WELCOME

IMG_0811Welcome to Jean Matthew Hall’s home on the web.

By clicking on the Menu tabs above I hope you’ll find bushels of useful information.

Whether you are a fellow writer, a fellow parent or grandparent, or a fellow teacher there’s something here for you. Please let me know if you would like to see other information here. Take a tour, please.

My blog will keep you updated about

  • My Bountiful Blessings picture book series published by Little Lamb Books.
  • Writing friends (old and new) and writing conferences
  • School and Homeschool visits
  • Publication news
  • Stuff for writers

The Blessings of Fall (the first book) is scheduled for release in September, 2019.littlelamb_final_logo1-e1437675387523 I’m scheduling school visits and book signings at this time. If you would like for me to share with your school or store (near Louisville, KY or Charlotte, NC) please email me. Just click on the CONTACT tab above.

I relish your input so, please, leave comments on my blog posts or email me.

Rich blessings to you all!

Picture Books – Friendship

Jean Matthew Hall has reviewed about 200 picture books over the past two years. The next few blog posts will list these picture books by theme and/or category for your easy reference. The titles are linked to the reviews.

The following picture books are about FRIENDSHIP. Enjoy!

Badger’s Perfect Garden
Possum and the Summer Storm
If the S in Moose Comes Loose
Elmore
Hedge Hog
Kitten and the Night Watchman
Sleepover Duck!
Anything Is Possible
Blue Ethel
Puddles!
Bear & Hare
The Princess and the Frogs
Mr. Particular
What James Said
You Nest Here with Me
Up and Down

Picture Books-Individuality

Titles link to Jean’s reviews of the books

Violet the Pilot
Blue Ethel
Mary Had a Little Glam
Beautiful

BULLY

Bully was written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler. Sleeping Bear Press published it in 2018.

Bully is a frog in a pond full of lilies.

Bully wants all the lilies all to himself

The story traces Bully’s rude, selfish treatment of other creatures in the pond. Until one day the snails, the bees, the dragonflies and the flies have had enough. They chase Bully away to another pond—one without beautiful lilies.

The illustrations in Bully are cute and funny. But the story falls flat for me. There isn’t enough arc. And truthfully, I like stories where the main character changes. In Bully the main character stays stagnant. All of the other characters change, but Bully continues in his selfish ways.

This book would be a good conversation starter for discussing how to handle bullies. But not for encouraging change from a negative behavior like bullying to a positive change in behavior.

Picture Books-Cooperation & Community

Jean Matthew Hall has reviewed about 200 picture books over the past two years. The next few blog posts will list these picture books by theme and/or category for your easy reference.

These titles are linked to Jean’s reviews.

The Inventor’s Secret
Anything Is Possible
Around Our Way on Neighbor’s Day
Bear & Hare

Picture Books-Women

Mary Shelley
Libba
Lizard Lady
Jane Austen

Jane Austen for Kids by Nancy I. Sanders

Be A Good Dragon

Be a Good Dragon was written and illustrated by Kurt Cyrus, and published in 2018 by Sleeping Bear Press.

Poor Enzo the Dragon! He has a terrible cold and is sneezing without control. But Enzo isn’t the only one suffering. Each sneeze spews flames and cinders all over the mountain, the village and the villagers.

Enzo finally makes his way to the royal magician who prescribes drinking plenty of water and getting lots of rest. But Enzo won’t agree. He wants a magical solution.

So, Abracadabra and kalamazoo! Let the magic begin.

The book ends with a child having a cold and getting the same prescription. It seems to me that the entire purpose of the book is to reiterate to children that they need to drink and rest whenever they get a cold.

Sounds great so far, but then the story takes a turn that I don’t like. The magic solution seems to be to trick Enzo into drinking plenty of water and getting lots of rest.

Another thing that really bothers me is that the book is filled with dialogue written with the sounds of someone with a cold. For example:

            Enzo tells the magician, “Bake be all bedder!”

            Enzo gets frustrated and roars, “Id’s drivigg be duts! I CAD DAKE EDDY BORE!”

Sorry, but that kind of writing drives me nuts! I must decipher each thing that Enzo says. I believe that’s asking too much work of readers. It makes the story come to a screeching stop! I believe the book would have been more effective if the author had written the dialogue straight without the stuffed nose effect.

Yet another picture book that is not on my “favorites” list.

Not Enough Protection-Sunburn

For swimming and playing outdoors sunscreen protection is a must!

A few weeks ago I visited with my daughter and grandchildren in North Carolina. We tried to cram as much fun as possible into my ten-day visit. I cooked their favorite meals and spoiled them all I could.

people-2561531_1280We spent one day at Cane Creek Park. It has a lovely small lake with a terrific beach and swim area. I spent four hours in the water chasing and floating, playing frisbee and Shark and Minnows.

But the first thing we did was spray and slather each other with sunscreen. The park is a haven of huge shade trees. But the swimming area is not. The temperature was 100° that day and the gorgeous Carolina blue sky didn’t have a single cloud. And I am NOT an outdoor person.

You know where this is going, don’t you?

When the day was done we piled into the SUV and leaned back to relax. My daughter took one look at me at said, “Oh, Mama! You got a little sunburned.”

Later that day I looked in the mirror and saw not a little sunburn, but a strawberry red sunburn. And I felt it! Aloe, here I come!

I was miserable the first 24 hours. By the time I returned to my home it was healed. But I spent several painful days with my grandkids.

I thought I was protected. I took the right precautions. (Thank goodness I wore a hat!) I followed the directions. But my protection just wasn’t enough.

It reminds me how many people think they have their eternity protected. They do the right things. They go to the right churches. They speak the right church-lingo. But, anyone who is not protected by repenting of their sins and asking Jesus to enter their lives and forgive them isn’t protected enough.

Living with Christ within us as our Savior isn’t a guarantee that we’ll never get burned in this life on earth. A very old saying is, “Jesus isn’t fire insurance.” But having Christ as our Savior is more than enough protection for eternity spent with God.

Do you remember a specific time that you asked Christ to enter your life, forgive your sins and take control?

John 3:16 NIV

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 1:9-14

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Parenting-Developing Roots

Developing roots is essential to the growth of trees. Just as it is with the growth of our children.

About five years ago I bought a fig tree cutting at a yard sale.fig-3622427_1280.jpg It’s now about seven feet tall and dotted with newborn figs. In about six weeks they’ll ripen to their succulent glory.

I moved from that home more than two years ago. My daughter and her children now own that house. So, when I visited them a few weeks ago I took a few fig tree cuttings to bring home with me. Many of my childhood memories are tied to my grandmother’s fig tree. I pray these will survive and thrive like hers did.

20190715_131629Following Google’s advice I made a mini hothouse from a 2-liter bottle and filled it with sandy soil. Then simply poked the cuttings down into the soil and watered them well. They made the ten hour trip home with no problems.

Now these cuttings rest on my patio while they HOPEFULLY develop roots. I water and feed them. In future posts I’ll let you know how they do.

I hope, pray and wait.

It’s the same way with parenting. We plant our children in the best homes, the best environments, the best situations we can.

We give them nourishment physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We water them frequently with love. We tend them carefully. We pray over them.

And we wait.

We wait to see what character they’ll develop, what decisions they’ll make in life, what paths their careers will follow, how they will or won’t love and serve the Lord.

I’ve learned that we really can’t “hot house” our children like I’m doing to my fig cuttings. We can provide all the encouragement and guidance and discipline we know to give. We can pray over them and for them and with them. But ultimately they become adults and make their own choices.

Meanwhile the BEST thing we can do is pray and turn them over to God’s hands. We hope they are developing the right roots. We pray they accept Christ and grow in the Lord.

And we wait.

Psalm 92:12

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;

Badger’s Perfect Garden

From Jean Matthew Hall a 2019 Picture Book Review – Badger’s Perfect Garden.

Badger’s Perfect Garden was written by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated (delightfully) by Ramona Kaulitzki. It was published in 2019 by Sleeping Bear Press.

Badger’s touching story is beautifully illustrated by Kaulitzki. Their expressive faces look warm and friendly, and then sympathetic when Badger’s big problem arises.

A clue to the purpose of this story is in the title, “Perfect.”

Badger has been working and planning for a year to plant his perfect garden. His friends jump in not help with the project. Unfortunately several days of storms appear to ruin Badger’s perfect plans. He mopes about for days while his friends try diligently to cheer him without success.

Weeks later Red Squirrel, Dormouse, and Weasel bang on his door with some exciting news. Something beautiful has happened with Badger’s “perfect” garden.

You’ll have to read the book to your little ones to find out what the delightful surprise is—and how Badger learns that things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!

A lesson several of my grandchildren need to learn, I’m afraid. You probably know a kid or two who need to conquer their need for perfection, too. Life is so much better when we learn to step back and enjoy the unexpected surprises along the way.

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