Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hello, Sun!

Sheila Walsh, the popular Christian vocalist and author, isn't at her best in Hello, Sun!. This book tells the tale of Emma, a girl turning five years old. She's prayed the weather will be sunny and bright on her birthday. When it rains instead, Emma is angry and insists she'll never pray again. Her daddy explains God loves her and hears her prayers, but that he may have some very good reasons for not answering as she expects:

"Perhaps there's a little boy, not far away,
who asked God for rain on this very same day.
Or a farmer who needs rain to fall on his corn.
Or a family of ducks who were feeling too warm."

Then suddenly, the sun reappears and a rainbow fills the sky. Emma decides this is her birthday present from God, and she spends the rest of the day playing outside in the puddles.

What I Like: Showing a child not getting the answer she desires from her prayers, then offering some suggestions about why this happens, is a great idea. The illustrations by Deborah Maze are vivid and fairly realistic; she does a nice job of showing Emma's many emotions.

What I Dislike: This is a poorly written book. The text is full of imperfect, jarring rhymes. The best authors can make rhymed text sound natural, but Walsh's text is stilted and corny. Here's just one example:

"But soon black and stormy clouds painted the sky.
Emma looked out of the window and cried.
The puddles grew bigger, then bigger than big.
The wind shook the apple tree, jiggety jig."

I would also like the story better if the rain didn't suddenly disappear; every child needs to understand that while God listens to every word of our prayers, sometimes his answer must be "no." Instead, this little girl gets her way in the end. The book also begins and ends with a picture of a blue and white panda bear-looking creature who introduces the story (awkwardly) and says good-bye (also awkwardly). The story doesn't need bookends; these pages only distract from the tale.

Overall Rating: Poor.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, infant to preschool, but I would say toddler to preschool.

Publishing Info: WaterBrook Press, 2001; ISBN: 1578563372 ; hard back, $9.95.

Buy Now at Amazon for $9.99.

Special Info: Read our other reviews for (much better) Sheila Walsh books.

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