Archive for Books

Little David and the Chunky Flap Book

Little David and the Giant


Little David and the Giant is one of a series of “Bible Story Chunky Flap Books” put out by Random House in the 1990s. This one was written by Mary Josephs (is that a pseudonym?) and illustrated by David Wenzel.

Even when my kids were tiny I was incredibly picky about the Bible storybooks I bought. I had rules: no bad theology, no ugly pictures, don’t stray too far from the scriptural account. That excluded a lot of board books. Three Mary Josephs’ works passed my test and stood up to repeated reading: Little David and the Giant,

Daniel and the Lions (illustrated by Pamela Johnson)

Daniel and the Lions

Lions crop

and Jonah and the Whale (illustrated by Benrei Huang)

Jonah and the Whale

(I think that whale knows a secret.)

At about $3 for a board book that fits in your hand, you might not have expected a quality experience, but I really liked these Chunky Flap Books because their use of the flaps was fun and creative.

David Loaded Sling

Open the first flap to let the stone fly…

David slew the giant


And down Goliath goes!

Even the language is an occasion for happy discussion. How many books for 2-year olds include the word “slew?”

Just goes to show that sometimes there is treasure buried in the field, so keep digging!

Now, to add to the spirit of discovery and general merriment, here’s a jazzy song about Goliath with lyrics by J. Paul Williams and music by Joseph A. Martin. Everyone seems to enjoy singing this one. Hope you enjoy it too.

And why should kids have all the fun?

Goliath was a mighty man, he stood over ten feet tall.
Goliath was a mighty man, he had a lot of gall.
He laughed at David and David’s God
He made fun of old King Saul.
Goliath was a mighty man, but you should have seen him Fall.
Fee, fi, fo, fum,
Fee, fi fo, fum

Goliath was a mighty man, he was a warrior bold
Fee, fi, fo, fum,
Goliath was a mighty man,
fee, fi, fo
His temper uncontrolled
He laughed at David and David’s God
He made fun of old King Saul
Goliath was a mighty man
But you should have seen him,
Yes, you should have seen him,
O, you should have seen him fall.

Now you’ve made me mad. You are just a lad.
Birds and beasts will have a feast.. Prepare to meet your God!

David stood up to Goliath, he didn’t even have a sword.
All he had was five round rocks and the power of the Lord.
He put a rock in his old sling-shot and when that stone had flown,
It hit Goliath between the eyes and he..let..out.. a..groan!

Goliath was a mighty man, he stood over ten feet tall.
Goliath was a mighty man, until he lost it all.
He laughed at David and David’s God
He made fun of old King Saul
He wasn’t really great at all
You should have seen him
Yes, you should have seen him,
You should have seen him…… fall!

Every tongue confess

Five Joyful Mysteries

Five Joyful Mysteries
from Catechetical Scenes: Grace and Holy Baptism by Rev. M. Coerezza, S.D.B.
Salesian Catechetical Centre c/o Tang King Po School, Hong Kong, 1957.


Conversion of Saul

The Conversion of Saul
from Catechetical Scenes: Grace and Holy Baptism by Rev. M. Coerezza, S.D.B.
Salesian Catechetical Centre c/o Tang King Po School, Hong Kong, 1957.



These pictures come from a 17-volume series of catechetical pop-up books created in 1957 by the Salesians of Don Bosco, a Roman Catholic religious institute whose primary focus is on Christian education of young people. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes the Salesian Society’s work this way: “In carrying out its principal work, instead of the old punitive or repressive system, it adopts the preventive one, thus promoting confidence and love among the children, instead of fear and hatred.”


Catechetical Scenes dust jacket

Dust Jacket blurb Catechetical Scenes



And while we’re visiting Asia, here’s a Christmas anthem from the Cheung Lo Church, Church of Christ in China.


Title: In Bethlehem A Babe Was Born (有一嬰孩生在馬槽)
Words / Music: John Carter
Chinese: 劉永生
Arrangement: 陳供生
Date: Sunday Service, December 23, 2012
Choir: Cheung Lo Church, Church of Christ in China (中華基督教會長老堂)



The Journey

    Story of Christmas cover

Journey to Bethlehem


Historia de la Navidad

The journey to Bethlehem from the beautifully illustrated The Story of Christmas by British artist, Jane Ray. Available in both English and Spanish, the colors are magnificent, the pictures are full of detail, and by the time the wise men appear the illustrations are almost like a dream. Stay tuned through Epiphany…


B is for Bethlehem

A is for Augustus Illustration by Elisa Kleven

A is for Augustus
Illustration by Elisa Kleven
from B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner.

Jesus is coming! And that means it’s time to get out the bathrobes and head scarves and dust off those angel wings. Whether your church stages a well-practiced drama or holds a “come-on-the-day” pageant, Nativity plays are part of a tradition going back to the middle ages. If we don’t get all caught up in the politics of who gets to play Mary, they can be a lot of fun.

Here are two pictures from B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner and illustrated by Elisa Kleven–a lovely, imaginative telling of the Christmas story that works well as a pageant script or as a book to share with little people.  V is for Venite, but I won’t reveal what they do for X, Y, and Z.

F is for Flocks

F is for Flocks
Illustration by Elisa Kleven
from B is for Bethlehem: A Christmas Alphabet by Isabel Wilner.

Thank Him

"Thank Him"  from Standard Bible Story Readers Book One by Lillie A. Faris, Illus by O.C. Stemler & Bess Bruce Cleveland. Standard Publishing Co.1925.

“Thank Him”
from Standard Bible Story Readers Book One by Lillie A. Faris, Illus by O.C. Stemler & Bess Bruce Cleveland. Standard Publishing Co.1925.

Thank Him

Thank God for all good things,
The birds and the flowers;
Thank Him for the daylight,
And for night’s quiet hours.

Thank Him for the bird-song,
The sun and the rain;
Thank Him for the fruit,
And the rich, golden grain.

Thank Him for our country,
Our dear homes so fair;
Thank Him for our loved ones,
And for kind, loving care.

The Story of God’s Love

This is my favorite Sunday School book of all time.  I liked it so much, I took it home and read it over and over again. I’ve hung onto it for over 40 years. It begins like this:

Did you know that the Bible is one story–the story of God’s love for people like you and me?

The stories in this book are from the Bible and are a part of that wonderful story. They are about people of long ago who knew God’s love and answered his call to come into his family and belong to him.

I’m not sure why I loved this book so much. I had other Bible story books at home–and I read them too–but they did not occupy the same place in my affections as The Story of God’s Love.

When I read it again as an adult, I recognize Grace McSpadden Overholser’s talent for writing dramatic narrative and conversation which captured my imagination. I’m sure Polly Bolian’s illustrations were important too because they conveyed character and emotion. (Bolian is a well-known illustrator of Nancy Drew books which I was also reading about this time.) And I see from the brief author’s biography at book’s end that “Susan Hiett, a seven-year-old friend from Memphis, Tennessee, read all the stories in this book while they were being written.”  Perhaps her efforts were the secret ingredient.

But honestly, I’m not sure that I can explain it, and I can’t be sure that you would have the same experience if you picked up a copy. All I know is that this book is part of the story of God’s love in my life. A curious thing.


The mysterious life of G. W. Noble


I’m drawn to old books with extravagant titles–especially those with long, descriptive sub-titles–and yesterday a small, exuberant book with a red cover caught my eye at the book store.  I see in these extended book titles the expression of the author’s hopes and intentions for the work, paired with a bit salesmanship.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover, but the title will reveal a lot.

I wondered what I would find inside a book with such an audacious title, and the Book of Prayers for Everybody and All Occasions did not disappoint. I opened it and read:

“A Manual of Everyday Prayers Carefully Selected From Many Sources For Those Who Desire Greater Unction and More Freedom in Praying in Public….An Invaluable Help and Suggestion in the Use of Proper Prayer LANGUAGE When Entreating the ALMIGHTY….”


Isn’t that wonderful? Who wouldn’t desire greater unction and more freedom when faced with the terrifying prospect of praying in public? And in such a small book! I turned the page.

The prayers in this work were edited and compiled by the publisher, George W. Noble. In his introduction Noble explains his purpose:

In the preparation of this work the aim has been to supply a long-felt want as to helps in the important ministration of public prayer. It is not always true, as some people suppose, that if persons have divine grace in their hearts, they will pray fluently and powerfully. In religion, as in other things, “practice makes perfect;” and many an earnest Christian has not had the opportunity of exercising his gift, grace and usefulness in the public service of the Master. A Common Mistake:-  Many have supposed that because they can talk well among friends, therefore they can pray well in public. Such an idea is liable to lead him who entertains it into serious embarrassment sooner or later, and it don’t mend matters to have some of the dear members tell us we need more religion—they were mistaken. What we needed was something like this Book to suggest to us kindly how we should pray.  The Remedy:Somebody who knows the right direction in prayer should go ahead and make plain the way.  This is what this Book offers to do, for everybody and for nearly every conceivable occasion connected with the Lord’s work. How to Use It:- Read it! Read it often! Read it carefully! Read it prayerfully! Let each prayer make its due impression on your own heart. Pump your heart full of it–not the words necessarily, but the thoughts. Master the thoughts, and the words generally will take care of themselves. The work is submitted to the Christian public of all Denominations, believing that its frequent use can only be conducive of good results.  It seems hardly necessary to add that the most fluent address to the Almighty in prayer without His grace in the heart would be like “sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal,” and exceedingly offensive to Him. With the aid of the Holy Spirit, and rightly using this little Book, it is confidently believed that no one who names the name of Jesus should be unable to offer public prayer whenever and wherever in duty they are called upon; and may many find in this Book a more ready access to the Throne of Grace.

Copyright  1907 by G.W.NOBLE, Publisher, Chicago.

Cloth Binding. Price, 25c. Red Morocco Binding, 35c.
Postpaid on Receipt of Price.  Stamps Taken. 


By the time I finished reading the preface, I was utterly charmed and wanted to know more about this man who exhorted the Christian public to “…Let each prayer make its due impression on your own heart. Pump your heart full of it…”

But despite my best searching, I haven’t discovered much.  I know that in the early 1900s, George W. Noble published a series of religious works in this small format with red binding.

Some interesting titles I’ve identified are:

The Sword of the Spirit Which is the Word of God; Complete Help to Personal Work, Quick Answers to Excuses and All the Great Questions of Life, Duty and Destiny.  1900

Picture Puzzles or how to Read the Bible By Symbols: Designed Especially For The Boys and Girls to Stimulate a Greater Interest in the Holy Bible, 1903

Book of 625 New Bible Stories And Illustrations Also Scripture Incidents And Anecdotes, 1905

Book of 750 Bible and Gospel Studies, 1909

Book of Points for Christians and Personal Workers: Objections and Excuses Fully Answered; Bible Doctrines Simplified.

A few breadcrumbs on the internet trail suggest that “personal work” refers to evangelism and that Noble’s publications may have been associated with the Restoration Movement. The company’s office was probably on Dearborn Street in Chicago, in a building designed by the well-known Chicago architect John Mills Van Osdel.

And that’s all I know. In this case, the titles of his books really do tell us as much about the man as any other source. They reveal a desire to make the Bible accessible and interesting, and a plan to equip others for sharing their Christian faith. Ambitious goals, and all in easy-to-carry pocket-sized books, so you’ll be ready whenever and wherever in duty you are called.


The Monks’ Complaints and Delights

Image Courtesy Canterbury Archaeological Trust


Be it a job or a vocation, sometimes even holy people complain–especially when the hours are long and the work is tedious.

Here’s a collection of complaints and comments written by monks in the margins of medieval illuminated manuscripts. They’re presented by Maria Popova on her site Brain Pickings.


Click here to open in another window and read gems such as:

“New parchment, bad ink; I say nothing more.”

“Oh, my hand.”

“As the horbor is welcome to the sailor, so is the last line to the scribe.”  and

“While I wrote I froze, and what I could not write by the beams of the sun I finished by candlelight.”


And while we’re thinking about scribes, scholars, and manuscripts, I am reminded of a work written in Old Irish by a 9th century monk. You can see the page on which Pangur Bán was originally written at the bottom of this post.


The scholar and his cat, Pangur Bán

(from the Irish by Robin Flower)

I and Pangur Bán my cat,
‘Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men
‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill-will,
He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see
At our tasks how glad are we,
When at home we sit and find
Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray
In the hero Pangur’s way;
Oftentimes my keen thought set
Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,
O how glad is Pangur then!
O what gladness do I prove
When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,
Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.


The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey

Though most folks don’t consider me a sentimental person, there is one picture book that makes me cry every time I read it–The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. It’s a story of death, and loss, and transformation. When a bitter woodcarver agrees to make a replacement nativity for a widow and her young son, he finds that he must deal with the innocent persistence of childhood. As readers, we find ourselves caught between real sorrow and real hope: death and separation, life and relationship. What is the truth of this world?

It’s a terrific book with beautiful, sensitive illustrations by P. J. Lynch. I hear it’s been made into both a play and a movie, but I find I don’t even want to see the adaptations. It’s complete as it is.  If you were here, we could read it together and think about all the wonderful nativities we’ve shared this season.  We could talk about why these figures become so precious to us, and why we bring them out, year after year.  And then, maybe we could talk about the mysteries of Christmas and the incarnation, and how we get a little closer to understanding the reality of hope and joy in this life every time we set up the manger.


Guidance, gratitude, and wonder


A lot of thought, and whole lot of ink have been shared on the subject of talking to God. MosesJesus and Paul can keep us going for hours. Today Anne Lamott talks about her new book on NPR, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Food for thought as we draw near to Thanksgiving.