I had not had the opportunity to take a good look at any of Max Lucado’s books for children until quite recently. Crossway Books has published quite a number of them and I recently sat down with two titles in particular to give them a good study.
Just the Way You Are is the story about a whole town of children who have been adopted by the king. The king is going to make a special visit to their village and everyone is dashing about trying to create special gifts to give to their king and adopter. A family of talented siblings are in the throes of preparation, all except the youngest who believes she has no special talents or gifts to offer the king. This saddens her as she goes from sibling to sibling in attempt to learn their trade, be it painting or the ability to study and learn great things. One day a plain clothed man rides into town donkey. (Yes, you can guess where this is going.) This young girl with no special talents met the man, watered his donkey and sits at his feet while he rests from his long journey. She, of course, eventually realizes that he is the king, come to down in disguise so that he might better discern whose hearts truly belong to him. Although this young girl had nothing particularly special to offer in terms of creative talents, she had her heart to give and that is what the king wanted most of all. This book is illustrated by Sergio Martinez and is very classic and timeless. It has an old world feel to it that makes the story much more believable in taking you back to the era of cobblestone streets and peasant clothing. I liked the illustrations in this book very much.
The second book I looked through was With You All the Way and is a much more straight forward allegory than the first. Lucado goes with the knights and castle theme in this book, telling the tale of three knights on a quest to marry the king’s daughter. In order to win her hand in marriage, they must first go through the forest called Hemlock. Each knight is forewarned about the dangers and allowed to choose one companion for their journey. Also, they are told that three times a day the king would play music on his flute so that the knights would be able to hear it and know which direction they should be heading to go through the forest. The knight who makes it out alive wins the hand of the beautiful princess. The knight who rises to the challenge and conquers it is the one who is the most wise. He listened carefully to the music played by the correct flute and wasn’t misguided by the sound of hundreds of other flutes that were played within the darkness of the forest. By properly discerning the true and pure flute music, he was able to conquer the forest and escape. The illustrations in this book are done by Chuck Gillies and I found them to be much more modern. (The princess, for example, has a short hair bob that is familiar to today’s society.) However, the story is impacting all the same.
I believe I do like Lucado’s work for children and I’m glad for the opportunity to take a closer look. The stories are ones that are easy for children’s imaginations to identify with. The allegories are very straight forward communicating truth in an almost simplistic way and yet with a great degree of thought and creativity applied. I heartily recommend them if you are looking for books for your children that communicate biblical truths in a creative way.
Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know.