Well, I suppose I really shouldn’t call this a “Kids’ Pick” because I’m the one who picked it. However, since my girls cannot read independently yet, they are subject to listening to whatever I want to read, and this is my pick just about every night. We have several different Bible story books, but The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago Silver, is my absolute favorite. In fact, I’m pretty sure we’ve been all the way through it at least three times in the past year or so that we’ve had it.
As the title of the book suggests, this Bible story book is all about how every story points the way to Jesus. Most of the major stories that usually find their way into a children’s Bible story book are covered in this one: Creation, Adam and Eve, the tower of Babel, Abraham and Isaac, the Exodus,David and Goliath, Jonah, John the Baptist, the Nativity, Jesus’ miracles, the Lord’s prayer, the crucifixion, the resurrection, Pentecost, Paul, and the Revelation, to name a few. What I love, though, is that these stories almost always get me right in the heart. In fact, I often end up with a bad case of the sniffles and teary eyes after reading the most unlikely of stories, just because Lloyd-Jones always throws in a really unexpected (but entirely appropriate) allusion to Christ at the end of the story. Witness this excerpt from the first story in this book:
You see, the best thing about this Story is–it’s true.
There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.
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 Child who would one day–but wait. Our Story starts where all good stories start. Right at the very beginning. . .
Reading this book reminds me a little of reading the Narnia stories because while Lloyd-Jones does take some small liberties with the original stories (these are not word-for-word retellings of any particular version of the Bible, but instead a paraphrase–keep in mind the word storybook in the title), they always point the way to the bigger Story. They are not allegories, though, but just loose re-tellings. After reading a few of the reviews of the book on Amazon, I realize that for some people the “looseness” of the stories might be off-putting. I think I am so enamored of the overall feeling of the stories (and how they all point to Jesus) that I am not bothered by the looseness. After all, I don’t think this is the inspired Word of God, but rather, a tool to use to point us to the Word. Sally Lloyd-Jones writes in a fun, inspiring, and loving style, and I really believe the message of the Gospel comes through in this book. You can check out her interesting and eclectic blog to get a feeling for her overall style.
The illustrations in this book are fun, child-like, expressive, and joyful. Again, I know that some readers do not approve of “cartoonish” Bible story illustrations, but I think the playfulness of these illustrations really complements the style and feel of the book. You can see some of Jago’s work here on his blog.
Really, though, you have to read The Jesus Storybook Bible to understand what makes it so beautiful and touching and good. I just love the interconnectedness of it, as illustrated by the very end of the book:
It was hard to squeeze all John saw into words. And fit it onto a page. And cram it into a book. All the words on all the pages of all the books in all the world would never be enough.
“I am the Beginning,” Jesus said, “and the Ending!”
One day, John knew, Heaven would come down and mend God’s broken world and make it our true, perfect home once again.
And he knew, in some mysterious way that would be hard to explain, that everything was going to be more wonderful for once having been so sad.
And he knew then that the ending of The Story was going to be so great, it would make all the sadness and tears and everything seem like just a shadow that is chased away by the morning sun.
“I’m on my way,” said Jesus. “I’ll be there soon!”
John cam to the end of his book. But he didn’t write “The End.” Because, of course, that’s how stories finish. (And this one’s not over yet.)
So instead, he wrote: “Come quickly, Jesus!”
Which, perhaps, is really just another way of saying. . .
To be continued. . .
This is my kid’s pick because it is one I love to read aloud to my children, and they enjoy coming along for the ride.