Monday, January 26, 2009

Every Story Whispers His Name

I can't help but make a recommendation. I don't do this often. In fact, I don't know if I've ever done this. Well, except for Libby's recommended reads. :) And this is another one. Only, it's more than a recommended read. It deserves more than to be part of a list on the margin of the page.

So, let me tell you how much we love Libby's newest storybible. It's called the Jesus Storybook Bible. It's phenomenal. This storybible is a delight for Libby to read through, and she loves it almost as much as Brian and I do. In fact, it's not uncommon for me to hear Brian at the end of the day, "What!? You're this far already?! You and mommy read all these stories without me?" Neither of us wants to miss out on storybible reading. :)

The storybible is written by Sally Lloyd-Jones. The stories are so very well written, recounting not only the Bible stories many of us are so familiar with, but telling them and elaborating on the context, and showing us how Jesus fits into each page in the scriptures. Lloyd-Jones helps little readers (and big readers alike) imagine and better understand the eerie feeling in the garden after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and a girl who is hungry after being brought back to life by Jesus, and God's frightened people standing at the edge of the sea, as well as God's purposes and the foreshadowing of our Savior. Listen to this excerpt,

"What were God's people going to do? In front of them was a big sea. It was so big there was no way around it. But there was no way through it -- it was too deep. They didn't have any boats so they couldn't sail across. And they couldn't swim across because it was too far and they would drown. And they couldn't turn back because Pharaoh was chasing them. They could see the flashing swords now, glinting in the baking sun, and the dust clouds, and chariot after scary chariot surging towards them. So they did the only thing there was left to do -- PANIC!
"We're going to die!" they shrieked.
"Don't be afraid!" Moses said.
"But there's nothing we can do!" they screamed.
"God knows you can't do anything!" Moses said. "God will do it for you. Trust him. And watch!"
"But there's no way out!" they cried.
"God will make a way!" Moses said.
"Another minute and it would have been over. But then the strangest thing happened."

Isn't it exciting to read? :) This storybible is written to help the reader see the Bible in its entirety as a puzzle, and Jesus as the missing piece that makes it all fit together. And from the Old Testament through the New, Lloyd-Jones reminds us that Jesus is a part of the story; that every story bears his name. What's that, you say? What did Jesus have to do with the parting of the Red Sea?

...continuing on in the story of the parting of the Red Sea, from Exodus 14-15
"God's people were safe. They danced and laughed and sang and thanked God -- when there had been no way out, God had made a way.
Many years later, once again, God was going to make a way where there was no way.
From the beginning, God's children had been running from him and hiding. God knew his children could never be happy without him. But they couldn't get back to him by themselves -- they were lost, they didn't know the way back.
But God knew the way. [JESUS!!]
And one day he would show them."

Now, I will take one or two lines to point out that this is a storybible and not a Bible, which is worth noting because the words on these pages are not God breathed, they are not inspired as scripture is (2 Tim 3:16 "All scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.") And this storybible shouldn't serve as a substitute for reading the scripture. Lloyd-Jones is taking liberties, as does any storybible author. But, as believing parents who have read our share of story Bibles, we believe that her interpretation is faithful to the details revealed to us in Scripture (and surprisingly, many storybibles we've read aren't) and it seems that where Lloyd-Jones supplements, she does so in a way that supports the larger theme in scripture: Jesus as the centrality to the storyline.

And it must be mentioned, the illustrations are phenomenal. Jago is the illustrator and we're just amazed by his work. Every page is brilliant with color, with fascinating and almost childlike sketches. That said, we do have to remind Libby that we don't KNOW what it would have looked like when God spoke the moon into existence, and we don't KNOW that Jairus' daughter had beautiful curly brown hair (Libby LOVEs her hair in the illustration:) But, we do know that the illustrations are fun to look at, and that God's miracles would have been even more breathtaking in person.

So, all that to say, check out the Jesus Storybook Bible. Your little one, if he or she is attentive enough to sit and listen to a number of words on a page, will surely love it. And I would imagine you will too. This book is well put together, and it's educational and helpful to those who may have never read through the Bible, to those who know some of scripture and are familiar with various stories but couldn't necessarily put their finger on "the big picture", and to those who are well versed in scripture and appreciate a storybible that holds to the truths laid before us in the Word of God, in particular, the truths that our God is the author of history, merciful, all knowing and all powerful, and the same thousands of years ago as He is today. Specifically, the God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New, and his works from the beginning were deliberately laid into place with a foreshadowing of his redemption of his people through Jesus Christ our Savior!

**The excerpts I gave you are from the storybible, and each excerpt was off one page in the book. I mention that so you can see about how many words are on each page. It's not a storybible with one or two sentences of summation, it's a bit more involved. BUT, I think you'll be impressed with how the text captivates your little one, while the illustrations give them more than enough to contemplate until you're ready to turn the page. If you'd like to see more, click on the link to the Westminster Bookstore, which allows you to see 10 pages from within.**


Sally Lloyd-Jones said...

Hi! I'm the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible and I came across your blog and wonderful review via a google alert thing and thought I'd stop by and say Hi.

Thanks for your review--I'm so glad you're enjoying the book. It's God's Wonderful Story--and my honor and privilege to have a small part in retelling it for little (and not so little) ones!

It's crucial that distinction between a Children's Bible (a translation of the Bible for children) and a storybook retelling (which is obviously what my book is) and I appreciate your comments.

My prayer is that my book will lead little ones to Jesus and to reading the actual Bible for themselves one day.

Anyway, my best to you all--and yes Jago's illustrations are incredible and I'm one of his biggest fans. This book would not be what it is without him.


PS you and Libby may be interested to know about some cool resources on my site connected with the book, including audio of me reading the stories, downloadable stories, interviews and reviews--as well as other new children's books

Anonymous said...

So, what happened with God's people? You left me hanging? :-)

Nice review. Robin and I are going to get one of these for our little granddaughters. We have been looking for one close to the true interpretation of scripture. I'm glad Sally left her calling card.

Jessica's Little Women said...

My girls like that Bible, too. I love how Jesus' work at the cross is brought into each story. We love the Big Picture Bible, too. It isn't very detailed, but it's great for a time line and for seeing how God brought about His plan for salvation.