Monday, June 21, 2010

Am I Forgiving?

Written and illustrated by Jeannie St. John Taylor, Am I Forgiving? is a story about two good friends, Erik and Chuck. The two of them usually play and have fun together. But, one day when there is snow on the ground and school has been called off, Chuck ignores Erik and spends the day playing with another friend, Todd who has spent the night at Chuck’s house. They don’t invite Erik to play with them.

Erik feels a bit lonely because his best friend isn’t spending the day with him, but he doesn’t want to hold a grudge against Chuck, so Erik says to himself, “That’s forgiving, isn’t it?” When he sees Chuck and Todd together, and he’s ignored, he decides to shrug it off and not be mad at Chuck. Again, he says to himself, “That’s forgiving, isn’t it?”

Todd and Chuck play a prank on Erik while Erik is sledding down a hill. This causes Erik to ride his sled into a tree, resulting in a broken arm. Chuck and Todd laugh and run away while Erik is in pain. Erik asks God to help him to forgive Chuck and Todd for laughing at him. Then, when Todd calls Erik a baby, and Chuck doesn’t say anything, Erik says, “I don’t have time to stop crying and forgive anyone.”

A couple of kids who are also out playing help Erik get home. On the way to the doctor’s office, Erik sees Chuck and Todd having fun together in the snow. Erik ignores them and says to himself, “I’ll make them sorry. I’ll never let Chuck be my best friend again.”

When he gets home and is watching TV, Erik thinks of many ways he can get even with his “friends.” But then he realizes that if he doesn’t forgive Chuck and Todd, the Bible says God won’t forgive him. So, he prays the prayer “…I don’t want to forgive them, Jesus, but I will if you help me. I can’t do it if you don’t.” Praying makes Erik feel better although he is still upset.

Chuck shows up at Erik’s house and says he’s sorry. He wants to be friends again. For a moment, Erik hesitates, but he says simply, “I forgive you.”

The illustrations are very kid-friendly: They’re bold, bright, expressive and somewhat cartoonish – and sure to please.

A note “For Parents” is included at the end of the book with ideas and instructions for reading the book and doing some activities together to help kids understand the concept of forgiveness. Some Bible verses are given for reference to the story.

What I Like: This is a good lesson for kids (as well as adults) to learn about forgiving and forgiveness. Even though the Bible tells us we must forgive one another, it’s not always an easy thing to do (it’s not usually an easy thing to do). And, sometimes when we forgive someone who has hurt us, we don’t always feel better right away. We don’t want to say that “It’s okay” or “I know you didn’t mean it” because our hearts are still hurting. Forgiveness is a continuing thing, something that doesn’t just happen once and then is finished or forgotten. The Bible tells us to forgive “seventy times seven.” That’s what this story is about.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: Preschool – third grade.

Publisher Info: Kregel Kidzone,2007;ISBN: 9780825436598; Hardcover, $12.99.

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