________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 7 . . . . November 26, 2004


I Wonder...Did Jesus Have a Pet Lamb?

Janette Oke. Illustrated by Corbert Gauthier.
Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers (distributed in Canada by R.G. Mitchell Family Books), 2004.
24 pp., cloth, $14.50.
ISBN 0-7642-2901-X.

Subject Heading:
Jesus Christ - Childhood - Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


I wonder if Jesus had a pet. If he did, was it a small, wooly lamb or a long-eared baby donkey? Maybe it was a bird in a wicker cage - or a turtle he kept in an earthenware jar. Or maybe he had a silky-haired cat that liked to curl up on his bed, or a puppy that liked to romp and play.

Recognizing that children principally encounter the historical figure of Jesus as an infant in a Bethlehem stable and then during his adult ministry, Jesus’s childhood and adolescent years, with the exception of his questioning visit to the temple at age 12, are essentially invisible to them. To assist young children, in particular, in being able to relate to Jesus as a person, Janette Oke, a very well-known author in the area of Christian juvenile literature, has created a number of scenarios that provide today’s children with opportunities to make connections and identify with what the growing up years of Jesus might have been like. Okes’s vehicle is a contemporary little boy who wonders “what he [Jesus] was like when he was just a boy.” And so he wonders about the child Jesus’s favourite pastimes, his toys, pets, friends, and schooling, plus what he liked to eat and what he did when he visited his grandparents. As well, the boy ponders such questions as whether or not Jesus’s mother saved “his first tooth or a dark curl of his baby hair,”or, if, after the child Jesus fell and scraped his elbow, did “his mother kiss the hurt and wipe away the tears and send him back out to play?”
internal art

     Gauthier uses a realistic style in his full colour illustrations with each taking up one half of every pair of facing pages. With the exception of the opening and closing illustrations, which show the contemporary little boy lying in bed with his dog, the Bible and a copy of this book, the other nine illustration are of scenes involving the historical Jesus engaged in some activity related to the boy’s I wonder.... statement. Consequently, when the boy says, “I wonder what his toys were like,” the illustration shows an intent young Jesus, his tongue out in concentration, building a miniature temple “with pieces of wood left over from his dad’s carpenter shop.” On the page that carries the text, Gauthier always incorporates a small illustration that connects the past with the present, and, in this situation of play, Gauthier includes two Leggo pieces.

     A fine purchase for church or home libraries.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children’s and YA literature in the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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