Review: A Smashing Day

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Title: A smashing day – Jack and Bea’s survival guide to church

Author: Emma Browne and David Painting

Illustrator: Diane Notman

Available on Amazon

Price: RRP £4.99

Good for: Anyone who’s been to Sunday School and it wasn’t all that great. Also, people who like funny books.

Best bit: Humour and honesty of the voice of the child narrator, and their serious theological questions being taken seriously by an adult

Worst bit: I wasn’t that keen on the pictures, but my children appreciated them


This story is in a small genre: children’s fiction with a Christian child as the protagonist. It is a fun story which will appeal to children who go to church, normalising their experiences and helping them see themselves in the story in some ways.

My children asked to just try out the first page, but didn’t stop me as I read the first chapter – and I’m pretty sure they want to find out what happens next, so we’re reading this as a bedtime story alongside Horrible History Romans LOL

I’ll admit I wasn’t totally convinced by the cover, and nor were they, but we loved each chapter and wanted to continue. I particularly liked the 7-year-old-style-honesty (I get it every time I ask my children what they think of something I’ve made!); somehow hearing a child’s perspective on a not-that-interesting church life felt really freeing, like they said things we’re all supposed to pretend aren’t true.

But my favourite was the conversations Jack (child) has with Bob, a helper at the holiday club.

During a discussion about shaking up what they prepare for snacks, Bea (child) says that Jesus didn’t have to stick with the snacks in the cupboard; he turned water into wine, and multiplied bread and fish.

Jack’s narrator voice says:

“I mean I like fishing, but eating fish? Have you ever TRIED eating fish? I’m sure it’s not meant to be an actual FOOD.”

Bob laughs and says:

“I don’t think you need to worry about that. I’ve tried praying for water to turn into beer lots of times, but it’s never worked yet.”

Jack’s narrator thoughts:


Are these people WANTING to be struck by lightning? You surely can’t pray about things like that!

(Also picture of a person being struck by lightning, which somehow makes it even funnier.

Bob’s down-to-earth but very real faith in God is inspiring and begs the question of whether hanging out with an older person from church might be better for growing faith in children than holiday club. But then I guess that depends on the holiday club. Jack’s one did seem to feature a lot of colouring 😉

My 11-year-old’s main criticism was that she wanted a longer book, and asked me to ask @EmmaBrownewrites when the next one is coming out. And in my book, that’s a good review.