Monday, July 30, 2018

PBT Favorite Posts #5

Picture Book: Jabari Jumps
Author & Illustrator: Gaia Cornwall
Summary: It's summer and Jabari is a self-confessed "great jumper." After situating his suit and goggles, Jabari is determined to jump off the diving board this year. 
His dad is surprised. 
After swim lessons and a test, Jabari says he isn't afraid.
He watches the jumpers from the sidelines, noticing their techniques, and declares that it "looks easy," but Dad's hand feels awfully good. 
The ladder is a bit daunting,
and the crowd is more ready than he. Jabari urges them to go ahead of him so he can practice his special jump. When Jabari stalls half-way up the ladder, his dad asks if he's ok. Jabari says he just needs a rest. Dad urges him to come on down. Jabari does.
Then Jabari remembers his stretches - very important! 
When Jabari suggests that tomorrow might be a better day, his father confesses that he too is afraid sometimes, explaining that scared feelings sometimes turn into surprise feelings. Jabari loves surprises! That's when Jabari breathes deeply and does some self-talk: "I'm ready." So Jabari takes that deep breath... 
climbs the ladder...
walks to the edge... 
and feels ready for the surprise, not so afraid anymore.
Jabari takes another deep breath and jumps. 
 After flying, he hits the water, goes down, down, and down and then... 
and up again!
Everyone celebrates Jabari's courage! 
He's ready to go again, this time with that special jump - "a double backflip!"
Hanna’s Comments: This book offers great connections to our many scriptures about courage. Don’t let the age and cuteness factor of Jabari limit you. Sure this book is great for little ones, but Jabari can be an inspiration to us all. Adults struggle with courage and can relate to jumping off a literal or figurative diving board. The metaphors of faith and our belief in God’s (or Jesus’ presence) are evident in this story. Acts that are our next steps in faith are Jabari's slow journey to the end of the diving board. Jabari's father is an obvious image of God (or Jesus) and a role-model to those wanting to be encouraging parents. Breath is a particularly important aspect of the strategy Jabari’s father gives him to face his fears and be ready for the joys such courage can bring. Remind your audience that breath can signify God (or the Holy Spirit) and holy inspiration. I've been doing more centering prayer lately. Perhaps you do yoga. Breath is an integral aspect to such grounding practices so we can courageously jump with faith into the delights that will follow.

If it's not summertime, you might consider Chicken Chickens by Valeri Gorbachev. It is about twin chicks who enter a chaotic playground for the first time. They are welcomed well and eased into going down the slide. 
Original Publisher & Date: Candlewick Press, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, toddler and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Be strong and courageous. Don’t be terrified…for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go (Deuteronomy 31:6 & Joshua 1:9); Where shall I go from your Spirit? Where shall I flee you’re your presence? (Psalm 139:7); When you pass through the waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2); You will seek me and fine me, when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13); I am with you always (Matthew 28:20); God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are going to church camp for the first time. Relate this story to their courage when swimming but also to other activities that will be new or require risk. Emphasize the comfort that God’s (or Jesus’) presence offers. For a class on parenting, emphasize the role Jabari’s dad plays in letting him be courageous while tooling him with strategies and confidence.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Turner & Catrow #2

Picture Book: When God Made Light
Author: Matthew Paul Turner
Illustrator: David Catrow
Summary: The same 2 little girls we enjoyed in the first Turner and Catrow book (see my last post) are back!  Here they are celebrating God's creation, beginning with 4... 
Big sister creates her sun costume 
while little sister dabbles in some creative play too. 
Light and shadow are explored via graceful dancing by all sorts of creatures. The beauty and benefits of light are listed... 
warm summers, blooming flowers, golden wheat, and gorgeous sunrises.  
Readers are encouraged to look up to the sun and be grateful to God. 
At day's end, as you wave goodbye to the sun, stick around for the moon and it's beautiful, light-reflecting ways. 
Don't let the absence of the sun, keep you from having fun! There are flashlights for night hikes and fireflies too.  
There are all sorts of light ready to dazzle you, some bolting, some sparkling and bursting. 
All is amazing, but what might be most glorious is God's light inside you. So beam and shimmer, for you are light for the world!
Hanna’s Comments: What a gorgeous book! So many children (and adults) need to hear there is God's light inside of them waiting to be shone in the world for good. Don't let this picture book experience be limited to simple platitudes. Encourage you audience, no matter their age, to talk about how faith, hope, and God's loving presence has shown a light in darkness for them. Tell stories of dark times transformed into loving lessons or hopeful opportunities. These little girls deserve rich conversation about God's glorious and transformational light in nature AND in their lives.
Original Publisher & Date: Waterbrook, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: And God said, “Let there be light"... And God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:3-4); humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27); Let your light shine before others. (Matthew 5:16); Jesus said, "I am with you always..." (Matthew 28:20); The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5); Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." (John 8:12)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children in a lesson about God’s creation story in Genesis or Jesus being the light of the world or that God-given spark of light in all of us.

Monday, July 23, 2018

PBT God Book #11: When God Made You

Below I feature again a wonderful God book by Turner and Catrow. On Friday look for this pair's new book in the series, When God Made Light

Picture Book: When God Made You
Author: Matthew Paul Turner
Illustrator: David Catrow
Summary: Through charming rhyme and hilarious illustrations, this picture book celebrates when God made "an incredible you," a you that the world needs. 
You were in God's mind long before you were born. God imagined how you would look, what you could do, and how you would respond to the world. 
God knew your name all along. You are an important member of God's family who brings "color and rhythm and rhyme to God's story." 
Perhaps it's with paint, amazing tricks, a make-believe story, or the beauty of a dance, but for sure God is pleased, for you are an image of God!
God dreams about you, especially "all that in you that will be true." God knows your potential to be "a lover of nature", a "peacemaker," and a "builder of dreams." 
And you definitely can learn to view other children of God as a part of your family, ready to be loved by you. "You being you is God's dream coming true."
Hanna’s Comments: Picture books about the nature of God featured here at PBT I call God Books. I especially like the non-gender nature of God here. This book is a jewel because it emphasizes each person’s value as a uniquely created, child of God, made in God’s image and loved beyond measure. This is such an important message for each person in our world. In this oh-so-colorful book, you have encouragement for children (really people of all ages) to explore their gifts and abilities while considering how they might make the world better. You may recognize the art. David Catrow’s PBT books about Molly Lou Melon, have a similar look and a delightful little girl with similar imagination and enthusiasm but in a secular setting. Check out Molly Lou’s books [here] and [here]
Original Publisher & Date: Waterbrook, 2017
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet 
Scripture Connections: Made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27); for I am wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or adults to remind them that they are all unique children of God, made in God’s image with gifts to share with and for the world's other creatures. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Ocean Vocation

I was able to visit the ocean last week! In my opinion, there is no more inspirational natural beauty. The post below features a book about Jacques Cousteau. We ocean-lovers, not to mention oceanographers and those who are worried about the state of today’s oceans, owe a great deal to this man and the work that is still being done in his name. Praise be to those who find their passion (aka vocation) early in life and their work benefits the entire world! 
Picture Book: The Fantastic Undersea Life                                                              of Jacques Cousteau
Author & Illustrator: Dan Yaccarino
Summary: Jacques Cousteau was a sickly French boy whose doctor suggested he swim to build strength. He also loved gadgets, cameras especially. These early experiences would guide his life's work.
His desire to view under the sea and his disdain for the limits of diving suits of his day compelled him to explore with other contraptions. Eventually he invented the Aqua-Lung which allowed divers to breath underwater while swimming. 
Cousteau's strong desire to better see what was under the surface led to inventing a waterproof camera and underwater lights. The mystery of the silent ocean was now much more accessible. The first of his Calypso ships, still widely known internationally, was purchased. 
Meanwhile, a team was recruited for filming their many global explorations . 
The Silent World was Cousteau's first widely-released film. It's audiences were amazed by the ocean's creatures. It was "the first full-length, full-color underwater film." Many TV shows were to follow. This French oceanographer would become a world celebrity.
Even Antarctic oceans were not too far, too deep, or too cold for this team!
The team's next invention was the Diving Saucer, capable of carrying 2 people into the deep ocean. 
Cousteau's great hope was finding a way to live under the sea so they invented underwater labs where scientists would stay for weeks. Alas, our bodies need for sunlight could not be overcome so Cousteau's permanent undersea dwellings were not possible. 
Eventually, return trips to particular oceans showed evidence of death and destruction from pollution. The world's foremost ocean explorer became the world's ocean ambassador, documenting their deterioration and passionately declaring a need for change. His was an early prophetic voice of doom if humanity did not protect its oceans and the treasures and necessities they held.
Hanna’s Comments: Now and then I run across a picture book biography that connects strongly to a biblical figure. Do you see the connections to Jeremiah whose life was spent warning the people of Jerusalem of the doom and destruction that was to come? There are many possibilities here to talk about God-ordained vocations, particularly as they relate to ecology and justice since deteriorating oceans are negatively affecting humans in numerous ways. Another approach for this book in ministry is simply to do a lesson on God's glory in the oceans. What amazing evidence of God's creative spirit! Help your audience imagine earlier generations with no way of knowing there were such creatures as tiger fish or even otters and dolphins and then seeing those creatures on screen in full color in their homes. According to Wikipedia, Cousteau in last book, The Human, The Orchid, and the Octopus, wrote “The glory of nature provides evidence that God exists.” In the back of the book, you’ll find a time line of important events in Cousteau’s life as well as a list of other resources. Can’t find this book? Check out Manfish by Berne & Puybaret or Who Was Jacques Cousteau by Medina and Putra.
Original Publisher & Date: Knopf, 2009
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: Digital
Scripture Connections: Various verses from the book of Jeremiah; I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide… (John 15:16); Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned and to which God has called. (1 Corinthians 7:17); Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called (Ephesians 4:1)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to inspire art or science activities about the oceans with children in your faith community or a vocational retreat for older teens looking to connect their spiritual passions with ecological or justice work. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

PBT Series: Picture Book Classics #3

Below I'm featuring again a favorite discovery during my first year of PBT. Because that year I posted about a book everyday, you don't get as many photos of illustrations, but all the usual content is here. This is a beautiful classic that I encourage you to read for yourself if you don't know it. It's central message is needed more than ever across ages and in sacred and secular communities.  
Picture Book: The Happy Owls
Author & Illustrator: Celestino Piatti  
Summary: A pair of owls lives happily all year long. Their neighbors, barnyard fowl, are constantly eating, drinking, and fighting. The preening peacock wants to know why the owls seem to always be content. The other birds suggest that he visit them and ask. When the peacock asks about their happiness, the owls suggest he bring all his feathered friends to hear how they can be so content. Once all the birds are together, the owls explain and demonstrate their attentiveness and joy at seasonal details of nature. These practices of attention and gratitude lead to their happiness. The owls find joy and revel in the beauty of each season. What is the response of the barnyard animals? “What nonsense!’ and “Do you call that happiness?”  Then they return to their farmyard life, unpersuaded and unchanged. In contrast, the two owls snuggle in for winter, looking into one another’s wise owl eyes.
Hanna’s Comments: My library system has only one copy of this book, a 1964 publication. However, this classic has been reissued and can be easily purchased on-line. The price varies a lot so you may want to watch it for a while. I did not know of this classic which was initially published in Switzerland. When I saw the video in the collection mentioned below, I knew it must be one of my PBT daily offerings. What a treasure! What a beautiful message of contentment as a result of attention and gratitude, what we would call “mindfulness” today. If you like old books and styles of art, then you’ll especially like this picture book. Find a blog post about it on The Art of Children's Picture Books, which I've added to My Blog List to the right.
Publisher & Date of Publication: Artemis Verlag, 1963
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Audible, A video version is in the collection Corduroy & More Stories about Caring
Scripture Connections: This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be thankful (Psalm 118:24); let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken and let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:28)
Idea(s) for Application: Reverence is a difficult but important concept to teach children in a worshiping community. Use this book to help your children understand the benefits of being mindful of God’s generosity and reverent when worshiping.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Grab & Go #14 – Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

A PBT Grab & Go book requires little planning because its content aligns obviously with theological ideas from The Bible. Bucket Filling is all about love. There are numerous resources, including other picture books, about the concept of bucket filling as a metaphor for the importance of loving attention. I've scattered a few covers of some of those resources in this repeated post from 2014. 
Picture Book: Have You Filled a Bucket Today?                                                     A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
Author: Carol McCloud
Illustrator: David Messing
Summary: Based on the adult book How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, this picture book puts those authors’ ideas in an inviting format for children. The guiding metaphor here is that each of us has been carrying an invisible bucket since birth. The purpose of the bucket is to hold good thoughts and feelings about yourself. You need others to fill your bucket by being loving to you, and they need you to fill their bucket by being loving to them. What’s wonderful is that the act of filling someone else’s bucket fills your bucket as well. You feel good when you help others feel good. However, you might sometimes be a “bucket dipper.” Bucket dipping occurs when you take away someone’s good feelings by saying or doing mean things to them.
Hanna’s Comments:  I chose this "bucket" book because it teaches children how to fill others’ buckets and focuses on how our actions influence others’ well-being. This is an important aspect of any faith community. Another strength of this book is the way in which it teaches empathy, an important skill for personal resilience and functional community. Find an introduction by the author. For more information and resources including free downloads, visit
Publisher & Date of Publication: Ferne Press, 2006
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet, Amateur videos on where there is also a song about being bucket fillers.
Scripture Connections: This is my commandment that you love one another (John 15:12); rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15); be kind to one another (Ephesians 4:32); all of you have unity of mind, sympathy, love, a tender heart and a humble mind
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book when doing a lesson for children on your faith community’s loving interdependence and God's call to live in this way.