Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Pumpkin Gospel

If you're looking for a way to explain what Jesus does for us, The Pumpkin Gospel by Mary Manz Simon is a great place to start. In well-written rhyme, Simon uses a carved pumpkin to illustrate how God gives us a "clean heart," forgiving "our mess-ups" and offering us "a new start."

The illustrations my Matt Whitlock show a father and two children carving a pumpkin. First the kids notice the slimey, stringy goo inside the pumpkin. It reminds them of "my insides before God makes me new." Then they scoop out the glop and clean the inside of the pumpkin - just like God cleans them of sin. The kids carve a smiling pumpkin, then put a candle inside it.
"God's love is like a candle
that shines from inside out.
It's beaming deep within me,
and so I now can shout.
To glow like my big pumpkin
and have a nice clean heart,
ask God to please forgive you.
You'll have a brand new start."
What I Like: Both my toddler and my kindergartner like this book a lot, and so do I. Using a carved pumpkin to illustrate how God "cleans" us is a simple and effective way to make the concept really stick with kids. This is an ideal book to read before, after, or while you carve a pumpkin. In addition, I really appreciate that each page features an appropriate Bible verse at the bottom of the page. For example, the first page, which talks about how pumpkins can show us about God giving us clean hearts quotes Psalm 51:7: "Wash me...until I am clean and whiter than snow."

What I Dislike: This isn't really a dislike, but it's tough not to compare this book to Crystal Bowman's My Happy Pumpkin (read our review of that book here). As it happens, The Pumpkin Gospel was published first. I think Simon's book also explains the concept more clearly. The Pumpkin Gospel's illustrations aren't quite as nice, in my opinion, but while My Happy Pumpkin is really designed for kids under 4, The Pumpkin Gospel is best for kids 4 and up.

My only real complaints about The Pumpkin Gospel is that it never mentions Jesus ("just" God) and that the glow-in-the-dark features don't work well. To be able to actually read the book with the lights out, you have to charge each two page spread with a bright light, turn off the light, read, turn the page, turn on a bright light to charge the next two page spread, turn off the light, read, and so on. Rather than do this, I suggest parents read the book through with the lights on, then turn off the lights and give their child a flashlight to play with the glow-in-the-dark feature.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 4 - 8.

Publishing Info: Standard Publishing, 2005; ISBN: 978-0784717585; board book, 12 pgs., $10.99

Buy now at for $8.99

Special Info: Read our reviews of other books by this author.

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1 comment:

Annette W. said...

This also sounds a lot like The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs.