Monday, May 21, 2018

Bookmarks - Picture Books on World War 2


We studies World War 2 this spring which meant searching our library for books to connect with our studies. Reading about this terrible time in history helped put my own problems into perspective. 

The following book list contains picture books on World War 2. It may be difficult to read about the Holocaust and surrounding events, but they contain important lessons to learn. You may wish to preread these books to make sure your child is emotionally mature enough to handle these stories.

This  post contains affiliate links.

The Greatest Skating Race by Louise Borden, illustrated by Niki Daly
Piet dreams of skating the famous Elfstedentocht race, but he finds himself on an even more daring assignment on the frozen canals in the Netherlands during World War 2.

Learn the story behind the story of Curious George's escape by bicycle from German-occupied Paris. Collage-type illustrations combine with lilting prose to share the Reys' story.



The Secret Project by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Why are all these scientists converging on a small town in New Mexico with a secret goal? A story from the 1940's that would change our world.

Child of the Warsaw Ghetto by David A. Alder, illustrated by Karen Ritz
Froim is a young Jewish boy in Poland during the Nazi invasion. Through his story and muted art, we learn of the fate of hundreds of Polish children.

A Hero and the Holocaust: The Story of Janusz Korczak and His Children by David A. Adler, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
Korczak was an author, teacher, and doctor, but to the children at the Jewish orphanage in Warsaw, he was a father. A moving account of courage during dark days of World War 2.

The Unbreakable Code by Sara Hoagland Hunter, illustrated by Julia Miner
A grandfather tells of his work as a Navajo code talker during World War 2. Rich paintings take you from the American mid-west to the Pacific islands and back again.

The Butterfly, written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
Monique shakes when she see the tall boots in her French village, but when she discovers a young girl in her bedroom, she is sent on a dangerous mission. Polacco turns a family story into heart-touching picture book.

Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto by Susan Goldman Rubin, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
Lush oil paintings tell a true story of compassion of the young woman who risked her life to save children from the Warsaw Ghetto.

Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Barry Moser
We all know what happened in December of 1941 at Pearl Harbor, but now learn about the White House Christmas a few weeks later.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai, illustrated by Felicia Hoshin
Mari wonders if anything can grow in the Topaz desert heat. A kind art teacher and a new friend brighten Mari's life in the Japanese American interment camp during World War 2.

The Cats in Krasinski Square by Karen Hesse, illustrated by Wendy Watson
Can a young girl and a few cats help save the lives in the Warsaw Ghetto? A sweet story from a terrible time in Poland.

Memories of Survival by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and Bernice Stenhardt
Fleeing the Nazis, Esther and her sister disguise themselves and change their names. Years later, Esther embroidered amazing pictures depicting her life in a Jewish Poland home. A stunning book by a textile artist.

Don't Forget by Patricia Lakin, illustrated by Ted Rand
Sarah wants to bake a secret birthday cake for her mother but she doesn't want to visit the Singer's store. A view of post-World War 2 America and the importance of remembering the past.

Next I'll share a list of chapter books for children on World War 2.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

When God Says "No"

When my friend Regina sent me this account this week, I asked if I could share it with you. I can relate to the questions that Regina asks. I know this was a difficult story for Regina to recall, but sometimes the process of writing out our painful questions can help us see the truth. 

When God says “No”
Regina Martin, Peru

“What’s that for, Mommy?” Sonny bumped my elbow, jabbing a dirty finger at the huge white poster spread on the table.

“I’m drawing a picture, see? I’m not drawing much, just some scenery. We will fasten this to the wall by your bed after your surgery next week. Each day you can put some stickers on it from that roll of stickers Emily sent for you.”

“Ooooh. That will be fun!” Sonny exclaimed.

“I will also have a box of ten little packages for you, to open one each day you’ll have to stay in bed.”

“Wow!” My five-year-old was thrilled. “How soon is the surgery?”

Bless his heart, I thought, he’s looking forward to this more than his parents are!

Sonny had been born needing two corrective surgeries. “No hurry,” we were told, “but preferably before he is five.”

The first surgery, done when he was three years old, was a success. We rejoiced. The twenty-some trips to the government Children’s Hospital in the city several hours away and the many hours standing in lines had not been in vain.

The second surgery was a failure, hence the need for a third. 

The past three years we had invested much time and money on his behalf; both rare commodities for self-supporting missionaries. This was our son; we loved him and would gladly spend and be spent for him. Yet at times the realities of another day away from home, finding a baby-sitter, and jumping through hoops in the medical world, were overwhelming. 

I unloaded to the Lord, knowing He would understand and not scold me for complaining. What are you trying to teach us, Lord? Did you send us on the mission field to spent our time and money doing this? Wouldn’t it be much more worthwhile to spend our time at home with the children or witnessing to the lost?

Surgery at government hospitals in Latin America are preceded by a gamut of appointments and tests. Hubby quickly gained knowledge of hospital bureaucracy and became adept at Pulling Strings and Making Connections. But still, inefficiency was the rule. After completing all the tests for the second surgery, doctors nation-wide went on strike for six months. By the time they were working again, the tests had expired. There was nothing to do but repeat the process.

Repeat we did. And now we stood at the threshold of his last surgery, anxious to get this behind us before the birth of our sixth child. This time, we felt hopeful. We had prayed; we had asked for prayer. Surely God would grant healing.

The ten days of bed confinement following surgery were hard for Sonny, but he faced life with his typical optimism. Each day he added stickers to the poster; each morning he opened a package containing a toy. At times he complained of pain or awoke at night, crying. His bandage became soaked. Worried, we called the surgeon.

“Oh, he should be fine. Don’t touch the bandage, just bring him in when the ten days are up. Give him stronger pain meds when he complains.”

We obeyed. Ten days after surgery found us back at the Children’s Hospital, eager for the bandage to be removed.

“Just imagine,” I marveled to Hubby, “we might never, ever set foot inside this place again!”

Our appointment with the surgeon was scheduled for early afternoon. After a full morning of business in the city, I was exhausted. Just this doctor’s visit yet, the most important event of the day, and we could go home.

The surgeon removed the soaked bandage. His forehead furrowed. We didn’t need told; the answer was obvious. Infection had set in. It was ugly.

“I’m sorry,” he stated simply. “It looks like we did something wrong here. We’ll need to repeat the surgery. And since this is the second unsuccessful attempt, next time we’ll keep him hospitalized after surgery.”

I could scarcely speak around the lump in my throat. No! I wanted to scream. This can’t be true! We go through all this, and you just say ‘Oops, we messed up. Try again’?!

We headed home but hadn’t gone far until Sonny was in tremendous pain. I had reached my limit. While Sonny screamed and I sobbed, Hubby made phone calls. To the surgeon, to a trusted medical friend. A stop at a pharmacy, a pill, and prayers eventually calmed his pain.

His mother’s pain was not as easily assuaged. In the days ahead, I struggled. Where was God? Why hadn’t He answered our prayers for a successful surgery? Couldn’t He have worked on our behalf in spite of faulty doctors?

He didn’t answer glibly; he didn’t hand me a pill to pop. Perhaps I will never know why; perhaps I will have a chance to ask Him in person over in glory. If it will even matter anymore.

I do not know why God permits hard things, but I have a guess. 

In the easier times of life, I praise God for what He gives: daily provisions, delightful surprises, amazing answers to prayer. But it is during the hard times that I learn most of who and what He is. And I am not sorry for what I have learned.

Because the most precious lesson has been simply this: He is good. All the time.

Regina lives on a citrus farm nestled in a valley along Peru's coast. Her days are filled with being a help meet to her best friend, mom to her six children, and a friend to those God brings to her door. Writing and editing are stress relievers for spare minutes or sleepless night hours. She can be contacted at siervadeirey @emypeople.net

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Take Thou My Hand, O Father

Thank you to each who sent us notes of encouragement and have prayed for us these past few days.

Ed was able to come home from the hospital on Friday. It was so good to be together as a family again. Each day Ed gets a little stronger, but he still tires quickly. It seems strange that seizures could make him more tired than brain surgery. There is no incision and bandages, but those who said "you'll feel like you've been run over by a truck" know what you are talking about.

But in between naps, Ed is enjoying a game with the children, reading to the little ones, and chatting with friends who stop by. This morning we were able to go to church for part of the service before Ed's brain fatigue sent us home.

Recently I was reading But Not Forsaken by Helen Good Brenneman to our children. This book, set in Germany soon after World War 2, showed us the plight of the Russian Mennonite refugees. At the end of the book, the refugees sang the German hymn, "So nimm denn meine Hadende," which has been translated "Take Thou My Hand, O Father."

The author of this hymn, Julie Hausmann, had many trials in her life. Apparently she wrote this poem after traveling to Africa to join her fiance only to find that he had died a short time before of jungle fever.

My problems don't compare with the refugees who today are struggling to find for food and protection for their children in horrific situations. But I think that illness can break that feeling of security that we have on this earth and make us long for the safety of heaven.
These all died in faith...and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth...But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:13, 16)

Take Thou My Hand, O Father 
by Julie K. Hausmann
Translated from German by Herman Bruckner

Take Thou my hand, O Father,
And lead Thou me,
Until my journey endeth,
Eternally.
Alone I will not wander
One single day;
Be Thou my true companion
And with me stay.

O cover with Thy mercy
My poor, weak heart!
Let every thought rebellious
From me depart.
Permit Thy child to linger
Here at Thy feet,
And blindly trust Thy goodness
With faith complete.

Tho' naught of Thy great power
May move my soul,
With Thee thru night and darkness
I reach the goal.
Take, then, my hands, O Father,
And lead Thou me
Until my journey endeth
Eternally.
Amen.

You can listen to this hymn below. (Click over to the blog if you are reading by email and can't view it.)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Anniversary Surprises

I had plans for what I'd post today. A year ago, May 10, 2017 is the day I once described as the worse in my life  - the day we learned that Ed had a large brain tumor that was likely an aggressive cancer.

There has been other hard days this past year. The day we got the diagnosis of glioblastoma multiform. The day the MRI showed that Ed's tumor was actively regrowing. But the shock of that first day was unique. The day before I would have said that our family was as healthy as goats. (Are goats healthier than horses? I've heard of horse doctors but never a goat doctor.) But now our life would defined by doctor appointments, scans, and medications.

One year later, for May 10, 2018, I thought I'd write a victory post. We survived a year. A whole year of living with cancer.

I still hate cancer. I hate that many of our friends who have had loved ones face similar diagnosis this year, had to say good-bye. I hate that nearly half of those diagnosed with glioblastoma never make it to one year.

But Ed is recovering well from surgery, his treatment side affects have been manageable, and he is working full time. This past weekend was full of fun as we relished the joy of campfires, conversation, and friends.

So I planned to write about how there have been many hard days this year, but there have been good days as well. God hasn't left us alone. He brought peace in very turbulent times and promises His presence for the future.

But that peace was tested yesterday. This day included calling 911 for the first time in my life, walking the halls of the fourth hospital this year, and flipping through the Gideon Bible in the waiting room asking once again for a reminder of God's presence.

Yesterday, in the early morning hours, Ed had cramps in his leg muscle. It was like a Charlie Horse, only much worse. And it wouldn't let up. We tried ice, heat, sitting in a tub of hot water, walking - but nothing helped. Every few minutes, his leg muscle would tense up. The pain was so bad that he would shake, even his arm tensing.

We called his doctor who ordered some blood work which came back normal. In the afternoon the spasms seemed to abate. We sighed with relief and hoped such a glitch would never occur again. Ed was weary of sitting on the recliner and decided to walk around, but then the spasms came back. He was in the basement with our oldest daughter when he fell.

Ed fell in between two pieces of equipment. He was wedged so tightly that he had a scratch on both sides of his chest. His head missed the concert floor and landed on a rubber hose. But Ed's eyes were rolled back, his mouth was foaming, and he did not respond to me.

All the puzzle pieces fell together. I had never seen a seizure, but I knew this was one. Seizures are very common for those with brain tumors, and we had been so grateful that Ed never had one. But his year of reprieve was over. Likely all those dozens of muscle spasms all day long were also seizures. I felt stupid to not have recognized it earlier.

I called 911, and Ed was soon being loaded into the ambulance where he finally became conscious. Our local hospital started him on anti-seizure medicine which gave immediate relief to the spasms. A CAT scan showed no signs of head or neck injuries. He was moved to a larger hospital and given two more seizure drugs. He was doped all night, barely opening his eyes for blood draws.

Today he is feeling much better, though still sleepy and weak. When he isn't napping, he is talking like his normal self. We hope his MRI will give us information on his seizures. If he continues to do well, he will be able to go home tomorrow.

During the long hours beside Ed's bed last night my mind rolled. Do I still write and share what God has done for us this past year? (I could add a few more things to the list, such as my daughter being with Ed and not injuring himself in the fall.) Or would this be the time that Ed never fully recovers and I have a permanently handicapped husband? If so, could I still testify of the peace that God gives?

I want to. Please continue to pray for us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Mom on a Mission

Two pajama-clad girls clambered onto the bed, each calling for the spot closest to mom. I pulled them close, and they snuggled down for our nightly ritual. “Let’s talk about when we get big,” Tasha said. 
She is three, going on eighteen. 
“What do you want to do when you get big?” I asked her. 
“No, you say.” She waits, face upturned to hear the verdict.
Read the rest of the article at Mom on a Mission.

My friend Crystal Steinhower and her family have been missionaries in Belize for several years. I was thrilled when Crystal recently started a blog where she writes about learning to accept help,   supporting your missionary friend, and the challenges of mission life. I love her posts on children's books and how she read 50 books in a year plus posts on healthy cooking on a limited budget,

Crystal combines her talented writing with her husband's gorgeous photography of Belize. Check out Mom with a Mission.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bookmarks: Picture Biographies of Scientists

One of my favorite trends in children's publishing the last few years is the picture book biography. This genre has exploded, and I think it is fabulous. I've read numerous of these short biographies of people I would have never encountered otherwise. Often they include further information in the back of the book for the older child or parent whose interest in the character has been piqued by the picture book. 

With this list of books you can introduce your children to some of the brilliant minds throughout history. These men (and women) studied stars, calculus, bugs, peas, and much more. They made discoveries that changed our world. 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 


A fascinating story of Eratosthenes and his creative genius which allowed him to figure out the size of the earth with surprising accuracy more than two thousand years ago.


Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth Is a Planet by Dennis B. Fradin, illustrated by Cynthia Von Buhler
Without even the help of a telescope, Copernicus made discoveries that changed the way people thought of the earth's place in the universe. An excellent children's biography with richly painted illustrations about an important man from the 1400's.

I, Galileo, written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen
Bright paintings share the story of Galileo's life in the 1500's in a way younger readers can enjoy. Learn about Galileo's many contributions to science and astronomy.

Newton's Rainbow: The Revolutionary Discoveries of a Young Scientist by Kathryn Lasky, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
A curious boy to a world renowned scientist – this book shares the story of one of the best scientists in history. Discover how a terrible plague impacted the studies of this incredible man. Newton's discoveries of the laws of motion continue to impact the world today.


Come See the Earth Turn: The Story of Leon Foucault by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Raul Allen
We know that the earth turns, but how can it be proven? Many smart men had failed but one man, who had been a sickly child and poor student, discovered a simple experiment that would amaze the world.


Maria's Comet by Deborah Hopkinson, illusrated by Doborah Lanino
Inspired by the life of Maria Mitchell, this story tells of a young girl who dreams of new discoveries in the sky. Warm paintings show life in a Quaker home in Nantucket, Massachusetts.


Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe, illustrated by Jos. A. Smith
How are traits of parents past down to their children? This question sent Mendel on a life-long quest to overcome ignorance and poverty to become the world first geneticist. Bright paintings tell his life story for children.


Small Wonder: Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects by Matthew Clark Smith, illustrated by Giuliano Ferri
Not much was known about insects when Henri was a boy, but he spent a lifetime watching his beloved bugs and writing about their habits. Bright paintings introduce a remarkable man who changed how the world viewed beetles, wasps, and other small wonders.


Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein written and illustrated by Don Brown
An unusual baby, a curious childhood, and a brilliant mind are shared in a quiet picture book about one of the most famous thinker of the 1900's.

The Boy Who Dreamed of Rockets: How Robert H. Goddard Became the Father of the Space Age written and illustrated by Robert Quackenbush
Child-friendly illustrations tell the story of a young man who dared to dream big. He spent his life designing rockets that would change space travel. (I think this is out of print so check your library.)
For a book about Goddard for older students read Rocket: How A Toy Launched the Space Age by Richard Maurer

Solving the Puzzle Under theSea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Raul Colon
Marie spent her childhood traveling with her dad and watching him draw maps. Marie wanted to be a scientist and an explorer but she had to find something that had not been discovered. The ocean floor was the perfect place to study. Gorgeous illustrations share Marie's story and her contribution to science.

Watch for more lists of picture book biographies in future weeks.

Monday, April 30, 2018

One Year of Mountain Trails

One year ago I wrote about attending the Redbud Trail Challenge at Ohio Wilderness Boys Camp.

That post sounded cheery, but I didn't share everything. That was the week that Ed began having severe headaches. We should have stayed home, but we had all looked forward to going to Ohio. Ed pumped himself full of pain meds, fought severe fatigue, and drove our family the five hours to camp. God had to have been protecting us.

Ed was planning to run with our children, but on Saturday he woke up with severe headaches and nausea and spent the day in bed. He missed the elation of crossing the finish lines, but also the downpour and incredible mud. By evening he felt well enough to join us at the campfire. My most precious memory of that weekend are of my dad and two brothers laying their hands on Ed and praying for him. Two weeks later Ed was preparing for brain surgery to remove an aggressive tumor.

In January of this year Ed challenged our children to start running again. If he felt well in April, he wanted to go back to the Red Bud Trail Challenge to celebrate one year. We put a chart up in the kitchen and all of us ran/walked 30 miles in January. It was a great way to fight off the winter blahs.

Then in February Ed began to have less energy. We discovered his tumor was growing and he had a second brain surgery in March, but the dream of returning to Ohio in April didn't die.

This past week Ed began his new treatment of a low dose of chemo combined with an new experimental drug. He had two doses of the new drug and both made him very tired and nauseous. But the side affects were also short lived so Friday found us traveling the road to Ohio Wilderness Boys Camp.


My brother Todd had served as camp staff for several years, but he moved home this past year. But that didn't keep a number of my family from deciding to come for the Run. Here is all who made the trip.


And here are the runners (or walkers.)

The day started overcast and cool with a sprinkle of rain. Memories of the horrors of mud slopping last year came to mind. But the sun came out and it was a beautiful race day -not too hot for the runners; not too cold for the watchers.

I love to see the eager anticipation of the 5K runners at the starting line. 


And the look of accomplishment when they cross the finish line.


It was hard to see Ed on the side lines instead of running with his children. Ed is feeling very well most days, but he is only six weeks from brain surgery and he doesn't have the strength for mountain running. 

It is even harder to think of the "what ifs." What if this is his last year? What if this is our last family trip? What if...? 

Sometimes it feels like cancer stole our future. I know none of us have any guarantees of life tomorrow, but most families are not forced to consider every year as possibly their last. There is nothing kind about cancer.

But I can't dwell on what has been stolen or waste time being angry. That would steal the joys of today as well as tomorrow. We do have much to be grateful for. The fact that Ed feels well one year after a gbm diagnosis is a gift that many don't have. 

On Sunday we worshiped with the camp staff in their little church. With all the visitors the singing was marvelous. My brother shared the story of their infant's lengthy hospital stay. Then Ed shared his testimony of the last year.

One of the verses he shared was  3 John 1:2 "Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth." I'm grateful that Ed can say that his soul is in good health. To see Ed fighting up the mountain to enjoy each day without bitterness helps keep me from being discouraged. 

There is a lot of terrible things in this world. Cancer is one of them. 

But we've also found many wonderful gifts from God along this trail. And heart peace is one of the best. 

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