Reading has always been a favorite pastime in our house. It began with me and my husband and we have passed it on to our children. We make multiple trips to the library every week. We read to them every evening before bed. On longer trips in the car, I read to them to negate the fighting that occurs between siblings. I am proud that we are raising readers. This is why I was so excited that we were given the opportunity to review the next two books in the series The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.
These stories have become a favorite in our house. Our whole family anxiously awaits reading the story of Mary and Peter as they embark on journeys throughout the Bible in The Great Escape (Book #3) and Journey to Jericho (Book #4). I have read these stories aloud in the car on our way to sporting events, at home while preparing for bed, at the doctor’s office while waiting for appointments. We read these stories every chance we get.
What are the books about?The series is about two children, Peter and Mary, who are taken to stay with their Great-Uncle Solomon while their parents are away. Solomon is an archaeologist who has found ancient scrolls that prove that events in the Bible really occurred. The scrolls can only be opened after they hear the roar of a lion, indicating that they are about to embark on a journey. Helping them along in their adventures is the angel Michael, and their dog Hank.
The Great Escape (Book #3) takes the readers to Egypt, and the home of the Pharaoh. The Pharoah has enslaved many Israelites and stubbornly refuses to let them go. Moses requests several times for the Pharoah to let his people go, but Pharoah refuses and is met with plagues that affect him and the people of his town. The plagues become more severe as time passes. Peter and Mary must work to solve the riddle on the scroll that will allow them to return home. As with any good story, there are trials and tribulations that they must face including the antagonist Satan, who takes a different form in every story. As we end the story, the reader gets to experience the parting of the Red Sea before Mary and Peter solve the scrolls riddle.
In Journey to Jericho (Book #4) we learn that Great Uncle Solomon was once a spy. This is useful to Peter and Mary as they travel to find the Israelites preparing to enter the Promiseland. The two, with their dog Hank, must use their spy knowledge to embark on a spy mission to Jericho. Peter and Mary are given 14 days to solve their mission, or they will be trapped in this land forever. The journey isn’t going to be easy, as Satan is always looming trying to ruin everything. Rahab hides Peter and Mary, as men from Jericho are coming to look for spies.
What’s the verdict?
Honestly, when I first saw these books, I was skeptical. I thought they would be either too dry to be engaging, or too far from accurate to be usable. However, I loved these stories, and would highly recommend them for others to read. I think the author, M. J. Thomas, did an amazing job of helping make the Bible more engaging for children. I am looking forward to more stories from M.J Thomas Kids Books.
When reading from the Bible, it is hard for children to picture the story. Even with me explaining what is happening, they aren’t getting the full aspect because they can’t see it. The illustrations in these stories are beautiful, and really add to what is happening.
The story line is predictable in that we know that Peter and Mary will solve the message on the scroll, yet there are enough twists and turns that we were on the edge of our seats to find out what would happen next. These stories are appealing because they kept us engaged in the story, providing us with knowledge of biblical events. I would caution to make sure that after you read these stories, you also read the Bible’s accounts as well. Allow your children to look for similarities and differences and discuss why the accounts may have variations from the stories.
The reading level was that of a 2nd – 4th grade child, so my children would have had no issues reading these stories on their own. We chose to read them aloud because I knew that my children would bicker about whose turn it was, or give away the endings to each other, and honestly, my husband and I were invested in the series as well. By making it a read aloud, we all learned what was happening together, and we could pause to talk about what we thought was going to happen next, or I could answer questions that they had, as it occurred.
The only thing that I disliked in the stories is that I feel bad for Great-Uncle Solomon. He spent so much time looking for the scrolls and yet he is unable to embark on the journeys they possess. This is the general consensus for our house. We understand that the whole premise is for Peter and Mary to learn about the events, and to be independent in solving the messages, but we wish Great-Uncle Solomon could get to take part in some way.
What do my children think?
It is easy for me to say that my children enjoyed these books, however, I don’t want you to just take my word for it. Click the picture below to see what my children thought.
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