Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: Bethlehem's Baby

“Once upon a time,” I begin, “there was a princess called Esmé.” 

We are lying on her bed in the dark, the power out, no audiobook CD to be played to wind her down for the night.

I combine fact and fiction, creating a fanciful story that winds all over the place, incorporating inside jokes and silly puns that make us laugh.  At the end, I manage to make some point to the story, some lesson to be learned.

I may not be a great storyteller, but it makes us smile.  “Tell me another one,” she says.

Bethlehem’s Baby is one of those books that makes us smile.  “Once there was a girl called Mary,” a chapter begins, and out flows the story of a girl who had a wonderful engagement party, who dreamed of presents and pretty houses and babies.  “Thank you God for your perfect plans, more wonderful and wise than any plans we make,” it ends. 

And another begins.  “Once there was a little boy called Simon who wished he was called Joshua or Jeremiah or Jacob or even John—just any name beginning with a ‘J.’”  And we talk about Esmé’s name – what it means, what she wishes she were named – and she can relate to Simon.  “Thank you God for knowing all our names… And thank you for Jesus.”


It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Cape Arago Press (September 2, 2013)
***Special thanks to Edward Lewis for sending me a review copy.***
Sheila Deeth is a prolific writer whose works span multiple genres. Besides the popular Five-Minute Bible Story™ Series, she is also the author of  the What Ifs…Inspired by Faith and Science books, as well as several children’s Bible Picture books. A life-long Christian, she has spent many years as a Christian Educator and Sunday School Teacher. Sheila’s writing reflects her familiarity with a wide spectrum of Christian beliefs.

Ms. Deeth was born in England and earned a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Mathematics from Cambridge University. She now lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys reading, writing, and running the Coffee Break Bible Studies and the Writers’ Mill writing group when not meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Visit the author's website.


With the introduction of Bethlehem's Baby, Biblical author, Sheila Deeth, turns her prodigious writing talents to familiar tales from the New Testament. This Sixth Volume in the ever-popular Five Minute Bible Story Series looks at the characters and events leading up to and immediately following the birth of the Christ Child...from Caesar Augustus and Herod to John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and many more.

This series of 40 linked short stories is aimed at the Middle Grade Reader. Each one is chock full of insights, information, and her trademarked quirky humor, making them a joy for youngsters to read or hear. Each story contain Biblical references and ends with a prayer, making them work equally well for reading to younger children, or grandchildren, at bedtime or naptime. Like all books in the Five-Minute Bible Stories Series they'll have your children begging for “just one more.” Fully Illustrated and Contain Author’s Notes.


Product Details:
List Price: $3.99
File Size: 725 KB
Print Length: 123 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Cape Arago Press (September 2, 2013)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English



~ 1 ~


(The Old Testament)
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In the beginning, God created the universe. He made stars and planets. He made the sun, moon and earth. He made mountains and seas, flowers and trees, birds and bees, and animals and people. And everything was good.
God made the world like a painter creating a beautiful picture. He mixed its colors together, designed its patterns, and added light and dark in all the right places. When God finished painting, the earth was good enough to hang on the wall of heaven.
God made the world like an author writing a book. He worked out the details, solved all the mysteries, and linked all the pieces together. When God finished writing, he gave us his words in the Bible so we could read them. Meanwhile angels rejoiced to know what he’d done.
God made the world like a programmer designing a computer game. He set up all the scenes, made voices for the characters, and planned how all the rules would make everything work. But computer games often have bugs in them. Our world was so good when God finished making it, there wasn’t a single mistake in it anywhere.
But God didn’t hang the world on a wall when he’d finished. He didn’t leave the Bible on a bookshelf to look nice. And he didn’t sell his program to people who wanted to play humans on their computer. Instead, God made the world like a gardener who works in a park. When he’d finished planning and planting everything, God stepped right into the park to help the people look after it. God’s park was a beautiful place called the Garden of Eden.
God worked in his Garden of Eden every day, feeding animals, helping bees, watering flowers, cleaning the rivers, and pouring sweetness into beautiful berries hanging from the trees. God walked and talked with the people in Eden, loving them like a father loves his children. He taught them to play and he kept them perfectly safe. No one was ever hungry in the Garden of Eden. No one was tired or sick. Nobody ever had to work too much and no one was ever bored. Even plants and animals were perfectly safe in Eden, everything beautifully in balance, living and dying in due season with no sickness, no loneliness, no sorrow and no pain.
But then the people in God’s garden, the people God had chosen to be his very own children, broke God’s rules. They didn’t care that the rules were there to keep them safe, or else they didn’t remember. They just wanted to do as they pleased and have fun and pretend they were in charge. So they ate the fruit of a special tree that wasn’t theirs to eat.
Now God’s Garden of Eden began to change. With people making their own rules nothing ever worked like it should. Seeds weren’t planted at the right time, and crops were harvested too soon. Farmers didn’t store enough food. They didn’t take proper care of the animals. They didn’t move when the weather changed, and they built their houses in foolish places then complained when their buildings burned down. What a mess! But God was still watching and helping his people. He hadn’t finished with them then, and he hasn’t finished with us yet.
God sent his people out of the broken garden, out into the world where we have to work for a living, and fight for freedom, and struggle for safety and space. God still protects us of course, but he can’t keep us completely safe because then he’d have to make us always do exactly as we’re told, and most of us aren’t very good at that.
Still, one day, when the time was perfectly, wonderfully right, when everything was just as ready as it could ever be, when everyone was in the perfect place at the perfect time, God came into his world as a baby boy called Jesus. Like a painter stepping into his picture, or an author talking to his characters, or a computer programmer trapping himself inside the world of his game, God became Jesus and lived as a human child, just like you and me.
Because of Jesus, the world really is going to be perfect one day. No one will be hungry. No one will be sad. No one will get sick or scared. There’ll be just enough food and drink for all the people and animals, just enough rain and sun, just enough laughter and fun, just enough of everything good, and nothing of everything bad, all because God became man and saved us all.
Thank you God for our beautiful universe and the lovely planet we live on.
Thank you for caring so much for your creation and for caring so much for us.
Thank you for sending Jesus to live among us and save us.
And thank you for your Spirit who helps us live how you want us to.


Mom’s Review

First of all, do yourselves a favor!  Go back up and read the first chapter.  Grab your child and play the The Wise Research Student video to listen to another chapter.  Each of these chapters stands alone, and you’re not going to feel dropped at the end, needing to know how the story ends.  Promise!  You’ll have a complete little story and a great feel for what this book is like!  Yes, you may hear, “Tell me another one!”  And that’s when you spend $3.99 to get an e-version of the book with 40 such stories.

This is a book that makes me smile.  Each chapter reminds me of a personalized bedtime story.  It mixes fact and fiction and metaphors and alliteration and little details and witty dialogue in a delightful twist that enhances the original story without detracting from the message.

The book is targeted toward middle graders, and I do recommend that the reader (or listener) have a solid knowledge of the Biblical version of the stories first and be able to differentiate between fact and fiction.  It makes the story more interesting – like a spoof version of a fairy tale is funnier when you know the original version well.

I appreciated how the book began and ended.  It starts with In the Beginning:  God.  The final chapter, The Rest of the Story:  God, once again tells again about God making a perfect world, the need for a savior, Jesus’ ministry on earth, and how death is not the end.  The story is still going on right now.

And I appreciated the rich detail in between.  Character sketches included Caesar Augustus, Joachim, the Innkeeper, the fictional Little Fisherboy, Gamaliel, people who don’t normally get a whole chapter devoted to them in the Bethlehem story.

Overall, a great addition to this Christmas season by a talented writer – and a nice way to end each day with a focus on what is really important.