Expanding Our Perspectives
A Review of
What Is God Like?
Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner, Ying Hui Tan (illustrator)
Whistlestop Tales: Around the World in Ten Bible Stories
Krish and Miriam Kandiah, Andy Gray (illustrator)
Hodder & Stoughton, 2021
Buy Now: [ Amazon ]
Reviewed by Erin F. Wasinger
ERB Contributing Editor
Specializing in Books for Young Readers
Just a warning: What Is God Like? is one of those books that can bowl over an unassuming grown-up during a read-aloud. From a child’s perspective, the collection of answers to that question are reassuring, fun, and relatable (“God is like a mother,” “God is like a father,” for example). And kids will be drawn to artist Ying Hui Tan’s colorful world even if Rachel Held Evans’s and Matthew Paul Turner’s similes are a bit beyond their comprehension (“God is like an eagle,” “God is like the wind”). Gentle, beautiful, inclusive words will work their way into grown-ups’ imaginations, too — all the more stunning in their simplicity. Evans’s fans will also recognize the same grace she displayed for spiritual wanderers in memoirs like Searching for Sunday is all over What Is God Like? It’s beautiful. Evans’s friend, Matthew Paul Turner, brought his own creative-writing genius to What Is God Like? The author of When God Made the World and When God Made You finished the book that Evans had begun working on a couple months before her death in May 2019.
Whistlestop Tales: Around the World in Ten Bible Stories is just so cool and engaging. Readers of early chapter books will love the way the Kandiahs’ swift, sassy storytelling and Andy Gray’s inky, expressive illustrations create truly new retellings of ancient stories. Each of the ten chapters begins with a smart snapshot of their settings, succinctly giving just enough context to tie 2021 to antiquity. For example, the story about Ruth (the Giant-Hearted Jordanian), begins with a modern-day Jordanian refugee rescue story. Esther (the important Iranian) starts by tossing in some fun facts about Iran’s incredible hospitality. This is purposeful: Krish says in a reader’s note that as the only non-white kid in school, he was always looking for characters that looked like him. And what’s more global than God’s story? The Bible’s “full of people from all sorts of places with all sorts of skin shades who had to deal with all sorts of problems,” Krish writes. Just like us.