3 out of 4 stars
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Lord Acton once wrote, "power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." While I've seen nothing in my life to contradict this terrific quote, I've also learned one other related fact: the richer a person is, the crazier things they tend to spend their money on. Sure, every ridiculously wealthy person seems to have the collection of mansions and cars, but what then? Tech that seems like it comes from sci-fi movies? Perhaps the world's greatest collection of some sort or another?
"Super rich" people are far from a recent development. Even in Biblical times, people with too much money to spend had to find some kind of use for it. In Royal Rodger and the Great King by P Edwin Harris, King Herod is so rich and powerful that he wants to build the "greatest zoo the world has ever seen," greater even than Noah's Ark. Not only does he want this magnificent zoo, but he also wants to place a throne in the center, and to have all of the animals trained to bow before him.
One day, King Herod learned about the Great North Wood that was home to the most majestic moose. The king had to have one, and soon he did. But this moose knew of God and was taught to bow before none other than Him. Would this mighty moose be forced to bow, or would he reject this greedy, evil king? And what would happen to him if he refused to yield?
There are numerous Biblical stories of people who refuse to bow or accept someone as their lord, and while it sometimes turns out terribly, sometimes they're saved by a miracle or some sort of intervention. In this way, Royal Roger and the Great King makes for a good children's version of the same "courage under terrifying circumstances" theme. In fact, not only does this story fit well, it incorporates the birth of Jesus at the same time!
The book has far more words than many children's picture books, but the writing is very fitting for early readers. I don't see this becoming an early reader book, mind you, but I really didn't see any words that would be difficult to explain to children. Despite dealing with a potential life-or-death situation, there's also no violence and things don't actually get scary at all. The story is told with alternating full-page images and text against white backgrounds, making the words easy to read and the images easy to see.
Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of the images overall. They look hand-drawn, which is nice, and while some of them look hand-colored, others look digitally colored. The digital coloring is what I have issues with - some of the art is okay enough using a solid color, even if it does look a bit odd without any shading, but the worst ones are the parts filled with patterns. The patterns look like something out the early days of the internet, and they make the art look incredibly unnatural.
Royal Rodger and the Great King is an easy recommendation for Christian parents with young children, as long as they aren't too picky about art. The writing feels right at home with many of the other Biblical stories I've heard, and yet is a great introduction to young children. I only found a couple errors - a use of "dear" instead of "deer" and an improperly-capitalized "He" (not referring to God). My rating of the book is 3 out of 4 stars.
Royal Rodger and the Great King
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