Author: Ruth L. Boling
Illustrator: Tracey Dahle Carrier
Publisher: Westminster John Knox
Audience: 4-6 years
Summary: This book is broken into 14 chapters to be used as curriculum during Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, and into a few weeks of Ordinary Time. Each chapter is very topical and revolves around the lives and characters of The Church of The Least of These, with all the characters being church mice. Each chapter is brilliantly written to portray the personalities of the church members and the interactions between them. There are examples of jealousy, power-struggles, aged, newborns, sick and healthy. The underlying characteristic of all the characters is one of love and interest in working together for the common good. The book is clever in style and reformed in theology. This book is an excellent resource.
Literary elements at work in the story: This story is in a narrative form and tells a story of The Church of the Least of These. The book begins as a pictorial directory of the church, showing a group photo of all the members, followed by individual pictures and a short biography of the twelve main characters. The story begins on the first Sunday of Advent and is a serial, continuing in character and plot from chapter to chapter, or from week to week.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? The book is all inclusive, showing different shades of color, gender, economic status and church mice from different societal points of view. The book is written in a manner that one never thinks of the differences in gender, race, culture or economics as the stories unfold. The underlying theme of the entire book is God’s promises for “the least of these” from Jeremiah, Luke and Matthew.
Theological Conversation Partners: As we participate in this book, we are shown how the beautifully illustrated mice live in community, both within and outside the church. The love and concern displayed for all the characters comes through the story over and over – while displaying the diversity and variety of personalities. Our communities and our communities of faith are displayed beautifully in these stories that take us through the beginning of the Church calendar for 14 weeks.
Faith Talk Questions:
- What is the importance of the Clothing Exchange mentioned in the first chapter of the book?
- Why is it important to Max that Papa Jordan light the Advent candle successfully?
- What emotions are displayed when Rose Noel falls on the ice and fractures her ankle?
- What emotions are displayed when Ernest admitted throwing the rocks and causing Rose Noel to fall on the ice?
- Amber is new to the church family – describe her personality traits and characteristics throughout the book.
- Discuss the importance of Amber refusing to participate in the play reading the Beatitudes.
This review was written by Union Prebyterian Seminary student Becky Albright.