The Jesus Storybook Bible is the first children's Bible I actually enjoy reading with my children. In fact, I think I enjoy it every bit as much as they do. It is different from other children's Bibles in so many ways. It says on the cover that "Every story whispers His name," and it's true. Each chapter clearly mentions a foreshadowing, a promise of the One to come. The tale of our redemption is found threaded throughout the entire Bible. Twenty-one stories from the Old Testament and 23 from the New Testament come to life in a way that will bring tears to your eyes. Most of the stories are about 8 pages long, taking the time to describe things in a way that even a very young child can enjoy and understand. At the same time, the stories are not watered down or cheesy. They are tender, breathtaking stories that bring the heart of God's Word to life.
The first chapter begins by explaining what the Bible is:
"It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes 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 has 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
. . ."
From there, readers dive in, beginning with a riveting description of creation. Endearing illustrations by Jago fill the book's thick, glossy pages with resplendent color. Even aside from the excellent writing and illustrations, the quality of the book alone sets it apart from most of the children's Bibles I've read. But, oh, the writing! Here's another sample, this one following the tale of Jonah and his message to Ninevah:
"Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness. But this Messenger would be God's own Son. He would be called "The Word" because
he himself would be God's Message. God's Message translated into our own language.
Everything God wanted to say to the whole world - in a Person."
It is a wonderful Storybook Bible, but it must be remembered that it IS a storybook version. There is much left out, and it is not intended to be the only Bible our children read or have read to them. Sin, for instance, is not dwelt on in any way that could make known our need for redemption. Neither is the Holiness of God. Also, the Day of Pentecost avoids the topic of speaking in tongues. Instead, it says that Peter spoke boldly and that people who didn't speak the same language could still understand him. I avoid calling this book "the Bible" in front of my daughter, preferring to emphasize that it is a storybook about the Bible. Every story is told like a bedtime story, with liberal paraphrasing. However, the heart of God's word is well represented, and I appreciate how accessible the stories are for young children.
I love that the book even introduces the book of Revelation, certainly a difficult subject to broach with a preschooler. This chapter manages to avoid anything fearful and simply discusses John receiving a vision and writing about the time when Heaven will come down to earth and everything is made new. It even explains a "vision" in words accessible to preschoolers: "Then Jesus gave John a beautiful dream - except John was wide awake and what he saw was real and one day it would all come true." The end of this chapter leaves you breathless with anticipation, eagerly waiting for Christ's return.
The Deluxe Edition comes with three narrative CDs read by actor David Suchet, whom you might recognize from the Agatha Christie: Poirot series. This audio version is also available as an mp3 download. Samples of the book and the audio can be found at http://www.jesusstorybookbible.com/