SOMEBODY LOVES YOU, MR. HATCH (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1996)
Mr. Hatch has the misfortune of being a loner, or that is his self-perception. This plays out in the way he lives his rather boring life. One day his life takes a turn for the better. Because of a unexpected Valentine’s gift of a box of chocolates, he begins to feel loved. This initiates a personal transformation. He takes an interest in others and becomes helpful. Then he finds out it was all a big mistake. What happens next? This children’s book illustrates the power and magic of feeling wanted and loved. The emotions of the story draw the reader in right there with Mr. Hatch. Somebody Loves You is a good book to read to a classroom of children. There are many teaching moments in this book. Add Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch to your collection of illustrated children’s books.
THE INVISIBLE STRING (Devorss & Co., 13th reprinting, 2000)
A children’s book for Valentine’s Day. This pretty little story has a big message. Love connects us whether we are together or not. We are joined by an invisible string no matter how far we are apart in distance or when there is loss of a loved one. Love is real and remains forever even when there is separation by miles or unfortunate circumstances. This is a good book to teach children the steadfastness of love. The truth in this book brings comfort on many levels. I first heard it mentioned in a talk by an elderly monk in a monastery. He said, “When we tug on our end of the string; God tugs on His end in reply.” That is where I first learned about The Invisible String and decided it sounded like a classic and worth purchasing. Seeing its Amazon ratings and reviews–and many reprintings, I believe this is true. An excellent book to talk about parents or grandparents who are unable to live in close proximity.
A Modern Day Good Samaritan: Not exactly the mission that she signed up for on the Logos Hope Christian Missionary ship, Natalie Vellacott finds herself in the midst of an unlikely adventure of a different sort–doing what she didn’t plan to do, loving where she didn’t expect to love, giving because she cares–not because it’s easy, and being personally challenged in difficult and unexpected ways. This is her story of helping the rugby boys, solvent-sniffing street urchins who live in Olongapo City by Subic Bay in the Philippines, a modern day account of a good Samaritan who sees a need and doesn’t hesitate to meet it. This book is a first-hand narrative about the author’s experiences in helping a few boys who need rescuing from their dead-end existence–efforts at trying to help them improve their lives–and the ways in which she and others offer the rugby boys hope in the form of Christian faith, friendship relationship, and through addressing their physical and spiritual needs. Help is offered and then some, but it is hard for the boys to maintain their end of the deal. They are used to life on the street with its own code of ethics, and they seem bound to each other as a substitute family. The boys have trouble accepting what is offered, or better said, assimilating it into their lives. Natalie perseveres. Every day is a new day. She cares even when she easily could have said “enough is enough.” I give the author a lot of credit for hanging in there when the going got rough and for never giving up on these young men as hopeless. She saw something of value and as worth saving in each one. Somehow that sounds a lot like how Christ views humanity, every person…as savable and redeemable. That is her motivation for persevering. This book is a matter-of-fact telling of an important story. During the reading of it, I found myself wishing for a little more descriptive language, dates or time sequences, and additional information on other factors relating to the events in the story. It makes us think. They’re Rugby Boys speaks loudly: Caring never goes out of style. For the rugby boys, it came just in the nick of time.