Friday, August 26, 2011

Smack-Dab in the Middle of God's Love-A Book Review

Smack-Dab in the Middle of God's Love by Brenan Manning and John Blaze will have you smack-dab in the middle of a delightful interpretation of what it means to be centered in Abba God’s love, “love big enough to hold us all”.  The words, though not in rhyme, ripple across the page in poetic cadence.  Lively words like tousled, smushed, dollop and twinkled draw the reader into a story you’ll want to visit again and again.

Children will enjoy the vibrant, close-up illustrations, created by Nicole Tadgell, that flow across the center of every page spread.  The artwork nicely defines the setting of a place where sopapillas, burros and abuelas fit comfortably and abundantly.  Willie Juan and Ana, the two main characters, are sketched just-right  as the man and wife who aren’t “old and crotchety” nor “young and giggly” either. 

This childless Mexican couple take grandparent roles with the neighborhood children as they bake together, take time to notice nature with them and engage the children by asking and answering questions.  Most of the story is centered around a conversation about God’s love that all starts with Willie Juan’s question, “…someday when you are in heaven, what do you think Abba [his name for God] will ask you?”

As different children respond, you get a glimpse into what they each think is important to  God.  Willie Juan responds kindly, using the opportunity to expand their appreciation for how much God loves them. Willie shares that because of Abba’s love for them, God wants them to enjoy his gifts; gifts like hummingbirds and late summer evenings and good friends. The book ends in an endearing group embrace with laughs and belly laugh tears.

During the question and answering session one of the children talks and everyone seems surprised.  The authors don’t explain why it was unusual for this boy to speak. Did he have a handicap? Was he shy?  It adds a bit of mystery to the narrative, but I found it a tad distracting and wondered if I had missed something I should have picked up on.

Published in hardback with a dust jacket, this book is written at a preschool level, but children much older will delight in the warmth of the characters and will find a sense of belonging as they realize the message of being smack-dab in the middle of God’s love.

I received this book free of charge from the program in exchange for my honest review.

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