Join me for a book review of The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross. This stunningly illustrated picture book will help kids ages 4-8 better understand the gospel and the story of God.
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Sometimes daily life, current events, the fear of the unknown…it’s all just so overwhelming. Hard, sad, confusing. And there’s a good reason why. Things are not as they should be.
Something I looked forward to in switching directions on this space was the opportunity to share gospel-centered books. Books that teach our children there is HOPE. There is truth to be found even while we live in this crazy world. Of course, not every book I share is specifically a gospel book, but today’s book IS, and I’m so excited to share.
The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross | Book Review
The point of the book is to share the gospel. Creation, Rebellion (the fall of man), Redemption (through Jesus’ work on the cross), and Restoration (“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more” Rev 21:4, ESV).
Obviously, that’s a lot to get across in a summary of the gospel for kids! This book is part of an ongoing series from The Good Book Company that is doing an excellent job of sharing Biblical truth with little ones (check the end of this post for a list of titles). The author does an amazing job of communicating the story in language kids will “get” and the truths are solidified with the powerful illustrations.
I appreciate how the book repeats the truth that sin (especially original sin) stemmed from a desire to rebel and usurp God’s power. Isn’t it true even today that we all desire our own little kingdoms?
The author explains how after Adam and Eve sinned, a “KEEP OUT” sign was essentially placed in front of the Garden and later, around where God would dwell in the temple. The phrase repeats, “because of your sin, you can’t come in.” And onward for generations.
But then, Jesus.
When the people decide yet again that they don’t want God in charge, we come to the “most bad thing that had ever happened.” When Jesus dies on the cross, the illustrations grow darker yet. BUT, it was all in God’s plan. We follow along as the curtain tears (!), Jesus is resurrected, and we are introduced to the glorious news that Jesus has “died on the cross to take your sin…So all my friends CAN now come in!”
What I Love About The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross by Carl Laferton
The stunning illustrations. Incredible visual storytelling, from the Garden of Eden where everything practically sparkles, to the fall of man where the colors are dim monotone, to the final scenes where things are once again bright.
The attention to detail. You might also like to check out this article on some of the hidden details in the book. One of my favorites is how the serpent has legs in the illustration of the temptation, which Scripture suggests in Genesis 3:14.
Scripture references. The back of the book includes a page of references to where the gospel can be found in the Bible.
The gospel truth. The book is a summary of the gospel for kids and there isn’t room for addressing EVERY theological point. However, the gospel ( “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” 1 Peter 3:18, ESV) is proclaimed loudly.
Diversity. I love love love how each book in this series shows all the beautiful people God created in an evident variety of ethnicities. Really wonderful.
Repetition. The book repeats, “It is wonderful to live with Him, but because of your sin, you can’t come in”, demonstrating our separation (that we are powerless to repair on our own) from God.
Childlike language. For instance, explaining the curtain in the temple as a “KEEP OUT” sign, or the state of the world after the fall as “bad” and “sad”.
Offering of HOPE. The book is clear that Jesus has made a way. We were separate from God and living (as illustrated in the artwork) in a dim, dusty, dreary world. With God, because of Jesus’ work on the cross, we have hope, life, joy, and a future. Blessed color!
Notes and Details
My rating: 5/5.
- Age Range: 4 – 8 years
- Grade Level: 1 – 2
- Series: Tales That Tell the Truth
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: The Good Book Company (February 23, 2016)
- ISBN-10: 1784980129
More Notes on Theology
As I mentioned, the book is a summary of the gospel for kids and doesn’t cover EVERY theological detail.
Here’s a couple quick notes for you to be aware of. These are points that you can easily chat through as you read, or may come up anyway as your kids ask questions. This summary of the gospel may also be of help.
Repentance: The emphasis on repentance could be stronger at the end.
Clarity: The explanation of the curtain and the temple could be confusing to this age group. Also, I wish that the book explained the Trinity a bit better, which I know is hard to do, but I’m not sure if the point gets across that Jesus’ is God’s Son, AND (wow), God Himself (John 1:1).
The temptation: The serpent is seen visually, but not talked about in the story. I do appreciate that the emphasis is placed on man’s rebellion though.
Reminder: I was reminded of this myself as I jotted down these notes to share. If we are believers, it’s our responsibility to share the gospel accurately to our children. We shouldn’t expect a book, the church, or a friend to do it for us. Though, those things are awesome!
So, if it helps, remember that any book can be a catalyst towards conversations with your kids where you explain more, dive deeper, answer questions, or look for answers together. Our world is looking for hope and this book does an excellent job of sharing where to find it. I really do recommend this one for your bookshelves!
More Books in the Tales that Tell the Truth Series
- The Friend who Forgives by Dan Dewitt, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- The Christmas Promise by Alison Mitchell, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- God’s Very Good Idea by Trillia Newbell, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- The One O’Clock Miracle by Alison Mitchell, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- Goodbye to Goodbyes by Lauren Chandler, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- Jesus and the Lions’ Den by Alison Mitchell, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- The Prisoners, the Earthquake and the Midnight Song, by Bob Hartman, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- Jesus and the Very Big Surprise by Randall Goodgame, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri
- The Storm That Stopped by Alison Mitchell, illustrated by Catalina Echeverri