Serpents, lions, whales, the raven, and the dove are just a few of the wily, fierce, friendly, or peace-making creatures that can be found in many Bible stories. In nine vivid retellings Mary Hoffman shows how these animals have challenged, tricked, helped, or even rescued some of the most famous Biblical figures. As in their highly praised previous collaborations, Parables and Miracles, Mary Hoffman and Jackie Morris have created another beautifully illustrated picture book that turns the complex language and stories of the Bible into accessible and enjoyable reading for a wide range of young people.
"Ages 4-8. Hoffman's collection of seven parables is a real treasure. In an introduction, which describes Jesus as a storyteller and explains what a parable is, Hoffman frankly recalls how she felt about these stories as a child. Some she found difficult to understand; others seemed to her unfair, as though Jesus had taken the wrong side. Her purpose in presenting them, which she does beautifully, is not to have us "get the message" but, as she feels Jesus meant, to encourage us to think hard about what we do. Her straightforward retellings, without a trace of religiosity or sentimentality, capture miniature human dramas familiar to every Christian: the jealous brother, the man beaten and left for dead, the frantic shepherd who loses one of his sheep. Hoffman prefaces each story with a few of her own thoughts about the theme and presents questions to get children thinking; then she launches into the story, telling it in rich yet down-to-earth language, concluding with a few insights. The format and design of the book reflect the wonderful tellings. Reminiscent of Rouault's artwork. Morris' watercolors, some full-page and others simply bordering the text, entice children to explore this wonderful book, which can be enjoyed in groups, through sharing and discussion, or as an independent reading by an older child ready to contemplate the deep truths of Christ's words. --Shelley Townsend-Hudson"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Hoffman (Amazing Grace) adapts eight parables for children in this intimate, thought-provoking picture book. By their nature, the story-lessons, or parables, attributed to Jesus have traditionally been among the most accessible parts of the Bible. But Hoffman steps beyond mere retellings, taking great care to explain or imagine Jesus' intent behind these "stories with two meanings" and to gently challenge readers to see both sides, especially when the lessons are, as Hoffman says, "uncomfortable." Each parable bears a simplified new title (the Prodigal Son is transformed into "The Jealous Brother"; The Good Samaritan becomes "Neighbors"), and a few plot details are slightly updated, making them more accessible to contemporary kids. The stories open with brief introductions that promote introspection and identification with the characters ("You know what it's like to feel jealous" or "Do you like parties?"). Finally, the author closes each parable with a short summation, showing how the plot works to demonstrate God's love for his people. Hoffman's friendly yet reverent voice and solid pacing are sure to captivate her audience. Morris's (The Fourth Wise Man) warm and earthy palette depicts earnest-faced people of the ancient Holy Land in a vivid landscape dotted with lush palm trees and vineyards as well as dusty roads and fields. Laid out with many vertical panels and 1/-page facing art, the illustrations often seem to enfold readers with the text. The comfortable blend of text and art helps these favorite stories shine anew. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved