Friday, February 22, 2019

It's Love! - a Little Late

Sorry I got sick and couldn’t feature these books earlier in February, the month of love. I have 2 new publications that are rich with meaning but very different visually and in tone. Both offer profound ideas about God’s nature and God's greatest gift. I also give you links to other “love-ly” books here at PBT.

Picture Book: Love
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Summary: The profound question “What is love?” is the "heart" of this book. Sorry for that very bad pun! Everyday moments, sometimes unexpected, are highlighted. There's lots of fun and diversity in character and deed, but the context is consistent - families and friends loving on each other!  
Loving spiritual practices and loving situations abound such as gifts of hospitality, generosity, and that most precious gift - presence. 
Hanna’s Comments: If your country celebrates St. Valentine's Day, this is a perfect book for that occasion, but it's applicable all year long! I adore the illustrator’s choices here! Check out the cover. Within these pages you have lots of examples of how we communicate love including the American Sign Language sign and other simple signals with our body. I used all these gestures for a preschool lesson about 1 Corinthians 13. This author’s fun book Excellent Ed was featured at PBT [here]. And [here's] another favorite book all about how our bodies (hands this time) show love. 
Original Publisher & Date: Running Press Kids, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet 
Scripture Connections: God is love. (1 John 4:8b); The Love Chapter (1 Corinthians 13); Let all you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14); Above all these, put on love… (Colossians 3:14)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of young children, and practice all the ways in these pages love can be communicated with your body. Then create some new ways.  

Picture Book: My Heart
Author & Illustrator: Corinna Luyken
Summary: This author/illustrator urges us to let our hearts be our guides and listen to the loving voice within us. Sounds like The Holy Spirit to me! There’s a lot of abstract metaphorical language, but don’t let that keep you from sharing this with younger audiences. Sometimes they get such messages when we adults are stuck in the concrete.

Hanna’s Comments: You’ll want to play with these metaphors yourself before you read this book to an audience. What does it mean to say “My heart is a slide, a fence, or a stain? 
I used to collect hearts. There's no red in these pages! What Luyken does with that simple design and the colors yellow and black is amazing! Be sure to have your folks find the hidden hearts in these pages. Spend time with each image’s meaning. Does it remind them of a personal experience or a possibility or hope? Can they make up or dramatize a simple story inspired by an illustration? So much potential here! Keep connecting to scripture and you have a fabulous Sunday school or Bible Study experience. [Here's] another book about loving the world, but it's so very different looking. Kids might like experiencing both and then using all the images to compare, contrast, and create. If you're a preacher, this book could serve as rich visual stimuli for a profound sermon on what it means to love. 
Original Publisher & Date: Dial, 2019
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: Create in me a clean heart O God… (Psalm 51:10); Keep your heart with all vigilance… (Proverbs 4:23); I will give you a new heart and a new spirit…I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh (Ezekiel 36:26); Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children or adults who need some reminders about how to love one another better. This book would also be a beautiful reading for spiritual direction or other bibliotherapy contexts, particularly if someone is struggling with important relationships. For more on that, check out [this post]. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Another New God Book!

Sorry for the delay in posting, folks. I have been sick. It’s great to feel healthy again and ready to share a story! Here is another wonderful book about the nature and gifts of God, what I call here at PBT a God book.
Picture Book: When God Gave Us Words
Author: Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
Illustrator: Darcy Day Zoells
Summary: This is a wisdom tale about all sorts of human words. God believes humans will "make something beautiful with words,"
but the angels (represented in glorious geometric form) are not so sure and just might be jealous. They deliver the words, all sorts of words - long (leading to dictionaries) silly (gibberish is mentioned), hard to spell (here comes spelling lists!). Then God and the angels listen. Even when the angels thought there were enough words (we humans do go on!), God wanted more words. Then the humans started distorting and dirtying words. Gossip, curses, and threats were heard. God was about to take all the words back, but humans began to get creative. They found music and rhythm. 
Dance and poetry and jokes and stories and prayers began to enchant God, and even the angels, so the words remained. Our world is all the better for those many, many words.
Hanna’s Comments: I’m a big fan of this author. You might want to check out her fabulous conversation with Krista Tippett on the On Being podcast (my favorite podcast!). It’s an old but relevant conversation The Spirituality of Parenting. Listening to this wisdom would benefit any church leader. I’ve featured several of her books at PBT. Check out a classic [here] and 2 new books by this same amazing publisher [here] and [here]. Or you can simply type in "Sasso" in the search box at the top right.
Original Publisher & Date: Flyaway Books, 2018
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: None at present
Scripture Connections: Let the words of my mouth… (Psalm 19:14); For by your words you will be justified… (Matthew 12:37); [Let come from your mouths] only such [words] as is good for building up… (Ephesians 4:29); Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through him. (Colossians 3:17)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of tweens or teens. Then celebrate and explore the power (blessings, deceptions, beauty, damage, curses...) of human language. Then expand your conversation to include the languages of non-humans on earth as well. They will love it!

Friday, February 1, 2019

PBT Favorite Posts #7

In celebration of my 700 PBT post (!!!) and the start of February (the month of love), I give you a favorite PBT post. It is a tribute and sort of memorial to my favorite picture book author, Amy Krause Rosenthal. You may recall her NY Times article You May Want to Marry My HusbandSince AKR's death, a TED talk by her husband has had over a million views. It is such a loving tribute to a woman who lived well and an honest testament to the heartbreak of terminal illness and grief. Check it out [here]. And now, that favorite post... 

Last Friday, I posted a tribute to author Amy Krouse Rosenthal after reading that she had a terminal illness. Sadly, AKR died on Monday (3/13/17). [Here’s] an obituary that gives you the breadth of her great work. Below is a post about her most recent publication. I've heard more original works will be published posthumously. I’m glad and very thankful for her life and her work.

Picture Book: That’s Me Loving You
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator: Teagan White 
Summary: Each page of this gorgeous book explains how a particular child might find additional meaning in particular experiences of nature. A shimmering star is "me winking at you."
A drifting cloud is "me thinking of you."
The ocean is "me waving at you."
And even a clap of thunder is "me raving about you."
Even insect encounters are given new meaning. A persistent mosquito is "me bugging you"
and a butterfly, "that's me hugging you."
All these nature experiences are moments of transcendence 
and moments of love in the absence of someone who is missed.
Hanna’s Comments: Check out AKR's 1.5 minute short film [Today is a Gift]Similar sentiments under-gird this book. Knowing the plight of AKR, her words here have bittersweet meaning. She dedicates the book to her 3 children and others who are obviously close to her. Mother love has been featured as a sort of parallel to God's love in other PBT posts. Here are links to 2: the ever-present love found in The Runaway Bunny and the unconditional love found in I Love You Stinky, FaceThe kind of love that is expressed in today's PBT book can also be a parallel to God’s unfathomable love and ever-presence. In the United Methodist Church, we hear about prevenient grace, a wooing sort of love that is holy and wonderfully prevenient (anticipatory and constant). Like the mother's love in this book, it is found in God’s generous creation. Find more PBT books that connect to prevenient grace [here]. Children are not too young to hear such an usual word. With their magical thinking, they get that love can transcend time and place. They can find comfort in knowing that God’s presence (and that of an absent parent) can be found in creation in all sorts of ways through acts of contemplation and simply through beauty. Thanks be to God!
Original Publisher & Date: Random House, 2016
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 3 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet
Scripture Connections: My presence will go with you (Exodus 33:14); In your presence there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11); Where can I go from your Spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence? … (Psalm 139:7); I (Jesus) am with you always (Matthew 28:20)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book to a group of children who are learning about how God’s loving presence is with us and can be particularly meaningful when experiencing God’s creation.