Early Sunday Morning
Author: Denene Millner
Author Website: https://www.facebook.com/denene.millner
Illustrator: Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Word Count: 1041
This story is perfect for ages: 4-6, 6+
Straight from Aunty LuLav
This is a sweet story of a little girl conquering the fear of singing her first solo in church, on Sunday morning. She finds the confidence she needs in the presence and encouragement of her daddy.
Denene Millner carries us right into the flow of this happy family, preparing for the big day. Leading up to “Solo Sunday,” everyone has advice on how to overcome fear.
The other choir kids sow seeds of doubt when they ridicule her voice. Mommy speaks confidence to her heart, pointing the focus of her song toward heaven.
This story is rich with family routines preparing for church like hairdos and dresses and lunch prepared early in the morning. When her daddy is not able to come to church to hear our heroine sing, anxiety rears it’s ugly head. Happily, at the last minute, he arrives and surprises her. Then the song begins.
The book is written in present tense, so you feel you are – in the moment – with this little girl right up until the first note.
Scriptural Underpinnings & Positive Themes
LOVE & CONNECTEDNESS
Every page is filled with love. Brother Troy, Mommy and Daddy show joy and love in every-day moments.
Familiar moments – Sunday School, choir rehearsal, Pastor Scott preaching and preaching and preaching, the passing of the offering plate, church clothes, choir robes, the joyful choir director, ushers, stained-glass windows and more. This is culturally an African American church, but the moments are widely recognizable.
One of the most precious aspects of this book relates to the Father’s love for his little girl. You see it in the ordinary scenes of family life, singing silly songs together in front of the mirror or when she and brother Troy jump on Daddy in bed.
Daddy is shown as a strong covering for the family from the very first page as he stands tall with his arms around mom, and the children gathered around. There is a precious illustration (pg 19-20) when her daddy is giving her advice to be brave in his absence, assuring her that he will be there with her, in spirit as she sings.
At church, in front of the microphone, she stands mustering her strength to open her mouth and sing. In that moment, she remembers the words of her daddy to encourage herself.
As Believers, the Father’s Love for us compels us to be brave, He will never leave us, nor forsake us. He will uphold us when we are afraid with His own hand! Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah 41:10,
Like the little girl, we must stir-up our faith and remember our Father’s Words. We stand tall and sing, knowing that our Father in Heaven is rejoicing and singing over us. Zephaniah 3:17.
As Daddy shows up right on time, so does Father God. Then the song begins.
The illustrations of Vanessa Brantley-Newton are expressive and vibrant. She truly captures the feel of community and the security of being a part of a church family.
A moment of revelation is conveyed, when in Sunday school, Ms. Ellis is teaching about love from 1 Corinthians 13. The little girl feels a rush of love for her family and the Holy Spirit is seen in the illustration, illuminating the teacher.
This story is culturally African American, but written so all can relate.
The Word Count on this story is a bit high 1,041. Because of this, I would consider this a read for an older child or a child with a solid attention span.
The End of the Matter4/5 waves
Give a long and joyful wave of your lulavs and shout,