BEYOND THE ATTIC DOOR

A modern-era parable about Noah’s Ark.
The 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial provides the backdrop for Del Campo’s short, charming fiction debut. After school ends, 11-year-old Lulu and her 7-year-old brother, Buddy, visit their grandmother in the rural outback of Missouri, where the upcoming Scopes trial has become the favorite topic of dinner-table conversation. Their parents, grandmother and scientist/inventor uncle Hugh are all ardently religious folks who believe in the primacy of the Bible, and they all think it’s scandalous that some people are saying that “The Trial of the Century” portends the end of religion. When the children ask Hugh what he thinks, he firmly tells them that “evolution is not a scientific fact; it’s merely an assumption with no observational evidence.” When he’s reminded that his insistence on teaching that assertion cost him his job at “a very prestigious university,” he scoffs, insisting that “[a]ll the evidence points directly to an intelligent creator; there is no denying it.” Lulu and Buddy tell him that the kids in their class don’t think the story of Noah’s Ark actually happened, but Hugh insists that the story is true—and it’s an assertion that comes back to haunt him. Del Campo provides a series of neat plot twists that lead to the children’s discovering that Hugh has built a time machine in his attic. They use it, accidentally, to send themselves back in time to the rainy day just before the ark’s launch. Hugh and the kids’ father follow them, and they all confront the reality of the ark—and the imminent danger of the flood. The author soon delivers a fast-paced climax in which they all make their escape. Back in the present, the children’s grandmother provides the book’s overriding message, stoutly reassuring them that “[f]aith means believing with your heart and not with your eyes.” It’s a tidy moral, but Del Campo’s prose style as she delivers it is never labored or heavy-handed. The book’s brevity and thoughtfulness may make it an ideal supplement for Bible study classes, in which it may prompt lively discussion.

A well-turned time-travel adventure story with a biblical edge.

Pub Date: June 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1490837079

Page Count: 102

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2014

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JEREMY

THE TALE OF AN HONEST BUNNY

1886

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-670-88104-X

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1999

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An engaging, compelling tale whose relatable young hero’s adventures link to a nation’s destiny.

ROUGH RIDE TO RUNNYMEDE

ON A QUEST TO STOP A BULLY

In this debut middle-grade historical novel, a boy works to bring Magna Carta to reality in 13th-century England.

At harvest time in 1214, Taymor “Tay” Wallop, 14, is in a tough position. He’s inherited Swan Castle from his father, but the greedy King John is demanding an unaffordable inheritance tax and commandeering the stronghold’s harvest and farm animals. When Tay protests the unfairness of this, John gives him an out: get rid of the archbishop of Canterbury, who has offended the monarch by telling the country’s earls that the king must obey the law. As the brown son of a Syrian mother, Tay has already experienced discrimination, and fairness matters greatly to him. But if he doesn’t obey, the king will kill his father’s man at arms, Will, and Tay will lose Swan Castle. Early on his journey, Tay meets Archer, about 19, a talented bowman with a secret who’s been led by a dream to help the teen. Tay is impressed by the archbishop’s saintliness and can’t bear to kill him. Instead, the archbishop inspires Tay to embark on a mission to persuade the earls to support a new charter of fair play. Soon joined by Lucy, 12, who’s running from a forced marriage, Tay and Archer travel the country, hoping against hope to succeed. Though beset by dangers, Tay’s faith brings him—and the country’s leaders—to Runnymede for the historic sealing of Magna Carta. Useful information on history, places, and people plus a glossary are included. In her novel, Glass tells an exciting story of brave deeds and the transformation of a government, backed up by historical and cultural details that bring this long-ago world to life. The characters are well drawn, and it’s especially nice to see a person of color in a time period too often imagined as solely white. While Tay’s experience is bolstered by prayer, nonreligious readers can still respond to the universal appeal of fairness and cheer for those who risked all to bring it about.

An engaging, compelling tale whose relatable young hero’s adventures link to a nation’s destiny.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973671-32-9

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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