The Island by Armin Greder

resized_9781741752663_224_297_FitSquareTitle: The Island
Author: Armin Greder
Illustrator: Armin Greder
Publisher:  Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781741752663
Teacher’s Notes: Notes for teachers (PDF)
Teacher’s Reviews: Reviews by teachers (PDF)

Awards: Short-listed, CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award, 2008
Winner, Die Besten Sieben, Focus, DeutschlandRadio (The Seven Best Books for Children), 2002

Themes: Prejudice, Racism, Refugee, Migrant, Neighbour, Violence, Fear, Freedom, Difference, Power, Humanity, Compassion, Care, Human Frailty, Exclusion, Embrace, Inclusion, Politics, Intolerance, Xenophobia & Human Rights

The Island is a powerful, dark & haunting parable without redemption which holds a mirror up to our fears and violence towards “the other” and shows no compassion for the way we fail to embrace our neighbour.

As such, it’s probably not a “children’s book” and probably should be read to an older audience.

The parable that deserves to be told and retold until we can finally recognise the image projected of us and cast it away with the violence in our hearts as we allow compassion to fill the void that’s left.


A man arrives on the shore of an island, the ocean had brought him there on his frail raft overnight. The islanders notice one thing very quickly… he’s not like them.

The islanders find all kinds of ways to live out their fear of the stranger, initially taking him to the opposite side of the island and locking him up continuing to exercise the power of racism, fear & violence. Their thinly veiled attempts at “doing something for the stranger” only show their unwillingness to act with compassion in any way.

Throughout the story a voice shines out in the darkness, it’s the voice of the fisherman who consistently calls to the islanders “we must help him.” The fisherman however is still not an innocent in the story, while he calls the people to take him in, to give him a job the fisherman never seems to offer anything but a veiled attempt at compassion, even his call to offer a job came with the line “he would probably work for less pay.”

The islanders continue to spread rumours, encourage fear and treat the stranger badly… they even inspire their children to have nightmares of the stranger!

This is a picture book that deserves to be read, with dark and harsh charcoal illustrations that are hauntingly fabulous, it’s honesty and refreshingly stark storytelling however leaves us with no happy ending, no learned moral, no welcomed stranger and will hopefully leave the reader(s) changed, or at least challenged.


Flight by Nadia Wheatley & Armin Greder

Title: Flight
Author: Nadia Wheatley
Illustrator: Armin Greder
Publisher: Windy Hollow Books
ISBN: 9781922081483
Teacher’s Notes: Flight Teacher’s Notes

Themes: Refugee, Asylum Seeker, Escape, Nativity, Fear, Hope, Pilgrimage, Oppression, Journey, Despair, Prayer, Family, War, Violence, Vulnerable, Epiphany, Christmas, Persecution, Challenges

Tonight is the night.
The family has to flee.
They’ve been tipped off that the authorities are
after their blood.

This is a beautiful first-time collaboration between Nadia Wheatley (My Place, Luke’s Way of Looking) and Armin Greder (The Island, The City, The Great Bear).

The cover of the book portrays a familiar scene, a man, a woman, a donkey, but there’s a baby in the mother’s arms, this is not the Christmas story…

Flight that evokes the story of the “escape to Egypt” from the story of the Nativity and places it in a modern space, allowing the reader to imagine the story as if it were a refugee story from recent times.

The flight is a well used theme throughout the renaissance, and Armin uses his particular style to deepen the emotion and reality behind the story, inviting the reader to imagine the depth of the darkness and the heat of the sun, the song of the lullaby and the strength of the parent’s prayer.

The horizon never changes throughout the story, through day and night you get the sense that this will be a long and difficult journey, the vastness of this space is overpowering.  You feel the loss of the donkey, hear the sound of the tanks as they thunder over the land, and experience the fear of the parents trying to find safety for their child, their family.

Armin has used very little colour in this story, you’re encouraged to enter the hopelessness of the journey, to feel the fear and to experience a deep unease and sadness at the lack of resolution as the story ends.

For, as the story ends and the fourth wall is broken it is the reader who is invited to hear their cry for help, and with it the cry of many others like them.

As they wait for someone, anyone to do something, to hear their story we are left with the invitation to re-tell the story and to become a part of it.

Beautiful and haunting this story left me speechless.



Brian Mclaren On Gospel & Culture

There is no such thing as a pure gospel, if by “pure” you mean a gospel that’s not articulated within a culture”
– Mclaren quoting Newbigin

“We must start with the basic fact that there is no such thing as a pure gospel if by that is meant something which is not embodied in a culture…The missionary does not come with the pure gospel and then adapt it to the culture where she serves: she comes with a gospel which is already embodied in the culture by which the missionary was formed”
– Newbigin’s actual quote from “The Gospel in a Pluralist Society”

I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good…

I hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim or too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling.
–Woody Guthrie

One Night by Penny Matthews & Stephen Michael King

One Night 3
One Night
Author: Penny Matthews
Illustrator: Stephen Michael King
Publisher: Scholastic
ISBN: 978-1-74299-027-9
Teacher’s Notes: One Night Teacher’s Notes

Themes: Christmas, Advent, Animals, Nativity, Gift, Present, Remembering, Community

The narrative of the nativity has been told and retold in a number of ways over the years. Together, Penny and Stephen create a new and beautiful re-telling where the animals of the world maintain the act of remembering, and in doing so create a space for something magical.

In a different slant to many of the Nativity stories out there the animals take on the act of remember the story of a baby born in a stable. The Owl tells the story of the star that shone so brightly, the Nanny Goat speaks of the sleepless night all the animals endured as they awaited something wonderful to happen while the donkey remembers that it was one of his kind that carried the mother of the child to the stable and the cows speak of how they gave the mother and father milk to drink.

The animals are both the actors and the storyteller in this whimsically illustrated book that has quickly made a huge jump up my list of favourite Christmas books. I cannot think of any illustrator that I’d invite to paint the Christmas story other than Stephen Michael King, he continues to bring colour and life to a tale that may seem old, this is the third book I own where he adds his imagination to the tale told from house to house over Christmas.

May there be many more…

Nativity Story Stones

I really like the idea of story stones, so when I was thinking about Christmas crafts last year the idea came to me that I could create my own nativity stones. Nativity stones would allow people to carry the nativity story with them, they’d be a great story telling device and kids could have a lot of fun creating them and using them to retell the story.

Questions like “who is your favourite character in the Christmas story?” “Is there anyone that we could remove from the story and still have all that we need?” “What’s your favourite part of the Christmas story?” can be asked as you play with the stones and tell each other the story.

To create the Nativity stones you will need:


Nativity Story Stones 01

Wipe the stones clean with a dry cloth. If you do need to use liquid allow for time for the stones to dry off properly.

Cut out all the images from the printable nativity you’ve chosen.

Nativity Story Stones 03

Brush the stone with a thin layer of Mod Podge.

Nativity Story Stones 05

Place the nativity character onto the stone, lightly brush over the image to get rid of air bubbles and raised areas.

Nativity Story Stones 06

As the stone dries apply another layer or two of Mod Podge to seal the image onto the stone, the Mod Podge will dry clear.

Nativity Story Stones 012

Place the stones in a cotton bag for easy carrying and give as a gift.

Nativity Story Stones 010


Yes… it’s that easy…

The Great Library Clean of 2014

I’m in the process of cleaning my library so as to make room for a nursery.

The sacrifices we make eh?

So, I’ve got a number of “Doubles” that I’m willing to mail to people if they’d like a copy and live in Australia.

The catch is I expect a review of the book, 200 words or more so I can put up on this website.

I’ve done this type of thing before and people have been slack to respond with their reviews, so if you’re asking for a copy please please PLEASe take it upon yourself to have read the book and emailed me a review within a month of receiving the book.  Or bad things will start happening.

If you’d like more than one book I’m happy to send you the first two and the other books upon receipt of the book review.

I’m afraid it’s 1st in 1st served so jump on in and give me a holler if any of the book titles take your fancy.

The book list includes:

A more interesting God

Here is the question that I find myself asking the “spiritual but not religious” self-procaimed, the vast bland majority of the American religious landscape who perceive themselves to be a unique and interesting minority.

Here’s my question to the “sunset person” the person who finds god in the sunset, the one who is spiritual but not religious and then things suddenly break down and something unfair or tragic happens.

Who are you, (they may ask) the god of sunsets and bunnies and chain emails about sweet friends?

Who are you, cheap god of self satisfaction and isolation?

Who are you, god of the beautiful and the physically fit?

Who are you, god of those who can afford to go on vacation to Hawaii and find you in the sunset?

Who are you, god of the spiritual but not religious, god of the lucky, chief priest of the religion of gratitude.

Who are you and are you even worth knowing?

Who are you, god whom i invent?

Is there, could there be a more interesting God who invented me?

Lillian Daniel

Proper 16A / Pentecost 21A / Pentecost +11

Exodus 1:8-2:10

I wonder
Why do we continue to tell this story
Why do we retell this story from long ago
Of a world so far from us
Of a time so uncivilised
Surely we’re so far removed from the time of this a story that we can walk away from it and never come back

I wonder
Where is god in this story
Where do we see god in action
Or inaction as it may be
Where families lost children through the brutal actions of the powers that be
Where blood was shed liberally in fear
Where the voiceless suffer
Where hope seems all but lost

I wonder
Why do we retell this story
Surely we don’t live in a world where it needs to be told anymore
Perhaps we would think ourselves more enlightened
More compassionate
More intelligent
Perhaps we no longer think that our lives could be touched by a story from long ago
A story of a tyrant so afraid of being overthrown that he would kill those who stood in his way
A story of genocide, mass killings of people simply because of their age, their race, their creed
A story where a small number of midwives with the fear of god might stand in between the powers and the vulnerable in a simple, peaceful, beautiful act of disobedience
A story where a mother might be so afraid of her child that she would place them in a small, handmade, makeshift boat and entrusting the child’s life to her god as she watched the boat sail away.
A story where women are both the oppressed and the protester
A story where the children are the voiceless victims of abuse and oppression
A story that reminds us that we often meet our fate as we attempt to avoid it
A story where the hope of a nation lives in the eyes of a child in a boat

I wonder
If that’s why we continue to retell this story
Because our world isn’t so enlightened
To remind us that even the peaceful disobedience and action of a small number of people can save lives, bring justice
To remind us of the women of the world who, in hope and fear for their children seek the means of a boat to search for freedom
To remind us that children are often the voiceless and ignored in violence and that in the telling of these stories they find a voice, an advocate, an ear
To remind us that, in a time of violence and genocide it was the mothers, the women, the midwives who’s stories need to be heard, who acted as both the oppressed and protester

Perhaps god is in the retelling of this story
A story that needs to be retold
Never forgotten
A story that needs to be a part of us
And a story that we hope will
Change us
Open our eyes to the violence around us
Open our ears to hear the suffering of he voiceless
Open our hearts to children in strange boats
Give us energy and hope to join in peaceful acts of disobedience
Renew our faith in a god who is on the side of the voiceless & oppressed




So be it.

because ministry is more than faith by numbers…