Friday, September 6, 2019

Book Review: Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat

Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat. Andrew Wilson. Illustrated by Helena P. Garcia. 2019. Crossway. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Sophie is crying. Her sister Michaela has broken her dollhouse, and nobody cares. To make matters worse, she’s pushed over her sister, then yelled at her parents, and stormed up the stairs.

Premise/plot: This is a picture book that will appeal to Reformed or Calvinist families; the picture book is oh-so-loosely inspired by the Heidelberg Catechism. It stars a naughty girl, Sophie, who follows a strange cat (named Grace, I believe) up on the roof to talk theology. And it’s all done in rhyme. The theme of this one is that we are all born with a sin nature and stand in need of a savior. Salvation is not earned or achieved but purely of grace. God graciously saves his elect.

My thoughts: I love, love, love the Heidelberg Catechism. I do. I am without a doubt Reformed in my theology. But. If parents really, truly want to teach theology to their children there has to be a better way then this—mediocre rhyme and a flimsy story. Why a talking cat? Why a rooftop? Why introduce fantasy elements into what could be a realistic story? Why not just directly talk to children about the gospel?

A few years ago an updated children’s Catechism inspired by the Heidelberg Catechism was released—also a few albums with songs to aid in memorizing the questions and answers. That approach actually makes sense.

Few writers can write in rhyme and actually get the concept of rhythm. Many try, no doubt about it. They give it their all and do manage to get published. But rhyming texts are so tricky to get right and easy to get wrong. Few achieve a natural, realistic, genuine, believable voice. That credibility is much more important if you want to engage with readers heart to heart.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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