I don't know about most of you, but I was raised in what I always thought was a Christian household. I'm sure my parents would say it was. But really, we were more like Sunday-morning Christians. It was all they knew to be. No one ever challenged them to be more.
So I was raised Christian on Sundays and Holidays, but with a decided secular world view for the rest of the week. And to be honest, I never even heard the words "Christian World View" until I was a mother myself, and realized that the public school system that had served me so well academically but so poorly spiritually just wouldn't "cut it" for my kids either spiritually OR academically now. So now I find myself teaching my kids a world view I never received, and I have to admit, it doesn't always come easy. Almost everything in our culture screams, "Be like the world". Think like the world. Read what the world reads. Watch what the world watches. Teach what the world teaches. Learn what the world learns.
Consequently, I'm constantly on the lookout for products that support our counter-culture approach. The Missing Link: FOUND fits that bill perfectly. The Missing Link: FOUND was written by a 14 year old homeschooling girl, Christina Gerwitz, and her mother, Felice Gerwitz. Felice runs a company called Media Angels and I had the privilege of hearing her speak at our state's homeschool conference this year. Media Angels is a company committed to publishing quality materials for parents and children. Their goal in publishing the Truth Seekers Mystery Series (of which The Missing Link: FOUND is the first book) is to help your children to stand up for their faith, by supplying them with Christian role models that are also homeschool children. I (Felice) hope your children can identify with these characters, or at the very least wish they were friends!
There were some things I really liked about the book. First, the vocabulary is impressive. This is not a "dumbed down" book in terms of its use of the English language, and that alone could provide a wonderful supplemental study of unfamiliar words for your students. Second, it "crosses the curriculum". For while it is a book to read for pleasure, it has definite spiritual and scientific lessons presented within the context of the story. Third, I, and my children, enjoyed the gimmick of each chapter ending with a cliff-hanger that made you want to keep reading. I started the first day with the premise of reading one chapter aloud, and ended up reading three...with all four of my children pleading for more despite the fact that they are well below the target age range. (Felice's information suggests it is written for tweens/teens who don't necessarily enjoy reading.) Lastly, I loved that a Christian world view was naturally woven into the story, and in fact, part of the story line involves debating popular scientific "truths" against Biblical truths. But even more impressive is the fact that the main characters, when faced with adversity, STOP and PRAY. WOW! How often does that happen in your typical children's book?
I do have a few critiques of the book too. First, there are a few punctuation mistakes-I spotted an apostrophe where one doesn't belong and a missing end quotation mark (but I've found those in plenty of other mainstream books too). Also, whenever a car is mentioned, the registered trademark symbol follows the name. I've never run across that in any other work of fiction, and it kept striking me as odd. It may well be the "absolutely proper" way to do it-I admit I have not checked, but it struck me as odd nonetheless. And while I think this book is extremely well written for a teen and her mother who had never written a fiction book before, it's not the BEST literature you'll ever find in terms of character and story development. (It is good though. ) Finally, I'd put forth the argument that some of the creation science presented in the book is debated even among Christians. While I personally do, not every Christian believes in a young earth. There's a lot God didn't tell us in the Bible. Like exactly when the world began. And even the best Creation Scientist is still filling in blanks with best guesses, not Biblical fact. But even if the science presented in the book runs contrary to your beliefs, if you were sure to read it WITH you child, it would be a great way to have a discussion about some of the other ideas out there.
So what's the bottom line? My kids really enjoyed the book. So did I, for that matter. And while all the story elements did not fall as cohesively into place as I would have liked, I would still recommend it. I love the example of prayer woven into several situations. I loved the scientific debates. I loved the "who-dun-it" approach. And I really, really liked the higher level vocabulary (yes, I'm a word nerd). I'd not only recommend this book, but I look forward to getting and reading the other books in the series.
The Truth Seekers Mystery Series including The Missing Link: FOUND is available through www.mediaangels.com for $8.99 each. Happy reading!