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Children's Books

Faith-building books

Five books from Christian publishers

Foundations by Ruth Chou Simons and Troy Simons: Ruth and Troy Simons write passionately in Foundations (which releases March 3) about the importance of cultivating family worship in the home: “Everything we desire for our families … begins with heeding the instruction given to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6 to remember and declare the faithful works of God.” With Ruth’s nature-inspired watercolor artwork as the backdrop, Ruth and Troy lead readers through 12 Biblical foundations that they say anchor their family. Each foundation has five short devotionals with discussion questions and a suggested memory verse. This lovely book will inspire families to ponder more deeply what foundations are guiding their homes. (Ages 8 and up) 

Puritan Heroes by Glenda Faye Mathes and Joel R. Beeke: This book serves as a Puritan primer, providing older children with an overview of Puritanism and a closer look at 21 Puritan heroes, including Jeremiah Burroughs, Matthew Henry, and Jonathan Edwards. The glossy pages intermingle text with artwork, illustrations, and photographs. The book concludes by summarizing what we can learn from the Puritans’ lives and work. The appendix features a glossary and study questions for each chapter, and the book’s inside cover presents a helpful timeline identifying the lifespans of the 21 Puritan leaders in relation to key rulers and historical events. (Ages 8-14) 

Epic Devotions by Aaron Armstrong: This graphic-novel-inspired book offers devotions for 52 Weeks in the Story That Changed the World. The devotional builds upon the Bible storybook Epic and chronologically goes through key Bible stories to show how the whole of God’s Word points us to Jesus and God’s rescue plan. Each entry gives a key Scripture verse, a suggested Scripture reading, thoughts and questions for discussion, action steps to apply the lesson, and a memory verse. The devotional, which families can use together or children can read individually, features bright, appealing illustrations by Heath McPherson. (Ages 8-12) 

Jesus and the Lions’ Den by Alison Mitchell: Mitchell opens her latest Tales That Tell the Truth picture book by explaining to children that when we look carefully we can find Jesus moments in Old Testament Bible stories like Daniel in the lions’ den. To help children spot the moments when Daniel “is a little bit like Jesus,” artist Catalina Echeverri incorporates four special lion faces in her illustrations. After telling Daniel’s story, Mitchell then goes back through the plot to identify and explain the significance of the moments when Daniel prefigures Jesus. The endpapers suggest additional Old Testament stories families can read to learn about other Bible figures who point to Jesus. (Ages 4-8)

Far From Home by Sarah Parker Rubio: A young boy’s parents awaken him in the night and tell him they must flee their home immediately. On the long journey the boy complains until a woman tells him a story about another refugee boy, Jesus, who fled with his parents to Egypt. Rubio’s story sensitively handles the plight of modern-day refugee children, showing how hope and comfort can spring even out of deep loss. Two disappointments: The illustrations portray Jesus as older than a toddler when he flees to Egypt, and the text tells how Jesus would grow up to help, heal, and feed people but overlooks His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. (Ages 4-8)

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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)

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Children's Books

Facing dangers

Middle grade and teen fiction

Brave Ollie Possum

Ethan Nicolle

Ollie Mackerelli is almost 10 and still afraid of the dark. This is a strain on his parents, who are already struggling to keep their Italian restaurant open in a small town. Ollie’s troubles worsen, however, when his therapist turns into a monster who wields her magical powers to transform him into a possum, with plans to eat him. But with help from some animal friends, he begins to face his worst fears, and a wise owl tells him, “All brave acts are done in the midst of fear.” A wild, imaginative tale with lively illustrations that readers will find humorous yet encouraging. (Ages 8-12)

The First Fowler

S.D. Smith

In the latest Green Ember series installment, war is far from over for a band of clever, sword-wielding rabbits fighting against Morbin’s wolves, raptors, and other evil servants. Jo Shanks eagerly joins a team of rabbits tasked with diverting the enemy so Prince “Smalls” can make it to safety. Even when wolves vastly outnumber them and a cunning raptor stalks them, Jo and his counterparts make up for their smallness with bravery, wit, and allegiance. The First Fowler, a sequel to The Last Archer, offers fast-moving, action-packed chapters, but includes many references to previous books. (Ages 8-12)

The Winter King

Christine Cohen

Cora and her family have lived in poverty—and under a perceived curse—ever since her father died in a freak ice fishing accident. Overwhelmed with bitterness and desperate to help her mother and siblings, Cora breaks rules and challenges preconceptions in order to cope and obtain food, money, and warmth during the harsh winter months. But she also begins to uncover forbidden secrets, and her quest for the truth takes her down dangerous paths, pushing her own limits and those of her loved ones. Author Christine Cohen fills her debut novel with courage, suspense, unexpected twists, and deep Biblical truths. (Ages 10-15)

Look Both Ways

Jason Reynolds

This book tells 10 separate narratives of urban teens reentering a neighborhood after their school day, each one highlighting unique obstacles and unexpected detours. Parents should know that one narrative features two boys who share a love for gaming, but who experience same-sex attraction initiated by a kiss on the cheek and ending with one of them bringing the other roses. With this book, Reynolds, an award-winning author whose book Ghost was a runner-up for WORLD’s 2017 Children’s Novel of the Year list, veers from his previously wholesome content. His characters find camaraderie, but not the gospel. (Ages 12-15)

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