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.