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The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name Hardcover – February 20, 2007
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“I LOVE to give people The Jesus Storybook Bible because from the very first chapter it paints a powerful picture of God’s epic love for each one of us. Sally Lloyd-Jones has a unique way of inviting the reader, young or old, to dive in and discover for themselves the truth and hope of the greatest story ever told.” Amy Grant (Amy Grant)
“Sharing the Gospel with The Jesus Storybook Bible has been one of the greatest privileges of my life.” Ann Voskamp (Ann Voskamp)
“I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian–from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God’s revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning–a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.” – Dr. Timothy Keller, NYC (Dr. Timothy Keller)
“The Jesus Storybook Bible is unlike any other storybook. True, that’s to be expected when you combine the mesmerizing illustrations of Jago and the award-winning writing of Sally Lloyd-Jones, a Brit with an uncanny knack for storytelling.” More to Life Magazine (More to Life Magazine)
“The Jesus Storybook Bible is as theological as it is charming… a very grown up children’s Bible” –Christianity Today (Christianity Today)
The Jesus Storybook Bible is, in my opinion, one of the best resources available to help both children and adults see the Jesus-centered story line of the Bible. Tullian Tchividjian , Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church (PCA, Fort Lauderdale, FL.)
In the interests of full disclosure, let me reveal that I had the privilege of reading the manuscript of this book several years ago as a theological consultant to Zondervan, the publisher. I did not know, however, of the fulsome thanks to my husband Tim in the acknowledgments until I received my review copy a few days ago. Sally Lloyd-Jones, a Redeemer member for many years, has done a wondrous thing. She has captured the plot line of redemption in a children's story Bible that sings the praise of Jesus and his saving grace on every page, in every story. Most children's books of Bible stories are little more than a Christianized version of Aesop's fables, or at best, a Christian adventure cartoon. But Sally goes out of her way in the first pages of the book to reclaim the true story of the Bible: not a book of rules, nor a book of heroes, but: “The Bible is most of all a Story…It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is--it's true! There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.” This is heady theology, often missed in adult preaching and teaching, but fully realized in an age appropriate and attractive form that will delight children and often (at least for me) leave the grown up reader in tears. More wondrously, she has avoided the moralism and legalism that so often characterizes Christian educational materials for children. For five years I worked as an editor of children's curriculum, requiring me to review, edit, and sometimes write Sunday school material for children. It is very hard to find (or even produce) material for children that doesn't essentially contain the message “Be good, so that God, your heavenly Father, will love you, and your earthly parents will be happy with you, too.” To discover The Jesus Storybook Bible is to have a unique resource for communicating the gospel to children in all it's fullness. I hope that every family, and even people without young children, would get a copy of this book just to remind them of what the Real Story of the Bible is all about. -- Kathy Keller
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First of all, there are children's Bibles like the Read With Me Bible that are simply bland. Granted, toddlers are not going to pick up on every nuance of a story from the Bible, but the Read With Me Bible often chooses the wrong points to emphasize, entirely leaving out important points of narrative along the way. One story simply lists miracles Jesus did with no context, failing to communicate that Jesus' miracles actually anticipate and begin to realize a new world, a world where God's Kingdom and rule are breaking into the world in a new and exciting way. Now, children obviously won't grasp the entirety of this message (indeed, even the most mature Christian is still growing in their understanding) but Jesus is more than a magician, he is more than simply amazingly powerful, so why drain the miracle stories of their power? If salt loses its saltiness, what is it good for?
Next, there are children's Bibles that don't simply drain the Scriptures of their power, but that actually wrongly interpret the Scriptures in horrifying ways. Two examples from The Story For Little Ones. The story of Samson says that Samson did everything God wanted him to do. This simply displays a level of ignorance about the story of Samson that is beyond belief for someone writing (interpreting) a Bible for children! Samson disobeys God at every turn, and the end of his story is that of a man so consumed by hate and revenge (and who does revenge belong to, by the way?) that he is willing to kill himself to destroy HIS (not God's!) enemies! The point is that the best God has to work with to rescue Israel is someone as corrupt as Samson, yet God is able to use even Samson to rescue His undeserving people! Consider also the end of the Bible, the book of Revelation. In The Story For Little Ones, the end of Scripture is that Jesus will return and take us away from this world and we'll live with him forever. This is exactly what Revelation does not say. Now, I'm not a dispensationalist, nor do I believe in a rapture, but that isn't the doctrine I'm criticizing here. At the end of the book of Revelation, the new Jerusalem descends out of heaven to earth, precisely because the Christian hope is resurrection, not going to heaven when you die (that's what happens to those who die before Christ's return, who go to be with Jesus in paradise). God's goal is not for His people to escape the world, but instead God is working to redeem and recreate the world. That is why Romans 8:22 speaks of the creation groaning as in the pains of childbirth, waiting for the revealing of the sons of God.
Okay, finally on to The Jesus Storybook Bible. This Bible works to explain the big idea, and big picture of the Scriptures at every turn. The focus is on God's love for the lost, the great problem of sin, and the great hope we have in Christ. So, for example, the story of the Exodus is told not as the story of God's great magic show, but instead on the great, mighty, and terrifying rescue of God's people from their slavery, pointing forward also to humanity's slavery to sin and coming rescue in Jesus. That is why the subtitle to this Bible is "Every Story Whispers His Name." Every story anticipates the coming of Jesus and the great rescue he brings to those who put their faith in him. This is a great Reformed concept, and a great Reformed work for children (I am an evangelical Presbyterian, by the way).
Now is this Bible perfect? No, and no translation is, much less a paraphrase. Other have commented on some of the shortcomings of this Bible. Sometimes the language and tone is a bit casual, although casual doesn't necessarily mean disrespectful. Every story doesn't say as much as it could, although this is a strength rather than a weakness for a paraphrase (See: The Message). Not all of the theology expressed in the paraphrase matches perfectly with my own, but I see that as a teaching opportunity rather than a fatal flaw, not to mention that I think children should know early on that there are many ideas in the world, and not all of them are equally valid, and certainly not all of them are true. But again, the strength of this Bible is that it gets the story right, interpreting the main idea correctly and always pointing toward Jesus.
Today I can tell you that I am ooh-and-ahh-ing over a Collector's Edition. The same size as the original, the same size book as The Rhyme Bible Storybook (2012 ed), but this one is in a box like Sweetest Story Bible Deluxe Edition: Sweet Thoughts and Sweet Words for Little Girls that includes a sleeve of discs. The discs included with The Jesus Storybook Bible Collector's Edition are three CDs and one DVD. In comparison with The Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum Kit these are the same CDs as far as I can tell with the whole Bible storybook audio narration but it is the DVD that is different. With the curriculum kit it was a DVD-Rom. Use it on your computer and access curriculum supplies. This is just a DVD movie with the video files, but with one major improvement in a "play all" feature! When my daughter would want to watch her Bible Stories and I had to go through the menu select and repeat this action after every 1-3 minutes of animation it got old really quickly. Now there is the option to just let her watch it through or I can still choose a specific chapter and video.
The hardcover Bible book itself is also different from what I knew in the original JSB Bible Storybook alone and with the Kit. This is not the glossy colorful full of illustrations one. This looks to me like picture I have seen of the larger read aloud edition (in image, not size). It is the perfect small size, but it's simple. There is a burgundy spine with the name, author/illustrator, publisher and collector's edition and the cover has a medallion with the image of Jesus surrounded by a simple and elegant marbled ivory. The back cover is void of any adornment except a text ISBN at the bottom, just ivory and burgundy. The interior appears to be all the same that I am familiar with except the front and back pages attached to the covers are an attractive burgundy instead of a light blue/white and there is a fabulous ribbon bookmark attached. :)
As for the Bible material itself... How do I even begin? Ok, let's start with the Bible. The Jesus Storybook Bible is enchanting and unlike any storybook Bible I have experienced thus far (and trust me, I've seen a few!). Every single story in this storybook Bible points to Jesus. From the creation and Adam and Eve's fall, Jesus is the solution. In the building of the Tower of Babel, Jesus is the answer. When Abraham leads his son Isaac to the alter, Christ is the lamb promised. Every story, every parable, every word comes down to Jesus Christ from the beginning and all the way until the end. It is solid in a Biblical foundation and traces everything to redemption through Jesus.
Reading through the physical Bible is an experience with the vivid illustrations that definitely interest a child (any anyone's mind). But there is so much more... listening to the audio version of the Bible is enchanting. David Suchet (reminds me of Jim Dale) reads with such voices that bring the characters off the page. We've found that you can read along, or just listen in the background - maybe during breakfast or getting ready for a nap. The beginning segment states is all and brings it to life.
"No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne--everything--to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is--it's true...[It's a] Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them."
It makes my heart smile! If the Bible wasn't already fabulous, and then the audio version even cooler, why not try to video version. In the DVD, there are 44 short clip storybook animations to go along with the text. These are AppleBlossom's favorite right now. She goes back and forth between asking to listen to the Bible or watch the Bible. How can you turn down that request?!
This Bible is the first children's storybook Bible that I have found that doesn't go too far in watering down the stories. It tells the harsh truth in certain circumstances but always brings it back around to the hope and joy that we can have in the love of the Lord. When I first started looking into The Jesus Storybook Bible I read a few reviews that mentioned a child being frightened of God not loving him after reading of Adam and Even thinking to themselves in question of whether God loved them once they had eaten the apple. The reviewer was adamant that it was from reading this Bible that her child developed an insecurity complex. But if she had read the whole story, and not just stopped while the going was tough then the reassurance that God does love us, will always love us and always be there because he loves us would shine through. (And I don't just mean the WHOLE storybook - I mean each and every individual story, because every single one shines out his love and glory).
While with any change and Bible translation or novelization different readers can find flaw in interpretations and cause a fuss. My overall opinion is that the main message is there. Sure as your child grows and uses this and other Bibles they can learn about all the various elements and sides of God. Yet for what it is, this it the most detailed Bible with more stories and situations that I have seen thus far in a early elementary age and younger Bible storybook and I do recommend it.
*Thanks to Zondervan for providing a copy for review.*
Now I'm super excited about the Collector's Edition, but let's step it up just a bit more so I can tell you about my complete elation for the leatherbound version. Ooooh it's like butter! With a spine simply displaying The Jesus Storybook Bible and the publisher's logo it is elegant. The front cover has Jesus in a medallion and an outer border all engraved. All of this is on a smooth amber-red-honey toned brown fine binding Italian duo-tone leather. Pictures I have seen online do not do it justice.
The front and back interior glued pages are, again like the Collector's edition hardcover, an attractive and elegant burgundy. The edges of the pages are a guilded gold with rounded corners and then my favorite thing is the burgundy-wine-red ribbon marker. I am enchanted and completely delighted.
Outside of generic Bible translations I have never experienced a leatherbound Bible like this for young children. Especially not a storybook one and the idea is marvelous. This will make it truly last. It has only been a few ears since we got our original edition of The Jesus Storybook Bible and it's spine is loose from so much use. I doubt that will happen to this one for a long time.
We've been doing our Advent readings each day at dinner using this edition of The Jesus Storybook Bible and I love it. Sitting at the table holding it up and reading aloud it feels great in my hands. I couldn't recommend it any higher praise than pure fabulous!
This leatherbound edition comes in a box sleeve that I have not decided to keep or not yet. Oddly it is not the labeled spine that would show, but the gold edge in the way the box in designed. however the box does have the illustrations we have come to know with the original edition's cover.
*Thanks to Zondervan for providing a copy for review.*