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
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
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.
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
embraces all, having had her five children and their spouses all graduate from universities of
various colors. The oldest of 18 grandchildren (so far) begins the cycle again this fall.
She and husband, Steve, have served three full-time missions together, beginning in 2005 as
proselyting missionaries in Chile at the same time their youngest son was serving in Germany.
The last two times, they've served in Washington, D.C. (South and North missions) as young
adult Institute teachers. In D.C., they found it much easier to teach in English and enjoyed
having heat in the winter.
During her years of missionary service, Laurie 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). Home is American Fork,
Utah. She serves on the board of the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra and loves good music,
good books, and good chocolate.
Laurie is currently serving with her husband in an MTC branch presidency