Amy-Jill Levine and Sandy Eisenberg Sasso
WJK Press, 40 pages
This is a beautifully illustrated retelling of three of Jesus’ parables for young readers as well as their parents and teachers. “Who Counts” creatively lifts up the very act of counting as the woman searches for her lost coin, the shepherd looks for his missing sheep and the father rejoices that he has two sons home again. As with all good stories for young readers, adults will also find joy in this book as children delightfully count along. Remarkably, the authors who are Jewish bring to life these parables that are at the heart of the Christian witness. They do so with a slight twist. In a note to parents and teachers, they argue (gently) that these parables told by a Jewish teacher are not allegories about God, as traditionally understood by Christians. “In our reading, the three stories are connected. The first two set up the third. The main message is about counting, searching for what is missing, and celebrating becoming whole again.” From this angle, the authors believe the parables compel readers to ponder questions about our neighbors. For whom or what am I searching? Who is missing from our community? How will I welcome home those who are found? One does not have to abandon the traditional reading of the parables to rejoice in this delightful retelling. The illustrations add rich delight to the stories. I happily predict a resurgence of these parables among Sunday school teachers and parents.