Saturday, April 18, 2015

Daredevil Duck

DaredevilDuck, by Charlie Alder
(Running Press Kids, 2015), hb., 48pp.
Ages 3-7

This book is due to be released next month, and I was sent an early copy for review. It is a fun, nice book which encourages children to be brave while being honest about our frailty. Children’s books on this sort of topic often go wrong either being cheesy, telling them simply to believe in themselves or even saying bravery isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Mrs. Adler hits the topic very well.

First, the book is creatively designed. There are several half pages where you turn a portion of the page to reveal something which changes the scene. My children have always enjoyed these in books. The illustrations are simple and fun as well.

The hero, Daredevil Duck, wants to be brave and dreams of being brave. However, he really struggles with being scared. However, a situation arises in which he helps someone else and finds he can be brave. This encourages him to continue being brave though he still gets scared sometimes. This simple message is the basic thing I want to communicate to my young children. It is both inspiring and realistic. It is hopeful and recognizes our struggles.

My nine year old daughter is my first reviewer of books for younger children, and she liked this one.

This is not an overtly Christian book, but one that addresses the issue of fear in a basic, helpful way.

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Saturday, April 04, 2015

Rise of the Falen

Rise of the Fallen, by Chuck Black
Wars of the Realm, vol. 2
(Multnomah, 2015), pb., 300 pp.

I have previously reviewed a couple of Chuck Black’s book which we really enjoyed. However, this one was not as good as the previous ones we read. This new series seeks to deal with spiritual warfare which can be quite tricky. For full disclosure, we did not finish the book, so perhaps it got better.

The book opens with a firefight between angels and demons in which they use machine guns which can kill demons or angels. This scene lost me. I appreciate wanting to help young readers grasp the reality of spiritual warfare, but I don’t think presenting it in this manner is the way to do it. And, I don’t think angels can be killed.

Then, theologically the book needs some more fine-tuning. Black goes to great lengths to clarify the difference between biblical truth and imaginative filling in of the story. In fact at the beginning of the book he states, “reference statements that are directly correlated to biblical truths are set in bold text” (ix). However, one of the first statements in bold in the book seeks to describe the Trinity by stating, “One God, yet choosing to reveal himself in three ways- Elohim HaAv, God the Father; Ben Elohim, the Son of God; and Ruach Elohim, the Spirit of God” (6). I am not sure of the value of the transliterated Hebrew, but the problem is that the statement “One God, yet choosing to reveal himself in three ways” fits in one of the categories declared to be heresy by the early Church. It sounds like the heresy of modalism. God has not merely chosen to “reveal” Himself in three ways, but He is “one God eternally existing in three equal Persons.” (You can search that last phrase in quotes to see that this is common language used to express the truth of the Trinity.) Let me be clear: I have no reason to doubt the orthodoxy of Chuck Black. From what else I have seen from him, I believe this was unfortunate wording on his part. Describing the Trinity in a young adult work of fiction would be challenging. However, this does point to the need for more theological editing or for a different choice in topics. If you wade into such waters, you must do it well.

So, I cannot recommend this book. We enjoyed Chuck Black’s books where he summarized the overarching story of Scripture in terms of knights fighting evil, and I hope he continues to produce good work like those books.

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