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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

Yearly archive for 2018.

I've read many Bible stories for children over the years. We grew up on Kenneth Taylor's The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes and now we like Sally Lloyd-Jones's Jesus Storybook Bible. We've also read many picture books featuring individual stories -- some I liked, others were more generic, poorly illustrated, or tried too hard to make the story into something it didn't need to be. Still, I could list many good ones, but here are some I really like, some of which are by authors who are well known even outside the realm of religious literature.


Jerry Pinkney is a Caldecott-winning artist who has illustrated many books for children, including a wordless version of The Lion and the Mouse. Here in Noah's Ark, Pinkney tells the simple story from the Bible without messing with the narrative -- but the attention to detail in his words and paintings capture the epic scope of this story, as well as the courage and sense of survival. (When it comes to this particular story, we also enjoy Peter Spier's wordless version of Noah's Ark.)


I enjoyed The Very First Christmas board book because it tells the story from a Christian perspective, and doesn't feel the need to embellish the narrative with speculation. The story is a bit choppy at first for this reason, but it relates Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, and the special visitors the baby Jesus received, paired with beautiful, reverent illustrations. See my full review of both versions of this book here.


I was pleasantly surprised to see a Creation picture book from Cynthia Rylant at our library, since I didn't realize that she was an illustrator as well. The text here is right from the King James version of the Bible, which is probably more familiar to many people despite the archaic language -- it does have a certain poetic feel to it. The paintings are fairly simple, with broad brush strokes and few details, but I think it works well and helps to capture the simplicity and repetitive nature of the text.


When I first saw the cover of this book, I assumed it was the story of the shepherd and the lost sheep, from the parable Jesus told. But it's actually a very modernized version of Psalm 23. Still, the illustrations show the commonalities between these two passages, and the title, Found, helps bring the ideas together. Love is the central theme here -- God's love never fails. This is a delightful (and sturdy) large-sized board book from Sally Lloyd-Jones, and I really liked the colors and texture in Jago's illustrations as well.


Psalms may not be "stories," but they can communicate many important ideas about God and people's relationship to him. Psalms of Praise takes a look at a few short verses from the book of Psalms, focusing on different postures -- a fun way to teach children how to relate to God, and also about different forms of movement, from walking, lying down, running, and even jumping over a wall! I've really enjoyed both titles I've read from this series of board books -- see my review for the "opposites primer" about the creation story here.

We Build Our Homes is such a cute, readable nonfiction book, telling the stories of animals who are known for building homes -- especially unique ones. Each species of animal has a beautifully illustrated two-page spread to tell its story from a first person perspective (as the "we" in the title implies), which I think makes the text more story-like for young children.

We learn about birds, insects, mammals, and more animals that build their houses out of many different materials and in many different settings. One of the most interesting to me were the edible-nest swiftlets, birds who build their nests in caves -- and their nests are made out of their own saliva!

The text here manages to be both informative and readable, while remaining at a level that preschoolers can still appreciate. For older children, the book is not too wordy to read in one sitting. 

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Scrounged From: NetGalley

Format: Kindle
Author: Laura Knowles
Illustrator: Chris Madden
Pages: 64
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

I really resonated with (and enjoyed) Debbie Tung's first book of cartoons, Quiet Girl in a Noisy World (see my review here), which explores the introvert experience, and depicts a love of solitude. This theme is still present here, but gets a bit more specific in Book Love, a collection of comics perfect for those of us who thrive on books and reading in general.

If reading is one of your favorite uses of "down time," and something you enjoy on a regular basis, indoors or outdoors, whether in public or private, you'll enjoy these comics too. Some explore different places and ways to read, certain problems and difficulties that readers can face, but the most common theme I noticed is the way that books can have the power to change your life -- sometimes in grand, memorable ways, and other times in small, incremental ways. Books help you understand things from others' points of view, teach you about people and places at other points in time and geography, and also have the power to touch you emotionally in different ways. 

Of course, if you're a book lover these are things you are already quite aware of, but these comics offer a friendly celebration of this shared experience, and may even help rekindle that "excited" feeling you get when you've just read something you absolutely loved. I related especially to the comics that poked fun at the fact that even with an overflowing "to read" list, some of us just keep right on buying and acquiring books. No guilt here!

(Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.)

Scrounged From: NetGalley

Format: Kindle
Author/Illustrator: Debbie Tung
Pages: 144
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

Tut's Mummy: Lost...and Found! is a book I just read to my first-grader, but also one that I remember having read to me as a child. I think it must have really sparked my imagination for ancient cultures, because I still remember many details from the story, such as Howard Carter touching a necklace and watching the thread turn to dust, and the description of him looking on Tut's face for the first time.

Just the magnitude of this discoverey and its treasure and the fact that these objects and Tut himself had been preserved for so long is mind-boggling, and as an adult I can better appreciate just what Tut's mummy must have meant to archaeology and culture at the time. 

For many kids this may be one of their main introductions to ancient history, so it's fun to think of how many have enjoyed this over the few decades since it's been published.

Scrounged From: A curriculum sale

Format: Paperback
Author: Judy Donnelly
Illustrator: James Watling
Pages: 48
Content Advisory: Brief description of death, and a brief mention that some believed in the "mummy's curse."

More Reviews at Amazon

Have You Seen Trees? This may seem like an odd title. Of course I've seen trees. Who hasn't? Especially living in a rural, largely forested area, trees are particularly ubiquitous. And perhaps that's what the question is really asking. Have you become so used to encountering trees in the daily landscape that you're not really "seeing" them anymore?

The book doesn't get that philosophical, but by describing trees in their various seasons, colors, varieties, and habitats, especially with the use of many hyphenated descriptor phrases, the rhyming text reminds us of the beauty and versatility of trees. The soft and vibrant illustrations pair wonderfully with the celebratory text, making the book a joy to read (though the hyphenated phrases can take some practice!).

Scrounged From: A local used book sale

Format: Paperback
Author: Joanne Oppenheim
Illustrators: Jean and Mou-Sien Tseng
Pages: 35
Content Advisory: None

More Reviews at Amazon

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