Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Ishtar’s Odyssey

The Christmas story. We’ve heard it over and over. If you’re looking for a way to make it fresh and meaningful this season, here’s a story for you.

Synopsis of Book

IshtarA new Advent family devotional from the author of Jotham's Journey! Fourth in a set of Advent adventure books for families, Ishtar's Odyssey follows the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man as their caravan follows a star across the desert. Ishtar would just as soon stay in the comfort of the palace, but slowly he learns that there's much to see, do, and learn in this world that can't be experienced in school. He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king.

Arnold Ytreeide's family advent devotionals have become a much-loved Christmas tradition, enjoyed by multiple generations. With over 100,000 in print they include Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, and Tabitha's Travels.

About the Author

Arnold Ytreeide is a fine storyteller who cares deeply about spiritual growth in families. Ytreeide is the founder of Storyteller Productions and lives with his wife and two children in Nampa, Idaho.

Genre:  Children’s Christian Story Book 
Physical Description:  Paperback, 176 pages 
List Price:  $15.99
For More Info/To Buy:

Mom’s Review:

We’ve loved all of Ytreeide’s advent books! They are a great way to travel through Christmas season with a regular moment each day to remember Christ.

  • Adventure! Cliffhangers make you excited to continue the story the next day. As a prince, Ishtar has a unique set of adventures that run into some of Ytreeide's other characters’ adventures from time to time. There is mystery, death-defying excitement, scary moments, character transformation, and more.
  • Bible Tie-Ins. Esmé loves how the adventure is tied to Bible scriptures and truths. At the end of each chapter, the author ties the story’s events to a Bible text in a way that makes one think. These go beyond the nativity story to a better understanding of who Christ is and why His coming is so important to each of us even today.
  • Schedule. The chapters are spaced out nicely to fit into an advent schedule, and the story climaxes with Christ’s birth on Christmas day.
  • Persian Food Outline. This book has a neat Making Connections feature – an outline of foods and common kid-friendly substitutes that Ishtar enjoys during each chapter of his odyssey. To make the book come alive, plan your menus around the list.
  • Cultural Experience. The book does a great job of helping the reader understand the culture of the time, with historical tidbits, landmarks, and more. I was particularly intrigued with religious discussions – the concept of multiple gods versus one singular God, etc. in context of the predominant religions of the time.
  • A Child’s Perspective. It’s fun to travel throughout the nativity story from a child’s perspective that your children can relate to. The characters all have flaws; Ishtar is far from perfect. But he grows and becomes transformed through the truths he learns, and ideally your child will make a similar journey in the reading of this book.
  • It’s All About Jesus. The nativity story is beautiful straight from the Bible, but Ytreeide has mastered the art of retelling it from different perspectives to discover new truths each time.

Ytreeide’s advent books have become a staple of our Christmas season, and this one does not disappoint. You don’t need to have read the others in order to appreciate this one, but having that context adds to the enjoyment of reading as you see how the main characters’ stories intersect.

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Kregel Publications for coordinating this book for review. Opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.