The core of this storybook is Christ, Scripture’s Alpha and Omega. Like Sally Lloyd-Jones in The Jesus Storybook Bible, Young finds echoes of Christ throughout the Old Testament. For example, she says about the story of Abraham and Isaac: “One day God would sacrifice His own son.” The illustrations are stylized but reverent, and much of the writing is beautiful. But as in her popular Jesus Calling devotional guide, Young has Jesus speaking directly to the reader. This will confuse some children and make some parents uncomfortable, as it seems to mediate the voice of Jesus through the author rather than Scripture itself
The phenomenally successful Action Bible, published in 2010, inspired this devotional guide for ages 8 and up. Each of the 52 chapters features a story from The Action Bible and encourages personal application through four steps: “X-Ray Vision” (connecting the story to your life), “Your Mission” (three application ideas and activities), “Your Debrief” (three questions to ask yourself), and “Mission Accomplished” (space to write your own thoughts). It’s a great layout, and should appeal to fidgety and reluctant readers. However, the takeaways from some of the stories lean a little too heavily on character building and less on the character of Christ.
“This is the story of how the Bible came to be: who wrote it, when, and why. How it was collected and translated.” That’s a lot of ground to cover in a single volume, especially a volume in graphic-novel format. Yet The Book of God summarizes every book of Scripture, explains how manuscripts were copied and preserved, explores the process of textual criticism and canonization, tracks the early English translations, and finally marshals the evidence for the Bible’s reliability. Too much to absorb in a sitting, but a valuable go-to resource for kids (and grown-ups) who love comics.
This popular children’s author imagines the story of Jonah from the whale’s point of view, picturing a carefree mammal who enjoys God’s blessings, including a tall, strong tail for slapping the water and “soaking fishermen and their lunches.” One day God has a job for Whale, and the creature obeys—unlike the man he swallows. Three days is a long time to swim with a man in your belly, and the word to spit him out can’t come too soon. The large format captures the bright colors of God’s vast and varied ocean and communicates an exuberant creation.
Anglophiles and C.S. Lewis fans are probably familiar with The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, originally published in 1908. A lyrical, colloquial, mystical collection of vignettes strung together with a wandering plot thread, Wind set a standard for “animal fantasy” that was often imitated but never sequeled—until now by Jacqueline Kelly, a native New Zealander living in Texas.
In Return to the Willows (Holt), Newbery honor winner Kelly continues the adventures of Mole, Ratty, Badger, and Toad in a way that comes near to capturing the rhythm and style of the original. The book is physically beautiful, with a gold-stamped, faux-leather cover and breathtaking, full-color illustrations by Clint Young.
One complaint might be the inclusion of footnotes to clarify the frequent Anglicisms. The footnotes adopt an overly familiar tone that strikes some as condescending, but they can be easily skipped. Return to the Willows won’t inspire the same fervent love and loyalty of the original, but it’s a fun read-aloud and a handsome addition to the family bookshelf. —J.C.