cover image Sunday Is for God

Sunday Is for God

Michael McGowan, , illus. by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. . Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-375-84188-0

McGowan's debut picture book blends old-fashioned tradition with spontaneous freshness and humor, as the youngest son of a multigenerational family describes a typical Sunday in his small-town, largely African-American, church-going community. Johnson and Fancher's (The King's Taster ) earthy, pastel-hued acrylics appear against a collage background of hymns and scripture passages, demonstrating the extent to which faith weaves through the fabric of this family's life. In a painting that depicts the narrator praying, the “Greatest Commandment” (“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart...”) appears on his collar, while the Lord's Prayer is seen on his tie. Parents and elders exhibit both personal warmth and high expectations; illustrations show children participating in worship, behaving, but also being children (one boy sticks his tongue out at a friend). The narrator's voice rings true: chafing under his restrictive clothing he muses, “I guess that's what the Lord wants, but I wish He didn't.” This cheerful attempt to reclaim Sunday for worship offers a respectful nod to the past without being overly nostalgic, and provides an encouraging model for contemporary families seeking to honor the Sabbath. Ages 3–8. (Jan.)