by Ulrich Hub
Jörg Mühle, illustrator
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Back Cover: News reaches a pair of penguins that a great flood is coming to destroy the earth—and that they are the only two penguins who have been chosen to board Noah Ark. They decide, however, to smuggle their friend aboard in a suitcase and a wild forty-day journey ensues.
First Sentence: Somewhere in the world is a place made of ice and snow.
A trio of penguin friends, one shorter than the other two, start to fight over which of them “stinks” the most. It is a typical day for the animals. The two regular sized penguins tell the little penguin he is bad because he accidentally kills a butterfly. After much discussion about God and good and bad, the little penguin leaves in a huff saying, “I don’t believe in God. You just made that up to scare me. I don’t need any God. I don’t need you two either.”
Later a dove makes a rather unique landing in the snow and ice right at the two penguin’s feet. He is bringing a message about a great storm that will start soon, destroying the earth and everything on it. The two penguins need to get on Noah’s Ark by eight or they too will perish. After much thinking, they decide to find their little friend and smuggle him on board the ark, terrified of losing him to the deep waters of the flood. They must hide the penguin from the dove, which is in charge of most things on the ark. Will the penguins successfully smuggle the little penguin? What will happen if the dove finds their friend before the forty-day journey is up? And, is there really a God?
Meet at the Ark by Eight is an updated version of the Noah’s Ark story and is filled with humor and thought provoking prose that will have you thinking about your own journey. The little penguin is the one who questions the existence of God, and for good reason. He wonders why God would give penguins—classified as birds—wings, but not the ability to fly. Then He gave them the ability to swim like fish. Oh, the birds also smell like fish. The smallest penguin is very adept at pointing out such conundrums, which serve to inspire thought-provoking questions from middle grade kids. At no point does the story firmly state God exists. The reader has the freedom to decide their belief or non-belief in God.
The forty-day journey is hilarious, with the penguins trying to keep the small penguin out of sight, with only a suitcase to hide him in. The dove is a smart cookie but overworked, sure he has forgotten part of God’s commands of him. Still, he slowly catches on to the penguins and must then decide what to do. The ending is hilarious as the four creatures work together to get each of them off the ark. The black and white illustrations are often wittier than the text it represents. I much prefer the color illustrations on the front and back cover to the black and white, which are often dull.
Meant to inspire kids to think about their own beliefs, Meet at the Ark by Eight never forces one answer. The story, intended for age eight to twelve; a time when kids are looking to find who they are and where they belong. It is natural that the existence of God would be one of those questions, including a need to know how their answer affects their life now and in the future. It is difficult, if not impossible, not to think about one’s own beliefs while reading the story.
Meet at the Ark by Eight, originally published in Germany in 2009, was transcribed into English by Helena Ragg-Kirkby for this 2013 Eerdmans’ release. Eerdmans has a wonderful knack of finding foreign stories that resonate with parents and children, often with soft religious tones. I think kids will enjoy this version of Noah’s Ark, if not for the questions it will raise, then for the humorous story of three best friends trying to help each other through life.
by Ulrich Hub website publ. bio facebook twitter Jörg Mühle, illustrator website publ. bio facebook twitter translated by Helena Ragg-Kirkby website facebook twitter Eerdmans Books for Young Readers website blog facebook twitter Released September 2012 ISBN: 978-0-8028-5410-0 72 pages Ages: 8 to 12 . Copyright © 2013 by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, used with permission. Text: Copyright © 2005 by Ulrich Hub Illustrations: Copyright © 2005 by Jörg Mühle Translation: Copyright © 2012 by Helena Ragg-Kirkby
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- Noah’s Ark Found? (secretsofthefed.com)