A colorful and diverse exploration of God’s character, with an emphasis on love.

Popular progressive Christian memoirist Evans’ posthumously published children’s picture book encourages children and families to explore the attributes of God.

It’s a big question to ask. What is God like? Many people have asked across time and around the globe, and there have been many answers, too. Here, a Black brother and sister and their diverse group of playmates explore both what God is like and how we can know. From God’s revelation in nature to the stars in the sky, and above all through love, God is depicted as an omnipresent yet benevolent mystery. Throughout the text God is given male, female, and nonbinary pronouns and attributes. While many of the characteristics described come from Scripture, especially Psalms, belief in the Bible as Scripture is not a requirement to enjoy this book. Indeed, though the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is very lightly alluded to and the author self-identified as Christian, this is not an explicitly Christian text. It is well suited for diverse theistic audiences with varied beliefs about the creator, their nature, and identity. Tan’s bright illustrations employ soft, rounded shapes and swirling compositions to emphasize the comforting and all-encompassing nature of God’s presence. Notably, when the text compares God to three dancers, their grace and precision are interpreted by figures who are not stereotypically skinny and do not hew to conventional U.S. standards of beauty. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A colorful and diverse exploration of God’s character, with an emphasis on love. (Picture book/religion. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-19331-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Convergent/Crown

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021


Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for.

Spinelli lists many things for which people are thankful.

The pictures tell a pleasing counterpoint to this deceptively simple rhyme. It begins “The waitress is thankful for comfortable shoes. / The local reporter, for interesting news.” The pictures show a little girl playing waitress to her brother, who playacts the reporter. The news gets interesting when the girl trips over the (omnipresent) cat. As the poem continues, the Caucasian children and their parents embody all the different roles and occupations it mentions. The poet is thankful for rhyme and the artist, for light and color, although the girl dancer is not particularly pleased with her brother’s painterly rendition of her visual art. The cozy hotel for the traveler is a tent for the siblings in the backyard, and the grateful chef is their father in the kitchen. Even the pastor (the only character mentioned who is not a family member) is grateful, as he is presented with a posy from the girl, for “God’s loving word.” The line is squiggly and energetic, with pastel color and figures that float over white space or have whole rooms or gardens to roam in. Both children, grateful for morning stories, appear in a double-page spread surrounded by books and stuffed toys as their mother reads to them—an image that begs to be a poster.

Low-key and gentle; a book to be thankful for. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-310-00088-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Zonderkidz

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015


Visually appealing but doesn’t capture the spirit of namaste.

What does it mean to say namaste?

This picture book attempts to explain this traditional, formal greeting used in South and Southeast Asia to welcome people and bid them farewell—in particular, as a way to show respect to elders. A child with dark hair, dark eyes, deep-brown skin, and a bindi on their forehead goes to a market with their caregiver and buys a potted plant to give their lonely, lighter-skinned neighbor. Vibrant, textured illustrations depict a blossoming friendship between the little one and the neighbor, while a series of statements describe what namaste means to the child. However, the disjointed text makes the concept difficult for young readers to grasp. Some statements describe namaste in its most literal sense (“Namaste is ‘I bow to you.’ " “Namaste is joining your palms together”), while others are more nebulous (“A yoga pose. A practice.” “Namaste calms your heart when things aren’t going right”). The lack of backmatter deprives readers of the cultural context and significance of this greeting as well as knowledge of the countries and cultures where it is used. Moreover, the book doesn’t convey the deep respect that this greeting communicates. The absence of culturally specific details and the framing of namaste as a concept that could apply to almost any situation ultimately obscure its meaning and use. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Visually appealing but doesn’t capture the spirit of namaste. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1783-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022

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