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Children's Books

Children's Books

Recent picture books

Most people have heard of Winnie the Pooh, but few know of Winnie, the (female) black bear inspiration for A.A. Milne’s classic stories. Warm artwork enriches the story of veterinarian Harry Colebourn, who brings an orphaned black bear cub from Canada to Europe during World War I. After a distinguished career as military mascot, Winnie (short for Winnipeg) makes her home at the London Zoo. There, Milne’s son Christopher Robin meets her and is instantly enamored, inventing imaginary adventures for them both. Colebourn’s great-granddaughter writes this story-behind-the-story to her young son. (For ages 3-6.)

This Is My Home, This Is My School

Bean describes the homeschool experiences of many families by having a young boy introduce readers to his mother/teacher and sisters/classmates in classrooms that range from a chaotic living room to a nearby creek. We meet a crabby cafeteria lady (his mom cleaning up messes), a bully (the dog), and literal field trips. When things get tough, a substitute teacher (his dad) steps in to teach shop class, physical education, and literature at bedtime. Loose drawings with watercolors suggest the energy and chaos that often accompany a homeschool day in this delightful sequel to Building Our House. (For ages 3-6.)

B Is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet

In this 25th-anniversary reprint, new illustrations complement Wilner’s original text celebrating Christ’s birth. Beginning with A for Augustus and ending with Z for Zest, childlike collages sparkle and dance on each page, inviting readers into the Christmas story. While the text ranges from concrete (Bethlehem) to abstract (glory), it remains faithful to the source material while adding a few extrabiblical elements such as oxen. Families looking for a simple, enjoyable way to consider Christmas together will find this a helpful resource, and those familiar with the original book may appreciate the new hardback presentation. (For ages 4-8.)

I Really Like Slop!

In this easy reader, Piggie encourages her elephant friend Gerald to try the foul-smelling slop she adores. After all, it’s “part of pig culture.” Gerald’s reactions toward the reeking bowl—complete with flies buzzing around it—range from horror to trepidation. But as he realizes his rejection hurts his best friend’s feelings, he tries a tiny taste, with surprising results. Gerald does not change his mind about slop, but he does prove the importance of their relationship. A great story of loyalty that will encourage kids to try new things. (For ages 6-8.)

Spotlight

When Tita the chameleon climbs onto the shoulder of young Mu, he sets the African boy on a heart-stopping adventure that will carry along young readers, too. A Chameleon, a Boy, and a Quest by J.A. Myhre (New Growth Press, 2015) is rich in the beauty and danger of Africa. Mu’s journey takes him through difficult circumstances, including being a child soldier. The book does contain some violence, but it isn’t gruesome, and Mu’s quest eventually leads to a moving lesson in redemption and sacrifice.

Myhre spent two decades working as a physician alongside her also-physician husband at a rural medical clinic in Uganda. The book is the first of four fiction works she wrote as Christmas presents for her children, and it will beckon many young readers (ages 12 and up) to learn more about the African continent, as well as their own fallen nature. —Mindy Belz

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    Joshua Hays Handout

Children's Books

Children's Books

Recent Star Wars books for young readers

Little ones who hear older siblings talking about the Star Wars movie A New Hope will enjoy this remarkable board book. With single-word spreads and carefully chosen scenes recounting the movie’s plot, the book’s storytelling is both simple and sophisticated enough to grow with young readers. Also praiseworthy: the book’s visual style. The Wang brothers photograph handmade wool models to create their illustrations, giving the book a warm, cozy feel. Fans of their artistry may also appreciate their other Star Wars books and their series on classic literature. One caution: They depict some violence. But its cuddly presentation is unlikely to upset readers. (For ages 0-3.)

Darth Vader and Friends

This picture book shows young Luke and Leia Skywalker interacting with their difficult dad, Darth Vader, who finds that managing the evil Empire and training up little Jedis can be challenging. Readers follow Vader and his progeny through comic-style illustrations of play dates, math homework, and other poignant moments of parenthood. This latest in Brown’s series is premised on a silly concept, given Vader’s cruelty, but Star Wars fans will smile at Vader’s attempts to survive his own cruel taskmasters: two curious, whiny, energetic kids. (For ages 3-5.)

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

This retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope begins with Leia’s point of view, fending off stormtroopers on the Tantive IV. Then we move to Han’s perspective as he makes a deal on Tatooine, and finally, we end with Luke using the Force to guide him to the Death Star’s weakest link. Leia is the most fully developed of the three protagonists: an idealist with a chip on her shoulder and much to prove. This book is not a problem, but further books in the series venture down a New Age spiritual path. (For ages 10 and up.)

Star Wars: Lost Stars 

Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell grew up dreaming of the day they would leave the planet Jelucan and become pilots in the Imperial Army. When Thane discovers the Empire’s corruption and joins the Rebellion, Ciena is torn between loyalty to the Empire and her childhood friend. Author Claudia Gray uses this conflict to rehearse the events of the original Star Wars trilogy. She writes engagingly of war’s fury, but ultimately the dark side proves too strong: Foul language and sexual content make the book inappropriate for her intended young adult audience. 

Spotlight

Joshua Hays is a research assistant at the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion by day, but in his spare time he pastors kids in his Texas church, often using Star Wars analogies to jump-start interest in biblical topics. That experience led Hays to write A True Hope: Jedi Perils and the Way of Jesus, a book that attempts to filter the Star Wars films through a Christian worldview. 

With a new Star Wars movie opening in theaters this December, Hays’ book is a timely resource to help families evaluate this influential franchise. In chapters like “Death Is a Natural Part of Life” and “Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes,” Hays demonstrates flaws in Jedi thinking and unpacks biblical ideas of reality. While Hays often goes deeper into the history of philosophy than general audiences will appreciate, he ably contrasts the hope of Star Wars stories with the “true hope” of Scripture. —E.W.

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  • Handout

    Joshua Hays Handout

Children's Books

Children's Books

Recent Star Wars books for young readers

Little ones who hear older siblings talking about the Star Wars movie A New Hope will enjoy this remarkable board book. With single-word spreads and carefully chosen scenes recounting the movie’s plot, the book’s storytelling is both simple and sophisticated enough to grow with young readers. Also praiseworthy: the book’s visual style. The Wang brothers photograph handmade wool models to create their illustrations, giving the book a warm, cozy feel. Fans of their artistry may also appreciate their other Star Wars books and their series on classic literature. One caution: They depict some violence. But its cuddly presentation is unlikely to upset readers. (For ages 0-3.)

Darth Vader and Friends

This picture book shows young Luke and Leia Skywalker interacting with their difficult dad, Darth Vader, who finds that managing the evil Empire and training up little Jedis can be challenging. Readers follow Vader and his progeny through comic-style illustrations of play dates, math homework, and other poignant moments of parenthood. This latest in Brown’s series is premised on a silly concept, given Vader’s cruelty, but Star Wars fans will smile at Vader’s attempts to survive his own cruel taskmasters: two curious, whiny, energetic kids. (For ages 3-5.)

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

This retelling of Star Wars: A New Hope begins with Leia’s point of view, fending off stormtroopers on the Tantive IV. Then we move to Han’s perspective as he makes a deal on Tatooine, and finally, we end with Luke using the Force to guide him to the Death Star’s weakest link. Leia is the most fully developed of the three protagonists: an idealist with a chip on her shoulder and much to prove. This book is not a problem, but further books in the series venture down a New Age spiritual path. (For ages 10 and up.)

Star Wars: Lost Stars 

Ciena Ree and Thane Kyrell grew up dreaming of the day they would leave the planet Jelucan and become pilots in the Imperial Army. When Thane discovers the Empire’s corruption and joins the Rebellion, Ciena is torn between loyalty to the Empire and her childhood friend. Author Claudia Gray uses this conflict to rehearse the events of the original Star Wars trilogy. She writes engagingly of war’s fury, but ultimately the dark side proves too strong: Foul language and sexual content make the book inappropriate for her intended young adult audience. 

Spotlight

Joshua Hays is a research assistant at the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion by day, but in his spare time he pastors kids in his Texas church, often using Star Wars analogies to jump-start interest in biblical topics. That experience led Hays to write A True Hope: Jedi Perils and the Way of Jesus, a book that attempts to filter the Star Wars films through a Christian worldview. 

With a new Star Wars movie opening in theaters this December, Hays’ book is a timely resource to help families evaluate this influential franchise. In chapters like “Death Is a Natural Part of Life” and “Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes,” Hays demonstrates flaws in Jedi thinking and unpacks biblical ideas of reality. While Hays often goes deeper into the history of philosophy than general audiences will appreciate, he ably contrasts the hope of Star Wars stories with the “true hope” of Scripture. —E.W.

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