I hope you have created some space in your calendar for the classic celebration of the unfolding 12 days, and that you are part of a faith community that pays attention to Epiphany. When our children were smaller, we did all our family gift-giving on Epiphany. (It was the wise men—the three kings of the carol—who brought gifts to Jesus and authorizes our gift-giving, it seems.) So, I hope you don’t see this year-end promo as a cheesy after Christmas sale, but as our on-going effort to suggest resources for your living into the ways of God’s Kingdom. Maybe some of these might strike your fancy, if you want to honor some young ones with books this Epiphany. Books always make nice gifts, eh? Let’s hope kids you know get something with pages this season alongside the gifts of gadgets.
The Story of the Other Wise Man Henry Van Dyke (Paraclete) $14.95 This could fit in a stocking, it is slim and pocket-sized. A classic novella, re-issued recently in this lovely hardback Do you know the story? It is well loved, written in 1923.
Come Worship With Me: A Journey through the Church Year Ruth Boling, illustrated by Tracey Dahle Carrier (Geneva Press) $19.95 This large sized hardcover has colors so vibrant they immediately attract good attention. Here, the church mice from the paperback A Children’s Guide to Worship, are back, learning about the flow of the church year, the liturgical calendar, and the spiritual rythms of the Christian seasons. Regardless of your denomination, this is a gem (and is really useful in church libraries, if you have such a thing.) In a special closing section, there are clear explanations for many Christian symbols and crosses; again, very useful. This really is a great example of fun and thoughtful children’s religious publishing and we are thrilled to recommend it. Kudos to the Presbys. More timely, is the equally colorful, somewhat smaller one called Mouse Tales—Things Hoped For: Advent, Christmas and Epiphany ($16.95.) Maybe you should get it now, read the Epiphany portion and save it for a re-read next season! All three are quite nice.
It’s Time to Sleep My Love Eric Metaxas, illustrated by Nancy Tillman (Feiwel and Friends) $16.95 Ms Tillman is one of the loveliest illustrators (renowned for the best-selling On the Night You Were Born) and her soft chalk & watercolors exude a glow…gentle and yet striking, with a few notable eccentricities which show that this is not cheap or simplistic, but multi-textured art. Eric Metaxas should be known by BookNotes readers as he is a thoughtful apologist, creative writer of Veggie Tale stuff, and the serious author of the unforgettable Wilberforce bio, Amazing Grace. What a combo of talent, offering a sweet and delightful invitation to nestle in love, to be assured of the care of a parent, to sleep in peace. This should be a Caldecott nominee, and it would make a special gift for those with very young children.
The Blessing of the Beasts Ethel Pochocki, engravings by Barry Moser (Paraclete) $18.95 We’ve promoted this before, a fabulous story, perhaps inspired by the famous blessing of animals service at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York. The illustrations are stunning by this renowned woodcut artist. That he puts himself into the story is kinda cool, but the tale is told from the viewpoint of some unusual creatures. The whole thing speaks volumes of God’s care for all things, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. What a great way to humorously teach–about the role of the church, the nature of blessings, the goodness of creation, the acceptance through God’s grace of even the rat and the skunk. Nice. For collectors, by the way, the ones we have are the first editions…
What God Has Always Wanted: The Bible’s Big Idea from Genesis through Revelation Charles F. Boyd, illustrated by Dennas Davis (FamilyLife Publishing) $14.99 What does it mean to “ask Jesus into your heart?” What is the point of God’s redemptive work? Is there an unfolding drama. a big-picture view of the Bible story, and is there a story that makes sense of our stories? This is an important message, rare in Bible study (for kids or adults) and although the illustrations are standard fare cartoonish art, they are vivid, multi-cultural and nicely done. The point, that God desires to be in friendship with the people He created, on the planet He is redeeming, is nicely told, creating a great overview of the Bible and of God’s great love for those He desires to be in relationship with. The back cover offers Psalm 22:27-28.
Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad James Rumford (Roaring Brook Press) $17.95 I was rooting for this to get the Caldecott Award last year as it is so very well done, remarkably beautiful, tender and yet edgy, colorful and creative. It tells the story of a young boy who likes soccer and loud music, but mostly loves the ancient art of calligraphy. He is inspired by Yakut, a famed master of Islamic calligraphy who lived in Baghdad some 800 years ago, also in a time of war. It just feels right to tell of this tender and courageous story now, and hope that some may find it worth passing on as a meaningful gift.
A Northern Nativity William Kurelek (Tundra) $11.99 The story of Kurelek is interesting as he was a renowned late 20th century artist in Canada, until he did some blunt paintings that showed his revulsion to abortion and he fell out of favor among the critics. Here, he uses his famous brush to paint the story he tells of his youth in the height of the Depression, living on the vast prairies of Cana
da, learning of the poor who rode boxcars in search of food or work. He falls asleep and imagines the Nativity set among northern native peoples, igloos and grain silos. What a striking way to show the universality of the Christ child, a beautiful and mystical telling of this strange and wonderful event.
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