A housing crisis is clamping down on middle-income workers—teachers like Renata Sanchez—in prosperous California
Culture Children's Books
This nonfiction picture book about the mysterious giant squid will appeal to children fascinated with the yucky and scary parts of nature. Since giant squids are so rarely seen, how do scientists learn about them? Fleming writes, “You must rely on clues, as scientists do, clues left behind by the creatures themselves. A tentacle. An eye.” The book goes on to describe the parts of this fearsome beast, including “suckers ringed with saw-like teeth” and eyes as big as soccer balls. This book’s dark colors convey the darkness at the bottom of the sea where sunlight can’t reach. (Ages 6-10)
Life is a prose poem that begins, “Life begins small. … Life grows.” Through words and wonderful illustrations by Brendan Wenzel, this book shows animals ideally suited to their habitats. It also acknowledges difficulties—“Life is not always easy”—with illustrations showing a small bluebird buffeted by winds and flying through wilderness. When the bird comes out the other side, the text reads, “But wilderness eventually ends.” Although Rylant doesn’t explicitly point to God, the book offers a reassuring look at life as good, orderly, and worth living—even though things are always changing. (Ages 4 and up)
Wicked Bugs (Young Readers Edition)
Stewart masterfully describes all kinds of harmful bugs. The large pencil drawings and boxed facts (size, family, and habitat) give the book visual appeal. Its six sections focus on different bug categories: Deadly, Everyday, Unwelcome, Destructive, Serious Pains, and Terrible Threats. Bonus features include the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, with a scale of 1 (mild) to 4: “Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.” Although not for the squeamish—or those who can’t critique its Darwinist assumptions—this book is rich in the kind of yucky detail some children love. (Ages 9-12)
The Bible Explorer’s Guide
Zondervan’s Bible Explorer’s Guide for upper elementary children offers lots of historical, archaeological, and Biblical facts in a beautiful package (think Usborne or Kingfisher books). It traces the Biblical accounts of angels and explains references in the parables that children might not understand. Maps, photographs, diagrams, timelines, and other charts will help children better understand the Bible. Sanders has a clear, engaging style, and Bible references will encourage children to look further. Those who want affirmation of six-day creation may be disappointed. Sanders writes, “Some people debate whether God created the world in seven actual days or if each ‘day’ lasted longer than 24 hours.” (Ages 8-12)
In October, Grafton and Scratch Publishers will republish The Boy Who Lived in Pudding Lane by Sarah Addington (illustrated by Gertrude A. Kay). The story first came out in book form in 1922, and this new version has the feel of an old classic. It tells the story of Santa Claus as a young boy who makes toys to surprise his younger siblings for Holy Day. Many Mother Goose figures make an appearance in the story—a twist that well-read children will enjoy.
For Christmas, Workman Publishers offers two heavy cardboard storybook sets/Advent calendars. The Nutcracker has 24 windows containing small cardboard books/ornaments that tell the story of the famous ballet. The Story of Christmas tells the Nativity story in 24 tiny books. Caution: The set is pretty but not theologically careful. It says, for instance, that God chose Joseph because “God has seen that you are wise and strong.” That’s not Biblical. —S.O.