The church has always used catechisms to teach the message of the Bible. As an aid to teaching catechisms, Lexham Press began a Christian Essentials series on the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and Baptism. The series is really well done, but catechisms weren’t only meant for adults but for children too! Lexham is producing a series of Christian Essentials for children. And it revolves around a fat cat.
No, not Garfield.
Unlike his orange cousin, FatCat is a friendly feline who throughout the book learns the Lord’s Prayer. The catechism is “fat” because it is “bursting at the seams with meaning, challenge, and comfort.” FatCat makes the catechism approachable, as kids can look for FatCat on each page while hearing their parents read the very prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray. Just as FatCat hides throughout the book, so you and your child can “hide the words of the catechism in your hearts.”
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
Throughout the book, Harold Senkbeil opens up each line of the Lord’s Prayer for all God’s children and explains it in simple terms. We pray for God’s kingdom to come. But, as Senkbeil asks, “Can we make God’s kingdom come? No! His kingdom comes all by itself.” But, being a grandfather himself, he knows many children will ask where God’s kingdom is. “Wherever Jesus is, there he rules as King. He brings us life and forgiveness, peace and salvation.” God does this by sending “his Holy Spirit to us, so we believe God’s holy word and live godly lives.”
Throughout the book, Jesus is portrayed with dark-skin like a typical Middle Easterner. Natasha Kennedy, the illustrator, uses vibrant colors to engage your child. In “Give us this day our daily bread,” Jesus walks with a little boy and a basket of five loaves of bread and two fish. At the same time, others are passing around bread and eating large fish. There is still a line of numerous people walking up the mountain to get to Jesus. In “But deliver us from evil,” almost half of the spread is filled with a wave threatening to crash down on Jesus and his disciples in their boat. While everyone else is freaking out, Jesus stands there, calmly, with one hand up, ready to delver his disciples.
Each part of the prayer receives its own spread, and the illustrations for each spread are based on at least two (but often six) Bible verses (listed at the end of the book). “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever” uses imagery from Ezekiel 37 and the “valley of dry bones” (which is also seen in The Apostles’ Creed volume). When Jesus returns, his kingdom will be forever. We will be raised from the dead (Ezek 37:1–14), with his word standing forever (Isa 40:8) and giving light to all that we may see light (Ps 36:9).
Speaking of, after the catechetical teaching, there is a section on how families are little churches and one on family prayer which includes the Lord’s Prayer. There is a section to parents specifically about how the illustrations are meant to spark our biblical imaginations (as mentioned above). Natasha provides a list of scriptures for each part of the Prayer that “shaped and limited” her artwork.
This series is a great way to introduce your kids to central texts of the Christian faith. The Lord’s prayer has been memorized by many children, but as I child I didn’t always know what I was saying. Harold and Natasha come alongside to help open Scripture up and to show how the Lord’s Prayer is understandable and relatable to us today. In many of the spread they point us to God’s holy word. It is where we can find God’s will, know of his love for us, and find safety from the evil one. This book will help in training up both kids and their parents (as they read the Bible verses connected to each spread). This is a solid resource, and I look forward to the next one.
- Series: FatCat
- Author: Harold Senkbeil
- Illustrator: Natasha Kennedy
- Reading Level: 4–8 years
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Lexham Press (October 5, 2022)
Buy it on Amazon or from Lexham Press
Disclosure: I received this book free from Lexham Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.