“ Genre: Junior Books - Religion / Author: Anne De Vries / 288 Pages / Book published by Christian Focus Publications „
The New Children's Bible
This is a new and updated version of a classic book of children's bible stories, published in 2004 by Christian Focus. It is a medium sized hardback book of approximately 7 inches by 5inches with full colour illustrations. There are 51 Old Testament stoieis and 49 New Testament stories. There are 286 glossy pages.
There are also some extras at the end such as a list of Bible books, key characters and stories.
The author is Anne De Vries, which was not a name which I had come across previously. I wondered who this lady was who had written this volume. When I did a bit of research, I found out Anne is actually a man!
Now what kind of cruel parents would name their little boy Anne?
However he was also Dutch, so perhaps it's a normal boys name in Holland. Would anyone like to enlighten me?
Anyway, Anne wrote the original stories in Dutch and this is an updated translation as far as I can imagine. De Vries died in 1964 so these stories still feel a little dated. De Vries is coming from a Dutch Reformed angle as far as I can ascertain and so some of the stories emphasise some of the elements which is important in Dutch Reformed thought, such as the covenants, although this is not too obvious to the casual reader.
The retellings are faithful if not exciting. The length of the stories is between 1 and 4 pages of fairly dense text; so this is probably best for slightly older readers. The cover gives no guidance but I would suggest 5-8 to be read to and 8-10 read by themselves.
Fred Apps does the illustrations and he has done a number of the Christian Focus publications. Again the illustrations are faithful if not exciting. They also have a certain dated feel to them. Mostly they do not dominate the pages but perhaps take up a quarter of the page with the text around. Although, like the length of the stories, this varies.
This all suits the level at which the book is aimed, the older child.
As with all children's bibles (see my other reviews) there are necessary omissions. This is always the first thing I look for as it reveals an author's decisions (or even a publisher's).
In the Old Testament half the stories are from Genesis and Exodus which leaves little for the prophets although he does cover Daniel 1-6 and Jonah (even Jonah 4 which is rare) and there are stories of Hezekiah and the exile so no major section is left out here.
The New Testament is different however with the weight being placed on the life of Jesus. In fact only 5 of the 49 stories cover Acts and the letters. He does however cover Paul's travels which are often omitted. Most intriguingly, the last two stories are parables Jesus told of his return. This is an unusual structure which I haven't come across before. It does have some merit.
Would I recommend this volume? Yes, it is fine. If you are looking for something a little more traditional for an older child then this may just be what you're looking for. My feeling is that there are better illustrated volumes out there. But it is good as one amongst a number of others on a shelf.
I still cannot get over Anne being a man, however!