Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful, for beauty is God’s handwriting — a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
While I was browsing for titles for our Poetry-Filled Yuletide Cheer bimonthly theme and Cynthia Rylant’s God Went to Beauty School appeared in the results, I knew I had to get it. Fortunately, the library has a copy of the book; it was a must that I borrow it. It was, for me, love at first sight.
He went there to learn how
to give a good perm
and ended up just crazy
so He opened up His own shop.
“Nails by Jim” He called it.
He was afraid to call it
Nails by God.
He was sure people would
think He was being
disrespectful and using
His own name in vain
and nobody would tip.
So begins a series of poems written about God and how He would have lived on earth. Some might find the title offensive – with all that fuss about using God’s name in vain. Appearances, however, as most of us know, are only skin deep. It is a book about man as much as it is a book about God.
Then again, it is indeed interesting to see God’s name in the same title with beauty school. Come to think of it, God, being omnipotent (all-powerful) and omniscient (all-knowing), was seen as the ultimate enforcer of the universe and depicted in earlier paintings with a scowl on his face, as Christian writer Andy Braner noted in his blog. Here are samples of such paintings:
Put those images alongside this image:
Somehow they don’t make sense. Yet, in God Went to Beauty School, they do.
He got into nails, of course,
because He’d always loved
hands were some of the best things
He’d ever done
and this way He could just
hold one in His
and admire those delicate
bones just above the knuckles,
delicate as bird’s wings,
and after He’d done that
He could paint all the nails
any color He wanted,
and mean it.
You might find this video by 60Second Recap helpful.
The book entertains the notion of God living in the human world. It brings him down from the pedestal and shows what it would be like if God were to do human activities. Some of these include watching cable TV, cooking spaghetti, rollerblading, and climbing Mount Everest. The poems are short, funny, and sweet, each highlighting a facet of God that is different from what people knew.
Below is an excerpt from one of my favorites in the book.
God Caught a Cold
And He was such a baby.
He never caught colds.
He loved to brag about it.
And now here He was:
It’s hard to be
with a cold.
It’s hard to
“THOU SHALT NOT!”
when it comes out
“THOU SHALT DOT!”
Nobody takes Him
I read the book to my boyfriend after dinner one night. He initially found the title of the book silly. However, as I read the poems, he found himself liking the book; he was even laughing at times.
God Went to Beauty School celebrates life and the beauty that can be found in simple things. It allows us to reflect on what it means to be human and to appreciate life’s little pleasures that most of us take for granted.
About the Author
Cynthia Rylant was awarded a Newbery Medal for Missing May and received a Newbery Honor for A Find White Dust. She is also the author of several popular series for the beginning reader, including the beloved Henry and Mudge books. (Taken from the jacketflap.)
To find out more about her and the things she loves to do, read her post on KidsReads.
God Went to Beauty School
Reading Level: Ages 9 and up
Hardcover: 64 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (June 2003)
Book borrowed from the Chula Vista Public Library.
God Went to Beauty School won the BCCB Blue Ribbon Nonfiction Book Award
AWB Reading Challenge: 2 of 35
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I thought I knew all the Rylant books, but not this one. I wonder if this could make God more accessible for younger children to imagine how he would go about daily life (as they do)? Interesting to ponder.
Hi Linda. =)
Thank you for dropping by. This is a very thought-provoking and reflective book for children and young adults. It allows them to be in touch with their spirituality without being bombarded with heavy religious ideas that might still be difficult for them to grasp. By using God’s perspective in viewing life, the book humbles children and encourage them to reflect on their own lives.
I found myself saying “awww…” a few times. Really nice book. =)
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