Review of Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible

There have been a lot of attempts at creating “Bibles” for kids–everything from slapping a cartoon cover on a regular Bible to “Bibles” that contain the same Bible stories a paragraph or two long.

The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible is one of the better ones I’ve seen. It does include the usual stories (David and Goliath, Noah’s Ark), but goes beyond to include a few additional stories such as the 12 spies in the Promised Land and the story of Zacchaeus. The book is pretty evenly split across Old Testament stories and New Testament stories.

The writing is excellent. It’s whimsical, conversational, uses words and tone that are very approachable for little kids, and is very natural and fun to read out loud. I like that it doesn’t just go through the story, but is very good at anticipating the “why” questions and folding them into the story. Also, the text is very true to the real Bible, but presented in a fun way. For example:

One night, Abraham and God were looking at the stars together.
“How many are there?” God asked.
“Far too many to count!” said Abraham.
“That’s how many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren (and great-great-great-great-grandchildren) I am going to give you,” God told Abraham.

The illustrations are comical and cute, but in a way that’s still respectful and reflective of the content of the story.

The one thing that will stand out to most people, of course, is that the characters are all drawn with very dark skin. While there’s nothing in the book liner that explains their rationale for this, I’m presuming that it’s an effort to portray the Bible characters as they really looked as opposed to the white European representations that began around the 6th century AD and influenced everything from Renaissance art to TV, movies, and books today.

I do think this is a laudable goal, but from all I’ve researched on the topic, they may have missed the mark just a little. Virtually all experts, of course, agree that the characters in the Bible did not have white skin. But the consensus seems to be that their skin was more olive in tone, like most people you’d see in the Middle East today, particularly in countries like Iraq.

Perhaps it’s just the printing of the book I have, or perhaps it’s just difficult to color cartoon characters “olive”,┬ábut from what I can tell most of the characters have much darker skin than would have been in the populations of Israel or the Mediterranean at the time.

So I think it’s also fair to note that this isn’t going to be for everyone. And this is certainly not a dig at anyone. Truth is, when each of us read the (real) Bible, we all have a different image in our head of what people looked like, and generally what’s in our head is a projection of our own experiences. If you go to any country in the world, you’ll see depictions of Jesus in every culture. They may not be historically accurate, but neither are they “wrong”.

Some families will embrace this book wholeheartedly, especially for its excellent writing which is easy to read aloud. Others may feel more comfortable with an excellent book like The Jesus Storybook Bible (which also tries for historical accuracy in its images, but perhaps errs a bit to the other direction). Bottom line, go to Amazon and preview both books, and see which one you feel resonates with you. Because all told, the most important thing is the message that comes through, and both these books do a fantastic job at bringing that message to life for little kids.