Thursday, October 13, 2011

This Was John Calvin, a Biography for children

This Was John Calvin, by Thea B. Van Halsema
(Inheritance Publications, 2010; originally published 1959)
Ages 9-18

Reformation Day (Oct 31) is quickly approaching so I wanted to go ahead and commend this well done biography even though we have not yet quite finished it.

I have previously commented on several biographies of Calvin so let me first set this one in the context of the others (links take you to my review of each book). The main distinction between them is the age of the audience for which they are intended. Simonetta Carr’s John Calvin is the one most suitable to a younger crowd, starting perhaps at age 5. It is nicely illustrated, with large pages and simple writing. The next age group up (about 6-12) is addressed in Joyce McPherson’s The River of Grace: A Life of John Calvin. Then I have discussed two books which are aimed more at adults or older teenagers, Theodore Beza’s firsthand, The Life of John Calvin and Douglas Bond’s work of historical fiction, The Betrayal.

Mrs. Van Halsema’s This Was John Calvin would fit in that list right after The River of Grace. It is probably best suited for children ages 9-18 (though adults could profit greatly as well!). The River of Grace is a great book, but This Was John Calvin is more in depth.  In fact Mrs. Van Halsema displays an amazing knowledge of Calvin and his writings. She dedicated the book to her father, Clarence Bouma, “through whom,” she writes, “I met John Calvin.” This explains a great deal as her father was a prominent Reformed theologian who wrote on Calvin and the Reformation. She obviously learned well as she cites extensively not only from Calvin’s major writing but most often from his letters and tracts. Furthermore she weaves these quotes into a compelling narrative.

Thus, well-written and carefully researched, this is a great book to help you understand and appreciate the labors, sufferings, and intellect of John Calvin and how these all were given for the glory of God and the good of His church. Mrs. Van Halsema also connects Calvin’s story to the other key Reformation leaders of his time providing a good overview of what was going on in Europe.

So, we warmly commend this book to you. In fact, I have ended up with an extra copy, so we will do another book giveaway! The rules are the same as before. You can be entered into the drawing simply by leaving a comment here. You can be entered twice if you pass along this post on your own blog, or via Facebook or Twitter. Just make sure I know that you have passed this along so I can count it. I will draw names for the winner next Wednesday, October 19.



At 4:05 AM, Blogger Wencl said...

I would love to have a chance to win this book!


At 5:09 AM, Blogger corey sosebee said...

Looks like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway!

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Heather said...

I clicked to leave a comment about the various Calvin titles you mentioned and realized that I missed the last part about a giveaway when I saw the previous comments. Sooo, not that I'm opposed to a free book on John Calvin, but I really just wanted to say thank you for mentioning the other titles and the appropriate age groups. I previewed the Carr title a little ago online at Westminster Books and was disappointed with the reading level of text. I recently borrowed Joyce McPherson's from the library and enjoyed it but kind of felt like I really didn't know more about Calvin than when I started(not necessarily the fault of her book). So I'm glad to know there is another book with lots of bio material that is still geared for the young reader. I also have yet to read any of Bond's books so thank you for mentioning his titles as well. I always appreciate the quality of books you bring to my attention. :)

At 10:57 AM, Blogger Ray Van Neste said...

Thank you for your kind words Heather.

At 8:21 PM, Blogger simonetta said...

I really liked this book, as well as Thea Van Halsema's second title, "Three Men Came to Heidelberg." They are very readable books and, as you said, she seems very knowledgeable.

At 8:43 PM, Blogger Jeff Douglas said...

Would love to share this book with my kids.


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