I haven't been getting out any book reviews lately...but I do hope to get some more up soon.  In the meantime, I was blessed to receive an invitation from Kregel Publications to take part in their Blog Tour to introduce Arnold Ytreeide's new Storybook for Advent-  Ishtar's Odyssey.  I was selected, I'm sure, because I have reviewed one of Arnold's books in the past:  Jotham's Journey- still my favorite book of the series!

Book Title:  Ishtar's Odyssey  A Family Story For Advent

Author: Arnold Ytreeide

Illustrator: Ryan Hill

Genre: Fiction Storybook, Christmas

Publisher:  Kregel Publications (2015)

  • ISBN-10: 0825443938
  • ISBN-13:  978-0825443930

Pages: 176

Age: 8 and up

Why Did I Choose It?  As stated above, I was asked to take part in Kregal Publications Blog Tour.  But really, as soon as I had found out about the new book to this wonderful advent series for families, I would have bought the book to read it.  I just love this series!!!

A Little Bit From The Inside Cover: Ishtar, the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man, will soon join a caravan following that star across the desert.  The slightly spoiled prince would just as soon stay in the predictable comfort and safety of the palace, but slowly he learns that there's much to see, do, and learn in this world that can't be experienced with tutors.  Disasters and dangers challenge his courage and confidence but Ishtar finds strength he never knew he had.  He eventually meets Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha as he follows his father and uncles in their search for a newborn king.

My Review: All of Arnold's advent books have helped families to create time during advent to enjoy a special time of reading during this blessed season of the nativity as a family. As the other three books in this series, the book's story is broken down into daily readings with the standard cliff-hanger endings that thrill its readers as well as a brief devotional type summary and questions at the end of each reading.  I love this set up as it truly gives an easy structure to follow to allow for a reading all through the advent season.  Of course, the Orthodox Nativity starts before Advent, but could easily be adapted to start at the beginning of the nativity- or start the readings later or finish early.  It's certainly adaptable. As a lovely addition for enhancing the experience, in the beginning of this book, the author also makes suggestions on how to connect Ishtar's experiences with foods for your own children, explaining what the foods are and easy substitutions you can make if you are not able to find the exact food experienced by Ishtar.  This is a nice way to incorporate other aspects of cultures to the story.
Ishtar's Odyssey is a  wonderful story that will behold a child's attention and encourage thoughtful reflection through the season leading up to the day we celebrate the birth of our savior.  Reflection topics include how the future often looks scary to us and our need to trust in God, our need to not let what others might think of us to prevent us from doing the right thing, and that Jesus died for each and every one of us. The story itself was that of the magi-  an obvious fiction laden story as there is not really any historical documents telling us any more details of the magi or their journey other than what is in the scriptures themselves - but left us with an intriguing perspective of what that journey may have entailed and how all of our journeys to meet our Messiah (even today)  are filled with challenges. As a parent, I like the way the author ties the readings with Scripture or challenges us to think about our own walk with God. These books have been a wonderful way to help us as we prepare to celebrate our Savior's birth!

I will be honest, this particular book did not quite strike me as well as the others have (my favorite is still Jotham's Journey).  I really can't put my finger on just why that is.  Perhaps I just feel it was more of a stretch than the others- the story line itself of the magi and the ten year old son of one of these Persian wise man. Yet I still enjoyed the story and have no doubts it would be enjoyed by children of all ages (though the publisher suggests age 8, I feel certain there are many children ages 6 and up that would still be able to follow the storyline and enjoy the adventures of Ishtar).

I would love to hear your own reactions to Ishtar's Odyssey or any of the other books in this series!

Other Books By This Author:

Disclaimer:  I received this book through Kregal Publications Blog Tour.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.  


See More Book Reviews Like This:  See a list on My Book Review Page.


I love to read.

I especially love to read at Christmastime! And in December, it's been pretty much an unspoken rule or tradition that I read Christmas themed books at night to the kids- now it's pretty much just one kid- but we have enjoyed quite a few nice Christmas stories this past week!  So while today is not Book Review Wednesday, I wanted to let you in on this favorite December activity of mine.

My personal favorite Christmas book is actually not a kid's book per se - it's this one-

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Norman Rockwell's Christmas book is filled with classic Christmas stories, poems, Carols and more- not to mention illustrated by this magnificent artist!  While a lot of these stories may be a bit advanced for a 4 year old, I do intend to read from this book this December- little snippets here and there including Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus,  bible selections, and several Carols.  I may incorporate a bit of artist study as well, showing him the colorful photos of the paintings and very informally talking about them with him.  I really look forward to sharing this book with him that I was gifted with in my first year of college by my wonderful grandparents.  It seems to be out of print now, but here's an Amazon link to some used copies!

Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book : Carols, Stories, Poems, Recollections

In addition to my reading at Christmastime, I've stumbled upon several blogs recently that are putting up very nice Christmas book lists.  I'd love to have the time to do this myself but time is eluding me.  So I thought I'd at least share with my viewers the blog sites that ARE putting up these great lists so you can benefit from them as I have! I'll add to this list as I stumble upon more. I would love to do my own list for next year - so PLEASE tell me what books YOU LOVE to read at Christmas!  (Children's and adult!)

The Busy Mom's Favorite Christmas Books

Best New Kids' Christmas Books 2014

25 Books of Christmas: Our Advent Calendar

A Very Bookish Countdown

Charlotte Mason's Christmas List : 5 Living Books Library Picks (2012)

And one more related list at Charlotte Mason & Home Education!


What's YOUR favorite Christmas Book list AND...

...What's YOUR favorite Christmas book and WHY is it your favorite???



Book Title:  Jotham's Journey; A Storybook for Advent
Author: Arnold Ytreeide

Genre: Fiction Storybook, Christmas

Publisher:  Kregel Publications (August 26, 2008)

Pages: 168

Ages: 6-14 and up

Why Did I Choose It?  Well it's December of course and I love to have a large stack of Christmas themed books to read throughout the month.  I wanted to be sure you all had a chance to know about it as it's a book that's meant to be read in parts, nightly, throughout all advent.  It's still early December so I'm sure you could catch up easily if you get it now and read a couple extra sections here and there.

A Bit From The Back Cover:  Over and over Jotham screamed for his family, but there was no one to hear him.  They had vanished.  He was alone.  Where had they gone? How long ago did they leave? Through quick, stabbing sobs Jotham told himself, "I must look for my family.  I must search until I find them."  And so his journey began.

My Review: My children and I read this first book of a series of three several years ago.  Jotham's Journey is divided into short chapters to allow for nightly readings starting 4 Sundays before Christmas (and can easily be caught up by those who start late or who forget a night here and there). We became mesmerized by the adventures of ten-year old Jotham as he travels across Israel in search of his family. We felt compelled to read more as the end of many chapters kept us on the edge of our seats as Jotham faces robbers, kidnappers and other challenges until the end. Can you guess what he will find in Bethlehem?  It was fun fitting the pieces of the story together with information we knew from the Gospels and information gleaned from the Old Testament to realize who all  the characters were in Jotham's story and the role they all played in the real Christmas story. I highly recommend making this book and the others in the series part of your advent/nativity family traditions.

Other Books By This Author:  Bartholomew's Passage,  Tabitha's Travels and Amon's Adventure

You may also want to check out JothamsJourney.com