God’s Holy Darkness (Sharei Green & Beckah Selnick)

Hello, friends! Our book today is God’s Holy Darkness, written by Sharei Green and Beckah Selnick, illustrated by Nikki Faison, a look at the place of “darkness” in Christianity and creation.

The disembodied narrator begins with an astute observation on how we perceive fictional darkness, blackness, or night, namely that it is often seen as less favorable to what is light or bright or white. For people with dark skin, this perception can be harmful and unfair. Yet within the Christian faith, both evidenced by Bible verse and creation, there are plenty of examples that buck this trend, and show that darkness can be the symbol of new beginnings, hope and humility, and the very potential of life itself.

Uplifting if occasionally confusing. Green and Selnick approach a very worthy and complex topic: the socially-constructed symbolism of light and dark and how it can influence racial bias and colorism. However, approaching the solution from a Christian theological standpoint is a double-edged sword, as it may carry a great weight of meaning to Christian audiences but will likely not have the same effect on readers of other faiths. And while some of the biblical examples are compelling, others feel a bit reaching. Still, the ardency of the text is compelling enough that those searching for comfort will surely be comforted, and it’s impossible to deny the clear passion in the writing. Faison’s folk art is equally striking, especially the motif of a heavenly power with celestially dark skin and long braids. The length is fine for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed the art but was confused by the biblical references (we are secular household). Overall, this is a great book for a specific audience, but to that audience it may be indispensable, especially as an affirmation of darkness deeply tied to faith. We recommend it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

God Is With Us (Amy Parker)

Hello, friends! Unfortunately, Santa brought The Baby Bookworm family a nasty flu for Christmas, so we’re having to play catch-up with some of our holiday titles. But that’s okay – books are fun to read anytime! Our review today is of God Is With Us, written by Amy Parker, and illustrated by Ramona Kaulitzki.

The first in the pair’s new God Is series, this biblical-themed board book begins by introducing the reader to different families of animals – mostly parent(s) and child – enjoying a crisp winter evening. An owl clad in a scarf flies with its be-hatted offspring; two mice make snow angels; a mother cat snuggles in with her kitten. Over these scenes, the text informs that God is with us always, not always in ways that we can see, but always in ways that we feel. The story ends on the scene of Jesus’s birth in the manger, showing one of the major ways that God gifted the world with love.

We don’t review a lot of Christian faith-based books (and full disclosure, we are not a religious family), but this one was enjoyable. The primary message – that a higher power is with us in sadness, fear, joy, and everything in between – is comforting and gentle for young readers, and the eventual lead-in to the nativity fits well with the smoothly rhyming text. The adorable animal illustrations are the standout, especially the animals with their tiny hats, coats, mittens, and/or earmuffs, and JJ loved pointing out the different creatures. There is some question on the specific species and even a snowy night being plausible during the birth of Jesus, but that opens a theological can of worms that’s not worth nitpicking over. The book itself has a sweet, kind, gentle tone that can be enjoyed with kids year-round at bedtime. The length is great, and we can definitely recommend this to our followers who are fans of Christian kidlit. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)