Book and Drink Pairing: Simple Hot Cocoa for Soul-Warming Books

I had the privilege to discover that Mother Melania of the Holy Assumption Monastery has two biblical picture books in verse for free today on Kindle. Moses and the Burning Bush and The Three Holy Youths in the Furnace feature the Bible stories and their meaning in church tradition in straightforward, clear verse.

Don’t let the idea of verse put you off reading these. There’s nothing cloying in the rhymes. They’re more like reading Shakespeare than the kids’ books that we all dread with forced meters.

Along with the simple and readable poem stories, the bright watercolors bring the feeling of the bright joy of God’s surprising love to the eyes.

I read these to myself and couldn’t help but read aloud, which drew a flock of children near to listen. They pointed to the photos and asked questions and said, “Oh, wow!” a few times.

I highly recommend these books to anyone curious about the ancient Christian tradition surrounding these pivotal stories, and especially for Orthodox and Catholic Christians and inquirers. They’re perfect Lenten reading for families or for adults who love beauty and want a quick read. They’ll stand many re-reads, with new meaning emerging each time.

To go with these soul-warming books, make this simple Lenten cocoa. This is an older way to drink chocolate, similar in taste to some of the drinking chocolates in Europe but with the consistency of coffee rather than kefir. Add a heaping teaspoon of cocoa powder to a cup along with a tablespoon (or two) of maple syrup. Stir in hot water from the kettle until you have a drink that looks like medium roast coffee. Enjoy hot. The flavor is bright and soothing.

Amazon shopping list (affiliate links): Moses and the Burning Bush, The Three Holy Youths in the FurnaceGuittard Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder, Organic Maple Syrup, double-wall stainless steel mugs.


Children’s Books with Tea Scenes

Now that I’m working on my third novel, I am growing more aware of my subconscious habits. I can now tell you that I write about women of faith navigating relationships with the aid of tea. Tea will always be vital to the lives of my characters because tea is so central to my habits that I can’t imagine a full life without it. What I did not notice till this week is that the books I read to my children are rife with pro-tea propaganda. (Prepare yourself for a few poor quality photos taken while reading to the four littles.)

Mouse and Strawberry having tea
I think we all know why this was the third most read board book for my children.

About a month ago, I rejoiced to find one of our favorite board books on a lower bookshelf: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry by Don Wood and Audrey Wood, and the Big Hungry Bear. I immediately started indoctrinating the babies about tea, I mean, reading them this lovely book. But this time I noticed myself pausing at my favorite page with the tea party scene. Look, babies! Even disguised fruit and rodents love tea. It’s ubiquitous. It’s inevitable. You will love tea.

A princess brokers peace with a dragon over tea in Part Time Princess
I think we all know why I just HAD to buy the children this nonconventional princess book. Role expansion, yes, that’s it.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I perused the newest spate of children’s books. I”m always on the lookout for nonconventional Princess books to humor and edify my princess/fairy/unicorn/castle/dragon-loving older children. I wound up purchasing two beautiful picture books – Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated by Florence Parry Heide (which I just noticed ALSO has a tea party scene at its resolution!) and the one you see above, Part-Time Princess by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Cambria Evans. I’m not even going to pretend that I bought that one for another reason. I loved the way the story and art imitated my life. We use tea for conflict resolution all the time in our household. (You should buy the book, because spoiler alert: it’s adorable and bright and spunky.)

There we are, then. Proof that I’m indoctrinating my children in the ways of tea by means of adorable picture books.

How about you? Do you have favorite picture books or other books that feature tea in the story? Please share so we can look them up!


[I do not receive any sort of gain by mentioning the books in this post; I’m just a fan.]