Posts in Category "Books"

Book Review: The Green Ember by S.D. Smith

One of my favorite reads this year has been S.D. Smith’s The Green Ember, and I had to share my review with you. If you have young children and are looking for your next read-aloud, look no further.

This is a wonderful story full of adventure, friendship, betrayal, and redemption. That the characters are Rabbits only adds to the delight, and the pacing sweeps you into a worthwhile tale not to be soon forgotten.

Picket and Heather, a brother and sister who live in a peaceful wood, are beginning to learn about their family history in their Father’s bedtime tales. But when their home suffers a perilous attack from wolves, their family is separated. Heather and Picket have to fight for their lives, and soon they are guided to a safe warren. Here they gain loyal friends, but also more than a few cold skeptics.

While finding their place in the community, Heather and Picket’s family connections add to the rising tension in the warren. Rumors of a coming attack from the wolves, the unsettled longing for King Jupiter’s heir to rise, and the whole community’s yearning for their true home all collide into a test of loyalty and character.

Some of my favorite characters and imagery included Heather the budding Storyteller, Smalls, the Gardens, Maggie O’Sage, “The Mended Wood,” the stained glass windows(!!), Uncle Wilfred’s faithfulness, Emma’s journey to becoming a doctor, and of course the flaming crown jewel, the Green Ember. I also love the importance placed on craftsmanship, the necessity of art, and everyone’s skill having weight within the community. (And I hope we get better acquainted with Picket and Heather’s parents in a future book!) The whole book is a gem I can’t wait to share with my children someday.

The styling, character arcs, pacing, and imagery are all artful and compelling. Beautiful scenes of home, purpose in one’s work, and loyalty are deepened by the honest depictions of exile, the consequences of treachery, bitterness, and fighting for one’s home. Not only a book of action, it’s a thought-provoking tale that glories in the good, the true, and the beautiful.

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Listening to the audiobook I missed the illustrations, so I loved getting to linger over them when I got my hard copy. Zach Franzen has done a lovely job with this book, and I’ve so enjoyed learning from him, especially in this article.

Directed to middle-grade readers, it’s a book the whole family will enjoy as a read-aloud. Having just finished the audiobook, I’m already starting it again to better savor the details and characters I love.

You can find copies of this delightful book in paperback and softcover at Story Warren Store. Edit: And the Kindle version of the prequel, The Black Star of Kingston, is free today! (I’m in no way compensated for this review; it’s purely for sharing the delight.)

The Green EmberThe Green Ember by S.D. Smith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

 

A little reminder

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Some days I need a little reminder from my friend, Mani:
“Perfection is the enemy of completion.”

Sometimes we creatives want to finish a piece and make it “presentable.” Knowing that other people are going to see our work somehow puts pressure on us. What we end up doing is wasting time “improving” something that was most beautiful at it’s first blush. That sketch? It already has a life of it’s own.

Learn to stop the fuss and step away. You’re done. You’re welcome.

Book recommendation: This summer I read Austin Kleon’s “Steal Like an Artist” and “Show Your Work“—I highly encourage you to read them both. If you’re looking for ways to improve your creative side and share what you’ve been making, these are for you!

It’s Black Friday!

Hello, everybody!  I’ll be sure to update you soon on our lovely Thanksgiving and the new projects (or at least what I can say about them for now), but in the mean time….

We’re having a Black Friday through Cyber Monday sale!  Check out our shops’ sales below–

Clementine Pattern Co.: Save 20% on your entire order by using coupon code GRATEFUL at checkout. (Ends Tuesday, December 2nd)

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The Breezy Tulip Studio is also having a Black Friday sale: Save 20% on your entire order by using coupon code GIVETHANKS14 at checkout!  (Ends Tuesday, December 2nd.)  Here’s the two new prints in the shop:

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“Preparing for Christmas”

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“Home from the Sea”

Noble Rose Press products are on sale as well!
Our coloring book and Paper dolls are $7 each!  And the Titanic paper dolls, “Audrey Bunny,”
and “For Such a Time as This” are $12 each.

 

It’s almost here!

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The last time I wrote about the storybook bible, I was still drawing thumbnails.  Now, after months of hard work, prayer, and waiting,  “For Such a Time as This” is headed to the bookstores and is available for pre-order on Amazon!

“For Such a Time as This” has been a wonderful project to work on.  I have loved exploring ancient Israel and imagining what daily life looked like for women of the Scriptures like Sarah, Abigail, Mary, Priscilla, etc..  All the study behind it gave me a close look into what they might have experienced, much like an adventurous inductive Bible study, if not actual time-travel!

Here’s a book trailer for “For Such a Time as This”!

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October 1st is the big day when it appears in book stores!  LifeWay Christian book stores, Barnes and Noble, Noble Rose Press, and others are where you’ll be able to find it!

I’m so thankful for the opportunity the Lord has given me in being involved with this book.  Our hope is that it will give girls (and their parents!) a greater love and curiosity for the Bible, that they will want to dig deeper, grow more in love with Christ, and to be transformed into His likeness.

(Thank you, Emily Rose, for the photography, as well as all the additional work you put into the book!)

Working on Thumbnails

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Work on the storybook Bible continues!  These are thumbnails, the “seedlings” that will become finished drawings and paintings in the book.  (Above is Anna from Luke 2:36-38)

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Angie Smith has done a beautiful job writing the stories for girls, each featuring a woman from the Bible.  The redemptive narrative is thoroughly woven into every page.  It’s really, truly beautiful.

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Emily Rose has been assisting me by editing and scanning my artwork for the publisher.  (My work is never perfect and can always use a touch up to make it ready for the book!  She does an excellent job!)

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The publisher, B&H Kids, is planning on an October 2014 release.  We can’t wait to share it with you!

Audrey Bunny

What is all this talk about a children’s book?  Well, pull up a chair, pour yourself some coffee.  You might want to read this first.

It was on the last day of November when I received an email from B&H Kids, a division of B&H Publishing.  They had an author who was interested in my illustrations for her upcoming book, a storybook Bible for girls.  That definitely peeked my interest, so I let him know this was a possibility I wanted to explore.  I was itching to know who this author was, so I looked around their website looking for any hints: the only thing I found was an author’s profile and a press release mentioning her upcoming children’s book.  I hoped it was her.

The very next day, another email popped into my inbox.  I think I just about squealed when and I saw it was from Angie Smith.  (You may already be familiar with her — she’s a vibrant, delightful woman who thirsts after God, is Todd Smith’s wife, and mother to Ellie, Abby, Kate, Audrey, and Charlotte.  The Lord gave Audrey 2 1/2 precious hours with her family.  This video will give you a good background of her story.)  We started emailing back and forth, all the while talking with my family, praying, and wondering if this was something the Lord wanted us to do.

I was reading everything about Angie I could find, and I couldn’t wait to meet her.  I wrote to Angie and the publisher that we’d be in their area in a couple weeks (even that was providential timing with a story behind it!)  They set up a meeting for breakfast to talk about the storybook Bible in depth.

When we got to TN, we met Angie and Todd at a cozy little coffee shop where we both ordered a French press and talked about so much more than a book.  We talked until the coffee shop had to close and we moved the conversation to her home.  My heart is almost too full for words when I remember that night — it was so sweet to see that the Lord had clearly brought our families, kindred spirits, together.  While we were together that evening, we also talked about her book “Audrey Bunny” which was already being illustrated.  Nonetheless, I remember Todd saying that they were praying for a miracle that I would be able to illustrate it anyway.

After the meeting with the publisher (and another long, wonderful talk with just Angie and a heart-wrenching farewell), we headed home and I let Angie know that I would be joining the team for creating the storybook Bible!  They are just dear people, desiring to honor the Lord with the books they produce, and so very gracious. (They’re a delight to work with.)

The publisher called and said he had an additional offer along with the storybook bible.  Audrey Bunny.  And you can imagine I said yes.  : )

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There’s so much more of the story I’d like to add, but for now . . . my heart is so full of thanks.  Thanks to the Lord who knows and loves.  To Angie, for inviting me to be a part of their family’s journey and Audrey’s story; I’m so honored.  And my tremendous family (especially Emily Rose’s amazing skills) who have always been such help and encouragement.

I’ll write more later.  : )

“Audrey Bunny” should be available in October

The Little Black Notebook

This is my little black notebook where, every morning or evening, I make a list for the day ahead of me. From my ordinary routine to the special projects and deadlines, it gets written in this notebook. (Not to mention recipes and organization ideas along the way!)

Before I started using it, I was constantly misplacing my to-do lists and felt a general lack of daily accomplishment. I’ve been using it nearly every day for over a year now, and it’s become a part of me. Hardly an inanimate object, the pages practically breathe with the constant writing and turning.

It’s so simple, but keeping daily checklists has helped me in many ways, such as:

1. Look at the things I want to do

2. List the things I need to do

3. Check off the things I actually get done

4. Realistically look at how much time I waste

5. Evaluate and prioritize my time for efficiency

It has become more than a place for check lists: It has shown me the brevity of a day, a year.

I also appreciate the lack of pre-printed dates and check boxes. There’s something tangibly wholesome about writing it all by hand, just the way I need to see it laid out. The one thing this book cannot do is use my time wisely for me. ; )

What are some ways that you use to manage your time? Do you keep a daily planner, or loose sheets of paper? What helps you stay on track?

Daybook: 22 March 2012

Paperwhites, 2012

Currently reading:

— “Loving the Little Years” | Rachel Jankovic

Why I Hope Real Books Never Die (and They Won’t) | This post reminds us that it is the sincerity and comrade-like nature of print books that will never allow them to go out entirely of style.

— “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” | Tedd Tripp

American Technopoly | A sampling: “Those who resist the American Technopoly . . . are people who refuse to accept efficiency as the pre-eminent goal of human relations; . . . who are, at least, suspicious of the idea of progress, and who do not confuse information with understanding.”

 — “The Attributes of God” | A. W. Pink

. . . and lots of other books pertaining to a certain historical event
whose 100th year anniversary is fast approaching!

Paperwhites, 2012

This week: These paperwhites cheered us all January, and now amidst the throes of Spring we are finally ready to get back into the vegetable garden! Driving to SC and back (for the Teach Them Diligently convention) regaled our winter-weary eyes with feasts of forsythia, magnolia, and red bud. Huzzah for Spring!

I am listening to: Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words

I am creating: Embroidery patterns


Note about “Daybook”: I’ll be posting entries under the name of “Daybook” with a personalized, changeable list, inspired by The Simple Woman’s Daybook and used by permission.