Are We Nearly There Yet?
Written by Alison Brewis & illustrated by Jenny Brake
It’s the classic journey-with-kids line: “Are we nearly there yet?” And so first-time author Alison Brewis is onto a winner by using this phrase to open up the Easter story:
A family is heading in the car to lunch at Granny’s, but the kids are getting restless in the back: “Are we nearly there yet?” In response the mother recounts how Jesus’ followers asked a similar question, as they too waited and wondered when Jesus would finally be seen to be King:
‘Are we nearly there yet? When will you be king? Show them you’re the boss, in charge of everything!’
This repeated phrasing and simple rhyming style take us through the events of Palm Sunday, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Crucifixion and Resurrection Morning and help young kids see the significance of why Jesus needed to die and rise again. As the disciples say after meeting the risen Jesus:
‘Are we nearly there yet? Well, now we understand. Dying to forgive us was exactly what you planned. We though we’d cry forever, but it was worth the wait. Now Jesus is the real king, it’s time to celebrate!’
Jenny Brake’s fun characters and bright scenes give the book a modern feel, which will be familiar if you’ve seen her other illustrative work with 10ofthose’s ‘Every Child Should Know’ kids’ range. Brewis also provides a couple of pages of imaginative suggestions at the end for how you might discuss and play around some of the themes and ideas covered in the book.
And with a fairly small square-page and only 21 pages of story, Are We Nearly There Yet? is a brilliant format to give-away at this time of year. Whether it’s the lower years of primary school and early readers, or something for parents to read their kids at a toddler group, this is an evangelistic easy-win. In fact 10ofthose have a special deal for churches or organisations who will give the resource away freely: buy 50 and you get them at just £1 a copy.
By the way, look out for an accompanying Christmas journey from Brewis available later in the year.
Pick up a copy from 10ofthose here.
Goodbye to Goodbyes: A True Story about Jesus, Lazarus, and an Empty Tomb
Written by Lauren Chandler & illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
In hardback format and coming in at 32-pages, it’s no surprise that Goodbye to Goodbyes retails at double the price of Are We Nearly There Yet? and has more of a bookish feel to it. The award-winning Tales that Tell the Truth series has a strong portfolio, and Catalina Echeverri’s beautiful and intricate illustrations give them all a distinct and delightful look. This book is no exception: gorgeous colours and lettering help make Goodbye to Goodbyes a real treat to read.
And it’s not just a pretty aesthetic. Author Lauren Chandler takes on the account of Lazarus’ death and Jesus subsequently bringing him back to life, and powerfully shows how Jesus came so that we might be able to say ‘goodbye to goodbyes – forever’. Jesus’ compassion and his power over death are both wonderfully captured in the combination of prose and image. I was particularly struck by Chandler’s account of Jesus weeping, as well as how she describes him calling to Lazarus:
“Then he yelled, like a lion’s mighty roar, “Lazarus, come out!”
In the final couple of pages of the story, Chandler brings us to our own lives, acknowledging that “we all have to say goodbye sometimes”. Some of these goodbyes may be short, others may be long, but when someone dies, it feels like a “forever goodbye”. Yet for those who are “friends of Jesus”, there can be a reunion and a time when we say “goodbye to goodbyes”.
These issues are very real for Chandler, after her husband, Matt, was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2009. As she says in the afterword, her family are “very acquainted with illness and the possibility of saying goodbye for what may feel like forever”. Thankfully the cancer was treated and Matt received an all-clear later on, but it’s evident from this book that Lauren is experienced at helping young hearts and minds come to terms with the reality of illness or death, as well as the fear and questioning their presence can bring.
Pitched at those in mid-to-late years of primary school, this book is a brilliant model of showing how Jesus’ resurrection power can shape how we approach these topics, topics that are often ‘taboo’ for adults but for which children often have a hungering for answers.
Pick up a copy from The Good Book Company here.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of both of these resources from their publishers, but I hope these are still honest and fair reviews.