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Bethlehem's Baby (Five-Minute Bible Story Series) (Volume 7) Paperback – January 16, 2014
About the Author
Besides The Five-Minute Bible Story™ Series, Sheila Deeth is the author of several novels including Divide by Zero, Black Widow, Refracted, Love on a Transfer and Flower Child, and of the What IF…S Inspired by Faith and Science books. With a background in the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Free Evangelical, Presbyterian and Christian Reformed churches, and a master’s degree in mathematics from Cambridge University England, she calls herself a Mongrel Christian Mathematician. Now living with her husband in the Pacific Northwest she enjoys reading, writing, running Coffee Break Bible Studies and the Writers’ Mill writing group, and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.
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By Sheila Deeth
Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
Bethlehem's Baby is the sixth volume of short bible stories written by Biblical author, Shelina Deeth. This volume includes stories following the birth of Christ (including the story of Caesar Augustus, Herod, John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, and many more). Bethlehem's Baby includes more than 40 short stories aimed at middle school readers.
Bethlehem's Baby was an interesting read for our family. I am quite traditional (I'm actually a traditional church organist complete with the thee's and thous of the King James Version) and some of the non-traditional references in Bethlehem's Baby caught me off guard initially. My children really enjoyed the present day spin Deeth placed on the bible stories of old. I can certainly see how this style of story-telling appeals to children and teens as well as many adults. The stories are the perfect length for a quick pre-bedtime read with additional time remaining for discussion and conversation as well as goodnight kisses and snuggles for younger children.
A prayer is included at the end of each chapter and scripture references are provided so readers can refer back to biblical text as reference. Pictures are not very large but are perfectly matched with the stories. Our family read Bethlehem's Baby on an electronic reader and my young children were unhappy about the inability to enlarge the pictures. As the mother, I was perfectly happy that we had to cuddle together to read and enjoy the stories and pictures alike. The stories were written for middle school aged children but I felt even my five and six year old grasped the information and understood it well.
Bethlehem's Baby is a book I would recommend for anyone struggling to reach children and/or young adults with the teachings and stories of the bible. Deeth is a long-time Christian Educator and Sunday School Teacher and her fun educational style shines through in her writing. Whether you are a middle-schooler reading the stories independently or a parent reading them aloud, the length and content of the stories is easily digested. Bethlehem's Baby makes learning the bible a fun and pleasant experience. Deeth's author notes are also a nice addition with insightful tidbits!
After reading Bethlehem's Baby I was curious about the other books in the series and went back to the first few pages which list the other titles in the Five-Minute Bible Story Series as well as several novels authored by Deeth. If this book appeals to readers, there certainly are more titles out there for additional reading enjoyment.
"Joseph's family gave Mary and her baby woolen shawls to wrap themselves in. And Mary cuddled her child, peeking under the covers where she sniffed his newborn smell of warm milk and honey. Jesus' tiny fist was bunched just beneath his chin, his thumb still damp and his lips still puckered into a tiny oh as he blew milky bubbles. Mary smiled, feeling warm all over with love for her child."
Deeth also includes stories that provide historical context to what was happening around the time period as other stories in the Bible, such as the story about Caesar Augustus and the birth of Jesus:
"Meanwhile, in one small, unimportant country called Judea, in the not very important Roman province of Syria, a very special family set off to register in the town of Bethlehem where the husband lived as a boy. While they were there, this little family had a baby boy of their own, a son called Jesus who was more important, wise, strong and powerful than any kind or president or emperor or army general or even than a Caesar."
Each story includes a related bible verse and ends with a short prayer. While my 7-year-old son enjoyed the stories, my 10-year-old daughter appreciated the tone and style of Bethlehem's Baby the most. When I asked her what she enjoyed most about the book, she said, "I liked all the details she put into the stories. It's really hard to understand the stories in the bible sometimes."
The author's notes at the end of the book provide even more historical context, including a timeline of world events and overview of what was going on socially and economically. I think Bethlehem's Baby is a great extension to anyone seeking the context and richer detail that is sometimes lacking in traditional biblical materials.
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