Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Parables Jesus Told

Parables Jesus Told does something I wish more Christian children's books would do. It takes some of the biblical stories rarely written about for children and makes them easy to understand, even for very young kids.

The text, by Ella K. Lindvall, is extremely simple (in a good way!). There are rarely more than four sentences per page, making it a great read even for toddlers.

Five of Jesus' parables are retold here: "The Foolish Farmer" (Luke 12:16-21), "The Sheep That Was Lost" (Luke 15:3-7), "The People Helper Who Wouldn't Help" (Luke 18:1-8), "Two Men Who Talked to God" (Luke 18:9-14), and "Two Men and Their Houses" (Luke 7:24-27). At the end of each parable, a blank page features the moral of the story. For example, at the end of "The Foolish Farmer" (a parable about a wealthy farmer who stores up his treasures on earth), the author asks:

"What did you learn? It's better to be God's friend than to have a lot of things."

What I Like: The concept is wonderful. We really need more books like this, taking solid biblical principles and putting them into an understandable format for young children.

What I Dislike: The illustrations by H. Kent Puckett, while bold and colorful, often don't have much action. For example, in the parable about a shepherd who lost a single sheep and went far and wide to retrieve it, each illustration is awfully similar. This might be fine for preschoolers, but 22 month old finds it boring. Which is a real shame, because the text is perfect for her age group.

Also, two of the conclusions could be more clear. In the same story about the shepherd and his lost sheep, for example, the author says the moral is: "God loves YOU, and you can make Him happy. Love the Lord Jesus. Do what He says." Certainly that is true, and part of what the parable sets out to teach. But it would be more clear if the author drew a more direct parallel between the story and it's meaning, mentioning that God loves us even when we stray, and that he wants us to come back to him.

Still, these flaws only slightly damper my enthusiasm for this book.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but many toddlers will enjoy this book, too.

Publishing Info: Moody Publishers, 2000; ISBN: 0802471161; over sized hardback, $19.99

Buy Now at Amazon for $13.59.

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