Sarah Jean Collins Posts

Why I Wrote and Illustrated God Made the World by Sarah Jean Collins

Tyndale Kids

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People say that becoming a mom changes everything. I definitely found this to be true. I have always loved art and creating things, and when my daughter Campbell arrived, even this artistic area of my life was influenced. Campbell was a lot like most babies when it comes to books. She loved them from the time she could grab one and use it as a teether. As she got older, it was fascinating to see her engage with the stories I read aloud and to watch the way the artwork caught her eye. She particularly loved books that rhymed, such as Goodnight Moon, Dr. Seuss books, and the Madeline series. When she was about eighteen months old, I could read any line of a book, and she would be able to say the last word. Even though she could not speak in sentences, she was beginning to understand and really absorb what I was reading to her.

This is when I started to think about writing and illustrating my own children’s book. I thought it would be great if I could write a Bible story for kids that contained all the elements that really caught my own daughter’s attention. I wanted to write something geared toward her age group at the time—a story that was short enough to hold her attention span, but also memorable. I knew I would want the story to rhyme because rhyming books held her interest the most. I was nearing the completion of a degree in graphic design and had come to really love illustration. The thought of illustrating an entire children’s book seemed like a huge undertaking, but also an incredible amount of fun.

I was very excited about the idea, but I did not work up the courage to even attempt it for about six months! At this point, Campbell was two and was enjoying books even more. One day, during her nap, I decided to get started. I felt that the story of creation was the one I should tell. It seemed intuitive, not only because it is the first story in the Bible, but also because I believe it is extremely important for children today to know that God made the world. I also knew it would be both fun and challenging to illustrate this story. After I finished writing it, I immediately began working on the pictures. My goal was to make the artwork appealing to both kids and their parents. I wanted the pictures to be modern and sometimes abstract, but also colorful and childlike. Each page presented a new challenge as I tried to incorporate these elements and still effectively portray the story.

My hope for this book is that it will tell the story of how God created the world in a way that young children can begin to absorb the wonder of these events. I also hope the book is something both parents and kids will enjoy. Since I began this creative process, I’ve had another baby, a little boy named Houston. I am so excited to share this book with both of my kids, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to share it with the children who are special to you, as well!


From now through October 31, 2017, when you buy God Made the World at Tyndale.com  using the code GIVEABOOK, Tyndale House Publishers will donate a copy to kids in need. It’s that simple.


sarah-jean-collins-author-photoSarah Jean Collins is an artist and graphic designer from Bradenton, Florida. She graduated from Samford University in 2008 with a BA in history. Three years later, she decided to go back to school to pursue her lifelong love of art by obtaining an AS degree in graphic design from State College of Florida. While in school, Sarah Jean realized that she is passionate about illustration. She is inspired by minimalism, world cultures, and life on the Gulf of Mexico. In 2012, her design was used for the 30th Annual Cortez Commercial Fishing Festival T-shirt and poster. She and her husband, Tim, have two children.

Ebenezer: Memorial Stones to Guide Our Children by Sarah Rubio

Tyndale Kids

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Monday, we will celebrate Memorial Day. If you visit or drive by a cemetery or war monument, you’ll see wreaths and flowers laid to honor and you’ll remember those who sacrificed their lives while serving in our country’s armed forces. These flowers, and the stones they decorate, serve as memorials—reminders—to those of us who have benefited from that sacrifice.

Thinking about memorials reminds me of my favorite biblical monument, the one Israel’s last judge, Samuel, called Ebenezer: “Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means ‘the stone of help’), for he said, ‘Up to this point the Lord has helped us!’” (1 Samuel 7:12).

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The Ebenezer monument commemorates a miraculous victory God won for his people against one of their greatest enemies, the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 7:3-13). Following Samuel’s instructions, the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah to recommit themselves to God. The Philistines got word of this convocation and decided to attack. The terrified Israelites begged God to save them, and the Lord responded in dramatic fashion: “The Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them” (1 Samuel 7:10). After the battle, Samuel set up the Ebenezer stone to remind Israel of their God’s faithfulness.

I think remembrance is one of the most important reasons we start recounting the Bible’s historical narratives to our children from such a young age—not just because they are entertaining, or an engaging entry point into Scripture, but because of what they help us remember about God. The creation account reminds us that God is our Source, that he is joyful and creative, that he delights in what he has made. The story of Noah and the Flood reminds us that God preserves even as he purifies. In the story of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, we remember that God provides (see Genesis 22:14); his provision of a ram to sacrifice in Isaac’s place foreshadows his greatest provision of all—Jesus, the perfect sacrifice and substitute.

It has been my privilege in recent years to edit some beautiful Bible storybooks for Tyndale Kids—books that I use to set up “memorial stones” for my own children, and that I hope and pray will become such memorials for thousands of other parents and children. Here are some of my favorites:

 

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God Made the World by Sarah Jean Collins—Author/illustrator Sarah Jean Collins celebrates God’s artistry with her beautiful geometric illustrations. The fun shapes and bright colors are a feast for grown-up and tiny eyes alike, and the sturdy board-book pages are easy for little hands to turn. This is the perfect first Bible storybook for babies and toddlers. (Releasing October 2017.)

 

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The Faith that God Built series by Gary Bower—These four cumulative rhyming stories (The Beautiful Garden of Eden, A Patch on the Peak of Ararat, The Hurry-Up Exit from Egypt, and The Frightening Philippi Jail) commemorate big moments in the history of God’s people in a fresh way. Each book points the reader back to the Book with a key Scripture verse and a reference to the entire passage the story is taken from.

 

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The Story Travelers Bible by Tracey Madder—This 85-story volume is a great entry into the world of the Bible for young grade-schoolers. Kids join Lana, Munch, and Griffin on an epic adventure to find out more about the people, places, and events of the Bible. The book includes informational features, application points, and memory verses to help kids go deeper, and each story includes its biblical source reference.

It is good and right for us to place or contemplate one of the memorials honoring our fallen soldiers this weekend. But I pray that you will also take some time to place a memorial of God’s faithfulness in the life of a child dear to you. “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”—and because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8)—we know that he will help us through every point ahead.


sarah-rubioEditor Sarah Rubio grew up as a missionary kid in Ecuador and holds a bachelor of arts in communication from Wheaton College. She joined Tyndale’s editorial team in 2007, working mainly on Spanish books until transitioning to English nonfiction and children’s in 2014. One of the first Tyndale products she encountered was a One Year Bible that her father read with her every year from the age of eight to eighteen. Sarah loves challenging authors to be better writers while they’re challenging her with the ideas in their books. She lives in Chicago’s northwest suburbs with her husband and children.


Find more #tyndalekids books today for your young readers at tyndale.com/youth.