Posts Tagged ‘illustrated books’

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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I am hungry for books that raise up the stories of women in the Bible, and was thrilled to discover Women of the Bible from Paraclete Press. The richly-illustrated volume from Margaret McAllister and Alida Massari is ideal for sharing with the young people in my life.

In this lovely book, we have a glimpse of the world through the eyes of Rachel, Miriam, Mary of Magdala, Lydia of Philippi, and six other remarkable women. Rather than a passing mention embedded in a tale of men, granted a mere few lines of text, their voices speak to us directly from these pages, helping the reader to imagine the faith of these important ancestors. The stories are filled with hope, tenderness, yearning, and a confident faith in God.

I especially enjoyed the story of Mary of Nazareth, in which she describes scenes of motherhood and of the life of her son, Jesus. Outside of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), there are few words ascribed to Mary in the Bible; yet she has such a significant place as a model of faithfulness. Through Margaret McAllister’s telling, young readers will be able to imagine Mary in her special role as a strong and loving mother.

Throughout the book, the colors are rich and vibrant, from Lydia’s purples and Mary’s blues, to golden fields and bright blue rivers. Alida Massari gives beautifully expressive faces to the people in these tales, and their landscapes are livened with playful patterns. The animals are enchanting, and any young artist will find inspiration in these pages.

This book would make a special addition to a child’s home library, as well as a welcome gift for a teacher or special friend.

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher. Review is freely given.

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The choices we make as consumers can be powerful expressions of our wishes for peace and justice. One place in daily life where we can express our faith in beautiful forms is the kitchen table. Our food choices and our ways of preparing food can be nourishing expressions of our values. When we prepare meals with our children, they receive nurturing for both body and spirit. As you explore cooking with young people, I highly recommend Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook: Fun with food from garden to table, by Mark Beach and Julie Kauffman. This book would make an ideal gift to share with the children you love.

Planning meals, I confess, is not my favorite chore. Thankfully, when I enlist the help of my 8-year-old daughter, the task becomes much more fun. If she can choose a meal for us to make together once a week, I find my energy refreshed. My daughter was very excited to read Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook, and she declared, “The recipes all look interesting in their own way.” She loved the colorful photos and the fun facts (squash seeds found in Mexican archaeological digs!). We made immediate plans for pumpkin mini muffins and green monster soup. My daughter observed that the authors “give steps very well.” The recipes are written clearly and are easy to follow.

Part of preparing food with my daughter includes modeling gratitude for the food we are fortunate to have, and to think of ways to share with others. We greatly enjoyed the simple prayers and poems included in each seasonal section of the book.

I want to prepare healthy meals, and use locally grown produce whenever possible. I have learned from growing some of our own vegetables that the fresher the food, the more delicious. It feels right to eat foods at the time when nature produces them. (My significant exception is that I live in Pennsylvania, yet I’m very fond of mangoes and pineapple. I have to accept these, along with my olive oil and spices, as precious gifts from far away.) When my daughter saw a delicious-sounding peach recipe she asked, “Can we make this, when it’s the right season?” I felt proud that she has an understanding of where her food comes from, and the rhythms of nature that provide bounty for our table.

I know many people who are making a sincere effort to prepare whole foods for their families, moving away from prepackaged convenience foods and toward the nourishment, nutrition, and tastiness of natural foods. This way of eating is better for our local economies, can be more supportive of local farmers, has a lighter impact on the Earth due to lower consumption of fuels. If you have not visited a local farmer’s market recently, I encourage you to try it. There are winter markets in many cities and towns. You may be surprised at how many delicious foods are grown in your local area, and at the interesting conversations you can have with the people who grow your food.

Many children find it fun to see their food grow from seed (or young plant) to harvest time. If you are growing some of your own food, you will appreciate the seasonal garden tips. There is a simple discussion of growing herbs that would be suitable even for an apartment’s windowsill.

I highly recommend Simply in Season Children’s Cookbook for your kitchen library. Share copies with children you love, teachers, your public library. This book will help children learn how to prepare beautiful, nourishing meals while developing an understanding that food comes from the Earth that God has entrusted to our care.

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

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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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