by Colton Burpo as told to Todd and Sonja Burpo
©2011 published by Tommy Nelson
When Colton got very sick and went to the hospital, he closed his eyes and woke up in heaven. After he left the hospital and went home, he wanted to tell everyone about his experience. This children’s book is a true account told by the four-year-old boy, and even the art work was directed by him to be true to what he actually saw.
I purposely have not read the adult version of this story, in order to have a fresh read as if I was the child, or the parent, reading this book. For the most part, the language is just right for young children, and I’d recommend this book for ages 3 to 6.
My immediate response is that the narrative doesn’t seem authentic. I’m not saying that I don’t believe that this happened to Colton, but it sounds too generic to be a first-hand account. I also believe that the book could have been far more engaging to children if it had included more details.
Some of Colton’s descriptions sound like they came straight from a child’s mouth, and others not. For example: “The gates are made of pearl.” Would a child really describe it that way? Wouldn’t he say something like, “The gates are made of white shiny stuff”?
I do like this childlike explanation: “Heaven is just like the Bible tells us. Heaven is not scary—ever!” I can just hear a little boy saying that, and telling how he was able to play with all kinds of animals, including Jesus’ big white horse.
One thing I wonder about. He describes Jesus sitting on the right side of God and adds that the Holy Spirit is there. Surely he must have told what God and the Holy Spirit looked like. If his answer had been included in Heaven is Real for Kids, this would be one of the most interesting parts of the book.
The answers to questions at the end of the book mention that Colton remembered so many smaller details. I would have loved it if these jewels were included in the children’s version.
I hope that the adult version of the story includes a lot of the suggestions I mention here to make it all credible to a sceptical audience. I couldn’t wholeheartedly recommend this book to all children. But I know it has great value in one four-year-old telling another four-year-old that Jesus loves children, that he wants them to believe in him, that heaven is indeed real and that Colton has seen all these things with his very own eyes.
[Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.]