Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love
By: Diana Rowe
Publication Date: March 2015
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 3, 2017
Every person who is familiar with the Bible knows that there is a big, empty space in the life of Jesus within its pages. We know of his birth, a little about his early days but then we don't read anything about him from age twelve through thirty. What did the young Jesus do during those years? In author Diana Rowe's children's book, Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love, she imagines what his life in Nazareth was like during those formative years.
According to the Bible (Luke 2:42), after the age of twelve, Jesus "advanced in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." But what did he do? There is nothing in the Bible about that time. Was he busy learning the carpentry trade? Did he travel to other lands? Study with respected scholars? We don't know, we can only guess at what he might have done. In Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love, author Rowe, through the use of a lovable grandmother, creates a life for Jesus during those years, in order to make him more relatable to children so that they can grow closer to their Lord and Savior.
The book begins with Luke, a young boy who has many questions about Jesus. He decides to visit Anna and her grandmother (who we first met in Rowe's book Born to Die in My Place: A Timeless Story) because Anna shared her grandmother's story of Jesus with him. Surely they could answer all of his questions. Luke takes a bus to Anna's grandmother's house where he is met by his friend. Together with Anna's grandmother, they share a lovely lunch, do some gardening, and then head into the house to talk about Jesus.
Anna's grandmother tells both children about the early home life of Jesus in Nazareth, how he helped his mother, and temptations that faced him. Grandmother tells Luke about how difficult life was in Nazareth for Jesus, and Luke asks many questions. Grandmother's story discusses those unknown years of Jesus' life, and continues through his adult life, the agony in Gethsemane, and his dying on the cross to save us all. Grandmother's story ends with Jesus rising from the dead and all that he did so our sins can be forgiven.
This is the second of Diana Rowe's books that I have read and reviewed and I have enjoyed reading both of them. The story is a gentle way of introducing the life of Jesus to young readers and it was fun to read about what his life might have been like in Nazareth. The illustrations are bright, cheerful and appealing and add nicely to the book. The story runs 32 pages, but those pages are heavy with text so very young children, and those who don't like to sit for a long time, may need the story broken up into several readings. The author has divided the story up into nine chapters that will help parents section the book off into nightly readings. At the back of the book are numerous additional pages - on the first is a lovely poem, The Mighty Rose Arose! written by the author, followed on the next page by Luke's Prayer, three pages of questions listed as "Thoughts to Ponder," as well as a glossary of various difficult words and an Index. It is clear that the author has a deep love for our Lord and is eager to share his sacrifice with others.
Quill says: A lovely addition to the Christian Inspirational genre for young readers.