Lovely New Picture Books

Reviews of 'Little House in a Big Place' and 'The Wonder That Is You'

Little House in a Big Place

A young girl lives in a little house by a train track in the middle of a vast prairie. Each morning, as the train whizzes past, the girl waves at the engineer and he waves back. Though the train engineer comes and goes, “his wave and her wave together made a home in her heart.”

The girl wonders about the engineer: Where does he come from and where is he going? Does he like his uniform and engineer’s cap? And she wonders if she might go away some day, too.

Unbeknownst to the girl, the engineer travels past for the last time on his final day of work. The girl waves, then sees something flying out of the engineer’s window. She can’t make out what it is, but, later, she discovers the engineer’s cap in the field along the track – a farewell gift.

Life rhythms
Each day, the train continues to come and go with a new engineer at the helm, but the girl loses interest in it. She’s growing up, as children do, and now she’s captivated by other activities: painting, dancing, and playing her guitar. Eventually, her childhood musings about leaving the little house are realized. She boards a train and waves goodbye to her parents, and gradually makes her way in the world.

Author Alison Acheson’s charming children’s picture book, accompanied by illustrator Valériane LeBlond’s gentle artwork, explores life rhythms – the train’s comings and goings; a retiring engineer being replaced by a younger one; and a child, curious about growing up and leaving home, eventually moving into adulthood.

 

The Wonder that is You

In this lyrical, rhyming children's picture book, a mother's joy knows no bounds as she welcomes her much-anticipated and loved child into the world, even as all of creation celebrates with her. Author Glenys Nellist exuberantly and eloquently captures a mother’s awe and gratitude at receiving so great a gift: “It felt as if the world stood still / The day my dream came true. / And all creation paused to see / The wonder that is you. / It seemed to me that oceans surged / And shouted out your name, / And everyone around me knew / I’d never be the same.”

Joy that knows no bounds
Illustrator Aurelie Blanz’s vivid, energetic pictures capture the buoyant, life-affirming atmosphere of Nellist’s poetry. Myriad creatures – deer, butterflies, an owl, rabbits, a whale, fish, a frog, geese, a kitten, and more – look at the newborn in amazement. Flowers, the moon, trees, stars, and the breeze welcome the infant into God’s astounding world. The mothers and babies that Blanz depicts reflect the diversity of God’s good creation of different races, and one of the ties that binds them together – the birth of children.

The Wonder That is You is recommended as a gift, not only for the birth of a child, but also to possibly commemorate an infant’s baptism.

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