Saturday, January 2, 2010

Stories of Jesus

My First Message by Eugene Peterson is one of the best Bibles for kids ages 4-8. Stories of Jesus compiles excerpts from My First Message for shorter, more specific content. Rather than covering the whole Bible, Old and New Testaments, this volume offers four select stories from the life of Christ.
  • Jesus is Baptized (Matthew 3)
  • Jesus Calms the Sea (Matthew 8-9)
  • The Triumphal Entry and Jesus in the Temple (Matthew 21)
  • Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet (John 13)
These sections average eight pages each and are filled with quality illustrations by Rob Corley and Tom Bancroft. These artists have over 30 years experience, including work as animators for Disney and Big Idea. Their illustrations for this book offer heavy outlines, bold colors and expressive characters.

The same as My First Message, this book encourages reader interaction. Children can hunt for "Manny" (a praying mantis hiding through the pages) and answer questions about the stories. Prayer prompts and an application ideas also follow each chapter.

A read-along CD accompanies the book. The narrator allows time for listening children to answer questions throughout the text. Sound prompts tell readers when to turn the pages and follow along. A children's ensemble sings familiar songs, such as Jesus Loves Me, at the end of the CD.

What I Like: This set is perfect for keeping in the car! My kids love listening to the stories and "reading" along in the book. They think Manny is funny and they really enjoy the music. The narrator does a fantastic job telling the stories with interest and enthusiasm. I love My First Message, and it's nice to have its content and quality in a more portable package.

What I Dislike: The voice of Manny is squeaky and whiny. My kids found it funny; I found it annoying. Furthermore, his accent doesn't match that of the narrator. He has some mix of New Jersey and Brooklyn styles while the narrator (a female) possesses Southern speech patterns and pronunciations. It's not a huge deal, but I found it odd. Also, the narrator can get a little too dramatic, a little too emphatic with her readings. This appeals greatly to the younger set, but I think older kids, those at the upper end of the target age range, might find it cheesy.

I didn't even notice this in the full book, but because there are only four stories told in this book, this minor detail became more obvious. After the story of Jesus cleansing the temple, the text (and narrator) tells readers to think about what things make them angry, then ask God to help them control their tempers. While this is a good prayer, it seems out of place when coupled with Jesus' righteous anger. I wish the question encouraged readers to consider when it's okay to be angry and when it's not.

Overall Rating: Very Good.

Age Appeal: 4-8

Publisher Info: NavPress, 2008; ISBN: 1600062342; Paperback and Audio CD; $12.99

Buy it Now at for $9.99!

OR Buy it at for $11.04.

Special Info: See our reviews of other products in this series.

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