Thanksgving is coming. And so . . .

Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving

Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving

Though these are picture books, the stories will thrill and fascinate people of any age.

Here are some more suggestions of books with a Thanksgiving theme. We think they are lovely as well and will add to your celebration of the day and the days following.

What is Thanksgiving?  – a board book that takes the listener to the heart of the holiday

Thanksgiving Graces – a picture book about extending ourselves to family, friends and strangers

Molly’s Pilgrim – a first chapter book with illustrations for children in lower elementary grades that may help children consider modern day pilgrims.

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving – a gentle story about family life at Thanksgiving from 19th century author Louisa May Alcott.  This short book with illustrations would be enjoyed by children ages five to twelve.

 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

 

 

I saw this picture and liked it. I thought you might enjoy it as well.

No Woman So Fair by Gilbert Morris, and published by Bethany House (2003) is the fictional story of Abraham and Sarah. It is based on the Bible story. Many facts in the story are correct while some elements are imagined based on what might have happened. It is a wonderful and exciting tale of the biblical characters we all know and love.

Before their names were changed by God, Abraham and Sarah were known as Abram and Sarai. He came from a wealthy household. His father, Terah, was a shepherd and so was Abram. Abram’s grandfather, Nahor, was a follower of the Eternal One, but Terah and two of his sons, Haran and Nahor, gave tithes to the other gods who were worshiped at the time. One was An, the ruler of the universe and his wife Ishtar, the queen of the universe and goddess of fertility. Abram had always had a hunger in his heart for the one and only true God. He didn’t like going into the temple to sacrifice to the other gods. He also despised the practice of temple prostitution.

Terah had heard of Sarai and her family and sent Abram to meet them. Abram was overwhelmed with Sarai’s beauty; she also admired him. The two were married and lived in Ur of the Chaldees on the Euphrates River for a long time. Sarai discovered after several years that she was not able to bear children and she was saddened. Yet she and Abram had a wonderful relationship that met many of her needs. She also helped Abram’s brother’s wife with Lot. Later, when Lot’s mother died, Abram and Sarai adopted him.

Abram’s desire to know the one true God deepened. He spent many hours with his grandfather, discussing what God was like. Nahor had always felt God’s call on his life, and he explained to Abram that the Eternal One was interested in leading Abram as well. Abram’s grandfather died. Abram was grieved yet thankful for all the time they had spent together, discussing God.

Soon, God asked Abram to leave Ur. Together with his mother and father, Sarai, the shepherds and the maids, Abram left and found a wonderful place called Haran. They stayed there for many years, and then Terah, Abram’s father, died. Soon, his mother passed away as well. Abram knew God was calling him to another land, so he gathered up his household and they found themselves at Sichem on the plains of Moreh.

Many more things happened to Abram and Sarai, because they both lived many years. Near the end of their lives, their faith grew stronger and deeper. They experienced many trials, but God was always there to deliver them out of each one. Even though Sarai was barren, God promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations and that his descendants would be too numerous to count. Abram and Sarai’s names were changed at this time to Abraham and Sarah. Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was ninety and Abraham was one hundred!  The story continues, but that is for you to find out when you read the book.

This book helped me so much. I had always wondered why Abraham and Sarah made certain decisions, and this story got me to thinking about what their motives might have been. It explains the culture at the time, and what was most important to Abraham and Sarah. I found it a fascinating read. The novel encouraged me to grow in my faith as well as the Biblical characters had grown in theirs. This novel would be best enjoyed by readers, eighteen and above.

 

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her six children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law and one-daughter-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

From Nancy — If you like biblical fiction, you might also think about: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ; The Bronze Bow; and, Pearl in the Sand

P is for Pumpkin written by Kathy-Jo Wargin, illustrated by Yawen Ariel Pang and published by Zonderkidz (2008) is subtitled God’s Harvest Alphabet. This alphabet book takes a lively look at the special things and events that occur in autumn such as ripe apples, jack-o-lanterns, barn dances, taking nature walks, jumping in piles of leaves.

The words matched with the letters are quite well chosen and give a child a broader and richer appreciation for the season. Passages such as “M is for Moon,” referring to the harvest moon and “Birds fly in a big letter “V” referring to geese flying south encourage children to watch for the beauty and wonder of the season. “D is for Dress-up” is not a big surprise, but that it is included will delight children. Unexpected but totally welcomed was “K is for for Kindness” which referred to sharing kettles of warm soup with neighbors.

I think some people might be bothered by the word used for “X”–“extra.” It does color outside the lines of traditional alphabet books, but I liked it. I thought it was a clever way to work around that useful but distinctively difficult letter–“Laughing and singing for eXtra big fun.”

God is often mentioned in the explanations that accompany the letters. This is outstanding. It blesses the reader and the listener, helping us all know and remember that our God is in this world and active in this wonderful time of the year.

P is for Pumpkin is easy to read aloud. Children will enjoy its active language, questions to the listener, and rhyme.

The lively illustrations are child-friendly and come dressed in beautiful autumn colors. Children will like looking at and pointing out the many details in the pictures. I think they will particularly like it that the pages often show animals accompanying the child in the activity.

There is a tendency to think that because a child has one alphabet book that another is unnecessary. I’m going to challenge that thought. When children see that a letter and its sound can be at the beginning of more than one word, they begin to discover something important about letters–that they are the building blocks of words.

P is for Pumpkin would find its greatest appeal with three- to six-year-olds.

If you are looking for other books that view autumn and Halloween from a different perspective than witches and ghosts, you might consider The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs. For upper elementary kids, consider getting a copy of When Lightning Struck!: The Story of Martin Luther by Danika Cooley. It was on Halloween in 1517–All Hallows Eve–that according to the story, Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses on the door of the church at Wittenberg.

Have a blessed autumn!

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

I Prayed for You by Jean Fischer, illustrated by Frank Endersby and published by Tommy Nelson (2018) is a sweet, sweet picture book for moms and little ones.

The first page states simply, “Children are a gift from the Lord,” Psalm127:3. I like this. It seems like a warm and wise place to begin, settling the reader and child on a big truth and a sure foundation.

In the pages that follow Mama Bear interacts with her cub as that little one experiences life’s early events—taking first steps, saying prayers for the first time, going fishing for the first time, even saying no when the cub should have said yes. Over each event and even before the cub is born, Mama Bear says a short, loving prayer. The prayer rhymes, which makes it fun for the reader to say and for kids to play with. Mama’s “snapshots” of her cub growing up take the cub to school, to being on a sports team and even reassures the cub that Mama will still be praying even when cub is a grown-up.

Small children will be pleased with the artist’s colorful and active illustrations. Using watercolor and pastel, he creates a gentle world. Mama Bear takes obvious delight in cub’s activities and achievements and the expressions on her face will warm the hearts of little ones. They will also like it that while she is shown helping and playing with the little cub, she is also shown confidently watching nearby as her cub explores the world independently.

I think this book would make an excellent bedtime or mid-afternoon quiet time book. It would help moms to regroup (And there are days when a mom so needs that. Oh, yes!) and remember the most valuable thing. I Prayed for You would also reassure a child that he/she is watched over, supported and delighted in by Mom and by God.

On another note, if you are looking for that special gift for a mom-to-be, this just might be it. It’s such an upbeat, sweet book. It will quietly remind her that as she begins her new adventure, she can journey with Someone who will help her and watch over her.

 

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Morning Sky by Judith Miller and published by Bethany House (2006) is the second book in the Freedom’s Path series. It is a novel filled with romance and suspense and more importantly, personal growth in the Lord. This novel is best read by women, age eighteen and above. It features a historical time and place, while still remaining fictional.

The novel, set in the late 1800’s, is about the struggles and growth in two towns in western Kansas–Nicodemus and Hill City. Nicodemus was predominately settled by African Americans, and Hill City by Caucasians.

The Harbans, an African American family, live in Nicodemus. The family is headed by Ezekiel. He has three daughters, Jerena, the oldest, and twins Truth and Grace. Their mother, Jenny, has passed away. Truth is engaged to Moses Wyman who runs a newspaper in town. Jerena’s boyfriend, Thomas Grayson, is off fighting in Indian Territory.  She is concerned because she has not heard from him in a long time.

As Morning Sky begins, Aunt Lilly, Jenny’s half-sister has come from New Orleans to relocate to Nicodemus. Ezekiel is not happy about this because Aunt Lilly, in her 50’s, does not have a good reputation. She has been known as a schemer, trying to take advantage of others. She boasts about all her great qualities and abilities, but she has made unwise choices in the past. The Harbans are Christians and Aunt Lilly is not. Ezekiel needs improvement on his attitude, and he learns throughout the story to be more kind and patient.

The Boyles, a Hill City family, have employed Truth to help with the housework and to attend to Mrs. Boyle, the lady of the house who is often ill. Her husband, Dr. Boyle, has a successful practice in town. Both of their sons are away at school, and Mrs. Boyle has recently sent her daughter, Macia, to the Rutledge Academy of Arts and Languages in New York. Mrs. Boyle learned about the school in The Ladies’ Treasury, a magazine.

Macia is not at all happy to be there. Mrs. Rutledge, the matron of the school, is a very boring instructor, and Mr. Marvin Laird, a leader at the school, is strange and controlling. Lately, Macia has been feeling extremely ill and tired. The school has written to Dr. Boyle, alerting him to his daughter’s condition.

The Boyle family decide to send Truth to New York to bring Macia home. While Truth is there, strange things happen. Macia is rarely awake. Truth begins to suspect something sinister is going on and she’s right. Eventually, she enlists the help of Silas, a worker at the school, to sneak Macia and herself onto the train for home.

Meanwhile, Lilly has gone to work for a banker and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Nelson. They have three children, and Lilly’s job is to care for the house and the children and to cook the meals. She has no interest in these chores, but decides this situation is preferable to living with Ezekiel. She receives a letter from Bently Cummings whom she used to work for in New Orleans. He accuses her of crimes she did not commit and says he will come after her.

Lilly is desperate for money to skip town and decides to break into the Nelson’s safe. As she is in the act of doing this, Jerena catches her and insists she put it all back. She explains to Lilly that God will forgive her and she can have a new life in Him. Lilly turns this offer down, taking the money stashed in her bag and running out the front door. She is hit by a spooked horse running past the house. She passes out, and Dr. Boyle is called. Jerena returns all of the Nelsons’ money and jewels before they find out what has happened.

I don’t want to give away the ending, but eventually, Aunt Lilly sees the light and begins to follow the Lord. All the situations in the story are resolved and the ending is happy. I found all the different plots in this story to be interesting and enjoyable to follow. The main characters have seen how the Lord has cared for and protected them, filling their lives with joy in Him.

 

Patsy Ledbetter says she has many titles, but her favorite is being mom to her five children. Her two daughters, two sons and one son-in-law and one-daughter-in-law are her joy. A teacher with forty years experience Patsy has taught children of all ages and also special needs children and adults. She writes occasionally for a local newspaper and performs in church theater productions on a regular basis. Her husband is the church choir and orchestra director. They have been married for more than 35 years. She says, “It is my desire to bring honor and glory to my Lord Jesus in every area where He has allowed me to minister.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Stay Christian in High School was written by Steve Gerali and published by NavPress (2014). The title is straightforward but while parents might be attracted to the book because of it, I’m not sure about teens. And that’s too bad. (If you’re a teen reading this, call the title an error, come up with a better one if you must, but stay for the game.) Gerali has some thoughtful, helpful things to say about “walking the walk” and not just “talking the talk” in the exciting, challenging and often confusing days of being a teen.

The author begins with questions that trouble teens (and adults as well). How can I can be a Christian and not become worldly?  How can I witness to friends about Jesus, if I should not have close friends who are not Christians? How do I deal with the expectations of others that I be perfect just because I’m a Christian?

The author tackles these questions head on, using the lives of some famous teens from the Bible–Mary, Daniel, Joseph, the brothers James and John, and Timothy. Giving them a little bit of a contemporary setting, Gerali makes them surprisingly relatable. Teens (and adults) will see just how similar these biblical people’s experiences are to their own.

In the first one about Mary he poses a problem whose answer will be the foundation of the book. He asks teens to consider where does their identity lie. Is it in their talents, skills, intelligence, friends, family? Mary upon hearing that she has been chosen to be the mother of the Savior must put all these aside and determine that her identity is first and foremost as a child of God. Every other part of her life pales before that position and must, if God and life require, be relinquished.

As the author looks at other biblical teens, he zeroes in on problems all too familiar in the teen world of today—who’s influencing you and how much, sexual temptations, competition and selfish ambition, and just how do you be an authentic Christian. I found Gerali’s thoughts on these difficulties honest, insightful and helpful. Each chapter ends with a group questions that will help the reader personalize the topic in the chapter and take the problem deeper into the teen’s everyday world.

I like How to Stay Christian in High School. It challenged me on a couple of the issues. (Do we ever get totally free of some of the issues we faced as teens?) And once your teen gets past the title, I think your teen will discover that time reading the book and thinking about it, is time well-spent.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

A Windy Spring Day is a gentle, sweet story with a big thought. Written by Wendy Dunham, illustrated by Michael Sparks and published by Harvest House (2018) this little (64 pages) book will charm 4- to 7-year-olds. (You’ll like it too. At least I hope so because I suspect your four-year-old is going to ask you to read it over and over and over again.)

This story which uses only animal characters reminds me of that classic for young readers–the Frog and Toad series.

Skunk, as the story begins, is huddled at the corner of his couch with his blanket wrapped around him, and he is afraid. It’s a windy day and the wind is shaking his house. He decides to phone his friend Raccoon who promises to come over despite the wind. He tells Skunk that he is bringing a surprise. There is a little bit of suspense as Raccoon packs up some items but doesn’t reveal what they are for.

When Raccoon arrives at Skunk’s, he asks if Skunk is still afraid. Skunk says he’s not now because his friend has come. Raccoon says the surprise is a kite. Skunk is intrigued, but he points out a problem. He doesn’t know how to make a kite. Raccoon says he will teach him. And he sets about it. Skunk, however, is not done with seeing difficulties. Raccoon meets the need and with gentle directness.

Kite made, they invite their other animal friends to join them kite flying. It’s a wonderful time for everyone, especially Skunk who declares he is no longer afraid.

The book ends with the scripture “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3. It seems that Ms. Dunham has been telling us a parable. And in my opinion, she’s done it beautifully. You may need to help your child make the connection, but once there, I think the story will warm even more your child’s heart and deepen their faith in God.

The illustrations are colorful and child-friendly. I appreciate their simplicity. Most of the illustrations give us a spyglass picture, showing us only the character or the item, and leave out the background. This focusing helps children think about what is important on that particular page.

A Windy Spring Day is part of The Tales of Buttercup Grove series.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

Marigold and the Snoring King was written by J. D. Rempel and published by Halo Publishing International (2019). Put this picture book on your shopping list! It is a new story with a sweet and wholesome feeling. J. D. Rempel’s charming tale has the potential to become a classic.

King Reginald has a snoring problem that is becoming worse and worse. It is so bad that no one in the kingdom except the king is sleeping very well. So a decree goes out calling for cures.

A spunky little orphan girl named Marigold is sure her idea will work, but every day when she goes to the castle, she is turned away by a guard. In the meantime, powerful and smart people in the kingdom present their cures to the king, and he dutifully tries each one, no matter how hilarious. But his problem only gets worse!

Finally, the guard lets Marigold into the great hall to see the king and queen. What happens next leads to a very satisfying conclusion and a new family for Marigold.

Kim Sponaugle’s illustrations bring color and personality to Marigold’s story. The reader is immediately carried off into a land long ago. Our heroine’s sweet face on the cover makes you want to open the book. The lines of ZZZs flowing out of King Reginald’s mouth into the castle and beyond made me smile. One of my favorite bits is an illustrated warning on the title page “These remedies for snoring are fictional and should not be used.”

This picture book for four- to seven-year-olds is 30 pages long. It is available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook and can be ordered on Amazon.com.

Donna Fujimoto’s children love to read. She is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. Her collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge  is available as an e-book at Amazon. 

Notes from Jesus, subtitled What Your Best Friend Wants You to Know, is a little book with big thoughts. Written by Mikal Keefer and published by Group Publishing (2018), it will warm your kid’s soul with its direct, loving thoughts and its practical helps about how to get to know Jesus better. Though it’s a small book, 6.25 x 6.25 inches with only 63 pages, I think its pages will appeal to and be an especially rich experience for 8- to 12-year-olds.

Each spread has a Bible verse, (presented as a colorful graphic), something to know about Jesus and a suggestion for how to become better friends with Jesus. Each spread begins with “I [Jesus] want you to know . . .”  and then gives short, specific sentences on various topics and/or questions that kids (and even grown-ups) wonder (and worry) about. Topics include: “I love being with you;” “I’m not surprised when you mess up;” “We can laugh together;” “I’ve got your back;” “I made you for a purpose;” “Not everything you hear about me is true.”

The suggestions for becoming better friends with Jesus are many times suggestions to pray, but the author does not suggest the prayers. Instead, the child is asked to interact with the lesson and simply talk to Jesus. For example, on the pages, “. . . I made you for a purpose,” Jesus asks the child to tell him something “I did really, really well when I made you. And then thank me.” Children are encouraged to talk honestly with Jesus, about their lives, their dreams, their hopes, their worries, even their mistakes.

To expand a child’s relationship with Jesus even further, the last pages in the book offer more Bible verses which a child can turn to if they feel angry, lonely, tempted. etc.

I experience energy and excitement just looking at the book. It is appealingly illustrated with bright colors and bold graphics.

The back cover says Notes from Jesus is perfect for children starting a relationship with Jesus. It is. But I think even kids who have known Jesus for a while will, at times, love and need its directness. I think it’s one of those books that you could put out someplace where your child could easily see it, pick it up, and read a few pages (finding the vary topic that concerns him/her at the moment 😊). Just remember, if you borrow it some morning to start your quiet time with the Lord, be sure to put it back.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest works for children are I Get a Clue and We All Get a Clue, mystery novels for girls 10-13. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Book Reviews

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