Saturday, June 20, 2009

It happened in Italy - Thomas Nelson books

All I can say about the book It happened in Italy by Elizabeth Bettina is WoW! I'm a WWII buff and this is one of those stories that no one has ever heard of until recently. Jewish concentration (detainment) camps in Italy during WWII and they have been described as a picnic in comparison to German camps.
The books starts off with Jimmy Gentry looking a photos of the camps. He is one of the American soldiers that liberated Dachau. "The first thing I notice about these people is that they're not wearing rags of striped clothes; the clothes these people are wearing are nice, like clothes the men wore back home in Franklin at the time. They're well dressed - jackets, ties. Not what I saw in Dachau, no ma'am. These people are fleshy, not like the walking dead I saw in Dachau. They look well-kept. Nothing like the ones I saw in Germany - with those eyes - people with haunting eyes." And thus starts the story of camps in Italy and the Italians who helped the Jews.
In Italy, most Italians believed Amare gli altri come te stesso - love thy neighbor as thyself. Most Italians hindered the Nazis in Italy and helped the Jews because they saw them as humans just like themselves. Appoxamately 75-80% of the Jewish population in Europe died but compare that to 75-80% of Jews living in Italy, survived the war.
This book documents the stories of 12 survivors but thru it, many more stories have surfaced (see Few people outside the remote areas of Italy where the camps were located, knew such camps existed. In these camps, the Jews were able to worship, have visits from family members who were in other places, wear their own clothes and not have to wear the star of David. The main requirements placed on them was to check in each day at the police station, not leave the village, they couldn't own land, couldn't officially work their profession (ie: doctor). An attempt was made to reunite families living in seperate camps - something unheard of in any German camp!
In 1943, Italy broke rank with Germany and joined the Allies and that is when the true problems for Jews in Italy began. The Jews in German occupied Northern and Central Italy were rounded up and deported to German camps - 1259 in Rome alone. However, the numbers could have been greater but the police who were given the orders to round them up, often ignored those orders, in turn warning the Jews to leave the area to avoid capture.
The stories of the survivors all have a theme in common: if it weren't for the Italians, I wouldn't be alive today! They expressed their gratitude for Italians constantly and many of them were able to return to Italy with Elizabeth to visit the places they once lived. Several were even able to meet with the Pope!
In the book, there are numerous photos of the survivors as they were then and as they are now as well as copies of some of their documentation that has survived the years. There is plenty more I could say but eventually, I would spoil the book for you so I will conclude.
Thomas Nelson book info

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Book Review – 100 Bible stories 100 Bible songs

This is my first book review for Thomas Nelson Books. I chose to review the kids book – 100 Bible stories 100 Bible songs. It is created by Stephen Elkins and illustrated by Tim O'Connor. The book is hard-cover but has a soft cover feel like a lot of kids books have. The book includes 2 cds that contain 100 songs and each song goes with a story in the book. The book is brightly colored and will catch the attention of any child. Each story (or Bible summary) is short and is good for short attention spans. Under the title of each story, is the title of the song that goes along with it so that you could listen to the song along with reading the story. It also gives the scripture reference that the story is from so that you can easily find it and read the whole story from the Bible. The book and songs are separated into Old and New Testament making it easy to pick which one you want to read/listen with your child.

The stories in the book are very simplistic and good for toddler age. I do, however, think they are too simplistic and tend to not complete a story/illustration fully. An example of this is in the story of Saul. The story goes on to say that "Jesus is the Son of God. People who believe this are called Christians." It says in James 2:19 – "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder." (NIV) Obviously, demons aren't Christians, so I think the simplistic nature of the book doesn't fully allow complete definitions/thoughts/ideas to be taught to a child. I think this is where the story's scripture references (and parental knowledge of the Bible) will come in handy in "Training up a child in the way that he should go."

If you want your child to learn about the 10 commandments, don't look to this book. It tells briefly how the commandments came about but it doesn't list the commandments at all. Again, the scripture reference comes in handy.

I didn't run across glaring inaccuracies in the book EXCEPT Moses. In the story about the promised land, it says that Moses went up to Mount Nebo and was happy as the Israelites entered the promised land. However, this is NOT biblically accurate. The scripture reference for this story is Deuteronomy 34 and in this chapter, it says Moses went up to Mount Nebo and died and God buried him there. In verse 8 it says, "The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days until the time of weeping and mourning was over." (NIV) If you continue reading into Joshua 1 verses 1 and 2 it says, "After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son on Nun, Moses' aide: Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them" (NIV)

I have just 1 more thing to point out. Don't expect that this book will mesh exactly with how you interpret scripture. Different denominations of churches interpret things in different ways. An example of this is baptism. Two statements made in the book are: "Baptism shows the world that we love Jesus" and "When I am baptized, God will be pleased". I won't get into a theological discussion on this except to say, I don't agree with those statements but no book will be able to cater to all beliefs.

Overall, this is a good introduction to the Bible for kids but don't let it be the only source for teaching your child about God. Make use of the scripture references listed and read the whole passage to your child.

Book info at Thomas Nelson