Books by Lori McElrath-Eslick

Released: June 1, 2008

With a first-person narration in old-fashioned, rhyming verse, a little boy imagines what it would be like if a young Jesus visited his house as a friend. The unnamed boy invites Jesus into his home and they spend an afternoon playing together. In the second half of the story the narrator describes how he can use the principles that the adult Jesus taught, by attending church and serving others in need. Though the concept of Jesus as a little boy may be a little confusing to younger children at first, there is a distinct delineation between the boy's imaginary visitor and his real life. McElrath-Eslick's attractive illustrations use vibrant colors and a double-page-spread format to add a contemporary balance to the text, which is still in print in an earlier edition from 1951. Although it's regrettable that they portray an all-white cast of characters, the new illustrations make this beloved poem more accessible to today's children while still providing a traditional introduction to applying the Golden Rule in a child's life. (Picture book/religion. 3-5)Read full book review >
BAREFOOT by Stefi Weisburd
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

This pleasant collection of diverse verse celebrates the feats our feet help us complete and the joys of going shoeless. "Naturally / naked feet / don't need / superglue / or superheat / No supernatural / supersonic / supercharging / supertonic / Naturally / naked feet / are / entirely / complete. . . . " Some touch on family relationships: "If" on the love of being danced around on Daddy's feet, and "Mama" on energizing a tired mother with a foot massage at the end of her work day. Others observe feet on trampolines or in bubbling Jacuzzi's or feeling the wind out a car window. Form-wise, all the usual suspects are present: rhyme, list poems, free verse, shaped-verse. McElrath-Eslick's realistic watercolors are somewhat uneven, but they all extend their accompanying verse. Author of one collection for adults, Weisburd's first for children would fit in large collections or schools with a need for poetry on the body. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >
READ FOR ME, MAMA by Vashanti Rahaman
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

A young boy's desperate wish for his mother to read to him forces her to come to terms with her own illiteracy. Joseph is the only child of a single, working mother and so hungry for knowledge that he corrals every available adult to read to him. The school librarian gives him two books each week: one to read on his own, and a more difficult one for someone else to read to him. Joseph's mama is a great storyteller, but is always too busy to read to Joseph. When Joseph's mentor from the local laundromat, Mr. Beharry, is unexpectedly called away, Joseph again presses his mother into action. She breaks down, weeping, and tries to tell him the truth, which he doesn't fully understand until she prays for help the following Sunday in church. A fellow worshiper tells Joseph's mother about the vocational school where she eventually learns to read, capable, in the last scene, of reading to her son. Rahaman (see review, above) creates a poignant story that is at its best in simple moments, as when Joseph's mother misses a schedule change at work because (readers realize) she couldn't read the posting. Painterly illustrations by McElrath-Eslick work in harmony with the text, showing the warmth between Joseph and his mother, as well as their humble, homey surroundings. (Picture book. 6-10) Read full book review >
I AM CHRISTMAS by Nancy White Carlstrom
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

A religious picture book with a delightful conceit—taking words from the Scriptures (referenced in the back) and constructing a prose poem around them—that becomes tedious. Impressionistic pictures follow Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem: ``I am the way they walk—these, people, who pass up hill and down going to the town to be counted. I am the vine fruitful with branches growing entwined by the side of the road.'' The formula is always the same, a sentence per page, neither telling a story nor achieving a poetic effect. The word which stands for Jesus is always printed in a different color from the rest of the text, tying into the illustrations. These are obviously related to Joseph and Mary's trip to Bethlehem, but they might as well be generic Bible scenes somewhat romanticized: In one, a man in a monk's habit kisses a woman who may or may not be Mary, while the trees behind them swoon. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >