In the February installment of The Children’s Ministry Blog Patrol (February 2010), I featured an article from the blog of Donna Perugini. That lead a brief exchange via e-mail in which she mentioned that she had written several children’s books. She was kind enough to send me a free copy of one of her books titled “Don’t Hug a Grudge” for me to review for Dad in the Middle.
About the Author
Before jumping into the book, I like to know a little bit about the author. Ms. Perugini’s blog indicates that she taught children the Word of God over 30 years. Her blog indicates that her approach to teaching the Bible included “cutting it into bite-sized pieces and making it fun and entertaining.” In addition to Don’t Hug A Grudge, she has authored three other children’s books. They include:
- Do Angels Go Camping
- The Flight of Orville Wright Caterpillar
- The Adventure of Amelia Airheart Butterfly in Bye! Bye!
In addition to being a writer Ms. Perugini is a wife, mother to three children and grandmother to four children. She teaches a women’s bible study at her church and enjoys pottery and sculpting.
About the Book
This book, originally published in 1987, teaches children how to recognize a grudge and the harmful effects of holding on to that grudge rather than forgiving. The reading level for this book per Amazon is ages 4-8 thought the message would be beneficial to all ages. In fact, is one of our e-mails, Donna indicated that her intended target for this book is ages 8 to adult and that many adult bible study groups have used the book for their material.
For those of you who are familiar with the Veggietales series, the concept of this book reminds me of Larry Boy and the Fib from Outerspace though it was written well before that video. In the Larry Boy video what starts as a small fib grows into a massive monster when not dealt with. In this book, a little grudge grows into bitterness and resentment. The books artfully explains how a grudge works its way into your life, takes hold and grows. After a while, as the book points out, a grudge turns into resentment which begins to take over your life. Finally, if not dealt with, that resentment grows to bitterness which impacts our relationships with others and our relationship with God. Throughout, the book is clear the holding a grudge, bitterness and resentment are all sins and encourages the reader to be “washed by the Word.” These pages offers scriptures reflecting God’s view of grudges, bitterness and resentment.
Things I Liked
There is much to like about this book. The illustrations are wonderfully done and compliment the text well. The representation of the grudge, resentment and bitterness as monsters is genius. The little grudge appears first as a “baby” monster which is down-right cuddly at first then begins to take on a more sinister look as it is nursed. To me, bitterness has the look of a young elementary age monster complete with a ball cap. The image of resentment riding on our back hanging on as we carry it is a powerful picture of what resentment does in our lives. Finally, Bitterness appears as an older more mature monster. The images of the children throughout the story are also exceptionally well done.
This book pulls no punches. This book is clear that “God hates Grudges, Resentment and Bitterness.” I like a book for kids that does labels sins for what they are and doesn’t try to sugar-coat it for it for kids. God hates sin, and I think it is important for kids to understand that. Without a proper understanding of sin, and their own sin, kids will never get to the place where they see their need for a Savior. The verses included in the book are also a wonderful resource. I think this book sets a great pattern for children to learn early and then apply throughout their lives. That pattern is:
- Identify the issue or action in question (in this case the holding of a grudge).
- Consider the implications of that issue or action (in this case the metamorphosis of the grudge into bitterness and then resentment).
- Go to the Bible for guidance (be “washed by the word”).
- Implement what the Bible suggests (in this case forgiveness).
In doing so, this book lays a foundation that kids can use to confront any problem they may be facing.
Things I Thought Could Be Better
There were just a couple of things about the book which I wished may have been a little different – one substantive and one stylistic. On a substantive layer, I appreciate that the book does not underestimate kids or talk down to them. However, I felt that it lacked a good explanation of what a grudge really is. It explains how they grow and how they work, but it never really defines what it is for kids who may not know. Stylistically, this book is multi-lingual and every word is reflected in both English and Spanish. While I appreciate the effort to make the book accessible to more people by making it multi-lingual, having the story reflected in both English and Spanish causes many of the pages to appear very cluttered. I also found some of the text difficult to follow the first time I read the book because of all the characters on the page.
What My Kids Thought
With any book for kids, I like to run it by my kids and get their reactions. My two year old son loves the book. He particularly likes the illustrations. My seven year old daughter liked the book and really like the pictures, though she did say that she still didn’t understand what a grudge was when the book was done. My almost nine-year-old son (he prefers that language to eight year old) enjoyed the book and appreciated the lesson. He also liked the scriptures included in the text.
I would definitely recommend this book for parents and those who work with children. Despite portions of the book seeming cluttered because of the multi-lingual format, the message is important for kids, and the presentation is strongly grounded in the Word of God. The book pulls no punches when it comes to calling sin what it is, but it also provides kids with a better way through forgiveness.
More Information About the Book and the Author
If you are interested in obtaining this books, check out the author website at www.DonnaPerugini.com.
Ms. Perugini has also created a line of ceramics with the characters from her other books. For more information, check out www.DonnaKPerugini.com.
For further information on Donna Perugini check out the following:
As her blog, Ms. Perugini has included some fun resources related to her books including coloring pages related to each book at http://donnaperugini.blogspot.com/p/coloring-pages.html.