Friday, November 27, 2015

Book Review: The Biggest Story

How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden by Kevin DeYoung

The children in your life probably know many of the stories in the Bible. They are likely acquainted with Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David, and been taught to apply the stories to their own lives: “Trust God like David did when he killed the giant,” for instance, or “Don’t disobey like David did when he had Uriah killed.” And there’s nothing wrong with using the Bible’s stories like this, because God intended for them to serve as examples for us (1 Corinthians 10:6).

But the Bible is more than a collection of individual stories with heroes to imitate or villains to avoid imitating. It is one big story comprised of all the smaller stories. It’s the story of God’s work of creation; humankind’s fall, bringing with it the corruption of everything; and God’s work to make it all right again.

Do your children know this story, the biggest one? Do they understand how the stories of the Old and New Testament fit together into a grand narrative of a “snake-crushing King” and “destined-to-die Deliverer” who will bring us back to the garden?

Kevin DeYoung’s purpose for writing this book is to give children the whole picture, the one that connects “the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heavens and new earth.” This book started as a Christmas sermon for the families in his church, a sermon written to read like a book. Now, in the Biggest Story, DeYoung's text has been joined with the rich illustrations of Don Clark, illustrations even more evocative (if possible) than the text.

Since it's is an overview of the biblical narrative, the book doesn’t go into the individual stories in detail, but assumes the reader (or listener) already knows them. The child who is familiar with the stories of the Bible, then, will understand more than the one who is unfamiliar with them. But a parent reading aloud can fill in what is missing if a child has questions.

Of course, you can’t tell the big story of the Bible without talking about human sin, and some of the sin included in the Bible is shocking. While he doesn’t minimize sin, DeYoung does explain it in ways that are appropriate for young children. For instance, he writes, “Isaac was sort of a weakling. Jacob was a selfish trickster. And Judah did such dumb stuff, we don’t even want to talk about it.”

There are 121 pages of beautifully illustrated text in 10 short chapters in The Biggest Story. For the younger child, reading a chapter or two at a time would work well, while an older child would easily finish in one sitting. But whether it’s read in one sitting or more, the reader and listener will be left longing for the yet-to-come end of the big story, when the Snake Crusher comes “back again to wipe away all the bad guys and wipe away every tear,” when “there will be nothing but the best days, day after day after day after day. And forever and ever it will be a wonderful time to be God’s children in God’s wonderful world.”

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden is recommended for children aged 5-11, but my 2 and 4 year old grandchildren enjoyed it, too. The illustrations kept the youngest one interested even when he might not understand the story. This would be an excellent Christmas gift for preschool or school aged children.

Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan. He blogs at the Gospel Coalition and has authored or coauthored numerous books.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Becky! I was on the hunt for books for the grandkids for Christmas and am definitely ordering this!