God’s address to the Hebrew exiles from the Old Testament book of Jeremiah is repurposed in this cheery picture book that emphasizes children’s future careers.
In this decontextualized interpretation of the well-known verse, God narrates the text in a first-person, chatty style (“Hey, YOU!”) that urges children to discover their particular purposes in life, specifically related to career choices (“what I CREATED YOU to do”). The story begins with a fantastical factory in the clouds, controlled by engineers, and the disembodied hand of God pointing at readers. A sort of assembly line with seated, staring children scrolls across the bottoms of the pages, with the boys and girls receiving their professional wardrobes from robotic arms. Above the conveyor belt, smiling children are shown in various jobs wearing relevant career attire, with careful inclusion of children of many ethnicities as well as girls in science, medical, and construction jobs. While the text states that children will “find that one thing / that you love the most,” its overall thrust when combined with the illustrations implies that God chooses a profession for each child at birth and that children should be working toward that profession from an early age. The concluding page urges children to stop reading the book and “go out and find my big plans for YOU.” Readers with unemployed parents or parents toiling in miserable, unhappy jobs will be forgiven for wondering just where in God’s plan their families fit.
With this ahistorical interpretation, this book shows a disregard for both free will and the gradual maturation of talents and personalities. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)