If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time at all, you’ve heard about R. C. Sproul’s picture books. You know that he writes parables for children that encapsulate the gospel and that he favors the voice of a grandparent talking to a child. His stories usually go like this:
1. Child has problem.
2. Grandpa comes for dinner, listens to child’s problem; responds with bewitching phrase, like, “I think I might know a story about that.”
3. Child goes wide-eyed, listens in wonder.
4. Grandpa tells story, and it is the gospel, every time.
Like Sproul’s other books, The Prince’s Poison Cup and The Donkey Who Carried a King, The Lightlings gives families an idea of how the Gospel appears in even the smallest of challenges. The story has to do with a fear of the dark, but it also has to do with the God who created the light and the dark and who reached into the dark to rescue the people that He loved. It works on two levels at once so skillfully that we have given this book to a friend whose son was afraid of the dark and heard later that it was, in fact, helpful for him at bedtime, because it reminded him both that God was greater than his fears and that he wasn’t alone in being afraid of the dark.
But Sproul does more than tell a good story: at the back of each book is a catechism-style appendix that answers the many questions that children might have about the story with verses straight from Scripture. If it’s helpful for families to see that the Gospel can meet them in the daily business of life, it’s equally helpful to know that the Bible can give satisfying answers to our questions.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Justin Gerard’s illustrations. To put it simply, they glow: he uses light and dark skillfully to expand the tale of The King of Light and his subjects, and contains a quality that I’ll call, for lack of a less cliche description, “breath-taking.” In his work, I’m learning, there’s typically one picture per book that makes me say softly, “Wow.” I don’t know how he does it.
R. C. Sproul, Justin Gerard (2006)