The Heavenly Village

Cynthia Rylant, Author Scholastic $15.95 (96p) ISBN 978-0-439-04096-9
Adopting a silky prose style, Rylant (Give Me Grace, reviewed above) imagines a stopping place between heaven and earth, a village where those who ""have taken one step into heaven and hesitated"" can stay and ""finish their stories."" Each chapter opens with a quotation from the American Standard Bible, then introduces a different inhabitant of the Heavenly Village. Only one of Rylant's villagers is there for conventional repentance and forgiveness; missed opportunities are of far greater concern to the other ""reluctant spirits."" Rylant's pristine language and deeply comforting vision are her strong suits: ""A young man will do a terrible thing, and the whole world will hate him and call him evil. But his father and mother will look at him and say, `I love you.' People on earth forget that God is father and mother. So when [an evil-doer] dies, many people think he will go to hell. But he doesn't. He goes home."" Some adults, however, may be bothered by Rylant's casual theology. One character has had a miserable childhood: ""This is something God has little control over.... God could not make Violet Rose's parents loving people."" Later, God ""is not all that troubled"" when a child and his dog die, because their suffering is over quickly. But those who don't mind spirituality delivered warm and fuzzy will find this as satisfying and sweet as a cup of cocoa; it will leave readers feeling good. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
Genre: Children's
Prebound-Glued - 95 pages - 978-0-7569-3196-4
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-439-23149-7
Prebound-Other - 978-0-613-53819-0
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-24967-6
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