“God is Great, God Is Good” by Sanna Anderson Baker; illustrated by Tomie dePaola
When I first heard of this new edition board book released recently, from the original released in 1987, with text by Sanna Anderson Baker and illustrated by the incomparable Tomie dePaola, I was chuffed to say the least.
I first thought of the children’s prayer said at grace before meals:
“God is great; God is Good.
And we thank Him for this food.”
But, after reading the latest sturdy board book edition, I learned that poet Sanna Anderson Baker’s words “reimagine God’s words of comfort from the “Book of Job” as a “beautiful celebration of the earth.”
Anyone familiar with the “Book of Job,” and a decent and honest man’s travails that set upon him one after another in a 24 hour period, yet refuses to rail at God for his troubles, knows that it emerges from a sort of bet between God and the Devil.
The Devil opines that Job is indeed blessed and righteous, BUT what would he say and do IF one misfortune after another befell him in a single day? Would he still bless God?
And God allows the test to play out.
Somehow that always baffled me.
I suppose it supposes the inscrutability of God.
Not the time or place for a theological discussion, I guess.
Anyway, back to the picture book at hand, called “God is Great, God is Good.”
Taken from the “Book of Job,” listen to this beautiful poetry:
Who was there when the sea was born?
And who wraps it round
with a blanket of fog?
Who tells the Morning,
“Sweep the stars from the sky”?
And who shapes the clouds that hang so high?
Who says to Thunder,
“When Lightning dances, clap”?
Who says to Snow,
“Go to Earth,
and be quiet as a cat”?
Who knows the names
of the birds of the world?
And who’s a friend
of the water-spurting whale?
HE IS GREAT,
and HE IS GOOD.
I think this is the perfect time for a reissuing of this book. Children are naturally enthralled by nature. And Tomie dePaola has brought the powerfully poetic words here from the “Book of Job,” joyfully to life….again via Abrams Appleseed imprint.
With images in glorious bursts of color or soft palettes of pastels, he matches the words to a beautifully rendered series of scenes.
Children will see the ocean waving with straight lines of creamy fog hovering above, stars floating away at morning from an azure blue sky, as dawn comes and lights a hillside, rolling thunder clouds buffeting a man, made small by the enormity of a brilliantly reddened sky, a cat made bluish by its contact with the large flakes of snow on a mound of white (you can almost feel the cold) and my favorites; a fox, racoon, deer, and rabbit, peeking out beneath a forest and a tree-filled bevy of uniquely beautifully colored birds.
But, here’s the big question.
How does an artist depict God for a child?
Tomie chooses his symbol as a series of strong, yet loving hands that oversee all of His creation. The touch and feel of loving creation is everywhere in this book.
If you are looking for a picture book to introduce your young reader to the concept of a loving Creator who oversees the creation of a world filled with beauty and awe; THIS is the book.
Its simplicity is deceptive, but the power of the message, wonderfully rendered by Tomie dePaola, is unforgettable:
God is Great,
God is Good