When I was in middle school I don’t remember reading many books on historical fiction other than the Little House on the Prairie series. From these books, I learned to be honest, work hard, treat others right, and the importance of not complaining because it could always be worse. I still repeat some of Ma Ingall’s saying to this day like, “There’s no great loss without some small gain.” And. “Where there’s a will there’s a way.” And. “Least said soonest mended.”
When I was in the 5th or 6th grade I read the book entitled, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, where an elderly, Quaker Lady is accused of being a witch during the era of the Salem Witch trials, and a sixteen year old is accused of the same thing because she can swim, but other than that, I remember very little about the book now. I remember loving the book at the time and hope to read it again soon. For a review of this book and to help you find discussion questions for your young readers go to: https://www.pluggedin.com/book-reviews/witch-of-blackbird-pond/
As a Christian it is important to have nothing to do with witches or witchcraft of any kind, but for this book, it is about a false accusation. (See 1 Samuel 15:23, Luke 7:33, Mark 3:22, John 8:52, John 10:20-21)
Recently, I have been reading, Number The Stars, by Lois Lowry, which was published in 1989.
It is the story of a young girl, ten years old, caught up in the German occupation of her country, Denmark, in the year 1943. She grows up fast as her Gentile family becomes involved in smuggling Jews out of Denmark and into neutral Sweden. Several resources show that over 7000 Jews were smuggled to safety during this time period.
It is impressive to me that the book shows the people turning to scripture as they seek help and strength for their journeys. On pages 86-87, the reading of Psalm 147 helped a group of people that had just been interrogated by German Soldiers during a staged wake return to a relaxed state of mind. During the interrogation, the room held more Jews than Gentiles, and yet they were safe.
The protagonist of the book, ten-year-old, Annemarie, grows in maturity well beyond her years as she learns she doesn’t need to know everything, and sometimes it is safer not to know things. She learns what being brave means on page 123 — “not thinking about dangers. Just thinking about what you must do.”
From this book you learn some of the history of Denmark and its King, Christian X. You will also learn some of the smart tactics used to elude the German’s, like the mixing of chemicals by Swedish scientists used to apply to handkerchiefs of which, if the German soldier’s dogs sniffed, it messed up their sense of smell for a period of time, and they were unable to find the Jews that were hidden in compartments on the ships taking them to Sweden. To survive, the Jews had to be relocated to a safe place.
Even scripture shows the moving of people to safety as shown in Perry Stone’s latest book, America’s Apocalyptic Reset on pages 55-58.
- Jacob’s family moved during a famine and thrived in Egypt for decades.
- David hid from Saul until his death.
- Elijah went nearly 280 miles to hide alone in a cave from Jezebel’s henchmen.
- Joseph and Mary moved to Egypt to keep Jesus safe from Herod until his death.
- John the Baptist moved to the wilderness, making people leave their cities and towns and come to him, to hear him preach and be baptized in the Jordan river.
- And in AD 66 Christians living in Judea and Jerusalem had to flee to “Pella, a city built in Jordan that gave Christians asylum and freedom to settle in the region and build a Christian community.”
We don’t know what the days ahead will bring and we certainly don’t know what our children and grandchildren will face, but it is important to find resources to train them to be wise, and brave, and show them what others have done in the past in terrible situations.
Turning to scriptures and prayer outrank everything else we could possibly do, but historical fictional accounts can reach children, too, as long as the accounts always turn their hearts and minds back to God and what He has done and is doing for us.
Love your book reviews and thoughts. Thank you.
Thanks for reading them, Tim:)
I believe historical fiction can have an even greater impact that simply reading about historical events. Historical fiction allows us to be immersed in the world at that particular time in history and we get to put ourselves safely in the middle of that action. It helps us to think critically about what happened then, its context, and what it might mean for us today. I haven’t read Number the Stars in a long time, but I think I’ll get it back out again. 🙂
Yes, I think you are right. The fiction makes it more real than the actual events because it puts a face to the events. Love your thoughts on it all.
Enjoyed this book review! I have never read Number the Stars but now I’m very interested.
One of my favorites books I read in middle school was “The Hiding Place”. It has always stuck with me what she went through but still held her faith. Great reminder to read about those before us who had hard times ❤️
Oh yes, Collette! I love The Hiding Place, too. I always love books that show how God intervened to help people in the worst of circumstances.
I’m a history buff, and appreciate your book reviews a great deal. Thank you for your insights.
You’re welcome, Joni:)
Great book review! I recall reading this book several years ago with my students. It was a humbling reminder of all my mother’s side of the family went through. Thanks!
Yes, it is good to remember what others go through and prepare ourselves to stand firm, if we have to go through similar circumstances. Thank you for showing us how close to home some of these associations can be.