Kristin Stiles’ Review of COOP MESSES UP, by Sarah Reju

Published on June 12, 2024 by Eugene Ho

New Growth Press, 2024 | 32 pages

A Book Review from Books At a Glance

by Kristin Stiles


Do you have a child who likes to play with cars and trucks? Do you also want to teach this child the truths of the gospel? If so, here is a book that will not only appeal to your child’s interest; it will do a tremendous job of explaining salvation by grace as well.

Sarah Reju has tapped into the fascination that young children have with cars and trucks in a series titled “The Wheelies.” The first book in this line is Coop Messes Up. We’re introduced to this cute little blue car who is growing continually frustrated by his inability to obey his parents and come home when his gas tank is at a quarter full so that he doesn’t run out of gas. The poor little guy keeps messing up and getting stranded. His sister is a police car and she promises to help him by instructing him that he just needs to keep the rules. At first, it’s pretty easy. He stays under the speed limit and stops at the stop signs, but as more and more rules get piled on, it gets harder. He’s pretty successful, though, and as a result starts to feel pretty proud of himself. He also starts to feel pretty superior to others that he sees breaking the rules. In all the distraction of rule-keeping, both he and his sister forget to return home in time to fuel up and they both get stranded. He expects his parents to be exceedingly angry and that their love for him must certainly be in jeopardy. As he discusses the situation with his parents, they are able to respond with their unconditional love and use this opportunity to draw parallels to our sin problem and how it is not solved by just trying to keep a bunch of rules. Coop’s mom also tells him that God doesn’t love him more when he obeys and less when he disobeys. She then points him to the only One that was ever able to keep all the rules and how Jesus took the punishment that Coop deserves for his sins. She explains how he can be forgiven and live in peace with God. 

There is so much that I appreciate about this book. Reju does an excellent job of differentiating between a works-based righteousness and salvation by grace through faith. That is a topic that is not often addressed in children’s books. I was also relieved to see that within the scope of the allegory she didn’t offer an equivalent to the grace given by God. For example, there wasn’t a human character added that would take Coop’s wheel and direct his driving for him. Instead, the allegory was set aside for the application part of the story. There is also a nice section in the back that reviews the gospel and poses some questions that parents can ask their children. Finally, Reju adds some notes for the parents where she encourages us to make sure that our children know that God’s love is unconditional and that our love, as parents, is also unconditional. She advises parents to be humble and share that we also mess up, but that God is faithful to love and forgive us.

This is a fun and instructive book that I believe you will enjoy sharing with your little ones.


Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.

Buy the books

COOP MESSES UP, by Sarah Reju

New Growth Press, 2024 | 32 pages

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