Cover Image: Imagine... The Miracles of Jesus

Imagine... The Miracles of Jesus

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I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
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Having read the previous books in the Imagine series, I was very much anticipating this one because Matt Koceich was stepping up the game by focusing on Jesus’ earthly ministry. I was very interested to see how he would handle placing a 12-year-old boy into the scenes of some of Jesus’ works. In the earliest installments in this series, I felt that the author did well overall in making famous Bible stories understandable and relevant to early adolescent readers, providing applicable Biblical lessons in each. However, I didn’t think that “The Giant’s Fall” focused enough on the Biblical part of the story. It is a very delicate balance, and even more so in a children’s short novel, and I applaud Koceich for undertaking this challenge because we need more children’s literature with a godly, inspirational focal point. 

With “The Miracles of Jesus”, I was hoping for a compelling book that would give readers a glimpse at what it might have been like to see and listen to Jesus in person two thousand years ago. Did this book live up to my expectations? Yes and no. Chapters one and two are very powerful, and John’s first encounter with Jesus brought tears to my eyes. However, a somewhat disjointed narrative follows. There is a scene that seems to be representative of the book of Revelation, and this one was out of place in my opinion. Other good versus evil scenes that followed made more sense in connection with the storyline. Although I understand what the author is trying to convey, I would have liked more details about Jesus Himself. The main character John Le’s experiences with Jesus are brief, and overall this book did not seem as cohesive as Koceich’s earlier stories. Nevertheless, I did get a strong sense of the theme of faith over fear and appreciated this story. The target audience of 8-12-year-olds will most likely have fewer, if any, issues with it than I did, and I would recommend this to kids within that age range and perhaps even a year or two older. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.
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Imagine the Miracles of Jesus by Matt Koceich is the next title in the Imagine series. It is very well written just as the previous ones. In this book we learn about some of the miracles Jesus performed while walking the earth. Twelve-year-old John Le is on a plane flying home to his parents after visiting his sister for the summer. There is turbulence on the plane as well as in his heart. He struggles with his Dad putting him down. He goes to the plane’s restroom and the next thing he knows he is in Bible times. He learns that no matter what he must trust in Jesus and that he can call on Him at any time. Will his new insights help him to build a stronger relationship with his heavenly and his earthly fathers?
I enjoyed this a great deal. There is a lot of action as the devil tries to lure John away from Jesus and I believe it will appeal especially to boys though my granddaughter enjoys this series and has recommended it to others. This book is a solid 5 of 5 stars. Great writing and lots of action to appeal the age group.
I received an advance copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
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This is a great book for kids in the 3rd to 6th grade. It is full of action and adventure to hold their attention. This book teaches an important message about how Jesus is always with you and loves you regardless of what people say or do to you. You might feel alone and like nobody cares but Jesus is right there with you and loves you. Thank you Barbour Publishing via NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
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John Le is a twelve year old boy traveling by plane to return home after a trip he took to visit his older sister. While on the plane, John Le meets Margaret, a very special flight attendant. He also finds himself transported back in time where he is in the presence of Jesus and His disciples. He becomes a firsthand witness to the miracles of Jesus as described in The Holy Book.

I will be perfectly honest in saying that I was not sold on this book within the first few chapters. It was a bit of a whirlwind and hard to tell what exactly was happening. It almost sounded a bit like the book of Revelation in the Bible with the dragon coming after John and for little ones, I could see this being a bit scary and hard for them to understand that the dragon represents Satan and the many ways that he will try to attack those who follow Jesus. 

The plot also seems quite repetitive in that John experiences a miracle and then has a run-in with Satan disguised as something or someone else. This cycle repeats throughout most of the book and can seem quite predictable. This is the first book from this series that I have read, and I am curious to see if reading the other books in the series would have helped me make more sense of how this story began and how it ended so abruptly.

With those few criticisms being said, I am glad that I stuck it out and read the book in its entirety as I ended up enjoying the book. The description of the rocky relationship between John and his father was a great way to demonstrate the great need for Jesus that John has in his life and I think is relevant to today's youth with the various difficult family situations they are faced with.

There is a lot of Bible truth thrown in to this story. It is not just presented as facts, but the story shows how a saving relationship with Jesus can truly change your life and help you get through the trials that Satan will use to steer a person of track. Even the somewhat confusing and scary parts at the beginning of the story are later explained well as being anchored to Scripture.

As an elementary school librarian at a Christian private school, I would recommend this book to upper elementary students in 3-5th grade. This book would be great to read as a class or with a parent, so that some of the Bible references could be explained as it is read. This would help students get the most out of this story and the incredible message it presents to readers.
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John Li is on an airplane traveling back to his angry, condemning father. When the airplane hits some heavy turbulence John hides in the bathroo, where he is suddenly transported to First century Israel during Jesus’ time!
John meets Jesus and His disciples on the Sea of Galilee, he meets the centurion whose servant gets healed, and he is chased by a snake and a lion.
John keeps hearing his Dad’s critical words in his head and he condemns himself, but Jesus reassures him of His love and plans for him.
You will need to read the book for yourself to see how Jesus helps John and what happens to John and his father when John goes back home.
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First sentence: No light. No sound...except for the beat of his heart.

Premise/plot: John Le is on his flight back home. He's dreading it...big time. His father isn't such a nice guy. His home has a lot of stress, tension, discomfort. When the plane encounters turbulence due to a storm, John flees to the bathroom where he finds a strange note. In a flash, it seems, John finds himself far from home--and in Bible land. He's in a BOAT of all places, fishing with Jesus and his disciples. Jesus has a special message for him, John Le. Jesus also has a super-big hug for him. Will being with Jesus in Bible Land make John be the stuff of dreams or nightmares?

My thoughts: Imagine...the Miracles of Jesus, in my humble opinion, is strongly influenced by The Twilight Zone. If I approach this children's book with that in mind, with the voice of that narrator, I find I like it better. John Le is on a TRIP. And it's a strange, disorienting, odd, crazy, over-the-top TRIP. He'll be chased by a dragon, a snake, a lion, a lying man, a demon masquerading as an angel of light, a 'thief' wearing his own face, etc. John Le finds Jesus--or Jesus finds John Le--in between some truly discomforting encounters.

John Le does have to return to a reality, a reality where his father does not believe in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

I definitely liked this one a bit better than the previous title in the series that I read earlier in the week.

This one felt like a nightmare and not an attempt at a fantasy novel. If that was the intent, then it succeeded. If it wasn't the intent, well, I guess the series probably isn't for me. Nightmares have their own crazy logic and vague-fuzzy segues. When you're go with the flow. It's only when you're awake that you realize how weird or bizarre it really was. Emotions matter more than being realistic.
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