FICTION

Who Counts?: 100 Sheep, 10 Coins, and 2 Sons

LEVINE, Amy-Jill & . illus. by Margaux Meganck. 40p. Westminster John Knox Pr. May 2017. Tr $16. ISBN 9780664262747.
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K-Gr 2—Three of Jesus's parables from the New Testament are retold here with a secular twist. Each parable is about something or someone lost: a sheep, a coin, and a son. In scripture, human repentance and God's forgiveness are integral to these stories; however, repentance and forgiveness are not mentioned in the sheep or coin parable, and references to God and Jesus are omitted overall. A note to teachers and parents in the back of the book reads, "Our presentation of these parables does not intend to erase the focus on repenting and forgiving. Rather, we seek to add a new understanding based on what we imagine Jesus' original audiences would have heard." The strongest story is that of the prodigal son, and the weakest is the one about the lost coin (when the woman finds her lost coin, she puts it back with her "coin collection," making it look as if the coins did not represent her life savings, but only a hobby). The narratives are light and conversational in tone. Some passages have a storyteller's cadence. For example, when the shepherd goes to look for his lost sheep, "he looked to the right. Nothing. He walked and listened. Still nothing. Then he heard it: a bleating sound." Meganck's use of color and soft lines is similar to Tomie dePaola's style.
VERDICT An uneven presentation, unlikely to circulate well.

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