God’s Huge Love Expressed in Tiny Truths: An Interview with Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner

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Joanna RivardHow will you assist your younger kids perceive that the tales within the Bible could be related to one another as tiny truths to show one grand lesson: the story of God’s love for his kids, beginning with the magnificence of creation and together with Moses parting the Crimson Sea, Jonah being swallowed by a large fish, and in the end the beginning, demise, and resurrection of Jesus, the rescuing King?

Bible Gateway interviewed Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner about their colourful storybook, The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible (Zonderkidz, 2019) (web site, @teamtinytruths).

Tim Penner

Clarify the distinctiveness of this storybook Bible and what your goals are.

Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner: All of it started with the quite simple thought to introduce children to the Bible as one enormous and deeply thrilling story that, at its core (regardless of its complexity and depth), tells us three easy issues: who God is, who we’re, and what we have been made for.

We had seen plenty of Bible tales and children’ Bibles that felt extra like a group of particular person brief tales and we needed to current it as one massive, shared story—the story of God’s nice love for us.

Buy your copy of The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

We additionally needed to convey that the story is one which continues to be unfolding, through which we’ve got a task to play. Ultimately God will restore all that has turn into damaged on this world, however it’s so thrilling that by following Jesus’ instance we get to take part and assist result in that restoration, in no matter small methods we will. And we will solely try this by way of the identical grace, forgiveness, and love that we’ve been supplied.

Joanna, how (and why) does an individual with a PhD in French existentialism find yourself preferring to put in writing kids’s tales?

Joanna Rivard: The lengthy reply to this query requires just a few coffees, however the brief reply is that this: existentialism (broadly put) tells us that we outline ourselves by way of our actions. As such we’ve got no innate essence or which means. The Bible (for me) tells a significantly better story—that we’re outlined by love and made for love. We don’t should create that which means for ourselves—God has given it to us and it’s a present. That’s the story I wish to inform my children as they develop up. Though I’m additionally instructing them about French pastries.

Buy your copy of The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

Why did you determine to create the characters on this useful resource with pores and skin tone colour that’s extra shaded than in different storybook Bibles?

Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner: We each grew up with Sunday College classes that includes a Jesus who appeared extra Western European than Center Japanese. Once we started this venture it was one of many first issues we talked about as a result of we have been so excited to have the ability to do issues otherwise. Although it wasn’t a lot of a dialog, as a result of, for us, it was merely about historic and contextual accuracy. It appeared apparent that tales going down within the historic Center East and Africa ought to function characters that look as in the event that they stay in these locations.

In truth, it’s a bit discouraging to us that at the moment in historical past, correct portrayals of those characters nonetheless really feel novel sufficient for individuals to note it, however we’re excited to be counted alongside everybody else who’s attempting to vary the best way the characters within the Bible have usually been represented.

What story of the Bible did you’ve probably the most enjoyable illustrating?

Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner: There wasn’t essentially one single story that was probably the most enjoyable for instance, however the characters that have been probably the most enjoyable to design at all times gave the impression to be girls. Their garments and hair have been extra fascinating and colourful than many of the bearded males in robes (apart from John the Baptist who can also be one in all our favorites), so it was at all times a deal with. Two of our favorites are Rahab and the Queen of Sheba.

We tried to do all the pieces we may to get as many ladies into our Bible as potential, however it wasn’t at all times as simple as we’d’ve appreciated. We’ve been speaking not too long ago about how a lot enjoyable it could be to do a venture that includes all of the outstanding girls within the Bible. There are some fairly cool tales that we weren’t in a position to embody that will be superb to introduce children to.

How do you talk to kids the messages of violent tales expressed within the Bible?

Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner: Contemplating the age of our supposed readers, the violence within the Bible could be robust to handle, however tales just like the Israelites’ escape from Egypt and naturally the crucifixion are most likely the 2 most central moments within the Previous and New Testomony, respectively, so you may’t keep away from them.

We tried to inform tales like these in a method that will get the purpose and message of them throughout with out stepping into the entire particulars which for younger children (at the least in our opinion) are simply an excessive amount of. We prefer to assume that we trace on the truth there may be extra to a few of these tales than we’re telling, however we’ll go away these particulars to the judgment of every particular person grownup reader.

Our hope is that every story in our Bible is simply a place to begin for ongoing dialog and questions that can set children on a path of life-long studying and engagement with these texts as they proceed to develop, be taught, and be given new data. Definitely for us that course of by no means ends!

Why is it vital for fogeys to learn the Bible to their kids?

Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner: Whoever we’re, and nonetheless we grew up, all of us inform ourselves (and, in fact, our youngsters) a narrative about who we’re and what our place on the planet is. Typically we appear to get it fairly incorrect. For us, the Bible is the most effective, most vital story on the planet, as a result of it tells us the reality of who we’re and what God made us for.

It’s additionally a implausible assortment of tales woven collectively: tales of affection and loss, of hope, sacrifice, brokenness, forgiveness, and redemption. These are all issues we encounter in our lives, and after we learn the Bible with our kids we’re displaying them their place within the greatest story of all time, and serving to them to know the right way to wrestle with the large questions of life. What could possibly be extra vital (or extra thrilling) than that?

How ought to dad and mom use this useful resource to get probably the most out of it?

Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner: This may increasingly sound too easy, however we expect it is best to learn a bit of daily after which speak, speak, speak! Ask your children questions and encourage them to do the identical.

Religion is an ongoing dialog and it’s finest lived out with these round us. If the Bible is a part of our youngsters’ lives, its truths can be infused into them as they develop, develop, and uncover their place on this fantastic story. We must always have fun the joyful components collectively and wrestle with the tough ones. Assist your youngster discover their place within the story and perceive what which means for them.

What’s a favourite Bible passage of yours and why?

Tim Penner: I don’t actually have one favourite verse however only in the near past I got here throughout the primary two verses of Psalm 131 that so completely articulated what I’ve been feeling recently—and never coincidentally on account of making this Bible—that I’ve been enthusiastically telling everybody about them. They are saying: “My coronary heart isn’t proud, LORD, my eyes usually are not haughty; I don’t concern myself with nice issues or issues too fantastic for me. However I’ve calmed and quieted myself…like a weaned youngster I’m content material.”

It’s poetry so I really feel like I’m allowed to venture onto it a bit of as a result of David could possibly be speaking about his personal ambition. However what I see here’s a childlike religion that has let go of the anxiousness we will carry round with us as we attempt to remedy plenty of the large questions round God, our personal spirituality, and life itself.

In simplifying the Bible and its message to a degree the place a baby can perceive it for the sake of this venture, I’ve began to understand that perhaps it truly is, and could be, that straightforward. I discover nice consolation in a verse that appears to indicate it’s okay to calmly and contently let a few of that anxiousness go and stay within the freedom we’ve got in Christ to have that straightforward, joyful, childlike religion Jesus says we must always anyway.

Joanna Rivard: One among my favorites (there are just a few!) is that this one: ‘My coronary heart has heard you say, “Come and speak with me.” And my coronary heart responds, “Lord, I’m coming”’ (Psalm 27:8). To me, it’s so lovely that God’s need is for us to return and speak with him. How superb is that!

What are your ideas about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App and Bible Audio App?

Joanna Rivard and Tim Penner: We love Bible Gateway! I guess 80 p.c of the studying and analysis we did for this venture was achieved utilizing the Bible Gateway App and the Bible Gateway website. It’s an incredible useful resource and power!


The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible is revealed by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the mother or father firm of Bible Gateway.


Bio: Joanna Rivard grew up in Nigeria and England and studied French at Oxford College. She has a PhD in French existentialism from the College of Michigan, however (given the selection) prefers writing kids’s tales. She lives in Toronto together with her husband and two kids who refuse to share her accent.

Tim Penner is an animation director, illustrator, and author who lives in Toronto. Earlier than artwork and movie faculty he picked up a level in theology simply in case the chance to deliver all of it collectively and make a kids’s Bible ever offered itself. Tim and Jo are a artistic crew and have been making enjoyable issues for youths collectively since 2011.

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