Gratitude: A Prayer And Praise Coloring Journal, by Amie Carlson/Tyndale House Publishers
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Tyndale Momentum in exchange for an honest review.]
This is not really the sort of book one reads, certainly not straight through. Rather tellingly, the book comes with a brochure that advertises the various Bibles, journals, devotionals, and coloring books that are a part of this collection. If the other books in this collection are like this one then they will share a few characteristics that will make them ideal for some readers, namely the fact that this book does not include a great deal of content , and that it also contains a fair amount of room for the reader to make their own brief thoughts and reflections. As there are many readers who will wish to make this book their own and who will find the questions and prompts located in to help their own gratitude towards others, this volume of only slightly more than 100 pages will likely be a worthwhile journal for those readers who take it seriously and are able to follow its instructions.
In terms of its contents, the book offers a striking contrast between great loveliness and diversity in its artistic content and very bare-bones and straightforwardness in its verbal content. In terms of the words to be found in this book, most of the journal entries consist of a prayer taken from the writings of Amie Carlson, along with the quotation of a verse or short passage from the Bible and a prompt that encourages the reader to list things they are thankful for, or list their sins, or answer a particular question. Some of the prompts ask the reader to draw something, like the places they are called to make disciples in. While the text often comes without context, and sometimes is a bit of a shock, and provokes more questions than it answers, the artwork is consistently lovely, with a mix of color and line and pattern that ought to be appealing to many readers, and indeed even something worth having on its own as art. It is almost a shame that the book expects people to write on it, as the artwork here is simply lovely on its own and is the sign of a great deal of effort and care.
In evaluating this book, one must take a great deal of care to judge the book as it intends to be, and a large part of this book’s intentions are to be a way for the reader to respond to material and therefore in some fashion think and create for themselves. This is a good intention, and will likely be realized. However, there are some aspects of this book’s approach that are less than ideal. Not all of the prompts deal with the subject of gratitude, and there is no seeming overall structure to guide the reader into a particular order of operations. Some of the prompts seem to come out of left field and without a great deal of context. This lack of context is not only evident in the overall apparent lack of structure in the book but also the fact that the book makes assumptions about naming and claiming the Great Commission, to give one example, as a responsibility of all believers that is not well suited to its content. The authors of this book sometimes forget that not all of the readers are going to share their scriptural assumptions, and so rather than simply assuming a particular interpretation, sometimes it is better to either explain such materials or to omit them altogether. A straightforward journal is not the occasion for encouraging misinterpretation of contentious passages, but rather for dealing with the application of straightforward ones, to the best of our modest abilities.
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