A Book Review from Books At a Glance
By Kristin Stiles
This title immediately caught my eye. What an intriguing idea to bring something as important and historic as the Heidelberg Catechism to a new, young audience. In many ways this book is successful in teaching the truths of Christian doctrine and in doing so, the benefits of this book outweigh some of the weaknesses it has.
Sophie is a young girl who is struggling with the guilt she feels for her sin following an episode with her sister and her parents. She is met by a talking neighborhood cat which asks her about these sad feelings that she is expressing. Sophie confesses that she has wronged her sister, her parents, and especially God. When the cat asks her what she knows about the Bible, Sophie recites a litany of characters from Scripture that we should strive to be like. The cat tells her that even these people and all the people around her can never measure up to the perfection that God requires, but that “hope doesn’t come from the good things we do” but from what Jesus has already done. The cat briefly states the work of Christ on the cross. As Sophie is about to leave, the cat has one last truth to share: as a child of God, she has been rescued by Jesus. He is now her Master and He will love and care for her for all of her life.
There are several things that I appreciate about this book. The depravity of man and man’s inability to save himself are plainly stated. I like that during the conversation it is pointed out that everyone around Sophie sins. The text makes it clear that no good works will save us. The author also makes a point of explaining that salvation is only found in Jesus. These gospel truths cannot be emphasized enough and I think they are the real backbone of this book.
There are some weaknesses in this book, however. Never is Sophie encouraged to repent of this recent sinful action to either her family or to God. I think that is a huge oversight. We don’t want children to get the impression that because Jesus paid the punishment for our sins that we are “off the hook” and do not need to practice continual confession and repentance along with doing what we can to make things right with those that we have sinned against. I would encourage parents to continue the story by asking their children to discuss what they think should happen next. I also had some issues with the readability of this book. Although it is structured in verse rather than prose, the quality of the stanzas are lacking. It doesn’t read smoothly with a consistent meter or rhythm. I found that a little distracting, but that might not bother most readers.
Overall, the strengths of this book certainly surpass the weaknesses. It appears that the author plans to continue the series and have more interactions between the Heidelberg Cat and Sophie (or some other child). It will be interesting to see where those story lines go and to see if with experience, practice, and feedback this will develop into a very useful introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism for a new generation.
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
SOPHIE AND THE HEIDELBERG CAT, by Andrew Wilson