The first Cynthia Rylant book I ever read was the picture book, "When I Was Young In the Mountains". The story was not long or drawn out, and the words in the books were simple and pure. You might expect that in a picture book anyway, but there's a difference between saying what you want clearly and directly and simply being brief. Rylant never says any more nor less than she has to. It's a talent that has served her well in the past and made possible the succinct eloquence that is, "God Went to Beauty School".
I don't know if this book is profane or the holiest collection of poems I've ever read. I think maybe it's a little of both. Unabashedly Christian (with nods of the head to Buddhism) the book is a series sweet simple views of how God goes about His day. 23 poems in all, the book shows God getting a dog, ordering a couch from Pottery Barn, seeing a movie, and so on. These are small vignettes that take a what-if stance and enjoy what they conjure up. The great danger of the book, I suppose, was that it might fall into that old, "What If God Was One of Us", trap. Some could argue that this book is unnecessary if you believe that Jesus was already God. Rylant anticipates this point in the final longest poem, "God Died".
The book is simultaneously funny and touching. I have heard that Bible study groups use the poems to study. That groups of people without religion will ponder the poems line by line. The nicest poem in the group is, to my mind, "God Went to India". I have heard that people have read this poem at funerals. That it encompasses something in all of us, touching us deeply, revealing the truth that everything changes from one thing into another. The book is small and it does not impose itself upon you. It invites you to read it and whether you love it or hate it, it will not attempt to convert you one way or another. It is a book to love.