Sunday, January 15, 2012

Book Review: The Gospel Story Bible

The Gospel Story Bible: Discovering Jesus in the Old and New Testaments. Marty Machowski. 2011. Illustrated by A.E. Macha. New Growth Press. 328 pages.

While I can't say I absolutely loved this storybook Bible, I can say that it has many strengths. There were a few things about this one that--for me--count as weaknesses. I'll just mention those briefly. First, the layout or style of this one just didn't thrill me. The colored pages WERE colorful. And bold, bright colors are for some people a positive. But each two-page spread is a different color, and the font color varies based on the background color of the page. Some of these color combinations were hard on my eyes. (Granted, they may not be hard on your eyes. Because of my headaches, I'm sensitive to things others aren't.) I'm old-fashioned in a way. I'm just as happy with black font on a white page and illustrations on one side or another. This more artistic approach may please many readers, but, for me, less is more. Second, the glossiness of the pages reflected the light horribly. Again, I think this is something that will only bother people with light-sensitivity. (I don't like the pages of any book to glare at me!) Third, I found the illustrations ugly too taste specific. The illustrations are just different.

I do feel the book has definite strengths. It's a BIG story collection. There are a wide variety of stories from both the Old and New Testaments. Most story collections have weaknesses. They may offer a dozen (or so) stories from Genesis, and most are good for stories about Moses and David and Jonah. But many collections just don't offer enough from all the other books in the Old Testament. Not many, for example, include Elijah and Elisha. And with the New Testament, many focus exclusively on the gospels. They don't offer much of anything to share with young readers about the epistles in the New Testament. Perhaps feeling that theology doesn't lend well to storytelling. But this story collection seems to include many things that other collections have chosen not to include. So it was refreshing to see these included.

  • 78 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from the Old Testament.
  • 78 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from the New Testament.
  • 26 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from Genesis.
  • 16 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from Exodus and Numbers
  • 36 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are about the nation/kingdom of Israel, full circle (entering and conquering the land, the times of the judges, the establishing of kings, the division of the kingdom, the rise of prophets, the judgment and exile, the restoration)
  • 43 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
  • 35 stories from The Gospel Story Bible are from Acts and other New Testament books (the epistles)

Each story is a two-page spread. The Scripture reference for the story is included. In just a few paragraphs, the heart of the passage is retold. The last paragraph (or two) always includes some theology. A few sentences to help readers connect the story with the big picture. To tie in that one story to the gospel and to Christ.

The publisher of The Gospel Story Bible has also created a three year curriculum for three different age groups: preschool, lower elementary, upper elementary. I believe the Old Testament curriculum is available now, and the New Testament will be published in January 2013. There are two devotional books available for families as well. Long Story Short: Ten Minute Devotionals to Dray Your Family to God (Old Testament) and Old Story New: Ten Minute Devotionals to Draw Your Family to God (New Testament). (Again, I think the Old Testament is available before the New Testament). These devotionals complement the curriculum. The storybook Bible, I'm assuming, complements them both.

No comments: