A Picture Book for Teaching Young Children How God Wants Us To Live: The Bible Amigos: Jonah and the Bear

Because I love books in general and picture books especially, I’m always on the lookout for good quality picture books to recommend. So when I was asked to review a picture book written to teach young kids how to live the way that God wants them to live, I was interested. I received The Bible Amigos: Jonah and the Bear by Frank Fraser.

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The book is published by Barbour Publishing and is intended for kids ages 3-7. It currently sells for $5.99 from the website. From the book’s description: Join the three lovable Bible Amigos, Walla the koala, Donk the donkey,
and Edge the hedgehog, as they take off on a giant flying Bible and land
in the hearts of young readers. This brand-new book series for kids
ages 3-7 is from Frank Fraser, a creative artist who has done work for
Disney, PBS Sprout, and Starbucks, among many others. In the series, the
three amigos carry God’s love and direction wherever their flying Bible
takes them. Featuring plenty of fun, colorful, action-filled pictures,
and scripture that comes to life, each Bible Amigos story shares key
Bible truths for young readers. In Jonah and the Bear, kids will learn that God’s call to share makes perfect sense—and makes them happy when they obey!
The story feature the three friends- Walla, Donk, and Edge- busily gathering in harvest. (We never really find out exactly what or why.) As they work, a wind comes up, and a giant Bible flies in prompting the friends to get on because someone needs help.
They are taken to help a young bear- Bear Junior. We learn a little of his back story. He’s playing in his yard when he sees new neighbors. Not wanting to share with them, although he knows it’s right, Bear Junior grabs all his toys, runs away and jumps on a boat in a lake. He’s balancing precariously on a sinking boat, and he can’t swim when the friends arrive. They share with him the Bible story of Jonah. He asks God to forgive him for being selfish and he is blown out of the pond by a whale and then decides to share.
There were a few things I liked about Jonah and the Bear, but, unfortunately, there were some things I didn’t like as much.

* The book is cute and visually appealing to little ones. The pictures have that soft, sweet look of good books geared toward young kids.
* There is a good connection made that the Bible is a book that is intended to help us. The three Bible amigos make that clear on their mission. They also point out to Bear Junior that the Bible is more than a story. It’s the Word of God.
* The story of Jonah from the Bible had some inconsistencies with the biblical story. In Jonah and the Bear, Jonah is swallowed by a whale. The Bible never calls the animal a whale- only a big fish. In Jonah and the Bear, after Jonah asks for forgiveness God is happy and the whale “blasted Jonah back on dry land.” This seems to imply that Jonah earns God’s forgiveness and is instantly “blasted” back on to land. But the Bible specifies the time in the big fish- three days and three nights- which is symbolic of Christ’s death and resurrection- and says the fish spits Jonah on to to dry land.

* The theme of Jonah and the Bear seems to be sharing. Bear Junior refused to share with his neighbors and ended up on a sinking boat. The theme of Jonah in the Bible does have to do with Jonah refusing to do what’s right. But, the similarity stops there. In the Bible, Jonah is much more about the message of forgiveness and mercy and second chances. God gives Jonah forgiveness. God gives the people of Ninevah forgiveness. None of them deserve it or earn it, but God gives second chances. There really isn’t anything in context about sharing.
Overall, I wouldn’t give Jonah and the Bear my recommendation. I’m pretty particular about books for kids that include Bible stories. I want to see the Bible treated as more than a story book. I want to know that all of the details match the account in the Bible. And I want the Bible story to be presented in context. I didn’t feel that Jonah and the Bear did all of this.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own, and I was not compensated in any other way.

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