Charlie and the Preschool Prodigal – Ginger Blomberg and Samara Hardy

Charlie and the Preschool Prodigal by Ginger Blomberg, Samara Hardy
Series: TGC Kids #5
Published by Crossway on January 9, 2024
Genres: Children's, Bible Stories
Buy on Amazon

A Retelling of the Parable of the Prodigal Son

We so often desire to save ourselves, either through running from rules or self-righteously following them―missing the true joy and rest found in the Father’s unconditional love. In this picture book for kids ages 3–7, author Ginger M. Blomberg retells the story of the prodigal son through the eyes of wild-child Eddie and his rule-following brother Charlie.

Eddie decides to run away from home, taking his brother Charlie’s candy and his father’s new tie with him on his journey. When Eddie returns home feeling scared and guilty about his choice, his father is waiting for him with open arms. But Charlie, who is confused by his father’s immediately welcoming reaction, is hesitant to join in the celebration. This book, like the parable, doesn’t resolve Charlie’s story but instead invites young readers to imagine themselves in Charlie’s position―spurring thoughtful discussion between parents and children as they learn about sin, grace, and the unconditional love of the Father through his son’s death on the cross. A TGC Kids book.

Written for Kids Ages 3–7: Accessible story accompanied by colorful illustrations to keep kids engaged
Teaches Kids an Important Life Lesson: This engaging story introduces children to the dangers of self-righteousness
Practical Approach for Parents and Guardians: A “Note to Grownups” provides advice for parents as they guide their children through the conversation of sin, grace, and the unconditional love of God
TGC Kids Series: Teaches kids biblical truths while engaging their hearts and imaginations

In this clever retelling of Jesus’s parable of the prodigal son, Ginger Blomberg tells a story about two brothers who are very different from each other. The younger child is wild and rambunctious, and gets in trouble a lot. Charlie, the older brother, is very orderly and wants everyone to behave well. The descriptions are incredibly relatable, and I love this part: “Eddie could make trouble. He ate crayons. And ants.” YES. I went to church with a boy like that as a child, and whenever people question if he was really as annoying as I thought, or if I was just overreacting, I tell them about the crayon-eating in vivid detail. Then people believe me! This description is ACCURATE, and the whole story rings true. Blomberg captures two extremes of human nature, representing the tension between these boys and showing how their father bears with each of them.

Then she dramatizes what happens when the younger brother decides to run away in his family’s suburban neighborhood. Of course, like in the original story, when the younger brother returns home, his father receives him with great joy and is deeply relieved. In this version of the story, he wants to take the boys out for ice cream, and the older brother protests against this, saying that it’s unfair, and that Eddie shouldn’t get a reward after misbehaving. The father explains that he will talk with Eddie later about his misbehavior, but that right then, he wants to celebrate that Eddie is back home. The story concludes in an open-ended way, asking, “What do you think Charlie chose? What would you choose?”

A note for parents at the end further unpacks the meaning of this parable, explaining the gospel and highlighting that we all need grace, and can all receive God’s forgiveness and love, regardless of our personalities and behavior tendencies. Charlie and the Preschool Prodigal is a wonderful contemporary retelling of a powerful parable, and I really enjoyed it. Blomberg’s creative retelling and humor will appeal to kids and adults, and the illustrations from Samara Hardy are full of interesting details and visual humor. I really enjoyed this, and I highly recommend it.