Double Book Review: PK Hallinan’s Let’s be Thankful and Thank You, God

If you are a Christian, you should buy Thank You, God for your child. It’s a hard book to track down but I ordered my copy through abebooks.com.

This book’s only mention of Jesus is on the page that reads as follows:

And thank you, dear God,

For all that you are —

From the cross on the hill

To the Bethlehem star.

I like this open-ended reference to the importance of the cross, because I don’t think we need to get all into atonement theology with our children right away. I’m still figuring out what the cross means in my own life, and I may very well spend the rest of my life still trying to work it out. So I think it’s good to introduce the cross as an important symbol to children, but not to try to give a tidy explanation about what it means.

This book also does not refer to God with any gendered pronouns. Inclusive language win! Because I don’t want to have to explain to RJ some day that even though I’ve been reading her books for years in which God is a “he,” God is not actually male.

Thank You, God has lovely, lilting rhyming verse, and highlights all the sweet and simple things in life that kids enjoy and parents sometimes forget to enjoy. It concludes with reminding us to be grateful for God’s love. Although I find the illustrations are nothing spectacular aesthetically, they do succeed in conveying the excellent message of this book.

If you are not a Christian, you could consider buying Let’s Be Thankful. Same author, similar premise and rhythmic verse, and if you live in the city of Winnipeg, you can just take it out from the library.

Even though these books are by the same author and about the same topic (gratitude), there is something that fundamentally changes when God is removed from the story. In a world, or book, where there is no God, gratitude is no longer directed to a giver or a provider of all the things we enjoy. Maybe you want to direct your gratitude towards “the universe” (people do that, right?). Well either the universe is indifferent or, if the universe is not indifferent, isn’t that kind of the same as believing in God?

Anyway, in an indifferent universe, the exercise of gratitude is mostly an exercise in self-improvement. On some level, Hallinan acknowledges this on the page where he writes:

For when I am thankful,

It’s easy to see,

I tend to spend life

Living more joyfully!

So in a way, this secular gratitude is a little self-serving. But hey, religious gratitude also can function in a self-serving way, and appreciating the world does bring more joy into one’s life. And the more joy you have in your own life, the more you can spread it around. And that is something we can all believe in and be a part of whether we believe in a higher power or not.

Book Review: I am a Bunny

Why am I obsessed with this book?

I’ve already read it to RJ twice today.

I actually chose this book brand-new from the bookstore (I usually only buy used children’s books or take them out from the library). Our friend had given RJ a copy of Each Peach Pear Plum for her first birthday but we already owned a copy from my own childhood. So we went to the bookstore to exchange it, but choosing a replacement book was a lot to live up to because Each Peach Pear Plum is an awesome book.

So I looked through almost all of the children’s books while RJ squawked and I sweated, finally choosing this one. And it’s awesome. Hubby and RJ both agree with me.

To begin with, it has the right text to page ratio to hold the attention of a 1-year old. Secondly, it’s adorable and whimsical, even though I slightly disapprove of anthropomorphizing animals. Especially since we ate a rabbit for dinner the other night. So it seems kind of twisted to read this book one night and serve up a tasty rabbit stew the next. But I digress…

I thought this blog did a great job of describing how charming the illustrations (done by the renown and prolific Richard Scarry) are in this book. I like the simplicity of this book and how it describes the changing seasons. The changing seasons do seem more magical now that I have RJ. Life feels more rhythmic in a way, and I like to read books that talk about seasons.

This book was written in 1963, and there is something old-fashioned and innocent about it. You should check it out.