Friday, April 29, 2022

Listen! It Might Be Joshua Bell!

Picture Book: The Man with the Violin

Author: Kathy Stinson

Illustrator: Dusan Petricic

Summary: Dylan and his mom hurry to the subway station. He is someone who notices things, but she does not. As they navigate the crowds, Dylan is struck by the sounds of a violinist. The music seems to be telling an exciting story! Then he hears “the saddest sound he has ever heard.” Dylan begs his mom to stop and listen, but she will not. He stretches their arms as long as possible to listen before they ride down the escalator. 

All day Dylan hears the music in his head! When he asks to return to the station, hoping the man will still be playing, Dylan’s mom asks, “What man?” That night, Dylan hears on the radio that the violinist he experienced is “one of the finest musicians in the world,” Joshua Bell, who played on “one of the most valuable violins ever made.” But still few people stopped to listen. Dylan now understands his strong response. He is swept up again, this time by the radio's recording of that morning’s music. AND this time, his mother listens and dances with him!

Hanna’s Comments: This book is a fictional story surrounding an actual event. Here is a link to a video of Joshua Bell’s performance in the Washington DC metro station on January 12, 2007. The book's last few pages have a bit about this event and Joshua Bell. The music Bell played that morning was a godly sound that Dylan couldn't forget. Talk about other kinds of godly sounds including other kinds of music and singing. Here are some possibilities: nature sounds, words of love, words that compel loving action, sounds that evoke positive memories, etc. Beforehand, contemplate godly sounds for yourself generally. Then you'll know what specific questions to prompt answers. 

Original Publisher: Annick Press, 2013

Age Appropriateness: 3 and up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Eli told Samuel to return to bed and say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. (1 Samuel 3:9); Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10); To answer before listening, that is folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13); Jesus' transfiguration story in the 3 synoptic gospels (see next note);  Martha had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet listening. (Luke 10:39); Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: I listed this book in Trinity Treasures (my preschool curriculum based on the RCL & picture books) for 1 of the Transfiguration lessons. In that particular lesson, I focused on listening, because the disciples are instructed by God to listen to Jesus. 

PBT Applications: Read this book to tweens or teens and talk about godly sounds. If they will not respond well to a picture book, begin a story this way: Once there was a student who had to rush to school each morning.... They will all relate! Do give the author credit for the story. Show the video and then begin a discussion as described above in my comments.

If you are interested in learning more about my Trinity Treasures, a scripture based preschool Sunday school curriculum that features picture books & children’s Bibles, contact me at Right now, free lessons are emailed if you agree to fill out the monthly feedback form.

Friday, April 22, 2022

New Workshop Video!

The video of the workshop I did at 

The Better Together Conference

for The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, Washington, USA 

is now at Other Resources by Hanna. 

Access that page above. 

The Title: Picture Book Theology for All Ages

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Paul's Letters

This unique book by a Caldecott-winning author-illustrator offers key messages from each of Paul's letters found in the Bible.

Picture Book: Paul Writes (a letter)

Author/Illustrator: Chris Raschka

Summary: Presented in the order found in the New Testament, some central ideas from these significant documents of early church history are presented, 1 book per double-page spread. They are beautifully rendered with water-color brushstrokes. Crucial words are emphasized with a larger red font. Colorful maps showing Paul’s travels are on the end pages. 

The text begins with an introduction explaining that Paul was

“a faithful and learned man... who began to believe in the story of the life and teachings of Jesus.”

Here are images of the 2 pages about Romans: 

At the end of the book, Raschka explains that Paul was “killed by his jailers with a sword.” He goes on to explain that a sword and book are historic symbols for Paul who changed the world by writing to his friends. 

Hanna’s Comments:
 I think there is too much information here to read in a traditional way. I would focus on no more than 3 of Paul’s books at a time. You might want to choose those books that get the least attention, such as Philemon, Titus, and the 2 Thessalonians. The author does give Paul credit for writing Hebrews. BUT he notes that “some biblical scholars doubt that Paul wrote Hebrews.” Raschka explains that he chose to summarize those verses in Hebrews that sounded like Paul. 

Original Publisher: Eerdmans Books, 2018

Age Appropriateness: 6 and up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Specific scripture references are at the bottom of each page.

PBT Applications: Consider this a future PBT Grab & Go book! Little prep would be required. I don’t think preschoolers would find this book interesting, but there's rich potential for older church groups, even if you only show 1 double-page spread to discuss and build on. Consider having your participants build on this picture book experience by contemplating a letter they might want to be their legacy. These letters could be to their church or to someone else.  

Here are images of the 2 pages about Philippians:



Thursday, April 14, 2022

Maundy Thursday Table Hospitality


In honor of today’s liturgical holiday, Maundy Thursday, I give you wise words from theologian & church historian Diana Butler Bass about Jesus' inclination to offer table hospitality.

Also, I post again a picture book that expresses extravagant hospitality (for a party). It’s the latest PBT Grab & Go book (Xander’s Panda Party)! These  you can literally grab & go, trusting there are many theological connections.

At the end of this post, I give a shortcut for finding more books about table hospitality at PBT! 

Here is a key paragraph from Butler Bass’ post, but if you want to read her entire post, click here.

Jesus loved meals. They (those with him at his last supper) knew that. They’d had so many together. Go back through the gospels and see how many of the stories take place at tables, distributing food, or inviting people to supper. Indeed, some have suggested that Jesus primary work was organizing suppers as a way to embody the coming kingdom of God. Throughout his ministry, Jesus welcomed everyone — to the point of contention with his critics — to the table. Tax collectors, sinners, women, Gentiles, the poor, faithful Jews, and ones less so. Jesus was sloppy with supper invitations. He never thought about who would be seated next to whom. He made the disciples crazy with his lax ideas about dinner parties. All he wanted was for everybody to come, to be at the table, and share food and conversation. 

PBT Grab & Go #20

Picture Book: Xander’s Panda Party

AuthorLinda Sue Park

Illustrator: Matt Phelan

: In very clever verse, Park captures the frustrations of planning a party. Xander wants to have a party. He carefully creates his invitation, menu, and guest list. As he invites various species of animals at the zoo, he realizes important species are being left out. For instance, Xander begins by inviting other bears. The koala "bear" protests, complaining that being a marsupial, not a bear, means she's not invited. So Xander expands his guest list to include all mammals. At other times, animals who are invited complain, that their cross-species friends can't come. Rhinoceros says, 

"It may sound a bit absurd, 
but I won't come without my bird." 
Similar guest list conundrums arise, but Xander's hospitable nature has him expanding the species of animals he will invite. Eventually, all creatures are invited to Xander's party, even the humans at the zoo.

Hanna’s Comments: Animal taxonomy (how species are organized) is explored throughout this delightful story so your children might learn a little science while hearing about being more inclusive and hospitable. The author also offers a note at the end with some history about animal taxonomies. For these reasons, this book would be a wonderful part of an elementary science lesson on animal classification. Homeschools or private schools could connect this story to The Parable of the Banquet Guests or the spiritual practice of hospitality. It would be an excellent read-aloud in a worship service, especially when hospitality is the theme. Point out how Panda is also using his empathy skills, an important part of loving neighbors as directed in the scriptures. 

Publisher & Date of Publication: Clarion Books, 2013 

Age and Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up 

Available in Spanish? Not at present 

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Treat the stranger as a native (Leviticus 19:34); Love your neighbor (Mark 12:31); Parable of the Banquet Guests (Luke 14:15-24); show hospitality to one another without grumbling (1 Peter 4:9)

Idea(s) for Application: Read this book in a lesson or as part of a sermon on the importance of inclusion, avoiding exclusive practices, and practicing hospitality.

From The Doorbell Rang by Hutchins
For more picture books about table hospitality, go to the search box and type in  "table hospitality."

                        From Bear Says Thanks by Wilson & Chapman

Friday, April 8, 2022

Tomorrow I’ll Be...

Two picture books from a lettering artist today!

Tomorrow I’ll Be Kind and

Tomorrow I’ll Be Brave

Author/Illustrator: Jessica Hische 

Summary: These books are very similar so I'll summarize both here. Each involve a rabbit whose sidekick is a cat. (Maybe younger sibling, not sure) Both live in a family of rabbits in a human-like community of various animals. There is an obvious rhythm to the pages. First the rabbit declares, "Tomorrow I'll be..." with a little explanation on a double page.

Then the next double-page spread gives more detail in context, usually with the cat involved. Here the rabbit is helpful with the cat who has made a mess.

That pattern repeats 7 times in both books. Here’s the same kind of pages from the blue book: "Tomorrow I'll be...

The rabbit is adventurous in several ways by trying new things/behaviors.

Each book ends with a summary page listing the 7 attributes. 

Then at bedtime…

the rabbit goes to bed, anticipating the possibilities of all those goals. 

Hanna’s Comments: These books are beautiful! Some of attributes will be a little difficult for early readers to read because they are in cursive, but that's okay. They are learning. Hische often answers the question I ask to ask when following up with a great but abstract idea from children (and sometimes adults), in a group discussion: "What does that look like?" Getting to the nitty-gritty of behaviors and application is what I'm hoping for. Hische shows details of behaviors and situations that your audience can build on in their conversation and applications in the real world. Some of her illustrations are whimsical, so this will take some grounding in reality. It is easy to connect these ideas to scripture. So many Bible characters have these attributes. Bible verses often encourage them. You might consider having those who can write, list the goals in a particular personal order (i.e., easiest to hardest). Then choose 1 goal for the  week.

Original Publisher: Penguin Random House, 2018 & 2020

Age Appropriateness: 4 and up

Formats other than Book: None at present

Scripture Connections: Any scripture story or verses about being brave, kind, or any of the other personal goals mentioned here. Many Bible characters, like Abraham and Sarah, are encouraged by God to have some or all of these attributes. 

Connections to The Revised Common Lectionary: In my Trinity Treasures preschool curriculum based on the RCL, I listed the orange book about kindness when teaching about Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) as a group and in lessons about specific fruits like goodness. I also listed it for a lesson on Micah 6:8, suggesting they find the justice, mercy, and humility. I listed the blue book about bravery in lessons about Esther, Ruth & Naomi, and having courage grounded in God, such as in the verses  declaring that God's perfect love works in us and through us to cast out fear (1 John 4:18) and Paul's instruction for putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20). 

PBT Applications: If you would like to read either of these books to adults or youth but know the illustrations would be to immature for them, simply write all the text on an index card. But DO give the author credit for those words. Simply explain before reading that you read these words in a picture book by Jessica Hische. Then ask intriguing questions, such as which of these feelings/actions/orientations is hardest for you? Who do you know that does these really well? Is there a pop culture character who you think of when you think of one of these characteristics? What would this look like (there's my question) in your home/school/church/neighborhood/sport?

Friday, April 1, 2022

Grab & Go #19 - I Will Love You Anyway

What's a PBT Grab & Go? These books are extremely easy to use in sacred settings. God’s holiness is all over them. The connections to sacred ideas are easy to find. You may have to be patient as your audience finds the scriptural connections you see. Give them time, and they may surprise you with holy ideas you had not seen. 

Today's book is a funny read about a misbehaving dog. Coax your audience to talk about all viewpoints. There's humor, but there is also temptation, separation, worry, shame, love, and of course, grace! 

To find more PBT Grab & Go books, make sure you're in the web version (On your phone? You must click on that version.). Then check out the Grab & Go search label at the bottom of the screen or type "Grab & Go" into the search box in the upper right corner.

 Picture Book: I Will Love You Anyway
Author: Mick Inkpen
Illustrator: Chloe Inkpen 
Summary: The dog in this story is bad, sooo bad, but lovable and loved unconditionally.  
The desire to please, to do the right thing, is evident but the follow through? Not so much.
He's adorable in his sweat bands, perhaps worn because he never stops. He's constantly running away
  or chasing
 or being chased. 
There is one lesson that Doggie seems to have learned
the hard way. 
The boy's parents plan to find another home for the dog because of all the trouble it is causing. But, a loud thunderstorm leads to another escape and a long night of missing and longing and waiting. The humans realize the depth of their attachment.
 Then there is another reunion!
The family decides to keep the mischief-maker, despite his bad behavior because they love him unconditionally. Good thing! Some things (and dogs) never change!
Hanna’s Comments: This tale of misbehavior and unconditional love is from a father (author) daughter (illustrator) duo. Makes sense! Many picture book plots involve unconditional love. I call this kind of love parental love in the search labels below. This book has the added benefit of definite connections to the Parable of the Prodigal Son (the running away, the embrace...). The overall sense is that this little pup wants to please but can’t seem to overcome urges. I can relate!
In Paul’s Letter to the Romans, similar frustrations are confessed. Paul doesn’t explain what behavior he wants to avoid, but it sure is good to know that, even a man who Jesus spoke to in a vision, never stopped struggling with temptations. 
Original Publisher & Date: Aladdin, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet 
Scripture Connections: Adam & Eve's temptations (Genesis 3), The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32); I don’t do the thing I want and do the very thing I hate… (Romans 7: 15-17,19-20)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this adorable book to a group of children or parents in your faith family who are learning about God’s unconditional love, Jesus’s parable of The Prodigal Son, or Paul’s frustration with his own behavior. Be sure to practice reading! The rhyming rhythms are crucial for the humor.