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!