Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Review - My Christmas List

My Christmas List
by Amy Parker
illustrated by Daniel Fernández
Date: 2013
Publisher: B&H Publishing Group
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 24
Format: e-book
Source: library

"Dear God, on this Christmas, instead of toys and lots of stuff, I want Christmas for the whole wide world, especially those without enough."

My Christmas List is a thoughtful children's book written as a rhyming prayer that will remind kids of the true needs people have during the holiday season and all year long around the globe, from starving children in Third World countries to adults in need of work and all who don't yet know Jesus as Savior.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Let me preface this by saying I have no problem with a child asking God to help others in need. If that's your belief system, fine. Christmas seems like the perfect time of year to do it, too. But this book goes further than that. In fact, it goes way too far, becoming little more than a piece of evangelical propaganda that will probably only find appeal among hard-core Christians. (We've got a huge case of preaching to the choir here.)

Early on in the book, things got really offensive really quickly. The boy is writing his Christmas list, but not to Santa Claus. He's writing to God... and the first thing he asks for is basically conversions:

That little girl in Korea,
She only needs to hear Your name.
And a big, grown man in Russia,
Well, God, he just wants the same.

This is accompanied by a picture of a little girl watching a group of Buddhist monks praying in front of a statue. How utterly arrogant, presumptuous, and condescending! This is the attitude that led to some of the worst atrocities of colonialism. This is the attitude that got John Allen Chau killed recently. Look, just because Christianity floats your boat doesn't mean that it'll work for everyone else. Other people have their own religious traditions that work just fine for them. Respect that. Do unto others and all that; if you wouldn't want someone coming and telling you your whole religion was a pack of lies and you'll be doomed forever if you don't change your beliefs, then don't do it to others (a sentiment that works just as well all year round... not just at Christmas).

The book states that "Christmas for the world began" with Jesus' birth. The Christian celebration, maybe. But unless you're observing it in a really literal way and foregoing all the recognizable trappings of the modern holiday (which are illustrated throughout the book), that's kind of untrue. The first recorded Christmas celebration wasn't until 336 AD, and some of the elements of the holiday we celebrate today (whether we're Christian or not) come from the older Roman festival of Saturnalia. Christmas trees date from the Renaissance. To gloss over the history like that just makes the book seem even more like propaganda.

The pictures are all right, but nothing special. I had to go back and actually look at them again because my eyes had kind of glazed over with rage the first time after that presumptuous crap about non-Christians needing to be proselytized at.

I do not recommend this one. There are probably other books out there with kids praying to God for help for their fellow man. And if that's what this had been, I might not have hated it as much as I did. When a book starts encouraging children to disrespect others' beliefs, then my goodwill for the book goes down.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: 1/5
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 1/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 0.86 out of 5

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