You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Picture Book Reviews’ category.

Found based on the 23rd Psalm, was written by Sally Lloyd Jones and illustrated by Jago. It was published by Zonderkidz in 2017. Although a board book, Found is a book that will resonate with all ages.

Children will immediately feel the calm and quiet as Sally Lloyd Jones’ retells the well-known 23rd Psalm in her own words. The author’s simple way of stating things makes this beloved psalm accessible to young children and shows them how much God loves them.

Jago’s bright and colorful illustrations begin with the rising sun, move to the full noontime sun and end with the setting sun as the book progresses. Children will look for the illustration of the little lamb that Jago has placed on each page and feel as though they are being protected as the little lamb is.

To show the valley of the shadow of death, the author uses rain–a downpour. She uses words like dark, scary and lonely and so brings this passage to a child’s level. Jago’s lost look on the lamb will also help children to relate.

A child will enjoy snuggling with a parent or grandparent as they share the 23rd Psalm. Found is a must for a children’s library.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

 

I just came in from a walk. Some of the neighbor kids were also out walking. Today is the first day of their summer vacation. It’s exciting for them; an adventure is about to begin. But I also got the impression they are little bit at loose ends. They’re missing their friends. And this might sound weird and totally improbable, but I think they miss being at school. School can be fun. (Yes, it can and sometimes they will even tell you that it is.) At school they learn new things and kids like to learn. They are all about growing.

Reading good books is one way for them to grow well. It is one way for kids to go on an adventure. We have created lists of books (select Book Lists found on the menu at the top of the page) that we think are interesting and fun. More than that we think they will bless a child or a young person. If you select the title, it will take you to the review. We don’t think our lists are the last word, but they might be a good place to start.

Just a thought, consider reading a book together as a family. Sharing a worthwhile story can be an enriching experience. It’s warm, friendly; it can build community, and reading aloud helps you to listen to each other.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

The Most Magnificent Thing written and illustrated by Ashley Spires and published by Kids Can Press (2014) is a picture book. Clever, humorous and truthful, it celebrates creativity. But not the “it’s magic” kind. In this story a little girl makes a magnificent discovery–creating something often involves trial and error.

Children will relate to the little girl. They will see themselves (and we the readers will also find ourselves) in the little girl’s enthusiasm for her project. I think they will know her disappointment when she can’t create what she has imagined, and they will feel sad when she quits. But the story turns and the little girl discovers that she doesn’t have to be done with her “magnificent thing.” Hurray!

Though the book is being marketed to children as young as three, I think the age range is more appropriately five- to eight-years-old. (School age children more often have greater expectations for themselves and for the things they create than younger children.) Upper elementary children could, particularly, benefit from The Most Magnificent Thing, but they often shun picture books. However, if you can get your older kid to read it to a younger child, then . . . .

The line drawings and the colors are a little more sophisticated than those found in many children’s books, but I think they work for this story. The language is expressive with a number of grown-up words that children will be delighted to wrap their tongues around.

The assistant that the little girl hires, her dog, provides a number of humorous touches to the story-telling.

The Most Magnificent Thing is a worthy book to have on your shelf. I’m going to keep my copy handy especially for those days when my characters aren’t talking to me and my plot twists aren’t twisting.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

Hi, I’m calling it spring cleaning; really it’s more like renovating. But I haven’t been working on my house, I’ve been working on this blog. I want to make it easier for you to find the book or books you are interested in. I’ve added to Book Lists a list of the picture books we have recommended. (A list of books for middle grade and lists for YA were already there.) And thanks to technology the titles are linked to the reviews. (I hope they are. I’ve checked that they are, but if you come across a broken one, please let me know. I’ll fix it.) I’ve also added a list of the books that we have suggested for the college/working person. Those titles are also linked.

I hope this helps you in your search for good books.  –Nancy

P.S. As I worked on the picture book list, it occurred to me again what great baby gifts a number of these books would make. A great story read by a loving parent will live in a child’s heart when that child’s children have children of their own.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

What Do You Do With An Idea?, written by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom, published by Compendium, Inc. (2014) is a picture book, but not one for small children. Its thought-provoking, life-enriching big idea will resonate better with older children and adults. If the YA people in your life can get past that it has illustrations, What Do You Do With An Idea? may find a place in their hearts as well.

The story is told from the point of view of a young boy. He says he had an idea. (The idea looks like an egg wearing a small crown.) The boy doesn’t know what to do with the idea and so, like many of us when we get an idea, he walks away from it. But the idea follows him on its chicken legs.

With the honesty and simplicity of a child, the boy tells us of his fears and his joy as he and the idea spend time together. He realistically tells us of his struggles as they continue their friendship. The story ends happily. The ending is a little over the top, but when we consider that this is a picture book, we can forgive it for its big happily-ever-after moment. (And who knows, some “ideas” do have this kind of ending.)

The illustrations are active and evocative. While full of energy, they also manage to have a thoughtfulness about them that perfectly suits the fable. There is a really interesting use of color. In the beginning it is used sparingly. The world is gray except for the yellow egg. As the boy and the idea become friends, more color enters the boy’s world. Vibrant color erupts and spills out onto the last pages as the story reaches its exciting ending.

Adults will be touched with compassion for the boy and his idea and remember with tenderness their own experiences with new ideas. Elementary school children will find themselves in this story and be encouraged.

What Do You Do With An Idea? is a great book. I think writers, artists, scientists and other dreamers should have it on their book shelves and take it down and read it when necessary. And there will be days when it will be necessary.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

 

 

This year, 2017, Passover begins at sundown on Monday, April 10, and ends at sundown on Tuesday, April 18, two days after Easter. There’s a deep connection between Passover and Easter. Learning something about Passover will enrich your faith in God and His jaw-dropping awesomeness.

Patsy has found a fun, interactive book for children (you’ll have fun too) that tells about the origin of Passover and how Jews celebrate it.  We also recommend Walk with Y’shua Through the Jewish Year and Exodus. — Nancy

 

ABC Passover Hunt, written by Tilda Balsley, illustrated by Helen Poole, and published by Kar-Ben Publishing (2016), isn’t your everyday picture book. The first page says, “An alphabet Passover scene. Find all the letters in between!” The last page reads, ” Z’man cheruteinu……We celebrate that we are free! Happy Passover to every family!”

On each page of this book and for each letter of the alphabet, there is a word pertaining to Jewish history, the Bible or the Passover holiday. The book uses questions and colorful, cartoon-like drawings to explain aspects of Passover and its celebration. For example, the question on the “B” page asks what was baby Moses’ boat on the Nile. The drawing on the page shows a box, an inner tube, a leaf, a rowboat, a rubber ducky, and a basket. The child guesses which was Moses’ boat. The answers to all of the questions are at the end of the book.

I found ABC Passover Hunt interesting and fun, with poems that rhyme and that describe what is being conveyed. Pictures depict Bible characters, food used in the Passover meal, maps, families celebrating together, etc. There are some Hebrew letters and words. One of the questions for the letter N is “Nisan…..This is the month that Passover’s in. On which day does it begin?” As I mentioned before, all the answers are on the last page of the book, in addition to a paragraph entitled “About Passover.”

This book describes and illustrates Passover in a very clear way that young children can understand. The best age of readers would be from four to twelve years. I learned a lot from this 32-page book and I hope you will as well.

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 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 32 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.”

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

 

 

Carol has discovered several Easter books that will tell the story and delight your children in the telling. — Nancy

 

Young children, ages 2 to 4, love learning their colors. They will be delighted with My Easter Basket: The True Story of Easter by Mary Manz Simon, illustrated by Angelika Scudamore and published by B&H Kids (2016). This board book uses the colors that could be found in an Easter basket to tell the Easter story. The author begins with green for the palm branches and follows with red, brown, blue, purple, orange and yellow. Dr. Simon ends with yellow, relating it to sunshine and Jesus, God’s son.

My Easter Basket: The True Story of Easter has a gentle rhyme which guides the reader from page to page and adds to the flow of the story. Watercolor illustrations with sparkles capture the joy of Easter in a unique way. My Easter Basket will help young children look at Easter and their Easter baskets with different eyes and understand the true story of Easter.

Another book for young children not to be missed is My Very First Easter Playtime by Lois Rock, illustrated by Alex Ayliffe and published by Lion Hudson (2014). For children ages 3 to 5, My Very First Easter Playtime is an activity and sticker book. Children will hurry to put each sticker in its right place.

The Legend of the Sand Dollar, written by Chris Auer, illustrated by Rick Johnson and published by Zonderkidz (2013) will enrich and bless older children, ages 4 to 8.

In this story children will discover more than the delights of nature. They will learn how nature tells of the wonders of God. It begins with Kerry and her older sister going to visit their cousin, Jack. On the beach they find a sand dollar. On one side Kerry sees the impression of an Easter lily. Jack tells her the legend of Jesus being alive. She wonders about the sand dollar’s five holes and he explains they are for the four nails and spear that pierced Jesus’ side. Jack continues to use the sand dollar to tell the story of God’s love.

Kerry begins to look at the sand dollar with different eyes, with eyes that see the true meaning of Easter. Who would have guessed that God would use the sand dollar to tell of His greatest gift, Jesus, God’s Son? The book ends with a poem, whose author is unknown, about the legend of the sand dollar.

With their soft look, Johnson’s excellent watercolors bring the story of the sand dollar to life.

(Zonderkidz reissued this lovely story by Chris Auer in 2017 with new illustrations by Richard Cowdrey.)

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

Some days–some hours for me–Christmas becomes a lot about trees, lights, gifts and food. Not that these things aren’t fun, but then sometimes in the midst of it all I begin to sense that something is off. God Gave Us Christmas written by Lisa Tawn Bergren, illustrated by David Hohn and published by Waterbrook Press (2006) shifts the emphasis from Santa, etc. and points little ones (and the adult reader) to the reason for the season—Jesus.

In this warm, I hesitate to say fuzzy book because the main characters are polar bears, Mama and Little Cub go on a journey. Mama wants to show God to Little Cub and help her know that Christmas was given to us by God and not invented by Santa. (Don’t worry; Bergren doesn’t bad-mouth Santa. Mama explains that Santa reminds us about being generous and caring.)

Taking Little Cub to see the dancing Northern Lights, Mama explains that the lights are God’s work and that God sent Jesus so that “we would know light from dark.” Jesus is the light of the world. Using other natural wonders, Mama continues to teach Little Cub about God’s greatest gift—Jesus.

While Mama’s examples do not nail down Jesus in the way one might nail boards, they remind me of mini-parables. Mama’s examples help children and adults relate with their imaginations and their hearts to what is essentially a mystery—God’s Son born as a baby who will grow into the man who will save us.

The text reads well. Mama’s examples of the Northern Lights, a glacier, a bright star, a flower poking up through the snow are appropriate to a snowy environment. The exchanges between Mama and Little Cub are full of affection and there is a sense of wonder and play in the telling of their adventure. David Hohn’s colorful paintings are active and kid-friendly.

God Gave us Christmas is for ages 3 to 7. (But don’t be surprised if it touches the 3 to 7-years-old in you.) This book is part of a series. Carol wrote about and suggested God Gave Us Easter, God Gave Us Angels, and God Gave Us the World.

I also want to suggest A Night of Great Joy. Written and illustrated by the well-known illustrator Mary Engelbreit and published by Zonderkidz (2016), this book will delight you and the kids with its presentation of a Christmas pageant. The book is suggested for children ages 4 to 8.

The story is the Christmas story, but it’s told from a kid’s perspective and in kid-language (for example, “’Hello, Jesus,’ Mary whispered.”). Children will see themselves and their friends reflected in the different races of the children in the pageant. The colorful and often humorous illustrations (one of the lambs is a pull toy, etc.) help children put themselves on stage and from there in the story. (And it’s good for all of us to put ourselves in the story. What would it have been like to have been a shepherd in the fields? Would we have left our daily work and play to go and seek the gift from God? We would. How happy we are when we do!)

I’ve had an idea too that I want to share with you. At this time of year we often give donations to Christian charitable groups. If an organization is asking for donations of toys, why not ask if they would consider receiving children’s books about the child born in Bethlehem?

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is We All Get a Clue, a mystery novel for girls 10-13. It is the second book in the series that began with I Get a Clue. For several years she was a freelance reviewer of children’s and teen’s literature for the Focus on the Family website.

 

 

 

 

The Baby Wren and the Great Gift was written by Sally Lloyd- Jones and illustrated by Jen Corace. It was published by Zonderkidz in 2016.

Without mentioning God or the Bible, Jones introduces the reader to the wonders of God’s world and how a tiny wren struggles with the question of what she can do that is wonderful. As a backdrop, the monarch milkweed and gurgling river are threaded throughout the story, continuing the theme of God’s amazing world. However, the biggest wonder is the magnificent canyon where the little wren lives. This adds to the contrast of the smallness of the baby wren.

The baby wren peers out from a crevice in the rocks of the canyon and sees many wondrous things, from the blue sky above to two eagles flying on the wind. During a terrifying thunderstorm, she wants to be like the eagles.

Finally, the young wren discovers what she can do that is wonderful. At sunset, she bursts into song that travels throughout the canyon walls and reaches to the sky. This enables the reader to see the beauty that is all around, as well as appreciate the wren’s song.

Two simple words, “Thank You,” expand across the last page and are a great point for ending this story, emphasizing that small isn’t necessarily small.

Jen Corace’s vivid and striking watercolors splash across each page in a stylized manner and enhance the book’s charmingly poetic text.

This beautiful book will delight children, ages four to eight, but adults much older than eight will also find it a delight and a blessing.

BTW: Don’t miss another of Jones’ books, Thoughts to Warm the Heart.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is a widow and the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.” She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

Smelling Sunshine, written and illustrated by Constance Anderson, and published by Star Bright Books (2013), is a warm fuzzy of a book for young children, ages 3 to 5. It’s about doing laundry.

Like many household chores, we often consider doing the laundry boring. Maybe it’s because we put our muscles to work and tell our brains and our hearts to go to sleep. Smelling Sunshine invites readers to experience doing laundry with our eyes, our ears, our noses and our hearts.

Anderson creates a world where there’s beauty in the varied colors and textures of the clothes, as well as delight in the sound of birds, insects and dogs. We experience warmth and pleasure as mother and child share the tasks of hanging out the clothes and taking them down. We dance with them about the hanging clothes and play games with the wind. But Anderson does not leave us with the pleasures of doing the job, she wisely and artfully takes us beyond the moments of the bright day, showing us how the completed task can comfort us in the dark night. The text is in free verse and less than 200 words, but it gets the job done beautifully.

The mixed-media illustrations are colorful and child-friendly. Not just the people and the clothes have color; the backgrounds are also painted and textured. The illustrations depict moms and children from various cultures, expanding a child’s understanding of a world rich in the ways that people live. At times the pictures seem alive. I find it amazing when an illustrator can make two-dimensional art on a page seem to move. Anderson has done just that. We experience water dripping from wet cloth, birds flapping around wash lines, and the wind pulling at clothes on the line and in our hands.

Though many people do not hang their laundry out to dry, children and adults will still relate to Smelling Sunshine. We all do chores. Smelling Sunshine encourages us to look for and bask in the joy that can be found in doing our everyday tasks.

Nancy Ellen Hird is a mom, a writer and a credentialed teacher. (She taught seventh grade and preschool.)  Her latest work for children is I Get a Clue, a mystery novel 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

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 87 other followers

Search Posts by Categories