Monday, December 19, 2011

The Catholic Company Review: My Storytime Bible

My Storytime Bible by Renita Boyle, illustrated by Melanie Florian

I was so excited to receive this book. I wanted to love it. I have loved many of the books published by Pauline Kids and have come to expect excellence from them. (Adventures of Saint Paul, Saints and their Stories, and the Saints for Young Readers for Every Day volumes one and two come to mind.) 

But I did not.

The illustrations are delightful; colorful and sweet.

The text, however, leaves much to be desired.

Each story is preceded by a sentence or two attempting to place the story in context for a young child living today. Sometimes the sentences seem mistaken. For example, before the story of Samuel they say, "If you have ever wondered what God wants to say to you, then you know how Samuel felt when God woke him up." When Samuel first heard his name, he had no idea God was calling him. When he did realize it was God, he did not have to wonder what God wanted to say to him because he clearly heard his voice, something that is much less common for children today.

Though written as prose, some of the stories have some phrases that rhyme (not all, mind you, just some). Here's a quote from the story of David's anointing (which lacks an actual anointing):
God chose David, the very youngest instead. He took care of sheep, played the harp, and loved God with all his heart.
"One day David will be king. He loves me more than anything," God said.
Good looks aren't everything.
As you can see, the stories often end with a sentence that appears to sum everything up neatly for the child to accept.

It's not that all the stories are terrible, they just aren't as good as the real thing, or even a less-silly version of the real thing. Here's a quote from The Good Shepherd:
"Heaven has a happy day," said Jesus, "when anyone chooses to live God's way.
"I am the Good Shepherd," Jesus said. "I know all my sheep by name.
"No matter where they wander, I love them just the same. I will give my life to save them, no matter what the cost. If you want to follow me, you must love the people who are lost."
God loves everyone--no matter what they're like.
Reading the story of the Good Shepherd and contemplating it, I'm not sure that last line sums it up very well. Not that it's not true, but isn't it a greater truth for a child that God loves you? That no matter what wrong you have done, or think you have done, God is always seeking you? That God will follow you wherever you have sinned and carry you back to his goodness, if only you will let him?

Most of the stories are acceptable. Some are just too sing-song for my taste. I don't think I will be reading this much with my children, though I might a little just because I like the illustrations so much.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on My Storytime Bible. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.

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