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71vtwf4jx0l-e1452271560982I am delighted to have a copy of Laura Alary’s book Make Room: A child’s guide to Lent and Easter for a giveaway, courtesy of Paraclete Press. [Update: This giveaway now is closed.] Last February I borrowed Make Room from a friend, and I posted a review on this blog. For convenience, I have copied that review (with minor changes) in this post.

If your family observes Lent, you will be very glad to see this book, which has beautiful, clear writing and gorgeous illustrations from Ann Boyajian. An excellent addition to a home library or church classroom, Make Room will have children feeling enthusiasm for this very special church season.

With language that is both practical and poetic, Alary’s book satisfies the need families have for literature that inspires excitement about faith. The language is simple, leaving space for parents to expand as a child questions and grows. Yet the writing communicates its messages clearly, providing words for experiences that often are hard to articulate.

Why do we observe Lent? What is the purpose of this season? In Alary’s words,

“During Lent we make time to be with God.
Every day we talk with God in different ways.
Sometimes we pray with words.
Sometimes we sing or listen to music.
Sometimes we get out paints and crayons and create many-colored prayers.
Colors are like a different language we can all speak
Even when we have no words.
God understands.”

I highly recommend Make Room for the young people in your life. Whatever books you choose for your family, may this season bring blessings of peace and prayers into your home.

[Update: the giveaway described below closed on 2/24/17.]

How can you win a copy? Click on the rafflecopter giveaway below. You will be asked to comment on this post sharing something that you plan to do during Lent this year. Entries will be accepted until February 24.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

One winner will be selected via Rafflecopter and notified by email. The book will be sent from the publisher, so in order to receive your prize you will need to provide an address. Addresses will be used one time only, for mailing of prize, and never shared or used for solicitations.

Disclaimer: The book is provided by Paraclete Press in exchange for my offering this review and giveaway. I have received no fee.

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71vtwf4jx0l-e1452271560982The new book from Laura Alary, Make Room: A child’s guide to Lent and Easter, has beautiful, clear writing and gorgeous illustrations from Ann Boyajian. An excellent addition to a home library or church classroom, Make Room will have children feeling enthusiasm for this very special church season.

With language that is both practical and poetic, Alary’s book satisfies the need families have for literature that inspires excitement about faith. The language is simple, leaving space for parents to expand as a child questions and grows. Yet the writing communicates its messages clearly, providing words for experiences that often are hard to articulate.

Why do we observe Lent? What is the purpose of this season? In Alary’s words,

“During Lent we make time to be with God.
Every day we talk with God in different ways.
Sometimes we pray with words.
Sometimes we sing or listen to music.
Sometimes we get out paints and crayons and create many-colored prayers.
Colors are like a different language we can all speak
Even when we have no words.
God understands.”

I highly recommend Make Room for the young people in your life. Whatever books you choose for your family, may this season bring blessings of peace and prayers into your home.

Disclaimer: This review is freely give, based on a loaned copy of the book. No fee was received.

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In the past few weeks, when I sit down to write my book reviews, I simply cannot concentrate. Instead of writing, I revisit news sites, reading too much about the humanitarian crisis in Syria. I have a stack of wonderful books awaiting their reviews, yet I cannot share them with you today.

Today, I ask you to pray. Please, pray the God in God’s mercy will bring peace to Syria. Pray that God in God’s mercy will transform hearts so that justice and true security are restored to the people.

After you pray, please consider making a donation to Mercy Corps. They are doing wonderful work to help Syrian refugees with shelter, clean water, and trauma counseling. Imagine, nearly 2 million people have had to flee their homes. More than half of those people are children. Even if you only can spare a dollar, donate before August 31 and your donation will be doubled.

Mercy Corps: Be the Change

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This month three million Muslims, including more than 11,000 from the U.S., will make the Hajj, insha’Allah (God willing). All Muslims who are physically and economically able are expected to make the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, sometime during their life. The Hajj takes place at a set time of year and requires pilgrims to follow a series of prescribed rituals and procedures. The pilgrim’s actions commemorate events in the life of the Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim), as described in the Qur’an.

Author Na’ima B. Robert has written Going to Mecca, a lyrical children’s book that makes a beautiful introduction to the Hajj. Her text provides enough facts to properly inform and to create splendid scenes in the reader’s imagination; yet her language is spare enough to not overwhelm younger readers, or those unfamiliar with Islam. On page 6, a pilgrim arrives in the Sacred Mosque and recites talbiya, the pilgrim’s prayer:
Call with a pilgrim
As she utters a prayer,
And says the words
That will make her draw near:
“Labbayk Allahumma labbayk.”
“Here I am, O my Lord, here I am.”

The narrative carries the reader on a journey of accompaniment through the rites of pilgrimage to the welcoming home. At the end of the book the reader will find a small glossary, providing further detail about important places in the story.

The pages of Going to Mecca are richly illustrated by Valentina Cavallini with scenes of mixed media collage. The colors are varied and cheerful, and the people in the story realistically reflect the varied skin tones of humanity. When I shared the book with my artistic 8-year-old daughter, we took turns exclaiming over the detail and patterns within each page. I would not be surprised to see my daughter create some artwork inspired by Cavallini’s style. The textures and patterns in the artwork are absolutely lovely.

This book would be an ideal choice to share with children who have family members and friends making the pilgrimage, or for teachers to share with their classes. Parents will find that the text provides many openings for sharing more detail with children as their level of interest deepens. For this reason, the book is suitable for a range of ages. Older children even might use the poetic phrasings as models for their own writing.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and enthusiastically recommend it. May all of those who are making the Hajj have safe journeys.

Note: The number of estimated pilgrims cited above is based upon US State Department figures from September 2012.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. No fee was received for this review.

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faith

This photo essay introduces world faiths through images of children participating in various elements of spiritual life: prayer, study, cleansing, holy places, holidays, food and drink, rites of passage, caring for others. The focus is on what we hold in common, while the differences among world cultures and religions are self-evident in the photos. The book has a valuable aim: “respecting and working to understand the differences among faiths helps create a more peaceful and just society.” Authors Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon have done a commendable job.

Children and adults alike should enjoy the visual beauty of these images from around the globe. Readers can observe the diversity of special garments, ritual celebrations, and places of worship. Photos provide an opportunity to glimpse aspects of religion, such as water baptism, that might be outside of one’s usual experience.

Each double-page has a sentence or phrase of text, plus captions for the photos. After the photos, there is a map indicating areas in the world where the photos were taken. The map is followed by four pages of detailed description of the topics covered, including a wonderful two-paragraph summary of what “praying” means.

At the end of the book there is a five-page glossary, especially useful for explaining less familiar terms. (For example, I had heard of Zoroastrianism, but could not have explained it without help.) I was pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of images from shamanism and indigenous religions, as well as Rastafarianism and the Baha’i faith.

Parents and teachers can read the explanatory text (written for ages 9 to 13), and use the background information to help their child when looking at the photos. The text that accompanies the photos is suitable for children ages 4 to 9. This book would be a valuable reference for anyone teaching about world religions, regardless of the age group involved. Certain images might spark a reader’s curiosity and lead to further explorations. The book would be a helpful tool for people living in diverse communities, to introduce the religions of their neighbors.

This highly recommended book was developed by the Global Fund for Children, and proceeds will go to support that organization’s work. Published by Charlesbridge in 2009, Faith is available in both hardcover and paperback.

A slightly different version of this review was published in Friends Journal: Quaker thought and life today (Dec. 2009).

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