Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much

David Powlison
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Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much
Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much Picture Books
Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much Picture Books
Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much Picture Books
Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much Picture Books
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Gus, a raccoon who loves all things sweet, learns what happens when you want something too much. After Gus gets caught taking candy from the store, Papa reminds him that temptation might be strong for us, but it's not too strong for Jesus. Both Gus and Papa can ask Jesus for help when they want something too much.

The last page contains information for parents on how God, in his Word, helps us turn to Jesus when we are tempted. Together children and parents will be guided into meaningful conversations about living by faith in the details of everyday life.

Also included is a tear-out page of ""Back Pocket Bible Verses"" that will give children a practical way to remember God's words when they want something too much.

A new series of hardback, illustrated children's books for three-to eight-year-olds—each centered on an animal family—bring gospel help and biblical counsel to families. The animal characters, colorful illustrations, and the real-life issues each animal family face will captivate children. The first three books address anxiety, anger, and failure, bringing biblical help and hope to issues every child faces.


David Powlison, MDiv, PhD, (1949–2019) was a teacher, counselor, and the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He wrote many books and minibooks, including Speaking Truth in Love, Seeing with New Eyes, The Biblical Counseling Movement: History and Context, Good and Angry: Redeeming Anger, Irritation, Complaining, and Bitterness, Making All Things New: Restoring Joy to the Sexually Broken, God's Grace in Your Suffering, and Safe and Sound. David was also the editor of The Journal of Biblical Counseling.

Joe Hox was raised on a farm in southern Iowa where he doodled whenever he wasn't spading thistles or feeding pigs. Everyone knew by his crooked hay rows that he would choose art over farming. Joe earned his BA in Art and Education from Dordt College and his MA from the University of Nebraska. Today he lives with his wife and four children in Pella, Iowa, where he illustrates and teaches art. Joe has illustrated all of the Good News for Little Hearts series.

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"These books are a uniquely different genre from classic children's bedtime reading. They are counseling books to help children. They provide a creative avenue for children to consider how their faith is intimately relevant to their struggles. This is what makes this series of books so significant."
David Powlison, (1949–2019) was Executive Director of CCEF and editor of the Good News for Little Hearts series

"When our children were little, we read to them constantly—and had these books been available, they would have been among the favorites. With the simplicity and engaging charm of the Peter Rabbit stories, yet with the quiet grace of Christian insight, these stories stamp themselves on young minds. Text and pictures support each other tellingly. These books are destined to become favorites for young families."
D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical School, Deerfield, IL; cofounder of The Gospel Coalition

"I love these books. My daughter Kim who struggles with a disability loves these books. She giggles all the way through them—catching all the subtle humor. I read them to my grandkids. We especially love the drawings. I buy copies for all my grandchildren. What more can I say? They are fun!"
Paul E. Miller, Director of seeJesus; author of A Praying Life and J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life

"So many Christian parents are looking for engaging, age-appropriate ways to help their young children learn what the Bible teaches about everyday struggles and challenging situations. This new book series edited by David Powlison and Ed Welch fits the bill! In the Good News for Little Hearts series, kids will be enthralled by relatable characters, charming illustrations, and gospel-centered lessons. These volumes would make a valuable addition to any family's library."
Jim Daly, President, Focus on the Family

"For years I wished there were resources that would help equip children to face the many trials and temptations that come in this life rather than waiting till they are neck-deep in the mire before throwing them the lifeline of biblical truth. The Good News for Little Hearts series is an answer to my longing. These books communicate life-changing biblical truths through beautiful illustrations and stories that connect with young hearts in meaningful ways."
Curtis Solomon, Executive Director, Biblical Counseling Coalition

"Wow, what a series! Within these books you meet wonderfully relatable characters with feelings and experiences readily identifiable to children of all ages, clever and creative illustrations, excellent questions that will spark meaningful conversations with your child or grandchild, and simple scriptural connections that are easily understood. Can't wait to recommend them to our kids and read them to our grandkids!"
Dave Harvey, President of Great Commission Collective; founder of; author of When Sinners Say I Do and I Still Do: Growing Closer and Stronger Through Life's Defining Moment

"Gus Loses His Grip is a sweet story for children (and their parents!) who struggle with wanting the gift more than the Giver. Best of all, it directs readers back to the forgiveness and grace available through Jesus. A must-read in our home!"
Sarah and Deepak Reju, Authors of God is Better Than Trucks and On Guard

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21 Reviews

  • 5
    Real Life Applicable

    Posted by Korrie Johnson on 01 27 2021

    This book is so well written and so relatable for children, as with all of the books in the Good News for Little Hearts series. Every child struggles with the lure of things- not just children!- and this book addresses their sinful desires with an understandable and gentle approach that will resonate in their hearts. The illustrations are warm and inviting and will capture your children’s imagination. There are also bible verses and a parent resource page in the back. I highly recommend this book for your family! Find all my reviews on

  • 5
    Go-to Counsel for Children with the "Wantsies"

    Posted by Theron St. John on 01 25 2020

    Gus Loses His Grip is go-to counsel for parenting and helping young children to think through what has a hold on their hearts. The section in the back entitled “Helping Your Child with the ‘I Wantsies’” equips parents in dealing with the issue, and the Back Pocket Bible Verses will encourage the kids with this particular truth of Scripture. Whether it is a toddler asking for more food or a preschool and elementary child wanting more and more time playing games and watching videos, this book will helps kids see how problems can arise, namely that whatever it is that has a grip on the child rather than the child having a grip on it. If you are a parent who wants your young child to not be controlled by things but compelled by the love of Christ, then Gus Loses His Grip: When You Want Something Too Much edited by David Powlison is a good place to start. I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.

  • 5
    Learning to Control Temptation

    Posted by Connie Porter Saunders on 12 29 2019

    This is another great children's book from New Growth Press that not only entertains but also teaches Godly principles. Gus Loses His Grip is the story of Gus the raccoon and his love for anything sweet. Candy, fruit, you name it..."Gus loved sweets. He loved everything sweet!" Soon, Gus finds himself hiding candy, lying, and eventually stealing to satisfy his sweet tooth. When Papa raccoon talks to Gus about letting his love of sweets cause him to do wrong, he soon realizes that he himself has been guilty of coveting fishing equipment and that this is very wrong also. Children will love the colorful illustrations as they observe the raccoon family involved in the same daily activities as humans, such as fishing, Easter egg hunts, and picking berries. They will also learn that everyone is tempted by sin and that there are many different ways to sin, but forgiveness is always possible because of Jesus Christ. This is a great book for children and adults to read together and there is also an added parent's guide in the back to help in further discussion. I highly recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy from New Growth Press but I wasn't required to write a positive review. These are my own opinions.

  • 3
    Opens a discussion about moderation

    Posted by Savings in Seconds on 12 28 2019

    This children’s book is for those times “when you want something too much.” For Gus, the temptation comes in the form of sweets. Many of us can related to that, right? In this story, Gus struggles with moderation. He hides candy in his room, gobbles up his Easter candy, and steals candy from the local store. Young readers might need help understanding the correlation between Gus’s temptations (candy), Mama’s temptations (sales), and Papa’s temptations (fishing lures). Be sure to read the parent guide at the back of the book to extend the discussion to suit your own family’s needs. For our family, at this point, it’s about video games, YouTube, and shoes! I had a few issues with this story. His parents seemed largely unaware of the way Gus indulged. Young ones might be tempted to tuck candy under a pillow like Gus did, since it was never addressed in the book. Additionally, Gus did not receive a consequence after his parents caught him stealing from the store. He was forced to return the candy and offer an apology, but nothing beyond that. If my children had read this at the book’s marketed age (5-8 years), they would have been punished at home. At the very least, I wondered why the commandment against stealing wasn’t mentioned. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. Opinions shared are mine.

  • 5
    A Lesson in Contentment and Self-Control

    Posted by Amy Smelser on 12 14 2019

    This storybook has a wonderful message that I think children as well as adults can relate too. How much is too much and when does it turn into greed? I think the message is a good one all year long, but maybe at Christmastime the most. (Though this book actually takes place right after Easter.) Gus is a little raccoon who has quite a sweet tooth. So much so that it becomes almost like an addiction for him until he starts losing control of himself and does something that he would not normally do. What I liked was how his parents, especially his dad handled it. This was an eye opener for sure and a great lesson in contentment. This is a really nice hardback book with the most adorable and creative illustrations. My son and I have been reading these books together, he is 9 but both he and I have been enjoying this series of little animals learning valuable lessons. I received a copy of this storybook from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review and all views and opinions are my own.

  • 5
    Excellent Story To Teach Kids About Greed

    Posted by Rebecca Van Daniker on 12 13 2019

    What I love the most about Gus Loses His Grip by David Powlinson is that this is not a book that kids from ages 3-8 will love, but has a gospel-centered lesson that parents, counselors, and teachers can use to teach children. Just like Tori Comes Out of Her Shell, this book features an animal family – a family of raccoons. By the way, this is part of the Good News for Little Hearts series so you might spot Tori the Turtle and her family somewhere in the book! Gus is addicted to candy so much that he finds himself stealing. The story comes alive through a conversation with his father who admits that he too buys too much fishing equipment that he doesn’t need. His father explains to his son that it’s okay to want something every now and then, but when we love something more than we love Jesus, then that is a sin. It was a cute, simple, and fun way to explain to a child that very topic. The book goes even further to talk about a little bit about Jesus and having a relationship with Him. The illustrations will catch your child’s eye, drawing you immediately into the story. A talking guide you can use with your child that can be found at the back of the book. This book is far more than a story as this is one that will stay with your child long after the pages are closed. Just like how Gus and his dad have back pocket Bible verses, the book includes verses that are perforated to be torn out of the book that you can give your child to memorize and look at when they have the urge to want something more than they want Jesus Christ. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.

  • 5
    Charming story & illustrations

    Posted by Vera H Godley on 12 12 2019

    This story of Gus and his uncontrolled desires or "wants" is illustrated with cute woodsy critters - the raccoons - and lovely scenes as they address the issue of Gus and his insatiable desires. The story is sweet (just like Gus' candy) and the family environment is strong. But soon, Gus resorts to taking what he wants instead of its being given to him or purchasing it. Eventually, his father discovers Gus' problem and handles it with love and teaches the child about repentance and forgiveness. A sweet story and well done.

  • 5
    Excellent book on temptation

    Posted by Matthew Cover on 12 10 2019

    Gus Loses His Grip is another excellent book to be released by New Growth Press in the “Good News for Little Hearts” series. I have enjoyed every single one of these books, and so have my children. This volume is no different! David Powlison is the editor of the book, with Joe Hox credited as the illustrator. The story is created by Jocelyn Flenders, a homeschooling mom, writer, and editor. I love this book for many reasons, but the biggest reason is the Christ-centeredness of the content. All of these books in this series are based on the CCEF(Christian Counseling and Education Foundation) model of counseling, and it is seen clearly in the children’s story. The book engages children and helps them to understand the nature of temptation, and the hope and help that we have in Christ. After Gus gets caught stealing candy because of the deep desire to have it, his father teaches him a wonderful lesson while fishing: “You know, Gus, there’s nothing wrong with eating candy once in a while...But when we love something too much it gets a grip on us and we lose our grip on what is really important. We want something more than we love Jesus...The Great Book calls that sin.” The father goes on to explain that he too deals with temptation, but praise the Lord, our temptation is never too strong for Jesus! We can be helped by Jesus. The story is excellent. It’s a wonderful way of teaching our little ones about the nature of temptation as well as the hope and help that Christ offers to us. The illustrations by Hox are excellent! Kids will love the pictures. Another excellent addition to this volume is the section in the back called “Helping your Child with the ‘I Wantsies’”. This is another excellent tool for parents in helping their children to honor the Lord with their lives, specifically in regards to temptation. As in all of the other books in this series, back pocket Bible verses are included in the very back of the book for children to hang on to. They can carry them around with them, or commit them to memory. I highly recommend this book! Parents and children will learn much from it. Disclaimer: My thanks to New Growth Press for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The opinions expressed are my own.

  • 5
    Great Lesson!

    Posted by Veronica on 12 05 2019

    This was an excellent story about temptation and how even good things can become too important to us if we want them more than Jesus. I liked how the dad realized he was doing this, too, with his fishing lures just as Gus was with candy, though the dad didn't steal any! This was a good reminder for me and probably for everyone, young and old alike! There were fun illustrations of different animals dressed in clothes, at a market, etc., behaving as humans do. I liked how Gus asked forgiveness for stealing and the shop owner forgave him rather than just glossing over it. The gospel and sin is explained in a relatable way and there's an excellent resource in the back for helping your child with the "I Wantsies" as they call it. I highly recommend it! I received this book from New Growth Press. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

  • 4
    when you want something too much

    Posted by Jill Jones on 11 26 2019

    Gus Raccoon learns a lesson about the consequences of wanting something so much you'll steal to get it. "Gus Loses His Grip" by Jocelyn Flenders and edited by David Powlison teaches children with the "I wantsies" about greed. As part of the "Good News for Little Hearts" series, "Gus Loses His Grip" applies biblical truth to the struggles and temptations kids often face in a materialistic world.  Illustrator Joe Hox provides wonderful pictures to go along with Flenders' story. You will enjoy reading this story to your child and helping him or her grasp a hard truth about wants and needs. You might even learn something, too.  The book also includes tear-out Bible verses so kids can start memorizing Scripture. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from New Growth Press through Audra Jennings PR. I was not required to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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