Today I offer another in my PBT Grab & Go series in which I post again about a picture book that is extremely easy to use in sacred settings. Today’s feature book is a PBT God book, one of the few PBT books that seem to be about the nature of God. Most PBT books are secular; these are the exception.
Picture Book: Old Turtle
Author: Douglas Wood
Illustrator: Cheng-Khee Chee
Summary: Long ago the animals & other inhabitants of Earth (the oceans, the rocks, etc.) began arguing about God. The animals gave God characteristics like themselves. The wind argued that God was never still while the rock insisted that God never moved. The lion described God as a hunter; the robin claimed that God is gentle. Eventually Old Turtle stopped the arguing and offered a description of God that incorporated all the previous offerings and then ended simply with “God is.” Then Old Turtle forewarned of a new animal coming to join them who would be even more like God. The humans did come, but they forgot they were to be messengers of love. The humans also argued about God’s nature and used their power to hurt others and the Earth. Then new kinds of responses came from the inhabitants who had argued before. This time they offered one another’s attributes as aspects of God. After a lonely and scary time, the people listened and even began to see God in one another and the beauty that surrounded them. Old Turtle (and God) smiled.
Hanna’s Comments: This is a wonderful fable of ecology, peace, and our legacy as being made in God’s image and interconnected with other inhabitants of Earth. A choral symphony has been written based on this picture book. There’s also a sequel: Old Turtle and the Broken Truth. Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso has written a similar book: In God’s Name. I highly recommend it as well. It is published by Jewish Lights, a publisher of books for “Peoples of all Faiths, All Backgrounds.”
Publisher & Date of Publication: Scholastic, 1991
Age and Grade Appropriateness: 6 and up, 1st and up
Formats other than Book: Tablet, Youtube video
Scripture Connections: Humans are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and other aspects of the Genesis 1 creation story; I am that I am (Exodus 3:14)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book before or after taking a group of children from your faith community to a zoo. Encourage them to talk and think about how the animals they see might reflect God’s nature.