Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Richard Cowdrey
Publisher: Harvest House
Age Range: 4 – 8
Published in 2016, this is a playful and fun picture book about Roxy the camel who learns that the way into heaven requires a big sacrifice. Is Roxy prepared to make such a huge sacrifice?
Anthony DeStefano’s books are always well written and lusciously produced. He based this story on Mark 10:25 where Jesus tells a rich man that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. Roxy loves her bling – and her dainty crumpets with jam. She loves her mountains of glitzy possessions and the comforts of her mansion in the dessert. But Roxy is dissatisfied and dreams of a land where the crystal clear waters flow into lush, green valleys. So Roxy decides that she will set off to find this paradise Kingdom.
Of course, Roxy needs to take all of her possessions with her.
But out in the dessert
There’s not any road.
And traveling’s not easy
With such a big load.
Richard Cowdrey’s illustrations are the real highlight of this book. His depictions of the larger-than-life Roxy are entertaining and very clever. We can’t help but like Roxy despite her obvious self-obsession and preoccupation with beautiful things. She is in turn self-centred, a little naive and a dreamer. Throughout the story, Roxy is portrayed at various times as horrified, frustrated, sad and then finally, JOYFUL!
Children will enjoy seeing all of the animals dressed up in Roxy’s fashionable jewellery and clothes. I liked how Roxy’s ultimate success is brought about because all the animals help push her through the door. Roxy learns that by giving her possessions away, she gains the help and support she needs to enter into heaven.
On the first page, Anthony DeStefano explains that ‘the eye of a needle’ is thought to be a reference to the small entrance into a city after the main gates are closed. Camels apparently found it particularly hard to make their way through the small gate, and had to be relieved of their loads and enter the city on their knees.
This book is not overtly Christian. God is not named. Instead, the King is described as “Wise, good and strong”. Christians will recognize the Biblical references throughout, such as life-giving waters that flow from the rivers and a city paved with gold. Although not obviously Catholic or Christian, this book is clearly based on a scriptural passage and presents an important Christian message in an entertaining and clever way to children.
You can read my reviews of other Anthony DeStefano books HERE