Thursday, July 15, 2010

Whitney Sews Joseph's Many Colored Coat

Jealousy is a powerful emotion. Learning to deal with it in a God-honoring way can be difficult for children. But in Whitney Sews Joseph's Many-Colored Coat, written by Therese Johnson Borchard and illustrated by Wendy VanNest, kids get a powerful lesson.

Whitney and her classmates have had enough of teacher's pet Natalie, so they cook up a scheme to put her in her place, hiding a spider in her lunch. As the teacher seeks to find out who the pranksters are, the girls feel bad and try to decide what to do. It's then Whitney turns to her Nana's Bible to see what God says about jealousy. She "time travels" into the story of Old Testament Joseph and witnesses the jealousy Joseph's brothers had for him.

When Joseph's brothers sell him for twenty pieces of silver to Ishmaelites, then lie about it to their father, Whitney witnesses the anguish of the father who believes his favored son dead. Many years go by all in the 30 minutes it takes Whitney to read/experience the story. Due to a famine, the brothers travel to Egypt, where Joseph is, so they may purchase grain. Whitney accompanies them, and is surprised to realize the man whom the brothers bow to is Joseph.

She stays behind when the brothers are sent home to retrieve their youngest brother, Benjamin, who was the father's second-favorite son. Joseph confides in Whitney everything which happened to him and learns of the deceitful things his brothers told their father.

Upon the brothers' return, Joseph treats them to a feast, then hatches a plan to reveal his true identity by putting a silver goblet in Benjamin's pack. When he sends a servant after the brothers to locate the goblet, and it's discovered in the youngest brother's pack, Joseph demands Benjamin must stay with him as his slave. The other brothers beg for it to be anyone but Benjamin since he is their father's favorite son since Joseph was lost. It's then Joseph reveals his identity and tells Benjamin he must bring their father to Egypt where he is Pharaoh's chief officer and governor over all of Egypt.

Whitney returns to her present day world with a big lesson on jealousy, and with her friends, fesses up to the prank pulled on Natalie.

What I Like: The story teaches an important lesson for kids on the downward spiral jealousy can create. I especially liked the fact Whitney was involved first-hand in the story, rather than having it told to her. Her observations make the story much more powerful in my opinion.

What I Dislike: The jump from present-day to Biblical times seemed abrupt to me. One second, you were in Whitney's basement, the next, standing in Canaan with Joseph's father. The jump back wasn't quite as abrupt.

Also, as a writer, there were a few places where the wording in the book seemed vague or just plain wrong. This took me out of the story until I could rectify what was trying to be said.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: 8 - 12, but there's one part of the story may need some parental guidance for younger readers. That's where Potiphar's wife tries to seduce Joseph, and when he refuses her, she "spread rumors that Joseph made forceful advances to her."

Publisher Info: Paulist Press, 1999; ISBN: 0-8091-6664-X; Paperback $5.95

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Special Info: We've reviewed other books in The Emerald Bible Collection. You can find them here.

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