Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Grandpa's Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption

If you want to use Bible stories to teach your children about God’s redemption, Grandpa’s Box, written by Starr Meade and illustrated by Bruce Van Patter, is a great tool. Using the battle between God and Satan and ultimate deliverance as a framework, Meade neatly ties together forty-one stories from the Bible in chronological order.

The book starts with a visit to Grandpa’s workplace, a secondhand shop called “Trash to Treasure”. When Grandpa’s two grandchildren, Marc and Amy, start talking about war, Grandpa shows them a box filled with wooden carvings and figurines. Each item helps Grandpa retell a Scripture-based battle…physical or emotional skirmishes that help the reader see God moving in people’s lives or that highlight a certain aspect of God. Each chapter concludes with a portion of Scripture. At the end of the book, Meade provides a brief summary of each chapter and a note to parents. Although the book is set up to be read as a novel, parents could easily use it for devotional material by accessing discussion questions provided on the publisher's website.

What I Like: Often Bible stories are told as stand-alone nuggets. I love the way Starr wove together the ones she selected into a cohesive unit. She points out that “all the stories tell the ONE STORY (emphasis mine) of God’s purpose to have a people for himself. All of the stories give us glimpses of God working out that purpose, beginning in the Garden of Eden and ending with John on Patmos.” Because of the clever way this book is set up and because of the wealth of material it covers, this is a tool I wish I could have had when my children were younger.

What I Dislike: While this book is well-suited for children who are familiar with both Old and New Testament Bible stories, I believe it would be hard for those without such background knowledge to appreciate its full value. For example, in one chapter it says it took the people of God more than forty years to get to the Promised Land. Unless the reader already knew why it took so long, the travel time frame seems excessively long. Another chapter mentions Aaron’s rod, but doesn’t explain what Aaron’s rod actually was. So I feel a base knowledge of familiar Bible stories are the key to unlocking the true power of this narrative. The reader should also be aware that these are retellings of certain Bible stories, so there are places were Meade includes elements (such as crying or specific thoughts/emotions) based on interpretation of the Scripture. While I enjoyed this literary method because it gave more depth to the stories, I still felt I should mention it.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 9-12

Publisher Info: P&R Publishing, 2005; ISBN:978-0-87552-866-3; Paperback $13.99
Buy it Now at Christianbook.com for $11.99.
OR Buy it at Amazon.com for $11.19.
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