Sunday, March 13, 2016

Review: I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook

I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook I Will Follow Jesus Bible Storybook by Judah Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is targeted at parents of pre-school children. If you are picking up a book by Judah Smith, it is likely that you are a pentecostal (and would probably rate this book as 3 stars), but if you are a more reformed/traditional Christian, you would probably give it 2 stars. I would give it 2.5 stars but most review websites do not allow that, (from my rating you can probably guess that I am caught in the tension in between).

I roped in my girlfriend, a sunday school teacher of many years to help me with this review as she would have a better how primary school children think (as compared to the seminary student who sometimes thinks and communicates in excessively theological/scholarly-ness). A major pet peeve of hers was how the book sometimes printed the stories in portrait (across 2 pages) rather than landscape.

I wish that the illustrated pictures were a bit sharper when printed, but I guess it was intentional decision or style of the artist. The stories are very simple for young children to understand, and would possibly make for good bedtime reading or storytelling. This is a storybook, not a bible; many bible stories are joined with others before an application is drawn. Some characters/sections of the bible are omitted - exclusions include Issac, Jacob, most of the prophets (only Samuel, Elijah, Daniel, Jonah were discussed), most of the kings (other than David), the exile of Israel and Judah, to name a few. It was a pity that Christ's death was only a one page story and that the rich teachings from the NT Epistles of what the church is about and how we as Christians relate to each other.

Sometimes the Smiths will share a sniplet from their lives to introduce a bible story, which may prove useful as a hook, but perhaps it would have been better to provide a series of guidelines whereby parents could share their own stories with their children. The applications often titled "I will follow Jesus" and is but often stops short of a typological Christology reference. I recognise that it is a challenge to provide the applications of bible passages for young children without falling into the trap of issuing a moral or legalistic cannibalisation of the text.

Writing a children's storybook is indeed an extremely challenging endeavour, and the Smiths fought a good fight with their commendable labour of love. Hopefully, there would be a revised more lengthy version or a part 2 that would highlight many parts of the bible that were left out!

I received this book from the Harpercollins’ Booklook Bloggers Program in exchange for this review.

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