The kids are back in school and there’s so much that goes along with it! From homework to extra-curricular activities and all the fun stuff between; we are busy! My six year old daughter Paige just started the first grade and you know what that means: play time is over! Kindergarten was all fun and games and now that she’s a big first grader it’s a whole new ballgame. One of the biggest changes has been the required twenty minutes of reading per night.
Paige likes reading but after a long day at school it has been a challenge to get her engaged. She just wants to play! I always know I can lure her in with a good new title though, especially ones with pretty girls and angels like book one in the new Bible Belles series The Adventures of Rooney Cruz: Hannah the Belle of Prayer.
We all know the Bible is filled with men so I think it’s important to distinguish some of the unsung heroes of the Bible: the women! I love that these stories connect these women with young girls today and relate their struggles then to the challenges little girls face today.
Paige was already intrigued by the cover but she was definitely sucked into the story right away by the situation Rooney Cruz faced at school. Sadly, Paige already knows about bullies and how hurtful other kids can be. She is my empathetic child and really feels for other people. She also marches to the beat of her own drum and dresses in some crazy outfits. I knew she would relate to Rooney Cruz!
The story was already good but moved up to great with the appearance of the little angel Mari! Angels are such an abstract concept for kids but I like the way that Mari is humanized to help make them seem more real. She was a little bit sassy which I’m sure angels are not, but again, helped with Paige relating to her!
Mari teaches Rooney learn the story of Hannah from the Bible and while we have read this story before, it was different this time because it was more focused on Hannah than other versions we’ve read.
I did think the way that Mari made a window appear in the tree for Rooney to see Hannah was a bit strange but hey, the kids went with it so I did too! Through this window we hear Hannah’s story and the focus is on prayer.
I have taught my kids to pray but I think that this is a great connection between prayer and talking like you would to a friend. I think our prayers when we are young tend to be more formal as we are taught and only when we are older do they transfer more to a relationship with God. Here we are teaching kids how to pray just like we would talk to a friend and it opened up the door (or window) to a great conversation with my kids about prayer.
I liked the way that Mari brought it all together for Rooney and taught her to pray as Hannah did to deal with her current circumstance with the mean girls at school.
Princesses are all well and good but I’m happy for my children, especially my daughter, to have real life superheroes to look up to and learn from.
Hannah the Belle of Prayer is a great story for young girls to help them deal with their young lives through prayer. I might also ad that my seven year old son Reed wandered over as soon as I started reading and was just as into the book as she was. So while the focus is on women of the Bible as the superheroes that they are; it’s also something that little boys can relate to.
We loved getting to know Rooney and Mari and can’t wait to see what’s in store for them on their next adventure learning about Esther, the Belle of Patience in 2016.
Connect with Bible Belles
About the Book
In Book One of the Bible Belles series, Rooney Cruz isn’t exactly having a great day. The normal teasing on the playground and, oh, that mud puddle! But soon an angel appears, and Rooney begins a journey that will change her life forever.
She makes a shocking discovery: superheroes are real, and she’s one of them!
Join Rooney as she uncovers the first secret superpower that she possesses: the Power of Prayer. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that will transform her into the greatest superhero of all: a Bible Belle!
The first book Hannah: The Belle of Prayer is on sale now for $17.99 and when you purchase, you will get a FREE e-copy of the book emailed to you!
About the Author
Erin Weidemann is an enthusiastic and goofy mom to two children, one of them with paws. She is a wife, author, teacher, former college athlete and a five time cancer survivor. Her heart is in Seville, Spain, though she calls Encinitas, CA home. In her spare time she enjoys going to the beach with her husband and daughter, coaching softball, and pretending she can bake. She loves eating, laughing, and volunteering at church teaching Sunday school.
Q & A with Erin
When did you realize you wanted to do something to benefit girls today?
My desire to go to bat (softball pun!) for girls comes from a lot of different places. Growing up, a lot of the time I felt insecure and out of place. I constantly measured myself against other girls. I didn’t realize how common those feelings were because I didn’t talk to anyone about them. I thought I had to put up a confident front, so I pretended I had it all together. I hid my true feelings by being loud, controlling of others, and acting overly self-assured. Today, these same qualities are celebrated in the media and society as what makes a beautiful and successful young woman. A lot of women in the spotlight are glamorized for having a “me-first” attitude without respecting themselves or others. There are a lot of wonderful role models out there for girls, but they are overshadowed and outshined by the negative ones. My passion for connecting girls with biblical heroes comes from a desire for them to see examples of real women whose inner beauty was used by God for a mighty purpose.
Why did you decide to write this series?
In 2007 I was 26, and I was diagnosed with cancer. The disease was extensive, and the road to recovery was terrifying and unknown. Like the “tough” girl I was, I put my head down and tried to handle the emotional weight of it on my own. I thought that I was being strong by not leaning on anyone, but I suddenly realized that I couldn’t get through it alone. I had walked away from God years earlier, but I had finally hit my breaking point.
Since that time, the cancer has come back again and again and again. Four more times, and I’m still here. I know it is because God has called me to battle back against the feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and judgment that affect so many young girls. They need to know that they are wonderfully made, that they are loved, and that their lives are worth much more than at times they will think.
Cancer was a complete shock to me, but it was the best blessing. It was the beginning of the softening of my heart. After that, God kept the surprises coming. I met my husband, we were married, and now we have a daughter. A miracle baby. Being a mother was something I had convinced myself was impossible because of my history, but God’s plans were bigger and better than I ever imagined.
The struggle to be perfect and to have it all together will be as real for my daughter as it was for me. How will she learn what real beauty is and feel secure and confident in her own skin? How can I teach her what she needs to know so she can become who she is meant to be? I don’t want to lose my girl to this world and what it will tell her. I want to doing something that will connect her and other girls with real heroes so they can learn their own value and carry it with them for the rest of their lives.
To read the whole story of how it all began, click here.
Tell us about Bible Belles. The first book being released is based on the story of Hannah. What other women are you highlighting in the series?
Bible Belles is a series based on five superhero women of the Bible: Hannah, Esther, Abigail, Ruth, and Deborah. HEARD. These women were extraordinary because they made a different kind of noise than the noise of today’s world. Today, the girls who are loud, rude, and obsessed with outer beauty are the ones a lot of girls look up to and try to act like. The Bible Belles series is a new way for girls to celebrate the qualities that make up a truly beautiful woman: prayer, patience, bravery, loyalty, and leadership. These five women represent the journey a young girl can take to understand God’s love and to be someone whose beauty isn’t measured by society’s standards. They symbolize the transformation of a girl who learns to see true beauty in herself and in others.
The series is framed by our fictional main character: Rooney Cruz. She’s a modern day girl who struggles with regular problems. In each story, she has an “up close and personal” interaction with each Bible Belle by looking in on her life and then applying what she learns to her own. This allows the reader to understand the personal connection between biblical teaching and meaningful application to her own life.
Why is it important for you to help girls make a connection to heroes in the Bible and to the heroes in their own hearts?
There’s no question that the stories of women are not the ones predominantly taught in church, and this extends into children’s ministry programs and Sunday School as well. There is a missing relationship between young girls and the female heroes of the Bible. Girls are in desperate need of positive female role models, and telling these stories in a new way will allow girls to make real connections to the love God has for each of them and the powers they have been gifted in order to live lives in real love and with real purpose.
I think about my own daughter. Growing up, I struggled to find my own identity, and I made a lot of mistakes searching for it in the wrong places. I want to be able to help and support her as she grows into her own mind and discovers her heart and the person she was created to be.
Is there anything else out there like Bible Belles for girls ages 6-10?
The majority of books available today that focus on biblical women are compilations of most or every woman found in the Bible. These titles provide a solid overview of these women, their lives, and their lessons as a third person narrative. However, these women deserve their own, individual stories to be told, to be lifted up and celebrated for who they were and how God used them. For a young girl, making a real-life connection to a story requires a genuine emotional investment. Bible Belles uses the framework of conventional storytelling as well as the historical biblical narrative to create a way for young readers to experience each story, not simply hear it.
How did you find your illustrator for Bible Belles?
Our illustrator is Rob Corley. We were introduced to Rob by another fellow children’s author, the fabulous Amy Parker. Rob and Amy had worked together on Firebird, the featured book in the movie Unconditional. Rob is a former Disney Feature Animator whose resume includes work on such films as Beauty & The Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and more. When Rob joined us, we were thrilled. He is amazingly talented, and his beautiful artistry has helped us to create a series of the highest artistic quality.
When can we expect the next book in the series to release?
The second book in the Bible Belles series, Esther: The Belle of Patience, is set to release in 2016.
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