Category Archives: Kids

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor
By Chuck Black

Synopsis: Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor is book five of The Knights of Arrethtrae series. In this part of the series a young man, Quinlan, feels called to become a knight of the King and follow the Prince. He first trains with a skilled knight and later a Silent Warrior who teach him to fight and overcome his self doubt and fear. After his training is complete he returns to his hometown to fight the hidden Shadow Warriors. When the enemy leader, Lucius finds out that Sir Quinlan has returned he launches an all out attack on the city. The small band of knights under the leadership of Quinlan must lead the charge in the battle against Lucius’ Shadow Warriors.

My Opinion: So Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor is an allegory and full of various Christian truths and life lessons. I think that Black does a mediocre job at presenting this allegory in an interesting and engaging way.

I would say that the good thing about the allegorical element is that many of the truths that he alludes to in the story are important, i.e. trust in the Prince and not ourselves, The King choosing the weak of the world, following the Prince requires complete surrender and a sacrifice of everything but is rewarded greatly when you one day cross the Great Sea, and many others.

The thing that I thought was sub par about the allegory was the totally transparent way that it was presented. Many times Black would almost quote the Bible verbatim through some character’s speech or he would add elements that really didn’t make sense in the story, but fed the allegory. He discusses how the King sent the Prince from across the Great Sea to bring the Kings people back to him and how they rejected him and he died “on a tree” (what does that even mean?) but the King brought him back to life using the Life Spice. Black tries to explain how this death and resurrection enabled the knights to follow the Prince, but it never really makes much sense. I felt like a lot of the more obvious “Christian” themes seemed overly forced into the story.

Aside from the failures in the allegory I thought the book was pretty good. I think that younger kids, probably boys in their tweens mostly, would really enjoy reading this book and would get a lot out of it. The battles are pretty engaging and exciting, and the characters are dynamic enough that you grow to like (or dislike) them. There is a little humor tossed into the mix to keep the dramatic elements from being too overwhelming for younger readers. It certainly isn’t C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia or J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but it is another series that could be worth picking up if you have a young avid reader.

FYI: the land Arrethtrae, where the story takes place, is a backward combination of the words Earth and Terra.

Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor at amazon.com

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as part of their Blogging for Books program.


Scary Stories Treasury

Scary Stories Treasury
By Alvin Schwartz
Illustrated By Stephen Gammell

Synopsis: This is the collection of all three books in the “Scary Stories” series: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones. These books contain short stories collected from folklore, legend, and modern superstition and retold by the author in a manner that he considers suitable for children as young as age nine. The books contain stories of ghosts, monsters, witches, cannibalism, and other fear inspiring subjects. The books also contain black and white illustrations to go along with each story.

My Opinion: When Stephanie and I were in Boston this weekend we came across a rather large Borders Book Store so of course I had to go check it out. I had been looking in our local Borders for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and hadn’t found it, but at this Borders in Boston I found not just the first book, but the whole series in one volume for only 10 bucks! Stephanie and I had talked about these books a couple weeks ago and I was feeling all nostalgic. Well, all things I remembered about the stories and the art were still true, even now, almost 20 years later. The stories are the kind of scary that leaves you wondering and uneasy with ghosts and dreams and a blur between reality and imagination. There is also a dose of humor in some of the stories. The illustrations are amazing. This book is worth buying just for the illustrations. If you don’t remember them as a kid then you should certainly check them out. If you DO remember those dark, dismal illustrations haunting your sleep then you will enjoy looking back through them.

Note: If I had a nine-year-old I would read through these books before handing them over. Some kids that young may do ok with these stories and illustrations, others may not be able to handle them.

FYI: The University of Maine, Orono was a large source of folklore information for Schwartz while writing all three of these books. He thanks the library staff there in each of the three books.

Scary Stories Treasury at amazon.com


Read and Learn Bible

Read and Learn BibleRead and Learn Bible
By The American Bible Society
Illustrated by Duendes Del Sur

Synopsis: This is a series of Bible stories, put in canonical order, that uses the CEV paraphrased translation and has color illustrations on each page. It contains most major stories from Creation and the Fall, to Noah, Moses, David, Daniel and Esther, to Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, and even a brief explanation of Revelation and a lot of stuff in-between (over 500 pages worth of stuff!). It also contains a parents section in the back which helps apply the Bible stories to things like serving and loving others, sharing the good news, trusting God and several other topics.

My Opinion: OK, so this books is a little odd for this blog, and I haven’t read it yet, but I still wanted to let people know about it. We just got this to read with our kids (they are one, two and three) during our little devotional time we do at night. It has lots of great illustrations and is translated into something that is understandable and appropriate for young kids. It also has helps for parents in the back which are always good. It gives some tips on how to apply the Bible stories and teach things like sharing and loving others and trusting God. We have been trying to teach our kids Bible stories on our own and sometimes it is hard to come up with something they understand and isn’t too scary or confusing for them. Now we have the help of the American Bible Society. Thanks American Bible Society! Anyway, if you have young kids, or if you know someone with young kids, this would make a great gift and teaching aid to help them start to get acquainted with the God of the Bible.

FYI: The CEV translation is the only Bible to win the Plain English Society Crystal Award for crystal clear English.

Read and Learn Bible at amazon.com