Monday, May 14, 2012

The Last Martin by Jonathan Friesen

Recommendation: **** (4-star)

A clever, wildly imaginative and hilarious story of young Martin Boyle. Martin Boyle is a pretty ordinary pre-teen boy.  He has an overly protective, hypochondrial mother, a father who prefers to re-enact battles from the 1800's and a younger sister who, well, she's a younger sister. He has a best friend (Charley) and a girl he has a crush on (Julia) who doesn't know he even exists, and oh yeah - he also has a homeless boy living in the boxcar behind his house. Martin also has a knack for writing stories and his imagination often goes into overdrive. The firstborn male in each Boyle family is always named Martin, and on his families yearly visit to the cemetery to celebrate the lives of the many Martin Boyle's who have gone before them, young Marty makes a discovery...every time a new Martin is born, a Martin dies - there is only ever one Martin Boyle. Why is this a problem for young Marty? His aunt is pregnant with a boy, who will be named Martin. When one Martin is born, one dies. Will Marty be able to live? Will he be able to break the Martin curse? This is a delightful and funny story that your kids will enjoy.

Positives: I love how the author interwove the story Marty is writing within the story of Marty himself. I also enjoyed the relationship that developed between Marty and his father.

Negatives: I didn't love that Marty and his sister referred to their mother as the "Barn Owl", but her character sure made the story funny and she even began to realize toward the end that she needed to let her son grow up.

Talking Points: While I love the humorous approach this book takes, don't be afraid to address the more serious topic of death. Take the opportunity to talk to your kids about the state of their soul. Do they know where they will go when they die? Do they know that they will face God, their Creator when they die (Heb. 9:27)? Don't miss an opportunity to share the gospel with your kids! Tell them that a holy, perfect God created them yet because of our sin we cannot have a relationship with Him. Because He loves us, He sent Jesus Christ, His only Son to this earth to live a perfect and sinless life and to pay the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross. He defeated sin and death and rose again on the third day and He know sits in heaven at the right hand of God, His Father. When we repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ - placing our faith in His death, knowing that only by His grace can we stand before God and be declared righteous, we can spend eternity in heaven with Him! Here are some Scriptures that may help. Is. 6:1-3, Rev. 4:8, Rom. 3:23, Eph. 2:1-3, I Cor. 6:9-11, Rom. 6:23, John 1:1-5, Phil. 2:5-11, Is. 53, Heb. 9:22, Matt. 27-28, I Cor. 15, Acts. 4:12, 16:30-33, Eph. 2:8-9, I John 5:13

Age Level: 10 years of age and up

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