June 12, 2012

Bible Lands Books

For our Bible Lands unit, I checked out several books about Jewish holidays and then some illustrated versions of Bible stories.  It was sort of a hodgepodge, but fortunately, we found the Bible Atlas and Hasting's Bible stories to tie everything together.  

 Celebrate Passover with Matzah, Maror, and Memories by Deborah Heiligman.  This book was good.  Not great, but good.  It had nice photos and discusses some of the key parts of celebrating Passover.
 Celebrate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur by Deborah Heiligman.  This was about the same.  Both books are published by National Geographic and they are good, as you would expect from NG, but they aren't . . . riveting.  Just good.
 Benjamin and the Silver Goblet by Jacqueline Jules.  The kids and I liked this book.  I liked that it covered some of the details of the brothers and Joseph reuniting.  Most of the books/dvds on this subject focus a lot more on the events leading up to Joseph helping the brothers.
 Exodus by Brian Wildsmith.  Loved this book.  I really just liked the style of the illustrations.  The text is good also, but the illustrations worked for me.
 Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Stephen Krensky.  GOLD STAR BOOK!!!!  This book is so fantastic!!  Okay, I might like this book so much in part because Cowen is a huge George Washington fan and so a book mixing Hanukkah and George Washington was sure to keep him riveted.  That's part of it.  The other part is that it is just so well done.  It is a "liken the scriptures" kind of story where the Jewish soldier explains to Washington about Hanukkah and the candles and Washington ties those ideas into what is going on in the Revolutionary War.  Apparently Washington did learn about Hanukkah from a soldier during the winter at Valley Forge, but the actual conversation is fabricated.  This book is just so well done.  Go and read it.
 Passover Magic by Roni Schotter is a fun book.  My kids really loved the magician uncle so the "hook" worked.  I liked it because so many of these books started to sound the same, but the magic element gave this one a more unique personality.
 Festival of Lights: The Story of Hanukkah by Maida Silverman.  I liked this one because the illustrations were sweet and the story told simply and understandably.  We read three Hanukkah books and this one stood out as the clearest telling of the original "passover."  Or maybe I just really liked the illustrations.  :)
Moses in the Bulrushes by Warwick Hutton was a favorite of mine and the kids.  I liked it because it was just a clear-cut, bare-bones version but the illustrations were good and it held the kids' interest and didn't drag on.  Nice.
The Story Atlas of the Bible by Elrose Hunter.  I bought this book because I liked it so much.  Good things: the maps!!!  And the synopsis in the first few pages.  It is amazing how you can have a tentative understanding of something for years without actually "getting it."  Hunter clarified a lot of things for me with her timelines and maps.  Excellent.  The drawback is that it is not put into an LDS perspective and so I sometimes don't agree with her interpretation of the stories.  For example, in the Noah story, she writes, "God was sorry that he had put them [humans] on the earth and he decided to start again."  Now, my understanding is that God was sorry, yes, but he was sorry that his children were wicked and would not be able to live with him again.  He was also sorry that the people kept passing on their wickedness to the next generations.  He cleansed the earth so that future generations would have a chance to be righteous and live with him.  I'm going to take the arrogant approach here and say I'm right and she's wrong and things like that abound in her retellings and bug me.  But they don't bug me enough to make me stop reading because I really love the clarity her maps and diagrams provide.  And to be quite frank, I don't understand enough of the Old Testament to get all huffy at other people's interpretations.

Masada by Neil Waldman is awesome.  And violent.  And awesome in a violent, battle-story way.  I included this book on my summer reading list for my nieces and nephews.  You can find the whole list here.  The book is fairly lengthy for a read aloud and it was violent enough that I didn't want my younger girl listening, so I didn't read it to my children.  I'm letting Miriam read it on her own and I will keep it on my radar for Cowen when he can read independently.  Still, very, very well done.  The book is a great mix of battle and history and courage.
 Let There Be Light by Jane Ray is beautifully illustrated.  The text is straight from the Bible, which I liked, and the illustrations were gorgeous.  Loved it.
 The Story of Noah and the Ark illus. Gennady Spirin (taken from King James Bible).  Just read what I wrote above.  The illustrations are INCREDIBLE and the story is straight from the scriptures. You'll start noticing that the illustrations continue from one page to the next, so a snake's body on one page and the next page the snake's head.  That was confusing.  Just check it out and look at it.

Esther's Story by Diane Wolkstein.  I read through several versions of the Esther story and I liked this one best.  Normally I don't like first-person writing, but the author made it work in this case.  This book is longish for a children's book, but it made it really clear why Esther was so afraid to go talk to her husband.  It worked perfectly with the book On Purim because it mentions all the things Esther had to keep secret.

 On Purim by Cathy Goldberg Fishman.  GOLD STAR BOOK.  I really, really liked this book.  The book starts out with a young girl starting to make her mask for Purim.  Every page describes something about the celebration and then links it to the original Esther story with an a-ha of how the original story is symbolized in the celebration.  The mask becomes another way to symbolize all the other symbols.  This book is excellent.
 Purim by Carmen Bredeson.   This is a good book for the littles because it is very short and has great photos.   Eli and Emeline both really enjoyed it.
 The Mysterious Guests: A Sukkot Story by Eric A. Kimmel. There is nothing mysterious about this story, but my kids were thrilled at the idea of living in a hut/shelter for 8 days.  After the book was over they spent the next 15 minutes discussing where to sukkot and how to decorate the sukkot and how great it would be to eat your house.  Since the moral was very heavy-handed, I'm sure they got that too.
 Jonah and the Great Fish retold by Warwick Hutton.  Is it possible to lose children's interest when telling the Jonah story?  I think not.  This book was average, but my kids liked it as a man was swallowed by a big fish.  We made lots of references to Veggie Tales and talked about how a fish's belly would smell.  Good times.
David and Goliath And Other Bible Stories retold by Selina Hastings.  This book is excellent and on my purchase list.  It contains a lot of stories not in the Hunter Atlas.  We read about Sampson today and  Cowen thought it was a pretty awesome story.  Miriam liked the picture of of the braids.  Go figure.  I liked that it tells the main stories in a condensed way so that we have an introduction to the stories before we hit them in the actual Old Testament.  Not that my children don't know any Bible stories--we watch Veggie Tales, after all.  They just don't know the stories as well as they know the Book of Mormon.  I'm working on that.

No comments:

Post a Comment