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In rhyming couplets, a debut picture book assures young Christian readers that God loves them no matter what while also praising good behavior.

Beginning with the birth of a brown-haired girl, who serves as the lead character, the story tells readers that God whispered his love to them as soon as they were born. In addition, God’s love continues to pour out during milestones: “God loves you when you learn to walk, / God loves you when you start to talk.” The dark-haired girl and her blond brother grow up in the illustrations, accompanied by rhymes that supply two similar ideas (trying something new or singing in a church choir) or link opposing concepts (when you’re happy and when you’re upset). The best rhymes either present comparable ideas (where the pictures don’t contradict the lines of the couplets) or have the girl represent one concept and her brother the opposing one. The book matches “God loves you when you stumble and fall, / God loves you and helps you stand tall” with an illustration of the girl, who has tumbled on the playground and scraped her leg; her brother stands next to her, hand outstretched, offering assistance. In other opposing pairs, only one of the two ideas is depicted, so that glad/mad shows the girl dropping her ice cream on the ground and appearing upset, and blunder/wonder displays an impressive, cartoonish image of the heroine looking with awe at a ladybug that landed on her finger in a daisy-covered meadow. For families seeking a way to introduce the concepts of unconditional love and God’s presence to their youngest children, these comforting rhymes, even when partially in conflict with the pictures, provide an opening for that conversation. The repeated “God loves you” at the beginning of each line drives that idea home, and Laird’s uncomplicated rhymes and rhythms scan well throughout, always feeling natural. Much of the tale happens in the images, as the girl evolves from a tiny baby to a child who sometimes makes mistakes but has a kind spirit (she shares Easter eggs she finds with her brother). While the main characters are white, the picture of a church choir includes a variety of ethnicities.

Sunday schools may want to feature this work in classrooms where young listeners can appreciate the appealing, child-friendly illustrations and simple poetry.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4808-3907-6
Publisher: Archway Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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