Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Real Story of the Flood

The Real Story of the Flood by Paul L. Maier is a mix of rich illustrations, realism, theology - along with some theory presented as fact.

As in all Maier's "The Real Story" volumes, this picture book gives a modern narrative account of a well known Bible story: This time, Noah and the ark. But unlike most other children's books on this topic, Maier's story is mature and detailed.

Noah and his family are the only righteous people on earth. God tells Noah to build an ark, and he does, despite the mocking of his neighbors. Soon, pairs of animals enter and the ark and God shuts the big boat's door. Then the storm begins. Noah's neighbors suddenly don't feel like mocking him. Instead, they pound on the ark begging to be let in.

When the storm subsides, Noah lets a dove out until it first comes back with an olive branch, then doesn't return at all. Noah and his family start a new life, and God sends his promise rainbow. Then Maier explains how each of Noah's sons supplied the earth with different peoples. Shem, he writes, was the father of the Semitic people "who would ionhabit lands to the east of the Mediterranean Sea." Ham's offspring were the "Hamitic" people of Egypt and North Africa, and Japheth's descendants became the ancestors of "people who trace their roots to Europe."

The last page of the book is for skeptics. Maier addresses the idea that the story of the biblical flood is too incredible to be true, concluding "It is history."

What I Like: The illustrations by Robert T. Barrett are in the style of classic painters, full of rich details and realistic renderings. I also appreciate that Maier gives a thorough retelling of this biblical story, covering far more than any other children's book on the topic that I've read.

What I Dislike: My major gripe with this book is that Maier presents some theory as fact. For example, he writes: "The aging Noah now turned to agriculture, planted vineyards, and invented wine making." The Bible says nothing about Noah inventing wine-making, and it's just as reasonable to assume people before the flood knew how to make wine.

On the last page, Maier also tries to answer skeptics questions, including "Wouldn't dinosaurs crush Noah's ark iof they tried to board it?" He answers: "Mr. and Mrs. Tyrannosaurus Red missed the boat. They were not around at the time. Nor were their brontosaurus, triceratops, or stegosaurus relatives. All the gigantic citizens of Jurassic Park lived and died long before the floor. Indeed, they roamed the earth during that early era described in the first half of Genesis, chapter one." This is all assumption on Maier's part, but he presents it as fact.

In addition, although I do like Barrett's illustrations, they sometimes appear a bit washed out.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: According to the publisher, 4 to 8. However, when I read this to my 4 year old, I could tell by her comments and questions it was the first time she really realized everyone on earth died except Noah, his family, and the land animals aboard the ark. The illustrations also show people outside the ark weeping and pounding on the ark, trying to get in. This is mature stuff, so I'd say the book is more appropriate for kids 8 - 12.

Publishing Info: Concordia, 2008; ISBN: 978-0758612670; hardback, $16.99

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Special Info: Read all of our reviews of Paul L. Maier's books.

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1 comment:

SchrefflerFamily said...

I wouldn't like that comment about the dinosaurs either. Esp since there is some evidence for dinosaurs in relatively modern times (certainly since the flood)