New Title from JPS: Justice for All

 

Readers of this blog (yes, it’s alive!) may recall my immense appreciation for commentaries and other works published by The Jewish Publication Society. You can find a host of JPS reviews and book notes I’ve written here.

JPS has just released Justice for All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics, by Jeremiah Unterman.

Biblical justice has been a recurring theme in our congregation this past school year–both in my preaching and in our adult Sunday school classes. I’m eager to dig in to this volume.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

Justice for All demonstrates that the Jewish Bible, by radically changing the course of ethical thought, came to exercise enormous influence on Jewish thought and law and also laid the basis for Christian ethics and the broader development of modern Western civilization.

Jeremiah Unterman shows us persuasively that the ethics of the Jewish Bible represent a significant moral advance over Ancient Near East cultures. Moreover, he elucidates how the Bible’s unique conception of ethical monotheism, innovative understanding of covenantal law, and revolutionary messages from the prophets form the foundation of many Western civilization ideals. Justice for All connects these timeless biblical texts to the persistent themes of our times: immigration policy, forgiveness and reconciliation, care for the less privileged, and attaining hope for the future despite destruction and exile in this world.

You can read a .pdf excerpt here. The book’s product page is here, and is also available through Amazon.

Baylor University Press Titles for Black History Month: 40% Off (and Free Shipping)

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In honor of Black History Month, Baylor University Press is offering 40% off + free shipping on select titles.

The entire list is here, and it includes Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus. There’s also a new-ish book that I plan to order called Muslims and the Making of America. Prices are cheaper than Amazon, and this way you can support the publishers (and authors) more directly.

The sale is good for February with discount code BFEB.

 

From the Creator of Captain Underpants: Dog Man

Our children don’t need any encouragement in the area of scatalogical humor, but here we all have been anyway, laughing through the pages of Dav Pilkey’s new Dog Man. (Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame.) That is to say–this book would not be something to read to your four-year-old daughter. Unless, uh, she had two older brothers and was already unfazed by such humor.

Case in point:

 

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Dog Man, as Pilkey tells it, is the creation of George Beard and Harold Hutchins, two comic-writing friends whose teacher, Ms. Construde, clearly does not appreciate their “disruptive activity in my classroom.” All my kids love it, of course.

The premise itself is a little more violent than I would have liked for my (or any) kids: Dog Man is born when the evil cat Petey blows up Officer Knight and his dog Greg:

Doctor: I’m sorry Greg, but your body is dying. and your head is dying too, cop.

Officer: Rats! I sure hate my dying head!

But just when all seemed lost…

Nurse Lady: Hey! Why don’t we sew Greg’s head onto cop’s body?

Doctor: Good idea, nurse lady! You’re a genius!

Here “a brand-new crime-fighting sensation was unleashed.”

Dog Man the character is about what you would expect from somebody who is half man, half dog. He battles Petey, then Robo Chief, and then a giant, walking Philly cheesesteak mascot in chapter 4, “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” This last chapter was probably the funniest and best part of the book. Sample lines:

OH look! Little baby hot dogs are starting a revolution!!!!

We’re not little babies! we’re regular sized!

(Their subsequent claim to be “gangsta” will go over kids’ heads and seems to unfortunately engage in cultural appropriation.)

A fun feature that comes up at several points is the “Flip-O-Rama,” where you can create a little bit of animation by quickly flipping between pages. At this moment I’m looking at the book’s warning: “Remember—Flip it, Don’t Rip it!!!!!!”, which happens to be right next to a newly made rip in our edition. Oh, well.

The section in the back of the book with “How 2 Draw” different characters is icing on the cake.

For how inexpensive the book is, I was pleasantly surprised to see a sewn binding. The colors are vibrant and the lettering is what you would expect from Dav-Pilkey-as-two-kids-writing-a-comic. It inspired my own kids to write their own. (Details forthcoming, or maybe we’ll just try for a book deal.)

If you’re trying to avoid scatological humor, don’t get this book. If you’ve maybe slacked a little with your standards for your kids in that regard, they’ll probably love Dog Man.

You can find the book at Scholastic’s page here. It’s also available at Amazon here. Dav Pilkey’s got his own site, too.

 


 

Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.

Mamoko: A World Where Kids Read to the Grown-Ups

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Some of the best book gifts our oldest child has received have been Maps and Animalium from Big Picture Press, an imprint of Candlewick.

Our kids have also spent many collective minutes and hours poring over two books from The World of Mamoko series: The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000 and The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons.

The premise of Mamoko is simple: “Use your eyes!” to “follow the adventures” of more than two dozen different characters through seven detailed spreads that span two pages each. The books are hardback, like giant board books, so they’ll last us a long time. The target age range is 5-8 years old, but my four-year-old (who can’t yet read) really enjoys looking at the pictures, too.

Here’s a spread from World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons:

 

mamoko-in-the-time-of-dragons

 

It’s lots of fun. There are short descriptions of each character that help in knowing what to look for. For example, a pink elephant (holding a hammer?) is Othello Smith:

OTHELLO SMITH is feeling bummed out. What is the cause of his distress?

The book is pretty funny. And it’s big enough that, like the Where’s Waldo? books, two people can easily look for characters and their antics at the same time.

But I told Candlewick my kids would help me review these two books, and a promise is a promise, so… here are my nine-year-old’s review notes from The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000:

 

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And here’s his short take on The World of Mamoko in the Time of Dragons:

 

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You can find all three Mamoko titles at Candlewick’s page here. They’re also available at Amazon here.

 


 

Thanks to Candlewick Press for the review copies, given with no expectation as to the content of the review.

This Will Almost Undoubtedly Be the Best Theology Book This Fall: The Mestizo Augustine

Mestizo Augustine

 

A forthcoming book from IVP combines one of my favorite lenses for theology (mestizaje) with one of my favorite theologians (Augustine). And the author is none other than Justo González. I believe Michael Scott calls that win-win-win.

Here’s the publisher’s description:

Few thinkers have been as influential as Augustine of Hippo. His writings, such as Confessions and City of God, have left an indelible mark on Western Christianity. He has become so synonymous with Christianity in the West that we easily forget he was a man of two cultures: African and Greco-Roman. The mixture of African Christianity and Greco-Roman rhetoric and philosophy gave his theology and ministry a unique potency in the cultural ferment of the late Roman empire.

Augustine experienced what Latino/a theology calls mestizaje, which means being of a mixed background. Cuban American historian and theologian Justo González looks at the life and legacy of Augustine from the perspective of his own Latino heritage and finds in the bishop of Hippo a remarkable resource for the church today. The mestizo Augustine can serve as a lens by which to see afresh not only the history of Christianity but also our own culturally diverse world.

Coming in November! If you go to the publisher’s page, you can see the Table of Contents. Amazon has it up for pre-order. I’ll do my best to review it here this fall.

My Six-Year-Old’s Review of Shark Attack! (Scholastic)

Shark Attack

 

My six-year-old son wanted to start a blog to write book reviews, so I’m turning my blog over to him for today’s post. Below is his review of Shark Attack! (Scholastic, 2013), including a bit of Q and A between me and him. Enjoy.

 


 

I like this book.

Because it tells me about sharks. How long they can open their mouths.

 

What was your favorite part about this book?

When the shark does diving.

What was surprising about the book?

That sharks can hear.

How can they hear?

They sense it. “Sharks hear sounds too low for you to hear.”

Who would like this book?

Me.

 

Shark Attack Review

 

Where to find it: Amazon / Scholastic
Grade Level: 1 through 3
32 Pages, full color images

Perhaps a Good Time to Make Sure We Know What Plagiarism Is

Image via The Simpsons (Source: http://devosdevine.com/)

 

A lot of students and professors read this blog, so today’s news affords (among other things) an opportunity to clarify (whether for yourself or others) what plagiarism is. Two tutorials that could be useful are this one from Duke and this one from Indiana University.

I also like this post from a few years ago by Charles Halton, where I first learned about the Duke site.