The Rhyme Bible Storybook by L.J. Sattgast won several awards, including The Gold Medallion. Certainly, the idea of a rhyming Bible for toddlers and preschoolers is an excellent (and ambitious!) one. Studies have shown over and again that young children comprehend and remember what is read to them best if the text rhymes.
This Bible storybook begins with the story of creation and Adam and Eve's fall. Next, there's the story of Noah, and Abraham's prayer for a child (and how that was fulfilled). Then there's Joseph and his jealous brothers, baby Moses, Moses and the burning bush, the plagues of Egypt, the walls of Jericho, the story of Samuel, David and Goliath, Elijah, Jonah and the big fish, Daniel and the lion's den, Esther, Nehemiah, the birth of Jesus, young Jesus "lost" at the temple, Jesus' baptism, a glimpse at Jesus' healings (including the man lowered through the roof), Jesus' calming of the storm, Jesus creating enough food for a crowd, a few of Jesus' parables (including the houses on rock and sand, the good Samaritan, the foolish rich man, and the prodigal son), Zacchaeus, Jesus' death and resurrection, and Jesus' visitations after he rose.
What I Like: The idea behind this Bible storybook is excellent, and the writing is quite appropriate for young children. Sometimes, the author goes beyond the obvious and retells Bible stories in an especially kid-friendly way. For example, the story of Jesus feeding the crowd begins by introducing a young boy, whose mother packs him a lunch before he heads off to hear Jesus talk. When the boy learns the crowd around him is hungry, yet there is no food, he approaches Jesus with his lunch basket. Here's another example, from the story of Jesus' birth:
"The fuzzy brown donkeyThe author also does a nice job of steering around adult themes. For example, when telling Joseph's story, she simply writes that Potiphar's wife said "That slave you brought me/Is no good./He'd try to hurt me/If he could!"
Was glad to stay
Beside a manger
Filled with hay.
'Moo!' said a cow
'Ba-a-a-a!' said the sheep.
Then everyone tried
To get some sleep."
The illustrations by Toni Goffe are sketchy and most depict engaging scenes. For example, my two year old is fascinated with the image of frogs invading Egypt.
What I Dislike: Unfortunately, the illustrations for the creation story are pretty dull, so parents may wish to start with a story that has more interesting pictures, then come back to the creation story when their child is "hooked" on the book.
There are also some jarring transitions in this volume. For example, there is no transition between the stories of the fall and Noah. The reader is given no clue how much time has passed and why suddenly the earth is full of people. Similarly, there's no transition from the last Old Testament story and the sudden birth of Christ. Also, in the story of Abraham, Sarah is strangely missing. We don't learn of her at all until she laughs at the angels. (The author calls her "Sarah" but doesn't mention she was Abraham's wife.) Then she disappears again.
Still, these are only a handful of complaints about an otherwise very good book.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 - 8, but my 2 year old enjoys it.
Publishing Info: Zonderkidz, 1996; ISBN: 031070197X; hard back, $17.99.
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Special Info: Some Christians will object to the illustrations that depict Jesus Christ.