Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Sound Biblical teaching, adorable characters, and one fuzzy and mysterious lamb is what you'll find in The Secret of Yahweh! by LeFerna Arnold-Walch.
It's the start of a new school year and best friends Mary and Petey are hoping to avoid mean kids like The Con and Bitsy. But to their horror, The Con, Bitsy and some of the other mean kids are in Miss Sawyer's class too.
When the children are told that the words "under God" are being removed from the daily reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance, everyone is confused. Why can't they say it the way they always have? And so Miss Sawyer's class embarks upon a journey to discover how the modern interpretation of the First Amendment has removed any practice of religion from their school.
The day Mary brings J.C. Lamb with her to school turns into utter chaos as the children realize not everyone is able to see or hear the fuzzy lamb with the heart embroidered on his chest. But Miss Sawyer can see him, and she assures everyone if they come to Mystery Sunday at her church, everything will be made crystal clear.
The Secret of Yahweh! is filled with many wonderful things. The characters are adorable and the illustrations charming. Arnold-Walch captures the quintessential curious child in Mary, and The Con and Bitsy teeter between being unlikeable and being misunderstood. Miss Sawyer could easily be any Christian teacher in America's public schools, wishing she could share her beliefs, but hampered by a modern interpretation of the First Amendment that does not allow it. J.C. Lamb's appearance and actions in the book will make him easily adored by young readers. The book is also filled with sound Biblical teaching, something expected of this genre.
I did, however, find this to be a challenging read on many levels. The pace of the story is very slow with many pages dedicated to happenings that did nothing to advance the plot. The first day at school takes up the first 76 pages of the book and the chapter where Mary and Petey tie their horses to carts and race serves no purpose--except that it's cute to see J.C. Lamb's reaction.
A good editor would have found the numerous typographical and grammar errors running through the pages. The book is made up primarily of dialogue with very little narrative to compliment it and there are moments when the tenses change from past to present. The reader will feel that she is being given a Bible and history lesson as much of the dialogue is an information dump, such as here:
"Do you know that over one hundred million Americans do not go to church at all? And the sad thing is that 27 million of those are children. In some unchurched families children will never get a religious education." (Page 75)
While the back cover states that The Secret of Yahweh! is the "Christian parent's answer to the Harry Potter phenomenon!"--the main reason I requested the title for review--this reader failed to see any comparison. My mind immediately thought of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and was disappointed to find that The Secret of Yahweh! is nothing like that beloved series. While the book was originally written for children ages 7 to 12, the added illustrations are meant to allow parents to share The Secret of Yahweh! with younger readers. I don't, however, see there being enough action that my girls (ages 7 and 5) would ask to continue reading the story to completion.
If a parent is looking to provide a more enjoyable way for their children to experience American history and Biblical teaching than the standard textbook and Bible verse memorization, then The Secret of Yahweh! would be the way to go. While I found this is an excellent message for Children of God, no matter what age, I couldn't get by the challenges to truly enjoy the story.
Feel free to browse through other reviews of The Secret of Yahweh! here.
Title: The Secret of Yahweh!
Author: LeFerna Arnold-Welch
Publisher: Mary's Lamb Publishing
U.S. Price: $16.95