I call The PBT Flip-Flop, which involves finding the connections in opposite aspects of the story. I explain more in my comments below. It's so simple to do!
Picture Book: Hattie & Hudson
Author & Illustrator: Chris Van Dusen
Summary: Hattie lives near a beautiful lake. She has an nature exploration ritual every morning.
On this particular morning, Hattie sings a sort of invitation song in her canoe. A huge creature, who usually stays hidden deep within the lake, is lured by Hattie’s lovely song. He decides to breach the surface, something he has not done for a very long time despite being very lonely. 
When the creature surfaces, Hattie is intrigued so she keeps singing. 
After looking in the creature’s eyes, Hattie knows there is no reason to fear. The creature even begins to harmonize with her!
However, the others on the lake soon see the creature and are terrified. The creature disappears into the waters. 
Both Hattie & the creature wonder if they'll see each other again. That evening Hattie decides to venture out and see. 
They do meet again. Hattie isn't afraid of the two eyes below the surface
or the creature's head when it emerges. She names her new friend Hudson. 
They play together all night and plan to meet again the next evening. 
The next day a meeting at The Town Hall is all about "getting rid of ...the Deadly Beast." Hattie tries to speak up, but there's no room for her voice. 
When Hattie and Hudson meet again, Hattie explains the adults' plan. Hudson surprises her with a bump of the canoe and a smile, then another bump and smile. Hattie soon understands. 
Next morning as her neighbors prepare, Hattie paddles to the center of the lake and waits for Hudson. 
 Hudson gently overturns Hattie's canoe. 
Then Hattie's acting begins. She makes sure her screams of terror are heard by the neighbors. As expected, they jump in their boats to rescue her. 
Just as they get close, Hudson to the rescue! 
The neighbors all watch in amazement as Hudson lifts Hattie above the water. 
Hudson gently swims Hattie to the pier and places her there. 
Next, Hattie holds a meeting of her own. She introduces Hudson, declares him to be safe, and assures everyone that once they get to know him, he will be their friend too. A boy approaches, and eventually others befriend Hudson. 
Once Hudson is fully integrated into the community, people from far away come to meet and play with him, the "famous friendly monster."  
But at night, it is just Hattie and Hudson growing and playing together.
Hanna’s Comments: If you are inclined create or piggyback a tune for Hattie’s song and sing it while reading. A musical friend of mine suggested trying the tune to "Do Your Ears Hang Low." Singing will enhance this story experience. The PBT Flip-Flop method is to read the story and then have 2 very different (even opposite) conversations. With this book, I encourage you to ask your audience the 2 questions below. Ask the second question only after the first has been discussed.
How is God (or Jesus) like Hattie?
How is God (or Jesus) like Hudson?
Another way you can use this book is to encourage connections to the gospel story in which Jesus heals the man born blind who then must defend Jesus to the Pharisees. Simply ask your audience to find any connections between that gospel story and the picture book. The stories don't have to be parallel. They just have to have some connections. Another Bible story to consider is Philip and the Eunuch. Notice the holy ideas that are here such as Hattie's contemplative ritual each morning. There's an aspect of worship in her ritual. Consider Hudson being lured by Hattie's song. That's like previenent grace. There's a lot of holy risk-taking and justice seeking for the stranger in this story. Talk about those! 
Original Publisher & Date: Candlewick Press, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Do not be conformed to this world... (Romans 12:2); Scriptures about the nature of God such God being viewed as a shield for all who need refuge (Psalm 18:30) Or the nature of Jesus such as when he heals the man born blind (John 9:1-34) or Philip, Jesus' disciple, welcoming a eunuch into Christianity (Acts 8:26-40); verses about welcoming the stranger such as when Jesus heals the Bent-Over Woman (Luke 13:10-16) or Jesus visiting Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) Or scriptures about wisdom or discernment when faced with a problem
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of tweens or older and ask them to find connections via The PBT Flip-Flop method as described above in my comments.