I'll Love You Anyway and Always by Bryan Chapell is a sweet story of forgiveness, both the small kind and the very large kind.
Katy is happily watering the flower garden when her mother warns her not to water Daddy's special orchid. But Katy, thinking a good watering will only make her Daddy's flower more beautiful, waters it anyway. When evening comes and the entire family goes out to the garden, the orchid is wilted. Katy's head hangs as low as the flower's. "Will you still love me?" Katy asks her father.
Taking his daughter on his knee, Daddy replies: "Because you disobeyed, you and I are both sad. But nothing you do will ever make me stop loving you. I'll love you anyway and always." Then he explains he loves Katy the way God loves us all.
He tells the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden and how God replied: "What you did will not make Me stop loving you. You were not careful to obey Me, but one day I'll send a Savior to rescue you and the world from all the evil you have caused. I'll love you anyway and always."
He tells the story of Noah's flood, and how, despite all the bad things Noah's children and grandchildren did, God said: "I will love you anyway and always."
He explains the story of Abraham and Sarah and their baby, Isaac. "You don't yet understand how," God said, "but I'll love you anyway and always."
He tells the story of Pharaoh and the Israelites and the parting of the sea. Even though the Israelites disobeyed God after all he'd done for them, God still said, "I'll love you anyway and always."
He tells the story of David and Goliath, and how David later disobeyed God. But God still said, "I'll love you anyway and always."
Then he tells the story of Jesus' birth, his death, and what it means. And even after that sacrifice, when we disobey, God still says "I'll love you anyway and always."
The next day, Katy's little brother Taylor goes into her bedroom and eats all of a chocolate bunny Katy's been saving. When he apologizes, Katy's initial feeling is anger, but then she remembers all her daddy told her the day before.
"Katy picked Taylor up in her arms. He was so big that she almost toppled over. Still she hugged him and said, 'Taylor, because of what you did, both you and I are sad. But I'll love you anyway and always.'"
What I Like: This book does a nice job of making God's forgiveness real to children. I especially appreciate how Katy is shown displaying God's love to her sibling. The illustrations by Tim Jonke are soft, but realistic, and do a good job of telling the story.
What I Dislike: The text is a bit on the long side for younger audiences. Since Katy appears to be a preschooler or kindergartner, paring down on the number of words per page would improve this book. Some people might find the ending a bit too moralistic, and while I do think it's slightly more heavy-handed than I'd like, typically small children don't understand books that are too vague in their message.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: 4 to 8.
Publisher Info: Crossway, 2001; ISBN: 158134306X; hardback; $15.99
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