Year A: January 23, 2011
First Reading: Isaiah 9:1-4
The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau (Written for Grades 4th – 6th)
Comment: This passage speaks to the hope of the oppressed coming out of darkness into light. The children’s book is about a city that is only lit by the artificial light of a generator which sometimes doesn’t work very well and plunges the city into darkness. The city is facing running out of basic requirements such as food and water and light. The people of Ember are without hope except for a young man named Doon, who feels a call to discover why the city will soon be plunged into darkness forever and a young woman named Lina, who feels certain that there is more beyond Ember and this oppressive darkness. This story moves you through a city that was isolated to keep it safe, to young people who are called to move from the darkness into the light based on a map and message/promise from people long ago. Just like the Isaiah passage that God provides a promise to his people that those who dwelt in the land of shadow and death will have the light shined upon them.
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury (written for infants through preschoolers)
Comment: In the opening of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul addresses division and strife that has been reported to him by Chloe’s people of the church. The wonderful picture book by Fox reminds us that no matter where we are born, we are all the same. The refrain that is repeated throughout the book helps to reinforce this “and both of these babies, as everyone knows, had ten little fingers and ten little toes.” The wonderful illustrations show babies that are from other regions in the world and perhaps look different than you and I do. However, like Paul the authors and illustrators remind us that we are all created with the same traits. We are all created by God and not Asian, European, African, etc. We are all God’s people and should recognize our sameness rather than our differences.
Follow The Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter (written for 2nd and 3rd graders)
Comment: The fourth chapter of Matthew begins Jesus’ ministry as he calls the first disciples to follow him by proclaiming “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” In the book Follow the Drinking Gourd, Peg Leg Joe teaches a song of freedom to the slaves of cotton plantation owners. This song is one that was learned and sung to assist the slaves in following the stars to reach the underground railroad which would lead them to freedom in Canada. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus called his first disciples to ‘follow’ and he proclaimed the ‘good news of the kingdom’.