2019 Hope Awards Northwest winner Watered Gardens | At a gospel rescue mission, men have a chance to escape the spiral of drugs, homelessness, and joblessness. But it isn’t easy, and many do not make it to the end
Culture Children's Books
A young boy and a giraffe set off in a small wooden boat anticipating a pleasant day trip. But they face a crisis as a squall appears, they lose a paddle, and night descends. Hope revives, though, as help comes from a slew of sea creatures, including whales that prod them to shore where “home comforts.” The story, told in rhyme with four two-word lines per scene, portrays calm courage and trust in the face of unforeseen difficulties. Illustrator Melissa Castrillon’s vintage-style drawings and colors convey movement and tranquility, making this a journey children will want to take again. (Ages 3-5)
Everything You Need for a Treehouse
Building a treehouse involves lots of time and “looking up,” along with a hearty imagination. With these ingredients, delightful and elaborate possibilities unfold—such as gigantic multistory forts, spiraling stairs leading to tree-canopy platforms, and old boats nestled between branches. But treehouses are just the backdrop for this book’s nature and friendship themes, which Higgins and illustrator Emily Hughes capture seamlessly for young observers. Most readers may find these wonderland treehouses far-fetched—but that will make the story’s unexpected ending relatable and delightful, especially for city and suburbia kids. So much is possible with an imagination to see it. (Ages 3-5)
“Hello Daddy!” begins this board book, offering a simplified rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. The rest flows with a similar conversational tone, each page a reassurance for little hearts of God’s goodness and sovereignty—and our need for Him. Young readers will enjoy illustrations that follow a diverse group of children frolicking in the countryside: One pulls a wagon, others carry a stick to a baby sister, some climb trees or swing on branches. When two children encounter conflict, forgiveness and amends follow. Adapted from Jones’ and illustrator Jago’s best-selling Jesus Storybook Bible, this book and last year’s Found, based on Psalm 23, well deserve to stand alone. (Ages 2-3)
Psalms of Praise
The Psalms contain many active verbs, and this book is a perfect introduction for squirmy toddlers who are just beginning to learn about God. Plan to get up and move around: Each scripted Psalm entails action, like dancing, clapping, and kneeling. Vibrant watercolor illustrations bring these actions to life. With bedtime in mind, this board book ends with “lie down,” and a comforting Psalm 4:8: “You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” This second book in Hitchen’s “Baby Believer” series teaches little ones that everyday movements are actually postures of praise. (Ages 2-3)
As children get ready for school in Sarah V.’s The Old Man (Gecko Press, 2018), adults shoo a homeless man from his makeshift sidewalk bed. The picture book, geared for ages 5-8, follows the man aimlessly drifting through a city until a child takes notice of him, offering him a sandwich, a compliment, and hope. Originally published in France, the story’s sad tone and sepia illustrations may not appeal to children, but it offers a good starting point for parents to discuss a complex topic.
Children will enjoy the reissue of Eve Titus’ Caldecott Honor book Anatole (Dragonfly Books, 2010). The book, first published in 1956, is one of 10 stories about “a most honorable” Paris mouse. This one involves a secret mission to disprove humans who claim mice are “a disgrace to all France.” It features original tricolor illustrations. —M.J.