Time for another BookLook Bloggers review!
This book is a part of a series of biographies on heroes of the Bible. Published by Zondervan, Mary by Nancy I Sanders is a well organized and well illustrated book for elementary ages. It has a reading level of 2.1-2.5 and is full of beautiful illustrations, maps, and fun facts about the culture and times in which Mary lived. It really read like a biography of Mary, with information filled in from biblical context and other historical resources.
Overall I loved the layout of this book and would be interested to see more of the titles from this series. I hesitate to recommend this title, however, because of a few specific concerns.
First of all, the book is not well referenced. Bible passages are paraphrased and some have direct links to quotations, but others do not. The same translation is not used consistently. I was particularly bothered by the references to Mary's daughters, Jesus' sisters. While the Bible does refer to Jesus' brothers, and there is debate amongst Catholic and Protestant Christians if this is a spiritual brother or biological brother or cousins, I am aware of no reference that refers to sisters. Maybe it is nice and cutesy to think of a happy large family, but the existence of sisters is certainly not a fact (Biblical or otherwise). I wouldn't want to confuse kids with that perception hidden among other information, however accurate the other information is. When I find glaring misquotes such as this, I tend to be wary of the rest of the information no matter how good it sounds.
Second of all, the book is full of beautiful artwork and images that are all referenced to shutterstock or other online image galleries. I would have loved to have a specific reference to which artist painted each image. Some of them I knew, but others were clearly works of art that came without a reference. I think it was a disservice to the children who read this book not to include the proper sourcing. Mary has been well documented historically in art and there is no good reason to not give those artists credit for their work!
Overall thoughts? Definitely recommend for my protestant friends as one of the most thorough (even if not most accurate) biographies on Mary I have seen, even though I find it pulls up short of embracing the entirety of Mary's divine nature. Definitely do not recommend for my Catholic friends, however, as this will probably confuse your children in light of what our Church teaches regarding the divinity of the Blessed Mother. I was surprised to see how many of the reviewers noted how it would be a perfect first communion gift or resource for a Catholic school project. In fact, if not for those reviews I never would have selected this book for review in the first place!
In exchange for an honest review, I was provided with a free copy of this book through the BookLook bloggers program. All opinions are my own.