The Sun in My Belly by Sister Susan; illustrations by Sister Rain
Jenny and Molly are two young girls playing ball in a field. They begin to argue and finally walk away from one another, both angry and sad. Jenny cries, but the warmth of the sun on her head gives her comfort, and she begins to realize that everything is connected and thus inside of her. As she reflects on the beauty of the natural world around her—and subsequently the beauty in herself—she is happy and no longer feels alone. When Jenny encounters Molly again, they both apologize for their behavior and begin to share their thoughts on the world and its many wonders.
Inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun in My Belly introduces readers to the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and connectedness. Sister Susan and Sister Rain, both ordained nuns in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote this book to share a philosophical concept: we are never alone because everything is a part of us, from the rain and sun to the plants and animals with which we share our world. Continue reading Buddhist Teachings in a Lovely Picture Book
The Dragon’s Tooth by N. D. Wilson
In the middle of America (Wisconsin, to be precise), twelve-year-old Cyrus Smith and his older siblings Antigone and Daniel are living their everyday hum-drum lives. Of course, their version of “hum drum” involves living parent-less, managing a run-down motel, and eating pancakes for just about every meal while pretending to the outside world that all is well. But when a strange tattooed man claiming to know their deceased father shows up, a strange turn of events (and one wild taxi ride) takes them to Ashtown and the steps of the Order of Brendan, the secret society of famous explorers throughout history. Thrown headfirst into a world of conspiracy, secrets, and adventure, they fight to prove themselves and stay alive in what is a sometimes crazy, sometimes scary, and always entertaining journey.
N. D. Wilson, author of the 100 Cupboards series, has created an adventurous and magical world that could almost exist in your own backyard. Think Harry Potter but in America and with real historical people as characters. Continue reading Action-packed Fantasy (with a bit of history and mythology, too)
What’s So Special About Planet Earth? by Robert E. Wells
Sometimes Earth can be uncomfortable with weather that’s either too hot or too cold, and huge storms seem to come out of nowhere. In this introductory book about the planets, author Wells invites kids to pretend they’re visiting each of the planets in our solar system to find a new place to live. (As he says, “If you’re thinking about moving, you’d want to visit first, to see if the planet was right for you.”) The journey brings us to all eight planets in our solar system, Earth included, and at each we learn about distance from the sun, planet diameter, orbit time, number of moons, temperatures, and more. Each planet is interesting, but none seem to quite fit the bill for what humans, plants, and animals need in a home. When we finally travel back home to “our” planet, Wells explains why Earth is just right for us and the animals and plants we live with. He also tells us that we haven’t always taken good care of our home (pollution, etc.) and there are ways to make it better. He talks about recycling, reducing use of resources, and reusable energy. After all, planet Earth is pretty special–we’d better take care of it!
Bright, cartoon-like illustrations make the book fun, and some pages are written and drawn at different angles so readers have to rotate the book, which makes it interesting. In some ways, What’s So Special reminds me of The Magic School Bus series Continue reading Planet Earth Is Home