Monday, October 6, 2014

The Love Story

The story of Jesus is one of love and obedience. This idea is the main focus of Stenetta Anthony's book The Love Story.

The book starts with Jesus standing in heaven. God says to him, "I must show my people on earth how much I love them."
Jesus tells God that he will be the one to show them, and then "off Jesus went on his journey."

The next image is the familiar scene of Bethlehem and three wise men greeting a couple with a baby, followed by a page with a crowd of children and adults. From there, the pages progress through some well known events in Jesus life-- a man riding on a donkey, reaching out to another, praying, and the cross.

The story ends with children looking up at Jesus' pierced feet (the rest of Jesus is not visible, so we know he is hanging on the cross).

One final page provides Scripture references. The same verses are given, but from two different versions of the Bible (NKJV and NIRV).  Each two page spread holds a picture on one side of the page and 3 to 6 lines of text on the other. The illustrations are done by Eric Gonzales. They appear to be ink and watercolor images--- simple yet realistic and done in soft pastel colors.  Also notable is that this book comes with a free audio book download.

What I Like:  You can tell the the author loves Jesus, and that it is her best intention to share that love with others. I always appreciate that in a book. One of the biggest selling points for this book is the free audio book download. Everyone loves a freebie! I also appreciate how the smaller, bite-sized chunks of text make it a fast read for young children. Finally, if you are familiar with the New Testament stories of Jesus' life, it could be used as a review of it.

What I Dislike: Please note the emphasis of my last like--- "If you are familiar with the New Testament stories of Jesus' life..."

The book assumes that the reader has a good familiarity with the events in Jesus' life. Otherwise, when Christ goes from a grown man in the opening pages to a baby in Bethlehem, the reader might mistake Joseph for Jesus.  Not only that, many events are referred to, but the author doesn't provide details on what actually took place, to whom, and why. If the reader doesn't know the Bible stories, there isn't enough substance in the book to clarify what happened. (Also, although every other page pictures Jesus, I don't believe the crowd scene after Bethlehem does. So I found that page somewhat confusing.)

Another place where familiarity with the Bible is crucial is when Jesus is praying in the garden. After showing people God's love on the previous pages through miracles and bringing hope and joy (although what the hope and joy was wasn't mentioned), here God tells Jesus again that he must show everyone how much God loves people.

And the way to do that is to die. There is no explanation for why Jesus had to die though, or why it had to be on a cross. (If it were me, I'd pick a less painful option.) There is also no follow up.  We don't learn the connection between how Jesus' death made atonement for sin and repaired our relationship with God. (Within context of the Bible, we know that, and understand why Jesus' death shows God's love. But in this book, Jesus' sacrificial death is not shown as a sacrifice; death is just presented as a way of showing love. To me, that's a dangerous message for kids who might not know their Bible.)

One final note; the last illustration bothered me. Two of the children that are looking up from under Christ's bloody feet hold big smiles on their faces, which to me... especially without explanation... seems confusing.  (Children don't typically react to death that way.)

Overall Rating: Ho-hum.

Age Appeal: No age is suggested, but I recommend the Kindergarten and first grade crowd.

Publisher Info: Tate Publishing, 2014; ISBN:978-1629025087; Paperback, 28 pgs., $9.99
This book is not available at
Buy it at for $8.99.

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