Published by B&H Kids on October 13, 2020
Genres: Children's, Bible Stories
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Kids love to read about heroes, and sometimes animals are a big part of the Bible’s best hero stories! This chunky board book gathers six stories, introducing preschoolers to fun new animal friends and teaching them biblical truths along the way. Young readers will learn about: The fish who swallowed JonahThe dove who found an olive branchThe camel who helped find a special personThe lion whose mouth was shutThe lamb who wandered awayThe donkey who went to Bethlehem
We are a fan of Little Bible Heroes in the Olds household. The little flipbook Bible stories are cute, accurate, and my kids have absolutely devoured them. (Literally in one instance, no lie.) This book takes a turn from Bible story retelling to instead focus on some Animal Friends and their role in various Bible narratives. Each story runs about six panels long and follows in the Little Bible Heroes style of illustration.
First, is The Dove and Noah. Your little ones will learn about how God used the dove as a way of telling Noah when it was safe to come out of the ark. I really like how it’s set up that the dove has a special job that God made just for him. The dove isn’t just present for the story. They are an active participant.
The second story is about The Camel and Rebekah. This one is a bit odd to me, maybe because the illustration style portrays the characters as children. The story is told well and appropriately—not always the easiest thing when you’re talking to preschoolers about arranged marriages. It’s okay, but the camel is more tangential to the story as a passive participant rather than an active one.
Story three is The Lion and Daniel. I absolutely love the look of childish righteous indignation on the child-angel’s face as he rebukes the lions and the look of disappointment on the lion’s face. It’s stellar.
The Big Fish and Jonah…I cannot tell you how overjoyed I am that it is correctly identified as “big fish” and not “whale.” It does simplify the Jonah story. The opening line “Jonah is God’s servant” may not be exactly accurate as it seems that Jonah was more of a court prophet for a corrupt king whose only known prophecy before this went directly against the word of Yahweh (2 Kings 14:21)…but maybe that’s a little too deep for preschool. The story also ends on a high note Jonah listens to God and obeys his commands while the truth is a little bit different.
The Donkey and Jesus. They chose the donkey that carried Mary over the donkey that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on for his Triumphal Entry. I understand highlighting the Christmas story, but the donkey in birth narrative is a passive character. The donkey in the Triumphal Entry narrative is an active symbol of peacemaking and the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
The final story is The Lamb and the Shepherd. This story is about Jesus’s parable of the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find the 1. It’s a good ending to the book and present the story of salvation well.
Animals Friends is at its best when the animals are active participants in the story. They aren’t just involved in the story, but they drive the story. But that’s the only real criticism I have. The Parent Connection in the front focuses on God’s love for animals as part of his creation and our mandate to care for animals are caretakers of God’s creation. It’s beautiful. I love it. My kids love it too.