Tag: older readers

ESV Big Picture Bible

For years, we have been adoring fans of David Helm’s Big Picture Story BibleWe’ve read it so many times that the spine has begun to crumble, and it has a distinguished spot on our short list of favorite story bibles. So when I learned that Crossway had released a full-text ESV Bible with illustrations from The Big Picture Story Bible, I was all over it.

ESV Big Picture Bible | Little Book, Big Story

This Bible is beautiful and basic: beyond the illustrations, there are no frills, and I kind of like that. The illustrations are small and interspersed throughout the text (with an occasional full-page spread), so they embellish the text in a way that makes it easier for children to navigate.

ESV Big Picture Bible | Little Book, Big Story

We bought this Bible as a Christmas gift for Sarah, our six-year-old who knows where to find the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23 in her dad’s old Bible, and I’m excited to see how she puts her very own Bible to use. There’s a part of me that hopes that the binding on this Bible is nice and sturdy. But there’s a bigger part that hopes that, a few years from now,  it looks as battered and beloved as our copy of The Big Picture Story Bible.

ESV Big Picture Bible | Little Book, Big Story


ESV Big Picture Bible
Crossway (2015)

The Bronze Bow | Elizabeth George Speare

My edition of The Bronze Bow told me delightfully little about the book—what it was called, who wrote it, what else the author is known for and that the book won a Newbery Award, but nothing at all about the story. I bought the book because of that award, and because I had a dim memory that somebody I respected had once said something about The Bronze Bow. But the book sat on my shelf, unread, until a few months ago when I finally took it down and plunged into the story.

The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare | Little Book, Big Story

The story itself was a pleasant surprise: set in Galilee during the first century, The Bronze Bow follows Daniel, a young man orphaned by the Romans and exiled from his village. Daniel longs to see Israel freed from the rule of the Roman Empire and dedicates all he has to fighting in an underground rebellion. But when his circumstances change and Daniel is drawn back into the life of his village, he is forced to reconsider what sort of victory God is working toward and how Daniel can best help bring it about.

I loved the historical detail in this book, but one of my favorite aspects of it is the way the story runs alongside that of the gospels, bumping up against the story of Jesus every so often. Jesus is a character in this book, so if that makes you squeamish, you’ve been warned. But the way Speare portrays him is beautiful and respectful and, as far as I can see, consistent with Scripture, though of course she portrays him creatively, supplying details outside those mentioned in the gospels. I found her descriptions so compelling, and I loved the way the other characters had to reckon with Jesus, the way his words and very presence kept shaping their decisions and responses in ways they could not explain.

The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare | Little Book, Big Story

Because of the age of the main characters (18 or so) and because Jesus appears in a fictional setting, I’d recommend saving this one until our child is old enough to separate this story from that of the gospels and to view it with discernment. Of course, you know your child better than I do, so take that recommendation with a grain of salt.

But The Bronze Bow is a beautiful example of historical fiction that brings history to life for the reader. And now, I’m off to read Speare’s other books—she’s fully won my trust as an author.


The Bronze Bow
Elizabeth George Speare (1997)

Twenty and Ten | Claire Huchet Bishop

It makes sense that I would be an unofficial librarian at my daughter’s school. I grew up among books, you know—the business of words has always appealed to me. I put my enthusiasm for books on a slow simmer for a time as I pursued other things, but now, between my roles as a blogger, copy editor and librarian, it’s back at a roaring boil: I think in paragraphs—in complete, crafted sentences—and hear my life and the things I look at narrated back to me in what I wish was a lilting British accent like Jim Dale’s but is, in fact, my own voice. But, oh well. We were talking about me being a librarian.

The good news (but isn’t it all good news?) is that I have a book budget and a license to hunt out quality books for our growing Classical school. I now haunt bookstores and thrift shops with a new purpose and vigor, and our house looks as though books have multiplied all over it—the tops of the shelves and the floor in front of them are filled with stacks of books, organized by their relationship to the library catalog.

I am tasked with pre-reading a lot of donated chapter books, which is, as you can imagine, no hardship, except that some of them are pretty lame, and so I don’t finish those. But the good ones are really good, and I never would have found out about them otherwise.

Twenty and Ten | Little Book, Big Story

Twenty and Ten came to me in just such a box of books. It was skinny, with awkward cover art, something with a foreshortened Nazi and some kids sort of floating in the grass behind him in what looked like a puddle but was, it turns out, meant to be a cave. But the warped perspective is pardonable, for the book within the cover is graceful and concise. The author is an experienced storyteller—a verbal storyteller, that is—so the story rolls along in a conversational tone that makes you feel like you are sitting down to tea with the narrator, twenty or fifty years after the events of the story occurred.

What the book is about is twenty French schoolchildren who were evacuated to the countryside during World War II, and the ten Jewish children hidden in their midst. The story ends happily and on a note of hope, but it is suspenseful and the stakes are high. This is a book for children, but it’s about WWII, and children were called upon to make some terrible decisions in WWII; because of that, I’d only recommend this book to older children—and to you, of course. It’s so slender, you’d finish it in an afternoon.

Twenty and Ten | Little Book, Big Story


Twenty and Ten
Claire Huchet Bishop (1978)