Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review: Bible Stories for Girls

Bible Stories for Girls. American Bible Society. Scholastic. 2011. January 2011. 18 pages.

First, I just want to say that I do appreciate the fact that there are publishers out there willing to create and publish Bible story books for children. The fact that Scholastic publishes a few faith-friendly titles a year for young children pleases me.

In this collection the focus is on nine women: Eve, Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, Hannah, Esther, Elizabeth, Mary, and Mary Magdalene. Each woman is the subject of a two-page spread. On one side, readers have several stanzas of poetry; on the other side, readers are "blessed" with an illustration. Here is the poem on Eve:

In the beginning of the world,
When the whole earth was new,
God saw that Adam was lonely
And knew just what to do!

God put him in a deep, deep sleep,
And took a rib from his side.
He made Adam a brand-new friend,
The first woman, his bride.

Adam and Even and their children,
The world's first family,
Were created in God's likeness--
And so were you and me!

(Genesis 2, 4)

It is always interesting as an adult reader--as an adult believer--to read Bible stories written for children. Interesting to see what is there--and not there! In this example, the authors (never mentioned by name) skip over the 'fall' of mankind. There's no mention of sin. Its inclusion might interrupt the "flow" of the poem, no doubt. But sin is significant enough--not only in the lives of Adam and Eve and their descendants--but to you and me in our daily lives--that this omission makes a difference*. It's a missed opportunity to present a glimpse of the gospel truth.

Other entries are done better in this collection. I found nothing to question. My main issue with this book is not the content--whether it is biblical enough or age-appropriate. No, my MAIN issue with the book is in the art and design of it. I've never seen another bible story book quite like it. Every illustrated page has glitter on it. Not just a little glitter, a LOT of glitter. Did the skins God provided for Eve after the fall really sparkle and shine with glitter?! I think not! Does the fuzzy little sheep sitting cozily by Sarah really need glitter to make it cuter?! Does Moses need to be wrapped in a glittery blue blanket before being put in the river?! Would Ruth have been out gathering in the fields in a glittery pink robe?! Would Boaz really have a blue glittery headdress?! Would he have been respected by the men in the community if he had?! And then there's the illustration for Hannah. It's not sad enough that Hannah is bedazzled in purple glitter. But Samuel has to be wearing pink glittery robes?! And Eli, the high priest, is wearing glitter practically head to toe. (I certainly don't remember that from Exodus and Leviticus!) Esther, on the other hand, the queen whom you might expect to be wearing the most glitter of anyone within this book, is surprisingly tastefully done. I mean if you *have* to wear glitter at all. It's best in small doses, right?! Another flaw, in my opinion, is how pink it is. How unnaturally pink it is. Pink trees in the Garden of Eden? A pink stable to house the newborn Christ? A pink tomb from which the risen Lord emerges?

The premise. I'm not convinced--and it will take some doing I imagine to get me there--that boys and girls need separate bible story books. Or such stereotypical ones at least where the content varies as much. I'm not convinced that girls only need to learn about girl bible characters, and boys only need to learn about boy bible characters. I think the bible is for everyone. And I think girls need to learn about Noah, David, and JESUS! Jesus is only included as an aside in the stories of Mary and Mary Magdalene. Which may be okay if this is one of twenty or so bible story books you own in your home. But still.

*Sin and/or the forbidden fruit are mentioned in MY FIRST READ-ALOUD BIBLE by Mary Batchelor and Penny Boshoff, also published by Scholastic and the American Bible Society. And its beautifully handled in Sally Lloyd-Jones THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE published by Zonderkidz. And in MIGHTY ACTS of GOD by Starr Meade published by Crossway.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

No comments: