Ambition’s Not An Awful Word
Written by Zack Zage, Illustrated by Adam Watkins
(Ivy Court Press, 2012), hb., 32 pp.
This book’s title and look are catchy. Ambition is
something our children need a proper sense of but also something which can
involve sinful attitudes as well. So I was intrigued by the book.
The book is cute and the illustrations are funny.
The text is sort of funny, too, but is actually hard to follow. The look and
style of the book suggests it is for young children but references scattered
throughout to Julia Child, “New York’s MOMA,” Pollack, Perry Mason and others
make it seem like it is aimed at an older audience. We found the text obscure
and hard to follow. It wasn't clear to me all the way through how the funny
examples fit or advanced the theme, “It’s OK to dream.”
The book seems to encourage ambition from the “you’re
the center of the world” perspective which is so common today. When the dreamer
is rebuked for exaggerating what he can or will do and for making himself “the
brightest and the most”, this critique is dismissed. Instead, “In your own
imagination you’re supposed to reign supreme.” I want my children to dream and
have aspirations, but I don’t want them to imagine that they are the best at
everything. I want them to recognize that they are gifted by God in certain
ways and that in using those gifts they can enjoy life, help others, glorify
God and advance His kingdom. I did not expect such a full theological vision in
this book, but I did hope for more than simply, “It’s good for you to think you
can do everything and to imagine yourself as the center of the universe.”
I think what is most useful for inspiring children is not books about themselves but grand stories which introduce them to noble characters and themes greater than themselves, giving them people to admire and stories to live up to. In the end we cannot recommend this book.