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Entering 2018 Unafraid

Do you look forward to New Year, geared up and ready for new challenges and opportunities ahead? Or are you, like me, apprehensive and maybe a little worried about what might come your way or what news you might hear before 2018 is over? We know from past experience that not every year is what we’d call a good one, and I have a suspicion that most people approach the first of January with varying measures of trepidation. READ MORE

Is God still good, even when we don’t get what we want?

God is good!

I often come across this short phrase on social media, on posts announcing births, engagements, marriages, and for other celebratory occasions. But what does it really mean? What is the person trying to say?

The goodness of God is a fact. There are really only two options – good and evil – and anyone who reads their Bible is in no doubt that God is most definitely good. In fact, we wouldn’t be stretching it too far to say that God is the very essence of good, not just that He is good in the way that we might be happy, or sad, or anxious, depending on external circumstances. And it’s this knowledge of His unchanging goodness that makes me stop and pause when I stumble upon this phrase.READ MORE

Eight ways to help your child love books

One of the best compliments I get is when someone tells me ‘My son/niece/grandchild isn’t a reader, but I gave him/her your book and they couldn’t put it down. They want to know when the next one is coming out.’ I absolutely love hearing stories like this! Reading a good book is my favourite thing to do. I love knowing that I can play a part in helping others find the pleasure that can be found in bringing words on a page to life.

There are many reluctant readers out there! Some children need little or no encouragement to read, but others have no interest. They would rather be more active, which is important too – all children need to play outside in the fresh air for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I’m asked what I’d recommend to encourage a child to read. I’ve compiled a list of ideas for parents who would like their children to read more and develop a love for books.READ MORE

Anne Frank’s Journey, Part 3 – Auschwitz-Birkenau

In this final post of the three-part series about Anne Frank’s journey, guest blogger Chloe Smyth recounts her recent visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Anne Frank and the other inhabitants of the Secret Annex were sent after Westerbork transit camp.

In February of this year, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Krakow with my school. On the second day of our trip to Krakow we went to Auschwitz, a concentration camp to which innocent people, mainly Jews, were transported by the German Nazis.READ MORE

Anne Frank’s Journey, Part 2 – Camp Westerbork

This is the second of a three-part series about the places Anne Frank stayed from when they went into hiding in 1942 until her death in the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. Camp Westerbork, a former transit camp, is located in the north-east of Holland, near the village of Hooghalen.

The rain falls in sheets, dripping off the tall trees and turning the path into a dirty track. I huddle under an umbrella and wrap my flimsy raincoat tighter around me. My feet are wet and dirty in my peep-toe pumps. I’m certainly not dressed for the conditions.READ MORE

Anne Frank’s Journey, Part 1 – The Secret Annex

Earlier this year, I was privileged to visit the beautiful country of Holland and, while there, I finally realised a life-long ambition – visiting the Anne Frank House. I also had the opportunity to see Camp Westerbork, in the east of the country, where all the Dutch prisoners (Jews, resistance workers and others) were taken before they were transported to concentration camps in other parts of Europe.

This is the first of a three-part series where we will be following Anne Frank’s journey, from the Secret Annex in Amsterdam to Camp Westerbork, and onwards to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Anne died in March 1945 in Bergen-Belsen.


The Last Chapter

Appalling. Dreadful. Distressing. Callous. Sickening. All words used in official statements to describe the Manchester bombing earlier this week when twenty-two people lost their lives and many more were injured. The world is reeling from the senseless loss of life, and the manifestation of desperate wickedness in the hearts of men. It has touched many to hear of children and young people killed, and we’ve watched in dread as pleas for information about missing people from distraught relatives have ended in announcements of their death.

Tears have been shed, and many more are yet to be shed. So much pain, so much tragedy. A sample of the countless tears shed across this groaning world through all the ages.READ MORE

Interview with children’s author, Robert Plant

Robert Plant is a Northern Ireland-based evangelist with a special interest in children’s work, and the author of a number of children’s books, both factual (Discover Britain series, and Emerald Isle Adventures), and historical fiction (Escape from the Island of Occupation, Return to the Island of Occupation, and Titanic: The Ship of Dreams). His latest book, Outstanding Orkney, part of the Discover Britain series, is due out within the next fortnight. Robert kindly agreed to answer a variety of questions about writing and books, and you can read his very interesting answers below.

Tell us a little about how you first began to write books.

I use a lot of books as prizes in my children’s meetings and when we first commenced working with children, Karen, my wife, read every book that we gave out. When our daughter, Grace, was born, Karen had other responsibilities, so we just used books that others had recommended or that looked good and were from reliable publishers. One day, I decided to read a few myself and was greatly troubled at the lack of Gospel content in them. I stated to Karen, “I could do much better myself,” to which she replied, “Go on, then!” I took up her challenge and commenced writing a book that I still have not completed!READ MORE

The dog who rides a motorbike, and other scenes from a Mexican road trip

The little dog, resplendent in red cape, goggles and tiny hat, sat calmly on the seat in front of the motorbike rider. His little ears flapped in the breeze as they zoomed past the ridiculously long line at the toll booth. I blinked. Had we been waiting so long that my boredom-addled brain was beginning to envisage scenes out of a children’s illustrated story book?

But no. This was Mexico. The land where motorbike-riding dogs happily share the unpredictable roads with green and white Nissan Tsuru taxis (an ancient design of car preferred by the Mexican taxi industry) and enormous road-hogging double-trailered trucks.READ MORE

Wallowing – for pigs or people?

Wallowing. An expressive word, the very sound of it conjuring up images of indulgently rolling around in a thick, gloopy substance. It is the favourite activity of Gladys the pig in my latest children’s book, Harry and the Muddy Pig. Despite being washed, her natural inclination is to head straight back to the mud puddle.

In a human context, the word is rarely used to describe favourable behaviour. Instead of mud, we humans like to wallow in self-pity, misery and envy, amongst other less-than-desirable traits. Even mentions of wallowing in luxury, food or relaxation have negative connotations of self-indulgence.READ MORE