Slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails: Helping boys connect with God
192 pages, £8.99
Star rating: 2
As a father of five boys and someone who is fully involved in work with children and young people I was not surprised to be asked to review this book and indeed warmed to the task. However, I did not find the book easy to get into because of its ethos and methodology and the fact that, though the book is otherwise well written, we are 40 pages in before the main dish is served (Part 1 being given over to introductory matters). I can only give it a mild commendation.
Mrs Edwards is very well read and clearly highly competent in her field. She is senior lecturer in Children and Family Work at the Centre for Youth Ministry, Oxford. She also loves children. Her book grows out of an investigation into the spiritual expressions and preferences of boys ages 5-11 in three settings – an Anglican Junior church, a Scripture Union club and an RE class.
The main problem with it for me was its rather sociological approach and its lack of scriptural and theological grounding. When for example, on page 98, she wonders aloud if children’s laughter has something to do with what Jesus meant when he said we need to be like children to enter the kingdom one is concerned. A few pages later she is naively commending the visual approach of the eastern orthodox churches. On page 81 she commends more rugged and manly pictures of Jesus without ever raising the question of whether we should be making pictures of Jesus at all.
Having said all this, there are plenty of good things to be had from this book. If you go through it finding the paragraphs beginning with with a large stylised ‘?!’ you will find plenty of practical suggestions regarding working with boys in the areas of relationship and conversation, play and touch, storytelling, pain and loss, humour, creativity, silence and prayer, good deeds, healthy risk and multimedia technology. There are also potentially useful ‘Things to think about’ at the end of each of the ten main chapters of the book.