Recommendation: **** (4-stars)
Positives: Again, the historical backdrop to this book was fascinating to me. The details that went into describing the steamboats and the life surrounding them were intriguing. In this book, Jem relied on his faith in God to help him. Several times he cried out in prayer when he didn't know what else to do. I also liked how the author handled some of the historical realities of the time. She didn't shy away from the fact that along with the river-boating lifestyle came things like coarse language. While it was brought into the story as a reality, it was handled perfectly for her audience. She also touched a bit on slavery and allowed her young readers to think through the life of slaves on an age appropriate level.
Talking Points: Romans 12:2-3 kept coming to my mind as I read this story. Jem was surrounded by worldly people and confronted with worldly problems at every turn, yet his faith remained strong. While he struggled with fear, he knew where to turn when he felt overwhelmed with fear and cried out in prayer. Where do we teach our kids to turn when fear and trouble surround them? Psalm 56 is a favorite at our house! No matter who is attacking us, no matter what we are fearing, we can trust in God and not be afraid. He is our very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1)! Remind your kids of the commands given to Joshua to "Be strong and courageous..." and that the reason we can live without fear is because "the Lord our God is with us wherever we go" (Joshua 1:9).
Age Level: 5-10 years of age. These books will have a great appeal to young boys!
I received a free copy of this book from Kregel Publishing in exchange for this review.
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