Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A New Chapter: Shepherding Stories

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me...
John 10:14

This past weekend began another chapter in our daughter's family's life journey. There is a lot going on for this little family as they follow God's call!  Just a couple of weeks ago her husband was sworn-in as an officer to the US Navy Chaplain Candidate Program, and on Sunday he was ordained as a deacon into the Orthodox Church. 

Our son-in-law will be ordained as a Priest when he finishes seminary.  I love the parallel foreshadowing seen in this photo - my youngest grandson, like a little sheep, is rushing up to hug and greet his newly ordained Deacon Daddy, while at the same time glancing tentatively towards one of the Priests. 

A Priest is a shepherd after all, called by God to encourage us in our lives. Today I'm doing a giveaway to celebrate shepherds and sheep: one about a rather unconventional shepherd, the second about sheep and other farm animals.

The first book I'm giving away is a brand new chapter book from Ancient Faith Publishing:  Shepherding Sam by Melinda Johnson.

Aimed at early elementary readers, this book will find a niche with 8-10 year olds (although it would make a good story for parents to read aloud to younger children as well).

The central characters in the story are a Corgi dog named Saucer and a hurting, troubled 10-year-old boy named Sam.

Have you ever had the chance to visit an Orthodox monastery?  I highly recommend it, and a monastery farm is the unique setting of this book! It is the happy home to some sweet nuns and their quirky animals, one of which is Saucer.  

Melinda Johnson's engaging storytelling - at once humorous and tender hearted - is just plain fun. I appreciate that the children in the story are typical kids, very relatable to young readers.

As the action moves through the chapters, Saucer is searching for a herd to shepherd, and a lonely and angry Sam is trying to push love (and anything that resembles it) away.  Tenacious Saucer won't give up on his herding or on Sam. In an exciting ending, Saucer takes charge and finally finds his purpose.

According to Melinda in this podcast interview, Saucer has a message for us: God will show you what he wants you to be, if you never give up.  And it can happen in unexpected ways (just ask my daughter and son-in-law)!

Now on to the second animal-themed book I have to giveaway today: a new offering from Animal Planet, Animal Bites: Farm Animals (for ages 4-8).

 This large format, soft cover book is full of stunning photographs of farm animals in the barnyard, coop, and pasture.

Your young children will have fun while they learn about how animals survive and thrive on busy farms.

In many ways, farm animals are just like us.  They need loving caregivers and shepherds.  But we need animals too - like Saucer, they can help us heal and feel loved!

To enter for a chance at this giveaway... 

  • Please leave a comment with your first name and last initial.  
  • Tell me who you'd like to share these books with, or how an animal has had a healing influence in your life.  
  • Giveaway ends at midnight on Wednesday, October 26, 2016. Winner announced a week from today on Thursday, October 27, 2016.


  1. Oh, how lovely. I'm very curious about Shepherding Sam — I'd read it to my goddaughter.

  2. I would love to have this! I have what I like to call a micro-mini-farm, but someday if it ever gets bigger I plan on sheep. I have 9 children I'd love to share this dream (and book!) with.

  3. I would love to share this with my three children! Thanks!!

  4. Thank you for this giveaway. You always have such nice books. i did have fish they had a calming effect on me. Just watching them is fascinating.
    Marilyn C

  5. Oh how sweet! I think stories are a wonderful way of teaching children truths about the world. I would love to read this to my daughter! -Destinie W

  6. I would read to my almost 8 yr. old grandson. I used to raise Cochin Bantam chickens, they are gentle little lovelies and I miss having them.

  7. My children would love this book and I'm sure I would too. We have never visited a monastery but would love to. We live out in the woods and love to see wild animals that make us feel more connected to God.

    1. Elizabeth, you are the winner of my giveaway! Please send me your mailing address, and I'll get the books right off to you. :)

  8. These animal books would be a great holiday gift. My grandma had a German Shepard . He was a gentle soul.
    Joan C

  9. what a great giveaway just in time for the holidays. I had a Parakeet Rudy. He was my cousin's but when my Aunt got sick he was given to my sister and me. He was a sweet bird. After he passed Rudy Kazoodie was purchased but he was a wild one.

  10. I have a ministry called Kids Books Without Borders (kidsbookswithoutborders.wordpress.com). I would add this to my collection of books that I make available to families living overseas free of charge. I love animals and animal books are often requested from overseas families. I love dogs, especially beagles. My british grandparents have 2 beagles, Fern and Clover, that I remember fondly growing up. Our family beagle, Carmel, just passed away a few weeks ago and we all miss her! Thank you for your wonderful blog!

  11. Axios to your son-in-law! I'd share this book with my nieces, they have a terrier...Martha B

  12. Ruth R...I would use these books as gifts. They look lovely. I am particularly interested n seeing Shepherdng Sam. :)

  13. Josh R - I would love to have this for the boys!

  14. Would love to read this to my 4 children. Always on the Look out for great orthodox books for kids. Reading every night as a family is our special bonding time