Ahh, I love well produced children’s books! I love the smooth covers, the crisp spine, the high quality illustrations drawing readers into layers of meaning. 10Publishing’s, The True King, is a Christian children’s book that hits all those score cards for me. However, as I’m finding with a lot of theologically heavy kids’ books these days, I’m a little restrained from full enthusiasm.
Written by Nancy Guthrie, an American Bible teacher, writer and podcaster, The True King is an illustrated children’s book that attempts to convey the entire narrative of the Bible. Told as a story about the Kingdom of the Great King (God) and the coming of the True King (Jesus), the book is, in a sense, a story-answer to the question: “Why do we pray ‘Your Kingdom come’?”
What I like about this book is the scope. From the opening scenes in the garden of Eden to the return of Jesus one day soon, this book attempts to communicate the vision of God’s plan for his people and his wonderful reign.
What I don’t like about this book, is also the scope. I felt as if Guthrie was trying to nod to every glorious doctrine possible, slipping in phrases and nuance that – without explanation or the patience to sit through a three point sermon – a child isn’t likely to grasp. Perhaps the strength of this approach is that adult readers (well versed in Biblical theology) will marvel at the nuggets of truth and layers of understanding the text offers. But I felt it was possibly trying to do too much for its child readers.
Having said all of that, you may be thinking I have a problem with teaching theology to children. I don’t. But I suspect us adults often forget how many years of Bible teaching we’ve received, how many books we’ve read, sermons we’ve listened to, podcasts we’ve heard etc. that have all contributed to our understanding of phrases like, in this book: ‘God was pouring out the punishment guilty people deserve on his innocent son’ or, ‘God poured out his Spirit on his people, giving them the power to take the good news of his kingdom to people all over the earth’ (here, the text was accompanied by an illustration which unfortunately made me think of Pompei).
So, yes, I might be a little critical when it comes to introducing children to large theological concepts. But that's not to say The True King isn't worth a look.
This is an excellently produced book and Jenny Brake's illustrations are fabulous. I particularly loved the two pages accompanying the text about the kings of Israel and the waiting in exile (see above). And apart from a few small personal quibbles with some of the theology, I love the heart of what this book is trying to do. The ending pages are beautiful, both in text and artwork, drawing forth a longing for 'Gods Kingdom come'. It's just lovely. I just have two concerns: firstly, that young readers' interest will not last the full length of the 45 page text before they get twitchy, and secondly, that their young ears will miss the layers of poignant significance hidden in Guthrie’s text and grow numb to their impact later on. I may be wrong. I'd like to be wrong. And I'll admit that I didn’t test drive this one on a child. So if you have read this with young children, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below and let me know.
All the details you need:
Title: The True King
Written by: Nancy Guthrie
Illustrated by: Jenny Brake
Available from The Wandering Bookseller.
The Penny Drops
In high school I used to write what I'd call 'thinks' - little bits of writing about whatever topic or issue I was mulling over at the time. I still write these little pieces.
Receive The Penny Drops direct to your inbox. Sign up via the form on the contact page.
(Because I couldn't figure out how to add that form here.)