Episode 167: Glenys Nellist Interview and Celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with New Books

In this episode we visit with our old friend Glenys Nellist about some of her newest books which just happen to be about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Come listen in to the conversation.

Our Guest: Glenys Nellist

Glenys Nellist was born and raised in a little village in northern England. The author of multiple award-winning children’s books, including the bestselling ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas, The Wonder That is You, and five popular series: Love Letters from God, Snuggle Time, ‘Twas, Good News and Little Mole, her writing reflects a deep passion for helping children discover joy and hope in the world. Glenys lives in Michigan with her husband, David.

Show Notes:

00:10 – Welcome/Introduction
00:39 – Little Mole Gives Thanks
02:22 – Little Mole Finds Hope
Little Mole’s Christmas Gift
Little Mole Goes to School

03:36 – Read and Rhyme: The First Christmas
05:33 – Twas the Season of Advent
0
7:31 – Twas the Evening of Christmas
09:25 – Twas the Morning of Easter
Twas the Season of Lent

12:15 – Discipling our kids
13:00 – Downloads at GlenysNellist.com
15:15 – New book coming next year: Song of the Seasons
16:27 – Closing
terriehellardbrown.com

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript:

Terrie:

Welcome to “Books That Spark,” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that help us with everyday discipleship every day, sparking important conversations with the children in our lives. Today we have our good friend, Glenys Nellist with us again, and we’re so happy to have you here. Thank you, Glenys, for joining us today.

Glenys:

Hi Terrie. I’m always really thrilled to chat with you. Thanks so much.

Terrie:

Well, we love your books and I especially am a huge fan of your Little Mole series, and because we’re coming up on Thanksgiving, we definitely want to start there. Let’s talk about your newest Little Mole book, Little Mole Gives Thanks.

Glenys:

Oh, well, he’s a popular guy. I think generally moles are not popular are they? Because they dig holes in people’s nice lawns, but I hope that people love my Little Mole, so

Terrie:

Yes.

Glenys:

This book, Little Mole Gives Thanks, is actually the fourth in the Little Mole series. They’re published by Beaming Books and illustrated by Sally Garland. So in this fourth installment, Little Mole is planning a fancy forest feast, and he’s invited some important guests, but unfortunately as it happens, none of those important guests can come, but his little friends come to the rescue. So Terrie, this one is really just a fun story about who is welcome at the table and that all are welcome and everyone’s important.

Terrie:

It parallels the parable in the Bible, kind of too, of inviting people to the feast, I noticed. It’s kind of cool. Yeah, that’s awesome.

Glenys:

Yeah, this was my first sort of foray into trying to do that. Generally speaking, the Little Mole books don’t mention Jesus or God, although there are definite allusions in the Christian world, but this one was my first attempt to try to take a Bible story, as you said, a parable and rewrite it in a creative, fun way.

Terrie:

Yeah, I just love it. Just to mention the other Little Mole books, the first one was Little Mole Finds Hope, right?

Glenys:

Yes.

Terrie:

Then the Christmas one was the second one.

Glenys:

Yes. Little Mole’s Christmas Gift, and that’s a story of kindness and generosity.

Terrie:

And then Little Mole Goes to School is the third one.

Glenys:

That’s right. You’re good, Terrie. You know all the titles.

Terrie:

I told you I’m a fan. Well, and what I love, and we’ve mentioned this before, is we get to see Little Mole grow up in the stories. So in the first book, he’s a much younger little mole, then we see him getting a little more mature as the stories go along, and I thought that was so brilliant of the illustrator Sally Garland to do that. I thought it was cool.

Glenys:

Yes, I know. I’ve just been so blessed to partner with her and I’ve just loved how she portrays him a little bit older, a little bit taller in each book.

Terrie:

Yeah, it’s so cute. Well, and then we definitely want to talk about some of your other books because not only is Thanksgiving around the corner, but also Christmas and you have a brand new Christmas book as well. You want to start by telling us a little bit about that one?

Glenys:

My newest Christmas book is called Read and Rhyme The First Christmas, and this is a board book, so it has the chunky cardboard pages for little ones, and I’m excited about this one, Terrie, because it’s the first title where really I’ve tried to, in my previous life I was an elementary teacher with a reading angle, so this little book is my experiment really to see could I write it in rhyme, which I love to do, and could I somehow invite the child to guess the rhyming word that’s coming. The way we did it in Read and Rhyme is, there are 24 little ‘lift the flaps’ in the book, so as the teacher or the parent reads, they can just leave a little pause and see if together they can fill in the rhyming word that’s hidden under the flaps. It begins like this, just to give you a little example, it says: now Mary was lying asleep in her bed when an angel flew down and quietly…

Terrie:

Said!

Glenys:

That’s right, yeah, and you lift the flap and you discover the word said, which is a hard word for little ones because I was a teacher, I was able to use some of those sight words that are hard to decode phonetically like said and won, so I hope that this little book will not only be a fun way to retell the Christmas story, but also to help develop those early literacy skills.

Terrie:

Oh that’s wonderful. And I love Lift the Flap board books, I think more of them should be interactive like that. I think that’s great, and of course, we love guessing games, so that’s just brilliant. I love it.

Glenys:

Aw, thank you. Yeah, I’m excited about it too.

Terrie:

Cool. Oh, I love that I already know who I want to buy it for. I just thought about it.

Glenys:

Oh, thank you.

Terrie:

Okay, and you have a plethora of other Christmas books, and of course we definitely want to start by talking about ‘Twas the Season of Advent, because that is really coming up quickly upon us. Tell us about this beautiful book.

Glenys:

Oh, thanks, Terrie. Well, ‘Twas the Season of Advent, again, it’s one of a series. It’s actually the third book in the ‘Twas series. All these books, if you are familiar with them, they are based on the familiar classic ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. Each of these books takes that poem and kind of uses the same rhythm, the same meter to tell, in this case, the Christmas story ‘Twas the Season of Advent begins with a little stanza from that poem. Maybe I could just read that to you.

Terrie:

Oh, sure.

Glenys:

Yeah. This is how it begins: “‘Twas the season of Advent when all through the earth people were pausing to ponder Christ’s birth. The bright lights were hung around the doorframes with care in hopes that Christmas time soon would be there.” So hopefully you can recognize some of the wording and the rhythm from the Clement C. Moore book. So anyway, that’s how ‘Twas the Season of Advent begins. This book actually contains 25 quite short stories or devotions designed for families to read from December the 1st through December 25th. I think it’s a lovely way to celebrate Advent and just pick up this book and read a story each day.

Terrie:

That’s wonderful, and the other ones in the series, most of them are more like picture books in the ‘Twas series, right?

Glenys:

Yes. The first one was, ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas. Well, they’re all picture books, but the Advent one is larger just because I had 25 stories to write for that one. ‘Twas the Season of Advent is a 48 page picture book. ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas, which was the first book, it’s the same size to look at, but it’s a 32 page picture book, and that’s just the poem that describes the birth of Jesus based on that Clement C. Moore rhythm. So ‘Twas Advent is quite an expanded version, but the really wonderful thing, Terrie, and I’m sure you’re going to ask about it next, the illustrations in these books are just amazing. They’re by an illustrator called Elena Selivanova, and the wonderful thing was that my publisher, these are published by ZonderKidz, they were able to use some of the illustrations that she did in ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas and just roll them into ‘Twas the Season of Advent.

Terrie:

Oh, nice.

Glenys:

Yeah, I love the way that they did that. If you’ve seen the illustrations, they’re just rich in color and detail and very evocative.

Terrie:

Yes. I love her artwork, it’s just stunning. It’s so beautiful, and that’s one of the main reasons I love these books, you’re so captivated by the pictures, you can’t wait to see what the book says because her illustrations on the cover just draw you, you know? They just make you want to look at what’s in the book. She just is amazingly talented.

Glenys:

Yes, I agree. It’s just such a great partnership. I mean, as a traditionally published author, I don’t get to pick my illustrators, but I would certainly pick her.

Terrie:

And how many are in this series now?

Glenys:

Well, there are four. So, ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas was the first one, and that was followed by ‘Twas the Morning of Easter, ‘Twas the Season of Advent is the third, and then the fourth, which is coming right up in January, is ‘Twas the Season of Lent. That’s a big picture book too, because that’s got 40 stories for families to read and enjoy during the Lent season.

Terrie:

For those who aren’t familiar with observing Lent, I know some of my listeners do, but some don’t. We start on Ash Wednesday, which is in February and go up to Easter, so it’s like Advent where you read a devotional each day. I forget how we determine Ash Wednesday, but I know it’s always in February, it seems like, and it goes up to Easter Sunday. Whether you observe that or not, to have that short devotional with your children each day during that season to anticipate the celebration of Easter is such a blessing. I don’t come from a church that traditionally celebrates or observes Lent, but we adopted it ourselves because we had a church that was so international and we had people in our church who were used to that. So I started doing that with my children when they were young, and we would do devotionals, do an Easter tree or whatever we did each year to observe Lent in that way. We may not observe it completely right, or the way some faiths do, but we did think it was kind of cool to do those devotionals to lead up to Easter, and you’re just so ready for that celebration when you’ve anticipated it for so many weeks. So that’s cool.

Glenys:

Yeah, that’s right. Well, I think anything that can help families to think a little bit more about that season and how Jesus gave his life and what we can give to others in return, I think is healthy. I did not grow up really observing Lent a lot either. In my tradition, it was more just about Holy Week remembering how Jesus washed their feet, and of course, Good Friday, but I think the observation of Lent, for me anyway, has become much more meaningful in recent years. So this book ‘Twas the Season of Lent, since Lent is a season when a lot of people like to try and perhaps give something up. You hear a lot about fasting or finding ways to be of service. This book really focuses on the mission, the ministry, and the mystery of Jesus, and especially how He helped others, whether it was the lost or the lonely or the least. That’s the kind of focus. It’s on how we can be of service in the world as Jesus was.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s beautiful. I love that. And on “Books that Spark,” we focus a lot on is discipling our kids and helping to encourage them to grow in their faith and to walk closer with God. Follow Christ wholeheartedly. So this kind of a book would definitely fall into that category. The one for Advent, the one for Lent to develop those habits of every day coming together, even just for a minute or two, a few minutes in thinking of God, thinking of His word, and opening the word of God with our children. I think it’s such a responsibility, but such a blessing to our families. I encourage every family to find something, to be able to do that on a daily basis. And my book that I wrote, that’s why I wrote it, was the same thing–Parents to daily have that time in God’s word together with their kids.

Glenys:

Yeah, and I agree, Terrie, I do think it’s so important and it’s a hard job. You know, most parents are working and they’re busy. So any resources, any help like we as authors can give them, I think is really helpful, and on those lines, I just wanted to mention that each of the books that we have talked about today since I was a teacher, I like to create free downloadable resources for parents and families and children’s ministers to use on my website, which is just GlenysNellist.com, there’s a free resources tab, and there you’ll find like a 25-day downloadable pack to accompany ‘Twas the Season of Advent. There’s a little like Advent calendar that kids can cut out and maybe laminate. There’s a picture for each day to hang on the tree.

Terrie:

How fun.

Glenys:

Yeah, and it was fun to create that resource, like a countdown to Christmas.

Terrie:

Oh, that’s wonderful. That’s so exciting. So it’s GlenysNellist.com, you can download it from there for free. That’s awesome. I love that.

Glenys:

Oh, thank you. Well, it’s fun to create these resources. I typically write them, and then my publisher, they’re great, they have design teams, they’ll put these little packets together, and Terrie going back to Little Mole Gives Thanks–Let me just mention that at the back of that book, there’s ideas for a child to plan their own fancy feast, even if it’s not in a forest, even if it’s in your backyard or in a local park. The activity pack to accompany that book, Little Mole Gives Thanks, that has template for placemats that you can make for people, or invitations that you can send out, and cute recipes. So yeah, there’s a lot of fun free stuff that I like to provide for families.

Terrie:

I love that so much. Okay, is there anything else you’d like to share with us today? Our time just flew by, my goodness. We always do that though when I talk with you. I always enjoy it. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish today?

Glenys:

Well, you’re so generous and kind to me and always talking about my books. Can I just mention one that I’m super excited about that releases in April?

Terrie:

Yeah.

Glenys:

It’s a way away, but if you might be on the lookout for, it’s my first book published with Paraclete Press, it’s a picture book and it rhymes, it’s based on Psalm 98 and it’s called Song of the Seasons, and it explores the idea that all creation sings a brand new song to God, so I’m excited for that one.

Terrie:

Oh, fun, okay. That’ll be beautiful. Well, we’ll watch for that one. So we have one in January to watch for and one in April to watch for, so that’s fun. You always have so many coming out. It’s crazy. I love it.

Glenys:

Well, I always say it sounds cheesy, but I honestly feel like God is the real author and I’m just along for the ride trying to hang on. My publishers are very kind to me and they let me sort of release more than maybe they normally would because I try hard to help get the word out about them. It’s a big blessing. Yeah.

Terrie:

Well, thank you again so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed the conversation, and we’re very excited about your new books. And of course we just always love Little Mole.

Glenys:

Oh, well thank you so much, Terrie. It was a joy to chat with you today.

Terrie:

Alright, take care. Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark” where we encourage each other to live out everyday discipleship, helping to equip our children to follow Christ with their whole hearts. If you enjoyed this episode, please like and share on social media so people know we are here, and leave a review on one of the podcast host sites. We truly would appreciate that. If you would like to connect with me, you can join my mailing list or comment on TerrieHellardBrown.com. We love to hear from you. We respond to every comment and question. And most of all, we pray you feel empowered as a parent or caregiver to walk by faith and to embrace everyday discipleship every day with the children in your life.

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

Free Download: 2023 Thanksgiving Calendar of Kids Books

35 Picture books, some board books, and chapter books to read from Nov. 1 through Thanksgiving Day. Just download and print the calendar for free.

4 thoughts on “Episode 167: Glenys Nellist Interview and Celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with New Books”

  1. Glenys has a wonderful heart and spirit that shines in her books and in her interviews. Thanks for highlighting her newest books as well as previous ones! They are all treasures,

    1. I apologize for not approving or replying to your comment. I did not receive the email notification like I usually do. But I agree. Glenys’ books definitely shine with her heart for God and for children.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *