Most children’s books you see these days seem to consist of cute (and not-so-cute) little illustrated animals and children with simplistic rhymes and ditties. But every now and again you come across one that transcends the banal and approaches being a thing of beauty, and even a work of art.
Baby Wren and the Great Gift is published by Christian children’s book publisher Zonderkids. It’s the story of a little wren who lives in a canyon who encounters various other animals also in the canyon–a kingfisher diving into the water, a sunfish splashing in the deep, an eagle soaring above the clouds, and so on–and laments that he doesn’t have the same gifts that they have. In the process, the author Sally-Lloyd Jones uses her undeniable gift of language to express the beauty and wonder of creation. Her words are supplemented by simple and yet stunningly beautiful watercolor paintings by Jen Corace.
Toward the end of the book, when you’re feeling a little sorry for the little wren, the wren takes in all the beauty it sees around it, and then the tiny bird starts to sing a song of thanks for all the beauty it has witnessed throughout the story. The little wren’s song fills the entire canyon and all the inhabitants of the canyon are blessed by the little bird’s joy.
The story is simple and yet surprisingly moving and powerful. Within this simple little story are so many lessons. First, it’s a reminder to children (or for that matter, anyone who feels “small”) that even though they may not be able to do the sorts of things others can, that God has still given them gifts that they can use to find and achieve their purpose in life and to make the world a better place. And second, it’s a reminder that humility and thanksgiving are among the most powerful gifts one can have, a lesson I appreciate tremendously in this world where so many children are made to feel entitled and the center of the universe.
Something that I find really interesting is that the author conveys all this without mentioning the words “Jesus” or “God”. It reminds me a little of the book of Esther in the Bible, which also doesn’t mention the name of God at all, and yet you could feel God’s work throughout. A non-Christian could read this book and appreciate it for how it teaches positive messages to children such as the importance of being thankful and the importance of finding out what their unique talents and gifts are. But of course, to Christians the message becomes much more powerful knowing that there’s a loving God behind all of it.
The book is hardcover and measures 9 inches by 11 inches. The paper is glossy and relatively thick, with the beautiful full-color watercolors.
This is one that easily get 5 out of 5 stars from me, and it’s one I hope I’ll be able to read to my daughter over and over again. Highly recommended.