You can go home again

You can go home again June 28, 2024

Image: Crossway

Have you ever read the parable of the prodigal son and thought “they should rewrite this for kids.” For kids, yes, but that’s been done. Charlie and the Preschool Prodigal by Ginger Blomberg is the telling of the tale about the brothers of the tale as children.

The plot is pretty straightforward (and I won’t spoil much of it here, though can one really spoil a children’s book based on a story everyone knows?). Eddie is the mess/wild kid, Charlie is the clean/orderly one. One day Eddie runs away from home and spends the day playing and hiding from his parents (who are mostly left out of the narrative–appropriate enough, given the source material). This is fun at first, then uncomfortable, then scary. Then Eddie goes home and is welcomed back by his worried father, who proceeds to give him ice cream. Charlie is not okay with this–after all he didn’t run away from home and didn’t get an ice cream party for it. His father reminds him that he is loved and invites him to join the party with/for his brother, and the book ends with the question of whether we think Charlie will join in, and whether we would as well.

If nothing else, it’s interesting to have a children’s book that ends with ambiguity. That is what the parable does, of course. Just what are we supposed to do with that older brother? Like Jonah, we have a cranky figure left being mildly rebuked for his crankiness. Which as a cranky figure hits home, for sure.

Again, it’s a clever telling. The illustrations are solid (though I am not an art person, so take that for what it’s worth). The themes of the parable are captured well and the text-to-image balance is well-struck (not always an easy thing in a children’s book).  I don’t want the review to be longer than the book, so I’ll wrap up here and just note that this is an excellent little addition to the series of kid’s books Crossway has been cranking out.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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