Sunday, November 24, 2013

Adventure Bible Handbook {a Booksneeze Book Review}

I love Bible materials that I can use with my kids, especially when they are fun, creative, and drive my kids back to the Bible.  Bonus points if they touch on Biblical Archaeology.  So I jumped at the chance to review the Adventure Bible Handbook. Written by Robin Schmitt and David Frees, this book does live up to its subtitle: A Wild Ride Through the Bible.

From the publisher:
A fun and exciting journey through the Bible told in comic book style for kids ages 9-12. Companion to the bestselling Adventure Bible.
Kids (ages 9-12) and parents who love the bestselling Adventure Bible and want a fun and engaging supplement to their biblical study need look no further. The Adventure Bible Handbook leads tween boys and girls across the Holy Land and back in time on an entertaining, educational, and inspirational quest to find their missing father.
Four siblings travel with their archaeologist father to the Holy Land, where he is conducting an expedition in search of scientific truth. When he disappears, the children try to find him by joining an offbeat tour group organized by two zany guides whose mission, they eventually discover, is to lead kids on a fun, exciting, and life-changing quest for ultimate truth. Soon the group is visiting ancient cities, important geographical sites, and experiencing biblical times firsthand—traveling back in time with the help of some RSPs (Really Smart Phones) and all sorts of wacky modes of transportation.
It’s a fast, fun, eyewitness adventure around the world and through some of the greatest Bible stories to learn what life is really all about.
A word first on the age range:  if you go to the Zondervan website, their synopsis says that the book is for ages 7-10. 

My opinion:  the reading range is probably correct with the ages 9-12, but I do think the content is great for the younger ones (ages 7-8).  My 7-year-old isn't able to read this herself, but she is very much able to grasp the meaning of both the story and the explanatory text.

What is this?   There is a comic strip format (graphic novel) story, which is what is described in the publisher's statement I quoted above.  That story is a bit crazy, and certainly adventurous and exciting.  My 16-year-old picked up the book and read through the entire story portion in an hour or so.  He wasn't impressed, even when I asked him to think about it in terms of his 12-year-old brother, or even the 9-year-old.  He was bothered by the sci-fi aspects of the story, and insisted that they just didn't make sense.  He also confessed that he has never liked graphic novels though, and that he was probably not the best judge of that aspect.

The concern that he really had with the book though was that parents would probably purchase it for the non-story content (more on that below) but that kids were likely to ignore that and just read the comics.  Like he did, I'd add.

The part of this book that truly appeals to me is all of the explanatory text and graphics that goes throughout the book.  These talk about people, places, events, empires, and more. There is a lot of great stuff in there.

Periodically, there are "Adventure Readings" that pop up, where there are suggestions for reading from the Bible.  I'm sure The Adventure Bible is their preferred version!

My take:  I really like the explanatory text, even though I have some occasional quibbles with it.  For instance, in one place (page 23, "Languages of the Bible") they talk about the Bible originally being written in two languages, and they go on to give good explanations of Hebrew and Greek.  Just adding the words "most of" or "majority of" would have made that box accurate.  They didn't need to describe Aramaic.  I know, many people would gloss over that, saying this is basically accurate.  But with just a couple extra words, we can treat our children like we respect them enough not to over-simplify.  My 7- and 9-year olds both argued with that particular box.  They couldn't remember the other language (Arabic was their guess), but they vaguely knew there was one.

Another little text box early in the book (page 25, "Travel") talked about something being 9-10 miles away, and how long that took to travel at the time (all day), vs. the 5 minutes it would take you to drive that far in a car.  Both kids immediately objected to that statement too.  "Nine or ten miles would take 9-10 minutes," Katrina said.  Richard added, "If you were on a highway!"  He wanted to calculate how fast you'd have to drive to cover 9-10 miles in just five minutes (that'd be 108-120 mph, by the way).  Because of those two examples, my kids were skeptical of almost everything in the text boxes, unless they already knew it.  Pretty much every section has them asking, "Is that true?"

I still do find the book to be valuable, but it isn't one I want to just hand off for them to read.  We're slowly working through it, and really talking about all of the great topics brought up along the way. The maps, the photos of archaeological sites and artifacts, the artwork depicted -- we are loving that.

Another plus is the fun online activities available at  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No comments: