This guide works better as a bestiary than as a picture book.

I AM THE TREE OF LIFE

MY JEWISH YOGA BOOK

This Jewish yoga guide is filled with animals.

If children had to list their favorite Biblical characters, they might not mention “the snake that slithered in front of Pharaoh” or “the giant fish that swallowed Jonah” or “a thirsty camel that drank from Rebekah’s water pitcher,” but all of those animals are featured in this picture book—possibly because they match up perfectly with yoga positions. Children may find the snake appealing, because it ate up all the other snakes in the palace, but many would rather be Rebekah—who offered water to needy travelers—than the camel she fed. Each page of the book showcases a character or object from the Bible—like Noah’s Ark or David fighting Goliath—along with an illustrated lesson in yoga. The poses are acted out in the pictures by two vacant-eyed children—a black boy and a white girl—with small, blank smiles on their faces. (The skin tones of the Biblical figures range from pale khaki to pale amber.) If the choice of subjects is slightly haphazard, some of the figures are genuinely inspiring, like Sarah and Abraham, whose tent (downward dog) sheltered wanderers in the barren desert. A book that combines yoga instruction with the Bible is probably aimed at a niche audience, but even that audience may feel a little befuddled.

This guide works better as a bestiary than as a picture book. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68115-552-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Apples & Honey Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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While not destined to have wide appeal, the book tells the story of a saint deeply important in both the Roman Catholic and...

SAINT ANTHONY THE GREAT

A brief introduction to the early Christian mystic and saint.

Anthony lived in the third and fourth centuries C.E., in Egypt. Both his extremely ascetic life and his role as the father of monasticism are described in ways that make them accessible to young children. When Anthony’s parents die, leaving him with the care of his younger sister, he sells everything he owns, provides for his sister’s care, and “sets out with nothing to find something.” He is assailed by “wrong thoughts” and temptations, described as coming from the devil. But he turns to God and continues to repel the devil. He settles in an old fort, alone, where his friends bring him food, and people move near the fort to hear Anthony speak. His message is that wrong thoughts come to everyone, but they can be overcome by “right thoughts” (“like being patient and caring for his friends”) that bring one nearer to God. Later, he moves even further into the desert, living to 105. Throughout, he lives consciously, rejecting wrong thoughts and cultivating right ones. The pictures use many Egyptian, Persian, and Middle Eastern patterns and motifs, and Anthony’s age is tracked by the length of his beard.

While not destined to have wide appeal, the book tells the story of a saint deeply important in both the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox traditions, filling a critical niche. (appendix, timeline, further reading, map, glossary) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-937786-46-5

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Wisdom Tales

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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More homily than history—and bland to boot.

THE LIFE OF MARTIN LUTHER

A POP-UP BOOK

A pop-up introduction to the great Christian reformer.

In Traini’s seven compositionally similar tableaux, simply drawn cartoon figures—all white until a diverse mix of worshipers from the past and present gathers at the end—pop up to look on wide-eyed, along with lots of small cute forest creatures, at select incidents in Luther’s career. As a disclaimer has it, the uncredited and decidedly sketchy narrative is the “popular” version: after being caught in a storm that prompts him to promise God to become a monk if he survives (according to his own account, he appealed to St. Anne), Martin goes on to discover in the Bible “the very good news that we are saved by faith!” Following his 95 theses (totally unexplained) and refusal to recant before the ruler of the Holy Roman Empire, he is temporarily kidnapped for his own safety, later produces a German Bible and other writings, and inspires “a reformation of the church” that is still ongoing so long as “we read the Bible, listen to the Holy Spirit, and follow Jesus in faith.” Readers interested in specific dates, biographical details, or even a general picture of Luther’s times will have to look elsewhere.

More homily than history—and bland to boot. (Informational pop-up picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5064-2192-6

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Sparkhouse

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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