God is Just Like Me – Karen Valentin and Antonieta Munoz Estrada

God Is Just Like Me by Karen Valentin, Antonieta Muñoz Estrada
Published by Beaming Books on January 24, 2023
Genres: Children's
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"Some days, I think God is just like me."

God may be hard to describe, but one young Puerto Rican girl in New York City finds examples of God's character all around her. As she goes day-by-day through the week, she talks to God about the delightful ways she and God are similar. From vivid sunrises and colorful paintings, dancing to music in the park, loud thunderstorms, and fishing on a quiet lake, the evidence that she is made in the image of God is everywhere she looks.

This joyful, heartfelt story offers a fresh take on what it means to be made in God's image.

Sometimes we focus too much on the Otherness of God. Not that it’s inherently a bad thing, but it can make God seem distant or absent. Sure, we can understand that God becomes human in Jesus and but what similarities do I have with a first century Palestinian Jew? Yet, if we are made in the image of God—then we are like God and God is like us. God is Just Like Me is a colorful, creative exploration for young children of what it means to be made in God’s image.

I love that Karen Valentin gives this story’s characters some specificity. Unless talking about a specific circumstance or a specific group of people, children’s books often try to appeal to everyone and either create a generic everyman group of characters or feature a diverse cast. Valentin instead chooses to reflect on her own childhood and background, showing how a young Puerto Rican girl in New York City can find examples of how she is just like God.

The opening panels recognize God’s Otherness: God, I know you’re all powerful, all knowing, and lots of other really big words. But some days I think you’re just like me. In the panels that follow, readers get a day by day breakdown of God as a maker of things, someone who is loud, someone who likes colors, who enjoys music, who embraces quietness, and who likes to laugh.

Antonieta Munoz Estrada’s illustrations are eye-catchingly fun. It’s so very clearly New York City and yet the focus isn’t on the landscapes but the story. Big, bold colors and a variety of locations make every page unique and fun. I kept trying to turn the page but my kids were still exploring the illustrations.

It’s understated but that day-by-day refrain is educational as well. My young kids have recently taken an interest in the days of the week and the passage of time and this book has helped them understand the progression of the week and given us language to talk about doing different things on different days. Teaching the days of the week isn’t necessarily a goal of God is Like Me, but it’s a fun bonus that has drawn my kids in and made this book a favorite.