Sometimes raises more questions than it answers, but an accessible discussion for young Bible readers.

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THE MINOR PROPHETS

This children’s book introduces three minor biblical prophets—Jonah, Nahum, and Obadiah—in kid-friendly ways.

Minor prophets, Scanlon explains in her debut book, are so called simply because their books in the Bible are shorter than those of the major prophets. Although the author doesn’t explicitly define what prophets are, it’s clear from textual clues that they’re divine messengers (such as a table headed “Messages of the Prophets”). For each figure, Scanlon paraphrases the biblical account in relaxed and often humorous terms that children can understand, drawing them in with questions to help them relate. For example, after describing Jonah’s reluctance to obey God and go to Nineveh, Scanlon adds: “Have you ever been asked to do something you did not want to do?” For readers who wonder why Nahum is asked to bring the same message to the same people a hundred years later, the author provides perspective: “Have you ever been told several times to stop doing something?” She supplies background for the stories, such as God’s covenant with Abraham, to help explain them, and brings out the humanity of these men who lived so long ago, showing that they, too, had failings, like wishing to gloat over another’s punishment. The retellings are accompanied by additional questions to ponder (these sometimes don’t actually go very deep: “Is the book of Obadiah the shortest or longest book in the Old Testament?”), related New Testament verses, prayers, and simple puzzles. Even adults can find it difficult to make sense of episodes like Jacob tricking Esau out of his birthright (described in the chapter on Obadiah), and Scanlon’s explanations can be unsatisfying. The author calls Jacob’s deception “evil,” asserting that the citizens of Nineveh are threatened because they commit wicked deeds. Yet Jacob and his descendants are nevertheless favored above all others. Thoughtful readers may be troubled by what appears to be a bullying deity, but Scanlon’s only explanation is that “God had always decided and will always decide which nation is to be the most powerful.”

Sometimes raises more questions than it answers, but an accessible discussion for young Bible readers.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-973608-27-1

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2018

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An accessible and appealing scriptural tour through the numerous ways Christians can interact with God.

A GLIMPSE OF GOD

A debut Christian work explores the many aspects of God.

Niswander opens her book by declaring some very straightforward hopes. “I want you to meet God,” she writes, “know God, talk to God, and have God talk to you.” She constructs her volume as a series of concise meditations on the many ways Christians know God and Jesus. She opens each chapter with a quote from Scripture, elaborates a bit on that item, and then finishes with three things: a series of suggestions for related Scripture passages to read, a “take action” call to implement those segments, and ruled space to write down both prayers and answers. Using these exercises, she works her way through a wide variety of human mind frames and moral stances in relation to the state of the praying life. Probably the most significant revelation each Christian faces, she writes, “is that it is not what God gives us or does for us, but God Himself and what He alone embodies” that becomes all the faithful need. Niswander looks at dozens of roles God can play in the lives of believers, and she writes with consistent optimism and humility, reflecting on the very fallible characters described in the New Testament. “I think Peter’s story was written for me,” she writes, “because even though Peter failed Jesus, Jesus didn’t fail Peter.” This combination of humility and optimism is underscored by the thread that runs through the volume describing Niswander’s own spiritual evolution. She recounts growing from the kind of Christian who focused on waiting for answers to her prayers to the type of Christian who concentrated more on God himself. “I fight hard not to revert back to needing the answer rather than just being in God’s presence,” she writes. This personal stratum adds an effective warmth to the series of interpretative reflections on all the ways God, through Scripture, “makes each of us a new creature.” The author’s clearly intended audience of fellow Christians will find a great deal of sympathetic reading in these pages.

An accessible and appealing scriptural tour through the numerous ways Christians can interact with God.

Pub Date: March 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4908-2730-8

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2019

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

A killer thriller.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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Light-infused paintings illustrate this tale with affection, and their peaceful simplicity provides a needed counterpoint to...

THE OLD SHEPHERD'S TALE

A retelling of the Christmas story that teaches respect for animals.

Offering a new perspective on the legendary stable scene, Nye's tale emphasizes the holiness of the animals that were present at the birth of Jesus. In the old days, the story begins, people used animals instead of machinery, and cared lovingly for beasts because of their importance to humanity. One night, a donkey, a cow, and an ox witness the birth of Jesus in their stable, offering the child their manger and Sabbath hay. During that dreamlike night, they speak of the gifts they will bestow on the baby: milk, protection, and strength to carry the cross. The animals' old shepherd, half-asleep in the stable, marvels at his beasts' speech and wisdom. Over the years, the shepherd becomes the protector of animals, praising their compassionate, gentle natures, and proclaiming their holiness–and condemning those who would abuse them. Shortly before he dies, the shepherd receives a visit from an angel, who emphasizes the importance and values of these animals. They were blessed with particular powers, the angel explains, and humans who mistreat them will not be able to use their strength. Oddly, the angel seems to imply that only those animals present at the Nativity are due such respect.

Light-infused paintings illustrate this tale with affection, and their peaceful simplicity provides a needed counterpoint to the story’s wordiness and abrupt ending. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-913098-85-X

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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