Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The House that went Ker-Splat: The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders

The Bug Parables, by Bill Myers, are creative and engaging versions of Jesus' parables where (you guessed it) bugs are the main characters. In The House that went Ker-Splat, the boss gives Willie and Ray blueprints and tells them to build a house. Willie diligently follows the rules while Ray takes shortcuts and hires cheap workers. Both bugs finish the houses by the deadline, but when the rain comes, Ray's house, which he built in the mouth of a drain spout, is washed away. The boss comes to inspect and has Ray arrested and taken to jail, but pays Willie for his work.

The last three pages of the book explain that Willie and Ray's experience is "much like our life: God gives us his plan. We can build upon it. . . or upon shifting sand."

Myers continues, "God loves us so much that he gives us a choice. . .to do it our way. . . or to follow his voice. One may be harder, but it's always the best. . . 'cause I'll always love you and see that you're blessed." The last phrase shows the sun shining on Ray, who is lifting weights in jail but smiling nonetheless.

What I Like: The real strength of this book lies in the illustrations by Andy J. Smith. The edgy, creative illustrations concretely correspond to each phrase in the text. Smith highlights scenes containing Willie with a bright, yellow-green tinge, which contrasts with the drab, brownish-gray illustrations involving Ray. The drawings make it very clear who is doing the right thing and who is not. They also support the text in such a direct manner that 4-7-year-old readers can't miss the message of the parable.

The neatest aspect of the illustrations is the innovative way Smith uses trash and common household items. Willie's cement truck is made of a crayon box, Tupperware, coins and a toothpaste tube. Ray's TV is a modified "eye-pad" (i-pod), and the police truck is a milk carton mounted on cheerio wheels. My 5-year-old and 8-year-old loved discovering what all of the creations were made out of. They have even talked about trying to replicate some of the inventions at our house.

I also like the last three pages that directly relate the parable to our lives. Learning to apply God's Word to our lives is such an important skill, and I really like the fact that Myers thinks his readers are old enough to understand and make good choices. It is also nice that we see the sun shining on Ray, even as he is facing the consequences of his poor choices.

What I Dislike: The rhyme can be forced in places, but my kids were too busy studying the pictures to care. Also, the pictures are great, but they aren't necessarily cute. They are fun for boys who are wanting to be a bit more grown-up, but they may not appeal as much to younger girls who are more "girly." That said, my 8-year-old daughter was just as interested in the book as my son.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 4-7

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-310-71220-6; Hardcover, $9.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $7.99

OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $9.99.

Special Information: View our reviews of other Bug Parables by Bill Myers here.

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