The Little Pot by Dawn Stephens

■Title: The Little Pot
■Author and Illustrator: Dawn Stephens
■Publisher: Bumblebee Productions (2009)
■ISBN-10: 1-933982-11-X
■ISBN-13: 978-1-933982-11-3
■SRP: $17.95
■Reviewed by: Janice D. Green

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

The Little Pot by Dawn Stephens is a children’s storybook that teaches a lesson in patience as Little Pot wonders and worries about what he will become.

The story has several ups and downs to keep a child as well as the adult reader interested and wanting to know what will happen next. The relationship between the potter and Little Pot is unmistakably parallel to the relationship between God and his children, yet the story does not preach. The message can speak to both child and adults alike as we struggle to understand what our purpose in life must be.

Children and adults will enjoy the colorful illustrations. The pictures make me feel like I’m in the room with the potter and can feel the texture of the unglazed pots. Little Pot’s playful expressions add a whimsical touch.

I exchanged books with this author with the hope for book reviews as appropriate. This book is easy to love and did not disappoint me in any way. The review is freely given.

This book was reviewed by Janice D. Green, author of The Creation and The First Christmas.

An Imagination Is a Terrible Thing to Waste!

I was one of those children who had a very active imagination. I think part of it stemmed from the fact that I was an only child who moved around a lot. This translated into lots of lonely days on my own — days in which I had to come up with ways to entertain myself. I loved reading and devoured books. I also had a Nintendo and played that occasionally. But more often than not, I would create imaginary scenes for myself to become part of, and I would act them out.

Some days I was a veterinarian, operating on my stuffed animals. Other days I was a famous singer, giving interviews to the press after a concert. During third grade, I had a long blue coat with spy comic strips for the lining, and this turned me into a secret agent.  As I got older and gained more responsibility around the house, I allowed my chores of unloading the dishwasher and wiping down the counters to transform me into a waitress at diner. I met a lot of interesting characters at that diner, all courtesy of my imagination.

Sometimes during my younger years, my mom would see me out on the front porch talking to myself and think that I had an imaginary friend. I’m afraid she was kind of concerned about it! But I would always reassure her with these words: “No, Mom, I’m acting.”

As I reflect on my childhood years, I can remember feeling almost cursed that I had so few playmates. I think I cried myself to sleep over it on more than a few occasions. But now as I look back, I can do so with fondness and gratitude for all of my imagination-filled hours and what they taught me. In fact, today I work as a full-time storyteller. In my work, I use a lot of audience-participation because I want to show children that they too can create unique and fun worlds to explore through their imagination. I also have the privilege of teaching workshops to educators and showing them the value of creative dramatic play and how it allows children to try on many different roles and express themselves and their interests.

I like to leave children with the idea that each book that they read is an adventure waiting to happen! Any story  can be acted out at home, and they don’t need fancy props to do it. A blanket can become a river. A green bath robe can turn you into a crocodile. An old scarf can become a monkey’s tail.

The next time you read a story to your child, encourage them to act it out. Allow them to explore the emotions of the characters. Get them physically involved by finding a walk or movement for the characters. Have them use their voice in different ways until they find a voice for the character. This can be done with any kind of story, but it works particularly well with folktales which often have a lot of fun and interesting animal characters with strong personalities. It’s also great to try with Bible stories because it allows children to inhabit the story, making it relevant to them and their own experience.

Even if you don’t consider yourself an actor or actress, get involved and play alongside your child. Don’t be afraid to be a real goofball!  These will be unforgettable moments that will show your child that no matter how old you are, you’re never too old to use your imagination, to try new things and to have fun.

As much as you can, look for opportunities to engage your child’s imagination whether you’re at home, at the park, in the grocery store or traveling in the car. For as Albert Einstein once said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”  Everyone has an imagination — so don’t let yours, or your child’s, go to waste!

Fun to Read, Fun to Create

Creating children’s books, especially illustrated books, requires many hands and many skills.

One of my favorite projects as a freelance editor has been Zack, You’re Acting Zany: Playful Poems and Riveting Rhymes (Standard Publishing, 2010). The author is Marty Nystrom, who wrote the worship song “As the Deer” and a hundred others. Steve Bjorkman, a talented artist with a long list of successful children’s book projects, created the illustrations.

Both gentlemen are mature Christian believers, and I enjoyed helping them team up on this wonderful book. Inside are 120 poems about New Testament people, events, and teaching–all combining wacky fun with faith and awe.

Locusts for Lunch

It’s gross enough
that John the Baptist
gobbled up grasshoppers.
But here’s what makes it even worse–
the kind he chomped were whoppers!

Steve’s kid-appealing art pairs perfectly with Marty’s laugh-out-loud poems. Everything’s planned to entice readers to dig into the Bible themselves to learn more. Like this tag line after “Locusts for Lunch”: “Read Mark1:6 to find out what else John ate.”

You can get a look inside Zack, You’re Acting Zany and read some of the poems here.

Here’s a snapshot of the process of creating this book:

After helping Marty decide on poems to add or delete and then working with him to polish the text, I sent the poems to Steve. Some illustrators want specific instructions, but Steve had great ideas of his own! I reviewed his sketches and approved his final art.

Then everything went to a designer who combined the art and text according to a basic design template they had developed earlier. I also worked with a proofreader, created the back cover and jacket text, and gave all the design files a final check. Then, off to the printer!

Marty and Steve first collaborated on Don’t Mess with Moses: Peculiar Poems and Rib-Tickling Rhymes in 2006. That one introduces kids to the Old Testament. My friend Laura Derico edited that project.

For read-aloud fun that will entice children 6 and up to investigate the Bible on their own, these books are a perfect pair!


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© 2012, Diane Stortz

Are wishing and praying the same?

When I was a little girl, I loved to hear Jiminy Cricket sing about wishing on a star. Do you remember the song? The lyrics promised that if we wished on a star, our dreams would come true. Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were true?

Making wishes is no big deal, right? It seems harmless to give a child a penny to throw in a fountain, and tell her, “Make a wish.” At birthday parties, the birthday boy or girl is often encouraged to “Blow out the candles and make a wish!” But we must be careful to teach our children what is truth and what is not.

As adults, we know wishing doesn’t work. Asking an inanimate object like a birthday candle or star to make a change in our lives is silly and futile. But to an innocent child’s imagination, a wish seems like a wonderful thing. And when kids make wishes, they may confuse wishing with praying. They may wonder if praying to God is the same as wishing on a star.

My book, A Wish and a Prayer, helps kids understand the difference between wishing and praying. In the story, Jason loses his parakeet when it flies out a window. He tries wishing on objects to bring his pet home. Then one night during a thunderstorm, Jason realizes the foolishness of wishing and tries something better – praying to God.

If you’re looking for a non-candy Easter gift for your child or grandchild, consider A Wish and a Prayer. The story is a great opening for answering kids’ deeper questions about prayer. I would love to hear how you used the book with the children in your life.

A Wish and a Prayer

Written by Beth Bence Reinke

Illustrated by Ginger Nielson

4RV Publishing

Softcover and eBook

Ages 4-8

ISBN-13: 978-0-9825886-6-6

Print a word search for the book.

Order autographed copies of A Wish and a Prayer from my website .

Also available from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-a-Million or order from any brick-and-mortar bookstore.

Easter blessings to you and your family!




The Creation as Retold by Janice D. Green

The Creation by Janice D. Green

The Creation © 2011 by Janice D. Green ISBN 978-0-9836808-0-2

■Title: The Creation
■Author and Illustrator: Retold by Janice D. Green
■Publisher: Honeycomb Adventures Press (September 1, 2011)
■ISBN-10: 0983680809
■ISBN-13: 978-0983680802
■SRP: $14.99
■Reviewed by: Roslyn Alexander and Cheryl C. Malandrinos

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

The story of creation and Adam and Eve’s fall from grace is shared with young readers in this beautifully illustrated picture book by Janice D. Green. Inspired by Scripture, the author includes questions after each day of creation, making this an interactive reading experience. This opens up the door for parents to further discuss God’s world and to show how an event that took place thousands of years ago still impacts us today.

Roslyn’s take: My granddaughter loved The Creation. She was really charged that almost every page asked her a question, especially the page where she could name fish and birds. I was surprised how many she could name. We took turns sharing names of uncommon birds, fish, and some of the places we encountered them.

What a great interactive book and what better topic is there for an interactive book? This is just what our Creator had in mind when He created the world with men and women to share all of life.

Cheryl’s take:Janice D. Green retells the story of Creation for readers in a new way. Making this an interactive reading experience, adds so much depth to the story that kids and parents will enjoy reading this book together. I especially like the the Bible quilt craft idea found at the end of the book. Providing a fun activity that ties into Bible learning is something we do all the time at Sunday school. Though the kids see this as a fun time, parents and teachers realize this is another opportunity for young people to learn.

Each illustration is created so it appears the reader is seeing the picture through a honeycomb. This is a unique design, and also allows for a multitude of colors to be used. It also means the author’s work will be easily recognizable if she continues this design in future books.

Christian families will be thrilled to have The Creation as part of their library.

Roslyn and I received free electronic copies of this book in exchange for our honest opinions. Neither of us received monetary compensation to provide our reviews.