Friday, December 5, 2014

Jesus and The Legend of Saint Nicholas (Eerdmans)

Today, I have the pleasure of reviewing two books from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers that I believe would make the perfect gift for Christmas or anytime for that matter. One is about Jesus and the other is about St. Nicholas. Both are written by Anselm Grün and are illustrated by Giuliano Ferri. You might recognize Ferri's illustrations from the book Jonah's Whale, which is also an Eerdmans book. Without further ado, here are my reviews.

Jesus is a 12" x 8" illustrated hardcover that details the life of our Lord. The book starts appropriate with the Annunciation. Gabriel, whose face is not picture, is shown telling Mary that she will conceive a son who will be the Son of God. We then fast forward nine months to the nativity and then after that fast forward twelve years to Jesus conversing with the scribes in the Temple. The remainder of the book then discusses Jesus' ministry. We see him calling his disciples, telling parables (the Prodigal Son), doing miracles (healings and multiplying loaves and fish), inviting the little children to come to Him, and saving Zacchaeus. The story then closes with His betrayal, Crucifixion, and Resurrection.

Overall, I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars. The language comes off a little overly simplified and casual. Perhaps, it was a matter of translation or perhaps it is geared for the younger reader, but I feel we can still portray the beauty of Scripture (even when paraphrased) without making it feel so modern and watered down. The other part that bugged me was the pages on the Crucifixion. They showed Jesus being captured and led off to the Sanhedrin but the only hint of his Crucifixion in the images was three trees in the background, not crosses, but trees. I guess they did not want to get to graphic for younger readers, but it still annoyed me a little. Those flaws aside, it's still a good book that will introduce your little ones to Jesus and His whole life and ministry.

The Legend of Saint Nicholas begins with another story of a child born to barren parents after praying to God for a long time. We then see the most widely known St. Nicholas legend of all, the one with the three daughters and three money bags given to them so they can get married. Thankfully, the author rightly made it a more kid-friendly version in omitting that the father was a drunk who wasted all his money. We also are treated to the story of how he became Bishop of Myra. There are two other legends in this book, which you will have to buy the book to find out what they are. I did not recognize them, so it was fascinating to read them.

This was an excellent book to introduce your child to St. Nicholas. There are familiar and unfamiliar tales, excellent illustrations, and even mention of his feast day (December 6) and some of the traditions families celebrate on this day. If you are looking for an alternative to Santa Claus or just an excellent Christmas gift for your young reader, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. 5 stars!

These books were provided to me for free by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, click here and/or here and hit Yes!