Friday, January 08, 2016

Comic Book Hero Bible

The Lion ComicBook Hero Bible, by Siku, Richard Thomas & Jeff Anderson
(Lion Hudson, 2015), hb. 192 pp.

This is Bible story book meets Marvel Comics. According to the publisher, this is the first Bible retelling to engage with and challenge the superhero genre. Here is an excerpt of the publishers description:

The Lion Comic Book Hero Bible is a dynamic expression of the Bible's depth and power, produced in the style of Marvel Comics. You've heard of Spiderman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Now meet Earthman, Lawman, Warrior Man, and many others. With dynamic illustration using a range of styles, Siku (Old Testament) and Jeff Anderson (New Testament) bring the Bible stories alive for a new and graphically sophisticated generation.”

The Bible does indeed have grand, epic stories and this fact is often missed by potential Bile readers. I heartily welcome efforts to help people grasp the power of the biblical stories. This retelling is generally faithful to the text, though of course it must be selective and move fast. At points I think it captures well the dramatic realities of the story. However, in general, I fear the truths of the text get lost in the medium. Is it really helpful to portray Deborah as a warrior with a spear known as “the Iron Maiden”(that's her just to the right of center on the cover picture)? Were the giants referred to in the OT, including Goliath, animalistic? It is not always clear when they present a character in a factual way or take some artistic license for another purpose. To their credit, they do make clear that Jesus is the ultimate hero of the biblical story.

In the end, I cannot recommend the book. It could be fine, but it manages to over-dramatize. I would commend instead The Picture Bible, which I have commented on previously.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Job in Poetry and Pictures

Illustrated by Todd Shaffer
(P&R, 2015), pb., 32 pp.

If you have read this blog for any time you will know that Douglas Bond is one of my family’s favorite authors. I had the opportunity to read the text of this new book a good while back, so I was eager to see the finished product. It did not disappoint.

Bond faithfully retells the story of Job in poetic form. The rhyme and rhythm makes the reading even more enjoyable as well as memorable. My younger children loved it! Then, Shaffer has done a good job capturing the feel of the story in his illustrations. The only character who Is not presented in the appearance of the Ancient Near East is Satan who looks like a mad professor from today!

The book closes with an original hymn by Bond which makes the Christological connection with Job’s expectant hope of a Redeemer. There is also in the back a list of difficult words explained, a quiz, and some questions for thought.

This is a great book for families- fun, educational and enriching. We warmly commend it to you.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The LEGO Architect

The Lego Architect, by Tom Alphin
(No Starch Press, 2015), hb., 186 pp.
Ages 8+

This book is a fascinating idea well presented. The author presents seven different architectural styles and then shows how to build in that style with Lego pieces. To get started he presents a brief history of architecture, and throughout the book he presents nice color photos of good examples of buildings from around the world in each style. I just expected a guide to building with Lego, but realized this was also an engaging way to learn about real architecture.

The guides to building with Lego are detailed and easy to follow. If you or your children enjoy Lego, this will be a fun book for building and learning.

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The Origin of "The Night Before Christmas"

Illustrated by Susan Winget
(Schiffer Publishing, 2013), hb., 54 pp.
Ages 4 & up

This is a fun book, richly illustrated, telling the story of how the famous poem, “The Night Before Christmas” was conceived. Apparently Clement Moore first developed and told the poem as a Christmas present for his sick daughter. The poem was first published anonymously. Some suggest Moore did not put his name to it because he didn’t think such popular verse was fitting for his reputation as a scholar of biblical languages. He told his family the story of how the ideas came together for the poem, and the family passed the story down across generations. Then, Ms. Dinghy Sharp, great-great-granddaughter of Clement Moore told the story to Mark Moulton who has put it into verse reminiscent of the poem itself for this book. The result is fascinating and fun.

I thought the story in verse was well done and engaging. It was a delight to see pieces of the famous poem embedded in the author’s experience the night of writing the poem, from the sleigh, to sugar plums to a kindly old woodman who was secretly leaving firewood for families. This woodman, who was “rotund and jolly,” had a white beard, was dressed in red coat, and was known for telling stories to the village children gathered round in the general store.

It was fun to me to discover that Clement Moore was a biblical scholar (he published a Hebrew-English Lexicon), and watching for echoes of the poem in Moore’s Christmas Eve outing was a delight. We had a lot of fun with this book and commend it to you.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Snoopy Treasures

The Snoopy Treasures: A Celebration of the World Famous Beagle, by Nat Gertler
(Thunder Bay Press, 2015), hb., 175 pp.
Ages 5+

This is a fun, beautifully produced book that will delight any Snoopy fan. Packed with images and memorabilia, this book tells the story of Snoopy's beginning and development over time. I had no idea how the drawing of Snoopy had changed from the beginning. Several envelope pages are also included which contain mini posters, pennants and other items. We all enjoyed this book, from the younger kids all the way up to me!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Time: It’s All About Jesus,

Illustrated by Alicia Young
(Aneko Press, 2015), pb., 28 pp.
Ages 2-9

You might be tempted to overlook this book as just one more Christmas story with simply a cute story & very little biblical content. But, that would be a real mistake! I was pleasantly surprised by this one.  The author retells the Christmas story following very closely the accounts from Matthew and Luke in poetic form. I was impressed by how careful she was to follow the biblical text, and the nice poetry made the reading even more fun and engaging.

Part of the Christmas tradition in our house is retelling the Christmas story on Christmas morning. The form of the retelling has grown with our children, often involving them acting out, with little figurines, what I read. If we had had this little book when our kids were smaller, I would have used this for our reading. It is that good.

So, as you prepare for Christmas this year, this is a fun, readable book- one which your children might continue to read for themselves, as mine have. We warmly commend it to you as we prepare to celebrate the wonder of the Incarnation.

In fact, I have an extra copy to give away! Pass on word about this review and you will be entered in the drawing to receive a free copy. You can link to this on Twitter (@rvannest), Facebook, or your own site. Provide your link in the comments here to insure I see it and enter you in the contest.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PROOF Pirates: Finding the Treasure of God's Amazing Grace

PROOF Pirates: Finding the Treasure of God's Amazing Grace, by Lindsay Blair, Timothy Paul Jones, & Jonah Sage
Illustrated by Tessa Janes
New Growth Press, 2015

This is a great new family devotional book which corresponds to a VBS curriculum by the same name. The book is due out next month, but I had a chance to read it earlier. This is the endorsement I wrote for the book:
PROOF Pirates is a fun way to learn profound truths about God’s grace and salvation. My kids loved it! One was even bouncing up and down in anticipation of the next clue. Resources like this which are so engaging and biblically faithful are great gifts for families, and I am grateful for people who produce them.”
The book is simple and engagingly written, explaining the doctrine of salvation in a profoudn way. This is a great resource that I fully commend.

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Monday, September 28, 2015

National Geographic Guide to Photography

Guide to Photography, Nancy Honovich and Annie Griffiths
(National Geographic Kids), pb., 160 pp
Ages 9+

I was excited to check out this new book because my 9 year old daughter is very interested in photography. She has a decent camera and is taking pictures all the time! I think she’s doing quite well, even though she has just been learning on her own, so I thought this book might be a help and encouragement.

She says she loved the book and learned a lot. The discussion on correcting “red eye” was particularly helpful to her. She also liked learning how to change color on pictures- and I’ve noticed her experimenting with this now.

The book is nicely laid out with great photo illustrations. It is easy to use and includes photography assignments to practice things discussed in the book. If your child is interested in photography this will be a great book for you.