Chil­dren’s

Daniel’s Diary: How God Saved Me From the Lions

Allia Zobel Nolan; Lin­da Clear­wa­ter, illus.
  • Review
By – September 19, 2011
Here’s a fresh bible sto­ry for the just grad­u­at­ing from pic­ture books crowd. Age appro­pri­ate hip lan­guage and the cult of celebri­ty deliv­er the scoop in a first hand, per­son­al­ized tell-all. Daniel’s diary speaks direct­ly about more than his escapade in the lions’ den, the dra­mat­ic inci­dent on which pic­ture books focus. Young read­ers learn the roy­al pol­i­tics of Baby­lon­ian exile as writ­ten in the first half of the Book of Daniel, although, make sure to note that this ver­sion is based on a Chris­t­ian bible. This sto­ry accu­rate­ly agrees with the Tanakh, but the order of some events are changed to make vignettes clear about loca­tion, char­ac­ters and motives. Daniel’s diary explains his expe­ri­ence in admin­is­tra­tive terms. He ris­es to pow­er through hon­esty and dream inter­pre­ta­tion. He dis­clos­es his friends’— Shadrach, Meshach and Abed­nego — escape from the fiery fur­nace. He works for three Kings, with co-work­ers, then pro­mot­ed, above them. Envi­ous cohorts devise a decree to get rid of Daniel whose crime is pray­ing to God, not men. The tol­er­ant King Dar­ius, who accepts Daniel’s kosher habits, does not want to do this, but must obey his own laws. God’s angel saves Daniel and the hap­py king writes a new law. The breezy text adds annoy­ing nick­names and names char­ac­ters unnamed in the Hebrew Bible. The lay­out is entic­ing: the font, youth­ful; the illus­tra­tions, cute bor­der­ing on car­toon, but they deliv­er the mes­sage. Read­ers will chew over con­cepts of God, prayer and loy­al­ty after read­ing this fun­ny book where wild beasts and hate­ful men do not chew up our Daniel! For ages 8 – 10.
Ellen G. Cole, the librar­i­an of the Levine Library of Tem­ple Isa­iah in Los Ange­les, is a past judge of the Syd­ney Tay­lor Book Awards and a past chair­per­son of that com­mit­tee. She is a co-author of the AJL guide, Excel­lence in Jew­ish Children’s Lit­er­a­ture. Ellen is the recip­i­ent of two major awards for con­tri­bu­tion to Juda­ic Librar­i­an­ship, the Fan­ny Gold­stein Mer­it Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries and the Dorothy Schroed­er Award from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Jew­ish Libraries of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. She is on the board of AJLSC.

Discussion Questions