Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Adventures in Assisi and Jonah's Whale (Franciscan Media and Eerdmans Books for Younger Readers)

Welcome back to this special week on my blog where I am only reviewing children's books. Monday I featured two Orthodox books, and today I am featuring one Catholic book and one Christian book. They are titled Adventures in Assisi and Jonah's Whale and can be found at Franciscan Media and Eerdmans Books for Younger Readers, respectively. Let's not waste time and get to the heart of the matter!

Adventures in Assisi is a story about a brother, Lorenzo, and sister, Gianna, who are spending the day in Assisi with their uncle, Brother Antonio. Like most siblings, they tend to bicker and fight a lot. To make matters worse, they find Assisi to be completely boring with nothing for them to do. And while Assisi is a lot slower-paced than Rome or Florence, it has beauty all around it if you know where to look. Luckily for the two children, their uncle does know these places. To stop the petty bickering, he invites them to play a game with him with the winner getting a special treasure. The game involves showing the children various places throughout Assisi and having them guess what St. Francis did at each particular location. In this game, they are cleverly taught history, geography, and the life of a great saint. They also learn the meaning of love and sacrifice. Books by Amy Welborn have yet to disappoint me, and this one is no different. In addition to a great story and beautiful illustrations, there are also sayings of St. Francis on every other page. Truly a masterful story!

Jonah's Whale is a richly illustrated retelling of the Biblical story of Jonah. It's a pretty well-known Biblical section, but it involves a reluctant/disobedient prophet named Jonah who is trying to escape God's plan for his life and the city of Nineveh. This children's book takes a twist on the Biblical passage by telling it from the whale's point of view. In it we learn that the whale has a family, likes to play, and loves to sing. One day he was swimming by a boat during a great story and heard Jonah say to throw him overboard. God spoke to the whale and told the whale to swallow Jonah and save him, so the whale was obedient and did so. He swam around with Jonah for three days and kept listening and hoping to hear God tell him what to do with Jonah, because he did not like having him riding around inside of him. Finally, God told the whale to spit him on dry land, and the whale and Jonah were both relieved. This was a cute take on a classic story, but it was the illustrations that made this book. I am a huge fan of Giuliano Ferri, and it is the illustrations that bring this book from a 3 out of 5 to a 4 out of 5.

These books were provided to me for free by Franciscan Media and Eerdmans Books for Younger Readers, respectively. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!