Mary Brigid Barrett & Frank Morrison
Let’s get to straight to the point: I love this book. Really, really love it. It has everything that Sarah and I look for in great theological children’s literature and is easily in my top 10 favorite books that we’ve reviewed here on the blog.
Shoebox Sam is the story of a shoe repair man and the people who frequent his shop. He’s good at what he does, so he has plenty of well-to-do people hire him to fix their shoes. But he also has plenty of down-and-out patrons as well. Sam treats them all with dignity; he joyfully serves each of his customers, with honest compassion and without judgment, in whatever way he or she needs. His joy and his servant-mindedness both rub off on Delia and Jesse, the two children who spend their Saturdays helping in his shop.
One of the things I love most about Sam is how his job is much more than just a way to earn money. He earns a living repairing shoes, sure, but it’s also a major way that he lives out the principles he has based his life upon: joy, mercy, generosity, excellent workmanship, and hospitality (to name a few). There is a powerful theology of work on display in the pages of this book.
Theological language, per se, is absent from the book, but in Sam’s life we see a clear reflection of Christ and the radical values of His Kingdom. Sam shows no partiality, welcomes children, displays the fruit of the Spirit, does not store up treasures on earth, and humbly serves those in need. He is, in short, an excellent role model for anyone who seeks to follow Jesus.
To sum up, I love everything about this book. The story is authentic and provocatively thoughtful. It’s very well written. The illustrations are full of life. In my humble opinion, it’s one that is definitely worth owning, so keep it in mind when you’re buying your next birthday present or filling Easter baskets. It’s at the top of my own books-to-buy list!
Thanks for the recommendation! It has struck me recently that I was deeply formed by missionary biographies as a child (for which I am grateful), but there was a dearth of great literature that extolled meaningful Christian participation in “ordinary” vocations.
I’m looking forward to reading Shoebox Sam. Please pass along any others that you find in this niche!