Friday, June 6, 2008

What Is Heaven Like?

At some point, every child asks about the afterlife, and with bestselling author Beverly Lewis' picture book What is Heaven Like? you'll have a great introduction to the topic.

The book begins with a little boy (perhaps seven years old) feeling sad because his grandfather has died. First, he talks to his big sister about heaven. She says the streets of heaven are gold, and that there are gates with shiny pearls. And, of course, there are lots of angels, too.

Next, he asks the adults he meets (the mailman, the librarian, the zookeeper...) what heaven is like. They tell him it's very far away, that it's a place where little boys can go outside and play all day long without ever having to go back inside, that it's a happy place filled with people who love you, that it's full of joyful noise, that you can eat whatever you want, that your body will be strong and healthy, that there may be animals there, and that the air will be beautifully perfumed.

Finally, he talks to his family about heaven. His mom assures the boy he can come to them with any questions and they will consult the Bible for answers. Together, they discuss how we get to heaven, that everyone's body dies eventually (but that their souls can live on), and what it means to really accept Christ.

Near the end of the book, we see the boy's imaginings of what heaven is like, along with a quote: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has known what God has prepared for those who love him." (1 Cor. 2:9) On the final two page spread, we see the boy and his grandfather, reunited, as the boy proclaims that he will see his grandpa again.

What I Like: There are a number of books on this topic (notably, Randy Alcorn's excellent Wait Until Then), but Lewis' book is great for children just old enough to understand more detail than books for younger children usually include. The illustrations by Pamela Querin are soft, peaceful, and engaging, and I appreciate that every two page spread features a quote from the Bible that backs up - in some way - what the author says. In addition, the author includes a note to parents with some useful tips. She reminds us that children are more frightened by the unknown than by the truth. And she correctly states than even the greatest theologian doesn't know all the answers about heaven - therefore, parents shouldn't be afraid to sometimes say "I don't know."

What I Dislike: This is nit-picky, but I would have liked a section for parents with footnotes for all the facts given about heaven. Once or twice, I found myself wondering, "Does the Bible really say that?" It would have been nice to have a Bible reference handy to check for myself.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 4- 8

Publishing Info: Bethany, 2006; ISBN: 076420184; hardback, $14.99

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