I Do Not Like Books Anymore!

Another 2018 picture book review by Jean Matthew Hall.

I Do Not Like Books Anymore! According to the jacket flap is a story of “the struggles and joys of learning how to read.” Yes, I can see that in the cute story about a big sister and little brother who love books and imaginative play.

I Do Not Like Books Anymore! was written and illustrated by Daisy Hirst. It was published in 2018 by Candlewick Press.

But I’m struggling with the ending. I want resolution!

As Natalie is struggling with learning to read she decides she does NOT like books anymore! Things get better, and she seems to tolerate books. But she never actually lets us know that she has changed her mind about that.

To me that ending isn’t satisfying.

The author/illustrator, Daisy Hurst, has developed some adorable sibling characters. The story is realistic. I just want the ending to take one more step toward a satisfying resolution.

But what do I know? Only what I do and don’t like, I suppose.

Hirst also has a sister book about Natalie and Alphonse, titledATIMOCcover-144x150 Alphonse, There’s Mud on the Ceiling!


We all know that babies are not able to talk. But we often forget that talking is the human way of expressing our needs and wants. So, before a baby or toddler develops that ability to express their needs, desires and reactions in words they express them in other ways.

• Screaming
• Crying
• Tantrums
• Hitting, biting, kicking, snatching
• Etc.

These attempts to communicate with others result in a lot of frustration for the child and everyone around them.

One way to alleviate some of the frustration is to teach yourself and your little one very simple sign language. They can start learning signs between 4 and 6 months of age. You can start using the signs along with words. Baby will catch on and start mimicking you. Keep using the signs. Be consistent and persistent. Baby will get the idea! This really does help with communicating before your child can piece words together in phrases and sentences. That happens between 2 ½ and 3 years of age.

Many years ago, before Baby Sign Language became popular, I was an American Sign Language interpreter. So, when my kids were 2, 3, 4 years old I taught them basic signs that I could use with them in public without making a scene. Signs like:

   Stop, pay attention, bathroom, hungry, thirsty, wait, and warning!

Now language experts know which signs are vital for your toddler to communicate with you. Using them helps with some of the temper tantrums etc. that result from frustration about babies and toddlers not being able to express themselves verbally.

By the time they are a year old your kids should have a basic vocabulary for communicating their needs to you.

Click on these following pics to download and print out each chart to help you learn the simple signs.

Survival Signsbaby-sign-language-chart-baby-sign-language-chart-baby-sign-language-chart-help-baby-sign-language-chart-animals-baby-sign-language-chart


REMEMBER that baby’s attempts will not be perfect. But you’ll soon figure out what they mean.


Also, the website THE BUMP has a video to help you learn the most basic signs. Click here. Scroll to the bottom of the page.


Another Picture Book Review of a 2018 picture book by Jean Matthew Hall.

ERASER was written by Anna Kang and illustrated by Christopher Weyant. IT was published in 2018 by Two Lions.

I’m sure this must be a very popular book, but it isn’t one of my favorites. It feels like a picture book length graphic novel to me. The sketches of the characters (a variety of school supplies) are cute and the faces are expressive.

The text is written as conversation bubbles above their heads (minus the bubbles). Just not my favorite style. But I’m betting it’s popular with first graders.

Eraser feels unappreciated. Pencil takes all the credit for the work he does and trivializes Eraser’s contribution. So, she runs away.

On her journey she meets wadded-up and trashed papers who remind her of her worth. Nothing would be turned in correctly without her efforts.

So, Eraser pulls herself together and returns to help the other school supplies with the gigantic science project in progress.

In the end Pencil realizes the error of his ways and welcomes Eraser as a partner.

Like I say, not my favorite. Not just because of the art, but also the story. The plot feels incomplete. There isn’t enough conflict to show us what Eraser is really made of.
But I think your kiddos will enjoy this light and silly tale.

Eraser is also available for Kindle.

Mommie Martyrs

Are moms really martyrs? Sometimes we might feel like it.

One of the things I remember about my childhood is that Mama cooked southern fried chicken frequently. She bought the hen, cut it up, soaked it in buttermilk, floured it, fried it and stacked it on a platter. We couldn’t wait to dig in. Everyone (six of us) grabbed their favorite piece and bit into that crispy, crunchy skin.

batter-1239029_1920Everyone except Mama. She waited until our plates were filled, then she took what was left— always the wings or the neck. She adamantly declared that the neck was her favorite piece, and that secondly, she loved the wings.

As an adult I realized that Mama probably wasn’t telling the truth about that. I found myself doing the same thing—enjoying the leftover pieces after my husband and kids got theirs.

That’s part of the definition of mothering, I believe. Almost any woman can become pregnant and deliver a baby. That’s just the beginning of motherhood. It’s the easy part!

It concerns me that I see a decline in the philosophy that motherhood IS giving. That motherhood IS sacrifice. It makes me sad.

I want to challenge young mothers today to embrace the idea that bringing children into the world is the beginning of a life a blessings, but also of giving, of sacrificing.

I want to challenge young mothers today to be like Christ who, “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning the shame”* of His purpose in this life.

For the joy of seeing those children become the servants God wants them to become we mothers must give, must serve, must sacrifice.

I can tell you from personal experience that 50 years down the road the joy is worth it!LFTabMeme2

*Hebrews 12:22 NIV


Whale in a Fishbowl

Another Picture Book Review of a 2018 picture book by Jean Matthew Hall.

Whale in a Fishbowl was written by Troy Howell and illustrated by Richard Jones. It was published by Schwartz & Wade (of Random House) in 2018.

This is a quiet story of loneliness and freedom.

The illustrations are lovely. Everything is a soft, neutral, pale palette except the water. The deep aqua of the water in the gigantic fishbowl shouts “I’m here! See me!” to me.

And the deep blue of the ocean in the back ground screams for attention behind the bland, hum-drum colors of the city. It’s a marvelous background for the story of Wednesday the Whale trapped in a giant fishbowl in the middle of a city.

Wednesday doesn’t know anything about freedom. She’s always lived in the fishbowl.

But she knows she longs for something more–for that lovely blue thing she see if she jumps into the air above the fishbowl.

And she feels whole and free and happy once she finds her rightful place in the deep blue sea.

I like this book. It speaks to me. I believe it will open up opportunities to talk with children about loneliness, about not knowing your “place” in life, and about freedom.

Moms Like Mary

Mary, the mother of Jesus, is probably the most famous woman in the Bible. God certainly called her to a unique ministry. He gave her a unique gift—His own Son to mother.

We know very little about the years she was raising Jesus. So, we can’t gather much “parenting advice” from her. But what can we mothers learn from her?

  • First, Mary was available. She had been preparing for God’s assignment and was open to accepting it.
  • Secondly, Mary didn’t hesitate. When she heard the voice of God she submitted to it without reservation.
  • Thirdly, she was just an ordinary person. We are not told that Mary had any special gifts or abilities. She was simply faithful to use what she had to do the job called her to do day after day.
  • Lastly, Mary was faithful. She washed Jesus’ dirty clothes over and over again. She prepared his meals and called him to them day after day. Mary toilet trained Jesus, she taught him to roll up his sleeping mat each day, she showed him how to gather grain and grind it into meal. And she loved him all the way to the grave.

As a mom your job doesn’t seem very special much of the time. Ordinary days with ordinary tasks roll by year after year. Can you imagine—Mary knew each time she wiped the grime from little Jesus’ face that she was cleaning the face of God. She knew that each time she sent him out to play she was telling God what to do.

You don’t know who that child sleeping in your house really is in God’s plan. You don’t know who she or he will become in life. But you do know that each child running around your house is a child of God, one of His special creations.

And you are helping to transform him or her into God’s chosen vessel.

It only happens when we are like Mary:
• Available for those children
• Obeying God without hesitation
• Using our ordinary gifts in our ordinary lives
• Faithfully loving and teaching those children God’s way.

I’m praying for you, moms, as you undertake the greatest job in the world!


Life with My Family

Another Picture Book Review of a 2018 picture book by Jean Matthew Hall.

Life with My Family is a cute and clever nonfiction picture book about the names of various animal families. It was written by Renee Hooker & Karl Jones. It was illustrated by Kathryn Durst. Penguin Random House published it in 2018.

  • The illustrations are cute and crazy.
  • The text is sparse and to the point.
  • The “family” is hilarious and diverse.
  • The animal families range from common to exotic.
  • The last page gives the names of many other families of animals for classroom or home school use.

Oh! BTW this little book is also about the joy of family life.


A Parent’s Touch

The following is a thoughtful quote from A Woman’s Touch: The Fingerprints You Leave Behind by Amy Nappa. (Howard Publishing 2001). Though this book is addressed to women, Nappa’s advice below is equally applicable to moms, dads and grandparents.

Because of the vast amount of time we’ll spend with our children during their lives, they’re probably the ones who will be the most influenced, changed, and molded by our touch. So touch carefully! Pour honey into their hearts instead of vinegar. Give them your best side instead of your worst. Bring out the company dishes for them. Write them notes to remind them of your love.

Speak gently to them. Remember, the lips that kiss their wounds can also lay open new heartaches. Compliment them on their strengths and encourage them in their weaknesses. Tell them of your love for God and model that love daily. Let them see you reading your Bible and hear you turning to God in prayer…

The best tribute your children can give you is to M-Day Tab Memegrow up to be wise and loving men and women who follow Jesus. Be intentional in touching them. Show them the grace and love God has shown you. They’re your legacy to a world that desperately needs His touch. (pps 96-97)

The Marvelous Mustard Seed

The Marvelous Mustard Seed was written by Amy-Jill Levine & Sandy Eisenberg Sasso. It was illustrated by Margaux Meganck. The Marvelous Mustard Seed was published by Flyaway Books in 2018.

The Marvelous Mustard Seed is an interesting picture book that has an unusual focus or theme, in my opinion. Though it is never overtly stated, it is clear to me that this story is a retelling of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed.

seedlings-3448883_1280In The Marvelous Mustard Seed we are introduced to two children who plant a tiny mustard seed. They wait and wait for something to happen.

Then, one day a shoot appears.

Then, a sprout.

Then, a bush.

Then, a surprise. The ordinary bush becomes a huge tree.

I like the way the original parable is hinted at through a contemporary story and characters that children (and grown-ups like me) can relate to.

On my first reading my interpretation of The Marvelous Mustard Seed was colored by my own preconceived thoughts about Jesus’ parable. But the back matter of the picture book helped me to see that my interpretation might not be the only correct one.

On my second and third readings I could see clearly what the authors and artist were trying to get across.

The Marvelous Mustard Seed has several possible themes, I think. Faith. Patience. Anticipation.

I believe this is a great picture book for thoughtful parents to share with their children. It can open up discussions about what the mustard seed represents in this book, and in the Bible parables in the Gospels.


For some parents the issue of gender-confusion or gender-identity is a great concern. Please read here for a sane, Christian article for parents  on the issue of gender-identity. Feel free to share this post with other parents who might need this information.



Many thanks to Heidi at “Our Out-of-Sync Life” for this perspective.


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