God’s Very Good Idea by Trillia Newbell – A Review
When was the last time you picked up a decent kids’ book about the Church? And what about a kids’ book that celebrated God-given difference within the church?
Yeah, I’m struggling too.
Part of that scarcity is perhaps because we instinctively think that Church is hardly going to make riveting subject matter for a children’s book. Maybe it’s hard enough to get the kids reading Christian books, but Christian books about the Church…
That’s why I was so delighted to get our family’s hands on God’s Very Good Idea, one of the Good Book Company’s latest releases, written by Trillia Newbell and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri.
The delicious subtitle is “A true story about God’s delightfully different family”, which underlines that this ‘very good idea’ is all about God making lots of different people who would “all enjoy loving him and all enjoy loving each other”.
And it’s brilliant. The book is aimed at 3-6 year olds, and I think that’s about right. Our oldest is nearly 4, and she loves following along.
Here’s a few things I particularly appreciated:
- Enjoying difference and treasuring sameness. One of Trillia’s phrases that sticks is that “everyone you see is different than you, and the same as you”. I love that. I think that kids get a lot of input about difference in school, and yet that’s rarely rooted in the idea that there is also a sameness: we’re all made in the image of God, and so we’re all valuable. The book really brings out the richness of this difference, and you see how precious the church is in bringing humanity back together through Christ.
- Jesus is at the heart of God’s very good idea. As well as articulating how we’re all made in the image of God, the book also explains how God had to rescue his very good idea through Jesus. This gives the opportunity to show how, because we choose not to love God, we are not therefore able to love each other like we should. Trillia deftly points out that this often shows itself in treating others badly because they are different. Trillia then presents Jesus as someone who embodied loving those who were different to him. Jesus dies so that we can be forgiven, but he also exemplifies how we enjoy loving each other amidst difference.
- Catalina’s illustrations bring colour and life to every page. If you’ve read any of the other books in TGBC’s Tales that Tell the Truth series, then you’ll be familiar with Catalina’s style. She’s got a great eye for detail, and our kids love going through and spotting these. There’s one double-spread page that shows a park scene with loads of different people playing/talking/having fun, to illustrate the goodness of living in God’s world with difference. Then you turn over and there’s the same scene, but with lots of these relationships gone wrong. It was great to go through and ask, “what’s happened… what’s gone wrong here… what about there?” Similarly, there’s some great illustrations to help kids identify with how they treat others badly, and some really fun ‘church community’ scenes that help make the idea of living out ‘God’s very good idea’ a practical reality: people having fun, talking, praying together, weeping together, etc. We enjoyed drawing the parallels with our church situation, and the illustrations really serve the text.
The best kids book are probably those that get adults excited too – and perhaps even teaching us a thing or two along the way. And by referencing the differences we should expect and encourage in our churches: skin colour, sex, languages, disability, hobbies, etc, Trillia has created a resource that will bless kids and grown-ups alike, helping us to have our eyes open to God’s very good idea.
The last page has the simple invitation, “And, with your church family, you can enjoy being part of it right now!” And would you believe it, by that point I reckon you’ll really want to!
Why not enjoy this teaser trailer:
You can pick up God’s Very Good Idea from the publisher, The Good Book Company, here.
Disclaimer: The publisher sent me a free copy of this book, but I hope it is still a fair review.
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