My kids love Veggie Tales. And, to be honest…so do I!! I love the great lessons they teach. I love the humor they stick in for the adults who are watching along with the kiddos. So, when I found a book by Phil Vischer (one of the founders of Veggie Tales), I knew I had to get it for my kids.
I purchased the book at local book fair that opens every few months for several weeks at a time. It is a book lovers paradise. A two story building filled to the brim with all kinds of books…for a very cheap price.
So, I found Sidney & Norman, A Tale of Two Pigs by Phil Vischer. The illustrations are great. Being a parent, I decided I need to read through the book before I actually bought it. I was fairly confident that I wouldn’t come across anything objectionable, but you can’t be too careful.
I expected to find a cute story. What I didn’t expect was for the book to bring me to tears. In the middle of the book fair, surrounded by dozens of book lovin’ Virginians, I found it hard to keep my composure. This book has a message that adults, as well as kiddos (maybe more so), need to hear.
Basically, it’s about two pigs…Sidney & Norman. These are not your usual slop eatin’, mud rollin’ kinds of pigs. They live in houses. They have jobs. One of the pigs, Norman, has it all together. He is always on time, dresses well, never a hair is out of place (well, if he had a hair to be out of place), and kind of looks down at others who didn’t have it all together. You get the picture. Sidney lives next door. You get the idea that he probably showed up to his own birth late. His clothes are always messy and he doesn’t seem to get anything right. Of course, living next to Norman doesn’t really help. All of his inadequacies are thrown up in his face.
One day, each receive an invitation to visit God. Now, I realize this is a strange invitation, but pigs who live in houses and have jobs is strange too…stay with me here. Norman is very excited to go see God. On his way, he imagines what God will say to him. He visualizing a lot of “Atta boy’s” and “Way to go’s”. Sidney, on the other hand, is nervous. He doesn’t even want to imagine what God would have to say to him.
God starts each individual meeting with the same phrase, “I love you”. Norman, puffed up with pride, waits for what should come next, but it doesn’t. God lowers the bomb. Norman is not as good as he thinks he is. His neat clothes and punctuality does not make him any better than anyone else. God loves him…despite himself. Dejected, Norman returns home with a lot to think about.
Sidney timidly enters the room with God. He can hardly stand to look God in the face. God speaks…”#1, I love you. #2, I love you. #3, I love you.” That’s all. No condemnation. No “tuck in your shirt”. No “clean up your house”. No “Can’t you get anywhere on time?”
That message is why I love this book. No matter how messed up we are. God, loves us. No matter what we’ve done in the past, God loves us. No matter what we might do in the future, God loves us. If our children can learn this message…to not rely on themselves to “earn” God’s love…that they already have God’s love…our world would probably look a lot different. If adults could learn this lesson…wow!!
Easier said than done.
Towards the end of the book, you find that Norman takes himself down a notch. He didn’t look down his nose at others anymore. Sidney though, had a renewed sense of self worth. Maybe his life isn’t as messed up as he thinks it is. He has the reassurance of God’s love.
So do we.