Book Reviews – for Children and Young People (and for us not-so-young, too!)

Who doesn’t love a beautiful book? Here are some that you might like to consider from my own bookshelves and from the suggestions of friends.

book big mamaBig Mama Makes the World

Phyllis Root Illus. Helen Oxenbury

My children are all in double figures now, but when I was clearing out some of their baby books, this was one they would not part with.

The large-format, gentle illustrations by Helen Oxenbury (of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt fame) beautiful on their own, and with text by Phyllis Root are at once funny and thoughtful.

We see all the creatures Big Mama has made looking at her as she sits, face in hands, saying “I’m lonely” – then on the next page, a huge ball of mud filled with all sorts and shapes of people – bums and all!

Big Mama is lonely

All of the days of creation are treated with a kindly wonder as Big Mama and her baby make a world, declaring it “very, very good”.

This delightful re-telling of an ancient story is perfect for bed-time or for reading to a group. In fact, I think I might use it at the mum’s and tot’s next week.

If my teenagers will let me borrow it.

Click here to see this book on Amazon

(Note: in the US this is Big Momma, while the UK version is Big Mama)


book candle walkCandle Walk: A Bedtime Prayer to God

by Karin Holsinger Sherman

At college, we use the ancient practice of Compline (night prayer) to close our community days. It is gentle, restful way to ‘complete’ the day in God’s presence, like taking deep breaths and dropping my shoulders after a day of busyness.

Karin, a spiritual director, writer on children’s spirituality and (most importantly) a mum has produced this charming bedtime book based on the soothing rhythms of Compline.

book candle walk 2

Full of wandering and wondering, join with the candle-lit walk, and listen as creation sings its bedtime prayer to God.

From Amazon: “This beautifully illustrated picture book invites families to enter into a calm, contemplative quieting-down … fulfilling a hunger for a bedtime prayer that is not simply intercessory, but offers an opportunity to practice listening and contemplation.”

Click here to see this book on Amazon

This title will be released on February 1, 2019.


book jonahJonah and the Whale

Andrew McDonough

The latest book from the Cecil the Sheep range, this is Jonah’s story including the bit that most books miss out, which we need for the story to make sense. Otherwise it’s just a weird story with some very dodgy science! Many children’s versions end with Ninevah repenting and everyone goes home for tea. But here we have the second part too:

God sends Jonah to deliver his message to Nineveh, (“Stop being nasty – or else!”), and after some hilarity with a teddy bear and the lack of a TV, a surprisingly cheery whale goes “Blaaark” and out pops Jonah. Another note from God follows (including the obligatory awful pun), the king puts on his “I’m sorry” clothes and … Jonah is furious! Huh?

We often skim past the odd end section about the bush and the worm, but if we do, we miss the point of the story. God cares about Jonah, and about me and all the ‘good guys’ like me. That’s fine, we’re happy with that. But God cares about the ‘bad guys’ too. Like the nasty rotten Ninevites, and all the people we really don’t think deserve his mercy.

A serious story told in funny and accessible way with bright, bold illustrations. There is plenty for the younger reader (can you spot the teddy?), but with a message for grownups too, I think

book bethlehem

Click here to see this book on Amazon

Other books in the Cecil the Sheep range include:

Bethlehem Town

Cecil the Lost Sheep

Zac the Taxman

Cecil and Psalm 8 

Dave The Donkey (Easter)


book bible guideThe Bible Book: A User’s Guide

Another cracker from Nick Page (he of The Tabloid Bible and Nearly Infallible, below), this guide to the Bible is great for getting the who and the when and the what of all those books sorted out. Very useful, whether you’ve never opened the Bible in your life, of you’ve read loads but (like me) are still a little confused as to how it hangs together.

Each book has a ‘route planner’ that sets out the parts in an easy-to-grasp manner, giving the kind of overview we really don’t get from reading small sections in bits. Other sections are: Quick Tour, to give you the main parts of the book; Tricky Bits, looking at bits that make you go ‘hmmm’; Viewpoints, a guide to opposing interpretations; and Brief Lives to introduce some of the main characters

Nick starts by dispelling Six Myths about the Bible and continues with down-to-earth, practical advice for anyone who has always thought they’d like to know what all the fuss is about, but just never knew where to start. As he says in his introduction, “The Bible is like no other book. There are passages in the Bible that lift and inspire – and there are parts which disgust and shock. The Bible is challenging, unsettling, encouraging and comforting. What we have to do is encounter it for ourselves.”

“Informal, but informed, simple but never simplistic, The Bible Book tackles the Bible with honesty, humour and inventiveness. This book won’t baffle you with jargon, but it won’t insult your intelligence either. ”

Click here to see this book on Amazon

Also by Nick Page

book nearly infallibleA Nearly Infallible History of Christianity

Hilarious, occasionally irreverent (I think it was from here that I learned to call the saintly and august John Chrysostom ‘Golden-Gob’) but very informative guide to how we, the church, came to be what we are now.

An excellent ‘loo book’ that will keep you entertained, and a tiny bit brainier when you come out than when you went in.

Highly recommended.

Click here to see this book on Amazon




The Jonah book was sent to me as a review copy, nevertheless, all opinions are my own.

Links in this post will take you to the book’s page on Amazon UK. If you have a local Christian book shop, you should be able to order most books through them, or there are on-line Christian bookshops such as

If you follow my affiliate link and buy any products, Amazon will make a small donation to support this ministry. This does not affect the price you pay and no data is passed in either direction.

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