Friday, June 9, 2017

New PBT Series: Picture Book Classics #1

One of the delights of Picture Book Theology is discovering how an old favorite, perhaps a much-loved story from your childhood, can be viewed in a fresh way through spiritual or theological ideals. There are many such classics featured here at PBT. Today I begin a new series highlighting those oldies but goodies, offering again what I gleaned from a silly but compelling read that encourages us to live more fully a life of authenticity and creativity as I believe God intended. Additionally, this little treasure is a model for listening when differences arise in community. Now that’s a topic in which we could all use a little inspiration!
Picture Book: The Big Orange Splot
Author & Illustrator: Daniel Manus Pinkwater
Summary: Mr. Plumbean happily lives on a “neat street” where all the houses look the same. A seagull carrying a can of paint (“no one knows why,” it says) spills paint on his house resulting in a big, orange splot. He delays re-painting his house. When neighbors complain, he paints his home with multiple colors. His neighbors are astounded and fear he’s gone mad. Meanwhile, Mr. Plumbean builds a clock tower, does some tropical landscaping, and adds a hammock. When they complain, he explains, “My house is me and I am it. My house is where I like to be and it looks like all my dreams.” His next door neighbor is sent as a delegate to convince him to conform. Instead, the neighbor too rebels, painting his house like a ship. One by one, the neighbors are converted, and the look of their neighborhood is transformed.
Hanna’s Comments: One of the many aspects of this book that I like is that the conflicts are handled through face to face, civil conversation. Despite some fear and misunderstanding, the neighbor/delegate visits Mr. Plumbean and somehow Mr. Plumbean convinces the neighbor to risk painting his own house to reveal his dreams. The importance of listening while others dream aloud might be a point of conversation after reading this book. More obviously, it is a delightful book about being drawn to express our authentic selves in community. That is a godly pursuit!
Publisher & Date of Publication: Scholastic, 1977
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 4 and up, Pre and up
Scripture Connections: Do not be conformed to this world (Romans 12:2)
Idea(s) for Application: Read this book at a religious community’s arts camp. Tie in the idea of God’s creativity revealed through creation, including our own authenticity.