Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside
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I have a lot of respect for Building Faith, a ministry of Virginia Theological Seminary, and frequently turn to their website for resources.
While searching for something else recently, I stumbled upon this article about selecting children’s bibles. I was delighted to find that Read, Wonder, Listen: Stories from the Bible for Young Readers (Wood Lake Books) is included as a top pick.
Here is part of what the reviewers had to say: “With gorgeous poetic language and full-page images, this story Bible will appeal to a wide range of ages and is an especially great pick for inquisitive children starting to ask more challenging questions about the Bible.”
Inviting readers of all ages to ask deep and challenging questions is something I always aim to do, so I was particularly pleased to read this comment.
See the full review and complete list here: https://buildfaith.org/choosing-a-childrens-bible-2/
One of the best things about writing picture books is getting that first glimpse of the artwork!
While this cover may be tweaked slightly over the coming months, it gives a great sense of the joyful style of illustrator Andrea Blinick.
Here is a brief description of the book:
“How does a home-cooked breakfast give a little girl the energy she needs for a brand-new day? In gently expressive language, her mother takes readers on a journey into the earth where sleepy seeds are tickled awake and grow into golden oats; into blueberry patches, where green leaves break apart water and air to build sweet sugar; and into a pasture where sun becomes grass, becomes cow, becomes milk.
Author Laura Alary‘s free verse breaks big ideas into child-sized pieces, making Sun in My Tummy an accessible introduction to the concepts of matter and energy, and how the sun’s light becomes fuel for our bodies through the food we eat. Andrea Blinick‘s mixed-media illustrations pair the cozy and homelike with the glowing and dramatic as she takes readers from the kitchen to the farm field and to the sky and back.”
Sun in My Tummy is available for preorder on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Sun-My-Tummy-Laura-Alary/dp/1772782416/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=sun+in+my+tummy&qid=1625794233&sr=8-1
There are a few blogs I follow regularly because their quality is consistently good, their content helpful and practical, and I have come to respect and trust the writers.
One such blog is Faith at Home, written by Wendy Claire Barrie. Wendy is writer, editor, Christian educator, speaker, and author of the book Faith at Home: A Handbook for Cautiously Christian Parents. She is also someone I am glad and grateful to call my friend.
I am honoured that Wendy featured my books about the circle of the church year on her blog. You can read her comments here (and please spend some time browsing the rest of her posts): https://wendyclairebarrie.com/2021/05/15/laura-alarys-breathe-look-and-make-room-guides-through-the-church-year/?fbclid=IwAR0ruGGhwqM28B4qNUhxbuILJoBrU560gE2wGQElHaYCA6L4Ni_hOMFVxgE
The tagline on author Laura Sassi’s website is, “Celebrating reading, writing, and life.” Definitely three things worth celebrating! I was so pleased that Laura invited me to join her in conversation about writing for children, cultivating wonder, the seasons of the Church year, and more.
Here is our interview:https://laurasassitales.wordpress.com
It may seem like I am posting about Breathe too often lately. But now that the rush of the launch is over, it feels good to sit back and enjoy hearing about where the book has ended up and how it is being used. I like to collect and share the reviews, both for the sake of my own record-keeping, and because reading them introduces me to new writers and blogs.
One of the things I appreciate about this review from The Homely Hours is summed up in this phrase this way: “Additionally, I think you know you’ve found a good children’s book when you find yourself reflecting on it.” I always hope my books will have something thought-provoking in them for readers of all ages.
You can read the full review here: https://thehomelyhours.com/2021/05/09/breathe-a-childs-guide-to-ascension-pentecost-and-the-growing-time/
One of the joys of having a new book out in the world is hearing about how people are finding ways of putting it to use. In this thoughtful review of Breathe, Anita Peebles offers some suggestions:
“In 31 pages, Laura Alary has created a beautiful, contemplative, encouraging and inspiring book that gives examples of the Holy Spirit’s being and work in the world in bite-size pieces. You could read Breathe as a whole book or study it very slowly, section by section, wondering about the fruits of the Spirit or how the people in your faith community care for others or about how it feels when people we love go away. And the good news continues—there is a discussion guide as well, provided through Paraclete Press.
This is a lovely book, with solid theological grounding that progressive churches in particular would appreciate–but I hope this book reaches far beyond progressive churches, because Christians of all ages will find refreshment and restoration here.”
To read the full review, click here: https://www.revanitapeebles.com/blog/pentecost-book-review-breathe-by-laura-alary
This is a memory from years ago, but it is still fresh.
I was getting ready to go out. It was only for the day, but I required a lot of gear. By the front door, my youngest daughter pranced around a pile of bags, investigating and wondering aloud. A frown creased her forehead as the questions poured out:
“Where are you going? How long will you be gone? Who will stay with us?”
There was something oddly familiar about her words. Then I remembered. My mind flitted to that moment in the gospel of John when Jesus, reclining in the lamplight around a table with his closest friends, breaks the news to them that he will soon be leaving. Their questions are those of children afraid to be left alone:
“Where are you going? When are you coming back? Who will stay with us?”
When I set out to write Breathe I spent considerable time sitting with the post-resurrection appearances in the gospels, trying to enter imaginatively into the experience of the disciples. To my surprise, what kept sweeping over me was this sense of anxiety–fear of an unknown future, uncertainty about their ability to face it alone, and disappointment (maybe even resentment) that Jesus had come back only to go away…again.
That bundle of emotions was not what I normally associated with Easter, but it felt familiar and true. So I decided to start there and see where it took me. As I traced this thread of anxiety through the resurrection appearances, I became aware of something else. There are two distinct versions of the giving of the Spirit: one in Acts, one in the gospel of John. They differ greatly in tone and detail, but both begin with fear.
I wanted to honour that essential part of the story. If you read Breathe you will see how I have gone about it, especially in the opening section, where the young narrator muses about things that hurt. But I think we can acknowledge these real feelings in the way we celebrate Pentecost too. There is room for more than cake and balloons (though those are good things too).
I have more to say about this in this blog post I wrote for Paraclete Press. You can read it here: https://paracletepress.com/blogs/paraclete-press-blog/who-will-stay-with-us-1