The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross written by Carl Laferton, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
This is part of the Tales That Tell the Truth series, a set of quality children’s Bible story books. They even have corresponding coloring books. I have read most of them, and I’ve been using them in the Bible class I teach, and this is one of my favorites.
The Garden, the Curtain and the Cross draws a line connecting Eden and the angels put in place to guard it, to the temple and the curtain decorated with angels separating people from the Most Holy Place, to Jesus’ death and the tearing of that curtain. This is a beautiful theme that runs through the Bible, and it’s something I didn’t really grasp until I was an adult, and then from reading books that pointed it out. I LOVE having it presented in a way that’s accessible to children. Given my own experience, I think a lot of adults could learn from this book, too.
27 Essential Principles of Story: Master the Secrets of Storytelling, from Shakespeare to South Park by Daniel Joshua Rubin
For each of his 27 principles, Daniel Rubin gives an overview of what it means, discusses an example of a story that did it well, and offers tips on how to do it yourself. He makes this accessible to any kind of storyteller. This is not a book about writing books or screenplays or anything in particular; if you’re telling a story, you can use this book.
He also draws his examples from stories of all kinds. He talks about Shakespeare, Lord of the Rings, classics, Dr. Seuss, plays, TV shows, movies, works originally published in languages other than English, songs. I really appreciated this. It’s great to see someone acknowledge that great storytelling isn’t limited to just classics or just one medium or genre.
The tone of the book can be rather pompous at times. There’s language throughout, and some of the examples covered include very adult themes. So if you’re going to pick it up, be prepared for that.
But I also really appreciated Daniel Rubin’s ability to write respectfully about all sorts of viewpoints. He states explicitly at one point that he’s never been a particularly religious person, and he has some worldviews I disagree with, yet he includes examples and tips with religious themes, and he never comes across as demeaning or like he thinks these subjects are less worthy of consideration or great storytelling than anything else. That is not easy to do, and I applaud him.
I found this book very helpful, especially the section on plot. I’m glad I picked it up; it was worth the read.
That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story by Huda Fahmy
In this graphic novel, Huda Fahmy tells the story of how she met her husband. There’s plenty of drama with nosy extended family members, failed suitors, and wondering if you’ll ever meet anybody you want to marry. There’s a very relatable scene where Huda goes to a series of lectures and tells herself she’s not there to meet a man… “But maybe.” And then she goes to ask a sheikh for help finding a husband. “I got this. I’m 25. I’m strong. I’m secure. I can go ask a sheikh for help. No biggie. I am the essence of grace and will handle this with class and eloquence.” And the next page is her standing next to the sheikh just shouting, “ME WANT MAN.”
That Can Be Arranged is a cute, quick, fun read. I enjoyed it a lot.
Swashby and the Sea written by Beth Ferry, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Swashby is a retired sea captain. He lives in a cottage by the sea, alone and happy to be a hermit. Until a little girl and her grandmother move into the cottage next door and try to befriend him. He’s grouchy and uninterested, and he leaves unfriendly messages in the sand. The sea interferes, changing up his messages, and in the end he gives in and grows fond of his new neighbors.
It’s SWEET and ADORABLE and beautifully illustrated and I love everything about it. One of my favorite picture books I’ve ever read.
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
This was a reread, but it had apparently been seven years since the last time I picked it up. That’s too long.
The Screwtape Letters is a series of letters written by a senior devil to a subordinate, giving him advice on how to tempt and corrupt the human in his charge.
Obviously that’s a somewhat fantastical setup, and everything is backwards coming from the perspective of a devil, but there’s so much wisdom to be found here. C.S. Lewis’ understanding of humans shines through so brightly. Every time I read it, I come away with new helpful insights. It’s short and easy to read, but there’s far too much excellent stuff to absorb it all at once. Hopefully I will read it again before another seven years goes by.
For more book recommendations, click here.