Black Rose Writing, 2013
Is God Real or Pretend? is the story of young Franklin’s engaging and enlightening journey to answer this age old question. Franklin’s grandmother, Dr. Wendy Knowles, a professor of astronomy, first provides Franklin with the basic scientific means of determining what is real and what is not and how science distinguishes questions it can answer and those it cannot. Franklin’s mission of discovery continues as he meets a kindly professor of Greek mythology who offers a historical-cultural prospective on the question. Here Franklin meets the Greek Gods and their timeless myths.
Once armed with these new ideas, Franklin meets with representatives of the world’s five major religions: Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. These knowledgeable teachers from each of the great religions charm and delight as they shine positive lights on their religion. Franklin asks probing questions, while learning to appreciate and admire the diversity and beauty of these religious beliefs and traditions. Ultimately, Franklin’s dynamic school report on the immensity and magnificence of the universe becomes the backdrop for thinking critically about religion and questions about God.
I was attracted by the title of this book and the book description above. I think most people ask this question about God in one form or another. Many children ask this question of their parents as well. I think there is a real need for a book on the subject that parents and children can read and discuss.
This book appears to be written for school-age children, so they can read it – probably third-grade level and above. It also appears to be geared toward American children – at least those in Western cultures that celebrate Santa, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.
Within the first two pages, this book tells the reader that Santa, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy aren’t real. Uh-oh, not a good way to start. I easily can see a child thinking: “Okay, you lied about my three favorite heroes. Does that mean you’ve been lying about God too?” In my opinion, parents who have begun sharing their faith with their children, may have a problem with this approach.
The book does a fairly good job of taking a look at the Greek gods and the five major religions. I say fairly good because I wasn’t thrilled with the examination of the two major religions I’m most familiar with – the Jewish and Christian traditions. The examination of the five faiths is very basic. More would be too much.
So – I was disappointed that the book wouldn’t work the way I hoped it would. My suggestion is that the book be used as a guide for parents who want to have a basic survey discussion about the major religions. Just don’t forget to breeze past the Santa part.
Jennifer Horsman is the author of many thought-provoking books for both young readers and adults. In addition to a B.A. from UC Irvine in Social Ecology, she has spent a lifetime reading about religion, philosophy, history, and science. You can find her and her books at JenniferHorsman.com.
Don’t take my word for the book. Read what other book bloggers on the tour thought. The complete schedule is here: Is God Real Or Pretend? Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all.