Sally Lloyd-Jones & Claudine Gevry
Harper Festival, 2010
One of my major frustrations with Christian books for kids is sub-genre of board books. To be sure, there are many to choose from, but most of them fall into at least of one three traps: poorly illustrated, too much text, or ceasing to be about God. Just when I was about to throw up my hands in surrender, Sally Lloyd-Jones (of Jesus Storybook Bible fame) came to my rescue and published Baby’s Hug-a-Bible. It has quickly become one of my favorite books to read my 1-year-old and I am so pleased to have a Bible storybook for babies and toddlers that I can wholeheartedly recommend.
The Hug-a-Bible is written in the best kind of rhyme: catchy but not annoying or forced. There are ten stories in all (with 6-8 lines of verse apiece), and each of them conveys the heart of a biblical text in a way that is succinct and theologically rich. For example, the story about Moses includes these lines: “Who loved that baby in the reeds? / Who knows just what a baby needs? / Who cares for you in just that way? / And gives you all you need today?” One of the best things about this book is the way that all of the stories point to God (without getting sidetracked about animals like so many toddler Bibles do) and then give sincere application to the everyday lives of young children.
The illustrations by Claudine Gevry are a welcome departure from the lackluster pictures in many children’s Bibles I’ve seen. They are bright and bold and, most importantly, my daughter enjoys looking at them while I read aloud. My one initial concern about the Hug-a-Bible was the reason for its name: it has a soft, fleecy cover. My daughter loves it (by the way she squealed and hugged it when I took it out of the box for the first time you’d have thought she was a paid advertiser!), but I feared it would get dirty and be difficult to clean. However, we’ve had ours for several months and I can report that it still looks as good as new. I now predict that it will hold up over time better than traditional board books because my daughter can’t sink her teeth into it as easily.
[Updated to add: There’s now a wonderful album by Rain for Roots called Big Stories for Little Ones that puts this book to music. Do check it out!]