By Jennifer Grant, illustrated by Benjamin Schipper. Sparkhouse Family, 2017. 32 pages. $16.99/hardcover. Recommended for ages 4–7.
A boy who lives in an apartment with his grandmother asks her whether God lives in the city. He says he has never seen God. “You just need to know where to look,” she answers. Echoing the list of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23, she tells him that God is wherever there is patience, kindness, and goodness. God’s spirit, she says, is at work when we see faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The boy sees love when his grandmother hugs him and hands him his sack lunch at the start of the school day. He finds joy in the playground and peace reading in his classroom, patience when a teacher helps him with his tangled shoelaces, kindness in a doorman’s behavior toward a man using a wheelchair, goodness in a neighbor’s gift of bread, and faithfulness in his grandmother’s reliable presence as she cleans up after supper while he does his homework. There is gentleness in her manner at bedtime and self-control in his resolve to stay quiet after lights out.
The boy knows God experientially and describes God tentatively. “Maybe God is like that too” is his refrain. In the end, he decides, “Maybe I can be like that too.” There is nothing pat or didactic here.
Benjamin Schipper’s colorful, cartoon-like illustrations of big city life came as a welcome surprise, in contrast to the bucolic scenes I expected in a book about seeing God in the world. A child making his home with Grandma is another departure from the expected, but one that many readers will recognize as familiar.
I loved this book. I can imagine it having wide appeal in Quaker homes and First-day schools when questions arise about what people mean when they say “God.”