I received a copy of “Coming Home” by Max Lucado last week in the mail. It is an illustrated children’s book (illustrated by Justin Gerard). I like children’s books. I have two boys, and while they are mostly outside of the target audience for this book, the younger one still is within it and I just like this type of book.
The story is about a captain and two twin boys stuck on a dreary island. Everything is grey because of the volcano. One day the captain tells the boys that he must go away to prepare a place for the two boys on an island where everything is wonderful and bright. The captain leaves telling the boys to remember all that he told them. “Don’t venture into the forest because it will suck the color out of you (the boys are, at the beginning of the story, unaffected by the dreariness of the island),” and “Keep watch for me, I’ll be back soon,” are the most prominent. Well one boy listens and the other does not.
First let me start with the illustrations. They are fantastic. I really like what Mr. Gerard has done in this work. Many times illustrations are either technically proficient and lifeless or more abstract but full of life and energy. These paintings are both realistic and full of that spark that makes them seem alive.
Unfortunately I found Lucado’s story to be severely lacking. While it didn’t bother me that the volcano had somehow made everything less colorful on a permanent basis (they weren’t covered with ash, they just were grey), it did bother me that the story has very bad and, you could argue, dangerous theology. The one boy who disregards all of the captain’s instructions (clearly an allegory for Jesus’ instructions to us) doesn’t care at all for the rules set by the captain or what the consequences for disregarding the rules are. It’s not until the captain returns and has already collected the other boy that the rebellious one has a change of heart. My issue with this is that the story is clearly trying to illustrate the second coming of Jesus (going to prepare a place for the children). This could lead one to believe that you can just wait till Jesus comes again and then ask to go with Him. That’s clearly not what the Bible teaches and it shouldn’t be what Lucado is teaching either, particularly to children.
For that reason alone I can’t recommend this book. It’s too bad. Generally I like Crossway’s offerings but not this time I’m afraid.
I was given this book for free for the purposes of this review. That fact hasn’t affected my opinion of the book (obviously).