Saturday, March 15, 2014

A review of John Knox by Simonetta Carr

A review of John Knox, Christian biographies for young readers by Simonetta Carr

Publisher's description:

"From armed bodyguard to galley slave, from loving husband and father to fiery preacher, John Knox was moved by a relentless passion for the honor of God and the purity of His truth and worship. Yet when he was a schoolboy growing up in the small Scottish town of Haddington, he could never have imagined that he would become a major leader of the powerful movement that transformed Scotland into one of the most committed Protestant countries in the world. Simonetta Carr tells the story of how this great Reformer, whose life began humbly, in a faraway, mysterious part of the world, influenced the church and its beliefs far beyond the borders of Scotland, shaping our thinking still today."

I was very excited to start reading this book to my children as part of our evening devotions.  John Knox has a special place in my heart, as I am not only Scottish, I am also Presbyterian.  I feel indebted to men like Knox and am thankful that God raised him up to bring the gospel to Scotland.  Surely we stand on the shoulders of giants.

This book is a great way to introduce children to the tumultuous days of the early reformation in Scotland.  Simonetta packs a lot of historical facts into the story without making it dry or boring, and manages to bring Knox to life beyond the typical vision most would have of the wild Scot preaching fire from the pulpit.  She really brought out the goodness and kindness of this man, and his love for the gospel.  The artwork is another way that helps us visualize that side of Knox.  My kids loved the pictures. Most importantly, that gospel that Knox loved so dearly is thread throughout this volume in a way that little ones can understand. 

My favorite part of the book was where Simonetta quotes a university student who attended a sermon of Knox' in 1571.  He talked of Knox being so frail that he had to be "lifted up to the pulpit", but once he was there he became so full of life that he looked like he wanted "to beat the pulpit to pieces and come out of it." This man was a preacher till the end and a lover of the Christ's Church and His gospel.

This is a handsome volume, laid out for children with lots of pictures and large print on high quality paper.  There is a very cool "Did you know?" section at the end with some interesting facts kids will love to know.  Lastly, Simonetta has included the first four chapters of the Scots confession with an encouragement to find the rest online and read it together with your children.  She talks about the Scots confession in chapter six, then proceeds to list how that confession defines what a true church is.  So being a confessional Presbyterian, I paused to read that portion of the Scots confession to my kids.  I was a happy man :)

Let me finish my review by including comments from Samuel my seven year old son.  This is his review of the book:

"I liked when John Know talked to QueenMary and told her to repent.  She didn't speak for 15 minutes.  I really liked this book. I didnt' want the book to end, I wanted to hear more about John Knox."

What else can you hope for when you read a book like this to your children?  This book is a gem and a perfect way to introduce young readers to the Protestant reformation.  5 stars!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.

Here is an interview that Simonetta did a few years back on the White Horse Inn if you would like to know more about her and her work.

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