A colorful and diverse exploration of God’s character, with an emphasis on love.

WHAT IS GOD LIKE?

Popular progressive Christian memoirist Evans’ posthumously published children’s picture book encourages children and families to explore the attributes of God.

It’s a big question to ask. What is God like? Many people have asked across time and around the globe, and there have been many answers, too. Here, a Black brother and sister and their diverse group of playmates explore both what God is like and how we can know. From God’s revelation in nature to the stars in the sky, and above all through love, God is depicted as an omnipresent yet benevolent mystery. Throughout the text God is given male, female, and nonbinary pronouns and attributes. While many of the characteristics described come from Scripture, especially Psalms, belief in the Bible as Scripture is not a requirement to enjoy this book. Indeed, though the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is very lightly alluded to and the author self-identified as Christian, this is not an explicitly Christian text. It is well suited for diverse theistic audiences with varied beliefs about the creator, their nature, and identity. Tan’s bright illustrations employ soft, rounded shapes and swirling compositions to emphasize the comforting and all-encompassing nature of God’s presence. Notably, when the text compares God to three dancers, their grace and precision are interpreted by figures who are not stereotypically skinny and do not hew to conventional U.S. standards of beauty. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A colorful and diverse exploration of God’s character, with an emphasis on love. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-19331-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Convergent/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

THANKFUL

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement.

HANUKKAH BEAR

A well-used trope of misidentification allows a village elder to innocently open her home to a possible predator with humorous, even endearing results.

Despite her advanced age of 97 and her poor eyesight and hearing, Bubba Brayna “still [makes] the best potato latkes in the village.” When Old Bear is awakened from his winter sleep by the savory aroma of frying latkes and comes to her door, Bubba Brayna invites him in for a fresh batch, mistaking the bear’s rotund girth and bushy face for the heavy-set bearded rabbi’s. Heading straight for the kitchen, the growling bear is encouraged to play dreidel with nuts he chooses to eat, then devours all the latkes with jam like any hungry bear would. Sleepy and satisfied, he leaves with a gift of a red woolen scarf around his neck. After some investigating by the crowd that has gathered at Bubba Brayna’s door, which includes the actual rabbi, a new batch of potatoes are brought from the cellar, and with everyone’s help, Bubba Brayna hosts a happy Hanukkah. This newly illustrated version of The Chanukkah Guest, illustrated by Giora Carmi (1990), is a softer rendition, with acrylic paints and curved lines in tints of yellow, brown and green for warm, earthy atmosphere.

The now-classic tale’s humor still fosters eye-rolling laughter, with Wohnoutka’s illustrations as rib-tickling complement. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2855-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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