From before the beginning, God had a very good, very wonderful idea. An idea of love, of beautiful diversity and of colourful difference. God had an idea of a family of image-bearers, loving him and loving one another. God’s idea is such a good idea. It is a very good idea. It is an idea that needs to be told; told clearly; told vibrantly; told to young and told to old. It needs to be marvelled over and celebrated.
Trillia Newbell’s first children’s book God’s Very Good Idea: A True Story About God’s Delightfully Different Family, is a brilliant retelling of this story to children aged from about 2-and-a-half years old to those who have grown into parents and grandparents. It is the latest book in The Good Book Company’s ‘Tales that Tell the Truth’ series for children and their parents. Here, The Good Book Company have once again hit the bullseye. Newbell captures the wonderful story of God’s gospel and the overarching story of biblical theology and retells it, all the while celebrating cultural, ethnic and social diversity in God’s family. Her use of literacy devices that capture the attention and minds of young children, such as repetition and simple language, bring the deep concepts alive in a tangible way. Newbell also invites readers in through first person usage, encouraging us to see that love, sin and Jesus aren’t concepts to be taught in a removed, sterile way; they are indeed personal and Jesus offers salvation to each person on an individual basis.
Newbell’s story is paired with colourful and fun illustrations by Catalina Echeveri that really ‘pop’. Her signature style of expressive and fun illustrations invite young and old in, taking them on a journey that celebrates the beautiful diversity of God’s image-bearers. As the story reaches the darkness of sin, Echeveri dims her colour-use to match the sadness in our hearts. We grieve as the characters learn the personal reality of the effects of sin. BUT God… and the images ‘pop’ once more; for we learn that God graciously has a very good, very brilliant rescue plan. He comes to earth, bringing life and love to all he meets. In Jesus, we have a solution to our sin-filled hearts. Echeveri also cleverly uses a child’s drawing to mirror the celebration this can result in, once again reinforcing the personal nature of this rescue plan. The choice of font, intermittent capital-letter use to emphasise key ideas and weaving of text throughout the illustrations, continue to build on the seamless pairing of illustration with written word.
Newbell and Echeveri both support each other, harmoniously telling a story that needs to be told; a story that isn’t completely finished. As they point us to the joy of heaven, they also show us that we can experience a glimpse of the enjoyment of heaven by celebrating life with our diverse church families.
This is a picture book my children and I delighted in. It is a wonderful way of presenting the gospel with creativity and simplicity. I also loved how the book I have is hardcover, making it feel durable for little hands. God’s Very Good Idea is a wonderful addition to any family library.
For fellow Aussies, God’s Very Good Idea can be purchased from The Wandering Bookseller.
For US readers, God’s Very Good Idea can be purchased from The Goodbook Company.