Purple Puzzle Tree

The Purple Puzzle Tree
CHURPLE! CHURPLE! CHURPLE!  That’s the sound of the purple waters when God first made the world. There are interesting sounds, songs and characters like these through all the Purple Puzzle stories.

The Purple Puzzle Tree is an adventure for children, a wondrous trip through 36 stories of the Bible. They are intended to be fun for young children when they interact with colourful characters of the story. These stories are told by the Old Storyteller who loves to tell stories. And with like any good story, you wonder what is going to happen next.

These stories begin with creation and culminate with Pentecost.  They are, however, more than stories.  They are a puzzle! Each story is a piece of that puzzle.  Or, in other words, each story is a piece of God’s plan for this world.  The Old Storyteller invites you to enjoy the stories, to find the pieces of the puzzle, to discover where you fit into God’s plan and to see the world through laughing children’s eyes.

Or in the words of the theme song:

Tiger, Tiger, tell me do you fly?
Do you slink around the ground or soar about the sky?
God made tigers, God made you and me
To fit together piece by piece in The Purple Puzzle Tree.

God had a puzzle plan of just how things would be,
And piece by piece the puzzle grew like a purple puzzle tree.
You will find the pieces fit much to your surprise,
When you learn to see God’s world through laughing children’s eyes.

You are also invited to make a tree from cardboard, wood or some other material and affix it to a wall of your school, home or church. The face of the tree can be like a huge jigsaw puzzle with pieces of the puzzle as part of the tree.  In each story we identify one picture and the key image from the story to fit into the puzzle on the tree. Feel free to add more pieces using photos of the children in your group.
The Story of The Purple Puzzle Tree
It all began more than fifty years ago.   Norman Habel was asked to write 36 exciting Bible stories for some Grade 2 children at Bethel Primary School in St Louis. The idea was to explore one story each week for 36 weeks of the school year.  Each story was to be engaging and fun, as well as reflect an important moment in the overall sequence of stories in the Bible.

Norman Habel wrote the stories in the late 1960s.  They were trialled at Bethel School and eventually published in the early 1970s by Concordia Publishing House in sets.  Each set comprised 6 books and a vinyl recording. The artist for the books was Tom Roberts.

The stories were told, performed and discussed in schools, Sunday schools and families across America and beyond. Well over a million copies were sold as more and more people became engaged in the big puzzle, the plan of God for God’s people that is found in the Bible.

In many countries children were soon saying ‘CHURPLE CHURPLE’ as they heard the first few stories, sang about Jittery Jonah or pretended to dance like Little Allelu. Norman Habel recalls standing, quite recently, before church groups in America and saying ‘CHURPLE’ much to the delight of grown children.

The memory of the stories lives on. The Tree is an important part of the tradition.  Churches or schools would construct a large tree in the chancel or classroom and gradually add images from each story to the tree. Children would also add their own names to leaves on the tree so that they also became part of God’s plan. The tree is also important because it suggests that the stories are like leaves or pieces that grow into a tree and help to solve the puzzle of God’s plan for the world.

Eventually Concordia Publishing House stopped printing the original books.  Now the Lutheran Church of Australia is taking the initiative to revive The Purple Puzzle Tree as a DVD with Norman Habel, now fifty years later, as The Old Storyteller sitting in front of a huge purple tree with leaves that bear images from the stories.

Of course, we have modified the language in some of the stories.  After all, fifty years ago we tended to be sexist and portray God as an old man. You will notice in Story One that the God is present in the form of young Allelu, the angel. Throughout the Bible God comes as an angel or speaks through an angel.

We hope The Purple Puzzle Tree lives on in this new format as children young and old explore the stories of the Bible and find both enjoyment and meaning in them.  We invite Purple Puzzle Tree lovers from years gone by to encourage their children or grandchildren to have fun with the stories they once knew so well.

When God Was All Alone

Stories 1-12 from
The Purple Puzzle Tree

  1. When God was All Alone
  2. When the First Man and Woman Came
  3. In the Enchanted Garden
  4. When the Purple Waters Came Again
  5. In the Land of the Great White Castle
  6. When Laughing Boy Was Born
  7. How Tricky Jacob Was Tricked
  8. When Jacob Buried his Treasure
  9. When God Told Us God’s Name
  10. Is that God at the Door
  11. In the Middle of a Wild Chase
  12. This Old Man Called Moses

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