Hannah Hall’s other books in the series (God Bless our Country, God Bless Our Christmas, God Bless My Boo Boo) are certainly filled with great reviews, so take this one with a grain of salt. There is a certainly an audience for these books, but unfortunately it’s not me.
Don’t get me wrong. the book God Bless My Friends itself is beautifully illustrated with gorgeous paintings of cute animals. These aren’t so much “funny cute” as they are “pretty cute”, so it’s sure to be a hit with little girls. Every animal you can think of is represented in a detailed picture, from bunnies to skunks to pandas to elephants to tigers, turtles, pigs, raccoons, and chipmunks. The animals are seen together in various scenes playing together as friends.
It’s the writing that I found a little jarring. First of all, there really isn’t a story, they’re just vignettes of moments with animal friends, culminating somewhat incongruently in a giant sack race. Also, the poetry just doesn’t do it for me. The writing is technically sound enough–using an ABCB rhyming pattern and iambic tetrameter–but the words (perhaps exacerbated by the lack of a storyline) just seem both redundant and random–redundant in that each poem is of an unlikely pair of animals talking about their friendship to each other, random in that there doesn’t really seem to be a unifying thread tying everything together. And overall the writing just seemed a bit to shallow for my taste. Here’s an example:
Let’s have a snack–we love this stuff / Each piece seems huge to me / You go ahead and have the most. / My belly’s full with three!
Now again, I should end by saying that I’m probably a bit more critical of the writing than most–after all this is a book for toddlers and especially with Christian books writing often gets a pass (especially with great pictures). Still, if I had to choose, I’d opt for other books with outstanding writing such as “Thank You Lord for Everything” and “All Aboard the Ark” before this one.