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The Ark and Noah and other stories 

Bible stories retold, using a different narrative voice. The author is a good storyteller, but I have some issues with its accuracy 


The ARK and NoahThe Ark and Noah and other stories 
By Rachel Lancashire 
Onwards & Upwards 
ISBN: 978-1-78815-000-2 
Reviewer: Moira Kleissner

With so many Bible story books available, yet another one has to prove that it is something special. The stories of Moses, Daniel, David, Jonah, Baby Jesus, Ruth, Samson, Joshua, Joseph and Noah are re-told in this slim volume. Other than the Christmas story there is nothing from the New Testament. 

Rachel Lancashire has good, creative storytelling abilities. She uses different narrative voices - an excellent device. 

However, her re-tellings are often twee, reinforcing popular myths about the stories, which will have to be un-taught later on. To be a good Bible storyteller one needs to read the original; decide if it is appropriate for the listeners’ age range; analyse it and retell it, clarifying unknown concepts and phrases while staying true to the story. Unfortunately, this book does not follow these principals.  

The Christmas story is not the Bible story as we know it. The main character is a talking star with arms and legs who becomes the Christmas Star. Mary and Joseph are not named at all, and Jesus only in the conclusion. It is the star who leads the shepherds to the stable, not the biblical angels’ announcement. Shepherds and wise men end up in the stable together, with the “lady with a big tummy.” “Many hours” later, the baby is born, with everyone still present in the stable! The wise men leave, then the shepherds and then mother, father, child and the donkey all head off the same night. Although in the story the baby is referred to as the “Saviour of the World” this is left unexplained.  

However, I did enjoy the stories of Ruth and David which worked quite well. 

In the story of Samson, he carries in “his pocket,” a pair of scissors, given to him, as a child, to “cut crops”, “trim toenails” and for “chopping hair” – some scissors! He tells his parents, he is going off to visit his girlfriend –Delilah. Sadly, this is not the story in the Bible, and I would question if it is really suitable for under sevens anyway told this way. The whale, not the biblical fish, is the star of Jonah’s story. We are never sure why he is running away from God. Sadly most of the stories in this collection have biblical errors and words, familiar to Christians, but not to the 21st century child.  

I’m not sure why Rachel Lancaster tagged morals onto the end of some of her stories. They were preachy; some quite frightening: “giants” being inside us. They gave false promises; the impossible being made possible (whatever that may mean to a seven year old); promises about being safe that we can’t possibly make to children. If used in a school setting these morals could be construed as proselytising.  

She would have benefitted from a good editor improving the accuracy of her re-tellings. She is a good storyteller, so why not let the stories, selected appropriately, and told with accuracy and integrity speak for themselves?  

Moira Kleissner is a retired Primary Deputy Head, storyteller and minister’s wife 

Baptist Times, 06/09/2018
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