Monday, February 8, 2016

The Biggest Story

How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden
by Kevin De Young 
120 pages / 2015

In 10 short chapters that can be read in an hour, Pastor Kevin DeYoung takes children and their parents on a journey through the whole Bible. My kids and I read this over three nights and even my four-year-old, who normally doesn't have the attention span for a continuing story, was locked in – she remembered what happened the previous night and was eager for more.

On every single page of the book illustrator Don Clark squeezes in more vibrancy and color than you'd ever thought possible (see the picture below). That's what will strike you first when you get the book; it is gorgeous! It's also quite odd looking - none of the pictures are realistic: cubic trees, men with impossibly pointy beards, Mary with neither nose nor mouth. But this highly stylized type of illustration grabs young eyes.

And it has some distinct advantages when it comes to the section of the story about Jesus' birth and time here on Earth. Clark's style allows him to depict Jesus without really depicting Him. This matters because there is both a theological argument (based on the Second Commandment) and a practical one (based on the confusion caused and the damage done by visual misrepresentations of Jesus as a Anglo-Saxon hipster) to be made against visually depicting Jesus. But in Don Clark's pictures we see, for example, the silhouette of a man with a crown of thorns, but not his eyes, nose, mouth, etc. In other pictures we see only His hand or his foot. So this is very carefully and reverently done.

If the pictures are amazing, the text is even better. Kids can easily mistake the Bible for a book of stories, some about judges, some about kings, some about Jesus. What Kevin De Young does in this overview is make it clear to even the youngest children that the Bible is one story, all about Jesus and God's plan to bring "us back to the garden." He shows how it all ties together. Here's a short example from midway through the book:
Great blessings. But not-so-great people.
Isaac was sort of a weakling.
Jacob was a selfish trickster.
And Judah did such dumb stuff, we don't even want to talk about it.
And yet, again and again, God kept his promises all the same. He bless the whole lot of them despite themselves.
This would make a fantastic supplement to daily Scripture reading with your kids - you can use it, maybe every year or so (it is well worth rereading) as a reminder that the passage of the Bible being read that day is tied into a whole over-arching narrative - just one part in God's big story!

You can buy a copy at by clicking here or get it at here.

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