Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Stories – Miriam LeBlanc, compiler

© 2015 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New York

With Easter just around the corner, I welcomed the chance to read a collection of inspirational stories set in, on, or around Easter for review. Thanks to the publishers at Plough for providing one. You can visit them here:

This collection of stories, with a couple of poems thrown in for good measure, is designed to be inspiring for those who follow the Christ of Easter. The selections included here are often inspirational as promised. Specifically heartfelt is the legend of Russian martyr, Vasily Osipovich Rakhov (born ca. 1861) as creatively told in “The Case of Rachoff”, making this reader want to dig a little deeper into the life of this wanderer who lived a life dedicated to Jesus and Jesus alone.
Included are both old and new stories. Some of the classics include selections by Leo Tolstoy (“Two Old Men”), C.S. Lewis (“The Death of the Lizard” from The Great Divorce), and Anton Chekhov (“The Student”). These tales are inspiring if not actually familiar. Newer selections, such as “The King and Death” by Ger Koopman seem to be written specifically for this collection. This latter story was an excellent one with a bit of a slowdown for an ending.

I chose to read this book as part of my morning devotions as there are only about thirty selections (reading one entry per day). This worked well for me, but I found some of the selections to be longer than my 15-20 minute devotional time would allow. Other readers may prefer to read the anthology like any other that they would pick up, selecting only one or two selections a year at Easter time.

This book is filled with stories from distant lands like Germany and Russia, that center on the miraculous nature of the Easter season, and is worth your time to read. Included are brand new wood-cutting artworks by artist Lisa Toth which expertly introduce each story. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to add a new element to their Easter celebration. (four out of five reading glasses)

Benjamin Potter, March 27, 2015

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.]

Monday, March 16, 2015

Rasmus and the Vagabond – Astrid Lindgren

© 2015 The Plough Publishing House, Walden, New York

Astrid Lindgren is the Swedish author whose Pippi Longstocking books (and films featuring the redheaded child of strength and ingenuity) have captured children’s hearts all over the world, first released this tale of an orphan wanting a home and his vagabond friend in Sweden in 1956.

Life in the Vaesterhaga Orphanage was a drudgery for nine-year-old Rasmus. Digging potatoes and pulling nettles was not the life he desired. Like many a nine-year-old boy, he wanted to play and climb trees, and enjoy life. The only fond memory he had related to the time he had an ear-ache and the directress of the orphanage (the stern, unyielding Miss Hawk) had held him comfortingly for but a moment.

When a rich grocer and his wife come to adopt a child, everything goes wrong for Rasmus from the moment he begins to clean up for the visit. It really didn’t matter. Parents wanted girls with curls, not boys with straight hair. And so Rasmus decided to run away.

On his first morning out of the orphanage, Rasmus met and befriended Oscar—a tramp extraordinaire, who played his accordion and sang for food or money as he traveled far and wide over God’s green earth. No longer lonely on his journey, Rasmus began to learn of life from his new friend, “Paradise Oscar, God’s best friend.” What follows is an adventurous journey filled with crime, intrigue, happiness and sadness as Oscar tries to help Rasmus find the perfect parents who would adopt him—a rich, handsome couple who want a boy with straight hair and not a girl with curls.

They meet with gangsters and sheriffs, with maids and rich ladies. And eventually Rasmus finds the perfect home—but you’ll have to read the book to find out about it.

I like the tenor of this children’s book because it reads like a children’s book ought to. It is filled with lessons on honesty and honor, happiness and struggle, with some fun along the way. This book will please readers of all ages and will leave the reader with a satisfied feeling that life can be good and right. I give Rasmus and the Vagabond five out of five reading glasses.

Benjamin Potter, March 16, 2015

[Disclaimer: I received this book for free for the purposes of this review.]

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