These guides run about 30 pages each and have lots of pictures, graphs, and lists. These are all very interesting and easy reading--probably good for middle to junior high ages.
I had the opportunity to review the following four books:
Kregel Pictorial Guide: Solomon's Temple Model, The Illustrated History of Solomon's Temple
This guide includes 16 pages of facts about the temple (The Workers, The Building, Inside the Temple, Temple Features, Outside the Temple, The Dedication of the Temple, Worship in the Temple, The Priests, etc.). After this come a few pages of numbered pictures to show how to build the included cardboard model of the temple.
I was very interested in this product, knowing that my hands on learner would be interested in building the model and learning about it and that my visual/auditory learners would enjoy the facts and pictures. In this we were not disappointed.
There were however, two disheartening things about this product. First, the model was a little difficult to put together. If it was hard for my fifteen-year-old mechanical whiz to put together, it would definitely be hard for me or any of the other kids. The second thing was one item in the content that we disagreed with. Inside the Holy of Holies where the cherubim are supposed to reside over the Ark of the Covenant, the Kregel model had Egyptian or Babylonian sphinxes in place of the cherubim. The author's reason for this was that some archaeologists suggest that there were sphinxes instead of cherubim. But if we believe the Bible to be true and not the archeologists, we would accept that Solomon built the temple with cherubim that looked like cherubim:
2 Chronicles 3:10 -14 "And in the most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold. And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub, and one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining to the wing of the other cherub. The wings of these cherubims spread themselves forth twenty cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were inward. And he made the veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon."
On a better note, the guide included many interesting facts about the temple and many Scripture references.
The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Bible
This one briefly goes over subjects such as the writing of the Bible, the Old Testament, the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) all the way through to the New Testament and Paul's missionary journeys and the seven churches of Revelation.
Each topic is only one page long and includes pictures of the times, how people dressed and traveled, maps of different cities, and lists such as People who met the risen Christ, Healings in the New Testament, etc.
We did find two discrepancies in this guide. First, on the page about Moses and the Exodus, they completely left out the crossing of the Red Sea in their description. And on the map they show the path as crossing the very shallow Sea of Reeds, where not even a flea on the Egyptians' camels could have drowned! This does not follow Scripture.
Second, we noticed a typographical error in a chart on the Parables of Jesus. If you didn't realize the error was there, you would be going to all the wrong references to look up the parables.
The Kregel Pictorial Guide to the Story of the Bible
This book goes over who wrote the Bible, how it was written down (what instruments were used), and even a page on how to make papyrus. Page titles include The Languages of the Bible (covering the Hebrew and Greek alphabets), Dead Sea Scrolls (a summary of each book in the Bible), How the Bible Was Copied, and Translation. This book briefly goes over John Wycliffe, John Hus, and John Tyndale.
An interesting two-page spread tells how the Bible traveled to different countries--when and who brought it there. Also briefly included with pictures are David Livingstone and William Carey, the English Bible translator for India. Bible societies are listed by date of inception.
The page on translation had a sentence that was unsettling to me: "The language used in a Bible translation mustn't sound old-fashioned or be difficult to understand." And they go on to say that the Bible must therefore keep being translated to more modern language. I do not agree with such a statement. It's sounds to me like they are saying the Bible must be dumbed down.
Still, there are enough good pictures, dates, and interesting facts in the book to make it worthwhile. Even points of possible disagreement can be valuable. Having your child look up and discuss the truth is a great exercise in strengthening his or her faith.
The Kregel Pictorial Guide to Bible Facts & Figures
There are some great Bible statistics in this 32-page book. There's even a Bible Reading Plan and Bible Verses for Special Occasions. Interesting facts are included, such as, "The boat God told Noah to build […roughly 436 ft. x 73 ft. x 44 ft] was big enough to hold 432 double-decker buses."
There is a graph of Abraham's family tree, a page describing the Hebrew Calendar and each Jewish festival, and a list of judges, kings, and prophets and how many years they led Israel or Judah and their actions.
Some fun facts are listings of the mountains mentioned in the Bible, animals in the Bible, musical instruments in the Bible, birds in the Bible, and all their Scripture references. For those studying different religions, there is a list of false gods.
There are descriptions of the various Jewish groups mentioned in the New Testament and what each represented. There is a list of Roman emperors during Bible times and a family tree of Herod the Great.
Next, there are pages dedicated to the Four Gospels, with a simple harmonization of the books. There is also a great page on Jesus' last week and what occurred each day.
What were Jesus' seven sayings on the cross? Where are the "I AM's" in the book of John? To whom did Jesus appear after he rose? What are the titles of Jesus and the names of God in the Bible? Find out the answers to these questions and many more in this book.
There is so much packed into this one small book, it's my favorite of the group. If you love lists and figures and facts and pictures, you'll really like it as well.