A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
The Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF) has recently added titles to their Good News for Little Hearts Series. This series is focused on addressing the real-life difficulties that children face and proposing biblical ways of dealing with hard situations and hard emotions. Each book focuses on a specific challenging circumstance and encourages parents and children to address it in a way that draws them closer to God and takes advantage of the promises and counsel that are available in scripture.
Tori Comes Out of Her Shell tells the story of a little turtle who has moved to a new school and is the only one of her species there. She remembers times in the past when she wasn’t accepted by those around her and is reluctant to interact with these new schoolmates. As a result, she is sad and lonely. Her teacher, a skunk, recalls childhood experiences where she, too, felt ostracized and didn’t think anyone would be her friend, but her father explained that there was someone who is always close and wants to have a relationship with her. That Person is none other than Jesus. As Tori learns about the forgiveness and acceptance that Jesus offers, she is more willing to step out of her comfort zone and meet those around her. She discovers that another child, a salamander, also feels very lonely, and because of her own experiences, she is able to reach out in friendship to this one and comfort her.
Henry Says Good-Bye describes the events surrounding the death of his little ladybug pet. Henry has formed a close attachment to this ladybug and when she dies, he is devastated, and he acts out in anger to those around him. It takes the counsel of his father to show him how we should deal with our grief. His sadness is not minimized because it was just the loss of a simple pet. Instead, his sadness is acknowledged, and he learns that God cares about everything that happens to him and offers him comfort. Henry learns about a promise that for those who are in Christ there will be a day when all sadness and death will be taken away. He also learns that having gone through loss and grief, he can now show a special kind of compassion to others who are experiencing those same emotions.
Following the stories, each of these books in the series has a section for parents on how to further help their children deal with the difficulties they are experiencing. There are verses and references to Bible stories where these same issues are addressed. There is an emphasis on allowing your children to open up and discuss how they feel and guiding those feelings in a way that will lead to a growing relationship with God. There are also cards in the back of the book that are called “Back Pocket Bible Verses” that the parents could tuck into the backpacks or pants pockets of their children so that they can carry the promises of God’s word with them as they go about the day.
I also just have to say something about the illustrations. I truly love the thought and care that went into illustrating these books. The homes and schools of the characters are filled with such a variety of household items that have been repurposed to suit the needs of the animal characters. For example, a bench is made with a ruler set atop two tape measures; the cabinet handles are keys bent to serve that purpose; a washcloth serves as a rug. It’s just all very clever and fun to look at. I also appreciate that there are “cameos” of main characters from previous books in the series. It’s fun to see Buster Bunny and Jax Squirrel show up. I love the continuity of the series.
These are wonderful books that address real world issues that kids face. Often as adults we have a tendency to minimize the emotions that kids have, or we try to put a quick fix in place. These books allow us to slow down and really interact with our children and apply the truths of scripture to what they are dealing with. That is a discipline that would serve them very well for the rest of their lives.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
TORI COMES OUT OF HER SHELL: WHEN YOU ARE LONELY, by Jayne V. Clark