Sidney and Norman: A Tale of Two Pigs
Phil Vischer & Justin Gerard
Thomas Nelson, 2006
I wrote in my first post that finding great theological books for kids isn’t usually as simple as walking into your local bookstore and heading to the children’s religion section. Sometimes, though, it is. Sidney and Norman is a book I found in just that way.
This story is about what happens when Sidney and Norman (next-door neighbor pigs) are individually summoned to a meeting with God. Norman has life figured out and feels pretty good about himself. He follows the rules and everybody likes him. “He was pretty sure God liked him, too. After all, he was a very good pig.” When Norman meets God (who is never pictured), though, he is surprised to hear that God does love him, but it’s not because of his goodness. He is even more surprised to hear God tell him to stop being prideful and looking down on others. That admonition prompts Norman to do some soul-searching and repent of his pride.
Sidney is the polar opposite of Norman. Life doesn’t come easy to him, and he seems to always be letting people down. He is late for appointments, gets in trouble, and feels bad about himself because of those things. In fact, “Sidney felt broken,” and sorely felt his shortcomings. When God thrice tells Sidney of his love for him, his first reaction is disbelief. How could God love someone who isn’t good? Slowly Sidney realizes that God really does love him, and it changes his life.
For a child who revels in his goodness, Sidney and Norman might be just the book to help him realize that we are not accepted by God because of anything we have done. No matter how good we think we may be, we do not deserve his favor. It would be an equally good read for a child who is discouraged by his struggle with sin. The message that we don’t earn God’s favor through good works is powerful for both kinds of children.
Sidney and Norman doesn’t mention Jesus (neither does the parable it clearly reflects), but conversations about how he is the reason we are accepted by the Father would naturally flow from the storyline. It is certainly not an all-encompassing theological treatise, but it is very good at what it attempts to be: a fresh parable about how the love of God transforms both the proud and the downtrodden.