If you're looking for a book that tells the biblical story of Abraham, Jacqueline Jules' Abraham's Search for God will disappoint you. If, however, you approach this picture book as a work of fiction - an imagining of what the boy Abram might have experienced in his search for God - you and your child may enjoy it greatly.
Jules begins by introducing us to the boy Abraham (she does not mention that his name was originally Abram) who lived thousands of years ago in the city of Ur. We learn that people of this time prayed to many different idols - mere statues of clay or stone. But Abraham, the author says, didn't feel this was right. "Idols have mouths but cannot speak to me. They have ears but cannot hear me. How can an idol help me?" he wonders. Although his father scolds him for these musings, Abraham seeks out the true Creator.
One day, Abraham stays out late, and the dark frightens him. Then a full moon appears...and Abraham thinks he's found something greater than idols. The moon, which lifts the darkness, must be a god; he prays to it. But in the morning, he watches the sun overtake the moon, and imagines the sun must be the ruler of all things - so he prays to it. But then clouds overtake the sun and the sky darkens. It rains and thunders. "Thunder!" Abraham cries. "You sent away the sun and made the earth shake. Are you the ruler of the world?" After a time, the clouds part and a giant rainbow fills the sky. Did the rainbow stop the fierce thunder? Then Abraham notices the sun take over once more...and after a time, the moon. He wonders who makes the sun and moon take turns.
Unable to sleep, Abraham ponders these things. "One great power rules the entire universe and sets everything in motion. This great power is the one true God," the boy decides. Still, Abraham continues seeking. He wonders where God is and how he can know God is really there, since he can't see him. He looks around at the flowers and the birds and feels the warm breeze on his face.
"Suddenly Abraham knew. 'God is everywhere. God is in everything. God is something we know with our hearts...' Every part of his being joined in a prayer: One God of earth and skies. you fill my heart and eyes."
From then on, the author says, Abraham worshiped the one true God. And when he grew up, he led others to this God. Jules ends: "Today, we remember Abraham as the father of three great religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam."
What I Like: Jules' writing style is simple, yet doesn't dumb things down. In many ways, this is a book full of complex ideas, but even young children can understand its basic meaning. Too, the illustrations by Natascia Ugliano are gorgeous - rich and vibrant and full of interest.
What I Dislike: This book is not for everyone, due to the mixing of biblical fact and creative fiction. I recommend it for older children, who have a good basic understanding of the biblical story of Abraham. It's a good idea to explain to children that Abraham's Search for God is based on Jewish myth, and we don't really know if this is how Abraham discovered the one true God. Some Christian parents will object that Abraham is shown praying to the sun and moon (even though he realizes later they aren't gods).
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: The publisher recommends 4 - 8.
Publishing Info: Kar-Ben Publishing, 2007; ISBN: 158013243X; hard back, $17.95
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