"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
December 19, 2012
The Nativity and Other Books: Good Stuff to Stuff in the Stockings
by Laurie Williams Sowby

The exceptional work of J. Kirk Richards, a relative newcomer among LDS artists, illustrates The Nativity (Shadow Mountain, $24.99 in hardcover). Imaginative and engaging sepia-toned art accompanies the text taken from the King James Bible, and the text itself appears in varied fonts, adding to the overall design. This is a beautiful, high-quality book which any Christian would be happy to receive, display, and treasure.

A uniquely LDS version of the Nativity appears in A Book of Mormon Christmas, with verses from Third Nephi selected by Michelle Kendall and illustrated by Mark McKenna (Cedar Fort, $14.99 in hardcover). It’s a fresh approach, appropriate for family use. The pages include standard arrangements of traditional carols interspersed with scriptures and artwork. The author’s son, Carsen Kendall, plays his original piano arrangements of the songs on the included CD; while not the same as the printed music in the book, they are nice to listen to and could provide pleasant music under the narration.

Kids who like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series will appreciate the antics and cartoon drawings in Jacob’s Journal of Doom, about “the good, the bad, and the hilarious life of an almost-deacon.” Kenneth Pike and Isaac Stewart created this amusing “stream of consciousness” tome which explores would-be video games designer Jacob’s efforts to introduce his best friend to the gospel – and how he comes to his own testimony. The book is a delightful, amusing read for adults as well, should their kids let them borrow it. (Deseret Book 2012, $14.99.)

For teens, there’s Life Rocks! (How Firm is Your Foundation?). It’s classic John Bytheway: solid principles illustrated with enlightening and entertaining examples of real people in real-life situations. The “firm foundation” is built on a secure knowledge of our identity, Savior, standards, purpose, and neighbor. The book quotes General Authorities and scriptures, and QR codes offer quick links to broadcasts and videos from lds.org. It’s a quick read at 120 pocket-size pages. (Deseret Book 2012, $9.99.)

The whole family will be lifted by The LDS Songbook for All Occasions, a beautifully illustrated, spiral-bound volume from Covenant (164 pages in large format, $24.99). The medium-difficulty piano accompaniments also have chords marked for guitar or ukelele. Songs range from well-loved hymns sung in Sunday meetings to camp songs, fun songs, patriotic tunes, and music for special holidays through the year. Occasions are listed in the index, followed by appropriate titles (baby blessing, baptism, funeral, General Conference, temple dedication, mission, etc.) to simplify coordination with events or family home evening lessons.

Dessert, anyone? An assortment of delectable delights is at the reader’s fingertips with Lion House Cookies and Sweets (Deseret Book, $19.99). Recipes with clear instructions for making sweets such as chocolate drizzle popcorn and English toffee appear on the pages, along with a batch of cookies, from plain to fancy. The color photographs are almost as mouth-watering as the finished product. Baking tips for making the tasty treats are on a bonus DVD tucked inside the front cover of this 136-page spiral-bound book whose slick pages will outlast smudges and drips left by bakers 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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