Sometimes I read a book and I just know I want to keep it forever. It’s not a decision I make lightly because if a new book goes into one of my bookcases, chances are an old one has to come out. Sometimes I grow out of things. Recently I donated all my Kurt Vonnegut and Frank Herbert books to a book drive. I loved them once but they have passed through my life. Except God Bless You Mr Rosewater (Kurt Vonnegut) – there will always be room for the benefactor of struggling writer Kilgore Trout.

This book arrived on my desk in 2007 and still lives with me.

Hello God – Moya Simons Paperback Harper Collins rrp $25.99 Junior Fiction Australian Author

Hello God is not about religion but about the questions we all ask, adults and children alike. We want to know why bad things happen to good people. Why does God allow wars and sickness? Why do children die? And why can’t anyone answer these questions?

It is a gentle book, beautifully written. But don’t be deceived by the simple and poignant language. This book tackles some very complex issues – birth, death, friendship and God.

Twelve-year-old Kate chats to God about everything. She keeps him updated in case he’s too busy to read his files. She tells him about the new girl Stephanie. Stephanie is strange and not part of the ‘in’ group. But as Kate gets to know Steph, she reassesses what friendship means.

Kate has many issues to deal with – peer group pressure, changing friendships and values, needing glasses and the unexpected news of a new brother or sister. Some issues are indicators of even bigger problems. When Kate worries about ants drowning in puddles, it is a snapshot of her wider concern with all the suffering in the world and particularly that which has reached into her own. Stephanie has fallen ill and she’s not getting better.

Hello God has a very positive message although it doesn’t patronise the young reader with a fairytale solution. Throughout the book Stephanie tells wonderful stories about Sharmi, a small cat who is adopted by bears. But one day a boy comes along and Sharmi must leave those she loves to follow her destiny and reach the rainbows. It’s a sad tale but full of hope.

When Kate looks for a sign from God, she is also looking for confirmation that the world is all right. She hopes to see a rainbow – but in the end it’s something much better than that.

This is an inspiring and uplifting book. Regardless of their religious background or belief, children from 8 – 12 who like to ask tricky questions, will learn some answers here. Our world is a good place to be.

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