17 November 2009

The Story of Christmas

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Read and Share: The Story of Christmas, by Gwen Ellis, begins the story of Christmas with Zechariah in the temple, meeting with the angel. It wraps up when Joseph and his little family go back to Nazareth from Egypt. It has appealing and friendly illustrations by a guy named Steve Smallman. It seems like there is an entire series with cute little playdoh noses tacked onto friendly faces.

It is a pretty atypical book. There isn't a lot of leeway in writing when your audience wants you to be true to the original (ie, the Bible). All the kid's Christmas books (setting aside the Christmas tree/ shopping/ winter ones) have the same story with different art, all written to kid's levels of understanding. What really won this book a place in my heart was its details, like Jesus being a bouncing toddler on Mary's lap when they leave Egypt. A few more examples? Tiny things like putting the word "only" in the phrase "they bowed down and worshipped God's only Son and gave Him expensive presents of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." Or when it explains that when the census in Bethlehem was over, "Mary and Joseph moved into a house."

At the top of each new part of the story it refers you to the part of the Bible it was taken from. Another cool thing about this book is the interaction it encourages between the reader and the child. At the base of every other page is a question about the story aimed at the young child. They include:

"What would you do if an angel suddenly appeared right here in front of you?"

"The name Jesus means 'savior.' What does a savior do?"

"Joseph obeyed God immediately. And God kept his family safe. Why is it good to ovey quickly?"

At the end of the book is soft-cornered blocks of the images from the book, that the kids can put in the right order to practice sequencing. But the cool bonus feature of the book is a 17 minute (total) DVD with 6 stories from the life of Jesus, including

-John the Baptist, good because it ties into the Zechariah story from the book

-Jesus is born, a video version of the book's climax

-Where is Jesus? from the trip to Jerusalem when he was 12

-Jesus Tempted by Satan, good conversation fodder to talk to kids that He was tempted but chose the right way. Also my kids pointed out that if you tell Satan Scripture, he disappears.

-Jesus' Life, healings, the loaves and fishes, Jesus weeping over his friend Lazarus,

-Jesus Loves the Children

It has an inscription page in the front that makes it ideal for gift-giving. At our house we have a box of Christmas books and some DVDs and this is totally going to be a keeper. The link above has it on Amazon for less than $10! I found a lot of books in the series that I would be interested in owning also.

My kids were really enthralled with the Satan character and that Jesus interacted with him. He was weird-looking; imagine a male character from the time period, in the dress/toga thing, but with a hood. He had normal hands and feet poking out, but inside the hood it was just a flat charcoal grey cloud instead of a face. Every time Jesus rebuked him with Scripture, Satan pantomimed some frustration and then disappeared into a harmless cloud of bubbles.

This is a review for Mama Buzz (see their button in my sidebar). I recieved a copy of this book and DVD for free from the publisher, Thomas Nelson. I hope you found this review informative!

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