Episode 171: Everything Christmas with Kristin Wynalda, Part 2

In this episode, we continue the discussion where we left off last week. This time we discuss some Christmas controversy and suggest some gift ideas. Plus, I share about a book I just found out about because it launched only a month or so ago. It would make a great gift for the toddlers in your life. Come check it out. 

Our Guest: Kristin Wynalda

Kristin Wynalda likes Agatha Christie mysteries, chai, and her job as a mom of four. She reviews children’s books at bigbookslittleears.com. She is known for reviews of secular books through a Christian lens, theology deep-dives of Christian picture books, and curated lists of the best books on the faith market. Kristin believes that YOU are the best person to choose books for your family, and she will equip you to do that!

Show Notes with Links:

00:10 – Introduction to Part 2
01:05 – The Drummer Boy
02:15 – Wisemen at the manger controversy
               Retooning the Nativity video
              Humphrey’s First Christmas
04:45 – Some suggestions for gift-giving
              Seek and Find: The First Christmas
              Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story
06:48 – The Voices of Christmas
07:26 – The Fourth Wiseman picture book
              The Fourth Wiseman movie
10:20 – The Christmas Promise
11:05 – The Other Wiseman
12:00 – Share the Joy: A Christmas Lift-the-Flap Book
13:15 – Closing and Christmas Blessing
               End of Season 5
               Season 6 starts in January
               Kristin – Big Books, Little Ears
               Terrie – 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 our children. Today we have part two of the interview with Kristin Wynalda, and we will be talking some more about Christmas books, Christmas gifts that we would recommend today on the podcast. I’m so glad you joined us and I hope that you will be blessed by the things we share today.

Terrie:

Kristin Wynalda is with us again, and we’re going to talk about everything Christmas. Well, Kristin, thank you for joining us again today, and we’re going to talk about Christmas books. I’m so excited.

Kristin:

Me too. I love Christmas, and I think some of the best books are holiday books.

Terrie:

I agree. One I just love that is by Ted Decker is called The Drummer Boy, and this is a very short novel. It’s like a novella, reads very quickly, and it would be great for middle school and up even upper elementary if they’re good readers. It’s so wonderful, and it’s sharing the gospel, and it’s sharing the determination of people to not let the gospel die, to keep sharing the gospel. It’s kind of a dystopian novel slightly because in this story they’re trying to outlaw being able to talk about the true meaning of Christmas. This is just really well written. Another one I couldn’t put down. So those two I just love. As far as chapter books, I have several others I’m reading that I haven’t finished yet. I read part of them, and then if I don’t like them, I go to the next one. But I have a whole collection of Christmas novels that I’m trying to get through. Maybe I’ll be able to share some more later on. But those two I love.

Kristin:

That’s great.

Terrie:

Yeah, they came out in the recent times. Of course, both of these writers are still alive. They’re contemporary people, so these are newer books. Alright, anything else you can think of?

Kristin:

Do you want to talk about Wise Men at the Manger?

Terrie:

Ooh, yes.

Kristin:

Yeah, we don’t have to. I know it’s controversial

Terrie:

It drives me crazy, but that’s okay. It is controversial, and I think you can argue either way. Some people have said, “Well, when did they start on their trip?” But the Bible does say in Matthew that they came to the house. To me it just seems logical from scripture that they didn’t go to the manger. But yeah, what would you like to say about that?

Kristin:

Yeah, so I think I note in all of my reviews of picture books when there are Wisemen at the Manger, just because for some people it’s like a really big deal. I agree the Wisemen probably weren’t there, but I think there’s a lot of really good books that depict Wisemen at the manger. It is what it is. The reason that this is always like such a big thing I think is on my social medias, it comes up every year. There’s like conversation about it. There are really great books. Like for example, have you read Humphrey’s First Christmas by Carol Heyer?

Terrie:

Yes.

Kristin:

So I like that book.

Terrie:

I do too.

Kristin:

I love the pictures. I think it’s so cute. It ends with the Wisemen at the manger. So yeah, I think my personal opinion is they weren’t there, and the way I’ve handle it, which is probably not right, is I just meh. It’s all right. They can be in the book.

Terrie:

Yeah.

Kristin:

So I don’t know, did you tell your kids growing up reading these books? Were you like, but the Wisemen weren’t really there? Or did you just let it go? Because I’m in the just Let It Go camp right now. I figure someday they’ll be like, oh.

Terrie:

Yeah, when they were younger, we just read the stories. But as they got older and were developing their faith and growing as Christians, then I go ahead and say, well of course you know, they weren’t at the manger, and I would talk about it. There was also this really cute video [“Retooning the Nativity”] and if I can find it, I’ll put the link in the show notes that talks about the traditional American version of the Nativity and what really, probably, it was more like and biblically. It’s just the cutest little video. It’s just very short. And if I can find that, I’ll put a link there. But I showed that to my kids so that they could see the difference and just understand that it doesn’t change the message of the gospel, it doesn’t change the message of what happened. It just is a difference in the way we picture it. And trying to picture it like the real biblical story is important. We do need to eventually understand that, but it doesn’t change the message.

Kristin:

Mm-Hmm. Yeah, I think that’s wise. I think you said it well.

Terrie:

Thank you. Gosh, we’ve given everybody more than they needed for Christmas probably. So Kristin, I know we both love Christmas stories, and we’ve mentioned quite a few, but is there one or two that stand out that would make great Christmas gifts this year?

Kristin:

Yes. So this is going to be kind of an obscure one, but I love Seek and Find: The First Christmas by Sarah Parker, and not all seek and finds are created equal. They’re just not. And this one has excellent text throughout that tells the story of why Jesus’ birth was a big deal and at the same time has like so many things for the kids to find on every page. The characters look like Middle Eastern characters. There’s not a blonde Jesus or something. So it is historically accurate. And the other thing I like about it is that it lists what the kids have to find, of course, in words, but it also has the little picture. So they see, and they’re like, yes, three mourning doves or whatever. Then even my kids who can’t read yet can use it. So that one gets gifted a lot, especially to the families that we know that are like us and have the wide range of kids, the wide age range. So it’s a great one. That’s Seek and Find: The First Christmas by Sarah Parker. Love it. The publisher recommends for ages two to four, but I think you can push that way up, especially if you’re in the car car like my 10-year-old will look at it in the car. That’s a really good one.

Kristin:

Another book that I think is just beautiful that’s a little older is Song of the Stars: A Christmas Story by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It’s Illustrated with paintings by Alison Jay. It’s basically just about animals worshiping this new baby born, and it’s that Sally Lloyd-Jones vibe as far as, it’s very lyrical. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a direct telling from the bible, the nativity story, but you can tell what’s happening. It’s just beautiful.

Terrie:

Nice. Okay. Well I haven’t decided.

Kristin:

There’s too many good ones to give, right?

Terrie:

Yeah. And for a gift, and there’s so many good retellings, I can’t decide. There is one that I think would make a really good gift because it also has an audio CD that goes with it, and that’s called Voices of Christmas by Nikki Grimes. It’s not going to be one that’s a fun storybook for younger kids. I think this would be something the family could share together. It’s fictionalized, it’s not directly from the Bible. They’ve added a little here and there to make the characters come to life, but it’s telling the story from different views from the people who were involved in the Bible story. So I love that.

Terrie:

As far as another book I love, the story I love is an old classic and that is The Fourth Wiseman. I probably would watch the movie more than I would read the book. There’s different versions of the book out. It’s hard to find; it’s out of print. But the movie, even though it’s older as well, is one of my absolute favorites to share at Christmas with our church, with our kids, with whomever will watch it. Have you ever watched that movie or read that book?

Kristin:

No, I never have.

Terrie:

I just love it. Like I said, it’s quite old now, but it is such a wonderful story, and in the story we know it’s not necessarily just three Wisemen, but this story supposes that this Wiseman, he’s supposed to meet up with the three Wisemen at their meeting point, and they’re going to go and find the Messiah, and he misses them because his servant who’s with him is just a complainer. And it’s so funny in the movie; it’s really well done. Anyway, they wind up missing him, and so he’s like, if we hurry we can catch them. And he spends his entire life trying to find the Messiah, and along the way he heals people. He’s like a physician, so he helps doctor people and heal them. He winds up living in a leper colony for most of his life and helping them learn how to live and farm the land and survive as a leper colony. So he basically gives his whole life to service and doesn’t recognize that he is being the hands of Christ in the world around him. And then he meets the Messiah as he’s approaching death. He sees the Messiah when he dies basically. But the power of this movie and how the little things we do in life using the skills we have, the gifts we have can bless others and be Christ in the world is just the main message of this movie. And it’s so well done. And there’s lots of old movie stars from, I guess it would be the eighties, that it’s kind of fun to see them when they were younger. You’ll recognize them because they’re quite famous now. But it is just a well-done movie. And the books are actually picture books. I’ve got two copies of two different kind of tellings of this story, and they’re picture books, so it doesn’t give nearly as much detail and depth of the story as the movie does. So in this case, I actually like the movie better than the book, which is rare. This one is so good. I would probably give that DVD to people as a gift because I think it’s such a wonderful story to share with your family. It’s so good. I just love it. We watch it every Christmas.

Terrie:

So alright, well that should give people a lot to work with and a lot to think about. Anything else you’d like to add?

Kristin:

I don’t think so. Merry Christmas, I guess.

Terrie:

Yeah, Merry Christmas and thank you so much for taking the time with us today.

Kristin:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Terrie:

All right, you take care. So when I was talking with Kristin, I could not think of a book that I would want to name as a gift book for Christmas until after we stopped the podcast. And then I remembered one I just love, and that’s called The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell. And the illustrator is Catalina Echeverri. And this is one of the Tales that Tell the Truth series, which is just a wonderful series of books, but this is the Christmas one. And with it they have a companion Advent calendar that has devotionals and puzzles and activities for the whole family through the advent season. And it has an advent calendar with little flaps that the children can open each day. And I think this would be a wonderful present to give any family as like an early Christmas gift at the beginning of December.

Terrie:

Also, I talked about The Fourth Wiseman, and that it’s a video I just love, and I think it is a wonderful movie, but I forgot to mention that the original story was published in 1895 and it’s called The Other Wiseman by Henry van Dyke. What I was talking about in the episode was the children’s version of the book, and that has been adapted from the van Dyke story to be a child’s book, and it’s pretty good too. But in the chapter book, in the original story, it’s actually a novel, and there’s a lot in that novel that I actually had to stop and look up because it talks about a lot of the ancient religions and ancient beliefs and stuff that probably the Magi had or at least were familiar with. And so that was very interesting in that book. But the original book, The Other Wiseman would be for adults or older children, high school age or up. I don’t know if it would even be appropriate for Upper Elementary unless they’re really serious readers and love historical fiction. So I just wanted to make that clear because I realized I forgot to mention that after we talked so much about it.

Terrie:

As we close today, I do want to share one more book with you that I just found out about. The publisher just reached out to me, and I received the book, and it is such a great book. So I do have one more Christmas book to add to your shopping list, especially if you have little ones that are about three years old or four years old. This is the perfect book for them. It’s called Share the Joy: A Christmas Lift-the-Flap Book written by Valerie Ellis. And it is just adorable. The pictures are beautiful. They have many, many objects in each picture for children to really look at and enjoy. And, of course, it’s Lift-the-Flap, so it’s interactive, and part of the story is written on every page under the flap, on the pages, and even on the back of the book. It’s just full of great character building ideas and the celebration and the joy of Christmas. It’s just a great book, and I wish I had seen it sooner. I definitely would have shared it before now, but I am very happy that I was able to get it in time to share with you today.

Terrie:

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 and give us a review on one of the podcast host sites. It helps people know we’re here. I hope you enjoyed this episode, and if you would like to connect with Kristin, you can find her at Big Books Little Ears, and you can connect with me on my website, which is terriehellardbrown.com. We love to hear from you. We respond to every question and every comment. This is our final episode of Season Five on “Books that Spark,” and we’re very excited to come back in January with Season Six. We hope you’ll join us. If you aren’t signed up already for my mailing list, you can do that on my website. Then you will be notified when we post a new episode. Or you can just simply subscribe on your favorite podcast host site such as Spotify or Libsyn, or any of those websites. Just punch that subscribe button, and you will be notified when a new episode posts. We have some great interviews in store for you, some wonderful books, and a few surprises. So we hope you’ll be back with us in January. But we do pray that you have a wonderful Christmas, a very blessed holiday with your family, that you have a wonderful time of worship and renewing your hope and faith, and your trust in Jesus Christ. We pray that if you are going through a difficult time, that you will find peace during this season and that you will find family. And we hope that your children are blessed beyond measure, just to know how much God loves them and that he came to earth as a baby just for them and just for all of us. We pray that you will find a renewed peace in Christ this season as we have so much turmoil in our world–that we can come before Christ and find His peace and his comfort even in the hardest of times. And most of all, we pray that 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. Merry Christmas and may the New year be filled with many, many blessings.

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 Advent Calendar Download:

2023 Advent Calendar of Books

Leave a Comment

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