"a refreshing, uncomplicated reading of the most popular books of the Bible, including prophecy."
Author Penny Zee labored for seven years over the project, motivated by the conviction that children and adults absorb more and learn faster through poetry than prose. It begins:
And then He created the world
And as His Spirit hovered over the waters
His magnificent plan unfurled
The book includes 50 Bible stories. These are listed in the Table of Contents along with their main character(s) and corresponding book(s) of the Bible. The Life of Jesus includes over 100 sub-stories.
At well over 500 pages, this book touches on nearly every book of the Bible. Some obvious exclusions are Psalms, Proverbs, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Colossians, several minor prophets and some of the smaller epistles. Catholic readers will also notice the absence of books such as Judith, Maccabees and Baruch.
As this is not intended to be an exhaustive account of Scripture, some sections offer abridged accounts. For example, the book of Judges is represented only by the life of Samson. This portion comes immediately after Joshua and the battle of Jericho, thereby skipping centuries of history and several other leaders of Israel. This is just one example of how the book proves selective in its portrayals.
What I Like: Poetry is exceedingly difficult to write fluidly; the hurdles magnify when one seeks to relay Scripture accurately. The author's hard work is evident in the pages. She clearly consulted several versions of Scripture (as evidenced by the bibliography at the back of the book) and some commentaries. This book could prove a helpful reference tool, offering fresh perspectives on certain parts of Scripture.
What I Dislike: The rhythm and flow of text is inconsistent. Some parts are wonderful, but others can be frustrating to read. The author has employed a coded system of punctuation to help readers pace the lines "properly" (detailed in the book's Introduction), but the reading is still cumbersome in many places. Unfortunately, I often focused so much on how to read that I missed what I was reading.
The book's endorsements are sensational and, I feel, misleading. My greatest concern with this book is that many people will mistake it for an actual Bible rather than a paraphrase. Considering the title and the publisher's claims all over the book jacket, this would be easy to do. Such a mistake is dangerous because (1) the text includes the author's interpretation of Scripture rather than a translation of Scripture and (2) several parts of the Bible are not represented here. As long as readers clearly understand what it is and what it is not, however, this book could prove a wonderful resource.
Finally, the most minor of concerns, the top of every page includes the author's name and this book's title, but not the applicable book of the Bible or even the story re-told. With a book this size, it would be easier to find desired sections, if they were labeled more specifically. Also, I would love to have direct Bible references (book and chapter) listed with each story. This would more easily facilitate further study.
Overall Rating: Good -- Noting the clarifications made above.
Age Appeal: All ages, though I recommend 8 and above.
Publisher Info: Creation House, 2010; ISBN: 1616381612; Hardback; 560 pages; $21.99
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