On the Lighter Side...

In the mold of the international bestseller Children's Letters to God, Liguori/Triumph offers Dear Papa: Children Celebrate Pope John Paul II with Letters of Love and Affection. Compiled by Richard and Virginia Klein, the book is by turns funny and touching, featuring children's notes and artwork. "I read that you liked to ski when you were younger," writes one eight-year-old. "Is it hard for you to ski in a dress?" And Dylan writes: "Since you are in Italy, how come the Popemobile isn't a Ferrari or a Lamborghini?" The book will be a light, humorous counterbalance to the heavy fall titles commemorating the pope's silver jubilee. ($14.95 128p ISBN 0-7648-1097-9; Sept.)

When the superannuated biblical Sarah learned that she would give birth to a son, she burst out laughing, and that son's name—Isaac—was forever a testimony to this moment of holy mirth. In The Mother of All Laughter: Sarah & the Genesis of Comedy, Terry Lindvall argues that there is a biblical place for laughter. At times, he lets truth be obscured by a good story (as when he cites the famous Neil Armstrong/"Mr. Gorsky" urban legend as fact), but he raises important points about humor for Christians. (Broadman & Holman, $9.99 paper 128p ISBN 0-8054-3019-9; Sept.)

In Talking Donkeys and Wheels of Fire: Bible Stories That Are Truly Bizarre!, J. Stephen Lang recounts 100 biblical tales that are mostly familiar stories repackaged for a youth group audience. "The big wedding night switcheroo" is about the Jacob/Leah/Rachel triangle, while a chapter on "a splitting (literally) headache" relates Jael's peg-through-the-skull routine in Judges 4. (Warner Faith, $12.95 paper 232p ISBN 0-446-69067-8; Sept.)