Monday, July 16, 2007

Zacchaeus and the Happy Day

Zacchaeus and the Happy Day, by Rhonda Gowler Greene, is a retelling in rhyme of Luke 19, where a chief tax collector climbed a tree to get a peek at Jesus Christ, then hosted a meal for Jesus and donated his ill-gotten gain to the poor.

Greene does a good job of helping us feel the anticipation crowds must have felt while waiting for Jesus to walk by, then explaining the biblical story in an entertaining way:

"He tried to find
the perfect spot
where he could see. But he could not.
He tried this way,
that way too.
What could small Zacchaeus do?
Oh, how he wished
that he could see.
Then he spied -
a sycamore tree!"

The author emphasizes that while Zacchaeus was a man of sin, Jesus showed him only love. Then:

"His greedy heart
grew BIG that day.
He said, 'I'll gladly repay
money I took from the poor -
all I took and even more."

Zacchaeus is converted from a man who cruelly takes from others to a man who is "kind and giving."

What I Like: I love that Greene chose a story from the Bible that is rarely told to children. Too, the tale is told clearly, and without preaching.

What I Dislike: Santiago Cohen's illustrations are bold and modern, but the colors are rather dark and muddy.

Overall Rating: I hemmed and hawed about whether to give this book a "Good" or a "Very Good" rating. Although I dislike the illustrations, I am delighted to see this biblical story told for children. Therefore, I give it a "Very Good."

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

Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 2007; ISBN: 0310711002; hard back, $9.99.

Buy Now at Amazon for $9.99.

Special Info: Visit the author's website for more information about her books and school visits, teaching ideas, writing and publishing tips, and more. To take a peek at Cohen's art, check out his website.

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