The Carpenter of Galilee & the Welcoming Door by Kenny Kemp is an award-winning hardback book illustrated with beautiful oil paintings by J. Kirk Richards. This is the children's version of Mr. Kemp's full-length novel, The Welcoming Door (HarperSanFrancisco, 2002).
Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son is expanded in this tale of justice versus mercy. When Jeshua bar Joseph (Jesus) is commissioned to repair a man's decaying door, he learns the sad story of the man's eldest son, who has taken his inheritance and squandered it on unrighteous living. As Jeshua builds a beautiful new door that opens inward, a sign of welcome, he gently teaches the father about mercy, a lesson he will soon live out at the return of his wandering son.
This is a lovely story that brought tears to my eyes. What a powerful parable that never grows old! Mr. Richards' twenty-two soft oil paintings are an excellent complement to Mr. Kemp's fourteen well-written chapters. While this is a picture book, I consider it an older child's picture book, as there are several double-page spreads with no pictures, and the story and paintings may be too subtle for some young children.
Mr. Kemp has a clear writing style with excellent sensory descriptions and believable dialogue. I enjoyed imagining how Jesus might have based this parable on a real-life experience prior to His teaching ministry, but I understand that some might be uncomfortable with Mr. Kemp's imaginary expansion of a biblical story.