(B) Ages 4-8, (C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, Book Reviews, Christian, Discussion Starters, Family Read Alouds, Starred Reviews
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*The Ology by Marty Machowski

In The Ology, children and families can access deep Biblical truths, carefully explained and gorgeously illustrated.  

The Ology by Marty Machowski, illustrations by Andy McGuire.  New Growth Press, 2015.  

Reading Level: Ages 8-10

Recommended For: All Ages

Poking through the church basement, two children discover an ancient book in an hidden room.  A letter within the book tells them this book, The Ology, was written for children and teaches “what the Bible says about God, people, sin and God’s plan of salvation through Jesus.”  After this introduction, The Ology is divided into sections, starting with a theology of God and moving to People, then The Promise and the Law —which then leads to Christ and on to other sections.  Chapters of one to two pages are devoted to theological concepts within each section.  Each chapter is illustrated and contains at least one verse in a sidebar.  Additional scriptural references for future study are scattered within the illustrations.

With the soft feel of Raymond Briggs’ Snowman and the beautiful realism of Tasha Tudor, Andy McGuire’s illustrations are timeless and classic.  I found myself studying each picture before reading the text, trying to guess the meaning.  I was stumped by an octopus holding a NASA rocket.  I had to wonder, how on earth was this connected to theology?  The answer was simple.  Nothing is too high —or too deep to escape God.  He is everywhere, Psalm 139:9-10.

Machowski’s examples, sprinkled throughout The Ology are simple, engaging and thought-provoking.  One powerful example of sin shows how just one sin is enough to make us imperfect.  Machowski explains that sin makes something unclean, like an icy cold refreshing glass of water would be marred by bird droppings.  (Yes, there is a picture, too!)  “Sin is like that; even one little bit spoils everything.”  One last illustration, so simple and peaceful you might miss it, is the picture of a sleeping lamb, next to a sheathed knife.  The juxtaposition is striking.  Machowski’s gentle explanation of sacrifice, accompanied by such illustrations, provides children an excellent theological framework.  

Machowski is careful in his treatment of theological differences. On baptism, for example, Machowski concludes that believers “agree all children must turn away from sin and place their only hope for salvation in Jesus,” no matter when they are baptized.  Showing sensitivity to different interpretations of the second commandment,  Jesus is never portrayed in illustrations.  

Pastor, author, husband, and father, Marty Machowski’s years in ministry are evident in The Ology.  His intent is to engage children and provide families a resource that can be used for multiple ages.  A “Think Theology, Talk Theology” section in the back of the book provides questions and answers for each section while a glossary defines biblical terms. Whether used as a read aloud or a book for independent elementary readers, The Ology is an excellent resource, beautiful, accessible, and engaging.

Cautions: None.

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Worldview Rating: 5 out of 5
Artistic Rating: 5 out of 5

 A review copy of the book was provided by the publisher.

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