Friday, April 13, 2018

Fruit of the Spirit: Love

Picture Book: Love
Author: Matt de la Pena
Illustrator: Loren Long
Summary: This beautiful new book begins with the birth of a child, but the story is about several children. The word "you" refers to each of them. This allows the images and ideas to more easily apply to the reader as well. In your case, your audience.
Sounds, smells and other sensory experiences of these children's lives are celebrated as evidence of love, as in this urban scene and...
the sky above a trailer home. 
The delight of an urban summer day and playing with the big kids is one of many examples of love here! But these moments are not all joyful. Love comes at hard times too.
When fire alarms interrupt your sleep, a neighbor reassures you that stars shine with love long after the flames die out. 
Sometimes love is harder to find such as when there's violence in your home 
or when there's violence on the TV and no one will explain. 
You might go to bed and face bad dreams, but then 
awake to find loving arms to hold you. Then you hear, "It's okay. It's okay." That's love. 
Some love gets unappreciated like the love of a parent who is at work in the morning but leaves breakfast to share. 
Love is in each deep crevice of the face of a granddad who will fish with a grandchild. 
Love is in a young girl's daydreams 
your uncle's stories, 
and the love songs of the man who sings on the street. 
Most importantly, love is in the face you see in the bathroom mirror. 
And then one day, you'll be off on your own, surrounded by family wishing you good luck, 
but it won't be luck you'll have.  Instead you'll have the love they've given you all along. Love. Love. Love.
Hanna’s Comments: This book is a celebration of the universal bonds of love, across cultures, diverse family situations, and various milestones. This is not a straightforward book. I suggest you read each double-page spread and then discuss that situation. Begin by simply asking, "Where's the love?"  You might have to start with, "What are the feelings being experienced?" Help your audience expand the sources of love from human to divine. Consider talking about God's hope or Jesus' examples and how those might apply. Ask: "Where's The Holy Spirit?" in each situation. "What are people being called to do? Why?" Try to encourage many connections to the book and across your audience. This will build meaning and perhaps lead to transformation. 
This author's last publication was so impressive that it won the prestigious Newbery Award for 2016. This is unusual for a picture book. Like today's feature book, Last Stop on Market Street is all about a loving relationships but via a soup kitchen and a child's first exposure to poverty. [Here's] my post featuring that book.
Original Publisher & Date: Putnam’s Sons, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: In addition to The Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: ... love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18); A new commandment I give you that you love one another (John 13:34); The Love Chapter (1 Corinthians 13); Let all you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14); Above all these, put on love which binds everything together (Colossians 3:14); Above all, keep loving one another earnestly (1 Peter 4:8)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of new parents or those who are anticipating parenthood. OR Read this book during a lesson series for elementary children on The Fruit of the Spirit. 

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