“Imagining Jesus” Book Proposal

I want to share with you my journey as I traverse through the literary waters of writing a short story of Christian fiction for children in order to attain representation.

Below is my book proposal, including cover letter, marketing analysis, chapter summary outline, and sample chapter, just as it will be read by literary agents and publishers.

I would love any feedback you have about my book.

Cover Letter

My Christian fiction book addresses the question of what do you get when you imagine Jesus in the jungle? The answer: A sage guide who protects and provides for those under his watch. Nathanael is a 10-year-old boy who dreams of adventure, although (like most kids), he fears the dark and the unknown. What Nate doesn’t know is that he’s about to embark on the journey of a lifetime in an African rainforest befriending a hilarious chimpanzee and a protective indigenous tribe, as well as standing his ground against a sneaky snake and a massive lion who is stalking him. Facing these fears with Jesus in the Congo empowers him to face his fear of the dark (back home). Imagining Jesus is about practicing the presence of God for children by empowering them to use their God-given imagination at the highest level in order to help them overcome their fears. Fear stifles creativity. But practicing the presence of God—imagining Jesus in personalized circumstances—fosters unconditional love, freeing the imagination to do what it does best: create, inspire and invoke wonder. In the Epilogue, the reader is “encouraged to practice the presence of God in a unique situation that is special to [her].”

My target audience is Christian youth who are in their first stage of adolescence between the ages of 9-13. Imagining Jesus is both imaginative and informative. Children who read it respond positively to the thoughtful yet playful tone of the narrator. Youthful audiences everywhere will understand and appreciate the universal principles of good versus evil and the virtues of courage and love that combat fear and evil.

The reason I believe I’m qualified for writing a children’s book of Christian fiction is due to my extensive background teaching Bible and literature to children between the ages of 10-13. I am currently a junior high teacher at a Christian school in San Juan Capistrano, California, called Heart Christian Academy. I teach seventh and eighth grade Bible, as well as seventh grade world history, literature, and writing. I am also blessed with the opportunity to homeschool my 10-year-old son. Together, we enjoy reading and writing Christian fiction.

Marketing Analysis

The Imagine Series is a series of six children’s books for kids ages 10-12 that deals with the similar topic of interacting with biblically miraculous events. (These books are written by Matt Koceich and published by Barbour Books.) The great disparity, however, between my book, Imagining Jesus, and these books is that my book imagines Jesus in modern circumstances rather than ancient times. Thus, the advantage of my book is that children are inspired and empowered by personal circumstances that are more relatable to them. Also, my book is a short story of 6,000 words, while the Imagine Series’ books average 112 pages. For those curious readers looking to enjoy an imaginative story about Jesus in one sitting, this is the book!

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Voice

Chapter 2: My Tour Guide

Chapter 3: My Funny, Furry Friend

Chapter 4: The Sneaky Snake

Chapter 5: The Tribe

Chapter 6: The End of a Spear

Chapter 7: The Lion

Chapter 8: The Waterfall

Chapter 9: The Stars

Epilogue

Chapter Summary Outline

Chapter 1: The Voice. 10-year-old Nathanael is awoken from a dream by a strange voice. The boy’s parents help their scared son understand that the voice he’s hearing is actually God’s voice. He’s encouraged to face his fear of the dark by turning off the lights in his bedroom in order to wait for heaven’s call. Will Nathanael listen?

Chapter 2: My Tour Guide. As the boy takes Jesus’s hand and steps out of his room and into the jungle, he is guided deep into the heart of the Congo, which is teaming with exciting colors, sounds, and life. His tour guide explains to him the history and ecology of the African rainforest. All is well until a tyrannical growl startles Nathanael.

Chapter 3: My Funny, Furry Friend. A playful chimpanzee, named Pete, swings into the action providing the necessary comedic relief for his new friend, Nathan. Jesus communicates with his li’l bodyguard, whose favorite spot in the entire jungle is being nestled on his Master’s shoulder.

Chapter 4: The Sneaky Snake. After Nathan spends some quality time with Jesus seeing himself through God’s eyes, he’s immediately tempted and tricked by a sneaky snake, who tries to eat him. Jesus catches the serpent by the tail just before it’s able to swallow the boy.

Chapter 5: The Tribe. Nathanael is excited to discover that the three of them will be hiking up Mount Drakensberg to see what the natives call Tugela, the tallest waterfall in Africa. But before they start their ascent, they must prove to a protective indigenous tribe, which only speaks a rare African dialect, that they’re not a threat to their natural resources. Nathan becomes shocked to learn Jesus’s fluency with their native tongue, as well as his familiarity with their spiritual-cultural customs. The boy is then welcomed to sit down with them to receive a rich theological sermon taught by his very own tour guide.

Chapter 6: The End of a Spear. Jesus explains to Nathanael the tribe’s passion for power, which is a survival mechanism in the jungle. As a skilled teacher, Jesus uses their weaponry, particularly their spears, as physical aids to launch into a comprehensive discussion of the doctrine of the Atonement. He sympathetically speaks into their worldview about the end of a spear being both the literal means and the figurative representation of the power to kill or be killed. Jesus then enthusiastically springboards to tell them that he was pierced by many “spears” for their sins, so they don’t have to continue to live by the oppressive law of the jungle. By faith in his substitutionary and sacrificial death, the natives are forever free from the fear of Satan’s power.

Chapter 7: The Lion. Rushing to get to the top of the mountain before sundown, Nathan encounters his last opposition—a massive lion. The beast has been stalking him from the beginning, waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on him. Tugela awaits as the boy slowly crosses a dilapidated bridge. As the last one to cross, he gets about halfway, when suddenly he hears a bloodcurdling growl behind him.

Chapter 8: The Waterfall. Nathanael turns to face his fears. The lion charges at him full speed. Just before beast meets boy, Nathan puts out his hand and commands it to stop in Jesus’s name. Miraculously, the lion obeys and lies on the floor of the overpass like a kitten waiting to be stroked. The lion then stands back up so the boy can ride him up Mount Drakensberg to watch a sublime sunset with Jesus and Peter.

Chapter 9: The Stars. The boy is teleported safely back home. Nathan lies in bed trying to make sense of everything that happened. Suddenly, it dawns on him that just as Jesus led him by example every step of the way in the jungle, he will continue to be by his side every step of the way back home. Being in Jesus’s presence empowers him to face his fear of the dark knowing that as “a child of God shrouded in love and light [he] shines brighter when the darkness surrounds [him].” Nathan smiles and turns off the light.

Synopsis

Nathanael is awoken from a dream by a strange voice calling his name. With the help of his parents he comes to the realization that the surprising voice he hears is none other than the voice of Jesus. Jesus invites him on a journey with him in the African rainforest.

Along the way, they meet Pete, a playful chimpanzee and friend of Jesus. They spend time laughing and getting to know each other, which naturally progresses into a time of spiritual direction for Nathan. Following his empowering spiritual high, Nathan experiences a deflating spiritual low as he is tempted by Satan, who disguises himself as a serpent and whose main goal is to kill the boy by swallowing him whole. Jesus steps in and stops the “sneaky snake” from devouring Nathan.

As they ascend to the top of Mount Drakensberg to see the tallest waterfall in Africa, they come across a protective indigenous tribe, which perceives Nathan, Peter, and Jesus as a threat to their natural resources. Jesus has to do some quick talking in order to convince the tribe, whose loyalty is only to the ruthless law of the jungle that’s represented by the end of the spear, that he was motivated by love to be pierced by many “spears” on the cross because of their sins, so they don’t have to live under the tyrannical law of the jungle any longer.

No doubt, their interaction with the tribe slows them down a bit, but they’re determined to make it to the top of the mountain, while there’s still daylight left. One last hurdle stands in their way—a rickety old bridge that stands over 3,000 feet tall, which allows only one person to pass at a time. Jesus and Pete are already on the other side. As Nathan crosses, a bloodcurdling growl stops him about halfway across. Blocking the bridge behind him stands a massive lion that’s been stalking Nathan from the beginning. Jesus instructs him to courageously stand his ground and face his fear. As the ferocious lion lunges toward him, the boy commands the beast to stop in Jesus’s name! The lion immediately falls to the floor of the overpass like a harmless kitten. Nathan strokes the majestic beast and then climbs on top of it. The journey is back on; however, time is running out.

With the few remaining minutes left of sunlight, they make it to the top of Mount Drakensberg to watch a sublime African sunset. From this vantage point, Jesus shows Nathan how far he’s come to reach the summit of his personal experience with his own personal tour guide, his ever-present help in times of trouble. Suddenly, Nathan is teleported back to his bedroom. As he lies in bed thinking of everything that just happened, he realizes that Jesus will never leave him and he has nothing to fear, including the dark. Nathan smiles as he turns off the light.

Sample Chapter

CHAPTER 1: THE VOICE

THE JUNGLE WATCHES ON as a chimpanzee and a jungle cat race toward me from across the Serengeti. With every stride, the chimp transforms into an enormous gorilla and the cat into a massive lion. Just as they have completely morphed into more ferocious forms, the sound of my name—“Nathanael”—wakes me up from the dream.

I continue to lie in bed half asleep trying to make sense of my dream, when I hear the same voice calling my name—“Nathanael.” This time I jump out of bed and bolt into my Mom and Dad’s room.

“You called me?” I ask. 

“We didn’t call you. Go back to bed.”

“Okay,” I say returning back to my room mystified.

For the third time I hear my name being called—“Nathanael.”

I run back to my parents’ bedroom and say, “Yes! You wanted me?”

My parents look at me, then at each other, and back at me again, and say with baffled looks on their faces, “No. We didn’t call you, Son. Now go back to bed.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” they respond. “And don’t forget to turn off the light.”

I nod reluctantly.

Just as I’m about to fall asleep, I hear the same voice. But this time it shouts my name—“Nathanael!” My eyes open to the size of saucers. I run to see my Mom and Dad.

“What’s going on?” I ask with wondering eyes.

With a calm voice, my father says to me, “Go back to bed. But this time stay in your room and say, ‘Yes, Lord. Your servant is listening.’”

I shuffle my feet, slower than usual, down the hallway to my room and then close the door behind me. Just before I lie back down, I quickly peek under the bed to satisfy my curiosity that something strange is happening. I find nothing but toys and dust-bunnies. I lie in bed as told, but leave the light on.

“Lord, you have my attention,” I say, somewhat scared of talking with God—the most powerful being in the universe.

A light in the form of a gentle voice responds, “Open the door.”

I answer back, “But my Dad said to stay in—”

“Listen to me,” says the friendly voice. “Open the door and see. Great wonders there will be.” Upon opening the door, the hallway outside my room transforms into a jungle before my eyes with Jesus standing on the other side of the door. He looks at me with a warm smile and says, “I’m glad you listened, Nathanael.”

Chester Delagneau

4 Responses to ““Imagining Jesus” Book Proposal”

  • Lynee says:

    Love that you and Nate spend time together creating awesome stories, about the Lord, for the modern fledging. It’s so neat to see great minds come up with fantastic ideas that reach young and old alike. We (Trav, Lacie and I ) love this book! Can’t wait to see it in print! Good luck all the way ~ we know it will be a hit! Praise the Lord! You are an awesome family!

  • Mariann says:

    Such a vulnerable time in life. A beautiful and blessed contribution to these precious and delicate little minds. God bless you

    • Chester Delagneau says:

      You’re exactly right, Mariann! These li’l minds constantly need encouragement and empowerment, especially in these days when there’s so much change, chaos, and confusion.


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