Three Picture Books About Hope—Book Reviews

Three recent picture books can help children feel safe and happy even though their routines have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Quinn’s Promise Rock
Written by Christie Thomas, illustrated by Sydney Hanson
Harvest House, 2019
hardcover, 32 pages, 9 x 0.4 x 9 inches

Out on a night flight with her father, Quinn is a worried little owl. What if she gets lost? What if she can’t keep up with her father, or loses sight of him?

Quinn’s father uses three different rocks to assure Quinn that she is safe and that God always takes care of her.

Like the rocky top of the mountain from which Quinn can always see her home, God is unchanging and always present too.

Like the cave where Quinn and her father wait safely for a storm to pass, God is always with us to keep us safe when we’re afraid.

And like the small rock Quinn’s father gives her to tuck beneath her feathers, our big God is also small enough to go with us everywhere.

The muted illustrations in Quinn’s Promise Rock seem to echo the reassuring tone of the text, and children will enjoy spotting the fireflies and small bats scattered throughout the book.

A note to parents provides child-friendly Bible verses to calm anxious hearts and tips. The book might be especially useful when a child is experiencing separation anxiety, but it seems good for any other anxiety-filled situation as well.

Little Mole Finds Hope
written by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Sally Garland
Beaming Books, 2020
hardcover, 32 pages, 8 x 2.3 x 9 inches

I have to confess: I don’t like moles. Their digging has destroyed my yard and flower beds too many summers. They are not cute and cuddly (especially not the dead one I found once in the grass between my house and a neighbor’s).

BUT …

Little Mole as a picture book character? Well, he likely will become your child’s special friend, especially at times he or she is feeling sad and in need of hope.

To help Little Mole find hope, Mama takes him on a walk through their burrow and then above ground. They encounter a dead-looking bulb, a tree with bare branches, and a chrysalis hanging inside a tipped-over flower pot.

At each stop, Mama tells Little Mole what will happen soon—a daffodil will bloom, the tree branches will bud and cover the tree in bright green leaves, a butterfly will burst out of the chrysalis and spread her wings. Mama encourages Little Mole to close his eyes and imagine each scene.

“Can you see [the leaves] dancing in the wind?”
“Yes, Mama!” cried Little Mole. “I see them! I see them!”
That is hope,” Mama said.

Back at home, Little Mole says, “Now I know there’s always hope, even in the darkest times.” Tucked into bed, he falls asleep and dreams of dancing daffodils, green leaves, and beautiful butterflies.

A two-page Discussion Guide for Caregivers offers questions about the story, tips to help a child who is feeling sad, and a reminder to always look for hope whenever your family or your child goes through a difficult time.

God’s Protection Covers Me
written by Amy Houts, illustrated by David Creighton-Pester
Beaming Books, 2019
hardcover, 32 pages, 8 x 0.5 x 8 inches

Set on a farm, the well-metered rhymes and bright illustrations in this picture book compare animal homes to the God’s care and protection every day.

Following a young boy as he roams the farm, children will learn a variety of animal-home names that likely will be new to most, including Quonset, warren, burrow (moles again!), and crawl space.

As it begins to rain, the boy finds shelter under his mother’s umbrella and together they head for their warm and cozy house. Wrapped up in a blanket and holding a mug of hot cocoa, the boy ends the book:

I am safe and worry-free.
God’s protection covers me.

Every day in all you do,
God’s protection covers you!

A parent page at the back with references to Bible people who experienced God’s protection would have been a helpful addition. But otherwise this is a well-done picture book for ages 2-4.

About These Reviews and Recommendations

My career as a children’s book editor, acquisitions editor, and editorial director greatly influences my response to books. I have seen a LOT of manuscripts and books. I have high standards for text, illustration, book design, and the purpose of a book. (This is a nice way of saying I am slightly jaded and quite particular.)

I understand too that parents, grandparents, and others who buy books want and need good value in the books you choose. Your book budget is not unlimited.

I’m not writing these reviews as hype or promotion for fellow author’s books. I do care about helping authors—after all, I am one. I understand the effort authors pour into every book and the hopes they have for each one. The books I recommend, however, I’m choosing because of the merit I see in the book, no other reason.

I want to point you to the best books more than I want to point out books I don’t like, so I won’t be writing negative reviews. If I can’t support a book, I just won’t write about it. At times, however, I may note details or features I would have changed in a book I otherwise recommend. This is to help you make your own decisions about what books are right for your family or ministry.

– Diane

Book Review—Jesus Heals and Holy Week (Baby Believer Series)

Want to add something with lasting value to your child’s Easter basket this year?

Two titles in the Baby Believer board book series are especially appropriate.

These books differ from the numerous board books available with a happy-Spring-and-new-life theme.

(There’s nothing wrong with those, and this year’s new crop has some good ones. I’ll be spotlighting them soon.)

But this series was developed to give parents a tool for introducing their children to Scripture and doctrine from a young age.

At the same time, each book teaches a basic preschool learning concept such as counting, opposites, animal names, parts of the body, and emotions. (The series currently has six titles.)

Holy Week: An Emotions Primer
Jesus Heals: An Anatomy Primer
written by Danielle Hitchen
art by Jessica Blanchard
published by Harvest House Publishers (2019, 2020)
board books, 20 pages, 6.8 x 0.8 x 6.8

Holy Week: An Emotions Primer focuses on identifying emotions children feel that people in the events of Easter week also experience.

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—Picturing God

God’s many names and descriptive titles in the Bible give readers word pictures of His character, attributes, and actions.

This new picture book explores 16 different biblical metaphors, describing God and our relationship with Him not just in words but in pictures too.

When I first heard about this book, I was eager to see it, of course, given the three books I’ve written about the names of God.

Picturing God
written and illustrated by Ruth Goring
published by Beaming Books (2019)
hardcover, 40 pages
10.2 x 0.3 x 10.1 inches

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—God’s Very Good Idea

Looking at the cover, God’s Very Good Idea seems to be about the wonderful diversity of people in God’s world. And it is that!

But as the subtitle A True Story about God’s Delightfully Different Family hints, this picture book covers so much more.

In fact, this picture book packs a lot of biblical understanding into 32 pages, all on a level that older preschoolers and early elementary grades can easily and enjoyably grasp.

(The illustrations are so much fun too!)

Right from the start, we learn that God’s very good idea was people, “lots of people, lots of different people, who would all enjoy loving him and all enjoy loving each other.”

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—Courageous World Changers

Not everyone can change the world (not everyone is called to), but everyone can change their world—and the worlds of those they love and serve.

“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

This is exactly what Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God accomplishes for middle grade girls.

Courageous World Changers: 50 True Stories of Daring Women of God
written by Shirley Raye Redmond
illustrated by Katya Longhi
published by Harvest House (2020)

hardcover, 112 pages, 7 x 0.5 x 9 inches

Girls will be inspired by these 50 mini biographies of contemporary and historical women who lived out their faith with boldness and perseverance.

And they’ll think: I want to live like that too!

 

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—Words to Love By

Somehow a picture book titled Words to Love By just feels like a good book for Valentine’s Day.

And this cheery, colorful exploration of how we use words to love others delivers well at Valentine’s or anytime.

“Words may be small, but they can do big things.”

What are some of those big things? Words can

encourage: “I believe in you.”

bring out the best in people: “I knew you could do it.”

spread love and kindness: “Do you need help?”

let others know they’re not alone: “Do you want to play with us?”

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—Love Is Kind

One of the cardinal rules of narrative picture book writing goes like this: Let the main character solve his problem himself.

Reading is waaay more fun for children this way.

But in the world of Christian picture books, what do parents (and therefore publishers) want?

To teach children something we consider important. And often in a narrative Christian picture book, an adult character not only solves the problem but imparts the lesson as well.

So when a Christian picture book allows its main character to solve a problem (and learn that important something) without an adult character driving the lesson home, I want to cheer for that book.

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—Protecting Your Child from Predators: How to Recognize and Respond to Sexual Danger

Today I want to introduce you to an important new book for parents, unlike any other resource on the subject of child sexual abuse.

What’s different and special about this book?

It teaches you how to create in children and teens themselves the kind of warrior heart that can shield them even when protective adults are not around.

Beth Robinson is a licensed professional counselor and supervisor of counselors, a certified school counselor and a frequent expert witness in legal proceedings involving sexual abuse.

Latayne Scott is an award-winning writer with over two dozen books and a theologian with a PhD in biblical studies.

As the introduction explains, a having a warrior heart means learning to say no to whatever puts our heart at risk. A child can be trained to have a brave, noble, and prepared heart with which to face the world.

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—Wow! The Good News in Four Words

At its core, the gospel is quite simple. So simple that author Dandi Daley Mackall figured out how to express the good news in just four words.

And then she wrote a picture book about it.

Wow! The Good News in Four Words
written by Dandi Daley Mackall
illustrated by Annabel Tempest
published by Tyndale Kids (2017)
32 pages, 11 x 0.2 x 11 inches, jacketed hardcover

The four words are
Wow,
Uh-oh,
Yes, and
Ahh.

Read More…

– Diane

Book Review—The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden

The Biggest Story
written by Kevin DeYoung, illustrated by Don Clark
published by Crossway (2015)
jacketed hardcover, 132 pages, 8.8 x 0.8 x 10.8 inches

Children often learn Bible stories without understanding how each story fits into the story of the Bible as a whole.

To address this, Kevin DeYoung wrote The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden.

In ten short chapters, The Biggest Story takes readers through the biblical plot line and also develops two important themes.

Read More…

– Diane