MESSAGES: A Picture Book Review by Guest Blogger, Jean Taylor

At Write2Ignite we are always thrilled when one of our team publishes a book. This time, I have the double pleasure of sharing Gail Cartee’s new picture book with you since we are in the same critique group. The reviewer is Jean Taylor, a graphic designer in North Carolina. This is Jean’s debut book review and I think you will enjoy her insights.


MESSAGES written by Gail Cartee and illustrated by Samantha Bell, opens with a boy named Jake who finds himself in Heaven. He immediately meets children who are having fun and the setting is happy, with romping, twirling and walking on air – things that would spark curiosity and appeal to a young reader.

Jake’s new friends take him to meet Jesus and in the pages that follow, Jake asks that Jesus send signs to his family, hoping that they will be comforted. The story’s setting alternates between Heaven and Jake’s family on Earth as they recognize and ponder the messages that arrive. 

This is a sweet story that acknowledges sadness, but keeps hope and comfort front and center. The illustrations are soft and calm, supporting the subject matter. The character’s emotions are clearly and gently conveyed through the pictures as well as the text.Jake’s request to send a cricket reminds his family that “things will be alright” and another – a robin, to cheer up his sister.

I love the thought of signs and reminders. Having heard on occasion that butterflies are souls that have come by for a visit, I much prefer thinking of them as being sent as a sweet message. A favorite is the sunflower as a reminder to turn toward Jesus. Gail includes details that children will easily relate to, ending with a rainbow of “hope and a promise.” 

In the last pages, Bible verses that relate to the story are noted, including the tree of many fruits by the river, rainbows, no sorrow or crying – all good references for discussion. Whether conversations follow or not, the story clearly offers comfort and hope to the reader.The author also lists activities that reference the messages found throughout the book. These are simple, engaging and appropriate for one child, or for a group.  They are nice resources for teachers and fun projects.Messages is a sweet story for a child who has lost someone or as noted in the author’s dedication, for those who might wonder about friends who have gone too soon. It offers an opening for discussions about heaven for any child and might be a help in defining and confirming Christian beliefs. 



And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding
out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the
tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every
month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb
shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him. Revelation 22:1-3

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no
more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain:
for the former things are passed away. Revelation 21:4

And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and
there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
Revelation 4:3

But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again?
I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. I Samuel 12:23


Several years ago after a school tragedy, I felt compelled to write a book for grieving children, the children who sit next to that empty desk or sleep across the room from the bed where their sibling once slept. I wanted them to know that heaven is not a place to strum on a harp while floating on a cloud but a place of joy and fun. Jake finds himself waking up in a place where children are climbing a tree and eating all kinds of fruit. He enjoys meeting Jesus and playing beside a river. So many things like crickets and butterflies, sunflowers, and rainbows remind him of his life on earth. He wants to send these as messages back to his sister Ruthi and family who are grieving. Jesus makes him no promises but his sister encounters these same things and remembers. At the back of the book, there are scriptures to go along with the story and activities for children to create memories of their friend or sibling.


To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment by July 31 and let us know how you would like it autographed if you win. U.S. addresses only.

4 thoughts on “MESSAGES: A Picture Book Review by Guest Blogger, Jean Taylor

  1. This looks like a very special book to comfort children who may be grieving, Gail. I’ve won a couple books here, so I’d rather allow others to enter.

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