Diane Prather

Diane Prather

Diane Prather: 'What Is Heaven Like' is a special, poignant book

— This week's beautiful picture book is on loan from the family of the late Cassie Owens. Cyndee Owens thinks the book is a good resource to use when helping children deal with death. She wants others to know about the book.

"What Is Heaven Like?" was written by Beverly Lewis and illustrated by Pamela Querin.

The narrator of the book, a young boy, wonders whether the sun will ever come out. It's been raining hard all day, and the sky is gray.

"Gray" is how the boy feels, too. His grandpa has died.

When the rain stops, the boy and his sister climb the ladder up into the boy's tree house. They sit there on the porch, with a gray and white kitty, staring at the sky. A rainbow appears in the sky. The girl is reminded of God's promise. The boy is reminded of Grandpa's promise that they'll see each other again.

So, the boy begins to wonder about heaven, and he sets out to find what others know. In the next few days he asks everyone he sees, "What is heaven like?"

First, while they're swinging in the park, the boy asks his sister. She says the streets are made of gold and that there are angels, too. The boy looks up in the sky and makes out a white castle formed by clouds.

Next, the boy asks Mr. Nelson, the mail carrier, whether anyone has ever sent a letter to heaven. Mr. Nelson says heaven is too far away. It's past the moon and Milky Way.

Miss Birch, the playground teacher, says heaven is a place where a boy can play all day and never get tired.

At the library, Mrs. Turner is busy "shushing" some boys, but she says that there's lots of joyful noise in heaven.

Tyler, who drives the ice cream truck, gives the boy a Fudgsicle and says there's a lot of food in heaven, and it's good for you, too.

The boy also questions Dr. Anne, the dentist; Mrs. Johnson, the neighbor; and the zookeeper.

Then he asks Mom about heaven. Mom gets a cup of coffee and sits down at the table across from her son (who is holding his kitty). She gently begins answering his questions.

At bedtime, when Dad is tucking his son and kitty in, the boy wants to know whether Grandma and other family members will die, too. Dad is truthful but says the spirit lasts forever.

The next day, after dinner, Grandma spends a lot of time with her grandson. Little by little, the boy is learning to deal with death.

Scripture, included at the bottom of most of the pages, was taken from Holy Bible, New International Reader's Version (1998, Zondervan Publishing House).

"Teaching Your Child About Heaven," the last page of the book, was written by Beverly Lewis.

I agree with Cyndee. This is a special, poignant book with absolutely gorgeous illustrations. (There's an especially touching illustration at the book's end.)

Beverly Lewis is perhaps best-known for "Just Like Mama," a children's book with an Amish setting.

"What Is Heaven Like?" is published by Bethany Backyard, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2006. The book costs $14.99. ISBN 10: 0-7642-0184-0

Thanks for sharing this book with us.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2007. All rights reserved.

Comments

RachelWoo 6 years, 9 months ago

I've always found it odd that people pull descriptions of heaven out of their hats -- that we've given ourselves permission to describe it as anything we want it to be, so long as it is surpassingly enjoyable.

The Bible began the rumor of heaven in the first place, and so should be trusted in its descriptions if we are to accept the concept at all. And the Bible is quite clear: in heaven, we will exist only to offer continuous praise to the Creator (Rev. 5:13-14; 7:9-12).

I can see why children's books and adult imaginations prefer to render a more appetizing substitute. I can't quite imagine anything quite so tedious and would much prefer non-existence. Fortunately, I think that's what we get -- genuine, ultimate, restful peace.

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