10 Family-Friendly Picture Books from 2008
Here are 10 family-friendly picture book reviews in alphabetical order.
The Berenstain Bears: God Loves You!created by Stan & Jan Berenstain with Mike Berenstain
Summary: Brother Bear wants to be on the basketball team, and Sister Bear hopes to star in the school musical. Although they do their best, they're disappointed when Brother becomes the team manager and Sister the stage manager. Mama and Papa cheer up the kids with a family walk. Along the way, the family sees a rainbow and talks about God's love. They explain that God is proud of His children even when they aren't the star of a team or play.
Christian beliefs: Mama says rainbows and stars are God’s way of telling His creation how much He loves them. She says He loves us because He made us, not because of what we do or how good we are.
Authority roles: Mama and Papa encourage and practice with the cubs as Brother and Sister Bear prepare for tryouts. The parents sympathize with the cubs when the cubs don't get to be involved in the way they'd like. Mama and Papa tell the cubs they're proud of them for having important roles with a lot of responsibility. While Papa has a little trouble answering questions about God's love for His people, Mama is quick to tell the family that God loves them no matter what. The basketball coach and the drama teacher patiently watch everyone try out and make their decisions based on performance.
Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly
"Fancy Nancy" seriesby Jane O’Connor (author); Robin Preiss Glasser (illustrator)
Summary: Fancy Nancy and her friend Bree love butterflies. Bree makes butterflies the theme of her birthday party, and Nancy creates a shiny butterfly costume. When she tells her parents, Nancy realizes that her grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary is on the same day. Nancy is devastated. After telling Bree she can't attend her party, Nancy alternates between sulking and being angry, even on the train ride to her grandparents' party. She does feel a little better when she sees her grandparents, and she finds the City Squire Motel, where her family stays, very fancy. The anniversary party is in a ballroom, and everyone dances. The party is fun, and Nancy whispers an apology to her mother for her behavior. The next day, her grandparents take her to a butterfly garden. Nancy sees an Azure Butterfly, says, "Bonjour," and thinks the butterfly may understand her.
Christian beliefs: None
Authority roles: Nancy's parents do not let her go to her friend's butterfly party because her grandparents' 50th anniversary is on the same day. At one point, both Nancy and her younger sister enter their hotel room from the hallway where there is a candy machine and an ice dispenser. It does not appear that they are supervised. Nancy, who is young, is in the bathroom giving herself a facial, and she has a fishing tackle box full of make up. It appears that her younger sister is in the bathtub, and there doesn’t seem to be parents supervising them. Nancy's father offers a champagne toast to honor her grandparents. Children dance alongside adults at the anniversary party, and Nancy learns the cha-cha from her grandfather.
I Am Blessedby Grace Maccarone (author); Jaqueline Rogers (illustrator)
Summary: Written in rhyme, this first-person narrative has a child counting the many things for which he is thankful: his body, things he can do, food, friends, music, birds, animals, his home and the people he loves.
Christian beliefs: The word blessed is used instead of thankful and seems to mimic Christian jargon, yet Jesus is never mentioned nor is the church. So a message of thankfulness is presented well from the perspective of a young boy, but the youngster is not thankful to God.
Authority roles: The young boy appears to do most activities on his own, but a in a few of the illustrations, his mother is kissing him at breakfast, holding his hand during their walk and lying down on the grass with him. His father holds the boy on his lap and reads to him as the boy prepares for bed. On the last page, his parents kiss him goodnight.
The Legend of Ten-Gallon Sam and the Perilous Mine
"Heroes of Promise" series, Book No. 2by The Miller Brothers (authors / illustrators)
Summary: The White Rider tells a Western couple that they will have a baby boy. Their boy, Sam, will be strong, but only if he wears the White Rider's hat. The White Rider's prediction comes true. When Sam is old enough, the White Rider asks him to stop Phil the banker from tricking the people of Promise, Sam's town. Sam thwarts Phil's scheme to rob people of their farms through a shady livestock trade. Over time, Sam begins to like Phil's niece, Delilah, who is into fashions. To keep her affection, he buys a new suit that comes with a new hat. Immediately, Delilah burns his old hat, and before long, Phil kidnaps and holds Sam in a secret mine. Without his hat, Sam is powerless. When Sam tells the White Rider he's sorry, the White Rider gives him a new hat, and Sam's strength returns. To stop Phil and his gang, Sam collapses the mine with himself and all of Phil's gang inside.
Christian beliefs: This is the story of Samson told as an allegorical Western tale.
Authority roles: Sam's parents pray for him long before he is born. The White Rider takes care of His people in the city of Promise.
Let's Be Kindby P.K. Hallinan (author/illustrator)
Summary: Written in rhyme, this first-person story explores how kindness is reciprocated. Opportunities for children to be kind are given by God — helping others, caring for animals, doing chores, minding the noise level, listening.
Christian beliefs: Kindness is a godly attribute, and people tend to trust kind people. Also, God rewards those who are kind. There is no mention of Jesus.
Authority roles: God is seen as an authority. The unnamed young boy says, "Hi," to strangers, but only when his mother is near him. Also, this boy and his friend have ice cream cones, and the friend's mother is in the doorway with a bucket of ice cream, implying that she has given it to them.
Mama's Little Ducklingby Marjorie Blain Parker (author); Mike Wohnoutka (illustrator)
Summary: Dandelion Duckling lives with Mama Quack on the edge of a pond. Mama Quack keeps her duckling safe because she loves him. When Dandelion wants to explore on his own, Mama lets him, but she prevents a hungry pike from attacking him. The next day, Dandelion explores, again. He doesn't pay attention to his surroundings, and Mama protects him from a hawk. On the third day, Dandelion is intent on exploring but keeps alert this time. When he notices a weasel, he warns those around him, which includes his mother. Because he learned his mother’s lessons, he and his mother are safe for another day.
Christian beliefs: None
Authority roles: Mama Quack is intentional about giving Dandelion freedom while protecting him from a pike and a hawk. As she lets him experience his world, she also teaches him about safety by modeling what to do when there is danger.
Peekaboo Bedtimeby Rachel Isadora (author / illustrator)
Summary: Youngsters are invited to play peekaboo with an adorable toddler. The boy peeks at someone or something, but the reader must turn the page to find out whom or what. He plays peekaboo with his grandparents, the moon, his parents, his cat, his puppy, his slippers, his rubber ducky, his blankie and finally the reader.
Christian beliefs: None
Authority roles: None, although the toddler's parents and grandparents are shown in many illustrations as taking care of and loving him.
"The Master Illustrator Series"illustrated by Barry Moser
Summary: This book is not a written story but merely Psalm 23 from the Bible. Yet a story is derived from the illustrations of a modern-day shepherd and his flock. There are two pages at the beginning of the book, which are not meant for a child, and two pages that are a note from the publisher at the end of the book, which are not meant for a child. The rest of the book allows parents and children to learn something more about Psalm 23.
Christian beliefs: The entire book illustrates Psalm 23 from the Old Testament.
Authority roles: The shepherd is in authority over his sheep, but he uses his authority for the good of his sheep.
Southby Patrick McDonnell (author/illustrator)
Summary: A charming, wordless story tells about a bird that awakes to find the rest of the flock has flown south for the winter, leaving him behind. Mooch the cat offers his help and travels with the bird. About the middle of the journey, Mooch leads the bird through a city. Tall buildings and colorless, grim people are a contrast to the color of the bird and cat. Eventually they find the flock. The art is warm, soft watercolor on beige paper.
Christian beliefs: This story of a cat helping a lost bird aligns with Jesus' story of the sheep and the goats: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40).
Authority roles: Mooch the cat takes responsibility for helping the bird find his flock, holding his wing as they journey, and even carrying him on his shoulders at one point. Mooch tires and falls asleep in the middle, but wakes immediately when he hears the bird crying.
You Were Loved Before You Were Bornby Eve Bunting (author); Karen Barbour (illustrator)
Summary: From a mother's perspective, this book talks directly to a child to let him or her know that parents, grandparents, friends, relatives, the mother's students from her dance class and even the dog, were waiting for the child’s birth. They all loved him or her even before the child was born, and they still do.
Christian beliefs: None
Authority roles: The child's parents are looking forward to the birth of their child with love and anticipation.