Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Little Engine that Could Not

I admit I was a little skeptical when I picked up The Little Engine That Could Not by Kevin D. Kirkland. "Hmmm...strange title," I thought. But then I read the book to my two children. Now I think this is one little book every parent should read - again and again - to his or her kids.

The premise of the book is both simple and deep: The "little engine" in the book, Peter, can't get to the wonderful City of Promise on his own - even though he tries pulling iron to make himself stronger, even though he gets a shiny new coat of paint to fix up his exterior, even though he tries to do good deeds so he'll be worthy. Nope. Peter has to learn to accept the offers of Joshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus, we learn in the notes at the back of the book) to be "his conductor." Then, he can cross over the Bridge of Grace and someday live with the Creator forever in the City Perfect.

What I Like: The Little Engine That Could Not is the most ambitious picture book I've ever seen. The author does an exceptional job keeping the story understandable, yet full of deeper meaning. I love that he includes notes in the back of the book. I read them directly to my kids, although they seem to be geared for adults. The notes help explain the spiritual meaning of the story and give us great little tidbits about the Bible stories that are woven into it. I know of no other picture book that attempts to distill the vital facts of salvation in such a real and meaningful way. Both my children (5 and 8) love this book and beg for me to read it over and over.

The illustrations by Lisa Workman are also worth mentioning. Although there is a higher-than-average number of words per page, even my 5 year old didn't mind this - I think at least in part to Workman's beautiful illustrations.

What I Dislike: Nothing.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: I'd say 5 -12.

Publishing Info: Frog Street Press, 2014; ISBN:  978-1601289216; oversized hardback, 32 pgs., $19.99

Buy Now at Amazon for $19.99.

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