Wednesday, July 14, 2021

A Child of God by Chantel and Mauli Bonner and Morgan Bissant

A Child of God
Written by Chantel and Mauli Bonner
Illustrated by Morgan Bissant
Published by Ensign Peak
Publication Date: September 7th, 2021

Even with a different name and skin a different shade, everyone’s a child of God. He loves us all the same.

A rhyming, read-aloud book with warm illustrations conveys a comforting, faith-filled message from a Black father and mother to their children who see visual representations of their Christian faith, but question what it means when they don’t see their skin color, their physical features, or their gender portrayed. 

 “What about the angels, will they stop and stare, when they see that I may not have their same color hair?” asks the girl.

 In soothing verse, the father assures his children that everyone looks like Jesus and the angels by the things they do. As the family walks through their neighborhood, the father points out the beauty in God’s creations, from flowers, all unique and different, to all the children in their community “each with skin a different shade.” He reminds his children that pictures of faith such as angels were drawn by someone and encourages his children to draw their own pictures so angels look like all of us. 

About the Author: 
Mauli Junior Bonner is a songwriter and film director from Las Vegas, Nevada. He recently completed production on the award-winning film His Name Is Green Flake Chantel L. Bonner is a University of Southern California alumna and works as a licensed marriage and family therapist providing trauma-informed care to children in foster care. The Bonners have been happily married for more than ten years and live in Southern California with their two children, Geo and Ari. The Bonners are dedicated to equality and justice among marginalized communities, and they provide resources to underserved children through their nonprofit, Lift Up Voices.

Illustrator Morgan Bissant is based in New Orleans. She started drawing as a child by copying cartoons and other things around her. She later attended a professional art school, pursuing a career in illustration and design. She received a degree in fine arts at Louisiana State University. She focuses on characters with various skin tones and distinct features, seeking to bring ideas to life and inspire others through illustrations. 

This is a lovely book about how we are ALL children of God, no matter what we look like. It's an engaging book that deals with real concerns, has great illustrations, and includes a discussion guide to facilitate conversations with children. My children all enjoyed this story; my baby (20 months) saw it on my bed and wanted me to read it to her--and immediately upon finishing it wanted me to read it to her again and again. I also read it with my 8-year-old twins (boy and girl) and 4-year-old son; they all listened to it and wanted to look in-depth at each picture and talk about different things they noticed. When we finished, I used some of the discussion questions to engage in more conversation right away, and then brought up other questions from the guide later on. This is a book with a very important message, and I highly recommend it!

I read an ARC provided by the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Author Interviews:

Monday, July 5, 2021

Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette

Between the Wild Branches (The Covenant House #2)
By Connilyn Cossette
Published by Bethany House

Ten years ago Lukio fled Kiryat-Yearim, where he'd been adopted by the Levite family who guarded the Ark of the Covenant. Feeling betrayed by everyone, he returned to his birthplace in Philistia to become a famous fighter. Now the champion of Ashdod, Lukio has achieved every goal with the help of his ruthless cousin. But just as he is set to claim the biggest prize of all, the daughter of the king, his past collides with his present in the form of Shoshana. 
After a heartbreaking end to her secret friendship with Lukio, Shoshana thought to never see the boy with the dual-colored eyes and the troubled soul again. But when she is captured in a Philistine raid and enslaved in Ashdod, she is surprised to find that the brutal fighter known as Demon-Eyes is Lukio himself. 
With explosive secrets and unbreakable vows standing between them, finding a way to freedom for both may cost them everything.

This book is fabulous! It's so well-written, with tons of details that show what day-to-day life was like at the time, interesting plot lines that show the tensions and conflicts between the Philistines and Hebrews in addition to the main storyline, and absolutely wonderful characters in Lukio and Shoshana. Shoshana has this quiet strength that made me admire her, while, Lukio, who is a bit of a mess but a heart of gold, absolutely stole my heart. He has just such a relatable character, with wounds from his childhood that hadn't quite healed leaving him hurting and vulnerable and kind of lost. I loved seeing how he just couldn't help but be kind to people, even as he has spent his life pushing people away. I just loved reading his story and seeing how things played out for him and Shoshana. Even though there's a lot of dark stuff that happens in this book, due to the violence and depravity of the Philistine culture, it was still such a boost to my spirit as it showed how God's goodness and love can shine even in those dark places and times. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!
5 stars.

I read an ARC provided by the author via #NetGalley. All opinions are my own.