The latest release in Lisa Tawn Bergren’s God Gave Us series of picture books is the sweet and charming God Gave Us Love. Populated by a loving family of Christian polar bears, Little Cub and Grandpa Bear explore the many ways that God’s love is displayed in our world, and in our relationships with each other.
There’s the need to love those who we find annoying, the special love between Mamas and Papas, the love between family members, and, most of all, God’s love for us as shown through the gift of His Son. There’s also, of course, the love for our younger siblings when they’re acting troublesome, the love we see expressed when God provides abundantly for our needs.
Not only does Grandpa Bear explain various types of love to Little Cub, but he also explains how all love is an expression of God’s big love for us. Through all, he says, Grandpa shows that because God is love, we are called to love others as we strive to be like Him.
Illustrated by long-time series collaborator Laura J. Bryant, her soft, action-filled watercolors are downright adorable. The family of bears frolics in their winter-wonderland home while ice fishing, hanging laundry (in the winter!), and tumbling about in the snow. It can easily be argued that her consistent illustrations throughout God Gave Us You, God Gave Us Two, and God Gave Us Heaven have cemented the series as a mainstay for families who collect Christian picture books.
As much as parents find the series incredibly sweet, God Gave Us Love may prove somewhat wordy for the youngest read-aloud audiences. Explaining spiritual concepts like loving when you’re not feeling loving, and trying to encompass the entire concept of love in a picture book is hard to do without becoming a bit wordy. My three-year-old’s attention span drifts if I try to read this title to her in a single sitting, and even my six-year-old looks a little distracted while I’m reading it. I’ll try them again with this title as they grow, and see if it catches on at a future date.
Loving the soft, whimsical artwork, pastel palette and gentle spiritual lessons, I’m disappointed that God Gave Us Love hasn’t captured my children’s imaginations the way I hoped it would. Still, I can’t part with it – it’s just too cute.