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Why Can’t I See God? by Joanne Gilchrist 

Answers hard questions for children about faith, which catches the eye and gets back to the Bible

Why Can't I See God-2Why Can’t I See God?
By Joanne Gilchrist
Sarah Grace Publishing (imprint of Malcolm Down)
ISBN: 978-1703618600
Reviewed by Terry Young

This children’s book is part Joanne’s project to answer hard questions for children about faith. Her website explains that her original motivation was to share her faith with her daughters and by now there are several titles to go with this, such as Is God Very Strong? and Who Made God? In a mix and match approach, there is an app and themed colouring books.

A cast of two children (Eve and Paul), two birds (Coo, the dove and Shriek, the eagle), two farmyard animals (Bleat, the sheep, and Grunt, the ox) and a lion, Roar, discuss the title question in rhyme. The drawings are sparse, bright and highly stylised. I’ve only read a pdf version, so I don’t know what this book feels like in the hand, but it looks like a nice gift.

As well as the poetry, it’s a bit Shakespearean in its lack of props – the characters are mainly outside in a field near a stone cottage, until they are in the stone cottage, or maybe somewhere else completely.

So, what are they talking about? Well, the main line of discussion kicks off with an idea Jesus threw to Nicodemus – you can’t see the wind, but you know where it is blowing. The birds, of course, are rather good with the wind and there is a fun frame of Shriek wearing a pink woolly hat in a windy sky. They imagine other things you can’t see but know are real – love, electricity – and work from there.

Shriek keeps a Bible in his nest and notes that to crack the mystery further requires, a ‘curious heart.’ Paul and Eve climb a rope ladder, unsupervised and without harnesses, to see what he is reading and they discover Hebrews 11:6, which takes the discussion on into what faith is. I hope this doesn’t spoil it for anyone but frankly, if your kids are reading this, they may be outside Joanne’s target audience, anyway.

Finally, Eve discovers that God, ‘warms your heart/And helps you believe’.

It’s quite a lot to cram into 32 pages, but it catches the eye and gets back to the Bible, which I like. My main reservation is whether children are that fazed by not being able to see God. Every instinct I have is not well calibrated to guessing what little girls want in their stories. Joanne has three daughters; we have three boys, and the next generation down is all boys, too, so far. I grew up on Dr Seuss and the Arch books, so I like my scansion tighter and my rhymes crisper.

Personally, I think Joanne would have a lot of fun getting her cast to tell us the parables or bring the Old Testament to life.

But who cares? As I recall, the fun discussions during bedtime reading all started with an interruption. And this book has some lovely interruptible ideas.


Terry Young was a member of Baptist churches when he and his family lived in Datchet from 2002 to 2021, before the nest emptied and he and his wife downsized.

He writes for Christian and healthcare magazines, and set up Datchet Consulting to pursue interesting thinking in secular and sacred arenas

Baptist Times, 02/09/2022
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