Brief Reviews

Three Great New Picture Books from IVP Kids! – Spring 2023

Three Great New Books from IVP Kids!
Spring 2023

Reviewed by Michele Morin

In 2021, IVP Kids began producing books that appeal to children while providing strong support to parents, grandparents, and other shepherds of children’s hearts who are willing to venture into big biblical topics with little readers. The IVP Kids imprint offers the gift of words to get the conversation started, to seize teachable moments, and to point children toward the loving God who orchestrates every single detail of our lives. Author/illustrator collaborations have produced delightful drawings to support the text. Best of all, the books address significant occasions as well as the challenges kids face on this broken ground without resorting to pat answers or fluff.

Saint Patrick the Forgiver: The History and Legends of Ireland’s Bishop
Ned Bustard

Hardback: IVP Kids, 2023
Buy Now: [IndieBound] [Amazon] [Kindle]

God Teaches Forgiveness

Just in time for the March holiday of leprechauns and shamrocks, St. Patrick the Forgiver shares Patrick’s true story of peril, loss, and, ultimately, forgiveness. Captured and enslaved by the Irish as a boy, Patrick escaped but then returned to Ireland in response to God’s call to preach a message of love and grace to his captors.

Did Patrick really use the shamrock to illustrate the Trinity, turn a bad man into a fox, and cast all the snakes from the island? Maybe? But weaving the delightful legends with the greater story of God’s transforming power, author and illustrator Ned Bustard has made it clear that the real miracle of St. Patrick’s life, the miracle of a forgiving heart, is possible to the believer in 2023 as well, “by the strength of heaven.”


Little Prayers for Ordinary Days
Tish Harrison Warren, Katy Bowser Hutson, & Flo Paris Oakes, Liita Forsyth (Illustrator)

Hardback: IVP Kids, 2022
Buy Now: [IndieBound] [Amazon] [Kindle]

God Hears Little Prayers

My youngest grandson is only two, but already he has an awareness that he needs outside help from Somebody stronger, Someone even more present than his parents with whom to process life. Little people pray little prayers, and every ordinary day comprises countless opportunities to practice the presence of God by verbally bringing him into the activity of the moment.

Little Prayers for Ordinary Days is a bright arrow of intention pointing out those moments for God-talk with lyrical prose authored by a three-woman team. Whether a child is just waking up or reading a book, trying something new or simply engaged in the hard work of waiting, God is present.

He is even present to help when there’s cooked broccoli for dinner again!  Adults, too, can rejoice in the treasure that God’s ears are open to our joy and our complaints.

Each page features delightful illustrations with winsome drawings inspired by artist Liita Forsyth’s own students, and each prayer is an invitation for children to frame their experiences in prayer–the good and the not-so-good. Spiritual formation can happen over a shared read aloud as families together delight in the presence of God within the ordinary.

Josey Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit
Esau McCaulley and LaTonya Jackson (Illustrator)

Hardback: IVP Kids, 2022
Buy Now: [IndieBound] [Amazon] [ Kindle ]

God Loves Our Differences

The mundane activities of daily life are a launch pad to meaningful connection with the God of the universe. The simple act of picking out a new outfit together or braiding a child’s hair provides the context for talk about the sovereign wisdom of God’s design in his plans for creation.

Josie Johnson’s Hair and the Holy Spirit makes it clear that God created differences because differences are worth celebrating. What’s evident all around us in nature–the “manifold works” of God expressed in an endless variety of trees, flowers, bugs, and beasts–becomes obvious when we look at God’s creative design of humanity.

Like so many children, Josey Johnson looks in the mirror and understands her differences as bad or less-than. A heart-to-heart talk with her dad helps her to see that while God could have made us all the same, he chose to exercise creativity. He must LOVE differences!

Author Esau McCaulley and illustrator LaTonya Jackson have curated this message to children of color, focusing on Josey’s beautiful black hair, but all children are aware of the ways in which they don’t fit in or feel uncomfortable inside their own skin. In his first book, Reading While Black, McCaulley begins a conversation about race for the church, and now parents will appreciate his winsome and wise communication as he puts positive words around God’s intentionally diverse design.

As a bonus, Josey’s conversation with her dad happens on the Saturday before Pentecost, and while they shop together for a red dress, he explains the praying and the waiting and the “tongues of fire” on people’s heads. Josey comes to understand that “Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is for all people, no matter what language they speak, the color of their skin, or the curl of their hair.” That’s a gift to be celebrated on Pentecost and every day!


Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a reader, writer, speaker, and gardener who lives with her family on a country hill in Maine. Active in educational ministries with her local church, Michele delights in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” Connect with her online at Living Our Days.

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