The first time I met Amy Grimes, I ended up ugly-crying in front of a large group of complete strangers, and even my six-year-old daughter was trying to distance herself from me. When I finally was able to choke out words about how much her work had meant to me, her kind eyes and sparkling demeanor soothed away my embarrassment and conveyed how truly thankful she was that I was so touched by her work. I’m sure this happens to authors of adult, inspirational literature every day, but the catch is—she’s not one. She’s an artist and illustrator of some of the most powerful children’s books I know.
Her first book, Voyage to the Star Kingdom, is the most hopeful, beautiful book about heaven I’ve ever encountered. This book was written in collaboration with the equally delightful Anne Riley as a gift to a real family facing the imminent loss of two of their young daughters to an incurable disease. In this story, a family faces a terrible storm with no end in sight. The Star King sends his people, his gifts, and his messengers to bring comfort and assurance to the family. Eventually, he sends one final messenger to bring two of the three girls back to the Star Kingdom to be with him. And in the presence of the Star King himself, the girls not only find true joy and healing, but also meet one final, sweet surprise at the end of the book.
My family received this book shortly after our own tragic loss, and I would read it by myself after everyone was in bed and cry over the beautiful hope that I also had been given. It is my gift to everyone I know facing death and grief. My own mother read it at the bedside of my grandfather in his final days. The beauty of the illustrations and the clever writing of the story keep this book light and hopeful for little ones, yet it contains a depth and richness for those with older hearts. I commend it to everyone I know.
After this triumphant first storybook, Amy followed with And the Light Comes In, a collection of whimsical paintings and curious musings meant to draw the reader into an imaginary world of depth and wonder. Inside you’ll find mystical night rabbits, hidden elfin corridors, a boy fishing for stars, and the most glorious moon tree imagined. This book is perfect for a rainy day snuggle with little ones, as a wonderful stretch for your own imagination, and as an excellent teaching tool in getting young (and old!) minds to meander into something lovely.
The third (and my personal favorite) of Amy’s books is Lucilla and the Snarly Skein. Go to your local library and peruse the children’s shelves, and you will find myriad characters who are able to solve their own problems and overcome their worst knots through bravery, hard work, and persistence. No problem is too big if you just work hard and dream big, right? While that might be a comforting idea for children (and adults), it is unfortunately not always a realistic one, as any wizened pilgrim can tell you. So what do you do about the problems too big to untangle yourself? Enter Lucilla.
Lucilla is a brave girl who is very good at untangling things, and prides herself on her ability to tame even the wildest messes. One day, however, she attempts to unravel a knot far beyond her own abilities. Despite her best efforts, she becomes hopelessly trapped and unable to free herself. Like all Grimes’ characters, Lucilla is in for a big, beautiful adventure; one that leads her to the hands of another good and loving king who is able to untangle the worst messes of all. This book is a sweet reminder that we are upheld and protected by a good and loving King ourselves, one who is sovereign over our worst troubles and who promises to draw us out of the deepest snares.
The second time I met Amy Grimes was in the living room of one of my dearest friends. I was much more emotionally collected this time and, as we sipped tea and laughed over our mutual love of artsy skirts, I realized that the beauty and hope that shines through her art is the result of a hope and beauty that shines from her Savior. Her ability to translate this glory and wonder to the page is a gift to us all, and each of these books would a shining addition to any collection, both young and old.
(To learn more about Amy Grimes and her illustrations and art, head over to storypaintings.net)