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The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud (2008)

de Jenny L. Cote

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Max the dog and Liz the cat become the brave leaders of a group of animals called to journey to the Ark.
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I read this book with my son. It’s a fun reimagining of Noah’s Ark from the perspective of a Scottish terrier (Max) and a small black cat (Liz) as they travel to the ark and then as they stay on the ark during the flood.

( )
  skayw | Mar 20, 2022 |
The voyage of Noah’s ark is one of the most often retold stories in the history of mankind. This tale of God’s judgment upon unrepentant mankind holds a place of endless fascination for young and old alike, with the echoes of the event being retold in myths and legends throughout many cultures. In The Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud, Jenny L. Cote approaches this event from early history (found in Genesis 6 – 9 of the Bible) through the eyes of the creatures called by God to board the ark.

The first in a new series aiming to retell major historical events through the eyes of Max - a Scottish Terrier, and Liz - a sleek French feline, and their respective mates Kate and Al, Cote sets the stage for the continued involvement of these animals throughout history and establishes their characters. Adopting the commonly utilized simplification of animals coming two by two to the ark, God gathers animals from every continent and nation, which strangely coincide with modern geography and foreign languages perfectly. The story of Noah and his family is recounted alongside to the journey of the animals following God’s beckoning presence in the fire cloud – though the animals’ point of view is dominant.

Though Cote’s unique retelling is light-hearted and fun-filled, God’s glory, honour and righteousness are always front and center, contrasted with the lies, deceit and self-interest of the enemy who makes his presence felt upon the ark. The importance of a personal relationship with God is illustrated through Max’s need to set himself aside and full rely on his maker.

A full-length novel at 476 pages, this series debut seemed longer than the plot warranted. Though I succeeded in reading through the work aloud to my young ones - and they were duly entertained by the comical carousing of Al, the plump orange tabby, throughout - I wonder if many readers in the targeted age range of 9 – 12-years-old will make it through. A huge amount of character development, background and detail was included that seems to only puff up the page count rather than truly contributing to the storyline.

While landing firmly in the realm of lengthy chapter book, a handful of illustrations are provided by Rob Moffitt, one at the beginning of each part. These black and white line drawings are adorable, bringing the boxy terrier and his friends to life. Additional drawings in the mix would have been enchanting.

Though a generally enjoyable read, I was disappointed to find several of the doctrinally important occurrences following the landing of the ark rewritten to be ‘pet-friendly’. The sacrifice made by Noah and his family, resulting in God’s pleasure and his promise of the rainbow is glossed over, and God’s ensuing promise and new commands for life in this post-flood world are entirely rewritten and inaccurate as well.

From an author who claims to “stay true to the facts and events that God gave in His word, and the facts known from eyewitness accounts in history” I find this deeply disappointing. I truly enjoy Biblical fiction, but firmly believe that the basic facts as laid out in scripture should be clearly incorporated within storylines to avoid confusion - particularly in writings for young children. As a result of this omission of facts that could have been easily included in the story, I’m unable to recommendThe Ark, the Reed, and the Fire Cloud to potential readers. Perhaps future installments will provide more in step with scripture.

Reviewed at ( )
  jenniferbogart | Jun 14, 2009 |
The Ark, The Reed, and the Fire Cloud is a Christian story of the animals heading toward the ark then their long journey on it. Its target audience is ages 8 to 12, and I would put the reading level just slightly lower than the Harry Potter series. At about 450 pages it can take some time, but the reading is fairly easy.

The Good:
*This story is just plain well written. It starts off with a small group and then builds up gradually from there.
*It is told from the perspective of the animals which is something you never really get to see.
*There are a huge variety of characters from all over the world.
*The story has wonderful flow which is only weak at a few points. When I heard the initial description of the book with flamingo aerobics and the plot to murder Noah I thought it sounded very childish and cheesy, but it is very tastefully done and flows with the story.
*There is a glossary in the back if you lose track of characters names or don't know what they say by a phrase.
*This story follows a geological path which more mature readers can appreciate. The journey goes through multiple countries, meeting animals in their natural habitats, and facing natural challenges.
*Mixed in with the fun are Biblical truths which are wonderfully written in.

The Bad: There was nothing particularly bad about this book though these are a few weaknesses that I found in it.
*Scientific problems: The two terriers are described as the only dogs aboard the ark which they couldn't have been. The animals travel through countries that didn't exist back then and speak with accents that also didn't exist.
*One major theme never gets complete closure though I don't want to spoil what that is.

The Ugly: I really enjoyed this book so there's nothing really ugly about it. I did find the way she set it up for Max and Liz to be a series of books rather cheesy though. Also (SEMI-SPOILER)God ordains pets in the story. Part of God's promise to the people after getting off the ark is that they can now care for animals as pets.

All in all I highly recommend this book for the suggested age group, but also for more mature readers as well. I enjoyed the book and I'm 23 years old. If you have any further questions shoot me a message. ( )
  legendaryneo | Jan 21, 2009 |
When Scottish terrier, Max hears a voice coming from the grassy reed he has no choice but to begin his journey by following the fire cloud. Along the way he meets other animals who also head the Maker’s voice summoning them to follow. Among these animals is a petite black cat from France named Liz. Together they lead the group to their destination, Noah’s Ark.

During their stay on the ark Max and Liz interact with the other animals and when trouble starts brewing they uncover a plot to murder Noah and his family and heroically save the day

I enjoyed the adventures of the group (especially those of the big scaredy cat Al) and loved the story of their time on the ark. The portions that cover Noah’s family and the lives lost in the destruction of the flood are heart breaking and thought provoking. I recommend this story as a family read for the children ages 7-12. ( )
  24girl | Dec 16, 2008 |
This was a wonderful adventure story of the animals chosen to board Noah's Ark. Recommended for ages 8-12. Great Christmas gift!
My blog review, ( )
  stacybuckeye | Nov 21, 2008 |
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Max the dog and Liz the cat become the brave leaders of a group of animals called to journey to the Ark.

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