The rules of our Five Questions interview series are simple: we send authors a long list of questions. Some are serious; some are . . . not so serious. They choose their five favorites (or in this case, eleven favorites — bonus!) and respond.

Our guest today is children’s poet and author Lee Bennett Hopkins, whose new picture book collection of Christmas poems for children is entitled Manger



* * *

What inspired you to create Manger

Since childhood years I have always been fascinated with the legend that God granted all creatures the power of human thought or speech for just one hour on Christmas Eve. To share the legend, via poetry, with children today is indeed a privilege.

How and why did you choose the title for the book?

I wanted all the poems and animals to be set in the manger when Christ was born.

What makes Manger such a unique volume? 

Eleven of the poems were specifically commissioned for this collection by some of America’s top contemporary poets including Marilyn Nelson, Alice Schertle, and Alma Flor Ada.

What are your thoughts on Helen Cann’s illustrations?

Cann’s incredible artwork truly leaps from the pages. Her work is stellar — perfect for Manger.

Interior illustration by Helen from Manger

Interior illustration from Manger by Helen Cann.

Whom do you envision reading Manger

Adults as well as children of all ages will find poems they will love.

What do you hope readers take away from Manger?

I want readers to sense the beauty and emotions of fine poetry.

Why did you choose to publish Manger with Eerdmans?

I published a previous book, Mary’s Song, with Eerdmans, a company and staff which is a delight to work with.

What’s something not enough people know about writing poetry for children? 

Writing poetry for children is an art. It is one of the most difficult forms of writing to conquer.

What are you reading right now for work? 

A host of books of prayers.

Imagine you’re at the book talk of your dreams. Who’s the author? What’s the book? And who are the people sitting next to you scribbling witty notes on their programs? 

Langston Hughes is reading from his book, The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (Knopf, l932). He opens the new 75th Anniversary edition, illustrated by Brain Pinkney, and finds the introduction — written by ME!

What’s one thing not many people may know about you?

If I tell, they’ll know!

Click to order Lee Bennett Hopkins’s Manger, illustrated by Helen Cann. 

Welcome once again to Eerdmans All Over, a Friday roundup of all the Eerdmans-related news, reviews, interviews, and other interesting online content we can gather in a given week.

New Releases

Second Letter to the CorinthiansThe Second Letter to the Corinthians
Mark A. Seifrid

The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (Paperback)
James D. G. Dunn

The Pilgrim’s Regress, Wade Annotated Edition
C. S. Lewis, editor David C. Downing

News from Eerdmans . . .

  • It’s Friday, so don’t forget to watch the latest episode of our vlog for children’s publishing, Coffee Break. We announce a new giveaway in this episode!
  • Eerdmans author Dale Brown was remembered on Calvin College’s website, as well as here on EerdWord.

. . . and elsewhere.

  • The New York Times reported the comments of Catholic Archbishop Bruno Forte (The Portal of Beauty) on the Vatican’s shift in attitudes toward gay marriage and divorce. Forte says that the church, while not changing its moral teachings, is making a greater attempt to respect the dignity of every person.

    Way Below the Angels

    Way Below the Angels

  • Deborah Ford, Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild, posted a list of books about how “Words Make the Tale,” with the very appropriate inclusion of The Right Word (Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet).
  • Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (The Right Word) posted a brilliant guest post on the blog.
  • Craig Harline (Way Below the Angels) was interviewed on the radio program THINK from KERA, a public media broadcasting company in Texas.
  • Way Below the Angels (Harline) was also reviewed in the Exponent, where the author says Harline’s article in the Huffington Post made her want to read the book.
  • From Times Square to Timbuktu+
  • by Wesley Granberg-Michaelson was on the Christian Century‘s list of the best new books on Global Christianity and American religious history. The list was selected by Grant Wacker and Phillip Jenkins.
  • Martin Marty (Building Cultures of Trust) wrote a review in America Magazine of George Marsden’s latest book, The Twilight of the American Enlightenment, with a reference to James Bratt’s definitive biography of Abraham Kuyper.
  • Children’s poetry advocate Sylvia Vardell posted a list of poetry for young adults on the blog Poetry for Children in celebration of Teen Read Week, one of which was the novel-in-verse Crazy (Linda Vigen Phillips). Crazy and Phillips were also part of an article in Inside Bainbridge about a Bainbridge resident named Patsy Reed and her struggle with depression.
  • In Search of the Little Prince by Bimba Landmann is “Hot Off the Press” at the Children’s Book Council.

Have we missed any news, reviews, or other online miscellany dealing with Eerdmans or EBYR books or authors from the last week? Please let us know in the comments. You also can post items on our Facebook timeline, mention us on Twitter (@eerdmansbooks or @ebyrbooks), or write to us directly:

Dale Brown

Dale Brown

This afternoon, our thoughts and prayers are with all those who will be gathering tonight at King University in Bristol, Tennessee, to remember and celebrate the life of author and professor Dale Brown, who died last Friday from traumatic injuries suffered during a bicycle accident.

Brown spent two decades as an English professor at Calvin College, where he directed the Festival of Faith and Writing, before moving to Tennessee in 2007 to found the Buechner Institute at King University.

He authored several books exploring the intersection of faith, writing, and culture, including two with Eerdmans: Of Fiction and Faith: Twelve American Writers Talk about Their Vision and Work and Conversations with American Writers: The Doubt, the Faith, the In-Between.

More than an author, friend, and kindred spirit, however, Dale Brown was also indirectly part of the Eerdmans Publishing family, through his wife, Gayle Brown, who has served for many years as art director for Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

It is easy for us, then, to stand united behind the words of vice president Anita Eerdmans, who is among those traveling to Bristol today:

Dale was a consummate teacher, whose impact reached far beyond his traditional college students to the thousands of people whose lives were touched and transformed through the Calvin College Festival of Faith and Writing and the Buechner Institute at King University. All of us at Eerdmans mourn his passing and stand alongside Gayle, Anne, and Jonathan in the face of this enormous loss.

In closing, we share the following brief excerpts from Dale Brown’s Of Fiction and Faith — words that seem to express (in a small way, at least) the guiding philosophy behind his life’s work:

In an era that prizes individual choice and private opinion, book reviewers and teachers of English are fast becoming anachronisms. The very idea of any arbiter of public taste is threatened by our faith in “You see it your way and I see it mine.” . . .

But another view persists. Without regard to the market or the talk shows, many artists have continued to say what they think we need to hear. Even when we are not listening. These writers hark back to the old-fashioned notion that books can make us better. . . .

The rejection of easy piety has excluded most of these writers from the family bookstore, and the avoidance of popular cliché has sometimes left them on the clearance table, if anywhere, in the mainstream bookstores. But they persist. These are writers who will surprise and dismay; they may disturb and puzzle. But they finally offer insight into the lives we live.

Read more:

Longtime Calvin College professor Dale Brown remembered as caring teacher” (Grand Rapids Press)

Calvin Remembers Dale Brown” (Calvin College)


Spotlighting great books for pastors during Clergy Appreciation Month is nothing new for us — but somehow, it never gets old.

And with insight-packed new books on practical theology, congregational leadership, worship, biblical studies, and more coming out each year, it’s easy for us to keep our annual tradition from going out of style.

Here, then, are a few selections from our 2014 featured collection of books for pastors. Click to view the complete collection on our website, or read on to discover five great books . . .

Shaping the Prayers of the People

Shaping the Prayers of the People

Shaping the Prayers of the People: The Art of Intercession
Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher

This book offers a model of profound and accessible congregational prayer. At once inspirational and practical, it will empower and equip laypeople and clergy alike to offer heartfelt, informed, and appropriate prayers on behalf of the people of God. As Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher say, “Interceding in public worship is a duty. This book is intended to make it a joy.”

Shaping the Prayers of the People begins by considering what public prayer is and offering practical guidelines for avoiding common pitfalls. It explores prayer as an integral part of worship and discusses the language we need (and don’t need) to address God. Significantly, the book also provides an array of example prayers along with commentary.

“In our American culture where prayer is relentlessly individualized, Wells and Kocher gather us into a community understood comprehensively — public worship that takes seriously and devoutly both congregation and world. They pull us out of our private isolation into something large where God is working largely — and all of this written in prose that is both accurate and alive.”
— Eugene H. Peterson

Click to read an EerdWord excerpt from this book. 

Toughest People to Love

Toughest People to Love

Toughest People to Love: How to Understand, Lead, and Love the Difficult People in Your Life — Including Yourself
Chuck DeGroat

People — frustrating, confusing, disappointing, complicated — are the most difficult part of leadership; they challenge leaders everywhere, from leaders of many to managers of a few. In this book Chuck DeGroat addresses the flawed nature of people and offers wisdom for leaders of all types in dealing with just about anyone who is difficult to lead and to love.

Toughest People to Love explores the basics of how people “tick,” encouraging leaders to examine and take care of themselves so that they can better understand and care for others. Based on DeGroat’s wealth of experience as a pastor, professor, and therapist, this book — both wise and practical — is one that countless leaders will go back to time and again for valuable insights and renewed vision.

Click to read a guest post by Chuck DeGroat or an EerdWord review by Rachel Bomberger, to watch the book trailer, or to enjoy our video interview with the author.

Worship with Gladness

Worship with Gladness

Worship with Gladness: Understanding Worship from the Heart
Joyce Ann Zimmerman

In this invitingly written, deeply joyful book, Joyce Ann Zimmerman makes Scripture her foundation as she explores the meaning and purpose of authentic Christian worship today.

Zimmerman discusses such subjects as the common elements of worship that transcend denominational boundaries, what Scripture tells us about participating in worship, and how authentic worship expresses itself in daily living.

Each section concludes with thoughtful prompts that will encourage readers to reflect on and apply what Zimmerman discusses.

“For those looking for an accessible and ecumenically sensitive discussion of worship, this is the book they have been looking for. Zimmerman provides a wonderfully clear picture of what all Christians share in worship and how they can think together about their worship. The book’s special value is its lay focus and its ability to make complex issues understandable, even engaging. . . . Perfect for a church study group.”
— William Dyrness, Fuller Theological Seminary

Distance in Preaching

Distance in Preaching

Distance in Preaching: Room to Speak, Space to Listen
Michael A Brothers

Based on several years of teaching and careful observation in preaching classes, this book by Michael Brothers explores the benefits of “distance” in preaching — and listening to — sermons.

Having noticed that sermon listeners generally want to be given room for their own interpretations and experiences, Brothers argues that critical and aesthetic distance as a hermeneutical tool is vital to hearing the gospel today and should be intentionally employed in sermon construction and delivery. He explains this “distance” in the field of homiletics, equips teachers and students of preaching to evaluate the function of distance in sermons, and encourages preachers to practice the use of distance in their preaching.

Read an excerpt from the book here on EerdWord.

The Spiritual Practice of Remembering

The Spiritual Practice of Remembering

The Spiritual Practice of Remembering
Margaret Bendroth

We often dismiss history as dull or irrelevant, but our modern disengagement from the past puts us fundamentally out of step with the long witness of the Christian tradition. Yet, says Margaret Bendroth, the past tense is essential to our language of faith, and without it our conversation is limited and thin.

This accessible, beautifully written book presents a new argument for honoring the past. The Christian tradition gives us the powerful image of a vast communion of saints, all of God’s people, both living and dead, in vital conversation with each other. This kind of connection with our ancestors in the faith, Bendroth maintains, will not happen by wishing or by accident. She argues that remembering must become a regular spiritual practice, part of the rhythm of our daily lives as we recognize our world to be, in many ways, a gift from others who have gone before.

Read an EerdWord excerpt from the book

Click to view the rest of our featured books for pastors or to browse the Church and Ministry category on our website. 

Click to request a copy or view online.

Click to request a copy or view online.

It’s fall in Grand Rapids. The leaves have turned brilliant shades of red and orange, the apples are ripe and juicy, the pumpkin patches are full . . . and the Eerdmans Fall 2014 academic catalog is now available!

If you normally receive our print catalogs in the mail, watch for this latest to arrive in your mailbox soon.

If you don’t already receive catalogs from us, why not request one today? We’ll have your free catalog on its way to you ASAP!

Those who prefer a more high-tech approach to catalog browsing are also welcome, of course, to view or download a PDF of this or any of our other recent catalogs through Scribd.

Inside you’ll find dozens of new and recent books ideal for use by scholars and students, including the following highlights:

Sensing the Scriptures
Karlfried Froehlich
A senior scholar’s novel survey of the “senses” of biblical interpretation through the centuries

Revelation: A Shorter Commentary
G. K. Beale with David H. Campbell
Long-awaited abridgment of the premier scholarly commentary on the Greek text of Revelation

The Book of Psalms
(The New International Commentary on the Old Testament)
Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, Rolf A. Jacobson, and Beth LaNeel Tanner
The most complete and detailed one-volume commentary available on the Psalms

Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Greek and English
Craig A. Evans and H. Daniel Zacharias
All of the Greek Old Testament pseudepigrapha presented along with English translations

(Guides to Theology)
David Fergusson
Informed guide to the theology of creation in the Bible, through church history, and for today

Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology
Daniel L. Migliore
Third edition of a superb, standard theology textbook — now updated and improved

Jesus without Borders: Christology in the Majority World
Gene L. Green, Stephen T. Pardue, and K. K. Yeo
Inaugural volume of the exciting new Majority World Theology series

Revelation as Testimony: A Philosophical-Theological Study
Mats Wahlberg
An extraordinary argument for the traditional testimonial view of divine revelation

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation
(Prophetic Christianity Series)
Jennifer Harvey
Prophetic call for a new reparations paradigm in order to really achieve racial justice

Click to view our Fall 2014 Academic Catalog on Scribd or to request a free print copy