Lawrence Kushner (The Book of Miracles: A Young Person's Guide to Jewish Spiritual Awareness) and Karen Kushner (contributor to How to Be a Jewish Parent) tackle three big questions in this discussion-starter of a book: Where is God? What does God look like? How does God make things happen? There is no story here, just these three questions and the Kushners' sometimes profound, sometimes contrived, answers. God is "in the way people come together.... And in the Band-Aid fix-up after a fall." God is also "in birdchirp, frogsong and chattering squirrels,/ And in the fly caught in the spider's web." The Kushners are at their best in their refusal to simplify: "God doesn't look like anything.../ Because there is nothing to see." The last section takes a few theological shortcuts. The authors explain how God works by advising readers to "look at your town. One family gives money for people who lost their home.... Look in the mirror. Can you visit someone who feels lonely? Or pick up trash in the playground?" Kids who are sticklers for logic may not be convinced (What about the homeless families who are not helped?), but others will feel ennobled: God makes things happen "with little hands, and big hands.... With your hands." Parents who want help teaching difficult religious concepts will like the Kushners' method of bridging abstract ideas and concrete images. Majewski's (King Midas) uniformly cheerful but unevenly executed pictures mostly serve up tableaux of multiracial families in international settings. Lacking the sophistication of the text, the art threatens to dumb down the authors' ambitious presentation. Ages 4-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
This book can help parents and children have an honest and ongoing conversation about God. It offers ways for children to understand God's presence in their everyday world. The pictures and text can also help children wonder, explore, and learn. A great gift idea. 2000, Jewish Lights Publishing, $16.95. Ages 5 to 12. Reviewer: C. Henebry SOURCE: Parent Council, September 2001 (Vol. 9, No. 1)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-This gentle book is designed to be "the beginning of a continuing conversation between adults and children about the world and God." Nonsectarian and multicultural, the text suggests a divine presence rather than anthropomorphizing, by utilizing simple questions such as "What does God look like?" and "How does God make things happen?" to guide youngsters' understanding of this very abstract concept. The result is more a feeling than an answer, with God primarily represented by several easily understood metaphors such as the wonder of nature ("God is in-caterpillars chewing leaves from daisies,/And in worms turning leaves into earth"), and the loving cooperation of a family ("See sisters taking turns on the slide,/And brothers sharing a new game"). Clearly there is no way to explain certain aspects of God, thus parts of the text seem beyond the grasp of younger readers ("God is wherever we let God in"). However, because the Kushners' intent is to explore rather than describe God, there is room for children's own spiritual awareness to grow. Watercolor illustrations are simple, bright, and nicely textured, portraying people of all ages in friendly and caring situations. Similar in tone to Virginia L. Kroll's I Wanted to Know all about God (Eerdmans, 1994), this book provides children of many faiths with a bridge between the tangible and spiritual world.-Teri Markson, Stephen S. Wise Temple Elementary School, Los Angeles Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
According to the authors' note to parents and teachers, the Kushners address the often unspoken questions of young children who hear about God in church. This multicultural, nondenominational, and non-sectarian attempt poses three questions:"Where is God?,""What does God look like?," and"How does God make things happen?" There are various answers to these questions, ranging from images such as God"is in the first ripening tomato, and in cookies just fresh from the oven," to the ideas that God is"wherever we let God in." In answer to what God looks like, the authors write,"God looks like nothing," but there are many things people cannot see and yet they know they are there. The premise being that God is in every aspect of life and that God makes things happen through people's acts of caring about each other and their community. There is no mention of prayer, houses of worship, or any of the traditional forms of religious life. Majewski's illustrations are bright and sunny, depicting families of color, the young, the old, in the US, and in a few world communities. The picture-book format is appropriate to the very young child, but the text, although simple, may have concepts more easily understood by older children. Parents who believe that God is within all aspects of the spiritual and temporal world may find this book helpful as a discussion starter, but it's not much more than that. (Picture book. 3-6)