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Book Title: The Tale of a Boy, an Elf, and a Very Stinky Fish|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 1.88 MB
City - Country: No data
The author of the book: Jennifer Kelly
Date of issue: August 24th 2010
ISBN 13: 9780310720799
Loaded: 1830 times
Reader ratings: 6.4
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When the publisher contacted me and offered me a review copy of Jackson Jones, I was curious. I can't remember working with Zondervan in the past, and I haven't reviewed very much christian fiction, as I've found it to be a wasteland with very few gems, and I prefer to read books I'll enjoy. However, I'd been spending time purging books in the school library and had been wondering how the genre of children's christian literature had changed since my childhood, and I am predisposed to liking fantasy with slightly nerdy protagonists, so I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, the book only served to reinforce my frustrations.
Stylistically, this book is distinguished by it's peculiar narrator. As a literary device, an intrusive narrator who addresses readers directly can be a boost to some novels, when used sparingly and with great judiciousness, e.g. the famous line from Jane Eyre, "Reader, I married him." In Jackson Jones, the narrator addresses the reader incessantly. She informs the reader that she is going to take a bathroom break and suggests he do the same, as holding your bladder for a long time is unhealthy. Suspense is attempted by inserting an extra chapter that says "I'm so mean." Large words are used, and then parenthetically defined with examples and commentary.
As a parent, a former teacher, a lover of children and literature for children, I find myself firmly in the camp that believes that children respond best to literature that treats readers with dignity and respect. C.S. Lewis famously wrote in an essay about writing for children "We must meet children as equals in that area of our nature where we are their equals... The child as reader is neither to be patronized nor idolized: we talk to him as man to man." I rarely felt like the narrator could be connecting with eight to eleven-year-old children.
That lack of connection was disappointing, because the story itself was interesting in many ways. The characters, setting, and back story all had good potential. But like most of the christian literature I've encountered, the christian elements were rather heavy handed.
Theologically, I found the message mixed. The idea that God is the author of all of our stories and that he is weaving them all together into one great story is one that I not only believe, but share with my children. However, the book falls into the common western evangelical error that the things we think are most important in our lives (job, where we live, etc.) are most important to God. We can chose the wrong thing, and thus find ourselves wandering away from the story God has for us. In reality, I think the Bible consistently shows that God's story for us has less to do with whether we are concert pianists or businessmen and much more to do with how we live our lives. Do we love our neighbors well? Are we taking care of those in need? Do our lives reflect the values we say we believe? How has the gospel changed us?
There are some great meditations about our identity in Christ in this book. But the idea that we can make a mistake about where we go to college or what career to pursue creates a culture of paralyzing fear that we will miss God's will for our lives that is very real to 21st century North Americans and this may fuel that fire.
In the end, Jackson Jones is a fun story, and I don't think it's dangerous or absolute twaddle. I just hoped for something better.
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