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Ishtar’s Odyssey – an Advent Story for Families

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Many years ago our family was introduced to an Advent series for families when I was literally cornered by a 10 year old boy in church and told about the many adventures of Jotham. He and his family were reading through the book Jotham’s Journey (aff link), and he shared in great detail all that was happening as they were reading. The story pulled him in, and in more recent years the life of Jotham has been something that our family has enjoyed as well.

Advent stories for families by Arnold Ytreeide

The author, Arnold Ytreeide, weaves the lives of four children through his stories: Jotham, Tabitha, Bartholomew, and Ishtar. After Jotham’s Journey (aff link), there were additional stories written about two of the other children, Tabitha and Bartholomew, and finally this year a NEW story has released just in time for the upcoming Advent season: Ishtar’s Odyssey (aff link)! I cannot tell you how excited our family was when the new book arrived!

About Ishtar’s Odyssey

Ishtar's Odyssey

Here is a quick overview of the book from the author:

Ten-year-old Ishtar has a great life.  He’s a Prince of Persia, son of the chief of the Magi (wise men who advise the king), and lives on the top floor of the royal palace.  With his bodyguard, Kazeem, never more than a few paces away, and with all the delicacies of the empire to eat, servants to take care of his every need, and a stream of exotic visitors coming for dinner every night, Ishtar has a great life!

Of course, he does have to attend lessons all day long — languages, mathematics, politics, history, and so on.  It’s during his astronomy lesson one night that Ishtar sees something strange — a new star in the sky that no one has ever seen before.  His father and the other magi get all excited, and Ishtar doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.  He also doesn’t understand that his life is about to change drastically.

Soon Ishtar finds himself amongst a caravan of smelly camels, walking in the heat and dust of the desert, with little to eat, little to drink, and having to learn all sorts of new lessons.  His new tutor is the wilderness, and his new lessons are in survival.

Daily Readings

Ishtar's Odyssey advent book for families {%{% Homeschool Creations 2015

Ishtar’s Odyssey (aff link) is divided into daily readings for each of the days of Advent, leading up to Christmas morning. There is an Advent chart in the back of the book giving the Sunday on which Advent begins (through the year 2081…so you should be good!). This year Advent begins on November 29th, so the first reading would begin that day.

Because Christmas falls on different days of the week, the readings in the final week are much shorter so multiple days can be read together, allowing the last story to be read Christmas morning.

Time for Reflection

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The daily readings take between 10-15 minutes to read, and a discussion and application section is at the end of each of the daily readings (see example above). I love that this is included because Advent is intended to be a time for pausing and reflecting – something each chapter gives you a chance to do as a family.

Bring the Book to Life!

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Ishtar’s Odyssey (aff link) also includes explanations of different Persian foods – which would be SO much fun to tie in with the readings! Children can experience a little taste of what Ishtar might have eaten and in doing so – create a lasting memory of their Advent learning.

A Little More about the Jotham’s Journey Series

One thing our kids groan about with each book are the chapter endings. Somehow each chapter manages to leave you on the edge of your seat, wanting to read more (and that’s a GOOD thing). There have been days when we’ve read an extra chapter (or two) because we didn’t want to stop!

Even though each of the children in the story ultimately end up in the same place, their paths are all different. There are similar scenes in the various books as the characters meet one another at separate times, and it is much fun to see a character from a different perspective.

Overall, these are books that you will want to cycle through and re-read over the years. We’ve read the first three books in the series (two of them twice), and the kids cannot wait to start Ishtar’s Odyssey this year!

There are a few parts of the story that can get a little intense for younger children, but when our youngest was reading along, I just modified the story a bit so it wouldn’t be quite as overwhelming for him. You may want to pre-read each chapter and decide for your family. The Amazon recommended ages are 8 and up, but we have read these with our youngest (so around age 5).

Purchase the Jotham’s Journey Series

Your family can start the Jotham’s Journey Advent series with any of the characters (although I would recommend Jotham first!). These are four stories that your family will be re-reading for years to come and establish a wonderful Advent tradition: Jotham’s Journey, Tabitha’s Travels, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Ishtar’s Odyssey.


Win a Copy of Ishtar’s Odyssey

Kregel Publications has generously offered to give away FOUR copies of the book Ishtar’s Odyssey by Arnold Ytreeide – so four winners!! Yay!!

Giveaway is open to those with a  US address and will run through Monday, November 16, 2015 at 11:59pm. Winners will be chosen and verified via Rafflecopter and have 48 hours to respond to email or another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This book and giveaway items were provided to me at no charge by Kregel Publications. All opinions expressed in the post are solely mine.

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .

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  1. Karen from CO says

    Years ago, I found Jotham’s Journey a bit intense for my littles, but your review has caused me to want to reread the book now that the kids have grown. Our advent season is centered around the Jesse Tree and connecting God’s rescue plan throughout the entire Bible!

  2. I purchased Bartholomew’s Passage last year and I’m looking forward to using it for the first time.

  3. Trinity52607 says

    I have a great nativity calendar i made a couple years ago that we love. haven’t read any before, i just heard about the series this year and i am intrigued.

  4. It’s a beautiful book!

  5. MomofMany Littles says

    We have read books about the Jesse Tree and did that a couple years. Now we light the advent wreath nightly, read Scripture that leads up to the birth of Christ, and each night someone gets to choose two or three songs that we all sing together, before one child gets to put that night’s ornament (a scripture advent calendar paper ornament) on the tree, then a child gets to use the snuffer to put out the candles. Each child gets a new job nightly so everyone gets lots of turns to do each thing. Singing those carols together by candlelight is beautiful. It would be neat to read a fiction book like this along with God’s Word each night.

  6. We have done Truth in the Tinsel & a Jesse Tree in years past. I have wanted to read Jotham’s Journey & have just been waiting for my kids to get a little older. I think that is what we will be doing this year.

  7. We have used and loved Jothams Journey. It brought a new dimension to our advent time.

  8. We have read Jonathan’s journey and we do the book from Holy Experience & coloring book

  9. We use Focus on the Family’s Advent and Lego Advent Calendar. Looking forward to reading these neat looking advent books!

  10. I bought Jotham’s Journey last year, but we will be reading it for the first time this year.

  11. Great giveaway!! I have heard about these and I think my kids would love them! We currently read through Ann Voskamp’s advent guide – Jesse Tree.

    • Love that one too – we did both last year! One as a part of our morning Biblr time and one in the evenings. :)

      Jolanthe Erb, HomeschoolCreations.net

  12. We use the adventures of Christmas by Lisa welchel every year. I’ve not used the jothams journey before.

  13. We read Jothams journey one year, haven’t yet read any of the others. This sounds like it would be good – my kids love our read out loud time.

  14. My husband remembers these books when he was at home It would be special to read them with our boys now

  15. I LOVE these books! I’m so excited there’s a new Advent one! They have me choking back tears every time.

  16. We have enjoyed Jotham’s Journey. This new book sounds wonderful!

  17. Stacia Emory says

    I have Jotham’s Journey to read this year – would love to win this!

  18. We have read Jotham and read unwrapping the greatest gift last year.

  19. I have wanted to try these for years. We have used Adventures in Odyssey in the past.

  20. We have read all the other ones and I am excited for the new one! My kids love them!

  21. I am excited about this book! We have read and enjoyed all the others in the series.

  22. We used Jotham’s Journey and the other books in our family reading for years. I can’t believe there’s a new book out!

  23. Deborah Freeman says

    We have been looking for something to do for Advent, I have not used this series, but it sounds like something my kids would enjoy.

  24. I have this on my wishlist!

  25. I won Truth in the Tinsel a couple years ago but haven’t used it. I plan to this year. I haven’t heard of this series before but it sounds wonderful!

  26. I have never read any of these. This would be a great Christmas gift for my kids. thx

  27. I have never done advent with my children, it sounds we are missing out on something amazing!!!!

  28. We don’t have any favourites as we are just getting into reading. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  29. I bought the first 3 books in the series after Christmas last year. I’m going to read one this advent. Im super excited about it and would love to complete the collection. We have done all sorts of advent activities from the Jesse tree to truth in the tinsel. This is my favorite time of year!

    • Have you seen the Easter version as well? It’s called Amon’s Adventure – and follows the son of two of the characters in Jotham’s Journey. :)

  30. I had never heard of these books before, but I’d love to try one out! We have a homemade jesse tree.

  31. Looks interesting!!!! Love your giveaways and site!!!!

  32. I bought Jotham’s Journey last year and we are looking forward to starting this Advent.

  33. tammy cordery says

    I use the advent candles and try to do some craft every day.

  34. I love the Jesse tree because it digs into so much Scripture

  35. We have read the other three in this series, and I cannot wait to read this one, too! My boys are going to be so excited to hear that there’s a new one!! :)

  36. Kristy Johnson says

    Yay! A new book! Can’t wait to check it out!!!

  37. ahhh how did I not know there was a new book!! So exciting!! We have read the first two books in the series and will be reading the 3rd one this year!

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