Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule

The Berenstain Bears and the Golden Rule, created by Jan, Stan and Mike Berenstain, is one in a new series of books by this well-known team, each dealing with a Biblical theme or idea. Their previous titles were considered secular books, even though many of them dealt with moral issues.

In this book, Sister Bear is given a new locket, one engraved with the Golden Rule inside it. Even though she has heard the Golden Rule, and even seen it in print many times (as Mama Bear has a sampler of it hanging on the living room wall), she never really understood what it meant. But that changes when a new girl, Suzy MacGrizzie, comes to school, and Sister Bear finally invites her to join her circle of friends.

The Bible verse, “Do to others what you would have them do to you,” (Matthew 7:12) is printed on the first inside page of the book. There is a section on the back cover with discussion questions and activities relating to the ideas in the book.

The illustrations are the usual, colorful cartoon-like drawings that have made this series of books so popular.

What I Like: I like the idea that the Berenstains are tackling issues that are considered Christian in nature. Although the stories are still fictional, the added depth in the subject matter is encouraging.

I also think they did a good job of introducing, and explaining, the idea of the Golden Rule. They did it in a manner that is very kid-friendly. It’s one thing to be told what it means; it’s another thing to actually have a chance to act out the meaning.

What I Dislike: Although the Bible verse is mentioned at the front of the book, there is no other reference to the Bible in the actual story. When Sister Bear asks what the Golden Rule is, Mama Bear answers, "The Golden Rule is one of the most important rules there is." I think Mama should have also said that the Golden Rule is a verse from the Bible.

Overall Rating: Excellent.

Age Appeal: 4-8.

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2008; ISBN: 0310712475; Paperback, $3.99.

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