The next few posts on our blog will focus on Bibles or Bible storybooks for children.
Author: Mark Water
Illustrator: Diana Shimon
Publisher: The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland
Audience: 3rd to 6th grade.
When children are ready to experience The Bible as the foundation of our Christian tradition, The Pilgrim Book of Bible Stories is superbly designed as a child’s first study bible. Over 250 stories are arranged in biblical sequence, divided into chapters that accurately represent the overall structure of biblical content: creation, Abraham’s call, Egyptian exile and deliverance to the promised land, Judges and Kings, wisdom and prophetic literature, and the New Testament gospels and letters. The text is accurately and clearly paraphrased with annotations explaining history, customs, word meanings, and relationships between story elements.
The book is a masterpiece of graphic design. Each page is laid out in an attractive balance of text and illustration, with annotations in contrasting sidebars that invite the reader to further explore the story’s source traditions and appreciate it’s literary devices. For example, a sidebar for the 23rd Psalm highlights the poetic meaning of phrases:
“Green pastures” – everything that makes you strong and healthy; “God leads me” – Even today in the Middle East the shepherd does not drive the sheep from behind, but leads them from the front, and they follow; “Your rod and your staff comfort me” – Sheep were often in danger of being attacked by bears and lions, A shepherd’s rod, like a four-foot-long cub, protected the sheep. The six-foot -long staff guided the sheep and kept them from straying into danger.
The annotations explain but do not moralize. Especially illuminating is their use in Paul’s letters, where they organize for the reader other related passages, as in the following example from the letter to the Galatians:
Lists about how to live:
Paul gave three other lists in his letters about how Jesus’ followers were meant to live:
2 Corinthians “We show we are servants of God by living a pure life”; Ephesians “Always be humble and gentle”; Colossians “Do not be angry with each other but forgive each other.”
The color illustrations are exquisite and varied. Some are full-page depictions of scenes from the narratives, others, such as the chapter on the tent of meeting (Exodus 26 and 27) present renderings of the ark, table, lampstands, priestly garments and tent construction exactly as described in the scriptures. A useful book “navigation aid” is a thumbnail portion of one of the illustrations on the outside corner of each page that identifies the story, allowing stories to be easily found by flipping through the pages. Printed on sturdy, low-glare stock with high-quality binding, it is a book that will last and provide hours of learning and exploration into our scriptural heritage.
Review prepared by Union Presbyterian Seminary student Susan Wills