A Review of the Bible Belles Series
“Name as many Disney princesses as you can,” I dared my two daughters over lunch last week, “Go!”
“Cinderella! Sleeping Beauty! Snow White! Rapunzel! Ariel! Pocohantas! Belle! . . . ”
The girls effortlessly listed the leading ladies of every Disney film known to popular culture since before any of us had been born.
It didn’t surprise me though I’ve never much extolled Disney princesses. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve never disparaged them either. Mostly I’ve maintained the neutral stance I’ve felt toward them since childhood. While recognizing their presence in the universe, I’ve never much related to them.
Call me a realist, but the average girl is not a caged beauty in need of rescue, from a tower or a witch’s spell, by a handsome suitor. I’ve yet to think of a real life situation in which it’s up to a beautiful woman to rescue a man from being a beast.
I’ve long thought that the authors of these stories have sent confusing, mixed messages. A more realistic understanding of women would have sparked their imaginations in new directions. And their stories would have reflected healthier, more balanced women.
“Name as many women in the Bible as you can think of,” I dared my daughters out of curiosity. Go!”
“Um, Mary . . . the other Mary . . . Wasn’t there another Mary?” My younger daughter wriggled her forehead in concentration.
“What about the woman with my name in Greek?” my older daughter Julia asked.
“Yes, Junia!” I felt elated that she’d remembered the apostolic shero in Romans 16:7. “What about women in the Old Testament?”
“Oh yeah! Eve . . . um . . . Hannah . . . Deborah . . . um . . . Ruth . . . Esther . . . ” The girls continued.
The names of leading ladies of the Bible came to mind a little less readily though we regularly talk about them.
Knowing the power of popular culture, I willed myself not to take it personally. More than ever, I realized the need for girls to have greater role models than cartoon princesses.
Over chips and salsa, my daughters and I turned to the new book series, Bible Belles, spotlighting the “superpowers” that God made available to women in the Bible. We agreed that The Adventures of Rooney Cruz: Hannah and The Belle of Prayer offers a clever alternative to Disney princess stories.
“So what do you think of Rooney Cruz?” I asked them.
“She’s awesome! She has superhero powers!”
Reading the book spurred a great discussion of how Rooney Cruz responds to some less-than-nice girls on a playground. Rather than passively accepting their mistreatment, or defending herself, Rooney ponders: “Why are they so mean? I don’t get it.”
A mysterious friend suddenly appears with fluttering wings. She listens to Rooney’s complaints about the mean girls.
“I hear you,” Rooney’s newfound friend empathizes. “You know this kind of stuff has been happening forever. It reminds me exactly of Hannah. She’s one of the Bible Belles. She’s a superhero.”
“What’s a Bible Belle?” Rooney asks. “I’m not sure how you don’t already know this but superheroes aren’t real.”
“Well,” Rooney’s winged friend responds, “Hannah was a real live human with powers and everything. Come on. I’ll show you.”
Rooney’s new friend opens a magical window for her to see Hannah’s responses to Peninnah’s insults in the Bible (1 Samuel 1-2:1-11):
“God, why is this happening to me? I am so sad. I faithfully serve You, and I love you. I know that You love me. Please don’t forget me, Lord. I know You have a special plan for my life. I can feel it, and I trust you.”
Through it all, Rooney realizes that she too can talk to God. She comes to see that God hears her just as much as God hears Hannah in the Bible.
The same powerful God who moves mountains for Hannah is standing with Rooney. She has every reason to stand in confident hope that God will do amazing things on her behalf. Rooney has received the superpower of prayer.
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To parents, or anyone else, looking for resources to educate young children about women of the Bible, be sure to check out the Bible Belles series. The first book, Hannah the Belle of Prayer, teaches kids about the power of prayer. The latest installment, Esther the Belle of Patience, challenges kids to listen and wait patiently on God’s timing before acting when and how God tells us to do so. Future books will cover:
The Belle of Bravery
The Belle of Loyalty
The Belle of Leadership
Do you know other helpful resources for kids? If so, please post them in the comments.
Image Credits: Rob Corley and Chuck Vollmer