Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Spy For The Night Riders by Dave & Neta Jackson

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Another book from the Trailblazer series, Spy For The Night Riders is a historical fiction story centering around Martin Luther.

The story begins by introducing us to young Karl Schumacher who narrates the entire book. We learn that Karl works as a servant for Martin Luther. He wanted to be educated so he left his family and in exchange for his work, Luther allows him to attend classes at the university.

Karl finds a bull, a written notice, on the church door declaring that Martin Luther is a heretic. As a result of this Mr. Luther is required to make a trip to Worms to appear for a hearing where his fate will be determined. Karl is able to accompany him on the trip. A mysterious young lady continues to appear wherever they are and Karl is convinced she is out to harm them. When he is asked to help some strangers, who claim that they support Dr. Luther, Karl has to make a decision of whether to trust these people or not. A decision that could cost Dr. Luther, and himself, their lives.

The hearing, best known as The Diet of Worms, does not go well for Luther, and while he is promised safe passage back to Wittenburg there is grave concern for his life. Luther's secret supporters take the opportunity during his travels home to help him by making it look like he was captured. He is safely taken to a castle and hidden for over a year. It was during this time that he worked on the translation of the Bible into German and many other writing projects.

Positives: A great introduction to the life of Martin Luther that is sure to peak your child's interest in this great Reformer. The action, suspense and intrigue keep readers engaged in the story and the use of a young boy as the narrator works very well. As in other books in this series, the lines between historical fact and fiction work very well together and create a very believable story line. The authors do have a paragraph at the beginning explaining which parts of the story are fictional.

Negatives: While I feel this story is appropriate for 8 year olds and up it does give a description of a man being burned at the stake in the opening chapter. It is not gruesome, but some children may be disturbed by this. Use your own judgment with your child.

Talking Points: This story can raise many questions about martyrs and conversation surrounding persecution, courage and faithfulness.  You might use other Bible characters to talk about these qualities as well. Use Joshua 1 and God's command to Joshua to "be strong and courageous." Use the humble life of Paul (Phil. 1) as a comparison to Luther as well and his willingness to accept whatever the Lord has for him.  Look at Matt. 5:11-12, and 2 Tim. 3:12 to see what God has to say about persecution of believers.

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