Eric Metaxas and Jim Harris
Tommy Nelson, 1998
I just love unexpected delights, don’t you? You may recall that I heartily recommended Eric Metaxas’ biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer as good reading for young adults, weighty tome though it is. Imagine my astonishment, then, at discovering that this critically acclaimed author of serious nonfiction had also penned a rhyming ABC book based on Bible characters! And my surprised delight when I actually loved it!
(This actually feels like a theme for me lately: serious grownup writers succeeding beautifully when writing for kids.
Anyhow, back to Bible ABC. I was, well, skeptical. The only ABC books I really love are by Dr Seuss and Benjamin Harris. There are rafts of ABC books out there; most are boring twaddle; surveying the shelves of “Christian ABC” books at my daughter’s school library, what I feared was pious boring twaddle.
Oh, how happily mistaken I was. This book is full of delightful and witty rhymes, with each letter naming a Bible character. One fun surprise: it’s not just the usual suspects! Sure, X is Xerxes (it always is), but for good measure his Hebrew name — Ahasuerus — is mentioned as well. And what’s the last book you’ve read, besides Philemon, that mentions Onesimus? Maybe this says something about my sense of humor, but I laughed aloud at K (accompanied by a great picture of Korah tumbling into a massive chasm):
K is for Korah, who rebelled against God,
Causing the ground to open where he trod.
The Lord made a hole and Korah fell in,
And he wasn’t heard from ever again.
Needless to say, that one sent me back to Numbers so I could tell my daughter the whole story.
Along with the great rhymes and humorous illustrations, though, are a few really beautiful articulations of who God is. My favorite is: “Y is for Yahweh, the King of Creation, Whose love is cause for grand celebration. He’s heaven’s sweet Monarch, both Lion and Lamb. In Hebrew his name means I AM THAT I AM.”
Each rhyme is accompanied by the character’s location in Scripture, so you can easily go back and read the stories with children. Since my daughter is pretty small, she was familiar with David, Moses, and Isaac – but not Esther, Uzziah, Hagar, Samson, Balaam, the wise and foolish virgins, or a host of others. I’m looking forward to reading her a Bible story each day culled from this book. It’s really, really well done, and I’m so happy to have found it. Right now, I’ve got a library copy, but this is one I’m definitely going to buy!
You mention you only like two ABC books to date–I’d be interested to see what you think of Antics by Catherine Hepworth. As we say in the UK, it’s very “clever.” 🙂
Oh, I’ll have to track that one down! My daughter *loves* “Antshillvania” (an audio retelling of the Prodigal Son story, starring ants) right now, and I think she would really get into Antics. Thanks for the tip!
We picked up a copy of this and love it! Miriam (who is 3) sat down with it on the couch the other day while I was in the kitchen and started “reading” it to herself. We sometimes say them out loud without the book when cooking or cleaning.
Thanks for the review!
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