Ishtar’s Odyssey: A Family Story for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide is the fourth book in the set of advent books that includes the popular Jotham’s Journey.
Ishtar is the ten-year-old son of a Persian wise man; their caravan is following a star across the desert. Ishtar’s Odyssey ties in with the other books in the set as Ishtar meets Jotham, Bartholomew from Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha from Tabitha’s Travels. This exciting story is divided into daily readings for the advent season leading all the way to Christmas. Gathering all the kids together to read aloud each day is a wonderful way to celebrate and reflect on the true meaning of the Christmas season.
In addition to the daily readings of Ishtar’s adventures, the author provides several additional valuable resources for extending the lessons from Ishtar’s Odyssey, including background information about advent, an introduction to the Magi, a chart of foods to try along with the story like millet porridge and Baklava, advent customs, and a chart of advent seasons each year through 2081.
Ishtar’s story is easy to become immersed in as you get to know him and the other characters and events along the way. And, each daily reading includes a related Scripture verse and a few after thoughts, like a devotional: “Ishtar was only thinking of himself when he stopped the caravan, and thinking only of yourself can have terrible consequences. Sometimes it’s really hard to put the needs and desires of others ahead of our own. If we don’t look out for ourselves, who will look out for us?” (p. 55).
Celebrating advent as a family with special activities and a special read aloud story helps to make the Christmas season more meaningful and gives us an opportunity to slow down and immerse ourselves in the history and traditions of this celebration of Christ’s birth.
The publisher provided a review copy of Ishtar’s Odyssey.