Written in Thaler's goofy, punny style that's great for both boys and girls, a gradeschool boy tells us his mom is taking him to church. "I've heard all about church," he says. There's lots of sitting and standing, over and over. You have to sit on smelly seats called pews. You sing super long songs while you stand. ("It's sort of like the Pledge of Allegiance...only longer.") The preacher's talk is called a sermon and it can last for hours...even weeks! (Which is "why the preacher is called 'The Sermonator.") The sermons are about the Bible, which is a book God wrote ("I wonder if he used a computer") about strange people...Like the guy who wandered in the desert for forty years. ("He should have stopped at a gas station and asked for directions.") And a guy who took a cruise...inside a fish.
The boy's mom says God is invisible and can see everything you do. He loves you, no matter what, and wants you to be with him in Heaven someday. (Heaven is "more fun than an amusement park.")
The boy isn't exactly thrilled to go to church, but once he gets there, he's surprised. The people seem friendly. He gets to be with a bunch of other kids and play games and sing songs. They even put on a play about a boy named David "who beats up a big bully named Goliath. The preacher says he was able to do that because God helped him. He says God will help us too, if we ask him." In the end, the boy decides, "I love church. I wish every day was Sunday. Mom says when you love God...every day is Sunday!"
Throughout, Jared Lee's illustrations delight, being just as zany as Thaler's text. In them, characters have bubbles, like you'd seen in a cartoon strip, and say things that add to the story. For example, when the boy says going to church is called "being in the service," Lee's illustration shows a little boy being yelled at by an Army sergeant.
What I Like: Humor is a superior way to teach young children, and Thaler and Lee are experts at tickling young kids' funny bones. For children who've never been to church before, this is a terrific introduction - one that will make them laugh and understand. Thaler and Lee are a perfect match, and I hope they create many more books together.
What I Dislike: Nothing
Overall Rating: Excellent.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 6 to 9, but many preschoolers will like this book, too.
Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 031071589X; paperback; $4.99
Special Info: Read our other reviews of books by Thaler and Lee. Visit Mike Thaler's website for Q&A's and author visit information; visit Jared Lee's website for samples of his illustrations and free activities and teaching ideas.
Buy it Now from Amazon.com for $4.99,
OR buy it from ChristianBook.com for $3.99, or buy all four books in this "Tales From the Back Pew" series for $14.99.