Monday, March 28, 2011

Images of God for Young Children

There’s a lot to love about Images of God for Young Children by Marie-Helene Delval.

First, the goal of the book is both lofty and practical in scope. An explanation at the beginning describes it this way: Even though we cannot see or touch God, the Bible does describe many ways that we can still discover God in our world. This volume offers a collection of these images, presented here in language that is appropriate for children while remaining faithful to the spirit of the biblical texts.

The first page of each new two-page spread starts with a declarative statement, such as “God is a friend.” Then, with simplicity and eloquence, the author elaborates on the idea, making it more understandable: “You can tell everything to a friend. You can also be silent around a friend and simply feel comfortable. A friend finds the words to comfort you when you are sad, and laughs with you when you are happy. A friend listens, encourages, and understands. God is like this—like the best of friends.”

The second thing to love about the book is the artwork. With bright colors and a most whimsical flavor, the images dance and swirl across the full second page of each two-page spread. Each kid-friendly picture—illustrated by Barbara Nascimbeni—holds the same kind of gentle complexity and simplicity as the text, making it a particularly well-suited accompaniment. For example, for “God is a king,” a shadow in a kingly shape bleeds into a colorful landscape. In addition, the illustrations depict a wide variety of ethnic children and cultures.

Third, the author not only highlights traditional images of God (as love, light, joy, a spring, a rock, bread, a shepherd, a savior) but also captures some unexpected images of God (as a promise, peace, a mystery, smallness). Such an interesting collection of ideas could make even the most stoic adult ponder the qualities of God in a new light.

What I Like: With almost poetic ease, the author takes some very abstract qualities of God and makes them understandable. The illustrations work perfectly with the text. Together they create a book that is beautiful both in presentation and meaning.

What I Dislike: I REALLY would have liked Scripture references to go with each image of God that Delval described. However, not a single verse is given. And, while I loved the whole book, there is one image I have trouble with: God is night. Without a Scripture reference, I still don’t quite understand it.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: ages 4-7

Publisher Info: Eerdmans Books, 2011; ISBN: 9780802853912; Hardcover, 90 PGS., $16.50

Buy it Now at for $12.99
OR Buy it at for $12.38.

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Tanya said...

Very interesting! I think I would have the same problem with the "God is night" statement ... especially since Scripture says He is Light and in Him there is no darkness. Hmm... Thanks for the review!

Bronwen Scott-Branagan said...

Perhaps she intended to mean that God is with us always, even at night when things can be a bit scary for some children.