Promises and prayers
Four books with Biblical themes
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Little Pilgrim’s Progress (Illustrated Edition) by Helen L. Taylor and Joe Sutphin
A little rabbit pilgrim traverses through woodland realms on his way to meet the King. He encounters dangers, trials, and temptations familiar from John Bunyan’s classic Pilgrim’s Progress, except this edition portrays characters as different animals. Illustrator Sutphin’s aptly chosen furry creatures instantly capture children’s imaginations and complement Taylor’s beloved 1947 children’s adaptation of Bunyan’s plotline. In more than 300 pages, the volume features intricate black ink drawings that bring to life Christian’s companions, sword fights, cunning foes, and most importantly, the story’s timeless truths. (Ages 8-12)
The Promise by Jason Helopoulos
In The Promise, Helopoulos succinctly conveys truths from the Biblical narrative of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. Biblical heroes, despite their merits, could not save mankind from the sin that entered the world through Adam and Eve—not a “really good man like Noah,” a faith-filled Abraham, the great prophet Moses, the conqueror Joshua, or even David, “a man after God’s own heart.” Only Jesus, the promised and perfect one, could rescue and restore His people. Illustrator Rommel Ruiz uses bold contrasts with stunning color and detail to convey the story’s depth and meaning. (Ages 4-8)
Hand to Hold by JJ Heller
This colorful picture book rendition of Heller’s lullaby captures a mother’s love and prayers for her child. Melodious lines reflect childhood joy and wonder: “You notice every sunset, reminding me of what is true.” In changing seasons and new experiences, the mother reminds her daughter of her ever-present “hand to hold.” In evening prayers, the mother guides her daughter in a Biblical blessing. This reassuring bedtime read reminds children of their parents’ love, and it reminds adult readers to cherish and steward little lives in their care. (Ages 3-7)
Dragons and Dragonslayers by Tim Chester
Chester retells 10 short dragon legends spanning time and cultures, illustrating how dragonslayers are not always heroes and the selfishness that rules a dragon’s heart is also in us. The stories set the stage for Chester’s concluding chapters where he points children to the Biblical account of the original dragon, Satan, and the ultimate dragonslayer, Jesus. He directs children to their need for a Savior and to God’s real-life rescue mission. Caution: Realistic illustrations may be scary for younger children. (Ages 8-12)
Simonetta Carr’s J.R.R. Tolkien for Kids: His Life and Writings (Chicago Review Press, 2021) introduces children to people, places, experiences, and historical context that shaped the imagination of the beloved author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Children will gain an appreciation for Tolkien’s unique and lifelong fascination with languages and connect other dots between his life and writing. A memorable walking trip through the Swiss Alps probably shaped his vision of the Misty Mountains, Carr writes, while wartime likely influenced his depiction of evil.
Fact boxes and black-and-white pictures of buildings, landscapes, and people break up information-heavy pages. Similar to other Chicago Review Press “for kids” titles, the book contains 21 corresponding activities, such as making a batch of marmalade and creating a map for a story. A good resource for young readers who want an introduction to the man remembered for “opening the door to a seemingly infinite world that others can explore.” —M.J.
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