June 21, 2017

How to find a dragon

John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien
by Caroline McAlister
illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Sometimes it takes years for an idea to grow into a story. Such was the case for John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, author of The Hobbit. He'd been searching for dragons ever since he was young, until he decided to create one for himself.

An imaginative biography of the great fantasy author, with pictures inspired by the stories he invented.

June 19, 2017

Life in the shtetl

Sholom's Treasure: How Sholom Aleichem Became a Writer
by Erica Silverman
pictures by Mordicai Gerstein

Sholom Aleichem was a monkey and a dreamer who wanted to make people happy. One of twelve children, his life was often hard - his father lost his business, his mother died of cholera, his sharp-tongued stepmother constantly scolded. Yet Sholom was fascinated by his stepmother's inventive insults, and started to write them down. Called "The Sharp Tongue of the Stepmother", it became his first book. It even made her laugh. It set Sholom on the path to becoming a writer.

Written like a folktale, with expressive paintings to match, this is a humourous and charming story.

When The Chickens Went On Strike
adapted by Erica Silverman
illustrations by Matthew Trueman

On Rosh Hashanah, it was the custom to swing a live chicken over one's head to cleanse away bad deeds. Understandably, the chickens are angry and demand an end to the custom. When negotiations fail, it's up to a young boy to find a solution.

Originally told by Sholom Aleichem, this is a funny story that will leave readers smiling.

June 16, 2017

World religions

The Kids Book of World Religions
by Jennifer Glossop
illustrated by John Mantha

A good primer on world religions, the book is comprised of four sections divided by region. So it decribes religions from India, the Middle East, East Asia, and other continents (Africa, North America, Australia). It covers many of the same religions as in the previous books with the exception of Confucianism and the very brief summaries of Afro-Caribbean, Native North American, and Aborigine traditions.

Fact boxes and simple language make the book an easy read.

June 14, 2017

Religion from a child's point-of-view

A Faith Like Mine
by Laura Buller

A wide-ranging look at world religions, this book features a cast of international children talking about their respective faith and what they've learned and like about it. Beginning with traditional beliefs, the book examines Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A closing chapter gives brief summaries of Zoroastrianism, Shinto, Taoism, Jainism, and Baha'i.

As with all of DK Publishing's books, the pages are packed with information that may be intimidating at first. But the format makes the book ideal for casual browsing, and the many pictures are a happy distraction.

Includes a glossary and index.

June 12, 2017

We are more alike than different

Faith: Five Religions and What They Share
by Dr. Richard Steckel and Michele Steckel

Religious misunderstandings tend to fuel conflicts. But different religions are often more alike than we think. This book takes a look at five major religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. Each religion has different spiritual leaders, sacred texts, special clothing, sacred symbols, and places of worship. Yet they share many common elements in the use of incense, candles and water, and the practices of charity, prayer, and the golden rule.

The straightforward text and interesting photos make for a clear and accessible text.

Good for promoting tolerance and understanding.

June 9, 2017

Understanding Islam

Islam: Hambali's Story
by Holly Wallace

Twelve-year-old Hambali talks about his Muslim faith in this easy-to-read book. In his own words, he describes his everyday life, his beliefs, and the rituals and celebrations that he enjoys.

Hajj Stories
by Anita Ganeri

Two Hajj stories are retold in this book – the story of Hajar, who was left in the desert, and the story of Ibrahim and Isma’il (familiar to those who know them as Abraham and Isaac).

Brief descriptions of the Hajj pilgrimage and the Id-ul-Adha celebration is included, along with an Id prayer and instructions on how to make a candy box. 

June 7, 2017

Everyone prays

Everyone Prays: Celebrating Faith Around the World
by Alexis York Lumbard
illustrated by Alireza Sadeghian

A simple, colourful picture book depicting people praying in different parts of the world. It clearly shows that while everyone may pray in his or her own way, the reasons why we pray are the same.

The text is geared to preschool-aged children, while the concluding summary of the world’s religions is more suitable for ages 7 and up (with help from parents).

A good book that celebrates diversity and tolerance.