Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chronicles of Faith: Esther

The biblical story of Esther has all the elements of a great Hollywood film: secrets, intrigue, murder, revenge - and an ending where the "good guys" prevail. Those same ingredients could make for exciting reading for your child in Chronicles of Faith: Esther by Susan Martins Miller.

This small but fat book (6.7 x 5 inches and 224 pages) features a full page black and white line drawing in comic book style for every page of large-type text. The chapters are short and the writing simple. Clearly, the publisher is trying to capture the imagination of kids who don't normally delve into "big books."

The book covers the biblical story of Esther, beginning after Queen Vashti has left the castle, proceeding through Esthers' crowning as Queen and her heroic intervention to save all the Jews in her land from certain death, and ending with the declaration of the holiday Purim. It also includes dramatic scenes and thoughts not included in the Bible.

What I Like: I love the story of Esther, and I think the inclusion of so many illustrations and such short chapters is a great idea for reluctant readers. And while an adult might notice sexual undertones when Esther spends the night with the King, the author is careful not to suggest anything sexual. She simple writes: "When she [Esther] was introduced to King Xerxes, she bowed deeply and followed meekly as she was led to his rooms."

Unlike the biblical story, which doesn't mention God, the author helps readers see God's role in this story. Esther, Mordecai, and his friends are shown praying and fasting before the Queen asks for the King's help. Later, Esther and Mordecai speak of how God placed Esther in the King's palace specifically to save the Jews. "God was gracious to our people. He heard our prayers and answered our cries. We were honored to be His instruments," Mordecai says.

What I Dislike: Although the book adequately tells the story of Esther, it failed to grab me. For a story with such inherent suspense and excitement, this is surprising.

Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 9 - 12, but younger readers may enjoy it, too.
Publishing Info: Barbour Books, 2007; ISBN: 978-1597899246; paperback, $4.97.
Buy at for $4.97
Special Info: Read our other reviews of books by Paul L. Maier.

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