A high-quality tear-jerker about man’s best friend.

Good Boy, Achilles!

A moving children’s tale about the ineffable bond between a boy and a canine as they come to terms with God’s plan for them.

Jeremy, an 8-year-old who lives on a farm with his parents, is very excited when their family dog, Ginger, gives birth to five adorable puppies. He knows that the pups will only be on the farm for a couple of months before his parents give them away, so he tries to spend as much time with them as possible. What he doesn’t expect, however, is the connection that he quickly forms with the biggest of the litter, whom he affectionately calls Achilles. (Ginger, unknown to Jeremy, had already named the pup Thunder.) Achilles feels the same way about the boy; it’s a friendship unlike any other. Unfortunately, Jeremy’s parents make it clear that they can’t afford to have another dog, so Achilles will have to find a different home, like all the other pups. Heartbroken, Jeremy tries to thwart his parents’ efforts by dissuading would-be adopters while also trying to cherish every moment with his beloved pet. All the while, Achilles tries to accept God’s will for whatever he has in mind for him—even if it isn’t a life with Jeremy. Ellis’ debut switches smoothly between Jeremy’s and Achilles’ perspectives. The author masterfully uses crisp details to paint clear pictures of settings and emotions, and as a result, readers will likely become absorbed by the story. Ellis also takes several moments to expound on important life lessons, subtly touch on Christian doctrine, and even show genuine, positive parent-child interactions. Although it’s often a difficult feat to humanize animals, Ellis does it well, keeping things as realistic as possible; for example, the dogs don’t understand human speech, but they do sense their emotions. This book is sure to be inspirational for Christians, moving for dog lovers, and perfect for readers who are both.

A high-quality tear-jerker about man’s best friend.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5127-5526-8

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Though cheerful illustrations add some zest, this little prayer feels flat.

MY LITTLE PRAYER

Based on the lyrics of his song by the same name, Archuleta’s foray into picture books calls upon his musical roots as well as his faith.

The book is language-sparse, with most of the story told through Ugolotti’s illustrations. These depict a White child who dreams of playing soccer but must grapple with disappointment. When the unnamed protagonist, who presents male, is not picked to play for the soccer team, he befriends a Black child who presents female and who has also been left out of the game, due to injury. Their initial connection on the sidelines blossoms into a true friendship, proving to be a far richer outcome than the aspiring soccer star could have anticipated. Alongside the visual story runs a little prayer of gratitude thanking God for his presence, patience, and plan in the child’s life. The words are general, with no reference to either soccer or friendship: “Heavenly Father, I am grateful for your eternal presence. / I am learning to be patient and that you are really there.” Though the interracial mixed-gender friendship is cute, the overall prayer and plot are bland. This is useful to augment collections and bookshelves where Christian picture books are in high demand, but it does not stand out from the pack. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Though cheerful illustrations add some zest, this little prayer feels flat. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-952239-54-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bushel & Peck Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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