Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cecil and Friends: The Good Samaritan

Andrew McDonough's retelling of The Good Samaritan is simple and straightforward, but lacks the fun, witty element found in Cecil the Lost Sheep. While McDonough's other stories add imaginative details and new twists to classic, biblical tales, The Good Samaritan only shows creativity in illustrations. The Pharisee is renamed "a Bible expert" and looks like a modern-day businessman, but the story is written as a basic paraphrase of Jesus' parable.

In the familiar story, a man is traveling between Jerusalem and Jericho when he is robbed and beaten. The robbers look like giants who are missing teeth. One of them even has a green face. After the beating, the traveler is shown from the chest up, with no shirt, face down, with his eyes closed. Then, a priest and a temple worker pass by without stopping to help the man. Finally, a Samaritan comes by, bandages the man's wounds and takes him to an inn, where he pays for his continuing care.

At the end, Jesus asks the Bible expert who the true neighbor is, and he answers, "The one who showed pity." Jesus tells him to "go and do the same."

What I Like: I like the images of Jesus. He seems friendly and animated. It is a fun juxtaposition to have Jesus in a blue robe and heavy beard talking to a professional with glasses in a dark suit.

What I Dislike: While no one will fault McDonough for straying from the biblical account, the story isn't nearly as engaging as his other works. McDonough also misses an opportunity to explain the traditional enmity between Samaritans and Jews, or show us why it is remarkable the Samaritan helped the traveler. Although he gives some background to their feud on "Cecil's Page," a note to adults at the end of the book, still fails to follow up his opening questions. "Cecil's Page" suggests discussing who it is easy or hard to be kind to, before reading the story, but after the story he simply asks us to talk about the Golden Rule. He never makes the connection between Jesus' parable and being kind to people who are different than us.

McDonough has already shown he is a talented author, but I wish he would have made the message of this story more accessible to young children and not been afraid to include creative details.

Overall Rating: Fair--writing, Good--illustrations

Age Appeal: 4-7

Publisher Info: Zonderkidz, 2009; ISBN: 978-0-310-71945-8; Paperback, $4.99

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View other CCBR reviews of the Cecil and Friends series here.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad I found this site. Very helpful for picking out quality, accurate Christmas stories.