Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tell Me About Heaven

Tell Me About Heaven, by Randy Alcorn, is a positive and uplifting story about a 10-year-old boy who visits his grandpa for the first time after his grandma has died. Jake and his grandpa spend fun summer days hiking, picking berries, going to church, and reminiscing about Jake's grandma. Jake's grandpa answers lots of questions about Heaven and shows Jake how to find out more in the Bible.

The chapters begin by describing Jake's loss, and go on to discuss what the Bible says about the Garden of Eden and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Jake and his grandpa then imagine what life in Heaven might be like, based on the Scriptures.

The story is primarily an account of various conversations Jake and his grandpa have in different settings. It is a bit slow-moving, but includes lots of cute snapshots of Moses (their puppy), as well as descriptions of Jake and his grandpa engaged in everyday activities like star-gazing, making hot chocolate, and reading the Narnia books.

Tell Me About Heaven is vibrantly illustrated by Ron DiCianni. There are vivid, colorful paintings at the beginning of each chapter that add life to the story. Angels and children of all different races are shown, and Jesus' love is evident in His facial expressions. One of my favorite paintings shows angels carrying a joyful man home to Heaven.

What I Like: I love how positive Jake's grandpa is. Even though he misses his wife, he is thrilled to think of her in Heaven with Jesus. Hearing him describe Heaven makes us excited to go there as well. I also really like Jake. He is a sweet boy who has a lot of questions. He is a realistic mix of energy and sadness, and his relationship with his grandpa feels very genuine.

Randy Alcorn's depiction of Heaven is quite detailed, and I love the clear, thorough way he addresses even controversial issues. He rarely speaks in absolutes, but answers Jake's questions by saying, "I wouldn't be surprised." This is Jake's grandpa's response when Jake asks if pets will go to Heaven: "God's touched many people's lives through animals. God can do anything - it'd be simple for Him to recreate a pet in Heaven if He wants to." Alcorn takes a similar approach to Jake's questions about whether dinosaurs, computers, and cars may be in Heaven.

Alcorn does a good job explaining that people we love in Heaven may be able to see us sometimes, but that it's still important to pray only to Jesus.

The best part of the book is the way Alcorn always brings the discussion back to Jesus and His saving grace. There is even a beautiful Certificate of Commitment in the back of the book to commemorate a reader's salvation.

What I Dislike: Although this is a fabulous book, there is almost too much in every chapter. Because of the many theological issues Alcorn addresses, I found myself wanting to read the chapter myself before I read it aloud to my children. I did selectively edit a section in Chapter 1 and another section in Chapter 9 that talked about a 6-year-old dying and an 8-year-old dying of leukemia. Although Alcorn handled it very sensitively, my children haven't specifically dealt with children their age dying.

Alcorn has done a lengthy, fairly intellectual adult book called Heaven and a children's version called Heaven for Kids , which explain his theology, but I wish Tell Me About Heaven included endnotes or at least a list of Scripture references at the back.

The chapters are a bit long, with only one painting at the beginning of each chapter. The book reads more like a chapter book, even though it is a picture book.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 8-12

Publisher Info: Crossway Books, 2007; ISBN13: 978-1-58134-853-8; Hardcover, $19.99

Special Notes: Some of the paintings depict Jesus as both an infant and an adult, hugging people, rising from the dead, and walking with children and animals in Heaven.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a very good book. I got it after my husband died and was able to share it with my children as we talked about where dad was.
Thanks for the review.