The Ark, the Reed, and the Firecloud
by Jenny L. Cote
Journey with animals from around the world as they follow a mysterious Fire Cloud to an unknown destination and then join them on the biggest lifeboat ever while they endure the worst storm in history (the flood). This is a fresh approach to one of the oldest and most pervasive stories known to mankind. It is told in an engaging way with a likeable Scottish terrier and a French-accented, gardening black cat as the two main characters. I think children between 8 and 12 would enjoy this story, if they are the patient types. There's quite a lot of detail and the action isn't immediate or constant, which might be a problem for kids with short attention spans. The fact that the book weighs in at a whopping 437 pages (not counting the glossary) means it will be intimidating to many. However, those who tackle it will be richly rewarded. If adults could look past the style and approach (it is obviously written with children in mind) I think even they could enjoy it.
This book is full of imaginative circumstances. Where else could you find flamingo-robics exercise programs or banana-loving cats? Did you ever stop to wonder how polar bears and penguins survived on the same boat as iguanas and giraffes? The Bible doesn't tell us all the details and Jenny Cote's delightful embellishments are sure to surprise and entertain. There's also plenty of life lessons and good solid teaching about living the way God intended. At times, the lessons were so profound that I wondered if Ms. Cote didn't slip in some morals for the adults who might be reading the book aloud to the youngsters.
I don't think there is any way the author could have explained all the places the animals journeyed from without using modern geographical names. While the anachronism bothered me a little, I doubt kids would even catch it. I was gratified that the author DID take the trouble to explain that the humans of Noah's day did NOT have different languages and countries (the flood was before Babel). She gets away with giving the animals foreign phrases and accents because animals, of course, don't have languages as we know them to begin with. All the animals understand each other just fine even though the humans only hear barking, meowing, neighing, and mooing.
For the most part, this book follows the Biblical account of Noah's Ark and only deviates where no details were given. There's a note before the beginning and again in the afterword that clearly state that this is a work of fiction and encourages readers to read the true story from Genesis 6-9. The fiction in no way diminishes the truth and only helps us more appreciate the remarkable story of Noah's Ark.
The Ark, the Reed, and the Firecloud is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.