Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Brave Queen Esther: Bible Pop-Up Pals

Brave Queen Esther is a fun introduction to the story of Esther for the youngest readers. Each 2-page spread highlights a particular character, who pops up as the page is turned. We begin the story with "mean, mean Haman," who "wants to hurt God's people." We then learn about brave Queen Esther, the kind and happy king, and the Jewish people (simply referred to as "God's people") who are saved.

The text is simple and straightforward, and each character picture includes action words, such as "grumble" for Haman, "sparkle" for Queen Esther, and "clap" for God's people. The illustrations are bright and emphasize facial expressions. Queen Esther wears a sparkling crown and joyful expression, and the king looks appealing and benevolent with his white beard and smile.

What I Like: My two-year-old loved the pop-up feature. She would gasp with delight every time we turned a page, and thought Esther's crown was "pretty." She exclaimed, "Oh, king," every time we turned to the king's page, and wanted to read the book over and over. The text was simple enough to hold her attention, and she liked doing the actions listed for each character.

I especially like Christine Harder Tangvald and Rondi Deboer's decision at the end of the book to make it clear, "God saved the day." It is easy to overlook God's role when telling stories of biblical heroes, but even little ones need this reminder.

I also liked how colorful and happy the illustrations are. The characters are appealing and designed to catch a toddler's eye.

What I Dislike: I didn't like starting the book off with "mean, mean Haman." Little ones are so innocent, it seems sad to have to explain to them why Haman didn't like God's people. Also, because of the tendency of toddlers to generalize, I wasn't wild about having Haman, with a big, bushy beard and a frown, pop out of the first page. I don't want my daughter to think all men with big beards are mean.

Also, the book never made it clear why Esther was brave. The story of Esther needs a bit of background explained, as children wouldn't understand Esther was putting her life in danger by addressing the king, who she was married to. This went over my two-year-old's head, but may be more confusing for older three or four-year-olds.

Overall Rating: Good

Age Appeal: 2-4

Publisher Info: Standard Publishing, 2007; ISBN: 0-784-719470 ; Hardcover (Board book), $5.99

Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $4.99

OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $5.99.

Special Information: Click here to read reviews of other books by Rondi DeBoer.

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