Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet at the ark at eight by Ulrich Hub, illustrated by Jorg Muhle

Publisher's description: "Two squabbling penguins who smuggle their little friend aboard Noah's ark under the watchful eyes of an officious, overworked dove, find many answers to their questions about God during their journey."

My first thought when I saw that was, "" Who would ever read that? But those penguins look awfully adorable and I read a couple other blurbs from the publisher and became interested. So, I requested a copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

To sum up, I really enjoyed this book but I can't think of a kid at the public library that I would hand it to. Although it's loosely framed around the story of Noah's Ark, Noah only appears briefly at the end and most of the story is dialogue between the three penguins and then the dove. In the end, the penguins and dove pair off and I think that's really going to bother some people, even more than the religious questions. People are weird.

The original description is a little misleading, since there's no final answer to the penguins' questions about God. It's not an overtly religious book for any particular denomination, but it raises topics like why does God allow suffering, how do you know God exists, and does God make mistakes? I don't think many kids will pick up on one of the main themes - that all these different creatures are defining God the way they see him - without some adult guidance. It's also quite funny, in an almost adult way, with little digs and sly jokes here and there.

Verdict: This would be a really interesting book to read together with an 8-12 year old, or younger, to spark discussions about God and religion. However, I don't think it's going to be of general interest in the public library. I will probably donate my copy to the local Catholic school, as I think this is something they'd find interesting to discuss with the kids.

ISBN: 9780802854100; Published September 2012 by Eerdmans; Review copy provided by publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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