The author and illustrator of The Jesus Storybook Bible combine on a book of 101 devotions for young people. Sally Lloyd-Jones writes with warmth and clarity, keeping the gospel—the story of Christ rescuing sinners—at the center of each meditation. In “Finished!” she writes about the words Jesus said on the cross: “It wasn’t a cry of defeat. It was a shout of victory. The great work of rescuing us was finished! There is now nothing you can do to make God love you more—and nothing you can do to make him love you less. It is finished!” Those are words to make your heart sing.
William Boekestein proves that it is possible to make the story of a 17th century synod compelling to children. This slender volume with attractive woodcut-style illustrations focuses on a doctrinal battle between Calvinists and Arminians that was important theologically and also played a role in European politics. Boekestein introduces important figures like Pelagius, Erasmus, Luther, and Arminius, and clearly explains their roles. He shows—and is fair toward—what Arminius taught and what the Canons concluded. And he shows why the battle mattered: “Today the Arminian view has become widely accepted in many churches,” while others “are rediscovering the Reformed faith. ... This synod remains one of the highlights in the struggle of God’s people to maintain the glory of grace.”
The protagonist of this delightful picture book is Julia Child’s cat: Minette Mimosa McWilliams Child. “Like any self-respecting French cat,” Susanna Reich tells us, “Minette wouldn’t dream of eating food out of a can.” She much preferred hunting for bird and mice. Julia tried to tempt her with various concoctions, but Minette would only nibble—until Julia took classes at Le Cordon Bleu. Reich fills the book with playful alliterations: “She baked and blanched, blended and boiled, drained and dried, dusted and fried.” Reich has fun with rhymes: “And day and night she could smell the delicious smells of mayonnaise, hollandaise, cassoulets, cheese soufflés, and duck patés.” The illustrations capture Paris charm and poussiquette antics.
On the first page of this brilliant picture book is a small fish wearing a tiny derby hat. The words that accompany the picture: “This hat is not mine. I just stole it.” From that brazen beginning Klassen tells a moral tale with few words and simple pictures. The little fish makes a series of statements about how he plans to get away with the crime. Klassen subtly changes each illustration to show that the confident statements are untrue. The fish’s foolish logic—“I know it is wrong to steal a hat,” the little fish says. “I know it does not belong to me. But I am going to keep it. It was too small for him anyway”—has bad consequences.
God’s Promises by Sally Michael (P&R, 2012) provides parents a biblically grounded and engaging way to introduce their children to God’s promises and His character. With direct read-aloud text, Michael uses apt illustrations and Scripture to explain sometimes complex things: the difference between unconditional and conditional promises, for instance. Each chapter ends with exercises designed to teach children to trust the God who makes promises.
If you love noisy picture books, ones that demand sound effects, you’ll like Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp! by Wynton Marsalis (Candlewick, 2012). Jazz musician Marsalis’ celebration of sound has saxophones speaking, ambulances woo-uuu-ooo-uuuing, trombones brrrawmping, tubas whomping. Even spreading butter on toast makes a sound: “Chrrrick chrrrick chrrrick.” It’s perfectly illustrated by Paul Rogers in a style reminiscent of vintage movie credits from the 1950s and 1960s. —S.O.