A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Kristin Stiles
This is a fascinating book. Aimed at 6-12 year olds, The Promise: The Amazing Story of Our Long-Awaited Savior has a great deal to offer to such a wide age range. The text seems simple but there is a great depth to it as it goes through all of human history searching for a Savior and finding that none of the great men of the Old Testament qualify. The illustrations seem simple but there is a great depth of symbolism that fills each page accompanied by a remarkable use of light and darkness. This is a simple but complex book. And I love it!
Jason Helopoulos is a pastor and theologian, which is obvious from his writing. Beginning with creation, he takes the reader through the perfection of what was to the devastating results of the Fall to our desperate need for a Savior. Then he begins presenting options with a formulaic repetition: “Maybe a good man/great man of faith/great prophet/great conqueror/etc. like Noah/Abraham/Moses/Joshua/etc. can save us.” That possibility is invariably met with a negative response: “But Noah sinned against God/Abraham feared other men/Moses lacked faith/Joshua didn’t conquer as he was told/etc.” The conclusion is reached: “We see that not even ______________ can save us.” Not only people are presented as options for salvation but also acts like keeping the law and offering sacrifices. Ultimately, in despair, the author states, “All seemed lost.” Great hope dawns on the next page as God sends Jesus. In this one Man, we find “the perfect righteous man/the perfect faith-filled man/the perfect Prophet of God/the perfect conqueror/etc.” We truly find our long-awaited Savior!
There is so much that I appreciate in this book. There is a beautiful retelling of the creation account that is so uplifting and ends with “[God] saw that everything was good – in fact, it was very good.” The bright yellow colors, the streaming sunlight on Adam and Eve are abruptly changed with one turn of the page: “Until it wasn’t!” Black, red, purple. That page turn was so dramatic, I caught my breath. The repetitious presentation of man after man after man that failed to be the promised Savior is so very well done. There is a feeling of despair reading page after page of failures. All of those characteristics that a child might trust for his/her own salvation are knocked down one by one. Only Jesus can provide the way of salvation. I love the clear presentation of how He meets every single one of those criteria to perfection.
The illustrations are so unique that they also deserve comment. Rommel Ruiz’s style is very contemporary and dramatic. The lines and colors are sharp and bold. It’s also interesting to note that three times in the book you need to turn it 90° because of the orientation of the illustrations changes. The first time it happens is at the culmination of creation when all is declared “very good.” It happens again at the point of all seemingly being lost: man has sinned and his relationship with God has been destroyed. The last time it happens is at the announcement of the birth of Jesus. This book is just very interesting to look at.
Overall, I am thrilled with this book. There are times that I think the vocabulary or the phrasing might be a bit over the heads of the younger readers, but I would trust that parents would explain words like “righteousness” and “rebellion” and phrases like “he secured his people’s relationship with God.” Children would also benefit from hearing the entirety of the many stories that are only briefly referred to: Abraham fearing men, Joshua not conquering all the rebellious people, Eli not caring well for his own children, etc. There’s much that can be explored through the Bible that is alluded to in this book. It would well be worth the investment of time and money to add this to the books you share with your children.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
THE PROMISE: THE AMAZING STORY OF OUR LONG-AWAITED SAVIOR, by Jason Helopoulos