Reviewed by: Wilson
Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat, by Andrew Wilson. Crossway, 2019. Hardcover, 36 pages, $10.39 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP member Celeste Jenkins.
What is your only comfort in life and in death? The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism is the basis of this whimsical picture book for three- to seven-year-olds. Although the book falls into the fiction category, the point of this story is to teach children the basics of grace.
The story opens with Sophie, a little girl who is feeling guilty about her behavior after her sister broke Sophie’s toy. The cat from the Heidelbergs’ house next door appears on Sophie’s windowsill and invites her on a rooftop walk while they chat about the Bible. Sophie knows the Bible teaches “how we can please God, and be kind, and obey,” but admits she fails pretty badly when it comes to accomplishing these things. The wise cat shares with Sophie that there is no one who can be good all the time. She explains that our hope isn’t based on anything we do, but is a gift because of what Jesus has done, and goes on to paraphrase the Heidelberg Catechism’s first question and answer. The cat finishes with an object lesson by showing her collar tag to Sophie, explaining that she does not belong to herself but to someone else. Likewise, Sophie belongs to Jesus, who loves and protects her. The story closes with the cat kindly giving her collar tag to Sophie as a reminder of their conversation. The cat’s name tag reads, “Grace.”
This book does a good job of reflecting relevant experiences children may have with their families, and the guilt with which a child may struggle. However, the flow of the text does not lend itself to a smooth read aloud. The story, written in verse, has inconsistent meter throughout, which may lead the readers to trip their way through the book. And while the illustrations are sweet, many of the pages look quite similar to each other. This may make it challenging to keep a small child’s attention. Despite these drawbacks, Sophie and the Heidelberg Cat could be used as a discussion starter to teach our little ones about the most important truths they can ever learn.
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