Review: The King of Christmas

The King of Christmas (A FatCat Book), Art by Natasha Kennedy, Text by Todd R. Hains. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2022.

Summary: The search for the King of Christmas by the Magi, and where the King was found…and where he was not.

I told you I had a second FatCat Book to tell you about, one that is Christmas themed. The King of Christmas draws on the story of the Magi and their search for the King of Christmas after sighting his star. The didn’t find him with the stars of heaven or the birds of the air, the fish of the sea or among the beasts of the field. He wasn’t at the tables of the rich, the courts of kings, the forts of soldiers, the markets, or with the scribes in the temple. Each page asks, “is the King of Christmas there?” with the answer of “No!” until at last they find him in a converted feed trough where animals were stabled.

But the story doesn’t end there. He’s found between criminals and wherever his word and name are. And that name is Jesus, the King of Christmas! But he is not found in a tomb. And as in the other stories, FatCat may be found on every page.

Once again, Natasha Kennedy accompanies Todd R. Hains text with vibrant illustrations that will be a delight to the child’s eye. Here’s just one example (from the publisher’s website):

Consistent with the series, a great diversity of people exist, including gathered at the table of a dark-skinned Jesus, with us as God’s Word is read and taught, in Baptism and at the Lord’s Supper celebrations.

As with other books in this series, the story is meant to be read and shared in families, and the author includes a Christmas prayer that may be read responsively. The book renders afresh the story of the humble beginnings of the King, his victory over death, and his presence with all who seek him and how he may be found. The text is simple and budding readers will want to learn the words, even as they enjoy the illustrations. So you will want to read this more than once–perhaps many times–and not only at Christmas.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.

Review: The Lord’s Prayer: For All God’s Children

The Lord’s Prayer: For All God’s Children (A FatCat Book), Art by Natasha Kennedy, Text by Harold L. Senkbeil. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2022.

Summary: A lavishly illustrated book designed for parents to use with children in teaching them the meaning of the Lord’s prayer and praying together in family worship.

One of the things I love about this book out of the gate is that is designed for parents to use in introducing their children to the Lord’s Prayer, walking phrase by phrase through the prayer. I suspect that as parents do so with their children–perhaps no more than a phrase a day because the reflections are rich–the parents will learn as well. How many of us have reflected on the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer?

Here’s part of the reflection on “Thy Kingdom Come”:

"Lord teach us to pray.
Your kingdom come.

Can we make God's kingdom come? No!
His kingdom comes all by itself.

Where is God's kingdom?
Wherever Jesus is, there he rules as King.
He brings us life and forgiveness, peace and salvation.
That's why we pray for God's kingdom to come."

The book is lavishly illustrated in a rich palette of color showing Jesus in a variety of settings, each connected in some way with the phrase of the Lord’s Prayer being read about. Here is an example from the publisher’s website of the “Thy Kingdom Come” pages:

One of the features I noticed is that Jesus is dark-skinned, not the fair-haired blonde Jesus many of us grew up with. Also, there are people with a variety of skin colors and features, fitting with the title of this prayer being for all God’s children.

You may also notice FatCat, who appears on every page. Children will love looking for FatCat, who visually represents an important idea in this book–the “fatness” of the catechism–that it is full of meaning. This book, and others in the FatCat series are intended to teach in an approachable manner about central texts of the faith–the Apostles Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.

The book builds on this idea in a discussion titled “Families are little churches” that follows the Lord’s Prayer. These book reflect the conviction that the family is where instruction (“catechesis”) has happened throughout church history and that this can be as praying what we believe together a families. A simple family prayer service that may be read responsively follows in the text.

The author concludes by sharing scripture texts that informed and bounded both text and illustrations for each phrase. It was clear in reading this book that great care was given to say both what this prayer does and does not mean and what we may learn both of Jesus who teaches the prayer and the Father to whom it is addressed.

This book is a gift to parents who want to actively take part in teaching their children about the faith. The combination of the beautiful illustrations, FatCat who roams the pages, the biblically grounded reflections, and helps in translating teaching into family worship make this a rich resource packed into just 32 pages.

Tomorrow I will be reviewing another book in this series, The King of Christmas.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher.