Through intricate paintings and a cohesive text, this Christian tale becomes fully fleshed out.

THE THIEF WHO STOLE HEAVEN

A thief finds mercy from Jesus during the crucifixion in this retelling of a Gospel story.

In Arroyo’s picture book, Dismas, an abandoned child, is raised to be a thief. Despite his kind heart, he is instructed by his master that “mercy is a great weakness.” As Dismas grows to adulthood, he becomes a feared bandit, quick to kill. One night, Dismas encounters a group of travelers: a couple with a child, whom the thief recognizes as divine. Dismas spares the family, asking the child to remember him and show him mercy one day. Years pass, and Dismas continues his wicked ways until he is finally caught. As he hangs on a cross next to an innocent preacher, Dismas recognizes the man as the divine child he met long ago. Because of his faith, the thief is forgiven and welcomed into heaven. The tale’s violent content, from Dismas’ master’s killing a kitten to the bandit’s committing his own murders, is handled discreetly in the author’s straightforward text and delicately in Gallegos’ beautiful paintings. But this material makes the work better suited for older independent readers and upper level Sunday school classes. The detailed illustrations nod to European Renaissance art depictions of Bible stories, featuring White, dark-haired characters throughout. Arroyo offers an insightful endnote about the various traditional versions of Dismas’ journey, beginning with the Gospel of Luke but including the writings of St. Augustine and others.

Through intricate paintings and a cohesive text, this Christian tale becomes fully fleshed out.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64413-238-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sophia Institute Press

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2021

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A sweet, colorful start for a Christian spiritual journey.

BECAUSE GOD LOVES ME

A cheery child gives thanks to God.

“When I see a rainbow / High up in the sky / I say a little prayer of thanks, / And here’s the reason why: // Because God loves me!” This board book’s focus is the comforting notion that God loves all his children, and no matter what, he will always look out for them. The text follows an ABCB rhyme scheme, breaking after every stanza to repeat the phrase “Because God loves me!” The small, light-skinned child has spiky brown hair and wears a dress; both the child and a chubby accompanying dog are appealingly illustrated with a bright, simple color palette and scratchy lines that appear to have been made with colored pencil. God is the only name given for the deity, implying a primarily Christian audience. The book’s message is clear, and its construction is sturdy, suiting this well to parents who are beginning to have conversations with their little readers regarding their beliefs.

A sweet, colorful start for a Christian spiritual journey. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58925-237-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2016

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Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture...

WHEN I PRAY FOR YOU

Turner adds another title to his picture-book series that highlights the miracles in the mundane (When God Made Light, 2018, etc.).

In the vein of children’s-bookshelf stalwart Oh, the Places You’ll Go, Turner’s rhyming text includes both prayers and life advice for a growing child, beginning with infancy and moving on to adolescence. At times the rhyme and meter are strained, muddling meaning and making the tempo feel occasionally awkward when read aloud. Overall, though, the book executes its mission, presenting Christian theological truths within the rhythmic inspirational text. For this third series installment Turner’s text is paired with a new illustrator, whose bright illustrations of wide-eyed children have great shelf appeal. While David Catrow’s previous illustrations in the series featured effervescent black protagonists, the child in Barnes’ illustrations appears white, though she occupies an otherwise diverse world. While illustrated as a prayer from a mother for her daughter, the text itself is gender neutral.

Though it will never usurp Dr. Seuss, it will still find a home where Christian families of faith seek inspirational picture books. (Picture book/religion. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-52565058-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: WaterBrook

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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