An Inclusive Welcome
A Review of
When God Made the World
Matthew Paul Turner,
illustrated by Gillian Gamble
Crocodile’s Crossing: A Search for Home
Yoeri Slegers (Author and Illustrator)
Flyaway Books, Forthcoming 21 April 2020
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Erin F. Wasinger
Many decent Creation books exist; a few really great ones do. When God Made the World is one of the great ones. Matthew Paul Turner, author of When God Made You and When I Pray for You, adds his own imaginative flair to the familiar narrative. Turner’s version stands out for leaning more on God’s limitless creativity and less on how that process actually happened.
Gillian Gamble’s talent launches the book farther into greatness. We begin in a boy’s bedroom, right before bedtime. A few pages later and he’s flying in a wooden boat with his stuffed animals that have come to life. Other kids, with a variety of skin tones and abilities, join them on this tour of the world: one boy wears what appear to be noise-reducing headphones. One girl wears a cochlear implant, another uses a wheelchair, yet another has vitiligo. These are subtle details, but kids look for mirrors in storybooks. Their inclusion matters in any book, but in Creation stories especially: God created us all, just as we are.
Turner’s words carry more weight then, don’t they? “And God made people … People with souls, people with stories, a global family tree … God made us all human, with just a few tweaks.”
Read aloud, the book feels long (at 48 pages, it’s longer than the 32-page average), but the poetry and illustrations make it one worth returning to again and again.
Living in Anxious Times –
Two New Kids Books
Also Reviewed by Erin Wasinger
“Crocodile once had a home he loved” — but something happens that forces him to flee. So starts Yoeri Slegers’ story of a reptile refugee. Crocodile’s Crossing deals with the impetus for Crocodile’s decision to go as well as the fear, discrimination, and compassion he experiences along the way. Its strength is in its plain language and straight-forward but sympathetic point of view. The ending feels rushed, but kudos to Sleger for storytelling, not preaching.
Slegers’s art stands out more than its text. Crocodile’s likeable; we empathize when sharks circle his boat and when he’s fleeing terrifying shadows. Slegers shrinks the globe, simplifying migration. This isn’t a story about borders or governments. It’s about Crocodile’s need to find a new place among animals that aren’t like him. Kids get that. And when he finally does find a home, kids will understand, too, why the welcome he receives is so unexpected and wonderful.
Erin F. Wasinger is a writer, speaker, and an elementary school “library lady," as well as our Contributing Editor Specializing in Books for Young Readers. Erin’s also the cofounder of Spark Writers of Southern Michigan, blogger for MadeleineLEngle.com, and author of The Year of Small Things: Radical Faith for the Rest of Us (Brazos, 2017). Find her online at: ErinWasinger.com