catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 9 :: 2008.05.02 — 2008.05.16


Drawing the Story for children

The Jesus Storybook Bible debuted last year, an addition to the long tradition of illustrated Bibles intended for children.   Like most children raised in the church, I had a story Bible as a child, and still remember how Jesus looked, dignified and regal.  Today there are hundreds of story Bibles cluttering the market, but The Jesus Storybook Bible distinguishes itself from the crowd. 

As readers begin to explore the book, Jago's illustrations immediately draw attention.  Unique and whimsical, they capture the spirit of the stories and the characters they portray.  The colors appeal to the youngest readers, and the style is reminiscent of the work of children themselves.  But more than that, the astute understandings of the illustrator weave their way into the text as well. 

Refreshingly, Lloyd-Jones begins with a first chapter that starts not with creation, but with an overview of the Bible itself, and how the reader ought to approach it.  "The Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done," she tells readers.  "No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. 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… 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."  She goes on to say that the center of the story is a baby who is like the missing piece to a puzzle that makes all the other pieces fit together, and to reveal the beautiful picture.

The subtitle of The Jesus Storybook Bible is "Every Story Whispers His Name" and indeed, every story does.  Pointing to Christ in each retelling, children are helped to see the shadows of redemption every step of the way.   For example, in the story of Leah and Rachel, Lloyd-Jones reminds readers that though Leah is homely and less favored by Jacob, she is a princess to God, and he included her in his story, making Jesus her descendant. 

When she takes license with the text, I appreciate her way of telling things in a child-like but not disrespectful fashion.  In the last chapter, she describes how the Bible itself ends, not with 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…."  She finishes by inviting readers to remember that it is their story, too. 

My children love to hear these stories.  Being shaped by the rich theology, they are also nourished on the insistence of God's "Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love."  I am shaped as well.  Lloyd-Jones is teaching me how to talk to my children about God, and reminding me of the basic truths of scripture in a simple but profound way.

Recently, I ran into a college student at church holding a copy on her way to read it to the three year olds.  She confessed she loved it so much, she was reading it on her own during the week.  The Jesus Storybook Bible is an excellent illustrated Bible for children, but more than that, it's an overview of God's redemptive work that readers young and old will appreciate.  In her retelling the old stories, Lloyd-Jones constantly reminds us of God's great love for his people—us.

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