Monday, October 13, 2014

Candle Bible Handbook

I've often thought it would be nice to have a simple, kid-friendly resource book I could use to give me background information about a particular book of the Bible before I read it.  The Candle Bible Handbook serves that purpose. It covers every book of the Bible, in order of its presentation.

The Candle Bible Handbook  starts with a note about how to use the book and a helpful graphic showing how the Bible is organized. Both the Old and the New Testaments are introduced prior to examining the first book in each section. At the end, the book provides pages that define the big ideas in the Bible (such as Beatitudes or Justification), a list of promises made to believers (with references), a list of fifty very important passages (with references), a "Who's Who in the Bible" section (with references), and an index.

Each introduction to a book from the Bible ranges anywhere from 2 to 4 page section provides the following:

  • A half-page summary of the book (This gives the reader a general overview of its contents.)
  • An outline (It's not highly detailed, but has a one or two sentence summary of a portion of Scripture. For example, for Genesis, it says "Abraham and Sarah (12:1-25:18): God chooses Abraham and Sarah to be the ancestors of his own people. God promises to bless the whole earth through this new people of God.")
  • Frequently Asked Questions (With succinct and Scriptural backed answers.)
  • Look out for... (Ideas for readers to look for as they read the book. For example, one of the looking points for Nehemiah: Confessions. When the people read the Law, they are reminded of their sin. Then they confess their sins to God so they can ask him to forgive them.)
  • Study Questions (Usually three questions are presented, along with a section in Scripture where the answer can be found. For example, a question for Philippians is: What are Christians supposed to think about and do? 4:8-9)
Sections also contain some or all of the following:
  • Maps
  • Photographs of places and artifacts (such as inscribed stones in the ruins of the Forum, Rome or replica musical instruments of Biblical times)
  • Time lines
  • Lifelike drawings of characters or places
  • Large scale images of major cities (such as Jerusalem)
  • Sidebars with historical background information
  • Lists and charts (such as the one highlighting the parables in the New Testament)
What I Like: With everything that's packed into this handbook, it could have felt cumbersome. It doesn't! The design is very well thought out, with a mixture of a multitude of bright and interesting graphics and thought-provoking text. The book doesn't get bogged down in every minute detail; instead if gives a snapshot of the book with just enough meat to prepare the reader to dive into the Bible with confidence. I found it pleasant and fascinating, and I learned a few things about history I didn't know before. I know it's created for kids, but I liked it so much, I think I'll keep it handy for me as well.

What I Dislike: There were a few very minor technicalities I noticed that don't detract from the overall usefulness and quality of the book. In describing Esther, the author says that "Mordecai enters [Esther] in the contest for queen..." But Esther 2:8 says that the king sent out an order and young women were brought to the citadel and put under the care of Hegai, who was in charge of the harem.  Later, the book says that Jonah was "rescued" by a large fish, but Jonah 1:17 says the Lord sent a big fish to swallow him....although it's true that it does end up being a rescue operation. In the section on 2 Timothy, the author says that Paul "told Timothy that the Bible was inspired by God". However, at that point in history, the Bible was still being written. In fact, that very letter written to Timothy by Paul ends up being included in the Bible! Instead, it should indicate in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all SCRIPTURE is inspired by God. On the other hand, one could argue that the two are interchangeable, so I understand the author's word choice. It just stood out to me.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 8-12 years

Publisher Info: Candle Books, 2014; ISBN: 978-1859855867; Paperback, 256 pgs., $17.99

Buy it Now at for $13.99
OR Buy it at for $15.44.

Special Info: You can read CCBR reviews of other Candle products, including a Toddler edition Bible for kids.

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