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Children's Books

Ties that bind

Recent picture book releases

The Love Letter by Anika Aldamuy Denise: A hedgehog, bunny, and squirrel each in turn stumble upon a love letter. Thinking it was intended for them, each animal feels uniquely affirmed, and they spread their good cheer to others around them. The question of who the letter came from leads to a wonderful mix-up, uniting the animals and their separate vignettes, but the answer is not what they expected. This lighthearted story echoes the proverbial truth that “kind words are like honey” and the sweetness often spills over to others. Set in early winter, the book’s charming characters and soft-hued illustrations make for a delightful read-aloud. (Ages 4-8)

The Tale of the Tiger Slippers by Jan Brett: Throughout years of toiling and eventual wealth, a Bengal tiger wears a pair of slippers his mother stitched for him. When his friends mock him for wearing the old, raggedy slippers, he tries to get rid of them, but they always make their way back to him. So he builds a special fountain in the garden to house the slippers and serve as a reminder of his mother’s care and of his humble beginnings. Brett’s retelling of the Persian folktale is visually stimulating with her signature paneled style and vibrant illustrations portraying elegantly clad animals and lush vegetation. (Ages 4-8)

Birdsong by Julie Flett: Katherena and her mother move from family, friends, and a “city by the sea” to a rural home with one neighbor, an elderly woman named Agnes. As the seasons change, Katherena befriends Agnes, sharing Cree words with her and an appreciation for nature and art. She picks up drawing again for the first time since the move. When Agnes’ health fails, Katherena sweetens her final bedridden days and realizes how enriched her life has been because of their friendship. Flett incorporates her own Cree-Metis heritage and signature minimalistic illustrations, giving this book a unique quality. Its message of intergenerational relationship and shared passions provides enduring value. (Ages 4-8)

Love and the Rocking Chair by Leo and Diane Dillon: An expectant couple buys a rocking chair for their nursery. It is used to cradle a new baby and then for reading and playtime. The rocker is forgotten as the boy grows up and heads to college and his father becomes ill and dies. But when he marries, he and his wife move in with his mother, and the rocker is put to use for a new generation. The couple’s little girl hopes one day she will rock her own children in the chair. The Dillons, an award-winning author/illustrator duo, tell this story of intergenerational love in their final collaboration before Leo’s death in 2012. (Ages 3-5)

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Children's Books

Daring dreamers

Nonfiction books for middle graders

Courageous World Changers by Shirley Raye Redmond: In this book, Redmond introduces readers to 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God. The one-page cameos feature women from the past and present, showcasing how God equips women to serve in diverse ways. The profiles highlight well-known Christian leaders but also feature lesser-known women such as social worker Josephine Butler, missionary pilot Elizabeth Greene, and doctor Mary Stone. Although sometimes seemingly focused more on the women’s achievements than their faith, the vignettes altogther aim at inspiring young women to use their unique gifts for God’s glory. (Ages 8-11)

Beyond Words by Carl Safina: This young reader’s version of the same-titled New York Times bestseller follows Safina as he sets out to discover What Elephants and Whales Think and Feel. His fascinating research and anecdotes will delight middle graders who want to learn more about how these massive creatures communicate and interact with each other. But the adaptation falls short of highest praise due to choppy writing and Safina’s bent toward evolution. Rather than affirming our separate and unique role as humans, Safina instead asserts that man, elephant, and whale are “essentially the same” and that “beneath the skin … we are kin.” (Ages 10-14)

Susan B. Anthony by Teri Kanefield: 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. This fourth book in The Making of America series is an engaging biography that incorporates photographs and illustrations as it traces Susan B. Anthony’s role in women’s suffrage and abolition. In her final pages, however, Kanefield takes aim at conservatives, alleging that the late 20th century “saw a conservative backlash to the women’s movement.” She also bemoans Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential loss as an Electoral College casualty. (Ages 9-14)

Child of the Dream by Sharon Robinson: Child of the Dream is Robinson’s memoir about coming of age during the height of the civil rights movement. Sharon, daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, shares her struggles to fit in as an African American teen in the white, upper-class world of Stamford, Conn. Meanwhile, her father works alongside key civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., and her parents host fundraisers at their home to support the cause. As Sharon watches the events of 1963 unfold, the courage of her Southern peers inspires her to make her own stand for freedom. (Ages 8-12)

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Children's Books

Resurrection reads

Books to help children prepare for Easter

He Is Risen: Rocks Tell the Story of Easter by Patti Rokus: Though the format of this picture book may be surprising at first, Rokus’ simple language and elegant rock designs tell the story of Christ’s death and resurrection in a fresh and effective way. The book’s pages feature photographs of rock arrangements on a black background, each depicting events from the Passion Week. Rokus pairs these scenes with short sentences and reference verses, keeping the format uncomplicated and easy for children to follow. The tactile textures and colors of Rokus’ rock illustrations will appeal to children and spark their imaginations, leaving space for readers to connect to the story in their own way. This quiet retelling allows the reader to focus on the magnitude of a story that has been oft repeated. (Ages 4-8)

On That Easter Morning by Mary Joslin: Colorful illustrations pair with compelling storytelling in this book to lead young readers from the last week of Christ’s life on earth through His resurrection. Joslin’s dialogue and descriptions bring the Easter story down to ground level with a straightforward account that intentionally taps into the emotional responses of the characters involved. Joslin also helps children understand historically and theologically important connections, like how the Last Supper was a celebration of Passover. The illustrations are unique and beautiful, ranging from a simple and somber watercolor for the scene on Golgotha to a garden filled with brightly patterned trees on Easter morning. This simple picture book is an excellent way to help young children connect to the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. (Ages 5-8)

Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus by John Hendrix: The first half of this book focuses on the miracles of Jesus, and the second on His death and resurrection. The bright illustrations pop off the page—but the pictures aren’t the only art. The words themselves help illustrate the story as well as tell it, weaving in and out of the drawings, with colors and styles changing to support the narrative. Hendrix’s account of Jesus’ life taps into universal themes of healing and restoration. He goes to great lengths to defamiliarize the story, making it fresh and new even for those who have heard it repeatedly in the church. This book gives the broader context of Christ’s life, helping children better understand the importance of how the story ends. (Ages 5-9)

Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson: Families can use this book alongside “resurrection eggs,” a set of plastic Easter eggs with small items inside them that help tell the Easter story. Carlson introduces readers to Benjamin, a young boy living in Jerusalem during the first century, and then tells how Benjamin’s story intersects with Christ’s—from helping serve the Last Supper in the upper room to seeing the events of the crucifixion unfold. Along the way, Benjamin collects mementos to help him remember these amazing events, such as a coin from Judas, a nail from the cross, and a stone from the garden where Jesus rose again. Reading the book with a set of resurrection eggs will create a fun and tactile way for children to experience the Easter season. (Ages 4-8)

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