Stallings, Gary. Photography by Christen Byrd. Mario’s Golden Locket. Flourish Publishing House, 2012. 38 pp. $10.95. Purchase at Amazon for less.
Perhaps it is best to introduce Gary and his family with the words written at his website, Fields of the Fatherless:
Our family used to live in the Rocky Mountains where Gary was an elder at Agape Outpost Church in Breckenridge, Colorado for many years. During this time God developed a heart for the nations in him as he went on mission trips all over the world. It was contagious and so together, he, Cathy, Josh and Abi dreamed together and then stepped out into the adventure we are now living.
Gary farmed in Arkansas before his move to Colorado, and so a return to the farm seemed to fit. Through a variety of unusual circumstances the Lord planted us in Uruguay.
In addition, He has provided this amazing farm; a place far above and beyond what we could have hoped for, dreamed of, or paid for! Just as He did that in the physical realm, we have hope and faith for Him to do far above and beyond what we could imagine or hope for in the spiritual realm.
Our family is on site in Uruguay, but we are blessed with many supporters, encouragers and prayer warriors, whom without, we could not be here. In addition, Fields of the Fatherless is a non-profit organization.
This children’s book tells the story of a sheep, Mario, who is looking to play with other animals. Each animal has a locket inscribed with a message from the king. As he searches for new friends, he finds that there is no one willing to play with him. After a while, another animal changes the inscription on Mario’s locket to which he becomes dejected. As he trudges homeward, the king comes upon him and changes the message inside the locket back to what he had originally inscribed.
For children, this little resource can be used to show that it does not matter what names others may call you (and let’s be honest, kids can be mean and hurtful to one another) but it does not matter because the King of kings and Lord of lords has named you and created you in His image. This important truth is expressed in great detail without skirting the reality that “names and faces” do hurt. The author does a wonderful job of pointing the reader back to the Lord where we all should find our identity.
The photography by Christen Byrd sets this work apart from other children’s resources. Whereas most children’s books are drawings and sketches, the pictures here are of actual animals and and a young king. This really helps to enliven the child’s mind and to realize that they are not alone in the world when it comes to having their feelings hurt.
Mario’s Golden Locket would make for a great coffee table book or a book to have in a doctor’s office or child care center. The message is biblical though not offensive (yes, I’m appealing to the PC police on this one) and will be a resource that can be used to read to a group of children and discuss the importance of “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.” As for owning in your own home, once again, this resource will be of great value. I recommend this book to anyone who has children, wants to have children, or interacts with children.