Trista and her first copy of the book. by Anders Loberg
"The Girl God" by Trista Hendren is a magically-illustrated children's book celebrating the Divine Feminine. What a perfect book for March 8th, International Women's Day!
"The Girl God" was born when Trista tried to explain the concept of "the god within" to her young daughter. Trista noted, "When I asked her if she believed God lived within her, she said she did not. But when I asked if perhaps she had a Girl God living within her, she awakened to spirituality in a way she never had before."
In addition to the main story, the book also contains quotes from all the major faith traditions as well as quotes and poems from Patricia Lynn Reilly, Virginia Woolf, Rumi, bell hooks, Georgia O'Keefe, Z. Budapest, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem, Carol P. Christ, Rita Mae Brown, Alice Walker, Sue Monk Kidd, June Jordan, Judy Chicago, and others.
Illustration from "The Girl God" (with text from book added) by Illustration by Elisabeth Lettnes, used with permission
The book is illustrated with lively paintings by Norwegian artist Elisabeth Slettnes.
The process of helping her daughter connect to her spiritual self and her inner strengths, within the context of both Islam and Christianity, has been an exciting journey for both of them, as Trista explains in this interview:
MAB: Thanks for visiting with us, Trista! How old was your daughter when you got inspired to write this, and how old is she now?
TH: Helani will be 7 in May, and she was 5 when the story came to me - it's just like the story in the book - she could not relate to the male image of god, but she lit up when I mentioned "The Girl God."
MAB: "The Girl God" seems like very original phrase, I haven't heard anyone use it before. Did you invent that for Helani?"
TH: Yes, it just sort of popped out of my head when I was talking to her and
she seemed to immediately identify with the idea.
The Girl God by Trista Hendren
MAB: So it seems that you are taking cues from her about the best story you can provide for her, I like that! Are there any other areas where you have felt that you were following cues in order to adjust the story to fit her age or perspective?
TH: I did try to see the story from her perspective - and got input from both her and my son, Joey (who is 3 years older). I try to not talk baby talk to my children and normally speak to them fairly close to how I speak to adults - but I did try - in explaining the girl god both to Helani and in this story - and to put it into words she could understand - and to ask when she didn't seem to understand what I was saying.
For instance, I realized that I said "alhamdulillah" probably several times every day, but that my kids had no idea what it meant or the significance to me as a Muslim. That was an "aha" moment for me - so I included it in the book. Alhamdulillah means "Thank you God." Muslims say it before meals, whenever they are particularly grateful for something or, in the case of the story, whenever we sneeze.
This is probably not a children's book in the traditional sense - pardon
my candor - but I feel like many of them are dumbed down. I was tired of
reading books - particularly with my daughter - that lacked meaning. Many
books also pump in the same message as the culture in big or subtle ways,
which I don't like. I want my daughter to be strong and vibrant!