Archive for children

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!


Samuel Helping in the Temple

Samuel Helping in the Temple
painting by Harold Minton
The Bible Story Book, Bethann Van Ness, Broadman Press, 1963.

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. (1 Samuel 3:1)

Bible Story Book cover Bethann Van Ness

Children are so often shown being helpful in Christian publications. The message is clear that everyone can and should make a contribution, and that God can use anyone for his purposes–even a child. We’ll look at more of these images in the weeks ahead.

Thinking of the star

Thinking of the star ABC Stories of Jesus


A Blessed Epiphany to you!

Today’s illustration is a painting by M.W. Remington called “God Made the Stars” which appeared in ABC Stories of Jesus by Mildred Speakes Edwards (Warner Press, 1954). Like many Bible story books, this one tries to help children see connections between their own lives and the stories from scripture, and to sense God’s presence in the world.

To go with the Remington painting is a hymn I first learned from the 1955 Presbyterian Hymnbook: “As With Gladness Men of Old.” My favorite words are printed below, and you can either sing along karaoke-style with the Eminent Organ at St Madocs Church Llanmadoc, Gower Swansea, or join in with the very joyful choir and audience/congregation for Corban University’s Lessons and Carols.

Most gracious Lord, may we evermore be led to thee.


Words: Will­iam Chatterton Dix, 1860. He wrote this hymn on the day of the Epi­pha­ny, while sick in bed; it was first pub­lished in his Hymns of Love and Joy.

Music: Dix, Kon­rad Koch­er, Stim­men aus dem Reiche Gott­es, 1838

As with gladness men of old
did the guiding star behold;
as with joy they hailed its light,
leading onward, beaming bright;
so, most gracious Lord, may we
evermore be led to thee.

As with joyful steps they sped,
Savior, to thy lowly bed,
there to bend the knee before
thee, whom heaven and earth adore;
so may we with willing feet
ever seek thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
at thy manger, rude and bare,
so may we with holy joy,
pure and free from sin’s alloy,
all our costliest treasures bring,
Christ, to thee, our heavenly king.

Holy Jesus, every day
keep us in the narrow way;
and when earthly things are past,
bring our ransomed souls at last
where they need no star to guide,
where no clouds thy glory hide.


We have seen his star in the east

The Christ Child Pictures by Maud & Miska Petersham

Wise men right crop


Wise men left detail


Wise men right detail

from The Christ Child pictures by Maud and Miska Petersham

Look at those tassels swinging! And such colors and patterns!

A light for revelation and for glory


Simeon Standard Reader

Standard Bible Story Readers, Book One
by Lillie A. Faris, Illustrated by O.C. Stemler and Bess Bruce Cleveland
Standard Publishing Co., 1925.


And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord  (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”)  and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.  And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

 “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to thy people Israel.”
And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,

“Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is spoken against
(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:22-35


The Christ Child Maud and Miska Petersham Doubleday and Co., Inc, 1931.

The Christ Child
Maud and Miska Petersham
Doubleday and Co., Inc, 1931.


The two children on the steps in that first picture from the Standard Bible Story Reader remind me of youngsters watching a baptism. The smaller child seems to be asking a question, perhaps marveling at Simeon’s words like Joseph and Mary.


And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.  And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

That final sentence so beautiful. I think it expresses what we want for our own children, and for ourselves as children of God.

Christmas Day in the Morning!


On Christmas Day in the Morning! Cover illustration by Antony Groves-Raines Carols collected by John Langstaff

On Christmas Day in the Morning! Cover illustration by Antony Groves-Raines
Carols collected by John Langstaff


I can’t imagine celebrating Christmas without music. These joyous illustrations come from On Christmas Day in the Morning! a book of carols gathered by music educator and founder of Christmas Revels John Langstaff. The witty pictures were created by Antony Groves-Raines, an Irish artist especially known for his advertising work for the Guinness company.  To get in the spirit while you look at the pictures, listen to Orla Fallon’s rendition as you scroll down.

Angels making music half title page


Christmas Day



Christmas Day right

As the revels end, the angels pack up their instruments, climb what must be Jacob’s stepladder, and bid us adieu.


Angels packing up

Detail verso page

Merry Christmas!

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…


The Bible Story Cube unfolds

Birth of Jesus cover



opening cube


Annunciation Beginners Bible


Baby born


Cube box

Today’s Bible story illustration is not exactly a book. It’s the offspring of the hugely successful Beginners Bible and an award-winning “dimensional promotional product” the Magic Cube. With such parentage you’d think the Beginner’s Bible Story Cube would have taken over the world, but today they’re hard to find. Perhaps the company that made them was too small. Perhaps they were simply played out of existence.

To give you a bit of historical context, the original Beginner’s Bible,  written by Karyn Henley and illustrated by Dennas Davis, was in print from 1989-2004 and sold over 5 million copies–making it the best-selling Bible storybook of all time. There were many, many derivative products: books, CDs, video, toys, coloring pages, curricula, and The Beginner’s Bible became a franchise. The copyright is owned by James R. Leininger, a Texas physician, businessman, and political activist.

The Magic Cube was and is a tactile marketing object, and a multi-year winner of the Fidget Factor award (though a caveat here: I can’t discover who gives out that award). MagiCube websites proclaim, “Touch. Teach. Connect.” “right on your customer’s desktop” “deliver FUN with your advertising!”

At some point in the 1990’s, Good News Gifts must have licensed the pictures and story from Leininger to make Beginner’s Bible Story Cubes. Today Good News Gifts still markets a number of Story Cubes (and still priced at $6.95!), but they’re no longer branded “Beginner’s Bible” and the artwork has changed. (For that matter, The Beginner’s Bible has changed too, and the new edition is illustrated by Kelly Pulley.)

My story cube is just one of a number of the many ways people have come up with for children to play with Bible stories. There are Noah’s ark sets, plush whales with Jonah zipped inside, Almighty Heroes action figures, Nativity sets for little hands, and Godly Play activities. I find most of these pretty interesting as Christian material culture, but I have a soft spot for toy books and the unfolding cube. Maybe someday I’ll make my own.


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.