The Biggest Story (Crossway) by Kevin DeYoung offers yet another take on the Bible storybook genre for children. It may also be the shortest telling of the biggest story. Subtitled “How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden,” it tells of the promised snake crusher who will deliver a rebellious and sinful people.
DeYoung, a pastor, originally wrote the text for a Christmas Day sermon. The story of Genesis through Revelation is told in 10 relatively short chapters interwoven with the theme of a disobedient people in need of a promised and prophesied Deliverer. The emphasis is on God as a promise maker and keeper.
The chapters may be short, but the text is rich and dense. Unlike more traditional tellings, DeYoung often uses irony and surprise, inviting conversation by what is left out, both in and between the chapters. Those who know the biblical story can fill in the blanks. For older readers and listeners who do not know the stories, this could be an entry into a more traditional reading to fill in the context and details. Unfortunately, the story leaves out any mention of the deep love for the world that motivates God’s plan of redemption from the beginning.
Don Clark’s vibrant illustrations are powerful, imaginative, and abstract, with dark undertones. They support the sweeping nature of the storytelling. At first blush it seems to be a storybook for young children, but the text and artwork make it better suited for children ages 6 to 10 and even older.
By contrast, theJesus Storybook Bible (ZonderKidz, 2007) by Sally Lloyd-Jones points the reader to the promised baby through every story with whimsical and gentle illustrations intended for younger children. It also serves as a good Bible for children in the early stage of reading independence.
There is an important place in this genre for a book that stays as close to the biblical text as possible.Theirs Is the Kingdom (Eerdmans, 1986), a volume of New Testament stories cowritten by Lowell Hagan and Jack Westerhof, held promise for a whole telling of the story. Unfortunately the Old Testament segment never made it to publication. Some older publications may still be the best for a straight storytelling of the stories.
Choose wisely the texts and illustrations through which you will share the most precious story with those most precious to you.