Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Lost Coin

The Lost Coin, another book in the Arch Books series of rhyming picture books, tells the story of Luke 15: 8-10. In Jesus' parable, he compares a widow's joy at finding her lost coin with God's joy when a sinner repents. Like all Arch Books, great care is taken to ensure the retelling is biblically accurate. Author Nicole E. Dreyer sets the stage for us by explaining, "Jesus traveled from town to town." She continues, "But not everyone who followed the Lord/was happy with what they heard. . .The teachers and the Pharisees/Thought Jesus had made a mistake/Because He ate with those who sinned/And collectors with taxes to take." Dreyer then begins the retelling of the parable of the lost coin.

As the woman searches for her coin and subsequently finds it, her face reflects concern, joy and excitement. At the end of the book, we see Jesus again. This time, He is explaining to adults and children, "The angels of God will always rejoice/Whenever a sinner repents." Readers are included among the lost in the last verse, "Yes, we were the lost that Jesus found./He's claimed us as His own/And rejoices over each one of us/Before His Father's throne."

Arch Books always include a note to parents from the Editor, and this book is no exception. The note suggested asking children to think of a time they lost something important and found it again. My five-year-old could relate to this and thought of an example right away. He seemed impressed Jesus is happy when we are "found" just like he was happy when he found his lost treasure.

What I Like: I always appreciate Arch Books' biblical integrity. Though they may add details to put the story in context and make the story more accessible to children, they remain true to their mission to retell stories of the Bible without embellishing. This makes Arch books a valuable addition to any family's collection of Bible story books.

In The Lost Coin, specifically, I love the illustrations. It is nice to see people who look Middle Eastern and are dressed in period clothes featured in Bible story books. Again, this helps children get a feel for the Bible as history. I like how joyful and inviting Jesus looks. He is featured on several pages, and always seems to be enjoying the people He is interacting with. The illustrations use a rich array of colors and facial expressions are quite detailed and realistic.

I also liked the Editor's Note, at the back of the book. The note begins by explaining that we are like the Pharisees when we judge others, and points out Jesus came to save all of us. It then gives a very clear definition of repentance. "A person who repents is one who hears God's Law and recognizes his or her own sin. The person is sorry for what he did wrong, and resolves to follow God's Word. Redemption comes by God bestowing His forgiveness on the penitent sinner." The Editor then references Luke 15:7, which says, "Just so, I tell you, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons. . . ."

What I Dislike: As other CCBR reviewers have noted, the rhyme in some Arch Books can be forced. Dreyer sometimes inverts word order in order to rhyme, or uses a weaker word or term to support the rhyme scheme. Also, the number of syllables per line varies too much. This makes the reading sound uneven, or choppy. Despite this, I think the message of this book is important enough to put up with annoying phrasing.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 5-9

Publisher Info: Concordia Publishing House, 2006; ISBN: 978-0-7586-0873-4 ; Paperback, $2.49

Buy it Now at for $1.99

OR Buy it at for $12.70 ($2.49 + $10.21 sourcing fee).

Special Information: Look for our reviews of other Arch Books here.

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