David and Goliath by A. Christopher Oxsen

David and Goliath

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An illustrated children’s book focuses on the biblical account of how David defeated Goliath with nothing more than his slingshot.

Seeing his grandsons play with an old shepherd’s crook, the aged King David—once a shepherd boy himself—starts to recall his youth and the reign of King Saul. During that time, the Philistines threaten David’s country, intending “to enslave as many Israelites as possible.” King Saul musters his army to await the Philistines, whose champion warrior, Goliath of Gath, demands that the Israelites send a man to fight him in single combat. “If he kills me then we shall be your servants. But if I kill him, then you shall be our slaves!” he proclaims. David, the son of Jesse, is chief shepherd, and expert with his slingshot. His father reminds him that he’s the Lord’s anointed: “You must put away your life of shepherding sheep. You are meant to shepherd the people of Israel.” Though much smaller and armed only with five smooth river stones and his sling, David faces the giant. With God’s help, he prevails. Returning to the opening scene, King David tells his grandchildren that “The Lord does not save…by sword and spear alone. He will send a rescuer, his Anointed.” In his book, Oxsen (The Shepherd and the Giant, 2013) adds characterization and details to help explain David and Goliath to a young audience. For example, the Israelites are particularly threatened because they’re a “rag-tag collection of shepherds and farmers,” unlike the Philistine soldiers, who are “professional warriors well equipped with uniforms, helmets, spears, and shields.” Other aspects, however, aren’t well explained, such as what it means to be anointed or the connection with Christ, perhaps signified by King David’s “wink” to his grandson; a map would have been helpful also. Departing from the Bible, Oxsen invents a few incidents (such as “King Saul entered the fray of battle”), which may annoy some readers. The book’s scribbly illustrations by the author and his collaborators have charm, though they can be clumsy—King Saul’s knees don’t seem to bend correctly, for example.

A straightforward retelling of a familiar Bible story.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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