This book was originally written in Norwegian, and has been translated into English. In most places, it reads seamlessly, and you’d never guess it was translated. However, in the .PDF version I read, there were a couple places where the quotation marks were incorrect, and there was one sentence which read a bit awkwardly. That’s not bad considering the descriptive language woven into this children’s tale such as displayed in this quote, “Lazarus lit the oil lamps, and the golden light flickered over the face of Jesus as he went on to tell them about God’s greatest love.”
Since the author took liberty to stretch out a few verses of Scripture into an entire story, naturally, there may be some places that people disagree with how it is presented. I found the added details regarding the actions of Mary and Martha to benefit the message and flesh-out the characters, making them easier to relate to. I didn’t care for the line that states, “Jesus told them how all the animals enjoy God and each other and the beautiful planet they live on.” I feel it oversimplifies things, even for children. I teach my kids that we live in a fallen world. That means it’s ugly sometimes and not everyone or every animal is happy or receives fair treatment all the time. This is unfortunate, but it is the realistic consequence of sin. A couple of pages later, Mary tells Martha that Jesus was “saying that the flowers, which I love so much, are my little sisters.” Hmmm. I definitely disagree and wonder why the author included this verse. Perhaps some very environmentally conscious people may applaud the inclusion of this sentiment, but I feel we can strive to be good stewards of the earth and its resources while still maintaining the sound teaching that people are not related to plants. Given the choice to save an entire species of wildflower or save the life of one child, I would save a child without batting an eyelash. I love flowers too, but let’s not go any farther down that rabbit trail.
Even though I disagree with the above inclusions of the author, I think the book does a good job of getting right to the heart of the matter. The way that Jesus is portrayed as addressing Martha’s people-pleasing and performance-driven behavior and attitude at the end of this book surprised me and warmed my heart. I didn’t expect a seemingly simple retelling of a Bible passage that’s pretty well known to drive home the message of God’s dear love for us as individuals, apart from any of our accomplishments, so articulately. At the start of the story, we feel like Martha isn’t our favorite. By the end of the book, we feel like we just might be Martha and we are grateful for the word of love, acceptance and grace that the Lord offers us.