In this Christian-themed children’s story, part of Jones’ Fruity Friends: The Fruits of the Spirit series, Stella Strawberry learns the value of God’s unconditional love.
On each page of the story, Jones portrays Stella in action and cites verses from the Bible, providing young readers with a simple, understandable translation of Scripture; for example, Luke 6:37 is stated as “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged...forgive others and you will be forgiven.” The book’s central theme is that loving everyone as God does can bring peace and happiness. While Stella Strawberry’s character—an actual strawberry—will likely ignite children’s imaginations, the narrative doesn’t give readers the opportunity to enter Stella’s mind to understand how she’s grasping the message. That said, Rhoades’ colorful illustrations do a commendable job of depicting Stella’s facial expressions, clearly conveying her feelings as she becomes familiar with the lessons. In particular, one illustration that may resonate with children shows Stella’s shift from anger to contentment, illustrating the point that “showing LOVE to everyone will surely make you glad.” At the conclusion, the author provides a children’s prayer thanking God “for giving me and showing me so much of Your unconditional love” and asking Jesus to “come into my heart and love me forever.” Jones creatively portrays Christian spirituality in a way that young children should be able to grasp, through crystal-clear translations of Bible verses, stunning illustrations of Stella and her family, and a strong emphasis on the theme of love.
An engaging book will effortlessly educate and entertain young Christian readers.