First, when it's a kids books, the BOOK matters. This is a book that is designed for kids. It's 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches. It's a padded book cover. It has a Presented To: page as the opening page. The paper is a glossy thick durable page. It has a Contents page, has page numbers, and headings throughout the book. The illustrations and color choices are clear, look computer layered/generated, but are appealing, and add to the book content. It's a nice book to hold and very kid centered.
This book is targeted for children ages 3-5 and the simple facts and illustrations go along with that age group. The content is accurate (i.e. the wise men visit Jesus as a young boy, not a newborn). I love that in the middle of the book there is a map of the places Jesus travels with images to depict events in each location. This is so key to knowing about Jesus life and ministry, but often isn't discussed until adult level. I like the choices in sharing Jesus life, you have the Lord's Prayer, parables, miracles, and it continues on through his appearances after the Resurrection and ends with His return to heaven.
The author consistently uses simple child like vocabulary. I wish sin was used instead of 'bad things' and I would have liked a little more depth in the explanation of who Jesus is (God and yet man) and His purpose on earth. The book portrays Him as a healer, a kind helpful man, who made special friends and who was a special friend/king, he was killed and rose again, and went to be with His heavenly Father. I prefer more direct doctrine- words like sin, Savior, more explanations of His living a perfect sinless life, yet dying to redeem a fallen sinful world. I am most disappointed that this life story lacks a clear plan of salvation or gospel message.
I really appreciate that in this book that is a summary of Jesus life the references to the Bible passage that also talk about the summary statement. I think as a parent and a teacher, that adds credibility and makes this a practical resource to read aloud, and even to teach from. I also see this book as laying a solid foundation and life of Christ outline for young children. It could be a simple tool and most parents/teachers who share my desire to present more than moralistic teaching from biblical content, will easily add in their own statements about Jesus, man yet God, born to die for sinners such as we are, and who is our eternal King in Heaven preparing a place for all those who accept His gift of eternal life. But I hope that some day publishers will not shy away from the full story and will use terms that are biblical and more complete in thought than 'bad' instead of sin. I want to let me kids see who God is and how Jesus life was orchestrated to rescue a fallen, sinful world.
I thank Kregel Publications for the opportunity to review this book, and even with it's limitations, my children will read this and I will likely use it in my Sunday School class. It's a lovely life history with some great features.