If you’re a parent, you know how hard it can be to find good books for children.
Kid’s books tend to swing too far into the simplistic or go so far over the reader’s heads that they lose interest. Balancing isn’t easy, especially when you’re trying to write a story for little people on a big subject: the love of God.
In The Boy and the Ocean, Max Lucado offers a really sweet story of a mother and father describing the wondrousness of God’s love as they play in the ocean and climb mountains. Throughout the book, Lucado repeats this refrain:
God’s love is like the ocean… It’s always here. It’s always deep. It never ends. God’s love is special.
My middle daughter in particlar, Hannah, is quite fond of the book. She picked it up right away and asked to have it read to her daily for the better part of a week. The story is just right for a three-year-old’s comprehension level, so parents will be pleased with the book in that regard. And because Lucado writes with a distinctly poetic rhythm, our kids tend to be mesmerized when we read it.
Where the book really shines, though, is in the artwork. Illustrator T. Lively Fluharty’s art is stunning. We loved his work in The Barber Who Wanted to Pray and were thrilled to see it again in The Boy and the Ocean. Among our favorite spreads is the one that follows, where the boy sleeps “with the sound of the ocean in his ears”:
We love great art and Fluharty’s paintings alone make this book worth having in your family’s collection.
The story, like I said, is sweet—but that’s all it is. Where the book falls short, unsurprisingly, is giving a real sense how special, how deep, how unending God’s love really is.
While Lucado does a nice job with the “God’s love is deep like the ocean,” he doesn’t take the opportunity to say “and this is how God has shown us how deep his love truly is.” What you get is a half-truth in the book—one that parents are going to want to make sure they complete with their kids both during storytime and in the day-to-day.
In the end, there are a lot worse books you could get for your kids than The Boy and the Ocean. A gospel-driven book, this is not; but it is an opening to a gospel conversation with your kids. And if that’s what Lucado set out to do, then he’s succeeded admirably. If not, then I guess that says something else, doesn’t it?
Title: The Boy and the Ocean
Author: Max Lucado (illustrated by T. Lively Fluharty)
Publisher: Crossway (2013)