It is December 30 and I’m squeaking in my last of the 25 New Favorite Picture Books. Another new one from 2018, this is an interesting book to end the year on, but I love it for many different reasons. A book about the Apostle Paul and the many letters he wrote for the New Testament which, as the book claims, changed the world. Take a look at Paul Writes (a letter) by Chris Raschka, 2018.

What is it about?

The book opens describing Paul, who lived a couple thousand years ago. It mentions how in the middle of his life he “began to believe in the story of the life and teachings of Jesus.” He traveled the world and wrote letters to people he saw or would see soon. The rest of the book is excerpts from many of his letters, beautifully illustrated in images of a Paul character surrounded by special phrases of illustrated text. Each page also includes Biblical references to the verses the text was pulled from.

The letters span his travels and life, including lots of his wisdom and advice about life and mentions of certain people he greets or commends. It ends with his time in prison, his statements about his faith; and then Raschka notes how Paul died, is considered a saint, and the legacy of letters in which he is known.

Why I picked it

This is a really unique and interesting book. I do have another picture book that uses Paul’s letters to track his travels around the world and this is a much more beautiful and different version of that. It is almost a biography about Paul using his letters. I love a lot of the passages that Raschka chose to highlight, many familiar to lots of people; but most especially to those who know the letters well. It is an interesting and somewhat odd thing to include so many names of people that most Biblical scholars probably don’t focus in on as they are more personal notes than noted wisdom or advice. Raschka also uses this form as a way to quite honestly portray the personality of Paul as a person and writer, something I’ve never seen someone do well before. I could certainly see people highlighting and using particular pages as wall art to focus on in their life, as a lot of Bible passages are pulled out of context in that way.

Along the context note, the only issue about this book that nags at me is the fact it only mentions Jesus once – in the introduction. Fairly certain Paul himself would take great issue with that. The life and teachings of Jesus are what changed Paul, guided his travels and ministry, and are the entire point of what makes his letters so world changing. He does not name himself a saint, but a sinner and follower of Christ.

All that being said, I find this book fascinating and an excellent companion to reading Paul’s actual letters as this book gives a very unique look and rereading of such familiar passages.

Who will love this?

The book labels itself for ages 6 and up and that is probably quite accurate. This is not a particularly engaging and active story. It is beautiful and interesting, but the attention span needs to be higher to read and listen to the words and not find the similar illustrations from page to page too monotonous. This is an excellent picture book gift for adults, especially Christians who see and believe the value of the letters of Paul. It is also a great introduction to Paul and has lots of thoughts to ponder and potentially lead someone to look into him and his words more.

Thanks for following along my list of 25 favorites from 2018 (and a sprinkling from 2017). I hope you enjoyed them and found some great gifts to give to others or yourself. I’m going to take a break for the New Year holiday, but hope to be back writing more regular reviews and making Let’s Read Three groups and lists in the first week of January! Happy New Year!