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Culture Children's Books

Great expectations

Children’s Books

Great expectations

Four recent picture books

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree

Jamie L.B. Deenihan

It’s a little girl’s birthday and Grandma is on the way. She’s hoping Grandma has brought a gift from her wish list (a fancy new electronic gizmo or gadget), but instead Grandma gives her a lemon tree. At first the girl feels disappointment, but as she cares for the tree her attitude changes: She sees its potential, and her entrepreneurial spirit comes alive. The real surprise happens when she chooses to use her earnings to buy “something you can really enjoy”—and the result is the transformation of an empty city lot into a beautiful garden for her neighbors. (Ages 4-8)

The Dress and the Girl

Camille Andros

Andros highlights the power of nostalgia through the story of an ordinary girl and her ordinary dress. The girl longs for something “singular, stunning, or sensational” to happen, but “life continued on in quite an ordinary fashion.” Until one day her family members pack their things, board a boat, and sail to America. Soon after their arrival, though, something happens that separates the dress from the girl. The years pass as they each live their own “everyday” story, but when their paths again cross, the ordinary becomes an extraordinary moment. Julie Morstad’s illustrations beautifully frame the story with warmth and detail. (Ages 4-8)

Lumber Jills

Alexandra Davis

When Britain entered World War II, the men headed to the front lines while the women found ways to serve at home. Thousands of young women joined the Women’s Timber Corps, swinging axes and heaving saws to keep the country supplied with lumber for planes, ships, newspapers, and more. Most of the “Lumber Jills” had never lifted an ax before, received only a month of training, and lived under extreme conditions while felling trees. Davis’ story highlights their pluck and determination, shedding light on the courageous spirit that carried the country through war. Katie Hickey’s delightful illustrations round out the story with colorful charm. (Ages 4-7)

When I Pray for You

Matthew Paul Turner

In When I Pray for You, Turner writes from the perspective of a parent praying over his or her child. Turner uses lyrical verse to share the hopes and concerns Christian parents may feel as they watch their children grow up: “I pray you love well. That the light in you swells. That the story God writes is the one that you tell.” Although written for children, parents may find the book’s message geared more for them: a gentle reminder to pray without ceasing for their children. Young readers will enjoy Kimberley Barnes’ colorful illustrations, which feature diverse children actively engaged in their world. (Ages 3-7)


Illustration by Corinna Luyken

Illustration by Corinna Luyken


In My Heart (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2019), Corinna Luyken’s rhythmic words explore children’s feelings and the ways our hearts can respond to the world around us: “There are days it is broken, but broken can mend, and a heart that is closed can still open again.” Luyken subtly incorporates heart shapes throughout her simple black, white, and yellow illustrations.

In Why God? (B&H, 2019) Dan DeWitt gives kids Big Answers About God and Why We Believe in Him. The story follows two children as they ask questions about their faith, and their mom helps them find the “clues” that point to God.

In PraiseNotes: Hymns for Kids (CreateSpace, 2018), Kurt and Kimberly Snow teach children ages 8-12 about hymns and how to enjoy them. The book offers an overview of hymn history and hymn mechanics, as well as hymn examples and application worksheets.—K.C.