Sunday, August 17, 2008

Psalms for Young Children

The idea behind Psalms for Young Children is an excellent one. Author Marie Helene Delval hand-picked 40 Psalms and paraphrased them in simple words young children can easily understand.

She was careful to choose Psalms on topics children can relate to, but never dilutes the powerful emotions found in the original biblical text. For example, here is her paraphrase of Psalm 4:

"God, when I'm in my bed at night, I think about you. And then I'm not scared of anything. I can fall asleep quietly and in peace."

And Psalm 51:

"When I do something wrong, forgive me, God. I want to feel like I've just been washed in clean water. I want to be like brand-new snow. I feel so happy when you forgive me."

And Psalm 69:

"When I am sad, it feels like I'm underwater, like I'm stuck in the mud, or at the bottom of a dark hole. Pull me from this dark place, God! Save me! I need your help!"

What I Like: The concept is a good one; Psalms are out of reach for most younger children, but Delval does a great job making the ups and downs of the Psalms relatable for kids. I also appreciate that children of many ethniticities are depicted.

What I Dislike: The illustrations by Arno. The overall style does not appeal to me; the illustrations are crude in their rendering. Too, they often rely on fantasy, so that when I'm reading Psalm 51 to my daughter, for example, she's too busy asking what the child in the picture is doing laying on top of the very large flower to really pay attention to the Psalm. In other words, the illustrations detract from, rather than enhance, the text.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 4 - 8.

Publishing Info: William B. Eerdmans, 2008; ISBN: 0802853226; hardback, $16.00

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