Title: Meet at the Ark at EightMeet-at-the-Ark-at-Eight-672x1024
Author: Ulrich Hub
Pages: 68
Reading Level: 9 – 12
Star Rating:

The cover of this book looked super-cute. That just goes to show how deceiving appearances can be.

The Story.

All the three penguins have ever really seen is ice. And snow. And more ice. And more snow. And each other. And an occasional fish or butterfly. And that’s it. So, the day that an airmail dove arrives, it’s BIG.

The dove has come to issue an invitation. Or rather, to hand out tickets. God is about to send a flood to the world and two penguins must be aboard Noah’s Ark. No more, no less. They are to pack their bags and come immediately. And then the dove flies off.

The two big penguins don’t know what to do. They don’t want the littlest penguin to die, but there’s nothing they can do to save him. Or is there?

In a daring scheme, the two penguins throw the littlest penguin into their suitcase (first they have to knock him out so he won’t ruin their plans) and dash off to the Ark. They make it aboard with their ‘luggage’ and the rain begins right on schedule. But how long can they keep their scam up? And what might happen to them if it is discovered?

Cautions.

Whoo-ee! Here we go. This section might be a little long. But before I start in, let me say that I read an ‘Advanced Reading Copy’, so I don’t know how much if any of this book was changed before final publication. I’ll just analyze what was here. (And I don’t think the whole book could have been changed!)

Meet at the Ark at Eight was supposed to be a fresh, comical take on the whole Noah’s Ark situation. And it was comical. Very comical. And it was fresh. Oh, buddy was it fresh! It was so fresh, that I would call it downright irreverent. I can’t describe it in its fullness, so instead I’ll give two examples from the book.

“Oh,” the little one said. He paused for a while, then asked, “So who is God?”

If you ask a penguin who God is, he never knows quite how to reply. “Oh, God . . .” the first penguin stammered. “That’s a difficult question. Right. God is great and very, very powerful. He came up with all kinds of rules and can become quite grumpy if you don’t stick to them. Other than that, he’s very friendly.”

“There’s just one small disadvantage to God,” the second penguin added.

“What’s that?” the little one asked, intrigued.

“God is invisible.”

“Well, that’s a huge disadavantage,” the little penguin said, looking disappointed. “If you can’t see God, you can’t be sure whether he really exists.”

The other two penguins looked at one another helplessly. Then they asked the little one, “Look around you and describe what you see.”

“Snow,” the little penguin said. He didn’t look around, since he already knew the answer.

“What else?”

“Ice.”

“What else?”

“Snow.”

“What else?!”

“Ice and snow and snow and ice and ice –“

“And who made it all?”

“God?” said the little penguin doubtfully.

“Precisely.” The other two nodded vigorously. “So what do you have to say about that?”

“I’d say he was a bit short on inspiration when he made this place.” [pg. 11-12]

Horrors! God becomes grumpy if you don’t follow all the rules He made up? Rather, God as the all-holy, all-powerful Creator, blazes with wrath when His holy character is transgressed! He was short of inspiration? God IS inspiration!

Here’s another bit from the little penguin:

No penguin enjoys being told that he is a bad penguin. But the little one acted as though he didn’t care. Defiantly, he flopped down into the snow. “So what? There are
good penguins and bad ones; I’m one of the bad ones. That’s the way I’ve always been. I can’t do anything about it. In any case, it’s not my fault. That’s just the way God made me.” [pg. 14]

Neither of the older penguins corrects him. Later when he is actually remorseful for his badness, the two penguins assure him that God wasn’t watching when he was being bad, and if He was, He’s forgotten by now!

How about this scene. The penguins have just mistaken Noah for God.

“I’m not God,” said Noah, flattered.

“But you’re just how we imagined God to be,” the penguins replied. “An old man with a long white beard.”

“That’s what lots of people think,” said Noah. “But God isn’t a man.”

“So is he a woman?”

“No!” the man said indignantly. His glasses glinted.

“I see,” said the first penguin. “So God’s more a kind of thing.”

“Like a toaster?” the veiled penguin piped up.

“You can imagine God to be any way you like,” said Noah, “But he’s everywhere. In every human, in every animal, in every plant and – “

“Just a moment,” the first penguin interrupted him. “So does God admit that this flood was a mistake?”

Noah pointed his stick towards the horizon. There they could see a rainbow. “This rainbow is a sign from God that the rain will never again blot out the sun for such an immensely long time.”

“That’s a noble gesture,” the penguins said, wide-eyed. If they had been wearing hats, they would have removed them.

“I think it’s very decent of God to admit that he made a mistake,” said the little penguin. [pgs. 65-66]

GOD DOES NOT MAKE GESTURES! Sorry for the all-caps. I just had to get that out. The rainbow was a sign of a covenant between God and man; it was not some cute little ‘get-well-earth’ present. Oh, and also, God is our Father. Not our sorta-but-not-really-a-man-or-woman-or-anything-but-totally-everything. Lots of other things could be said, but I think you’ve got the picture.

Globs and galores of lies are told. Many are part of the whole ‘save-the-littlest-penguin’s-life’ deal, including an entire scene where the penguins try to fool the dove into thinking that the voice coming out of the suitcase is really God’s. “God” and the dove have an entire conversation during which “God” plays on the emotions of the dove, admits to making mistakes, and generally promotes bad theology. In the end, the dove discovers that it was not God, but the irreverence (taking God’s name in vain and pretending to be God) is still there.

At the end of the story, the dove realizes that he forgot a partner. In an effort to be helpful, the two penguins disguise the littlest penguin as a dove and send him down the gangway arm-in-arm with the dove, in the hopes that they will be able to trick Noah into thinking that he’s a dove. And Noah falls for it.

God’s name is taken in vain once. (Verbally, I mean, not by action as in the previous paragraph.)

Conclusion. Obviously, I don’t recommend Meet at the Ark at Eight. You might say that I disrecommend it, if that’s a word.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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