Monday, June 18, 2018

Mustard Seeds are Marvelous!

This and the next PBT post feature a couple of authors who bring with their picture books a great deal of substance and authority. Levine is a Professor of New Testament & Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. Sasso is a well-known rabbi and author of many books for adults and children. You’ll find my favorite Sasso picture book in a couple of versions [here] at PBT. My photos below are from a pre-publication copy of this book so they may not match what you find.
Picture Book: The Marvelous Mustard Seed
Author: Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Illustrator: Margaux Meganck
Summary: This book is based on the parable Jesus tells about a mustard seed. Together two children plant a seed that has great potential even though it is very tiny. They tend it in rain and shine. All it's really good for is planting. No matter the weather, it will grow.  
The critters in the soil see it growing. This tiny seed becomes an amazing tree where birds nest, people marvel, and all enjoy it and each other. Some people touch this great tree to be assured that it's real while others simply enjoy its shade. The marvelous thing about this tree is that it has so many uses. Besides its beauty, shade, and gathering space, its pods can make spices and its leaves and seeds can make medicine. This tree is a symbol of The Kingdom of God, growing and growing, and growing! Now you can't miss it! 
The Kingdom of God is a great big surprise and marvelous wonder! Like this extraordinary tree, it leads us to "imagine what can be."
Hanna’s Comments:  The scholarly grounding of these 2 authors becomes obvious in their Note to Parents and Teachers at the end. Be sure to read it. They explore the concept of parables and how they would have been received when Jesus spoke. They offer some of the many interpretations of this parable. Then they list a series of questions and ideas to consider with your audience.
Original Publisher & Date: Flyaway Books, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed is found in Matthew 13:31-32, Mark 4:30-32, and Luke 13:18-19. The Matthew and Luke passages mention the seed becoming a tree.
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of any age or use it in a children's sermon experience to explore the meaning of the parable of the mustard seed.