BOOK: "Walking the Bible," by Bruce Feiler (HarperCollins, $16.99)
TARGET AUDIENCE: The dust jacket says "ages 7 and up," but actually anyone trying to picture the world of Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses.
Feiler wrote this book first in 2001 for adults; now it's for kids. We may think of Bible stories as timeless and distant, but when Feiler visits the Middle East, he realizes that those stories "didn't just happen anywhere. They happened here." He's helped by a most accessible scholar, Avner Goren, who knows the Scriptures and the land. Unlike Feiler, whose learning is in his head, "all of his learning was in his feet."
They track through Turkey, Israel and Egypt. Noah's flood, Abraham's sacrifice, the flight from Egypt -- Feiler gives them context in the sand, rocks and waters of the Holy Land. Often the modern world intrudes: a local watermelon festival near the Garden of Eden, for example, or weapons smuggling that closes down Mount Ararat. Feiler does little sermonizing, and no particular religion is favored. Maps, illustrations and photos help us visualize his travels.
Notwithstanding the age of the stories, "the Bible still lives in this place," he says. "I can touch it with my hands."
-- Jerry V. Haines