“Maybe God is Like That Too” By Jennifer Grant; illustrated by Benjamin Schipper
God is a small three letter word. And it has such a big meaning to many people of varying faiths in this ever more divided and diversified world.
And to children, it definitely, I believe, needs to be felt in the experiential.
I have always thought that picture books can definitely entertain, but they can also enlighten and put into a simple context BIG issues.
And that’s exactly what Jennifer Grant’s “Maybe God is Like That Too, has done.
She brings the sometimes ephemeral to the concrete, and the spiritual down to the practical day in and day out in the life of a child who asks his Grandma the God question.
“I live in the city.
where the sidewalks and subway cars
are packed with people-
but I’ve never seen God.”
The question arises one day:
“Grandma, does God live in the city?”
I ask one morning at breakfast.
“Yes, God is here, she says,
You just need to know where to look.”
She tells him that whenever you see love, joy and peace, God is there.
“Whenever there’s patience, kindness and goodness, God is there too. When you see faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, that’s God’s Spirit at work.”
As the young boy’s day unfolds he is on the lookout….for God at work in the noisy, seemingly indifferent city.
What he sees will give both parent and young reader pause to think.
A hug from his Grandma as he enters his school echoes love, and his friends shout with joy as he pumps higher on his swing at recess.
“Outside, car horns blast
and sirens scream,
but my classroom is quiet and calm.
That’s what peace looks like to me.
maybe God is like that too.”
And lest you think this defies reality in the every day classroom of modern life, the learning AND doing something quiet and calm is really happening…they are doing silent reading! Yes!
Patience is modeled by his teacher helping him learn the age old technique of learning to tie one’s shoe.
The simple act of holding a door models kindness.
“That’s what kindness looks like to me.
Maybe God is like that too.”
And, as his day continues at home, he sees and experiences through both neighbors and family, all the attributes of God that his Grandma mentioned in answer to his morning question.
Benjamin Schipper’s art captures the sometimes grayness and grittiness of an urban landscape, but his simple way of allowing the softness and light of a good deed to stand out amid the bustle of city life is achieved as well.
But, the ending is what I loved in that it is a challenge to the boy and to all of us to model in our lives what we see as sacred and holy, and to take it into the everyday:
“I don’t see God
the way I see my friends
or the streetlights
or the river.
but I see signs of God’s Spirit
all around me,
in the city.
I know what God is like.
Maybe I can be like that too.”
It’s as simple…. and complex as that.
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