cover image Parables: 5stories Jesus Told

Parables: 5stories Jesus Told

Mary Hoffman. Dial Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2560-7

Hoffman (Amazing Grace) adapts eight parables for children in this intimate, thought-provoking picture book. By their nature, the story-lessons, or parables, attributed to Jesus have traditionally been among the most accessible parts of the Bible. But Hoffman steps beyond mere retellings, taking great care to explain or imagine Jesus' intent behind these ""stories with two meanings"" and to gently challenge readers to see both sides, especially when the lessons are, as Hoffman says, ""uncomfortable."" Each parable bears a simplified new title (the Prodigal Son is transformed into ""The Jealous Brother""; The Good Samaritan becomes ""Neighbors""), and a few plot details are slightly updated, making them more accessible to contemporary kids. The stories open with brief introductions that promote introspection and identification with the characters (""You know what it's like to feel jealous"" or ""Do you like parties?""). Finally, the author closes each parable with a short summation, showing how the plot works to demonstrate God's love for his people. Hoffman's friendly yet reverent voice and solid pacing are sure to captivate her audience. Morris's (The Fourth Wise Man) warm and earthy palette depicts earnest-faced people of the ancient Holy Land in a vivid landscape dotted with lush palm trees and vineyards as well as dusty roads and fields. Laid out with many vertical panels and 1/-page facing art, the illustrations often seem to enfold readers with the text. The comfortable blend of text and art helps these favorite stories shine anew. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)