"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
July 4, 2012
Summer Releases Grab Kids' (and Adults') Attention
by Laurie Williams Sowby

I'm always on the lookout for good children's books that are appropriate for baptisms, read-aloud times with the grandkids, or just plain fun. Here are some recent releases, none of them specifically LDS-oriented, but all of them worthwhile. (All are available through LDS book outlets.)

The Summer Bucket List for Kids, by Michelle Snow. Plain Sight Publishing (Cedar Fort, Inc.) 2012, 140 pages, $12.99.

If the kids are already whining and claiming boredom, it's time to crack open The Summer Bucket List for Kids. It's not kidding when the title states on the cover "60 fun-filled activities and crafts" that will keep kids and their parents engaged, learning, and making memories together.

The author's Ph.D. in public health was probably less useful to her in preparing this unique book than her experience as a mom whose greatest pleasure is to be "actively participating in [her] children's lives." In fact, a warning on page 1 says, "This is NOT a children's book!" Instead, it is one that actually requires adult participation and constant supervision.

Part of the fun is in the reading, as the author describes a process, lays out instructions, or just reminisces about doing the same projects when she was a kid. (I couldn't help laughing at her statement on "Activity #5, Hypnotize a Chicken": "Please be mindful of your pet chicken. Be gentle, and only hypnotize your chicken a few times a year."

Simple line drawings by Melissa Bastow illustrate the wide-ranging ideas, including how to make a non-toxic lava lamp or wind chimes.

The Summer Bucket List for Kids is a fun book for fun times. (Grandparents can use it too.)

The White Ox, The Journey of Emily Swain Squires, Calkins Creek 2009, 36 pages, $18.99 in hardcover.

In a more serious vein, as we remember Mormon pioneers in July, is a beautifully illustrated, true account of a young girl's journey across the Atlantic and then across the plains to Salt Lake City.

Ruth Hailstone has woven details from family journals and an account previously published in a volume of pioneer stories to tell the story of her own great-great-grandmother, Emily Swain Squires, who traveled from England to Zion. The foreword is a succinct history of the Church from 1830 to 1860, when Emily's journey began.

The story's namesake, a white ox, was often the subject of Emily's telling when she grew older. She believed the animal, which appeared seemingly out of nowhere when she needed a friend the most on the trail west, had been sent by God to comfort and strengthen her.

Thick pages hold eye-catching color illustrations by Dan Burr. With both text and pictures grandparents will want to share with their grandchildren, The White Ox is a quality book that will be a worthy teller of the story for years to come.

Who is this Jesus? Paintings by Christopher Creek, written by Lorie Creek. Ensign Peak 2012, 32 pages, $17.99 in hard cover.

What kid doesn't enjoy finding hidden pictures? Children and even adults will be enthralled and challenged by the illustrations in this new book by a husband-wife team, Christopher and Lorie Creek. His colorful paintings depict events in the Savior's life, while her words (in imperfect rhyme) describe some facet of the Savior's personality and attributes.

For example, the page next to a scene depicting Christ seated on a large stone and holding a basket with two fish and a few pieces of flatbread in it reads thus: "He is the Giver of all that is good. He invites each to come feast on His word." At the bottom of the page, it says, "Find an additional ten loaves and ten fishes."

That took me a while. (Thank goodness the artist has provided "cheat sheets" in the back of the book, but don't tell the kids!)

Who is This Jesus? will provide hours of activity finding the hidden pictures. But it could also give parents an opportunity to discuss the Bible stories further and explain the meaning of some titles and phrases like "healer," "gatherer," and "Prince of Peace." Absent of any particular LDS references, this creative book has wide appeal for Christian children of all ages.


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About Laurie Williams Sowby

Laurie Williams Sowby has been writing since second grade and getting paid for it since high school. Her byline ("all three names, please") has appeared on more than 6,000 freelance articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online.

A graduate of BYU and a writing instructor at Utah Valley University for many years, she proudly claims all five children and their spouses as college grads.

She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 in Chile, followed by Washington D.C. South, then Washington D.C. North, both times as young adult Institute teachers. They are currently serving in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs

During her years of missionary service, Laurie has continued to write about significant Church events, including the rededication of the Santiago Temple by President Hinckley and the groundbreaking for the Philadelphia Temple by President Eyring. She also was a Church Service Missionary, working as a news editor at Church Magazines, between full-time missions.

Laurie has traveled to all 50 states and at least 45 countries (so far). While home is American Fork, Utah, Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have provided a comfortable second home.

Laurie is currently serving a fourth full-time mission with her husband in the New York Office of Public and International Affairs. The two previously served with a branch presidency at the Provo Missionary Training Center. The oldest of 18 grandchildren have been called to serve missions in New Hampshire and Brisbane, Australia.

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