A misguided effort in need of a more enlightening text and more polished illustrations.



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)

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61261-776-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paraclete Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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An impressive monograph by two scholars well-positioned to examine the impact of religion on secular life.



Two biblical scholars combine to dig into the actions and words of the billionaire Green family, founders of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores.

Moss (New Testament/Univ. of Notre Dame) and Baden (Hebrew Bible/Yale Divinity School), co-authors of Reconceiving Infertility: Biblical Perspectives on Procreation and Childlessness (2015), focus on the lawsuit filed by the Greens that reached the Supreme Court in 2014. The Greens, who have long been major funders of evangelical Christian initiatives, believed they possessed the right as business owners to ignore federal law requiring employers to cover the costs of contraceptives for employees. In a 5-4 decision, the justices sided with the Greens. The authors explain how the family arrived at their view of the prosperity gospel: due to their literal interpretations of the Bible and their generosity to evangelical Christian causes, God rewarded them with widespread business success. Patriarch David Green claimed that the legal battle occurred because the family could not abide abandoning religious beliefs to obey a provision of the federal government’s Affordable Care Act, signed by President Barack Obama. The authors began their deep dive into the Green empire after becoming aware of the vast sums the family was spending to inject religion into school curricula, to collect rare biblical manuscripts, and to open a massive Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., which is currently under construction. Moss and Baden portray the Green family members and their key executives as sincere evangelicals and benevolent employers. Throughout the book, however, they also show the Greens as naïve or disingenuous. To be sure, the family’s proselytizing is not neutral. Rather, they are promoting a historically inaccurate saga of the U.S. as an exclusionary Christian nation meant to marry church and state.

An impressive monograph by two scholars well-positioned to examine the impact of religion on secular life.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-691-17735-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A photo essay about six-year-old Ling Rinpoche, a young Tibetan Buddhist monk, said to be the reincarnation of the late tutor of the present Dalai Lama. While living in Dharamsala, India, home of the young lama, Raimondo received permission to interview and photograph him. She presents Rinpoche's daily activities, the adults who surround him, and his travels to his monastery and to New Delhi for a once-a-year vacation. The author clearly explains Rinpoche's role as ``cultural caretaker''/teacher of Tibetan spiritual ways; unfortunately, her explanation of reincarnation is less adequate. The book opens with a letter for adults from the Dalai Lama and concludes with a message to American children from Rinpoche. The artistically composed color photos depict an appealing, hard-working child/student priest. Since they were taken using naturally available light, they are sometimes dark; also, they're not always well placed in relation to the text. A map and note about Tibet are (of necessity) ethnocentric, and don't reflect the political reality of Tibet as an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. An interesting and unusual portrait, but not fully satisfying. Pronunciation of names is given in the text. (Nonfiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-590-46167-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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