3 book reviews
Reviews of the latest albums, books and resources.
Poets and Saints
All Sons and Daughters
All Sons and Daughters have produced another sensational album that cannot help but inspire worship. The unique concept of Poets and saints was born out of a desire to connect the lives of the saints to modern day believers and is steeped in theologically rich history.
With its intimate vocals and musically diverse set of songs, the album is worth putting on repeat. ‘I surrender’, ‘Rest in you’ and ‘You are love and love alone’ are particularly beautiful. Each song tells its own story and connects the lives of CS Lewis, St Francis and many more, to our own. The companion book Poets and saints: eternal insight, extravagant love, ordinary people allows readers to delve even deeper and, once coupled with the album, will strengthen the Church and fuel its fire.
Perhaps the most notable success of what All Sons and Daughters have achieved here is the ability to record top ten hits in the secular and non-secular album charts, both in the UK and America. The musicianship alone here is enough to guide you into the presence of God.
Ed Wyeth is a project worker at The Liminality Group and is studying an MA in Education at the Institute of Education (UCL).
30 Day Devotional: 1 Thessalonians
Alec Motyer with Elizabeth Mcquoid
This devotional is a great little tool. It is well written with great direction, making it easy to follow and an absolute joy to read!
This book has plenty of gentle encouragement and masterfully offers a daily digestible amount, resulting in a greater understanding and love of the subject matter. It has great insight, and is scattered with inspiration for daily prayer throughout.
It is small enough to conveniently tuck away into a pocket or school bag, which made my daily commute on the bus a little bit more interesting. I was left each day looking forward to what the next day’s devotional reading had in store. Though not necessarily its intention, this book would also work well for small group discussion at a youth group.
I would highly recommend this series of 30 day devotional books to anyone seeking a tool that will help to gain a greater love of scripture, or just simply seeking to do something out of devotion. Whatever your motivation, these little books are a must read!
Claud Jackson is a volunteer youth worker.
Loretta Andrews produces and presents Unsigned on Premier Christian Radio and Premier Gospel. Here’s her record of the month:
Bianca Rose - No fear here
Soul / folk artist Bianca Rose is not new to music, but in a sense it’s like she’s starting again after a long hiatus due to a debilitating fear and depression which struck her a few years ago.
Bianca produced her Truths and tiny tragedies EP ten years ago, cementing her storytelling style providing social commentary on life from her point of view as a young woman from South London.
She describes how after her second child, even though so much had gone well in her life, she became shrouded by a dark cloud of depression and doubt set in about her talent, as well as an identity crisis as a woman and an artist. She believed she’d never write, let alone perform again. However, it was in this dry place that Bianca met God, or rather he met her, and she began to see that her route out would be through her music and the songs featured on No fear here were born: “After a few years, much life, and some particularly low moments, I felt myself step back into hope, and my lifeline of creativity. No fear here is a song cycle of my initial musings on this wilderness period of fear and doubt which completely incapacitated me creatively.”
Produced by the critically acclaimed Femi Temowo, Bianca had world-class musicians such as Troy Miller, Karl Rasheed-Abel and James Douglas play on the record. A successful crowdfunding campaign and winning support and some funding from the PRS Foundation has shown Bianca that this album is needed and it is her time to shine.
No fear here, released at the end of January, is written from such a place of honest vulnerability you can’t help but be deeply affected by the messages in the songs, which anyone who has been through any kind of ‘dark’ time will be able to identify with. Mental health is a subject that needs to be spoken about more and young people are increasingly affected by it. It’s important that we can openly talk about these struggles and No fear here contributes to that conversation. It is a special album and will impact many by inspiring hope to the hopeless as well as being a beautiful body of art.
The Big Cook of Bible Crafts
Edited by Laurie Copley
The big book of Bible crafts does exactly what it says on the tin. It contains 110 craft ideas, each linked to a Bible passage or season in the church year. Each idea also has an age rating which helps you choose the most appropriate activity.
There’s a good range of craft and construction activities, from the simple to the complex. The instructions are clear and, while the list of resources needed might send you running to a well-known craft shop, the variety of ideas is such that you’ll easily find something you can do. In addition there’s a scripture index and a seasonal index at the end of the book, to help you find crafts to go with Bible stories or festivals.
What lifts this above other craft books is the ‘For extra impact’ section in each activity. This section gives ideas to help you talk about a particular Bible story and ask questions to enable children to think deeper about what God is saying to them. This means that, rather than just being a fun activity, the craft / construction plays a part in furthering children’s spiritual development.
Alex Taylor is resources editor for Premier Youth and Children’s Work.
Fiona Veitch Smith, Illustrated by Andy Catling
A set of three books retelling the story of Joseph (both with and without his coat of many colours), the Young Joseph series is fun and well thought-through. Fiona Veitch Smith has taken a very well-worn tale and repackaged it as three short stories to read aloud, with plenty of additional material to keep them fresh.
The books stick to the spine of the biblical story but add a fair bit of fictional meat. Whether this is to your taste or not, the asides and embellishments bring new life to one of the most retold episodes in the Bible. The books are a good length for reading aloud to a key stage one child, they each contain a moral core - particularly about honesty - but are lively enough not to become preachy or obvious.
My daughter liked Andy Catling’s illustrations, especially his splendid cows which we enjoyed counting and commenting on. I particularly appreciated the fun type-setting and the fact that they’re just the right size for reading together at bedtime, without being cumbersome to hold or illegible by lamp-light.
Anne Phipps works in the charity sector and lives with her daughter and a lot of books.
Cartooning Teen Stories
Jenny Drew is a comic-loving keyworker for the youth offending service who has designed and produced this valuable resource. I’m not a visual learner, nor is art something I am interested in but if you care about young people and their story and how to help create a door into their inner world then this is a must read.
Jenny spends the first part of the book delving into the theoretical, contextual and social framework of imagery, storytelling and the real-life impact this has had in her youth work. She suggests young people are able to empathise at a deeper level with a cartoon because they see that this could be them and this, in turn, can help them to know and own their own voice in their quest to find meaning, purpose and identity.
Jenny provides activities, exercises and insight into how to ask questions and follow up with a young person. The book also contains five comics that can be used with young people, covering mental health, sexuality, trauma and bullying, as well as one on how to create your own comic. There are also session plans, worksheets and follow-up questions to develop themes and questions raised.
I read this as a complete sceptic, but can honestly say that I am absolutely going to use this with some of my young people who need a different form of intervention. This book provides a rich insight into the minds, hearts and lives of young people.
Mark Mcfeeters is a youth worker and area leader for Youth Initiatives, Northern Ireland.