Title: Zacchaeus & the Happy Day
Author: Rhonda Gowler Greene
Illustrator: Santiago Cohen
Publisher: Zonderkidz, 2007
Audience: Ages 4 – 7
Summary: This book retells the story of Zacchaeus found in Luke 19. Zacchaeus is a Jewish tax collector hated by his people, but one day he meets Jesus (Zafter climbing a sycamore tree) and his heart is changed. As a result of this encounter he commits to correct his wrong and restore to all those what he took plus some. The version of the story presented is true to the original text, but is varied in some places to add a rhyming effect. This rhyming effect adds an element to the story that will surely capture the attention and imagination of kids 4-7 years in age.
Literary elements at work in the story: This book is a picture book. As such, the version of the storied rendered, though a rhyming scheme is employed, loses its effect and power without the illustrations. Thus, it will be imperative that the pictures be visible to the listener. The book is normal size so it will need to be used with small groups to ensure the audience can fully see the illustrations.
The artwork is artwork that a child would immediately identify with. The colors are representative of that time and culture. However, I will note that the skin tone for most of the people in the book is one of color, except for Jesus. He is presented as Caucasian. This may prompt questions from the listening/viewing audience that one will need to be prepared to address if asked.
How does the book present gender, race, culture, economic status, abilities/disabilities, age, etc. in the story: The story of Zacchaeus is one of economic/social status. Zacchaeus, in his roll of tax collector, was in a position to act justly or unjustly. He chose to act unjustly by taking more than what was due him. His story challenges us to do the right thing even though we could possible get away with doing the wrong thing, which was the case for Zacchaeus. In addition, the story teaches us that God is a forgiving and compassionate God and sups with those that have been deemed by society unacceptable, even if rightly so. Such was the case for Zacchaeus.
Theological conversation partners: Social and economic class is a part of our world and American society. Many individuals find themselves in places where they could act unjustly and get away with it. However, the story of Zacchaeus challenges us to act differently. Even for our little ones it teaches the importance of doing the right thing. In addition to this lesson, it teaches our little ones the power of befriending those who society cast off, even if rightly so, because this is what Christ does. This is the case even when we are the ones society deems unacceptable.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Tell about a time when someone was nice to you even though you did not deserve it.
- How did this make you feel?
- Tell about a time when someone was mean to you because of something you did.
- How did this make you feel?
- Why do you believe it is good/right to fix or attempt to fix the wrong things we do?
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary Student Lorenzo Small.
Filed under: Book Reviews, Books written for ages 3 - 5, Books written for Grades 1 -3 (Ages 6-8), Faith Questions For...., Picture Books, Young Children, Younger Elementary | Tagged: Bible stories, forgiveness, loving neighbors, Luke 19, repentance, restoration, Zacchaeus | Leave a Comment »