Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ravens' Mission (Animals of the Bible)

Ravens’ Mission is book number 2 in Marilyn Schuler’s Animals of the Bible series. This is the story from I Kings 17 about Elijah the prophet during a drought. Elijah had prayed for this drought as a dramatic demonstration of power over Baal, the pagan deity worshipped by the king. During this dry spell there was a shortage of food and drink, but Elijah received God’s provision in a miraculous way: On a daily basis, ravens carried food to Elijah.

However, Schuler does not provide the reader with this background, nor does she mention that the prophet in her story is Elijah. Instead, her story starts with a conversation between two raven brothers (Rob and Ray) and their father. The father raven, demonstrating great respect and faith in what he calls “Our Creator”, tells his sons that they have a mission to carry bread and meat to the prophet in the ravine. He sets up a schedule to deliver two meals a day, splitting the duty between the sons. Then dad leaves.

The raven boys are amazed that the meat and bread appear, just as their father had said. At this point, however, the older raven named Ray decides that he is not going to help on the mission and leaves Rob to do all the work. While Rob faithfully fulfills his task, he makes friends with the prophet.

Meanwhile, Ray starts to feel guilty for shirking his mission. He eventually returns to Rob and offers to help. From then on, the two brothers work together to deliver food.

Finally the food stops appearing, and the boys report to their father. He tells them, “Mission accomplished. Our Creator is pleased when we obey him.”

The story ends by citing the passage of Scripture where this story is found. Samantha Kickingbird created its delightful, realistic-looking illustrations.

What I Like: I appreciate the story being told from the raven’s point of view, and the inclusion of the Scripture passage so readers can fill in some of the gaps. Also, the illustrations are interesting and well drawn. While the ravens show a bit of human qualities in the way they talk to each other and in their body stances, they still look the way a raven outside your window might look. The book also comes with an audio book download, which is an added bonus!

What I Dislike: Although I liked the pictures, there is not much of a variety in color, which gives the book almost a cold, drab feel to it. Also, parts of the story are not well developed. We don’t have a clear idea why Ray would abandon his task, nor why he would start to feel guilty and return. Also, the reader is never told why there is a drought, why the prophet is hiding in the ravine, or why the drought ends. However, reading the Scripture passage would help clarify these missing parts of the story. Finally, the book is a little expensive for a paperback.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: No age group is cited, but I think it would work well for the K-1 crowd.

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing, 2012; ISBN: 978-1621475682; Paperback, 28 pgs., $9.99

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OR Buy it at for $9.99
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