Back to School with “E-mergency”

Spoilers ahead…

School is back in session! And the books I like to take out for my kids (okay, for me, too) usually involve letters, numbers, and anything having to do with a school setting… in a fun context, of course. One of our favorite picks these days is E-mergency by Tom Lichtenheld and Ezra Fields-Meyer.

This witty and entertaining book is full of laughs and puns. Though most of the jokes go right over my kindergartener’s head, he still enjoys the reading. And my 10-year-old understands almost of all it, making it entertaining for all ages, including adults. The younger one chuckles at the comedic illustrations and reading “EMT, IV, ER, CPR, A-OK” letters that have their own meaning. The older one is drawn to the twist of phrases, words, and letters (the letter “Z” is always sleepy, the letter “P” goes pee).

So when “E” has an accident, “No one can use E, including US… Y US?” The “O” then replaces “E,” but it just won’t do – for instance, “Ice Cream” becomes “Ico Croam.” Even more than the chaos on signs and in speech, the disuse of  “E” proves to be sad for all.

Amidst the silliness, the underlying story that should not be ignored is that each member of a group is valuable. Each part is important and necessary for their unique role in the world. And without it, something is simply missing, even downright wrong.

Every letter and Everyone is Extraordinary! Unfortunately, we do not always recognize this until it’s gone.

Published by Chronicle Books 2011

Picture Book Review: A Place to Call Home

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Seven siblings stick together through thick and thin to find a new dwelling place. The adorable and very funny hamsters learn through their adventures, that teamwork, perseverance, and loyal courage can take them far. They may be small and fluffy, but there’s nothing they can’t overcome. And in the end, they are rewarded with A Place to Call Home.

When I first read this story, it was just funny. I laughed at the silly antics, witty banter, and emotive illustrations. But when I read it again, as second and third readings often do, I saw something altogether spiritual about the plot. I saw myself reflected in these hamsters. These little guys saw life through their filtered perspective (literally with objects covering their heads). I, too, can only see a part of the big picture. My God can see so much more about life than I can ever imagine. I need only to make sense of what I know while trusting others as we maneuver through life together.

And like the band of brotherly gerbils, I go through my days with obstacles in my path and a figurative shoe over my head. What gets me through life is community (of my family, church family, girlfriends, and so many more). The loyal people around me take turns to keep me going, hear my gripes, pick me up when I fall, fight for and with me, laugh at me lovingly, and enjoy the good things in life with me. Together, we find our home in this earthly place. But our adventure, leading to our heavenly home, continues ’til the day we die.

The author probably didn’t mean for me to gain all this through her writings; but I love how God is able to use anything in this world to point us to deeper truths.

Book written by By Alexis Deacon * illustrated by Viviane Schwarz * Published by Candlewick Press * For ages 3 and up