There are times in life when something truly exceeds the expectations you had for it. Recently, my daughters (5 and 3) and I were pleasantly surprised. I love good resources for teaching children and walking through biblical and theological themes with them. Unfortunately much of what is out there for kids can be a bit cheesy, not as gospel centered, and many times has illustrations that make Jesus look like a white European woman in a dress. When I read about a new kids Bible endorsed by Tim Keller, a pastor of whom I think quite highly, we ordered it up in one of the those wonderful little brown Amazon.com boxes. What arrived was actually quite delightful.
The Jesus Storybook Bible is written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and is illustrated by Jago (one word named people are usually cool...or weird...in this case cool). The title of the book is very appropriate as this is a book of Bible stories. The difference here is that the stories are all told from a christological standpoint with Jesus the foreshadowed rescuer in every narrative. To be honest the understanding of theological typology in the Old Testament demonstrated by Lloyd-Jones is wonderful and her writing causes the reader the feel the expectation of a coming Messiah with great anticipation. Jesus is found on every page, subtly anticipated in every story. Indeed, the subtitle of the book "Every story whispers his name" is very accurate for the text written by Lloyd-Jones. It should be noted that this is a narrative based closely on biblical content, but not a translation of the Scriptures. I do not think this detracts from the work but the term "Bible" might throw some people.
Here is an excerpt of the delightful prose:
“It’s like an adventure story about a young Hero who came from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne, everything to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that have come true in real life. You see, the best thing about this story is—it’s true. It takes the whole Bible to tell this story. And at the center of the Story there is a baby. Every story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle—the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture. And this is no ordinary baby. This is the Child upon whom everything would depend. This is the baby that would one day—but wait, our story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning...”
The illustrations are both age appropriate and fun for children but also culturally sensitive. In other words, the pictures are enjoyable and Jesus looks like a guy who was likely a middle eastern Jewish carpenter. Jago's style is unique and creative, with almost all of his work done digitally. You can see a sample by clicking on the following image.
Finally, I would recommend this for anyone to read to familiarize with Christ-centered, redemptive-historical, narrative theology. The text is engaging and serious enough for all ages to gain from it. I highly recommend the fathers out there to read this to their children. There will be benefit to all involved. Tim Keller sums this up well so I will let his words end the review.
I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian—from pew warmers, to ministry leaders, seminarians and even theologians! Sally Lloyd-Jones has captured the heart of what it means to find Christ in all the scriptures, and has made clear even to little children that all God's revelation has been about Jesus from the beginning—a truth not all that commonly recognized even among the very learned.”
Dr. Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NYC
The web site for the book is very informative and you can find an author interview, samples, ordering information, etc. on the site. Here is the basic 411: Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) - Hardcover, 352 pages ISBN: 0-310-70825-7 $16.99 US $22.99 CAN £9.49 UK age: 4 and up reading level: 9-12 suitable for all the family