Wonder and remembrance
Four new picture books
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The Boy Whose Head Was Filled With Stars by Isabelle Marinov: Edwin Hubble’s curiosity as a young boy led him to stargaze and wonder about the night sky. “How many stars are in the sky? How did the universe begin? Where did it come from?” These questions reappear in silver lettering and in full-page spreads of starry skies showcasing Hubble’s study of astronomy. Hubble was unafraid of how big the universe was but “saw beauty in its immensity, and it gave him comfort.” In an author’s note, Marinov describes Hubble’s discoveries as humbling and putting earthly problems into perspective. (Ages 6-10)
Twenty-One Steps by Jeff Gottesfeld: Sentinels keep watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery with precision and perfection, during all hours of the day and in any weather condition. Gottesfeld captures their deliberate dress, clicking heels, 21 steps, and 21 seconds of silence that show honor to the “nameless and faceless” victims of war. The guards take their job seriously and ascribe to a “Sentinel’s Creed,” reproduced in the beginning of the book. Masterfully illustrated by Matt Tavares, this sobering story is written from the perspective of the unknown soldier. (Ages 7-10)
My Red Hat by Rachel Stubbs: In this imaginative book, a grandfather gives his granddaughter a bright red hat “full of possibility.” The hat does more than keep her warm and dry or cool on a sunny day. At times it appears bigger-than-life, holding dreams, secrets, fears, and adventures. With the hat, the grandfather passes on wisdom to his granddaughter. She and her hat travel way up high and way down deep “until home calls you back to where you belong.” Stubbs’ illustrations combine red and blue-gray tones, making each page pop. (Ages 3-7)
Road Trip! by Steve Light: Bear’s truck needs a new headlight after a minor accident. He coaxes four animal friends to join him on a road trip to Elephant’s junkyard for a new one. In the charming world of Whiskers Hollow, the animals emerge from hollowed stumps and traverse rickety bridges and thorny tunnels, arriving at a massive tree decorated with old car parts and rusty treasures. Each animal finds something special at the junkyard. Children will delight in the book’s intricate and whimsical details and each creature’s character traits. (Ages 3-8)
Rebecca McLaughlin’s 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) About Christianity (Crossway, 2021) examines modern messages young adults will encounter about God, the Bible, and the world they live in. She sets out to prepare them for real conversations with people who think differently from them. “If what I believe is true, it will stand up to scrutiny,” she writes.
Questions cover a range of topics including diversity, morality, truth, science, marriage, sexuality, gender, God’s sovereignty, and heaven and hell. This simplified version of McLaughlin’s 2019 book for adults, Confronting Christianity, addresses common misconceptions with refreshing honesty and points teenagers to the truth of the gospel.
Although the book’s intended audience is teenagers, McLaughlin says she wrote the book in a way that she would be comfortable reading to her 10-year-old. Harry Potter and Disney movie references abound. Still, some parents will want to read it first or with their child, depending on their age and understanding. —M.J.
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