A Tale of Two Piggies

Sidney & Norman

I don’t normally review books that involve God because (generally) they repulse me. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-God, on the contrary. But, so many books that include God are models of awful prose and many of the remaining few have horrible (often trite) story-lines.

So, how did these porkers creep past security? It wasn’t simple, but it involves an important moral:

Norman is that self-righteous jerk that some churches seem to spawn… and Sidney is a guy who just can’t keep his life together. Both receive an invitation from God because he has something to tell them.

Holding true to their characters, Norman is confident that God wants to tell him how awesome he is… and Sidney is pretty sure he’s going to get run over by a train.

When they finally meet God, both pigs are in for a shock. Mr. Goody-two-shoes finds out that God loves him. But, he adds, “you’re not as good as you have lead yourself to believe. You’re prideful. You’re selfish. You look down on others, simply because things don’t come as easily for them.” So Norman leaves in tears. The truth hurts.

Sidney observes Norman’s stricken exodus and is really sure he’s doomed. BUT the message is simply this, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Sidney leaves just as stunned as Norman.

This book is brilliant commentary on self-righteously annoying church people, without being hateful. That’s a tough tightrope to walk, but Phil Vischer pulls it off. It also sends a message that, despite church culture’s favoritism toward successful middle class types, God loves and welcomes all who will come.



They Called Her Moses

Moses - When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom

I taught for years when there wasn’t a suitable picture book tribute to Harriet Tubman.  Now that I have it, I’m not sure I can use it in school.

Harriet is one of those historic figures that trouble publishers. They could (and some do) tell her story without the spiritual aspects. But scrubbing her free of this side of her identity is like pretending Martin Luther King Jr. was not a reverend.  It’s just not honest to the historic record.

Carole Boston Weatherford does not make this mistake with Moses. Instead she makes Harriet’s spirituality the center of the story of her escape from slavery.  Thus, much of the book is a conversation with God; and perhaps this is just how Harriet would have had it.

I like this book, in part because Kadir Nelson‘s illustrations are nothing shy of amazing, but also because Harriet’s struggle to escape is so compelling. However, I’m not sure that I can use it in school with young students. The intersection of spirituality and public schools is awkward at best, and becomes a lighting rod at worst.

This year I’m going to pass  on Moses: probably like many publishers did. But, for an older audience, this would absolutely work; and this is certainly fair game for the private school and homeschool crowds.