A boy named Thomas wants to go to heaven.
Thomas is introduced obliquely as a child with special needs, as he appears to be about 8 but still plays with blocks and “loved to spin in wobbly circles for hours while reciting the alphabet.” When he appears at the dinner table with his packed suitcase, ready to go “to the Kingdom of Heaven,” he opens it to reveal food, clothing, and money for those in need as well as a variety of items (including a mustard seed and a trowel) that relate to several parables of Jesus from the Christian Bible. Unfortunately, the relevant parables are not explained in the text or referenced in a concluding note. Seeing the collection, Thomas’ father explains that he is “smack dab already in the Kingdom of Heaven” due to his “good and giving heart.” The family leaves their dinner at home and goes off to serve food and “tell the others,” perhaps at a church dinner or homeless mission, again not specified. The minimal text is insufficiently developed, demanding pre-existing understanding of the parables. Soft-focus illustrations in colored pencil and watercolor are inconsistent in portraying the ages of the characters, and the illustration of Thomas on the cover does not match those in the book. Thomas and his parents and older sister are white; his younger sister has Asian features. A final page for adults offers ways Christian families can assist others.
A misguided effort in need of a more enlightening text and more polished illustrations. (Picture book/religion. 5-9)