Title: When God Was a Little Girl
Author: David R. Weiss
Illustrator: Joan Lindeman
Publisher: Beaver’s Pond Press
Audience: Ages 4-7
Summary: Susanna and her father while away the miles of a long car ride by retelling the story of creation, imagining a creator who is young, female, and full of joy.
Literary elements at work in the story: This is the story of a creation within a creation. On the surface a father and daughter create a story together. The father often begins a thought, and his daughter Susanna adds details, many of which take the story in new directions. The subject of their narrative is a retelling of the Creation story in Genesis.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Our understanding of God has its roots in the stories we have been told throughout our lives, and those stories are nearly always told in very adult, male-centered language. Weiss’ imaginative account of the creation story casts aside the traditional gender identification of God as male and allows a young female voice to share her delight in the making of the universe. Lindeman portrays multicultural girls in her illustrations to further stretch the reader’s image of who God is. One of the gifts of storytelling is its power to break down barriers for the imagination, and this story does just that by putting a little girl in the role of God. “Daddy … did it really happen like that?” Susanna asks at the end of the tale she and her father have constructed. “Sure it did. It always happens just like the stories say … even when the stories tell it differently each time.”
Theological Conversation Partners: The obvious conversation partner for this book would be the stories of creation from Genesis 1 and 2, particularly with regard to discussions about God’s great love for God’s handiwork. In this book God sings creation into existence, aided by paint, glue, glitter, and laughter. Of particular interest to those working with children would be the description of the creation of humans, where God takes “the softest, nicest-smelling Earth,” rolls it in her hands, and sculpts many “Humus Beings.” This joy in the act of creation also echoes the feminine voice of Wisdom in the eighth chapter of Proverbs: “when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” (Proverbs 8:29-31) The human attempt to describe God often devolves into the human attempt to restrict God, and this book is a helpful antidote to that tendency.
Faith Talk Questions:
- When we read the story of God’s creation of the universe in the Bible, how do you think God felt about all that God made? Sad? Angry? Worried? Happy? Pleased?
- What is the story that Susanna and her father tell as they are driving in their car?
- Who thinks up the idea of telling the story of God as a little girl?
- Why do you think that God is so happy in this story?
- Susanna’s father imagines that God sang creation into existence. If you were telling this story, how would you describe the way that God made everything?
- Tell the story of what God was doing when God made you!
This review is written by Union Presbyterian Seminary alumna Beth Lyon-Suhring
When God Was a Little Girl by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.