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Picture perfect

Children’s Books

Picture perfect

Five picture books

Wild Honey From the Moon by Kenneth Kraegel: How far would Mother Shrew go to make her son Hugo well? All the way to the moon and back if she has to. Since the only remedy for his ailment is wild honey from the moon, she’s determined to make the perilous journey. Carrying her red umbrella, she overcomes obstacles including a horned owl that wants to eat her, “night mares” that run like crazy, and a swarm of bees. “Silence,” she commands the bees. “I am a mother on a mission, and I will not be held back.” Gorgeous ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict a charming fantasy world for young readers. (Ages 4-8)

Bear Is Awake! An Alphabet Story by Hannah E. Harrison: Harrison tells an amusing story about a bear who wakes up from hibernation and embarks on a day of ordinary activities with a little girl. The book has no sentences, just words that begin with the letters of the alphabet: The N spread has “naughty,” a series of “no’s,” and “nice” accompanied by wonderful pictures of astonished shoppers watching as the bear grabs too many groceries and crams himself into the seat of a shopping cart. As the day ends, the girl leads the bear back to his cave for more winter sleep. (Ages 3-5)

Madame Badobedah by Sophie Dahl: Mabel lives at the Mermaid Hotel, a bed-and-breakfast that her dad manages. She has an oversized imagination, which goes into overdrive when a mysterious old woman moves into Room 32. The woman has trunks heavy enough to be loaded with gold. She is rude, calls Mabel “Darlink,” and orders her about. Naturally, Mabel decides to spy outside her door. Flamboyant watercolors illustrate what’s happening in the hotel and in Mabel’s imagination. Mabel is somewhat reminiscent of Eloise, but the story is sweeter, as is the budding friendship between Mabel and Madame Badobedah. (Ages 5-8)

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book by Mark Ludy: Ludy beautifully tells the Noah story using only richly detailed pictures: A domesticated dinosaur nibbles a tree; a polar bear licks Noah’s face like a dog; Noah lays his hand on his wife’s pregnant belly; she plays with her boys. The faces are an ethnic mishmash, suggesting that all peoples will descend from this family. This version of the story doesn’t ignore death. On one page a drowning man reaches his hand out of the water in a futile gesture for help. The book ends with hope: an altar, the rainbow, Noah and his wife embracing, and Noah looking up to heaven. (Ages 3-8)

Have You Seen My Blankie? by Lucy Rowland: Princess Alice has a cozy blankie she always took to bed until it goes missing. Her brother says he used it as a curtain until a giant took it. The giant says he used it as a hankie until a witch took it. Alice’s journey ends up at a dragon’s lair: “But then she saw her blankie with a dragon who looked cranky.” She has to figure out how to get her blan-kie back, and how to get the dragon his own comfort object. The rhyming text and mixed-media illustrations tell a story about empathy played out in a fairy-tale world. (Ages 2-5)


In The Moon Is Always Round (New Growth Press, 2019), Jonathan Gibson offers a reassuring way to explain God’s goodness to children even when it’s hard to see (in this case, after a stillbirth).

Author Silke Schnee is the mother of a child with Down syndrome. It’s fitting that the hero of her book, Prince Noah and the School Pirates (Plough, 2016), has the same syndrome. The story affirms the value of all children and continues the adventures of Noah, introduced in a previous book as “the prince who was just himself.”

Compassion International and Tyndale Kids offer a series of attractive children’s books combining geography, activities, and a missions focus. In the Friends Around the World Atlas, illustrated by Emma Trithart, bright maps and photos accompany facts about schooling, church, and family in other parts of the world. Also available: Friends Around the World Activity Book and The Philippines: An Interactive Family Experience.

In Special God (Crossway, 2018), Julie Melilli explains the book’s purpose: to communicate theological truths to those like her special needs daughter, who is not a native English speaker and has physical and cognitive challenges requiring simple, concrete language. She covers basic topics—Jesus, forgiveness, and salvation—in simple declarative sentences. When she introduces a new term, she defines it in the next sentence: “So God has made a plan of salvation. Salvation means to be saved. … Salvation means being saved from your sins forever by God.” The book’s calm color palette and simple geometric motif suit the text.