With nearly 100, mostly full color illustrations, Strauss' book is, above all, exciting for the eyes. There are photos you might expect (like a model of the Arc of the Covenant and antique paintings of scenes from the Bible), and photos that may come as a surprise (like Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog - because some Bible names do sound like they belong to Muppets).
I expected the text to focus on weird facts that would intrigue kids and send them to the Bible. And there is some of that:
"Ezekiel once had a vision of a valley filled with dry bones. There was a tremendous rattling and blanking when the skeletons suddenly reassembled! [See Ezekiel 37:1-10]"But most of the entries are much more like a Bible dictionary. For example, the first few entries are for "Aaron" and "Abednego" and offer pretty standard definitions.
"The Bible talks about an astonishing, fire-breathing swamp monster called leviathan. Read all about it in Job 41. Was it real or symbolic? No one knows for sure."
What I Like: This book is fun to look at. The pictures are terrific and many are intriguing. (Why show a photo of a man looking miniature beneath a huge dinosaur skeleton? Because the Bible mentions a dinosaur-like creature called a behemoth. Why an image of Paul Revere's famous ride? Because Paul had a (somewhat) similar one.) The sidebars found on nearly every page ("Four War Songs That Women Sang," "Eight Weird War Weapons," "Eight Times the Israelites Vanquished Giants") are fun, too.
What I Dislike: As a sort of not-afraid-to-be-funny kids' Bible dictionary, I think this book is great. But if you're looking for a book that lives up to the "amazing...even gross Bible stuff," you may be disappointed.
Overall Rating: Very Good.
Age Appeal: 8 - 12.
Publishing Info: Barbour Books, 2009; ISBN: 978-1602604766; paperback, $9.97
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Special Info: Be sure to also check out our review of Barbour Books' Kids' Bible Dictionary.