by Matthew Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, Dennis Linn
Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2006
Reviewed by Beverly Williams-Hawkins and Jonathan LeeRoy
I am a lover of children’s literature but by no means an expert on kid’s books. Indeed, the fine distinction, expert on children’s literature is reserved for the primary readers of children’s literature—children. Hence my need for expert testimony and employment of my grandson as co-reviewer.
Jonathan likes books, and he enjoys reading, but he is an eight-year-old boy full of boundless energy and easily attracted to all the goings on around him. So, it was not lost on me that the Linn’s delightfully thoughtful story quickly gained and held Jonathan’s attention throughout his reading aloud to me. In fact, one of the things Jonathan liked about the book is that “there’s a story in the story.” I too enjoyed the embedded story and found it opened the door for us to share our sadness about war in the conversation that ensued.
Jonathan is not a child of many words. So I took note of how easy it was for him to share his impressions of the book. One insight he shared that seems particularly salient for children is that “making heart bread makes it easier for a kid to tell a grownup what they are thinking in their mind and what they are feeling in their heart.” Another astute observation was that the book was “made by a family for other families.” Jonathan’s insights capture the crux of the Linn’s objectives for this book which is fostering spiritual bonds within families and helping families help their children to be nurtured by the love and to heal from the hurts of their days. As stated by the authors in “A Note to Parents”: “This story is about the most helpful process we know for family spirituality” (p. 26).
As an adult and spiritual director I appreciated the diversity in the drawings. Because not all the characters looked alike I could easily visualize myself and Jonathan making heart bread. My one concern is that the depth of this story is not revealed in either the title or the sleeve notes. Making Heart-Bread teaches a simple reflective process for holding love and healing hurts. Could there be a more valuable resource for spiritual directors of children or adults?
Beverly Williams-Hawkins, MDiv, is a graduate of Wartburg Theological Seminary and The Center for Spiritual Growth and the Contemplative Life in San Antonio, Texas, USA. She lives in Austin, Texas, USA where she is a spiritual director and psychiatric nurse. Jonathan LeeRoy lives in Austin not far from his grandma. He is third grader and straight-A student.