Ok, here we go! First, let's look at the cover:
#1: You are HIS, The Maker of The Universe's
#2: You are Beautiful
and #3: You are a Princess
in the title alone, to me that shows that as you read this book you are going to feel like one of GOD's Beautiful Princesses (because guess what? You are!).
I do wish that the author didn't refer to the accounts from the Holy Bible used in this book as merely "stories". I strongly believe that everything in the Bible really did happen just as it is recorded. This makes them historical accounts not just "stories". I realize that this is a children's book and children don't know what a "historical account" is. But I do believe that we should begin to teach our children at a young age that the Bible is true through and through. So my suggestion to you is that as you read this book you remind your child that these "stories" are true and that they really did happen and use it as a tool to introduce them to the real Bible.
The second thing that caught my attention was the lovely artwork. I know as a child I always wanted to read the books with the colorful illustrations on the front and I still decide if a book is worth my time by the cover artwork. Shelly Dieterichs did a wonderful job on the front cover and throughout the whole book as well. She even has a picture of a little princess at the end of each "story" and guess what? They're not all white! She has an asian looking girl, an african american looking girl, one with curly hair, one with straight hair, several different looking girls showing that all GOD's little princesses are unique and beautiful in the special way He created them. That was one of my favorite parts of this book! However, she does portray the biblical characters as all white. Which was disappointing considering that Jesus was born in Israel to Jewish parents and therefore, was Jewish himself. Overall, the illustrations are bright and full of beautiful colors to capture young minds.
Now on to the best part...the "stories" themselves!
When you first open this book you are greeted by a sweet dedication page and a very well laid out Table of Contents. I love how next to each "story" title it lists where you can find the actual account in the Bible. For example, Baby Moses (Exodus chapter 2) pg 21. Mrs. Shepherd does not list exactly where the account takes place (as in specific verses) she simply lists the book and chapter of the Bible it takes place in. For example, her "story" about the golden rule (found in Matthew chapter 7 vs 12) is listed as Matthew 5-7 which is the whole sermon on the mount. For review sake, I decided to go back and read the original account of each "story" in the Bible according to the scripture reference given by the author.
The book starts off with the account of creation and works its way through Jesus' resurrection with many familiar accounts such as Noah, David, Jonah, Daniel and of course several about Jesus. Don't worry, not all of the "stories" are about men of the Bible. There are a few about women including the woman who gave her last two coins (found in Mark chapter 12 vs 41-44) which I think is one of the least "popular Bible stories" of our day.
Each "story" is only 2-3 pages long with a (very) small paragraph of words on each page. The rest is filled with pictures. At the end of each "story" there is a page with a short Princess Prayer and a Princess Jewel which sums up the moral of the "story". The prayers, while short and sweet, are very impactful and will even give adults something to think about!
The length of each "story" is perfect considering that the average toddler/preschooler's attention span is only about thisbig. I've babysat many kids during my teenage years and know reading to kids can become frustrating since normally they jump out of your lap before you can say "Once upon a time there was...". Short stories for kids are my best friend as I'm sure are many others. Even though they are short, I think Mrs. Shepherd did a wonderful job condensing a whole chapter in the Bible (sometimes a whole book!) into bite size stories for little children to understand.
I did have a few issues with a some of the stories in that I wished certain things were addressed differently. For example in Mrs. Shepherd's retailing of Daniel and the Lions she starts the "story" this way:
"Once there was a king who wanted everyone to pray to him instead of praying to God."
As I read the original account in the Bible what I understood was that the king was tricked into passing the law decreeing everyone should pray to him only. Mrs. Shepherd portrays the king as someone who didn't believe in GOD. When in reality, I believe, the king secretly did. He even tried to figure out a way to save Daniel and after
he threw Daniel into the lion's den he stayed awake all night praying to GOD to deliver Daniel. Afterwards, when Daniel was found unharmed, did he make it "legal" to pray to The One True GOD. The king was never the "bad guy", his men were. The king was simply tricked. I wish Mrs. Shepherd had wrote that instead of making the king into the bad guy.
Another example is in the "story" of the wisemen's visit to baby Jesus. Ms. Dieterichs paints a picture of the wisemen at the stable with Mary and Joseph. Many historians and scientists believe based on their study of when the star first appeared and the time which Herod declared that all male babies 2 years and under should be killed that Jesus was older by the time the wisemen came to visit, probably about 1 to 2 years old. The Bible even states in Matthew 2:11 that they came into the house. This seems to indicate that Mary and Joseph had moved into a house somewhere. This is a common mistake made by many christian children's book authors. I was sorely disappointed that Mrs. Shepherd didn't appear to do her research as well as she had in some of her other "stories".
In the very back of the book is a Salvation prayer along with a letter to little girls from GOD. Mrs. Shepherd states that "If God wrote you a letter about his love, it might sound like this.". Thank you so much for stating that Mrs. Shepherd! You did not say that your letter was The Word of GOD, but what you thought HE would say. I bothers me when people say things like "this is what GOD would say to you if blah blah blah" and don't use scriptures to back them up. I believe we can get into dangerous territory that way. So thank you for mentioning that this is what you think God would say and not stating that HE really did say this in the Bible.
All in all Bible Stories for His Beautiful Princess By Sheri Rose Shepherd was very good. As mentioned before, I did have some issues with certain retellings but over all, I think Mrs. Shepherd did a very good job. I will probably end up keeping this one for if GOD decides to give me children of my own someday to use as a tool to get them excited about the real Bible (or at least my mom will because she is expecting grandchildren in the near future!).
I was given a complimentary copy of Bible Stories for His Beautiful Princess By Sheri Rose Shepherd for review purposes from Tyndale House. You can learn more about Tyndale House HERE.
I had no children to read this book to. This is my own personal honest opinion.