Cynthia Rylant, . . HarperCollins, $14.99 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-06-009433-1

Like Hollywood movies that present God as a human being with curiosities and foibles much like our own, Rylant's imaginative series of poems about God living on earth are filled with more contemporary references than developed theological ideas. Here God buys a sofa at Pottery Barn, gets cable ("Funny thing is,/ He liked it./ He knew He wasn't/ supposed to"), and plays poker with Gabriel ("corn chips all over the place"). Rylant's tone is hip and the voice is compelling. She fills the stylish poems with sly, often comical, religious references, but overall, the narrative favors whimsy over substance. When God opens His own beauty parlor, He calls it "Nails by Jim" because "He was afraid to call it/ Nails by God./ He was sure people would/ think He was being/ disrespectful and using/ His own name in vain/ and nobody would tip." Rylant pushes the envelope of political and theological correctness, in a wink-wink, saucy manner. The poem "God Is a Girl" tells readers that God "wears guy cologne./ He listens to guy music./ He eats guy food./ .../ Which is why,/ whenever He gets the urge/ to watch reruns of Sisters,/ He's embarrassed./ He lights a big cigar/ and spits." Sure to prompt energetic discussion, and not nearly as wickedly subversive as it may at first seem, this book will probably offend religious conservatives unless they have a liberal sense of humor. But Rylant hits the target: teens filled with questions about faith and how they fit into the world. Ages 14-up. (June)