Monday, April 21, 2008

Martin Rattler

Martin Rattler, R. M. Ballantyne

This is the second Ballantyne book I have mentioned here. On the first book I gave a longer review. This book has the same basic strengths and weaknesses of the previous volume, though i don't think the vocabulary is as challenging in this one.

The title of this book comes from the name of the young hero. Ballantyne provides in the early chapters a good picture of an earnest boy who means well though he gets into scrapes. One character illustrates those who do not understand the energy of a boy and other characters illustrate those who can see in a boy promise and the possibility of training and directing his energy rather than simply condemning. These are good pictures in our more feminized age.

The early chapters chronicle a fight between Martin and a larger, older bully where Martin fights to defend his little cat from the bully who intends to drown it. This provides a good example of standing up for the defenseless as well typical responses of bullies.

Eventually Martin and an older friend, Barney, escape pirates and find themselves on the shore of Brazil. There are fascinating descriptions of the forests of Brazil and encounters with various animals including jaguars! Martin and Barney’s encounters with a former monk open the door for strong statements about the need for the Bible and how Catholic priests had withheld the Bible. Ballantyne frequently ties in Christianity, though, as I noted before, not as smoothly or thoroughly as Douglas Bond.

This is a good adventure story which also makes good points about the faith, courage, and resourcefulness as well as introducing its readers to Brazil. We recommend it.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Touchstone Magazine on Not Diluting Bible Stories

Readers of this blog may have seen my concern about how far too often modern bible stories water down the truth of the biblical account seeking to make them more palatable to children but in the end distorting the biblical witness. My brief article on this from several years ago is part of what prompted me to begin this blog.

This month’s Touchstone magazine includes a great article which examines how many children’s Bibles dilute the story of Jonah in this way. The subtitle captures the key point:
In Removing the Fear from the Story of Jonah,
Children’s Versions Remove the Gospel, Too

I encourage you to read the article. Also, Touchstone is a great, stimulating resource. I greatly enjoy the magazine and recommend it to you.