Title: Benjamin’s Box
Author: Melody Carlson
Illustrator: Jack Stockman
Publisher: Zonderkidz (February 5, 2008)
Audience: ages 4-7
Summary: Benjamin is a young Jewish boy with a very special treasure box he inherited from his grandfather. The simple shepherd’s box contains only a few pieces of straw (from the bed of a special baby) but quickly fills as Benjamin meets and begins to follow Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem, discovering for himself who Jesus is. Along the way, Benjamin picks up small mementos (a tuft of donkey hair, a coin, a piece of broken pottery, a remnant of a whip, and more) for his treasure box. Simple objects soon become powerful symbols of God’s gift of salvation that Benjamin uses to tell THE story with his friends and anyone who will listen.
Literary elements at work in the story: The use of symbols to tell a story is a powerful technique to use with children. The symbols become visual cues to help young children remember and tell the story. As Benjamin witnesses the events of the final week of Jesus’ life, he collects 12 objects for his treasure box that will later become the symbols that help him tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection to his friends. A powerful story highlighted by meaningful symbols and beautiful artwork portrays the events without being too graphic for young readers.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Benjamin’s Box was written to compliment The Resurrection Eggs (a resource containing twelve plastic eggs that hold toy symbols) developed by FamilyLife. The book ties the symbols Benjamin collects in his box with the symbols in the eggs and offers suggestions as to how to the use two together in a variety of settings. While symbols are used in each resource, they are both stand-alone pieces that are not dependent on one another. One word of caution: The back page of the book contains Family Life’s “Ten Tips to Leading Children to Christ” which can be a stumbling block in some Presbyterian churches and households. While the language used is not as strong as I’ve heard in other settings, it is included. Before using this book or giving it to parents/grandparents, you will want to read this page for yourself and decide how you will work with it.
Theological Conversation Partners: God’s plan of redemption was made complete through the death and resurrection of Jesus and is the heart of our Christian faith. Yet, most educators struggle with how to tell the story to young children. The events of Holy Week bring strong emotions to the surface and can sometimes be too graphic to handle. Yet, they are essential to our faith and should not be hidden from young disciples. Belonging to God: A First Catechism provides a framework for talking with children about salvation in Question 27. “How did Jesus Christ prove to be our Savior? Answer. He sacrificed his life for us by dying on the cross. He showed his victory over death by rising from the dead. He removed our guilt and gave us new, unending life with God.” It is important to always tell the story of the crucifixion and the resurrection together. They are inseparable in our faith. For without the resurrection, Jesus’ death would be meaningless. As the Apostle Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:3-5, “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures…was buried, and was raised on the third day…and was seen…”
Faith Talk Questions:
- What emotions do you feel when you read the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection? How do you respond to those emotions? Sometimes, the act of sharing our emotions helps us feel better about the things we are feeling. Share your feelings and emotions with someone you love.
- Benjamin collected small treasures that helped him remember the events that he witnessed. What symbols help you remember Jesus’ story?
- Benjamin used the items in his treasure box to tell Jesus’ story. How do you tell others the story the story of God’s love shown through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus?
- How do you thank God for the wonderful gift of Jesus?
This review is written by regular reviewer Krista Lovell.
Benjamin’s Box by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.