Our family has been reading the Ytreeide Advent books for years. We were so excited when the Lent book was finally released. We thought the series was complete at that point. I was so surprised, but pleased, to discover Ishtar's Odyssey this fall. I'm not sure if this will be the last book in the series or not, but it seems like it would complete the series. We've already followed Jotham, Bartholomew, and Tabitha through the Advent season to the manger-scene. Now we get to follow Ishtar, a prince of Persia, to his meeting with the Messiah.
As with Jotham's Journey, the beginning of the book shows us a pretty unimpressive Ishtar. He's selfish, immature, pampered and protected. Joining his father in the caravan to find the new King opens his life to a whole new adventure. For the first time he has to wait to eat. For the first time, he meets hardship face to face. For the first time, he isn't the center of his own little universe. As his journey progresses, he matures and grows wiser. He also begins to examine his beliefs about the gods and his thoughts on this new baby king, the Messiah. By the end of the book, he's a much more likeable Ishtar.
Mr. Ytreeide breaks the story up into cliff-hanger chapters, one for each day of the Advent season. Each chapter (as with all his books) leaves children eagerly waiting to hear the next day's adventure. At the end of each chapter, Arnold Ytreeide also has a short devotional thought. These devotions walk our family through the meaning of Christmas, and our own personal need for a Savior.
It can be hard to get the entire family to sit quietly for devotions sometimes. Often I have to pull the youngest children away from the group so everyone else can focus. However, we have always felt that these Advent books were worth the effort. Our children enjoy the stories and they do learn from the devotions. I am so glad that we have a fourth book to add to our Advent devotions, and we will be reading Ishtar's Odyssey this year. I think, technically, we should have been reading Tabitha's Travels this year, but we'll gladly read Ishtar's Odyssey instead.
If you already have the Jotham series by Ytreeide, then you'll definitely want to buy Ishtar's Odyssey. If you don't have the Jotham's Journey series ... I highly recommend all four Advent books, as well as the Easter story for Lent!