Friday, July 1, 2022

Contemplate Wild Peace

Picture Book:
Wild Peace

Author: Irene Latham

Illustrator: Il Sung Na

Summary: This extraordinary book is about the peace found when imagining a nature journey, leading to observing nature in all its Godly Glory and experiencing the peace such nature provides! It is the story of a young girl who is playing in a chaotic room with her 3 siblings. She is painting a nature picture. 

Then her desire for some peace has her peering into her art and imagining where it might take her. Actually, a butterfly invites her on this expansive journey where the idea of peace simply means being who (what) God intends in a world pulsing with beauty and diversity. She is on every gorgeous page. When her figure is small, cue your audience to find her. 

The girl's explorations are to various environs where she notices animal behaviors, but there is much beauty and mystery in the plants and skies too. The last page is so profound. It shows the girl with her 3 siblings in a bed they share. Two are asleep. The youngest, a toddler, is dancing on the bed as light rays embrace each child. These are the last wise words:

Peace welcomes all that is wild and

kisses the forehead of each and every child.

Hanna’s Comments: There are many picture books about humans interacting with nature. When they are beautiful and simple, like this book, then a group can easily extrapolate deep spiritual possibilities. These kinds of books are more prevalent as our culture realizes we have deprived too many children (and adults) of these rich healing experiences, and we are all far too anxious, over-stimulated, and busy. 
This girl's journey offers peaceful quiet and leads to marvelous curiosity about God's world. Talk in particular about the animal behavior that intrigues her. What might they be teaching her about God?  Spend some time helping your audience expand their definition of prayer to include anytime they are in nature and feeling thankful, curious, or awed by God's world. 

My favorite PBT book about the peace that God's natural world can give is another secular book. Sophie is a young child who climbs a tree for comfort after she has a tantrum. She sits in the tree and seems to heal. Then she returns home. There are 2 other books in the Sophie series by Molly Bang. All are great books about managing intense feelings. 

Original Publisher: Roaring Brook Press, 2021

Age Appropriateness: 4 and up

Formats other than Book: Tablet

Scripture Connections: Any scripture about peace, such as Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. (John 14:27) OR scriptures about quiet, such as Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10) 

PBT Applications: Read this book to a group of older children. Have them create a drama in which they are all in a chaotic room. Then one by one, they leave the chaos and do something quieter, more peaceful in the natural world. Have each tell how they have imagined themselves to be somewhere else in nature. Ask what is there that is comforting and shows God's love. End the lesson by guiding all through an imaginative prayer journey that refers to spaces already mentioned as comforting and healing. Together be grateful for such places, the skills to imagine them, and the opportunities to experience them. 

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