Rainy Day Games by Andy McGuire proves that children's Christian books can move beyond educational to just be plain ol' fun.
McGuire, who is a fiction editor at a large Christian publishing house, is also a superb illustrator, and this (his first picture book) is a delight for the eyes. McGuire's (mostly) rhyming text is also funny and - in its way - thought-provoking. The first page of the book gives a four sentence summary of the story of Noah and his ark; then the author wonders aloud what it would be like to stay indoors for 40 long days. What, he asked, did all those animals do to pass the time?
Next we meet a young boy, bored on a rainy day. To make the day go faster, he imagines what Noah's animals might have done to amuse themselves on their long journey. He envisions playing hide-and-seek with a chameleon, mice using a zebra's stripes as a maze, a rhino lending his horns for a ring toss (and a not-so-thrilled snake acting as the ring), beavers playing Ping-Pong with their tails, a game of Twister among two giraffes, connect-the-dots with a cheetah's spots, and much more. Then we see the boy trying to imitate one of the games with his dog before settling back with a book until the rain subsides and "God's rainbow paints the sky."
What I Like: There are plenty of funny situations suggested in the book - things that both parents and kids will find amusing. The illustrations are detailed, realistic (or as realistic as an image showing yaks playing jacks can be!), and of high interest to children. As a bonus, the book encourages children to imagine what it might have been like to be stuck on Noah's ark for a long time.
What I Dislike: Although my three year old really likes this book, she's not familiar with many of the games mentioned (including Twister, jacks, Ping-Pong, tic-tac-toe, and tiddlywinks). Therefore, slightly older children will enjoy this book even more. The only trouble is the text is so simple it may be too "young" for some older children.
Overall Rating: Very good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 1 -5, but as noted above, many young children won't easily catch the humor about the games mentioned.
Publisher Info: Harvest House Publishers, 2008; ISBN: 0736923713; hardback; $15.99
Special Info: To see some of the great illustrations in this book, check out the book's trailer.